Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Shirley MacLaine shooting Downton Abbey

Via the Daily Mail...


Here's the link to the article with the picture, in case you're curious. I think I see a new footman in the background of the big group shot. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hello, it's the Baby-sitters Club.

For any young girl growing up in the Nineties, one of the seminal book series we had at our disposal was The BabySitters Club. Don't lie. You know you read at least one.

I first picked up a BSC book in 3rd grade, I believe, the first grade at my elementary school where we had individual chapter-book reading time. This is when I realized that I read freakishly fast, because I often finished books in two or three days' worth of individual reading time when it took classmates longer to finish shorter books.

I developed a complex about this: I used to re-read the books and write summaries in my individual reading time notebook over and over until I figured that I was really stretching it out enough and then I'd move on to my next book.

Let's just say that 3rd grade was also when I realized that I was smarter than the average bear.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Voila! C'est fini!

Excuse the French. I saw The Artist tonight.

In more American parlance:

OH. EM. GEE.

I finished my Shitty First Draft!

It is gloriously confused, rife with telling, rambling, with mixed tenses, horrible grammar, half-assed research, definite out-of-character moments, repetition of the word "indeed," and no discernible plotline.

It was written as a dragging piece of New Angle on Old Idea which then fell to lacklusterness last year, pumped up during NaNoWrimo, and finally bloody well finished today.

Of course, by "finished," I mean that I'm tired of said draft at the moment--plus, I'm reading some blogs and ebooks and things on the craft of writing and revising and other books on 18th century Britain, so...

And I have a new first line and scene written in bullet points in my email.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What's the story, Wishbone?

I don't know if I've ever blogged about the importance and influence that Wishbone the dog had on my late elementary school life.



Wishbone was a PBS show, featuring a Jack Russell terrier who would fantasize about living in great works of literature. It aired from 1995 to 1998, making this show a very "I Grew Up in the Nineties" thing. Wishbone the dog is the reason that I vaguely remember the plot to The Hound of the Baskervilles or the reason that I know anything about Don Quixote--because I haven't read either book.

The dog would be dressed as one of the characters in the work they were covering that episode. So Wishbone was dressed as Ivanhoe or Robin Hood or Henry Fleming from The Red Badge of Courage.

That little adorable dog is the reason why I know the basics of many works of English literature without having read them. Doggie may also be the reason why I remember some of them after so many years. Who can forget a little dog dressed up as Mr. Darcy, acting opposite a human actress playing Elizabeth Bennet?

Also, though the plots were obviously compressed for time, they were very faithful to the originals. I can't stand being read to or even listening to audiobooks, no matter who the narrator is. Maybe it interferes with my own processing of the story. But showing me the story, all acted out and everything, can either make me very absorbed and happy or pissed off because of the ending.

Photo from TV Tropes

Friday, February 17, 2012

Horwood's Map of London--visual research

When writing about a bygone era, maps become important. I mean, yes, there is a certain amount of "making it up"--the village and estates where most of the action is taking place in this Shitty First Draft are made up completely--but I know that it's located between Bristol and Bath in the southwest of England, near the River Avon.

I stared at Google Maps quite a lot as I've never been to England, studying how the river winds around and what the general area looks like. Of course, anything named after Queen Victoria would not have been in my time period and the Floating Harbor in Bristol wasn't planned yet, so the diverting cut they made for the river was also not there yet. Those are the big things.

The nit picky things involve figuring out the roads from Bristol to Bath, what may or may not have existed at the time. I haven't really looked at too many maps of these cities from the time yet--I'm just trying to wrap up this story, spit out my characters and ideas and such. I've been reading some research books and bookmarking new, useful links and started reading a book called The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing...


Maybe it'll teach me how to, I don't know, actual craft the thing? Sometimes some general pointers and guidelines can be useful.

Other times, they can be annoying.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Blog!



Three years ago today, in a fit of insomnia and curiosity, I signed up for Blogger and began posting the chapters of the story I was working on at the time. It was a small, private blog, not meant for anybody beyond a tight circle of friends.

This blog has grown organically, as you can probably tell. I tried to reorganize some of the posts and labels a month ago, but after a little bit of shuffling around, I decided not to change things drastically. Because a) it's confusing and b) What's the point in trying to be organized about it now, I ask you?

Over the course of its life, The Sunflower's (Often Snarky) Scribbles has changed formats, backgrounds, design, privacy/public status and titles.

As it was in the beginning, I want it to mostly chronicle my writing process, the research and revision and the oftentimes odd questions that pop up when one is writing a novel (most of those can be found under Crazy Writer Stuff. Seriously. It's a riot.) Of course, the stories have changed and therefore, so has the focus of this blog as I write through.

I say to my friends that this blog doesn't really have a focus, per se. I mean, yes, it's about writing. But besides the dogged typing of words, the banging of your head into keyboards, the glee, the disgust, the reading of others' works and the utter jealously that can consume someone as they read...

What was my point again?

Oh. Right. Writing is a process. This can range from the very technical aspects of English grammar to the building blocks of fiction (plot, character, rising action, falling action) to the more hippy-dippy considerations of "What is the meaning this? What are my characters seeking?" to the things I find enthralling because of the story or a character or an author or a lyric.

So, here is my third birthday wish for you all.

If you blog, why did you begin blogging?

If you don't blog but write anyway, why do you write? What is your process like?

If you do neither, why are you obsessed with Downton Abbey? ; )

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Downton Abbey bits and pieces

A reader sent me a link to a Rolling Stone interview with Elizabeth McGovern, who plays the American-born countess, Cora. Here's exciting news about season three, though--we're going to meet Cora's mother!

Rolling Stone

I wonder what the plot line will be there. Hmm.

Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary) was on The View and the Late Show With David Letterman this past week.

Monday, February 6, 2012

My name is Sunflower. (Hello Sunflower). I'm a recovering writing major.

My name is Sunflower. (Hello Sunflower). I'm a recovering writing major.

While I was in college, I took the following writing classes as part of my major:

  • Fiction I and Fiction II
  • Creative Non-Fiction I and Creative Non-Fiction II
  • Research Writing
  • Magazine Writing (I and II)
You'll notice that none of these classes are called "Let's Write a Novel" class or "Here's How One Ends a Story" class or "Write Me a Book: Any Book" class. 

I think the longest piece I wrote for any of these classes was about 15 pages and I'm pretty sure that was for memoir-writing class (Creative Non-Fiction), where we mostly tried not to criticize each other's lives and/or life choices as we read and workshopped each other's memoirs. But secretly (or not so secretly), we were all judging each other. 

"Oh, so-and-so isn't very good." "Ugh. He only writes science fiction. Eww." "Her characters are so unrealistic." "That is so brave of you to write that." 

For whatever reason, my fiction felt weaker at the time than the pieces I wrote for memoir. I can't really criticize it too much. I was still learning, wasn't I? We were usually about 12 young writers, all with different styles and different levels of experience and distinct personalities, thrown together in a room and given the run-down of conventions of a genre or style in two semesters. And then we had to read each other's work and critique it.