Two Tags | a q&a session

After my absence, it’s nice to return and have some tags to play with, so here’s a little q&a session. I can’t catch up with ever single tag I have been tagged for and so apologies for those I miss. My hasty records of tags were not sufficient. Some I have lost, some I only included the questions for, forgetting to write down who tagged me or the rules, and then others are just very similar. So to slice it neatly, I’m doing the farthest back tag I have record of, and the most recent.

With that, cheers! Let’s begin.

First, I got tagged by a sunflower – a while ago – but all the same that’s pretty neat. πŸ˜‰

How do you like to write, by typewriter, pen, or computer?

Honestly, it depends on what I am writing. If it’s poetry, it has to be with pen and paper, if it’s NaNoWriMo, a computer, random notes, I write them out and later type them up.

And recently I’ve been trying to write on the typewriter in order to cure myself of sentence fragments and filler words.

Otherwise generally the computer.

Do you prefer to write in the first or third person? I’ve worked in both about equally, but I think I would have to settle with first person, especially since it holds a special place in my heart after my last big project, 51, which was a big experiment in first person narrative.

The main comparisons between the two I’ve found is that there’s a lot one can do with first person along the lines of shortcuts I would never be able to get away with in third person, as well as fun playing with the element of personality and style of the narrating character. But then on the other side, third person has a lot more room to work in, works better with some logistics, and I’ve read some books that pull off witty and interesting narrating side remarks on a level that doesn’t fit as well in first person.

Do you enjoy doing one POV or multiple POVs?

Both? Is that an option?

It depends on the story, I like to use whatever I think serves the story best.

What’s your favorite genre to write in?

I’ve certainly enjoyed fantasy over the years and as the one I’m most familiar with, that’s probably the closest to a favorite. I can tell you though one I really want to try is Magical Realism.

Who is your strongest writing supporter?

This is hard.

Well, sort of.

Right now it’s definitely 100% a friend of mine (who I often vaguely refer to on my blog since I don’t want to name her without permission and I guess I’ve never really thought about asking…? *shrugs*) Anyways, you have her to thank for directly inspiring the following posts:

  1. The Unicorn Prompt
  2. Favorite Books Read in 2019
  3. Blackout Poetry
  4. The March of the Typos

There are even more that were ideas implanted in my brain through our conversations, and she was the person to first introduce me to the word pluviophile (one of our first conversations I believe).

She is literally the only reason I finished my project 51. Her fawning over snippets, prodding me with forks, yelling at Karen* in support of me, listening to me struggling out of plot holes and watching me make more, and her demanding to know where my characters were every second of the day.**

Boom.

51 came into existence.

And honestly about three different short stories, a couple months of poems, some really good additions to my tbr (to-be-read) list, and that’s just for starters.

(Also she’s honestly way better at writing than I am, so there’s that.)

The reason I said this was hard, is because there are so many other people that have supported me from the moment I wrote my first story.

For example my oldest sister, who I swear has magical powers (she can literally get anyone excited about parsing Latin sentences in an average of about five minutes or less) used to read every single one of my stories without fail for five(?) years and edit them all and quietly listen to me rant and pull hair out over them when I needed to rant and pull out hair, and then her presence would magically give me ideas and I would run off bursting with solutions.

And then there’s my Dad who gets really excited over my stories, cheers me on in every contest I’ve ever entered, whether it be for poetry or short stories, and who even supported the idea of me starting a blog and has helped me with some of the technical stuff.

My mom is always helping me in my artistic endeavors. My grandma reads every single one of my blog posts and asks after my projects when we talk. My brothers give me tons of ideas for free (even though I charge them for every push up they do on my carpet). My other older sister listens and reminds me of things when I’ve forgotten them and who gives me encouragement and sends me writer memes when she sees them. And my younger sister gives me hugs and reminds me that I’ve been sitting at the computer for a long chunk of time, while there’s a sun outside and books to read and games to play and tea parties to have.

There are literally hundreds of stories here about people I know in relation to my writing.

Like how my oldest sister use to print out my stories and sew them together into books for me and I would give them away to people.

Or like when my Dad read one of my short stories to a room full of college students while I turned beet red with embarrassment and wished that I could disappear in thin air.

That was a great day.

*no people, pets, animals, imaginary or real were harmed in the making of the aforementioned art.

**or something like that

What is one thing that gives you inspiration to write?

Forks.

Do you like revision?

Haha, well I certainly like creating lists for when I revise what I should change. I’m actually quite good at that part.

I also enjoy printing things out just so I can mark them up and cross out sentences.

However, I find the actual revision hard because I always end up wanting to add more to the story and plot – which is something I have not learned how to go about doing after the first draft.

(If anyone has perfected that, or even knows one tidbit more than I do on the topic – which is nada – let me know. I shall be in your debt.)

Poems or stories?

Is this an either/or situation?

Can you listen to music while you write?

I usually listen to music. The reasons sometimes vary but are the following, either

  1. There is too much background noise such as a conversation, so I use headphones and music so that I can block out those distractions I am not able to tune out easily.
  2. There is too little background noise. As strange as it might sound, no noise means something is wrong in my brain has grown up in a large homeschool family. This results in me becoming more conscious of my surroundings, thus becoming more distracted. In order to write, I need to hear myself think, but I don’t need to be able to hear myself breathe.

The follow up question of course is what kind of music do I listen too while writing? I can write to almost anything I would listen to on a regular basis excepting musicals (though that’s what I’m listening to right now haha). Those are a bit too much to block out for when I’m trying to concentrate – even if I know every word in the song. But ideally some soundtracks or instrumental orchestra pieces.

Present or past tense?

Funny topic…

I always used past tense until I started my last WIP 51 and my oldest brother had the brilliant idea that I should use present tense. The only confusing thing was that at the same time on the side I was working on a short story, Of Sea and Sky, which was still in past tense. My writing had some serious identity crisis those months and I did not even realize it later, but my short story started switching tenses after.

My whole body is trembling, while all I want to do is curl up. 
Niklas scoots closer, watching me.
Who would have thought that after all these years I had never been to sea before?
β€œI’m sorry,” he mouthed.
I was too numb to answer.

As for preference between the two tenses… (not to sound like a broken record) but it depends on the story.


Now for the questions from the amazing Emma.

What is something your mom does that makes you feel loved?

The first thing that came to mind is how she use to randomly make me mocha/hot chocolate drinks. “Used to” because my orthodontist told me that I probably shouldn’t drink it while I have braces.

The second thing that came to mind is how she buys bagels every once and a while even though no one else in our household is very fond of them.

And thirdly I thought of how she went to great lengths during this run on sewing supplies to find white thread for me because I had run out and am in the middle of a quilt.

So all of the above, I suppose. πŸ™‚

What is your favorite natural phenomenon? Why?

How the stars we see at night changes depending on the season, and the phases of the moon, the waves in the ocean.

They’re all just so breathtaking.

^^ case in point.

(none of those pictures are mine for the record, thanks Pexels.com )

What are three of your quirkiest habits?

I can make a list but disclaimer the habits will seem more quirky to some and less to others. πŸ˜†

  1. I name my plants
  2. I organize my bookshelf by color
  3. I dip my fries in my milkshake

What do you and ducks have in common?

Apparently ducks and I both enjoy some of the same foods such as peaches, pears, tomatoes, apples, bananas, some nuts and seeds, etc.

(Thanks Google.)

What to people overestimate/underestimate about you?

Hahahaha.

That’s a good one.

I’m short so a lot of people underestimate my abilities at a lot of things. For starters my age, my ability to drive, my ability to be responsible. Things like that.

But since I make fun of my own height often and I don’t have proof that people underestimate all of the above abilities (just some), I decided to ask a friend.

Her answer: “How good you are about comforting me when I’m crying over my dead husband.”

There we go guys. Isn’t that nice?

Two words: Mock Trial.

Do you believe in penguins? (This is a very controversial topic, so please be thoughtful in your answer.)

I have thought it over and yes. Feel free to quote me on this. Evelyn, April 2020:

I believe in penguins.

Just ask my friend Mr. Popper. He has the loveliest penguins.

Return From An Unexpected Journey | writing is a habit, boundaries are your friends, + other collected bric-a-brac

BOOM BABY

I am back.

Throw some confetti and commence the apologies.

After a long silence, I finally have stopped ignoring that nagging reminder in my head that I had a personal commitment to write every weekend. I had plenty of thoughts before, all those weeks that slipped away without a post, but no time to catch them with my butterfly nets. So I had let dust settle on all the furniture around here. Before I knew it, a full month had passed. Then two. I began to pack a few things, look back over my shoulder and wonder where to start again and when. Suddenly my virtual house was making me sneeze.

At the beginning this week I talked myself into sitting down and even wrote 3/4ths of a post before giving up and abandoning it to drown in the draft bin.

Which is when I started getting the messages.

Apparently I have some telepathically-talented readers, friends, and family. I am in awe of their abilities.

As my grandmother pointed out, “I thought with the coronavirus and all you would surely have MORE time to blog.”

This, I am afraid, is the truth.

Since my life got cancelled, I have caught up in school and even gotten ahead. I have done some spring cleaning, read some books for pleasure, filled pages of my sketchbook at alarming rates, and done lots of walking/biking/driving/running around my neighborhood. I’ve even crocheted a random hat, sorted hundreds of beads, and virtually attended one meeting of friend’s book club.

But I have not blogged.

Until now.

The last post I published was about my debate team’s upcoming tournament. That Saturday we competed, had an absolute blast, and even qualified to advance to state competition (though it was cancelled a month later.)

Ever since mid-last semester, I realized I did not have the time I needed to commit to studying and to writing. In the end, I found after studying and drilling debate materials, I did not have the mental energy to write. Instead, I turned to doodling and watercolor to satisfy my artistic yearnings.

It was because of that change of pace, February 2nd passed without me noticing it was my blog’s one year blogversary. Later in the week, I realized the fact, wrote a post in celebration, and never got around to editing it.

The thing is: writing is a habit.

You have to train yourself to sit, turn off noises, and train yourself to think for yourself.

No more podcasts drilling your head with statistics, no more music looping your mind with catchy tunes and choruses, no more emails sliding in and cluttering your inbox (at least to your knowledge).

You have to pick a time.

You have to pick a spot.

And you just have to sit. Write, or don’t write. But sit there and do nothing else for the allotted time.

In the couple weeks after my decision to take a undefined break from writing I would find at the same exact time of day, every day, I would begin to feel restless, and then this … longing. An urge to sit down at the computer and just write.

It was because through working diligently on my novel 51 during the summer, I had unconsciously created a very specific routine.

Who said anything about numbers of words? Writing is a habit, not a race. Sure, it’s good to have word goals, but the foundation is training the brain when to stop listening and when to start thinking.

It goes beyond that in my experience. Once I said goodbye to my old blog, and started this one, with my weekly post goal, I had ever so many ideas. I had ever so many things to write about. I was training my mind to form posts through my week so that once I sat down, I would have an overflow of ideas. Talking to a friend about the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice vs. the Hollywood adaption. Finding inspiration in writing through bookbinder poetry. The occurrence of my brother’s wedding. A passing remark over a to-go box of food.

Sure, I still spent anxious moments staring at the blinking cursor, but I was working at it. The feeling of thoughts funneled into words and then into sentences on a Friday or Saturday morning, the feeling of flexing those muscles started to feel right and normal. All because I set boundaries and strove to stick to them.

In the writing community, I sometimes hear people proffer that when you’re stuck, you should remove the boundaries you have, whether they be related to time, style, or some type of personal or given challenge.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

Truth #2: Boundaries are friends, not foes (and that’s not just for the procrastinators in the room)

Two weeks I had a fantastically happy moment when I finally found someone else who voiced this opinion in this amazing interview of soundtrack composer Nathan Johnson. The first full episode I listened to of this podcast, I was very pleased. Beyond finding the section about the creation of the soundtrack for a movie called Looper fascinating (a soundtrack my brother and I have been hooked on ever since), I found the principal idea I have discovered and experienced in my own life finally said in a clear, tangible way:

“…this is like an old principle in art: the worst way to try to make something is with no rules. You need the parameters to know how to push as far as you can up against that. You need the canvas for the painting. You need to define what the playground is. And that’s the thing that lets you go all the way up to the edges of it.”

Nathan Johnson

This is why my thirteen-year-old self’s freestyle poetry mass produced every day flopped out of the machine as nothing more than soggy deflated balloons. I had no boundaries. I just threw pretty words together on the page. This is why at the beginning of 2019 when began reading The Roar on the Other Side and learned the forms, I began to see clearly the boundaries I had set (writing sonnets, writing haikus, etc.) and learned to be creative within them – practicing my imagery inside them.

This is why once I made the goal “post every Friday,” I knew my boundaries, worked toward them, and created within them. I stuck to religiously to that goal for almost an entire year.

For 51 it was to write a novel in 1st person, present tense – something I had never done before.

And finally while I have been absent I have again realized a third thing.

Truth #3. Accountability matters

Shoutout to the telepathically-talented few, those that prick you with forks, and those that raise their eyebrows when you’re making a bit too many collages and inspiration boards for your new WIP, while the actual draft is sitting in the corner.

They save your (writing) life.

other bric-a-brac from the past couple months


  • I still can’t get over what an amazing song The Gambler by fun. is.
  • Spending a couple hours at the DMV on a Monday morning was more interesting than I had been led to believe, but I wouldn’t want to do it every day.
  • I joked the other day about how once I get my full license I might want to keep the “student driver” stickers. But honestly. There is a noticeable difference in following distance when said stickers are in use or not. Sooo…
  • Dare I say it aloud? I loved the 2019 adaption of Little Women movie more than the original book.
  • Recently a writer-friend launched a review site for movies and books which I have been really finding interesting. (check it out and see for yourself: projectpursuewisdom.com #shamelessplug)
  • One of my brothers and I have started reading at least one book a week. This week is rereading Peter Pan for me.
  • Gladiator* is absolutely brilliant. And now one of my favorite movies.
  • 3:10 to Yuma* (with Russell Crowe) was amazing and the BBC film Brooklyn* was pretty good too for that matter (though the friend I watched the latter with begs to differ, you know who you are haha)
  • I will be back next week.

Until then, be careful out there!

~ evelyn ~

(*as usual note content warnings, these films are not necessarily recommended*)