Today, someone started following one of my playlists on Spotify. I’m not sure if there is an established standard reaction to this. Should I be honored? Is it an honor? Should I be insulted that so few people are following my playlist?
Regardless of how I’m supposed to feel, I’ll share how I did feel.
Someone is following one of my playlists. MY playlist. My PLAYLIST.
Do you know how long it has taken me to cultivate this playlist?
Eons of listening to Pandora, days of hunting through Spotify playlists, hours of sifting through b-sides and YouTube bootlegs to find that which I desire most: a playlist that encompasses everything I want to listen to at any given time. This is mixtape gold, my friends. Mixtape gold without the need to limit the time to some arbitrary cassette tape length. A mixtape with a shuffle button. Every song ready to be played at maximum volume and belted out into the void.
And someone else can just…listen to it.
And, while I don’t take umbrage at this person and her clearly impeccable taste, there’s something about it that feels like such a violation.
This list is full of music I listen to when writing. It’s full of guilty pleasures and contemplative musings. It’s a look into my inner psyche that I’m not sure I want the world knowing about. When someone follows my playlist, I can’t explain myself. I can’t tell you why this song made it over another. I need to be able to tell you why!
It’s a lost art, the mixtape. It’s too bad it’s a lost art, because nowadays, our brushes are so much more sophisticated. Now everyone can see this thing that you poured a little bit of your soul into. In a world of oversharing, my playlist must be mine and mine alone.
After all, the mixtape can define you.
I saw Captain America on Thursday. It was amazing. I loved it.
Afterwards, I was walking home with my friend, Joe, munching on my popcorn refill as we went over what everything in The Winter Soldier meant for our heroes on ABC’s Agents of SHIELD because shit was going to go down. There is no SHIELD, only Hydra.
Every five steps, I’d say, “Sooooo good,” to the point where everyone on Hollywood Blvd. thinks I have some sort of weird popcorn fetish.
Anyway, I could not wait until Tuesday. I wanted to know. I had to know. What was going to happen to Coulson? What was going to happen to a show centered on an organization that has just been destroyed internally? I’m so excited.
And, then I read a bad review for Tuesday’s episode.
Mind, I don’t make it a habit to read bad reviews just as I don’t make it a habit to write them. Unfortunately, this bad review was deceivingly titled. I honestly thought I was going to find some viewership numbers, because I wanted to know if there was a Captain America bump for the show. Instead, I was treated to a rant about how the show isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do and is merely surviving on thin thread tie-ins to blockbuster films.
I am not going to say that Agents of SHIELD started out as strong as it could have. It started to lose me. Then, I saw episode 6, which I still will argue is one of the best episodes of the season. It finally pulled in the non-Clark Gregg/Ming-Na characters to give them a stronger arc and finally show what they are made of. I want to see more of the team dynamic. I want to see more of the relationships. This episode did that beautifully while illustrating what being a member of SHIELD means to Coulson’s team.
But, even with my own questions and flagging confidence, Jeph Loeb put out one last call to the fans at PaleyFest.
And, I do.
Agents of SHIELD is not about the Avengers. It’s not about Nick Fury. It’s not about Maria Hill (though if they can pull her in, I would be ecstatic.)
Agents of SHIELD is about the non-superpowered in a world of people and organizations that are. It’s about the grunts. It’s about the people that don’t get to know everything. It’s about people with limitations in a world full of impossibilities.
At this moment in time, I think people are too focused on trying to make Agents of SHIELD what it isn’t. It’s not about pulling in all the superheroes not big enough to have their own movie. It’s not about answering all the questions that were raised in the movies. No one is defined by what they aren’t, they’re defined by what they are.
Science fiction is an iceberg medium. You only get to see a little bit without being privy to the immensity of the whole. The Avenger-universe movies are a piece of that iceberg. The TV show is giving us a glimpse of a different side and every once in awhile gives us the wink-nudge reminder that it’s still part of the same iceberg.
You can’t be upset that you aren’t seeing the whole iceberg.
If you want to choose to just watch the movies, go for it. But, for me, having the show is giving me a richer experience of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I love seeing glimpses of this iceberg. I love knowing that there’s so much more out there. I have never been this much of a fangirl, getting so excited to see the rest of the season, conjecturing as to who is which Marvel character, squeeing over Easter eggs, and laughing out loud when Coulson says, “Booyah.”
Maybe this is how all those Firefly fans felt…
It’s Thanksgiving, which means you’re going to start watching the Christmas movies.
Here’s the flowchart to help you decide.
A friend of mine, Briana Hansen, is vlogging her National Novel Writing Month journey. I’m being supportive, as you should be if someone you know is doing it. It’s tough. It’s hard. You need a support structure.
I have the added benefit of having done it myself.
My journey is atypical. The way I write is different from others (everyone’s writing is different). I write novels by hand and I don’t set pen to paper unless I know what the story is, who the characters are, and where it’s going. I spend most of my waking moments planning.
So, when someone says, write a novel in a month, it’s easy. If I have one ready.
My NaNoWriMo experience was a class assignment in college. I finished in 8 days. The whole class hated me. Everyone finished by the end of the month. So, from someone who wrote 55,000 words in 8 days, let me tell you how I did it.
1. Stop worrying
55,000 words is not a novel. These days, a novel is between 75,000 and 100,000. So, writing the NaNoWriMo’s requisite 50,000 is not a whole novel: it’s the bones and muscles without the flesh and clothing. Don’t worry so much about what it looks like. When you reach your goal, set it aside. You can always come back to it later, flesh it out, and dress it up. This is not a polished product. That’s what revision is for.
2. Just go.
Don’t check your word count every ten minutes. Don’t look at the clock every hour. This is a marathon. It’s going to take time. If you’re on a roll, but you’ve already written for your two hours, keep going. Why stop? When you do stop, stop in the middle so you can pick up where you left off and get right back into your flow.
3. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. Unless there is.
There will be a time (maybe more than once) when you sit down with your hands over the keys and you have no idea what comes next. The truth behind writer’s block is that it’s self-doubt rearing it’s ugly head. If you want to do it in 8 days, you turn off your inner editor and squash self-doubt with the power of will (not really; you squash it with the power of blind, speeding momentum). When self-doubt threatens your word count, sit it down and give it a talking to.
Trust your characters. Trust your plot. Trust everything.
Trust that you can always change it later.
4. Ride the wave
Coming from someone who’s written five of them and knowing people who have written more, writing a novel is an emotional roller coaster. Briana is still in the honeymoon period. She’s in love with the idea, she’s in love with the process, she’s in love with everything around it.
There will come a time when you hate it with such utter contempt you can remember why you decided to do it in the first place.
This is natural. Ride the wave. It WILL drag you down, but don’t worry. You’ll get through it. The process of writing a book looks a lot like the hero’s journey. You have a time when the walls are closing in, you have your own dark night of the soul about your project. Remember, at the end, you get to bring your holy grail back to the villagers. And, you’re never the same after you finish.
Don’t do this alone. Seriously. Even if it’s just one friend, get a support structure in place. Writing a book is like being in a relationship: sometimes, you need someone you can vent to.
That’s what I got for all you NaNoWriMo kids. I wish I could have joined you this round, but time does not allow me to.
What are your tips for NaNoWriMo? Tell me about your journey in the comments! And, if you are going through it alone, check out Briana’s vlog and comment.
Why do I keep posting these? Because I write it! Don’t miss the TMI Minute every Tuesday!