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To The Grindstone!

Oh, hello, gentle viewers! How did you sleep?

 

Since today is Saturday, which is both the Day for Salaciousness AND my only remaining day off the day job for a few days, I thought I’d soften the blow of my absence with some Vampire Diaries GIFS.

For those of you who don’t know, I now have an agent! I’ve signed with Jessica Negrón of Talcott Notch Literary Services, and you can see my splendiferous story post here.

And yup, you’re right. YAY!

 

We are diving into a blitz of revisions, and I figured that today was the day to pull an Angry Stefan and do hundreds of push-ups in the woods. You know, metaphorically speaking.

Say what you will about Angry Stefan, but even Damon knows he has a good Resolve Face.

All that said, today I’m going to spend my day in the revision cave, plowing through as much as I can before my head explodes or before I feel the need to compel some Pi Sigs to have a dance party with me. Which means that I’ll have to be absent from the bloggy world for a bit longer, at least until I’m sure I’m not going to turn Ripper on everyone around me. 🙂

 

I love you, gentle viewers. I really do. I’ll be back soon with a (probably) new blogging schedule. I’ve got a couple great reviews coming up to share with you, and a WHOLE lot of fun stuff planned for March. (Think Buffy. Lots and lots of Buffy. Get pumped.)

 

Aw. Don’t look at me like that. I’ll be back soon, ready to regale you with awesomeness.

And speaking of salaciousness, one final GIF for you to drool over…

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When the Good Brother is Not

VampireDiaries_Bookmark_Stefan

VampireDiaries_Bookmark_Stefan (Photo credit: i heart him)

Earlier this week, I had a Twitter debate about the merits of Stefan Salvatore with my friend, her agent, and another friend who chimed in later. It took me a while to put my finger on what exactly my beef is with Stefan, because I’ve never liked his character much, and I certainly don’t like him with Elena.

Along the way, he’s been called the good brother.

And after a lot of pondering, I realized that my beef with Stefan is that he’s not that at all.

Here’s why I think that. This is of course, my subjective opinion.

He Betrayed His Brother

Before Damon got all murdery and rar, Stefan set a high standard of ugh. When the Mystic Falls council was closing in on the vampires in their midst back in 1864, Damon asked Stefan not to tell his father about Katherine. Stefan promised he wouldn’t.

Then he did. Not in as many words, but he gave it away, setting into motion his own transition and the events that would entomb twenty-seven vampires under the church for a century and a half.

Beyond that, the moment Stefan turns, the first thing he does is kill his own father. And that gets moving before he feeds. His next move is to force his brother to become a vampire against his will. I’ve always thought of that as a form of violation. Damon made a choice. Stefan violated that choice. That’s not to say that everything Damon did afterward was Stefan’s fault, but in a mythology where transitioning into a vampire magnifies whatever emotions you had pre-turn, Stefan magnified Damon’s hatred, his betrayal, and his loyalty to a vampire who had played them both.

Stefan’s Default Setting is Monstrous

When Stefan got turned into a vampire, he went all-binge, all the time. It took the Civil War and Lexi to drag his ass out of it. Every time he’s left to his own devices, he gets all super-murdery. He is almost incapable of maintaining his control. I don’t buy into the idea that he’s a good guy with a bad side, because I feel that absolves him from anything that happens when that bad side is in control of his actions.

He goes on a massive killing spree with Klaus. He murdered heaps and heaps and heaps of people before that. Ripped them apart. It’s not fine to kill a bunch of people just because he feels bad about it later once Lexi manages to force some feels down his throat again.

My point is that without external impetus (usually Lexi, later Elena), Stefan’s base nature is to be a mass-murdering fuckhead.

Sure, he survives on squirrels and bunnies when he’s in remission, but that never lasts long, and you never know what’s going to make him snap. There is a very big difference between compartmentalizing a bad part of yourself and controlling it. Stefan has never learned real control, and I do not trust people who have such disparate sides. It’s the same reason why I could never be a big fan of Angel — a person who could snap at virtually any moment and become a psycho killer does not make a good boyfriend. Period.

Stefan made a comment to Elena in Thursday’s episode where he said, “You don’t know what I look like when I’m not in love with you.” And he’s right. Here’s the kicker — show viewers don’t really know that either. Even with all the flashbacks to before he met her, we don’t know how he behaves in present-day Mystic Falls when he’s not in love with Elena. Even through all his running amok with Klaus, he was still in love with Elena.

He Makes Supremely Selfish Decisions

Stefan does what he wants when he wants to do it. He does tend to listen more to Elena’s choices (sometimes), but many of the decisions he’s made are only to create an end that he is okay with. Which is to say, he ignores the desires of others to do what he wants, and then he gets mad when they are upset by that.

This season, Stefan decided he needed to get the cure for Elena. First, he didn’t tell Elena about it. He decided what would be best for her without consulting her. Yes, he was acting on the knowledge that she’d never wanted to be a vampire. But that doesn’t make it right. He doesn’t seem to be able to grasp that people change, and once those changes occur, they don’t change back. Even if they do succeed in curing Elena of vampirism, she will be closer to the woman she was as a vampire than the woman who chose Stefan and went sailing into the river off Wickery Bridge last year.

In choosing that path, Stefan put everyone in danger by his reckless decision to force Jeremy to kill vampires. That scene is one of the most despicable things I’ve seen Stefan do. He knows how Elena feels about her brother. And yet he blatantly uses Jeremy to his own ends.

He Cannot Take Responsibility

Feeling guilt and taking responsibility are two completely different things. Stefan feels guilt for the people he killed under Klaus’s influence (and the body count he racked up before that), but he never really takes responsibility for those things. Instead he puts the blame on others by saying he went with Klaus for Damon. Damon never asked him to do that. That was Stefan’s choice. He also puts the breakup blame on Elena when he’s the one who went off on a murder spree, tortured her and her friends (both physically and emotionally), and all but told her to run into his brother’s arms. Then when she develops feelings for Damon, he throws a temper tantrum and displays probably the best example of middle school whinging I’ve seen in a long while.

Damon didn’t do this to him. Elena didn’t do this to him. Stefan might be heartbroken, but he has no one to blame but himself and his failure to reconcile the part of himself that he wants to be (the kind, gentle, not-a-murderer) with the part of himself he keeps giving into (the ripper who tears his victims apart and reconstructs them in fancy poses). Because he has never really learned how to be a whole person, his two halves have torn him apart. And instead of having the self-awareness to realize that, he blames his ex-lover and his brother. Who, by the way, spent a whole season trying to drag his ass back from where it fell over the cliff.

In Conclusion…

You can probably guess that I don’t like Stefan. I don’t think he deserves the title of the good brother. He acts abominably in many cases, and in deeper ways than does his brother quite often. Then instead of fixing it, of learning how to deal with the warring sides of his personality, he broods about it until he snaps again. I think what irritates me is that people label him as the good brother after being only introduced to the “good side” of him, and ignoring the rest of his history and personality does not make those things vanish. He can’t even keep that good side in control without outside intervention. Without Lexi and Elena and Damon, he’d probably be dead.

 

Tiiiiime, Why Do You Punish Me?

Fountain pen

Fountain pen (Photo credit: Sven Van Echelpoel)

Sunday is for writers round these parts! Welcome to today’s edition of Sunday, My Prints Will Come!

I was talking with a friend this week about things that get in the way of writing. Namely, procrastination.

I thought I’d share with you my own personal novel-writing timeline to get us started:

Novel #1: Epic fantasy. Begun 2001. Never finished.

Novel #2: Urban fantasy. Begun 2004. Finished fall 2008. (Four years.)

Novel #3: Urban fantasy. Begun fall 2008. Finished fall 2011. (Three years.)

Novel #4: Urban fantasy. Begun fall 2011. Half-finished. (Got to that point in about 2-3 weeks of writing.)

Novel #5: Urban fantasy. Begun May 2012. Finished June 2012. (Six weeks.)

Novel #6: Urban fantasy. Begun November 2012. Finished December 2012. (Eight weeks.)

Novel #7: Magical realism. Begun January 2013. Ongoing. (See progress meter in the right side bar!)

You’ll notice a very obvious fact if you read through all that.

I went from not completing novels to completing them over the course of several years to finishing books in a matter of weeks or a couple months. The obvious question to go with that obvious fact is: what changed?

Unfinished...?

Unfinished…? (Photo credit: Laser Burners)

The easy answer is that I just decided to write, plunked my ass down in the chair and did it.

But if it were truly that simple, many more people would have finished novels, and the publishing industry would be a lot more competitive than it already is. Which is very competitive.

For me, it boiled down to a few things that truncated years of procrastination:

1. NaNoWriMo

Even though I did NaNo rebel style my first time through in 2011, I finished something. I finished my second full novel and got almost halfway through the third. The real thing this lent to me was the knowledge that I could do it. That I could pound out 60,000 words in a month — or more. Once I knew that, the length of time it had previously taken me to write a novel seemed long, tedious, and rather silly.

2. Consistency

About a year and a half ago, I started blogging every day. Sure, I’ve missed days here and there, but it took me a looooong time to watch through all the fireworks WordPress created at the end of 2012 to celebrate my year of blogging. I write something every day. Even if it’s only a little bit. I do it every single day. This consistency has helped me become a much better writer.

3. Epiphany

Four years is a lot of time. In that time, I graduated from university, wrote a few hundred pages of term papers, wrote a heap of blog posts and journal entries, and wrote copy for real estate fliers and brochures for a year.

Do you see where I’m leading with this? The quality of the writing in my first novel was very uneven. I’d started it in 2004. I finished it in 2008 — after four years of writing other stuff prolifically and reading some great fiction. When you write a novel over the space of years, chances are the writing at the beginning will be drastically different than the writing at the end.

Last week I talked about rereading the second and unfinished third book of my trilogy. The first half of the second book I wrote in 2008 after coming off the high of finishing the first book. The second half of the second book (keeping up?) I wrote three years later in NaNoWriMo 2011. The difference in quality is almost staggering. I could literally see the evolution of my writing skills on the page.

There are benefits to writing quickly. I don’t mean everyone has to write a novel in a month, or even two or six. But there is a huge benefit to the consistency of quality when you are able to do it faster than years.

4. Motivation

This can be just about anything. For me it was a teaching job I couldn’t stand. Now I wait tables, which is fine, because it lets me sleep in, but my job is still a motivating factor for me. Knowing that I’m not yet making a living doing what I’m truly in love with and good at spurs me forward. It makes me put my ass in my chair every day even when I know I’ll be at work for eight hours afterward. Even when I come home from work and need to write the next day’s blog post.

So how do you beat procrastination?

You beat it by figuring out what you really want. You beat it by holding yourself accountable for the hours in the day. You beat it by making a choice. You can start small. You can build up to things. But ultimately, the only thing that’s stopping you from writing is you.

So get out of your way and go.

What clicked for you in your writing habits? When did you decide to do what you love no matter what? Do you still struggle with procrastination? How do you make yourself do what you need to do?

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