The Definition of Insanity

One of my works in progress is a novel whose temporary title was ‘Dream Dancers.’  It’s something that I knew was going to take a lot of work.

Just not this much work.

The Definition of Insanity (thank you, Shelby, for okaying the title), is a story about a woman in her early twenties who has always heard voices in her head.  She doesn’t really know what’s going on, but there are actually other people living inside her mind.  And they want out — badly.

My best friend and I were talking the other day, and we kind of realized how pathetic we are.  She knows more about the regency period and I know more about ancient Egypt than we do about the modern world.  What on earth do normal people our age do with their lives?  That’s a huge problem I have with the Definition of Insanity.  While it’s got elements that aren’t ‘normal,’ for the most part it’s a contemporary novel and it confuses me.  Many interesting things happen in daily life, but not much that makes a good book.

This is my third time rewriting the beginning.  I have to write chronologically, so the beginning, for me, is a huge part of integrating myself in the story.  And it kept falling flat.  I had too much info-dump and hadn’t planned things out enough.  And I readily admit I was rather lazy.  I’m rather a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person and my methods and the story were not meshing.  When I write, I need excitement.  And what I was doing wasn’t conducive with the story.

But I learned more from every rewrite.  I already have playlists put together to spur my mind as I write and I’ve finally nailed the plot down more.  This time, I think I can do it.

So, just for fun, I’m going to tell you a bit about my story.

The name is kind of a family in-joke.  My dad is a huge tease and he likes to tell us that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result.  And just given the content, it fits.  Besides, I think writing this one might just drive me over the edge.

I was inspired to write the book, in part, by the therapy I was doing.  My dear friend and therapist, Brother Cassity, had me try a technique where I would ‘enter’ a sort of conference room in my head where all the facets of myself had gathered.  He asked me to find the one holding onto all the fear, and when I saw her, I think I scared him a little.  This is Valkyrie.

I was born into a less-fortunate household, seeing as my biological father was quite mentally and emotionally abusive.  I grew into a hardened, mean individual, and Valkyrie is basically myself had I not been given the opportunities to change.  (And for the record, my mother remarried when I was twelve, and I completely, totally, and unreservedly consider my new father as my real one).  So writing this book is very much an emotional journey for me, as I’ll be delving into my past and coming to terms with it.  Everyone has difficulties and trials individual to them, and a goal I hope I can reach with this novel is to bring peace to other tortured souls.

As always, a book is made by its characters.  Plot, technique, etc. are all very important, but to create a memorable experience characters have to be flesh-and-blood, individuals the audience can relate to and sympathize with.  I’ve spent quite a bit of time on these guys, and I’d like to introduce you now:

DUSTY ELIZABETH DARCY (FORMERLY MURPHY)

My protagonist, Dusty Darcy

Dusty, the protagonist and host of most of the others, was legally adopted by her mother’s second husband, which is why her last name changed.  She’s twenty-one, and the book begins soon after she and her sister lose their parents.  She’s intelligent but struggles with school and currently works at JCPenney in Reno, Nevada.  She’s a quarter Sioux on her mother’s side and has thick black hair, full lips, thick brows and eyes that are rather small in her chiseled face.  (Morphing Lily Collins and Sandra Bullock kind of did the trick with a bit of GIMP alteration).  She’s a bit blunt, a bit of an introvert, and loves to read — just don’t ask her to spout her knowledge.  She has bad dyscalculia (basically dyslexia with numbers), and is quite the people-watcher.  Rather quiet, it takes a while to get to know her, but inside, she’s always acquiring and digesting new facts about the world around her.

RYCE KATHRINE DARCY

Aww, happy Ryce

This is Dusty’s younger sister.  They’re not biologically related, so don’t be surprised at their complete lack of resemblance.  She’s a literal genius, but because of money matters she’s decided not to continue on to college — at least not for the moment — and it crushes Dusty.  She’s sugar and spice and everything nice, but she’s surprisingly shrewd.  She always sees the good in people and tries hard to remain positive.  She’s overwhelmingly loyal to her sister, and in many ways is Dusty’s rock.  Dusty is Ryce’s caution, Ryce is Dusty’s worry-alleviator.  They balance each other out very well.

DJIN (NEEDS MIDDLE NAME) HAWTHORNE

Djin!

Djin’s kind of rough-around-the-edges.  When you first meet him, he seems kind of hard and sullen, but that’s just the way he appears.  He does have quite the temper, but usually manages to keep it in check.  He doesn’t trust others very easily, but is usually willing to give them a chance.  He’s devoted to his adopted brother, Tsuyoshi, and when he’s around him is the only time his true softness comes out.  Djin feels things very deeply and is somehow of the opinion that it is his job to care for those trapped in Dusty’s mind.  He’s very selfless, almost to a fault, little though you’d know it from his brusque attitude.  All-in-all, he’s what my friends and I call a burnt marshmallow — bitter and hard on the outside, gooey and sweet on the inside.  Although I don’t think he’d be particularly keen on that description.

TSUYOSHI AKI (NEEDS LAST NAME)

.

He was inspired by the adorable Yuzuru Hanyuu who won the gold in the men’s skating last winter Olympics.  That little face needed a story.  So Tsuyoshi (or ‘Tsu,’ as Djin calls him) was born.  He was the last to arrive in Dusty’s mind, and Djin kind of took him in.  Tsuyoshi is very different from the others — he’s incredibly sweet and soft-hearted.  He’s not the brightest sometimes, but he’s kind and loving in an innocent way that is very rare these days.  Whatever he does, he does with his whole heart.  He loves music, especially classical, and can often be found composing in the apartment he and Djin share.

HUGO JAMES BENEDICT

Combine Jareth and The Awesome Elvin King Whose Name I Don't Know and you have ... HUGO JAMES BENEDICT.

(Another morphed project).  Hugo likes to keep to himself, though he is attracted to Valkyrie.  Out of all of them, he is perhaps the coldest.  He thinks only of himself, not even those he’s been with for about a decade.  His opinion of himself is basically that he’s royalty.  His apartment is lush and he enjoys spending time in the library, philosophizing and looking regal in his tailored suits.  Very self-absorbed.  He is willing to do anything to free himself from Dusty’s mind, and that makes him the most dangerous of all.

VALKYRIE AURORA WEBB

I made a Valkyrie thing!  I'm so proud of myself!

Valkyrie is an extremely complicated individual.  (No, you may not call her ‘Val.’  I do, but she can’t murder me without her story careening to a halt).  She remembers far more than Dusty the abuse they suffered at the hands of Dusty’s biological father, and she has grown into a woman haunted by her past, hardened to the point that she no longer feels anything.  Her only relief comes by dancing, the rigor of ballet somehow soothing her.  She also loves music and has a vast collection of both classical and musical theatre.  (She is against pop.  She finds it crude and childish).  She doesn’t feel, but she certainly thinks.  She doesn’t know how to see the positive, and life, for her, is just about surviving one more day.

CHRISTOPHER (NEEDS MIDDLE AND LAST NAMES)

The name is completely coincidental, I promise.  Chris just graduated college with a degree in engineering, sponsored by his wealthy parents.  He has everything he wants.  He’s first attracted to Dusty, but Ryce quickly captures his attention.  He’s charming, caring, and attentive, and his help is greatly appreciated by the struggling girls (much to the dislike of those in Dusty’s mind).  But his motives are far less generous than what initially they seem.

So, that was a sneak peek into my old/new novel.  I hope you enjoyed, because there will definitely be more on the subject.

Cheers!

Ana

P.S. Happy birthday, Reita!

Reita - The GazettE

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Liebster Award Tag

I love that name.  I have no idea what it means, but the German-ness of it is just so fun.

Anyway, I considered myself tagged by my dear friend Tracey.  She’s an awesome person, amazing writer, and hilarious friend.  Read her list: http://traceydyck.blogspot.com/2015/05/liebster-award.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TraceyDyck+%28Tracey+Dyck%29

(I have no idea how to make the fancy ‘click here’ signs, so please bear with me.  I looked it up and was even more confused than before).

Anyway, on to the questions!

1. What’s one of your favorite summer reads?

Oh, dear me.  I don’t really reread books, so this is a hard one.  There are very few things I actually revisit cover to cover, and it’s only when I feel a strong need to enter back into those worlds.  Those picks are a) the Squire’s Tales, b) an unfinished book by my friend, c) Harry Potter, and probably d) the Phantom of the Opera.  And right now I’m reading Najee: A Glimmer of Hope by Sarah Y. Westmoreland, and Shakespeare is good for any season.

The Squire, His Knight, and His Lady (The Squire's Tales) by Gerald Morris. $6.99

(Based on the legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight).

2. What’s your favorite way to cool off on a hot summer day?

My sisters and I developed a game we would play in our rather suburban neighborhood: fill a huge bucket with water, arm everyone with a plastic cup, and chase each other with the full glasses.  Hit your victim with the water, they’re frozen until someone else frees them.  You get soaked, but it’s so much fun.  And apparently wet long hair is not a good alternative to the water glass — I’m told it hurts.

3. What’s a combination of three authors’ “special somethings” that you’d like to emulate in your own writing?

Ooh, rough one, Tracey.  Great question, though!  Hmm.  First of all, Gerald Morris’ (the Squire’s Tales) humor.  His books are laugh-out-loud hilarious and the man’s wit is rapier-sharp.  I love Eloise Jarvis McGraw’s perfect balance between showing and telling, making you feel as if you are in the book.  And probably my favorite detail included in the books I love most is the realism of the characters.  If they’re flesh-and-blood, I have to love them.  They become my friends.  One of the best at this is Mirriam Neal, but Eloise Jarvis McGraw and Gaston Leroux are also some of my favorites in this area.

4. What music are you currently listening to?

Right now?  Or just in this general time frame?  Right now I’m listening to my sisters putting together a puzzle, and they’re not music.  They’re strange creatures.  Generally, right now I listen to the GazettE, but I do that a lot.  I’m also doing a project involving musical theatre, so I’m listening to more Chess and Aida (Elton John’s, not Verdi’s, obviously).

5. Which superhero (from either Marvel or DC) are you most like?

Tracey, are you trying to kill me?  No idea.  I want to be Spider-Man (not Spider-Girl, I will be Spider-Man), but as to whom I’m already the most like?  (And I really hope that was the proper use of ‘whom’ — Mom’s helping with the puzzle, and I’m too lazy to utilize her English-teacher skills).  I’d like to say I’m most like Captain America, since he’s one of my top favorite people ever, but probably Bruce Banner/the Hulk with maybe a bit of Natasha Romanoff/the Black Widow thrown in.  I try to be calm and kind, but my temper is something I struggle daily with.  And like Nat, I haven’t always been a perfect princess, but I still try to do my best.

6. What’s your favorite fantasy creature you’ve ever read about?

Chimera, hands-down.  Have you ever read the Treekeepers?  I’d always liked chimeras, but Ally completely solidified that.  I also love griffins, and dragons are cool, too.  Although my love of chimeras kind of got me into trouble — there was a girl when we just moved here that I was trying to be nice to whose name, while spelled differently, was Chimera.  I said, “Oh, that’s awesome!  They’re my favorite animal!”  My sisters told me later that my ‘compliment’ may not’ve been that welcome, seeing as we live in a deprived community where a chimera is a type of car.  I love where I live, but I can’t imagine a world without chimeras — it would seem so lonely, bleak, and sad.

Adorable baby chimera yawns its way into your heart

(It’s a baby chimera!)

7. Chocolate or vanilla?

Chocolate.

my thoughts exactly.

8. What’s something you admire about yourself?

I don’t give up.  I come from conquering stock (William the Conqueror and Charlemagne on Mom’s side, Theodore Turley and the pioneers on Dad’s, just to name a few), and I shall make my ancestors proud.  There are times, of course, when I want to give up, but how could I live with myself if I did?  My life would come to a grinding halt, and I refuse to give in to those things that would like to stop me.

9. Which do you prefer: writing by hand or typing?

Because of the Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, I struggle with writing by hand.  Besides, I swear it was a form of torture my mother devised for us as children.  Because of my loose joints, my handwriting is really bad, and if I write for too long my wrists tries to attack me.  Which is why I can’t study math right now….

10. If failing was impossible, what would you do?

Everything!  I would be a heart surgeon, a pharmacist, live in college and speak fifty languages, I would take a walk every single day, I would fly, I’d become a mermaid, I’d become Spider-Man, I would be good enough to sing at the ROH (Royal Opera House), and most importantly, I would rid myself of all the mistakes I make once and for all.  I’ve mentioned that I have a real fear of failure, and something that kills me is my past.  I feel like I make so many mistakes and have so many flaws and can never make my Heavenly Father proud, but if failure was eliminated, those thoughts wouldn’t trouble me.  But honestly, failure is part of the eternal plan.  If there was no fear of failure, there would be no triumph when we succeeded.

The Amazing Spider-Man | 24 Unofficial Movie Posters That Are Better Than The Real Posters

11. What’s something God has taught you recently, new or rediscovered?

Best question yet, Tracey.  He’s teaching me about the Atonement again.  That no matter how many mistakes I make, I can be forgiven.  And He’s teaching me that He’s always there.  I can always rely on Him, even if it’s a small matter.  He wants to help me.  My biological father always told me how disappointed God was with me, so it means so much that I’m learning from God Himself that it’s not true.  I can become better, and I do have worth in His eyes.

Tagging time!

All right, I still am very limited in who I know in the blogosphere, so please, consider yourself tagged and give me the link in the comments!

But I do have to tag those I actually know: Shelby, Lody, and my new EDS friend Mandiix.  And Rana, I’m not sure what the rules are concerning tags, so you’re included.

And the questions:

1. Which Disney character do you identify most with?

2. What’s your ethnic background?

3. If you had your pick of the best cosplay materials in the world but could only choose one character to play, who would it be?

4. What do you think the greatest blessing in your life is?

5. What is your favorite physical attribute in yourself, and what is your favorite spiritual attribute in yourself?

6. If you forgot everyone in your life and your relation to them except for one person, who would that person be?

7. What’s your dream? (It doesn’t have to be something achievable.  Just something you dream of doing, every impossibility thrown out the window).

8. What are your favorite qualities in a friend?

9. What do you like to study? (It could be anything from Impressionist painting to the cultural impact of fleas).

10. What is your favorite word?

11. List all the reasons you’re amazing.

Cheers!

Ana

“I will walk together.”

I’ve mentioned before my great love of the Japanese rock band the GazettE.  (And the reason the ‘e’ is capitalized is just because it looks cool).

the GazettE

(Left to right: Aoi, Reita, Kai, Uruha, and Ruki is sitting).

I first was ‘introduced’ to them by my friend Mirriam Neal’s blog.  She had pictures of Aoi and Kai (with the awesome hair pictured above) and I was curious.  When I first looked into their music, I was a little confused and weirded out.  I thought they were okay, but they weren’t anything I’d come in contact with before.  But I still went foraging through the internet to look for their clean music.  (While I don’t speak Japanese, the overall theme of a song is still very apparent in the music even if the words are foreign to the listener.)

I acquired a bit of a collection, but I branched out into other types of j-rock.  A lot of them are good, but I quickly realized that the GazettE is one of the cleaner bands.  It’s so hard to find songs even in my native language that are clean and it frustrates and angers me to no end.  So I was certainly impressed and proud that the Gazette didn’t block me out of their artistry.  That’s not to say that all of their stuff is perfectly clean — it’s not.  But something that I love about them is that if they choose to make something inappropriate for someone with my standards to listen to, the content usually includes only swearing or themes of violence.  In today’s world sexuality is glorified.  It’s pathetically hard to find a song that doesn’t highlight this in some way.  That’s one reason why I don’t listen to a lot of modern pop music (plus it’s not really my thing).  One has to search diligently on the internet and be prepared to wade through things no one should have to come in contact with just to find a good song.  It’s pathetic and disgusting.  But for the most part, the GazettE stay away from involving that particular theme in their music.

Aoi.Reita(The GazettE)

(Aoi and Reita).

The GazettE get life.  None of them have had it easy, perhaps Ruki, the vocalist, in particular.  He was treated very poorly by his family to the extent that he had nothing to do with his father until the band began to get popular.  These guys have seen sadness and pain but not only has it made them fuller, better people, they’ve been able to help others through their experiences.  That’s how hardships should be used.  So many of their songs are uplifting, and many of them deal with harsh topics such as abuse and death.  One of my favorite songs is Miseinen, and to paraphrase the song, it’s basically a story of growing up.  In youth, you rebel and your pride lifts you up, but that’s not really how it’s supposed to go.  It’s okay to rely on friends and family, to be broken, because it makes you stronger.  I think it not only sums up the amazing mentality of the band, but the hope we can have for our own lives.

The GazettE have helped me very much in my life.  I have a very hot temper and their music is one of the few things that calm me down sufficiently.  As anyone who knows me understands, I struggle so much with math.  (And my dad’s an accountant.  Sad, right?)  I would get so wound up that my emotional state would be on the range between ‘frustrated’ and ‘angry’.  I don’t like being mad.  It leaves a bitter feeling that’s hard to shake.  So as I studied up in my room, I’d turn on Baretta and Best Friends.  It really helped.  One fan has said, “They understand what my family doesn’t.”  And while I don’t share those feelings about my family not understanding, I love that I can listen to a couple of songs by the GazettE and then be calm enough to express myself to those close to me.  ‘Cause it really stinks to be so frustrated that when I try to speak, all of it boils up and I wind up doing something I regret.  Or even if I’m feeling down, listening to Cassis calms me and gives me hope.  To me, that’s really the GazettE’s message: hope.  Both in their music and how they live their lives.

The GazettE

They’re actually really shy, private people.  My dad avoids the topic of them because I think they make him wary, which, in my opinion, is kind of funny.  Mirriam and I talked quite a bit about them the other day, and the way she described them when her mother looked askance at them was that they’re sweet babies.  And she’s right.  They have such sweet spirits.  Their music is downright awesome — they’re a highly talented bunch.  But their spirits have the opportunity to speak through it.  They try so hard to be tough, but they’re polite and funny and just genuinely people who make me smile.  When I’m upset in any way, they’re one of the things with the highest percentage of cheering me up and giving me hope.

the GazettE. I love their smiles. :D <3

I could go on about them forever, but I’ll just keep this short and sweet.  The GazettE have reached into my heart and give me confidence and help me strive toward who I want to be.  I have a very strong fear of failure and they help calm me down and let me see more of my potential.  I don’t know them and they don’t know me, but the hope and strength they give me will forever be something I treasure.

Cheers!

Ana

P.S. New album in August!  Someone tell me how it is, as I’ll be on a mission.

An Open Letter to Everyone

I’m proud to be part of a writing group whose members simply call it ‘the Pack.’  We follow the writer Mirriam Neal (our pack leader), and encourage each other in every endeavor we — either wisely or ridiculously — choose to pursue.  It’s through this wonderful group of girls that I met my best friend.  These awe-inspiring people have taught me the true meaning of friendship and unconditional love, even for those of us that are the most flawed.

We’re an odd bunch.  Any one of us will admit that.  And I think that unorthodox-ness sometimes makes us feel inferior, other, or unwanted.

I recently read a blog post by a very, very dear friend of mine.  The overall feeling I got was that she doesn’t see her full worth.  I look at her and see someone funny, beautiful, and wise beyond her years.  Her soul is inspiring, whether it’s making me giggle or see the world through the beautiful stained-glass window she has created.  She thinks she’s awkward and hard to love, but all the qualities that she thinks make her lesser are what I love most about her.  They make her who she is.  And if someone doesn’t love you for who you are … get rid of them.

I am here to tell you of your importance.  As I’ve come closer to Christ, I’ve truly began to understand the power of love for others.  I may not know you personally, but I testify to you that the qualities you have are not what make you inferior, but what make you special.  Perhaps you have a strange sense of humor.  Perhaps you like to read about neuroscience.  Perhaps you don’t get metaphors.  Perhaps you have difficulty around people.  I don’t care — you are special.  You, just by existing, make the world a better place.

Think about it: where would the world be without you?  I can tell you most assuredly that it would be empty.  Maybe the world would continue to spin, but it would feel the absence.  Have you ever seen the Christmas film It’s a Wonderful Life?  It’s one of my dad’s favorite movies, and I finally watched it last December.  It’s about how a man who feels everyone would be better without him is shown how the world would have been different had he never been born.  In the end, he realizes how many blessings he has, and what a blessing he has been.

You are a blessing.  Maybe you’re a social butterfly, maybe you’re Muslim, maybe you’re a survivor of abuse.  You are unique, wonderful, irreplaceable, inspiring.  I want you to look in the mirror and see what I could see: an amazing individual who deserves every chance.  Someone who is loved.  Someone who deserves to be loved by themselves.

Learn to love yourself.  I love you.  But most importantly, God loves you.  He’s given everything for you, and I want you to know that no matter what you feel, you can always turn to Him.  Maybe you won’t get your answer immediately, but He is there, His hand outstretched, just waiting for you to take it.

Don’t cut.  Don’t cry.  Know that there’s someone out there, even if she doesn’t know you, who prays for you and cares about you.  If a perfect stranger can do that, please do it for yourself, too.

With all the love in my heart,

Ana

(Read this adorable thing I found).

This is exactly how I feel about you. (yes, you!!!) :: if you know the artist who drew this, please let me know as I'd love to give them credit. the site this links to searched but could not find the source and neither could I. xoxo

Why Listening to One’s Mother is a Good Idea

Almost a year ago we moved.  It was one of those really hard life changes that takes everyone a ton of getting used to, y’know?  On top of that, money problems started getting worse, and my voice lessons with Jennifer Welch-Babidge went bye-bye.

(Jennifer Welch-Babidge.  She’s crazier in real life, trust me).

Jenny is amazing, and I was so blessed have lessons with her.  My mom has taught me all the building blocks, and it’s thanks to her that I’m as good as I am now.  But she’s a full-on musical theater girl and opera is a foreign world.  So my parents paid for me to have Skype lessons with Jenny (LOOK HER UP IN FIDELIO.  NOW), and Mama made sure that I was being good and doing what I was supposed to.  Being stubborn and lazy, I went about my merry life without doing sit-ups and practicing every day, but I still devoted time to sitting down at the piano and plunking out my arias every once in a while.

Then we moved, money got tighter, and lessons ended.  I really don’t mean to complain, but it wasn’t easy.  I have a great life, but this was a scratchier bit.

But here comes the point I have been leading up to.

My mother told me to continue practicing.  I didn’t.

Eventually, I started doing sit-ups almost every night.  Your diaphragm is the most important factor when singing.  You can almost kind of fake lacking anything else, but if your belly isn’t strong, you got nothin’.  So I thought I was doing myself a service and I would be able to sing like the angels of Heaven when I actually got around to practicing.

Nah.

I had started work, was busy, and didn’t practice despite everything my mother has ever told me.

I sat down to sing two, three weeks ago and I found, to my fear, mortification, and all-consuming horror, that I had lost ‘the knack’.  While I could explain in a heartbeat what it was like to sing, my technique had diminished so much my voice was like a withered flower.  One of those ones that you touch and it falls apart.

And I have to perform next Saturday.

I’m trying desperately to get my voice back — my mom assures me it’ll come.

But if I had been diligent in taking care of my instrument, this would not be happening.

This is why I should listen to my mother.

Disney Frozen Elsa picture #DisneyFrozen

Cheers!  (And woes).

Ana