Hello friends, I hope this post finds you well. Are you gearing up for the approaching holidays? Somehow, once again, it feels like they’ve sneaked up on me. November especially, seems to have grown legs and gotten away. One moment it’s the height of summer and it feels as if it will always be that way, and the next moment it’s November, and Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and the New Year. It’s like a snowball effect, gaining momentum as it fast approaches. It’s been a while since we chatted about life, and writing, so I thought it would be fun to catch up today.
A few of months ago, I mentioned that I had begun writing a new novel. It was a big step for me to put aside my previous novel I’d been working on for the past four years, and move on to something new. When I started this new novel, I thought I could finish it by the end of summer, (silly me). I knew it was a long shot, but figured it was worth a try anyway. I didn’t finish it, (no surprise there), but I made a lot of progress. With each new project I take on, I learn something new about the writing process, and about myself. I’ve learned that the more you write, the more you want to write, and that it’s okay for the process to taker longer than anticipated. Accepting and understanding these facts have helped keep any self-inflicted discouragement at bay.
My outlining, and drafting process for this novel have been very different from any of my other projects, and I’m learning more and more what works best for me. I’m about halfway through my first draft, with plenty of ups and downs to say the least, but I have to say its been one of the smoothest drafts I’ve ever worked on. Though not without its difficulties, rough patches and occasional writer’s block, I now realize those challenges tend to crop up where my outline was weak. Needless to say, I’m learning the importance of a good outline, and how it can really save you from headaches later on.
On another note, I’m really enjoying getting to know my characters, and fleshing out the world they live in, and I’m looking forward to the day I can share it all with you. A few years ago, if you would have told me the kind of story I would be working on today, I’m not sure I would have believed you. Sometimes, I suppose, these unexpected surprises can turn out to be better than what we had planned for ourselves. I definitely have my work cut out for this book, but I’m prepared to roll up my sleeves and get to it.
Something else I’ve learned is that a messy first draft is okay. It doesn’t matter how bad the pacing might be or how many plot holes I will have to fix later, getting the heart of the story onto the page is what DOES matter. When uncertainties and self-doubts about the quality of my story start creeping in, I’m slowly learning to be okay with that, too. I’m realizing in time, with a little editing and hard work, I can still make something good out of it, and it can still be something I’m proud of, with typos and all.
Outside of writing, it’s been life as usual– which is just fine with me. I’m trying to enjoy the last of these quiet, dull days, and brace myself for the Christmas mania that is fast approaching. And since it’s the time for gratitude, and thanksgiving, I want to take a minute to thank you, for reading this post, and all of my other posts, too. I truly appreciate you. I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving, or a happy Thursday, wherever you are, and I’ll be back with another post soon.
Low patters on the roof echo like a verse of poetry. Small beads of light dance along the panes of the windows, and wood creaks softly as heavy beams shudder against the wind. Night arrives swiftly, carrying a damp cold that chills to the very bone. A match is struck, and a lamp lit. A golden flame shines into the darkness, sending shadows racing to the corners of the room. Steam billows up from a pot, adding a sharp whistle to the song of the rain. A mug is set out, with a medley of spices and herbs, adding a sweet aroma to the earthy musk coating the air. Wool socks are drawn up over cold feet, and a thick quilt is spread on the sofa. A cloth-bound book is opened; its worn pages creased with old memories well loved. Strokes of ink unravel themselves into flourishes of time, and place. They forge a path through the darkness of night, away from the rain, away from the cold. They travel far, and wide, into lands unknown, until traces of home are nearly forgotten. But a ringing shatters the illusion as attention is pulled from the words on the page, numbers blink zero on the timer, and a voice breaks the quiet of the room.
“Ah… I’ve almost forgotten my tea!”
(I hope you enjoyed that little snippet of story, and envisioned yourself on a cold and gloomy night, just as eager to curl up with tea, and a book.)
Friends, autumn has officially fallen. It’s that magical in-between season, when the colors of nature have their final hurrah before their long deserved slumber. I’m sure you can relate when I say that this time of year reignites my creativity and love for reading. There is something special in the air, and I try my best to soak up the quiet of this season. I’m drawn to simple things, like baking, drawing, and reading. It’s the time of year when I look to my giant TBR, and dream of reading all the books on my list. Like squirrels storing up acorns for winter, us readers gather up as many books as we can to keep us company during these cold months. So I’ve put together a small list with a few books that will whisk you away on journeys far and wide. So gather round, pour yourself some tea, and let’s read about books.
Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest
Set in an alternate past, while the Civil War wages on in the eastern United States, residents of Seattle are battling a different kind of foe. When a genius inventor unwittingly unleashes a deadly gas from the depths of the earth, life and death take on a completely new meaning. The once booming city of Seattle is now walled off from the rest of the world, concealing the deadly Blight, a disease which causes the dead to rise again. Those who escaped the atrocity now dwell along the outskirts of the city, leading a rough and troublesome existence. But there are some who still live in the city. Through a series of tunnels deep within the belly of Seattle, outcasts, and fugitives of society eke out a new way of life. And when a young boy from the outskirts sneaks into the dangerous realm of Seattle, his mother will stop at nothing to bring him home safely.
A story of adventure, and the incredible lengths a mother will go to for her son. Fans of steampunk, historical fiction, and anyone looking for a good story will enjoy Boneshaker.
The Guinevere Deception, by Kiersten White
When a young woman assumes a new identity as Lady Guinevere, King Arthur’s bride-to-be, she is tasked with a challenge. Moving to Camelot, a city where all forms of magic are banned, she must stick close to Arthur’s side, and stand guard against attacks of sorcery, and wizardry. But as she learns the complicated ways of royalty, while keeping her magic hidden, questions of her true identity arise. Guinevere is tested with her greatest hurdle yet; coming to terms with her past, while fighting for the future, and what she truly believes in.
A creative spin on the legend of Merlin, and King Arthur, The Guinevere Deception is loaded with intrigue, and magical secrets. This story was so much fun to explore, and is a great read for these cold nights.
The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater
The small and desolate, Isle of Thisby, is known for one thing, and that is– The Scorpio Races— a yearly competition where contestants must capture and tame the Capaill Uisce, deadly water horses that emerge from the sea every autumn. Riders train vigorously, for they know that not everyone will survive. Struggling to make ends meet, Puck Connolly does what no girl has ever dared to do before, and enters the race. But the quiet and mysterious, Sean Kendrick, the returning champion, will let nothing deter him from taking the prize.
If you’re looking for an incredibly intense, immersive, and atmospheric novel, then you should pick up The Scorpio Races. I’ve talked about this book on my blog before, and I’m probably going to keep talking about it for a very long time. This is one of my all-time favorite books, with one of my favorite fictional landscapes. Taking place in October, and into November this is the perfect read for the fall season.
Six Crimson Cranes, by Elizabeth Lim
After being cursed by their wicked step-mother, Shiori, princess of Kiota, and her six brothers are banished from the kingdom. Shiori’s brothers have been turned into cranes, and for every word that Shiori utters, one of her brothers will die. But a forbidden magic runs through Shiori’s veins, and she will do whatever it takes to free her brothers, and herself from the curse.
This story reads like a legend of old, and tells a heroic tale of a princess fighting for her family. If you’re looking for classic tale of fantasy, and adventure, Six Crimson Cranes will take you on a journey you will never forget.
That’s it for my list. I hope you enjoyed this post, and found a book or two to add to your TBR. And I hope you enjoy the remainder of fall, and take in as much of the sights, smells, and sounds of the shifting seasons as you can.
Tell me, what sort of books do you like to read during the fall and winter months? Are you looking forward to tackling your TBR this season?
Welcome to part two of the Kdrama Analysis series! This is the series where we are taking apart, piece by piece two of my favorite Kdrama’s. And with the eyes and ears of a writer, we are examining the different elements of the Three Act Story Structure as they play out on the screen. The first series we are discussing is, Doom at Your Service. If you haven’t yet read part one, you can go back and read that first, then come back here to continue the discussion. Let’s get started!
Most stories, be they books, or film, contain sub-plots– “a secondary strand of the plot that is a supporting side story for any story or for the main plot. Subplots may connect to main plots, in either time or place or thematic significance.” Doom at Your Service is a great example of sub-plots done well. I never used to be a fan of sub-plots, since I felt they were only distractions from the main part of the story. But after watching Doom at Your Service, I changed my mind. I realized how a sub-plot that is artfully placed within the main plot, can bring a new dimension to the story and create an even more memorable, and impactful impression on the reader/viewer.
The sub-plot within the world of Doom at Your Service, focuses mainly on two characters– Mr. Cha, Dong Kyung’s supervisor at the publishing house, and her best friend, Na Ji Na, a writer at their company. There are some cinematic and thematic parallels between the two story-lines, which helps tie the stories together. We are first attracted to these characters because of their relationship to Dong Kyung. Mr. Cha is a bit mysterious, and not very friendly, yet we get the distinct impression he cares about Dong Kyung greatly. Similarly, Ji Na has been close friends with Dong Kyung since high-school, and we can see the strong bond of sisterhood between them. Their story picks up, when the ratings of Ji Na’s serial novel begin to tank, and Mr. Cha offers her a personal deal to assist her on her next project. Mr. Cha is a no-nonsense, straightforward person, not easily swayed by emotions. Ji Na, on the other hand, is a much more passionate and hot-blooded person.
As the story between Ji Na, and Mr. Cha unfolds, we find out that they share a rather complicated history when we had previously thought they were strangers. We learn of this, as Ji Na is prompted to finally confront her past, which she has been unwilling to let go of, until now. Mr. Cha is the driving force behind this change, and we begin to see a transformation in him as well. Much like Dong Kyung, Mr. Cha is pushed to find strength, and courage, to take hold of his life in pursuit of his own goals. This tale explores themes of forgiveness, and letting go.
This is one of my favorite sub-plots in all of fiction, because of how perfectly it is carried out. The story-line is solid, and could easily have had an entire show all on its own, but instead, it’s like an extra cherry on top. It is gripping, and intriguing, and helps flesh out the world of Doom at Your Service, and the characters who live there. Within this sub-plot there is a clear structure, with the major plot points occurring independently, yet simultaneously with the main plot. The writers of the show knew just how much screen time these characters needed to allow their story to be shown, without overriding the main story. And in a short amount of time, this series delivered a second, fully developed story that was just as deep and meaningful as the main plot.
The takeaway: striking a balance between the sub-plot(s), and main story, can be tricky to get right, but when done well, can enhance the overarching story-line, creating a final product with even greater depth, and memorability. Finding complimentary themes that spread across the differing narratives helps keep the reader/viewer grounded, and avoids any feelings of separation from the main plot.
The sub-plot within Doom at Your Service ticks all of these boxes, and gets a double thumbs-up from me.
Back to the main story.
At the end of part one, we left our main characters, Doom, and Dong Kyung, just as they are beginning to realize the flaws in their Misbelief. When the series began, the characters thought they had each other and the world at large, pegged. Doom thought that all humans were the same– unworthy of kindness, or empathy. And Dong Kyung thought it her duty to accept the fate that has been given her, denying her truest self. The characters take a huge step towards accepting the truth, but it is not yet absolute. This moment coincides with the Second Plot Point, a.k.a., the Midpoint. The Midpoint is a defining moment for the series, as the true nature of the situation comes to light.
At this time, Doom is the character undergoing the most change. His cold- as-ice demeanor is melting quickly, and there is even warmth where previously there was none. Dong Kyung has given Doom a new name– Saram, meaning “person” in Korean. It’s ironic that she gives someone with only a shadow of humanity, a name that reflects the exact opposite, and the irony is certainly not lost on Doom. But the person he was, in the beginning of the series is vastly different from the one we see now. After centuries of his cold, judgemental, dismissive view of humans, Dong Kyung has finally managed to breach the impenetrable fortress of his heart, and bring light into his dark and dying world. He displays this change of heart by his willingness to give up his life for Dong Kyung’s.
I mentioned in part one, that when the series starts we are lead to believe that Doom is the villain–yet now it is evident that someone else has been pulling the strings. I can’t say too much without giving away spoilers, but we come to understand that there are limits to Doom’s capabilities and certain boundaries he can’t cross. As this mysterious force begins to tighten the ropes around Doom, and Dong Kyung, we see them pushed to the limits of their will. For Dong Kyung, she is pushed to finally admit the truth– she wants to live. But when she is standing in the face of death, that is a terrifying admission to make. Dong Kyung’s one hundred days are almost up, and the rules of the deal are still in play. In order for Dong Kyung to live, Doom must perish. The main characters come to their ultimate realizations, and the heartbreaking consequences, just in time for the Climax.
In a shocking twist of events, which I will not tell you about, there is a moment when everything comes undone. All of the change, all of the progress, is seemingly destroyed. But our characters are not the same ones that started this series, for if they were, their actions and the outcome would be vastly different. Doom and Dong Kyung prove, not only to the viewers, but to themselves, and the mystery controller, that their transformation is real after all. Their acceptance of the Truth is whole-hearted, and though there may be obstacles in the way, the Truth is still stronger. In hindsight, the viewers will realize that the events that have taken place were a test, orchestrated by the mystery person. And no matter the outcome, the characters will have new meaning to their lives.
The admission of the Truth is of greater importance to them than clinging to the false comfort that the Lie had ever brought them.
The series concludes in a way that leaves the viewer satisfied, yet with plenty to think about afterwards. We are certain that the transformations which took place in the characters are permanent, and that they are forever changed. This series displays a creative use of the Three Act Story Structure, and gives a subtle twist on a lot of common tropes in fiction. Doom at Your Service is a story about change, acceptance, and sacrifice, and it offers an in-depth look at what it means to be human, and the intricacies therein.
I hope you enjoyed this conclusion to the first series of our Deep Dive analysis into Kdrama. I learned a lot from this study, and I hope you have too. But we’re not done yet, and I’m so excited for the next series! You won’t want to miss it.
A truth universally acknowledged, is that people love drama. And my personal favorite kind of drama happens to come in the form of Kdrama–the genre of South Korean TV shows. By now, I think everyone who knows me, knows how much I love Kdrama. I love the way these stories use subtle undertones to express strong emotion, instead of over-done on-the-nose acting. Before I discovered Kdrama, I had never really seen such deeply developed characters, and plots, outside of books. Since then, I have watched dozens upon dozens of shows, and have become so invested in the lives of each character, that I can feel their joy, their pain, and even their sorrow. As a writer, I began to study some of the intricacies, and take note of the shape and structure behind each series, and I started to recognize a pattern; that same unbeatable formula found in every story throughout history. So today, I’m starting a brand new, four-part series where I am going to dig deep down and dissect two of my very favorite Kdrama’s, and study the science that holds them together and examine just what it is that makes them so great.
The first series we are going to discuss is, Doom at Your Service. A supernatural/fantasy/romance drama, and possibly the most original, funny, intense, and gripping, emotional-roller coaster that I’ve ever seen. This post is going to contain some spoilers, but I’ll try to include only what is necessary to the discussion. Throughout this study, I will be referring to elements of the Three Act Story Structure, as described by K.M. Weiland, in her various teachings. If you’re not familiar with the Three Act Story Structure, you can find out more here.
Doom at Your Service.
The story picks up with our main character, Tak Dong Kyung, during an unfortunate, yet ordinary day in her life. Currently working as an editor for an online web-comic publishing house, Dong Kyung, is accustom to working long hours, and leaving little time for herself. Misfortune has followed her all her life, but on this day, Dong Kyung’s luck is the worst it’s ever been. Over-due student loans, and a humiliating public break-up are the least of her worries, after she pays a visit to her doctor, and receives the devastating news that she has a life-threatening brain tumor, with very limited options for treatment. Even with these grim prospects Dong Kyung seems unfazed, and indifferent to the information. Since losing her parents at a young age, Dong Kyung feels like this is simply the cherry on top of her already miserable life. She keeps the news to herself, and returns to her apartment. Later that night, after a few drinks, she recklessly makes a wish on a shooting star–wishing for doom upon the whole earth.
From the very first scene, we sympathize with Dong Kyung. We have all had bad days, and while they might not be as bad as Dong Kyung’s, we can still understand what she is feeling. So too, do we understand why she wishes for doom upon the whole earth. Often, when we are going through a difficult time, it’s hard to understand how the rest of the world can simply carry on, while our own world is crashing down all around us. At this point in the episode, things start to get interesting, because little did Dong Kyung know, Doom is a person, and she has just summoned him.
Enter, Doom, (Myeol Mang), an immortal being, who’s only purpose is to exact doom upon the human race. When you get a flat tire on the way to work, spill a cup of coffee on your laptop, or even face the consequences of a crime you have committed, you can thank Doom for visiting–the personification of misfortune. After living for centuries, watching continuously as humans live, die, and repeatedly make mistakes and cause terrible atrocities, any empathy that could have existed in him has been long buried. So when he hears the call for world-wide doom, it’s an opportunity he can’t pass up. Every year on his birthday, he grants one wish to a human, and Dong Kyung is just the human he’s been waiting for.
The arrival of Doom signifies the Inciting Event, bringing a tipping point for Dong Kyung, and the entire plot. We were given a brief look at Dong Kyung’s “normal” world prior to this moment, and now we are about to witness its complete reversal. Doom’s presence foreshadows this upcoming change, as his mere existence challenges Dong Kyung’s understanding of the world. The doorway to a new reality has just been unlocked, and already, she can see a glimpse of the other side.
Upon entering her apartment, Doom gives Dong Kyung an offer she can’t refuse: live pain free for the remainder of her life, (exactly 100 days), and after that, bring ultimate doom on the earth. She scoffs at the offer, and tries to get him to leave. She thinks she imagined the entire scenario, until the next day when the debilitating pain from her tumor is miraculously lifted by a simple touch from Doom. Frustrated, and at the end of her rope, Dong Kyung questions what she has done to deserve this. She doesn’t actually want to destroy the earth, simply because she is going to die. But when she tries to break the contract, Doom makes it clear the penalty she will face for not following through on their deal– Dong Kyung will live, but the person she loves most will die in her place.
Dong Kyung is horrified at this turn of events, as the person she loves most is her younger brother, the one whom she has worked most of her life to protect and care for after the loss of their parents. This moment conveys the First Plot Point, the final nail in the metaphorical coffin, ensuring that the old view of reality is gone forever. Dong Kyung, has now stepped through the doorway into this new world, but it is only the beginning of her journey.
Moving on, we see Dong Kyung’s Reaction as she grapples with this extreme change in her life. Dong Kyung despises Doom for making her agree to his offer, but she is determined not to let him win. She comes up with a way to save her own life, while not losing anyone else close to her. Her plan? Fall in love with Doom, so that he will die in place of her brother.
This is where the magic of Kdrama comes into play, promising an extremely painful road ahead for the characters, as well as the viewers. In the beginning it is clear that Doom is the villain in this story, but after a few episodes you will begin to second guess that notion. It appears that Doom is the one person that can help bring a change in her life, and likewise, she is the only one who can bring a change in him, too. It is the unlikelihood of two opposite souls, both broken, and hurting, that makes them a perfect pairing.
Doom first appears as a ruthless, uncaring soul, devoid of any heart or feeling towards anyone or anything. But as the story progresses, that hard exterior begins to show cracks, and Dong Kyung, recalls a faint memory that is in direct contradiction to what Doom has repeatedly claimed:
“I don’t eat, I don’t sleep, I don’t cry.”
For Dong Kyung, this situation proves that for too long, she has sat back and allowed the world to run right over her. For most of her life, she has not understood or acknowledged who she truly is, but Doom begins to show her that maybe there is more to this life than she first thought. Consequently, as Doom and Dong Kyung become closer, she also realizes there may still be some humanity in him yet.
Now let’s review what we have covered so far. Doom at Your Service, flawlessly delivers an incredible Hook within the first few minutes, in the form of Dong Kyung’s shocking diagnosis. And it immediately follows through with theInciting Event, as the appearance of Doom, himself. From the moment he is introduced, every aspect of the story, and Dong Kyung’s life begins to teeter in the balance. And while all of these outward events are occurring, it’s as if they were specifically designed to poke and prod at both Doom, and Dong Kyung’s deepest, personal, inner-conflict, and the Lies they each believe about themselves.
In the next part of this series, we will find out that that is exactly the case. Dong Kyung, and Doom, will both have to examine and confront the Lies they have clung to, as the Truth becomes so blindingly clear that they can no longer ignore it.
In my next post, we are going to get into the magic of sub-plots, character realizations, and epic climaxes, so be sure not to miss it. I hope you enjoyed taking a deeper look into the world of Kdrama’s with me, because there is more to come!
Tides will turn, winds can shift, and at times even the rain changes direction. Sometimes, our inner well of creativity changes, too. One day you might draw up the pail from the well expecting to find water, only to be met with nothing. It can be shocking and even scary to realize that it’s no longer full. And for the first time in a long time, you’ll have to consider the idea of digging a new one. Even though the old place felt safe and comfortable, the water didn’t taste so fresh anymore. But when you find that new well, that untapped resource, you might just find that it was exactly what you’d been looking for.
Recently, my “well” of creativity has changed direction. The heart I had for a certain project began to taper off little by little, almost imperceptibly, until I was eventually faced with nothing. Then one day a new story, with it’s very own spring of water, much different than its predecessor started to gurgle up from the parched ground. This new story quickly turned into a rushing river carrying me away on its current. It was a current I willingly launched out on, and now that I’ve left, I’ve hardly looked back.
A while ago, I made the difficult choice to leave an unfinished story behind, and begin a new one. I’m on that journey now, and am already waist-deep in it. This story was fairly new on my idea roster, but there was something about it that made me want to pour all of my time and energy into it. It felt new, and exciting, but it also felt familiar, like it was waiting for me all this time.
This project has been much like treading new waters, but I’m enjoying the process. I didn’t rush the plotting, or outlining phase, and miraculously, it all came together fairly quickly. It’s also the most in-depth, and well developed outline I’ve ever written. Needless to say, I’m feeling good about it. I’ve also given myself a loose deadline to (hopefully) finish the first draft by the end of summer. After completing NaNoWriMo last November, I figured it’s not too much to ask of myself to try and finish this draft in three months. I can be an incredibly slow writer, so I figured adding a bit of pressure is a good thing. But at the end of the day, the first draft is only the first step. Arguably it’s the most important step, but there are many more steps to follow, and with that in mind, the drafting process has been less intimidating.
I’m also excited because I’ll be writing this draft entirely by hand. Why would I be regressing to such an archaic form of recording, you may ask? Because the greats, like Dickens, Austen, andShakespeare, all wrote by hand, and I want to follow in their footsteps… I’m kidding, that was a joke. Really though, I chose to write by hand because it helps my overly critical, analytical brain, to take a hike. Writing by hand is a way for me not to overthink the words I’m putting down, and allows my creative thoughts to flow more freely. No delete key, and no backspacing key. I have no option, but to forge ahead. The first draft is always the most difficult part of the writing process for me, so if I find a way to make it easier on myself, then I’m all in. Even if it means I’ll have to transcribe several thousands of words from my scribbled notebook pages later, it’s worth it.
This new story is about an urban legend, a small town, and some strange happenings there. It has elements of many different movies, TV shows, and books that I have loved over the years. One of my inspirations was The X-Files, a popular show from the 90’s about two FBI agents taking on some strange, unexplained cases. I’ve had to do a lot of research for this project, but it’s been fun. I went to the library and grabbed several books on the topic I needed, and they have been really helpful. I’m learning a lot from this book already and I still have a long way to go. Later on I’ll probably do a proper, more detailed introduction for this story, but for now that’s all you get.
All in all, this move felt like a giant leap of faith, and with no regrets to speak of yet, I’m taking it as a sign that this was the right choice. A lot of us tend to stay in the same rut, afraid and unwilling to dig ourselves out and try something new. That’s where I stayed for a very long time. I was intimidated to make any drastic changes, but I realized that I am in control of my own writing. Who’s to say I should or shouldn’t write what I feel tugging on my heart, except for me?
* * *
I hope this post has inspired you to take the plunge, and start something new if a change has been knocking on your heart lately. Sometimes you don’t know what the right choice is until you give it a try. So fear not, my friend, and open up that door.
Once upon a time, there was a sad, and lonely, fan-girl. For two long years, she watched as the world tipped sideways, and everything unraveled. She was helpless, as postponed concerts and cancelled tours piled up all around her. It became harder, and harder, to feel the spark of joy she once had from her favorite musicians, and she was afraid they were feeling it, too. Nevertheless, she pushed through– and so did they. She awoke at the most unholy hours of the night to watch them perform halfway across the world, through the little screen on her cellphone. It made her happy, but it still wasn’t the same as being together. But one day everything changed, when she heard the news. “The wait is over, BTS is coming.”
I can still remember it. It was an average, even boring day when my sister stormed into my room with the news. I had to see it for myself, and there it was in black and white– BTSPermission to Dance on Stage in Las Vegas. I felt like I could finally see the light at the end of a very long tunnel. The only catch, was that tickets were going on sale next week, and the show would follow just a few weeks later. That left only a week to consider all the finer details that a trip like this would entail. But it didn’t matter. We didn’t have to think about it. It felt final, we had to go.
Fast forward a couple of weeks–and after having jumped though several hoops, registering for pre-sales, probably shaving off years from our lifespan– we got tickets. A sweet victory. This meant the count-down had officially begun, and all that was left to do was wait. But the weeks that passed, seemed to fly by and soon, it was D-day.
My sisters and I left bright and early on the morning of April 7th, the day before the concert. The road was long, and desolate, as it usually is in the desert. But that wasn’t important, because our destination was set. Eventually, the barren, and bleak, landscape gave way to a city–sparkling and glittering with neon lights. And then a funny thing happened. The city we found ourselves in, wasn’t what we thought it was. It had transformed, before our very eyes. It was no longer Las Vegas–it was now BORAHAEGAS. BTS and ARMY swept in, bringing with them a purple tide.
It was incredible. Wherever you looked, there were traces of BTS, and ARMY was everywhere. (BTS fans go by the name, “ARMY”.) Almost every building had a purple sign proclaiming Borahaegas. (Borahaegas is a play on the word borahae–a term BTS invented that means, “I purple you”. A mix of the Korean word for purple [bora] and the phrase “I love you” [saranghae].) The famed Bellagio fountains even had a special water show just for BTS fans. And nearly everyone on the streets was there for BTS. It was extraordinary to see so many people who had the same plan as me–who jumped through all the same hurdles to be there, in the same city, at that exact moment. But all of that was just a teaser, a small taste before the real thing– the concert.
The next morning, despite the exhaustion of a long travel day, we were ready. We could hardly contain the nervous excitement as we waited. And when it was finally time, we left our hotel, bound for the stadium. This was not my first rodeo, so I was expecting a crowd. I was even prepared to embrace the crowd, but it still managed to surprise me. It was like standing before a rushing river of people, all flowing into the stadium. We joined the flow, and soon, we made it to our seats. The excitement, and anticipation was nearly bursting from the stadium, and you could feel it coursing through the air like electricity.
And then, it was show time.
As amazing a sight as Borahaegas was, it couldn’t hold candle to the glittering lights, and fireworks, during the show. And the seven members shone brightest of all. The ARMY bombs, (fan light-sticks), flashed a rainbow of colors on beat to the music. The cheers, and roars from the audience nearly overpowered the sound system. And I couldn’t blame anyone for cheering so loudly, because the show was that amazing. It was so fun to hear all of my favorite songs performed live, and not only that, but to see all of the members singing and dancing with my very own eyes, was unforgettable. And being surrounded by so many people, all sharing in their excitement for this night was such a memorable experience. But as the show came to an end, I was happy, yet it was a bittersweet feeling. I was so grateful to have seen the show, but it felt incomplete.
The next morning, as we went out for some shopping, neither I nor my sister could shake the feeling in our gut. We had to go to tonight’s show, too. The only problem was, we didn’t have tickets for the second show. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. Thus ensued a very brief, but intense search for tickets to a sold out show. And in the end, we got tickets. We were going to see them again! The second night was just as spectacular, and stunning as the first night.
As I was leaving the stadium, I didn’t feel sad at all. In fact, I was struck by the fact that I felt so happy. There is so little left in this world that can bring joy, and a feeling of lightness to your heart, but after the show, I felt just that. It was strange, even alien, to see so many people, so happy, and so kind to one another, all in one place. It’s like there was an unspoken understanding among everyone there and we were all able to share these special nights, together. I realized how marvelous it is when people join together for something positive. For something that makes this world a little less bleak, and a little less sad, if only for a short time. Getting to know BTS, and listening to their music has changed my life in ways I would have never expected. And I’m truly grateful I was a part of it.
Finally, our trip felt complete. When I returned home, my bags were packed full of bright moments, and happy memories that I’ll cherish forever.
Borahae my friend, thank you for reading
P.S. You can watch a vlog from my trip HERE on my sister’s YouTube channel. Check it out!
One of the hardest things in life, is knowing when to let go. When to accept that it’s time take a step back. When to admit that something in your life is leading you in circles. Coming to that realization can often feel like failure, like giving up. But in reality, taking that step shows you are of a strong mind, and adept enough to meet those difficult realities head on. This is something that has been on my mind a lot lately, and has caused me to face some of my innermost struggles about myself and my writing.
The novel I am currently working on, a.k.a., the “Big One” as I’ve come to think of it, is a story that has been very near and dear to my heart for years. I’ve mentioned from time to time on my blog, how this story has grown and evolved along with me, for several years now. The current word count is just over 80k, making it the longest project I’ve written to date, but also the slowest. I’ve watched as the word count crept higher and higher, (at a snail’s pace), and it is nowhere near done.
For the better part of four years I’ve worked exclusively on this story, and it’s been even longer since the idea first sparked in my mind. But out of the hundreds of hours I’ve expended on this story, most of them were spent agonizing over it in my head, instead of actually writing. I’d held off writing it for years, because I didn’t feel ready yet. And as the weeks turned to months, and the months into years, I’ve learned that I am still not quite ready for this story. And that’s okay.
It’s been hard. It feels like I’m failing, or like I’m letting somebody down. After spending the last four years of my life pouring so much time and energy into this project, the thought of abandoning it is quite painful. But I’m not really abandoning it. I’m simply putting it on hold– because I want this story to be “right”. I want to tell the story that my characters deserve, and I want to tell it well. But the time to tell that story is not yet.
If my story were a block of clay, to be intricately carved and sculpted, then at this moment my story is very much shapeless. There may be hints of a sculpture, in the way it curves here, or casts a shadow there, but it is still just a lump of clay. So, for now, I’ve made the choice to put a sheet over my unfinished sculpture and stow it away for safekeeping. And one day when my vision has cleared, and I can look at it, and no longer see an obscure form– but flesh and bones and a beating heart– then I will return to it. But in the meantime I will be patient, and I will wait until I feel a true sense of purpose for my story.
I wanted to write this post, to recognize and commemorate all of the time I have spent on this project and acknowledge that it has not been in vain. I have learned more from this novel, than any other writing project I’ve worked on so far and this novel will always mark a pivotal point in my writing journey. By allowing myself to take a step back from this project, I am free to work on other, new stories that have been waiting patiently in the wings. And though the future of my writing endeavors may seem a little murky right now, I am excited to face the challenge and see where it takes me from here.
So here’s to love lost, lessons learned, and the great unknown. Let’s never give up on our dreams, you and I. For only when we step off the familiar path, will we learn of all the possibilities that lie ahead.
Hello friends, I hope you’ve been well. I realize I’ve been absent for quite some time, and I’m terribly sorry to have left you waiting. My usual quiet, and calm life has been anything but, as of late. I could say I’ve been “busy”, and move on, but I thought it would be better to have a little catch-up, instead.
Spring is a very full time of year for me, because that is when the greenhouse I work for opens up to the public. Most of the year we all work quietly behind the scenes, carefully planning and preparing flowers, and vegetable plants for the growing season. But all of that changes when opening day arrives, and my job shifts from planting, to working retail— an entirely different ballgame. Instead of plants flying from my hands, it’s now numbers, and totals, and answering all kinds of questions from customers. I’m really grateful for my job and I have been there for many years. My days are filled with very hard work, beautiful flowers and much sunshine, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Before our official opening day at the greenhouse, my sisters and I squeezed in a four day trip, for a very special, and highly anticipated event, which I’ll tell you about in another post. I don’t think I have to explain to you the stress level of travel planning and booking reservations and all that sort of stuff. It somehow has the ability to absorb all of your time, and drain you of all your mental capacity to think of anything else in the universe. Thankfully though, that is all behind me now, and I am getting settled back into daily living. It is the combination of work, and travel, and home responsibilities that has barely given me the time to brush my teeth at night before I literally fall into bed (let alone write a blog post). And for that, I apologize.
Needless to say, I haven’t been doing much reading either. Funnily though, a recent power outage prompted me to finally sit down and make some progress on my current read, The Summer We Forgot, by Caroline George. I’m really enjoying the story so far, and it kept me up till 1 a.m. last night because I just couldn’t put it down. I’m also in the middle of The Mysterious Benedict Society, which I feel like everyone and their brother has read but me. (My own nephew even told me I had to read it!) It’s a super quirky and fun mystery, and I can’t wait to get back to it and find out how it ends.
Since we’re on the topic of good-reads, my birthday passed a few days ago, and I was thrilled to have received so many new books as gifts! I worked a double shift on my birthday, but I was still able to celebrate with my family at one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants, and open presents with so many BOOKS in them. Most of the books are cozy British mysteries, which I can never get enough of. And my sister got me a copy of Sweet Bean Paste, by Durian Sukegawa, a book I’ve heard a lot about, and has been on my TBR for a while. I’m looking forward to summer, when things quiet down a bit and I can finally get back into reading, and tackle my expanding TBR.
My writing has also been undergoing a major shift lately. I haven’t been able to write much at all for the past few weeks, but I’m using this time as a little pause, to reconsider some things. I’m working on a blog post to tell you more about it, but for now I’ll say that I’m in the process of beginning a new novel, which is exciting, and terrifying at the same time. I also wrote a short story last month, for a contest that I heard about last-minute. My story wasn’t chosen, but I still love what I wrote and if it wasn’t for the contest, it wouldn’t even exist. I had a lot of fun writing it, and that’s what it’s really all about, isn’t it?
Spring is in full swing, and I wish I could say that I’m enjoying it, but the allergies, and high-winds are sort of ruining that. Even so, it makes me happy to hear all of the birds singing so cheerfully, and watching the trees slowly wake from their long slumber. Overall, this month has taught me that life is wild. Sometimes it feels like I’m wading through a vat of peanut butter, not making any progress, and other times it feels like everything is happening all at once, and I’d give anything to slow it back down, and take things one at a time. But I suppose that’s the name of the game. Nothing ever happens exactly how we wish it would, and that’s how it’s meant to be. Taking the good with the bad, and appreciating every moment along the way.
What about you? How has your Spring been? Have you read any good books this season? Tell me all about, I’d love to chat with you.
Tell me, do you read used books? Does your book collection contain a patchwork of miss-matched series, or numerous, old, mass market editions? Mine does. My shelves are filled with books that are out of print, worn and torn with yellowed pages, stains and spills. Odd copies that contain hand-written dates, love dedications, and even an occasional scribble or two in the margins. Used books, to me, are like finding a buried treasure– a diamond in the rough. Finding that treasure requires nothing more than a bit of patience as you comb through miles of shelving, and a keen eye.
I must admit, most of the stories I come across are entirely a mystery to me. Never before have I set eyes on them, nor do I know what lies within. It’s a risk to choose such a book, but the thrill of discovery is too great to pass up. Without the familiar comfort of reviews, or recommendations, I have only my most basic reader instincts to rely on. The cover, the title, the feel of the paper in my hands– those simple things will determine the fate of the book. The little tome of bound pages must speak for itself, and it is up to me whether I listen to its voice, or not.
Despite the well-known saying, we all know that it is well-nigh impossible not to judge a book by its cover, especially when it comes to newer books. I won’t so much as breathe in their direction if I don’t fancy the cover. But when it comes to used books, I will pause and consider whether the strange colors, and illustrations on the cover are disguising some hidden treasure waiting to be found. Though I would never dare to crack a spine on any book, or mistreat a page, strangely, in old books, even those flaws cannot turn me away. In fact, when I see a book that is worn, and scuffed, annotated, or dog-eared, I find it to be a curiosity. It tells me that someone, somewhere, handled it, and maybe even enjoyed it.
Sometimes, I wonder if all the time it’d been left alone, unread, and covered in dust, was because it was waiting for someone like me to come along and give it another chance. Usually the books that find their way into second-hand shops are stories from bygone eras, or books that might have been underappreciated at the time of their release. Each has lived a long life, and I often wonder at the history of the lives they’ve led, and what brought them to the shops.
Books are much like people, too. Each has a character of their own, a personality that shines through the font on the pages, and the binding at their spines. And just like people, there is more than meets the eye at first glance. So next time you see an old, shabby cover on a book, perhaps you should pause for a moment, and look past all the dinginess. You may find a bright, and glimmering treasure waiting inside.
There are moments in all of our lives when we feel like outsiders. Times when we feel like an outcast, or the odd man out– watching from a distance, as everyone else seems to get along so easily. I’ve realized that in the world of writing, those instances happen quite a lot.
The other day I was thinking about the novel I’m currently working on, as well as a few other stories that have been occupying my mind-space, lately. I wondered if anyone would want to read them. I wondered if anyone would find them interesting, or boring or too weird. I wondered, what if my stories just don’t fit in anywhere?
It’s sort of like that feeling you get in school, or when you’re hanging out with friends and you hear that little voice in the back of your head that whispers doubts and fears to you. What if no one likes me? For a while I entertained that thought– worrying that not everyone would like my stories. But then I had a sort of epiphany, and I said to myself– so what? So what if my stories are different? So what if my stories aren’t like the ones on the shelves at the bookstore today? I realized that my entire life has been going against the metaphorical current– so why would the stories I create be any different?
I know that there are trends in publishing, just like there are trends in fashion. It makes sense that publishers would publish books that fit into that popular trend, and that writers would write stories that fit into that same trend. But here’s the thing, not everyone has to fit into the trend. I realized that I would be doing a great disservice to myself, and to anyone who might read my future work, if I tailored my stories simply to fit into the current mainstream trends.
The world has enough, nay, too many books that fit into the mainstream mold(s). I would dare to say that it is time for the modern book market to have a bit of a shake-up. As I was wrestling with all of these ideas, I remembered the quote that says, “Write the book that you want to read.” I think that is one of the most valuable quotes for any writer to remember. Especially if, like me, you spend much of your time wading through books that you hope to love, but don’t. Maybe it’s time for us, for you and for me, to write the books we want to read.
Creativity comes in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t always have to come in nicely packaged boxes, ready, and waiting for the taking. Your story might not have the typical main character, or the typical list of obstacles standing in their way. It might not be strictly YA, or middle-grade, it might be something in between. If you feel like your story doesn’t fit in, then here is your sign, your signal, to embrace it. Embrace what makes you and your story different. If you don’t love your story first, why should anyone else like it? And if you feel like your story doesn’t fit into the popular shape, then break out of it. Write the story that is carved onto your heart; the one inside of you that is begging to be written. People gravitate towards genuineness, and honesty, and your writing will show that. Though it might not appeal to the masses, that little spark of truth you sew into your story, may well resonate in the hearts of many a wandering soul.
Remember, stay true to yourself always, and don’t ever forget why you first chose to write. Thank you for visiting, and sharing in my thoughts today. I hope that you found this post encouraging, and I hope you never give up on writing the story of your heart.