Monday, May 9, 2011

Some recovered posts from the blog with the hard-to-remember-name.

I’m so totally shown up.

I used to keep a regular blog when I was a teenager. And I cheated and had my dad post my mission letters while I was in Texas, so that turned into a blog.

A few months ago I decided I should blog again, but I didn’t get around to it until General Conference weekend in April—hence my last entry. Then I forgot about my convictions, yet again and today I’ve finally decided to post something.

I might be a little all over the place, but only three people are reading this right now anyway and they all live with me

So… topic… I spent this last weekend at the LDStorymakers writing conference. It was wonderful. Over all, I had a magnificent time and learned/relearned lots.

Let’s put my writerly education in context, shall we?

I was thirteen when I decided that I was going to write a novel. I figured it would be amazing. Aren’t all novels by thirteen year olds amazing? I tried and failed with a dozen different ideas for books and when I was sixteen I finally finished my first novel. It was terrible but someone wanted to publish it anyway. I got myself an editor and a publishing company—they were new, and on shaky ground financially, but that was perfect for me—I was young and just wanted to get published. After a year of rewrites and going back and forth with the company, they went under. I was sad for them, but it honestly felt like destiny to me. I was not supposed to publish that book and I had long since stopped loving it. I had continued writing and managed to finish a few other terrible books, which in spite of their flaws, I loved a lot more.

Ultimately, my experience as an almost published teenaged author was very positive. I learned how to compromise, how to snip and trim and occasionally chop up my writing. I learned how to accept suggestions and edit. This helped immensely as I got older and more mature and eventually figured out that although it was going to be a lot harder than I had initially thought, I really did want to be a writer.

So. I wrote more books, but I was never satisfied with anything. Even to me, my writing felt like it lacked experience. I started to think that my mind was coming up with story lines that were too mature for my skills. Then something great happened; I put my papers in and served an amazing eighteen month mission in Texas.

That, in and of itself deserved several novels to explain, but I’ll just skip to the relevant for this blog entry part; I learned Spanish. Spanish is a beautiful, logical language and while I was on my mission, I spoke and wrote a lot of Spanish and not much English. I came up with more ideas for books, but I didn’t do any writing. When I came home and immediately started writing again, I felt like my voice had changed completely. I couldn’t remember what was good.

I forgot English.

My solution was to write my way through it. Ultimately, that worked. It took almost a year, but I think I’m finally about back to where I was on the mechanics of writing before I left. The LDStorymakers conference last week helped remind me of a lot of the principles that I used to write by and that I had since forgotten entirely. I had so many “Duh!” moments.

For example: Passive voice is big in Spanish. We use it a lot in English too, but it’s crappy. I knew this, but I had forgotten what passive voice sounded like on the page. I could only remember one typical political line as an example.

“Mistakes were made.”

Well, I never say that.

But I do use passive voice too much now. Kevin, an awesome, genius writer friend had already been working with me to take the passive voice moments out of the two books I’ve written since I came home. Almost all of the critique I received at the Boot Camp workshop on Thursday mirrored what Kevin had said. I had fixed some things, but apparently not everything.

So, my mechanics are coming along—but as far as the other stuff goes… I think a mission can only improve upon the emotional undercurrents and connections that pull a story together through character, conflict, voice, theme, concept etc. I’m no longer worried about my skills. I can write well (when forced, and I will force myself) and as I continue working on my books and studying this wonderful language that I almost lost forever, I believe that proper mechanics will become more intuitive.

This conference was a very positive experience. I haven’t been to anything like that since before my mission, but I’ll have to make a habit of it.

Other thoughts:

Should I have a business card? I received a bunch from people at the conference—just for their blogs and stuff. I was asked for my card by people, but I don’t have one! It never even occurred to me to get a card before. If I had it would probably say something like “Ailsa Lillywhite – Person, I promise” and my facebook. Still, I felt totally shown up. Next time, I’ll bring cards.

Sara Eden is probably the cutest person ever.

Clint Johnson saved my life.

So did James Dashner and a few other people.

Won a doorprize. Sweet!

I might have gleefully broken my diet.

General Conference is Glorious! (April)

Glorious, glorious, glorious.

I'm trying not to give in to a little bit of sorrow that always creep up right around this time.

It's afternoon, Sunday April 3rd and there is only one more session of General Conference before we have to wait another six months.

I know that the point is to have some time to take to heart the teachings from the talks and spend the next six months (and ideally the rest of your life) doing something about what you've learned. However, I would be lying if I didn't say that a part of me wishes General conference were... at least a monthly thing, let's be bordering on reasonable there.

Reviewing my notes, so far I've had to write down something I had better not forget from each one of the talks.

We have yet to hear from Elder Holland.

I don't do the “He's my favorite!” with General Authorities. They are all called of God and asked to speak to us during General Conference because they have special messages for God's children. I need to listen to all of the talks with equal attention, but here's the deal; Elder Holland spoke to the MTC at large shortly before I went out into the field and he said nothing less than exactly what I needed to hear right then, I was profoundly touched by his talk. At twenty-one years old I had been listening to him speak for a while, and it was after that particular occasion that I realized, I always thoroughly enjoy—and more importantly—learn from his talks in such a way that I feel prepared to face the world again.

Also, his talks of late have been very awesome. Is anyone else keeping track? Elder Holland: 7k. World: nada. That's what my notes say, at least.

Let me share the only distressing thing so far: I did not sneak into priesthood session this time, but I still got to hear about some wonderful comments that were made. Comments directed towards the young men of the church who are still not married, and specifically the young men of the church who are not married and are doing little, not enough or nothing to change their single status.

As a single young woman living in Salt Lake City, I really appreciated this particular divine inspiration from God.

So, it's been a couple of hours and already I'm hearing the same whining from the priesthood brethren that always follows after this type of reprimand. They think they're being bullied or pressured or otherwise that it is just not fair to say those kinds of insensitive atrocities.

Umm... gentlemen. I'maslapyou.

Dear Single Priesthood,

Just get married for sobbing out loud.

Love, Sister Lillywhite

P.S. My dear cousin just announced her engagement. Good show:)

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