Friday, May 29, 2009

Pastry Deer Award

So yeah, I haven't done any meme sort of things since last year, and almost two weeks ago now, CrazyCris shared an award with me from her blog, so yeah, here I am actually doing my post on it now. This sort of recognition isn't an every day thing for me, so I just thought I'd post to say thanks, and follow the award's rules.

Rules: Respond and rework. Answer the questions on your blog, replace one question you dislike with a question of your own invention, and add one additional question.

Basically, this post'll be one of those ones where you get to learn things you either didn't know or already knew all over again about your local blogging weirdo extraordinaire here. FUN!!! (That hurt even me.)

1). What is your current obsession?
I'm not really sure. Addicted to Animal Crossing on the Wii as usual, and pretty addicted to Taiko no Tatsujin on the DS. This Magician's Quest DS game (Sort of Animal Crossing meets Harry Potter) looks like it'll be a future obsession if I can find a copy as I'm hoping to this weekend, with at least a good year or so's worth of things to do and even better character AI. And otherwise, I'm musically obsessed with the latest Metric album, Fantasies, and M83 since I got into his music back in January after seeing him perform on Late Night with Conan O'Brien then. (This would be my favorite of his songs, from the 2005 album, "Before the Dawn Heals Us.") I've also rather gotten into listening to music by Japanese electronic pop artists Capsule, MEG, and Perfume. Sadly, none of them have released any of their albums in the west. And in general, joining earlier this year's helped to fuel my exploration of my musical tastes, so it's probably a bit of an obsession too, you could say. Otherwise, still generally obsessed with finishing my novel this year so I can embark on the increasingly difficult journey of searching for an agent and publisher in this day and age where publishers are only getting more conservative and hesitant to pick up new authors, further reducing any aspiring author's chances of breaking into the literary scene and having any real shot at "making it."

2). Where are you right now?
In my room at home in Raleigh, North Carolina. Pretty much where I am 90+% of the time. I'd like to change that within the next two years, though - ideally find some success, some kind of writing work I'd be happy doing and start more of a life of my own. Stuck at home is not exactly where you want to be at 25.

3). Coffee or tea?
Tea, without a doubt. I love all kinds of tea, both hot and iced. It's part of why my teeth are less than blindingly white. The only kind of coffee I really like are those little bottled vanilla frappuccinos that Starbucks makes, but they're still kind of overpriced, and the excess of caffeine always makes me feel weird. Still, those things were important in getting through many an all-nighter, midterm, and final in college.

4). What's one of your favourite movies?
I could name many, many movies here. To be more recent, one of my favorites in recent times is Dear Wendy, a Thomas Vinterberg/Lars von Trier film that I had to pick up online earlier this year since no retailers stock it here in America. A slightly uneven, but really interesting, satirical character study on the psychology of weapon obsession, giving a bunch of teenage pacifists in a staged European art house take on isolated small town vintage guns, which they carry to bolster their self-esteem and confidence, and watching as all hell inevitably breaks loose. A lot of Americans took the film to be nothing more but a one-sided diatribe against gun rights, but there's a lot more to it than that, and it's a really entertaining movie overall.

5). What's one thing you're looking forward to?
Finishing this last set of novel revisions so I can get on to the "fun" of the agent/publisher search while I start work on my second novel.

6). Who was your childhood crush?
I don't remember. I know I had one on a classmate back in 4th grade, but other than her, I wasn't really attracted to anybody as a kid. Even as an adult, I'm usually not drawn to or attracted to anybody particularly easily, which has apparently made me quite susceptible to ridiculously long term unrequited love. Sad. Otherwise, there's just maybe a handful or so of actresses and musicians around my age out there - mostly smaller name ones - who I find particularly wonderful.

7). What is your (current) favourite song?
Already answered this one a few questions up with an M83 link, actually. Don't Save Us from the Flames is simply epic. Great '80s style shoegaze pop anthem.

8). What would you like to get rid of?
When this whole unrequited love situation undoubtedly amounts to nothing in the grand scheme of things, I'd like to shed the baggage with ease, but that's unlikely, knowing me. As a writer, I tend to be more inclined to keep my baggage around for study and character extrapolation in my writing - I'm assuming most do the same. Writing and neuroses can easily come hand in hand. Otherwise, I'd just like to get rid of this general stagnant way of life I have now - to get out of the south and finally begin my own life. Hopefully my writing projects will be a part of getting that going.

9). What's your favourite book?
Tough call. Probably something Salinger or Murakami. The last book I really found myself getting completely lost and absorbed into was Murakami's After Dark last year, and that's technically one of his more flawed works. It's just such an amazing mood piece. I'd kill to be able to write like that.

10). Why did you start your blog?
The idea was to ideally start developing a bit of a readerbase for when I started getting my work published and finally became a published novelist. And technically speaking, I am a published author now - just not a published novelist yet. I don't want to be one of those authors completely inaccessible to their readers, though it seems to mean shedding all that mystique and mystery people seem to love around authors. But then, people are usually disappointed if they get the opportunity to see past all that - authors, artists, and so forth are all still human like everybody else, after all.

Of course, when I first started this blog back in 2007, I wasn't sure what direction to take with it - and it's still not exactly well-directed now. It's mostly just a bunch of meandering ramblings and discombobulated thoughts about anything and everything. Especially seeing as I'm still a complete literary nobody, I'm not sure what value there is in reading them, let alone writing them, but here I am. I'd intended to have the novel finished within 2007 when I first started this thing as is, and now I'm just hoping I have a shot at getting it published within '09 or '10. At least I can say that it's better I finished it this spring than had I rushed through it to finish it back in '07. It's certainly a much better book for it, and I've definitely grown as a writer throughout the process. (And I hope and intend to only keep growing as one as I continue to write and ideally get book after book published over time.)

11). If money was not an issue, what is one thing you would purchase for yourself?
I'd probably just want to get a nice, comfortable apartment somewhere in New York or Boston. Either would be an ideal living environment.

12). If you could live in a foreign country, which one would you choose?
Another tough call. Japan's an obvious choice, if only to have the experience, in at least being somewhat capable of speaking the language. But Canada and many parts of Europe - especially the Scandinavian countries - are quite appealing as well.

13). What is one trait about yourself that you wish you could change?
I'm sort of ambivalent about it, but probably my lack of assertiveness. It would've helped me elude my long term unrequited love situation entirely, though in retrospect, without it, I might not have found a muse and who knows how my writing would have turned out? Probably not as inspired as it has been. And I might have just ended up more dead inside on some level anyway, since I don't tend to be one of the most emotional people in the world to begin with anyway - though what I have tends to be deeply felt. I didn't meet a single person who interested me in the slightest romantically in college, after all, and I tend not to meet new people with any kind of regularity, anyway. I don't make friends easily, and I'm okay with that.

And by nature, I've always been a passive person who's stuck to the periphery and simply observed others and commented. This is something I see as important in my writing as well. So again, for all this, while it'd probably be nicer in some regards if I were a more assertive person and more open minded to working worlds I really don't want anything to do with, it's not as though I dislike who I am in being this quiet, passive observer who rarely interacts with others. For all the negatives, there's a lot of positives to it, too.

14). How 'bout that favorite children's cartoon?
Yeah, this is the one I changed, since the previous was about wine, and I don't drink. And it's all about The Tick! Fox Kids canceled it after only three or so seasons, but Comedy Central gave it second life for a while in a late afternoon slot in the mid-'90s, since its style of writing and comedy was more suited to an adult audience than kids anyway. Great superhero parody.

15). What is one trait about yourself you're proud of?
Hrm. My ability to think things through, maybe. I may be neurotic, but at least I really take the time to think decisions in my life through - sure, I may overthink them and jump back and forth on decisions, but at least I'm capable of a rich internal dialogue.

16). Is there any particular talent you wish you had?
I wish I could still play a musical instrument. I'd like to take up something again, maybe the synthesizer keyboard and some kind of guitar, I'm thinking. Not unlike the sound combination M83 goes for. I'd like to eventually get the hang of composing and performing my own music, as another layer of creativity upon the novel, short story, game, sketch comedy, and TV show type writing I already pour a lot into and dabble in, depending on which of the lot we're talking about. But it requires a very different kind of thinking and approach to things. I used to be pretty decent at the Cello a long time ago. I'm not sure if I'll ever be any good at an instrument again, let alone good enough to actually take a crack at becoming some kind of musician on top of everything else. It might just be too much, but it's fun to think about anyway. At this point, it's stressful enough wondering whether or not I'm really a good enough writer to be worth publishing.

And POW, there you have it. A lot of personal babbling, just as you were hoping for!

Now I'm supposed to tag people, but I don't have a massive list of blogging buddies whose stuff I constantly keep on top of yet. So there's something else for me to feel guilty and neurotic about. Thanks for the pressure, blogging award~

So I'll just go ahead and tag Lindsay, since she tends to write a lot of interesting things. (Just a few days until Conan's return to the air!)

So yeah, sugar-addled deer are go! Or something to that effect.

It's almost June now. Where does the time go?


CrazyCris said...

Well as someone who knows next to nothing about you other than you're writing a novel and can speak Japanese (which I still find impressive), I must say it was an interesting read!

I'm totally with you on numbers 6 and 13... I have a severe tendency to fall down the unrequited love path myself... and let it go on for probably waaaaay to long without ever having the guts to talk to the subject. On the other hand on at least one occasion I've made an excellent friend out of it! ;o)

Am also on the same page with the musical instrument. I used to play the classical flute rather well 9after 6 years of hourly weekly classes with one of the best flute soloïsts in Mexico you can bet I at least wasn't all that bad at it). But I slowly ended up dropping it when I came to Spain for University. Living in dorms isn't conducive to practicing. And I couldn't figure out how to find myself a new teacher. Musical education in Europe (and particularly in Spain) is rather rigid, with you're practically being obligated to join a conservatory. I still miss it and regularly say "this season I'm going to pull out my flute and teach myself to play it again", then it never happens. I also wish I could play the piano and/or guitar, as the only thing I don't like about the flute is that I can't sing (which I love) as I play! :p

Benjamin Fennell said...

I'm glad it was enjoyable, haha. I don't tend to think of myself as the most interesting person in the world by any stretch of the imagination - just an eccentric nerd with literary aspirations and a lot of interests.

Yeah, this is easily the longest I've dealt with these sorts of feelings now, having first met the individual in question close to 7 and a half years ago now. But she and I are never in contact consistently enough and haven't spoken in a few years again now, and when we have been in contact, we've never really been in any sort of situation where I could even consider admitting my feelings, since they would've been nothing but a major inconvenience otherwise. I was in denial about my emotions for her in a long time - we were just good friends who clicked really well, after all. And it's really hard to say whether or not there would ever have been much of a chance of reciprocation - I'm expecting not at any point, but I still don't know with any certainty. I thought I could get over her and spent years trying. That didn't go so well, so yeah, absurd method of expressing my feelings for her and finally putting them out there so that she might eventually know. Even if all that amounts to nothing, as expected, my hope is that the act of expression itself might be enough for me to move on. At this point, I'm pretty much just expecting to be alone, but I'm not really uncomfortable with that idea. Not happy, but I can live just fine without needing anyone.

Ah indeed, I picked up the Cello in 4th grade, had to drop it for a year after moving to North Carolina since there was no elementary school program, and then picked it up from 6th through 8th grades, even playing in a local string ensemble outside of school in 8th grade. Had to quit after that since there was no room in my schedule in high school, since those first two years, I only had 6 classes a day every day. Halfway through, they switched over to block scheduling and expanded to 8 classes, 4 longer ones each day, trading off from day to day. So I never got back to music, and at this point, I'm not sure if I'd want to go back to the Cello or anything classical - there was a lot of stress in my private lessons to focus on mechanically improving by a certain amount from week to week - but if I do pick up anything again, I just want to do it for myself, to find a new means of creating and expressing myself creatively. It's all just much easier said than done, difficult as it is to learn - let alone really gain any natural full feel for - any musical instrument. I can't really sing, myself, in general - allergies being a part of that. But yeah, at least the flute's certainly a beautiful instrument.

CrazyCris said...

Well unfortunately I see the object of my unrequited affection very frequently, I'd pretty much say he's one of my best friends. Which is the biggest impediment (right after my shyness on such matters) to my broaching the subject... I'm scared of losing a very close friend in the process (knowing him he'd be likely to "disappear" for a bit to make things "easier" for me). Plus on the rare occasions when I have thought myself to be prepared to mention it... something has always come up and interfered!

Yeah, the big problem in learning any instrument is in those early years... lots of insistence on technique end endless scales and exercises... but the result later on is rewarding!

Benjamin Fennell said...

Much sympathy, much sympathy. I can relate to worrying over losing a friend upon developing feelings for them. It's certainly part of why I denied my feelings for her for a long time. Best of luck with all that, at any rate. If all else fails, at least you've got a good friend. :)

Exactly. After my main musical experience having been academic, learning the basics then just performing various classical (And a few contemporary at school) pieces for years while being expected to constantly improve at a certain rate in certain ways, I'd like to learn something more for myself, and once I get the basics mastered, really move on into something more creative with it. A different direction with music, ideally, than I've experienced in the past. I imagine that'd be even more fulfilling.