In Defense of Hannah Horvath (Girls)

Spoilers: If you haven’t seen this past week’s episode of Girls (I Get Ideas), don’t read.

Lena Dunham’s character on Girls, Hannah Horvath, is a stereotype in the best way and the worst way. But we do know that behind every stereotype is a grain of truth.

The Bad: Hannah is kind of crazy and neurotic and thinks she’s the world’s best writer.

The Good: See above. Writers are kind of crazy and neurotic. Some just act that way more than others. Also, we know that people need to have some level of belief in themselves to succeed, especially writers. Because if you don’t believe in you, why should anyone else?

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At the start of this week’s episode, Hannah has finally cut Adam out of her life, leaving her free to explore a relationship with Sandy. While her friends are glad she got rid of Adam, they’re not too keen on Sandy either. In typical Hannah fashion, she defends him.

Later in the episode, she goes to hang out with the newly-married Jessa. When Hannah tells her about Sandy, Jessa expresses disbelief that he hasn’t read her essay yet, though she gave it to him three days ago. Later, Hannah confronts Sandy about it. He first insists that he hasn’t read it, then cops that he did read it and didn’t like it, at which point Hannah goes off and somehow makes this about race and Republican values which, according to her, consist of gay people not getting to marry, women not being equal, and supporting guns. Anyway.

For once, I think Hannah has some valid points that she’s making (or illustrating, since the cohesion of her thoughts is a little suspect).

Don’t be with someone who’s afraid to tell you they didn’t like your writing and then lies about it. Seriously. 1) Lying is bad. 2) You need criticism to grow. 3) The other person should totally see that and push you to grow, even if you are thin-skinned.

While it’s debatable whether Sandy supports Hannah creatively or not, this point did come up in the episode, which makes it a fair point to address.

Don’t be with someone who doesn’t support you creatively. It’s not to say you can’t love them or they can’t love you, but your creative self is going to shrivel up in the process, under the omnipresent judgment of whether what your doing with your life is actually a valid choice.. You only need to spend five seconds with a person who thinks writing is a worthless pursuit to realize how uncomfortable that is. And also how bad that makes you feel– half like strangling the other person and half like wrapping yourself in a Snuggie and watching soap operas forever. The person you love and who supposedly loves you shouldn’t be a hater. We have the internet for that. Someone’s got to be in your court.

And what’s more, if they can’t love all of you and love you just as you are, why do they get to love part of you, the parts they choose?

Do you watch Girls? What do you think of Hannah or this week’s episode?

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Goals for 2013

As always, TTT is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is top ten bookish goals for 2013. I only came up with six, but if I do all those things, it’ll be quite a busy year.

1. Read fifty books

-I read 104 this past year. You’re probably thinking, why the step back? Well, I’ll probably far exceed that, but I’m planning to do a little less reading, a little more of everything else, and a lot more writing. Plus, during my hundred goal I definitely felt pressured for a few months. And reading shouldn’t be like that. I read because it calms and relaxes me.

2. Finish writing my book

-Seriously. Finish the first draft. Finish editing.

3. Blog Design Overhaul

-Or at least a logo. New year, new look.

4. Post at least three times a week

-Now that I work full-time, it’s going to be a little more challenging to keep up with this blog.

5. Do more posts about writing

-Hopefully, with the less reading, I’ll have more time to devote to coming up with ideas for these types of posts.

6. Get back to going to local reading/writing events around San Diego

-After I graduated, I kind of fell out of that. It’ll be harder now, but I’m sure I could manage to go to a few.

Short Fiction: The Christmas Village

I wrote this story a few days ago, on the plane to Colorado. The idea actually came to me back in November, when I visited the display at Seattle’s Armory Center, but I just now got around to writing it. Hope you enjoy it and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Joseph really didn’t want to be at the Christmas Village on the 23rd of December. Or any day, really. He’d loved the Christmas Village they set up outside the mall food court when he was kid. He was sixteen now. Much too old to be at all amused by it.

But his little sister, Marley, wanted to go. His parents had promised to take her, but now his dad was stuck over at grandma’s house, fixing the hot water heater. His mother was elbow deep in Christmas cookies, having gotten a late start after her car slid off the road into a snow drift on the way back from the grocery store. Joseph had walked the two miles to dig her out and in thanks, he was now forced to take Marley to the Christmas Village.

Marley was an okay kid most of the time. She was nine, which meant she was already showing glimpses of the pre-teen brat she would become. Like the Hulk, Marley could erupt into a full-on tantrum without warning.

As they entered the doors by the food court, a wall of sound immediately accosted his ears. His stomach turned at the smell of too much fried food in one place. A baby was howling, which was about what Joseph wanted to do, too.

Marley grabbed the sleeve of his coat and hauled him towards a dense knot of people, crowded near the edge of the tables. Joseph allowed himself to be propelled along behind her.

“Look at the train!” Marley cried, shoving herself between people to press her nose against the glass. Joseph nodded apologies to the people who shot them dirty looks.

The sheet of plexiglass only came up to his stomach. A large, plastic train chugged around the track on the outside of the display. Little kids could pay fifty cents to go into the “conductor’s booth” and take a turn driving it. A coating of glittery fluff lay over everything, giving the impression of new-fallen snow.

He hadn’t been to the display in several years. Joseph noticed some new structures in the village, along with some small, printed sheets of paper tacked up at intervals on the plexiglass.

“Let me use your phone,” Marley said.

“For what?”

Rolling her eyes dramatically, Marley held out her hand. “I want to take pictures.”

With a sigh, Joseph reached into his coat pocket and handed it over. Marley scuttled away, a triumphant smile on her face.

Joseph stared at the village. Someone had obviously put in a lot of work to make it. Which didn’t make it any less lame.

To his right, a couple and their two kids stepped away from the display. He slid over to take a look at what the small paper said. A brunette girl about his age was standing there, watching the train go around. Her red wool coat was still buttoned up to the top. Joseph gave her a brief smile.

Someone had devised a series of fake newspaper issues about the town and put them up around the display. The Daily Herald was printed on the top. He glanced at the date in the upper right-hand corner. December 19th, 1897. More than a hundred years ago. He squinted at the town again. There certainly wasn’t anything modern about it, but now that he really looked, it did look very turn-of-the-century.

“Do you see it?” the girl asked.

Startled, he glanced over at her. “See what?”

She tapped a finger on the glass. Her gold nail polish was badly chipped. He looked beyond her hand to the article she was pointing to.

LOST DOG

            On Sunday, Mrs. Hendricks reported her dog, Max, missing. Please be on the lookout from a large sheep dog.

“The dog is missing,” explained the girl.

Joseph stared at her, not sure what he should say. She certainly didn’t look crazy.

“You know the article’s fake, right?” he asked.

She shrugged. “It’s fun to look, though.”

Joseph grunted and turned back to the display. But the girl wasn’t content to leave him alone.

“Brigitte,” she said, extending her hand.

He shook, tentatively. Her skin was cool and dry. “Joseph.”

She nodded to the display. “My favorite part is the ice skaters.”

Joseph peered between two buildings until he located the thick slab of plastic that amounted to a frozen pond. A few figures twirled around the ice, to the whirring sound of machinery.

Brigitte waited, expectantly.

“To be honest, I’m not really that into it. I’m only here because I had to take my sister.” He pointed at Marley, standing on the far side of the display. She held Joseph’s phone out in front of her as she took a picture.

“She’s cute,” Brigitte said.

He nodded, though he never thought of Marley that way.

“It was nice of you to do this for her.”

He felt himself flush a little. “My mom made me.” He glanced at Brigitte.

She gave him a wink. Her eyes were very dark blue and lined with thick black lashes, the combination of the two standing out against her very pale skin.

“Why don’t I know you?” he asked. “You must go to Silver Lake.” There was only one high school in the area and Brigitte really didn’t look old enough to have graduated.

Brigitte looked back at the display. “Marina Heights,” she said.

“But that’s across town.”

She nodded.

“You came all the way over here for this?”

A smile curled her lips. “You can’t put a price on something you enjoy.”

“But why this?” He gestured at the village, all wood and plastic and tiny trees and mounds of fake snow. “What’s so special about it?”

She took his hand. “Help me look for the dog.”

As they slowly moved around the outside of the display, he tried to really look at. With Brigitte’s hand closed in his, the snow glittered a little more. He noticed the tiny embroidery stitches on the clothes of the figurines. An owl roosted in the hayloft of the barn. A cow nudged her calf in the snow. The soft glow of embers shone from the blacksmith’s shop.

And the Christmas Village seemed just a little more magical.

Christmas display at Seattle Armory Center

Christmas display at Seattle Armory Center

NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up and More…

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Well.

I didn’t win NaNoWriMo. Not even close.

But I did get my first draft to 100K. 100,000 words, people! So if you’re keeping track, I’m officially 2/3 of the way done with my first draft.

You really can lose and still win.

Anyway.

It was a busy month, trying to finish up my online classes, starting a new job, and traveling for Thanksgiving. I didn’t get to write near as often as I usually do, but interestingly, when I did, I spit out far more words. Like lack of productivity on the project made me more productive when I actually had time to work on it.

The most interesting things that happened in November were that I changed the title (though I think it might change yet again) and added another family character. A fourth sister. A dead sister.

I’m impatient to get to revisions, though I know I’ll kind of hate my life while I’m doing them, but still. I already know I have tons of changes to make, especially with this late-game addition, so I’ll have plenty to keep me busy.

My classes are winding down, so I’m hoping to get this draft done by the new year! It’s like I’m taking a second chance at NaNoWriMo. 50K words in December.

Novel Progress: 1/2 Way

For previous posts on this subject, click here and here.

I feel like I’m a little less positive than my last post. This section has definitely been tougher than the last bit. I keep reminding myself that all I have to do is finish the first draft, just keep putting words on the page. But some days, I feel like my writing is absolutely leaden and awkward. The character I found the easiest to write is now the hardest and vice versa. Some sections are good, I think. Some sections are downright terrible. The good news is, with the word count I goaled for myself, I’ll definitely have room to cut the things that drag the story down.

The middle to latter third is my weak point. I’ve always known that. Lots of other people struggle in this area, too. I just sort of hoped it might magically be different this time. No such luck.

Some articles helping me get through this rough patch:

Don’t Stop Writing in the Ugly Middle by Joe Bunting at The Write Practice

25 Ways to Fight Your Story’s Mushy Middle by Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds (Warning: Very NSFW)

25 Questions to Ask As You Write by Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds (Warning: Very NSFW)

In other news, I’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo to challenge myself to keep plugging along. I did it in 2008 and finished, didn’t do it in 2009, started in 2010, but got distracted by school and life, didn’t do it in 2011. There’s still time to sign up! It starts tomorrow. If you want to be my friend, my username is: foxyluvshorses.

Happy Halloween, friends!