Writing Endeavours: Day 21

from google
from google

What is it about crowds that tears your soul
and makes you feel so bare, alone?
are they not of same kind?
do they not walk the same space,
breathe the same air,
see the same view?
yet in throngs you morph
you shrink, you fade—
and your soul can only grasp, never reaching
never ever quite reaching solace
Instead there’s stormy solitude
translating to
loneliness.


Just like that twenty-one days of writing have flown by. But I’ll be the first to admit that I have not written properly every single day. Yes, I’ve missed two days due to busyness or forgetfulness or don’t know what-ness but I’ve missed, and it kinda hurts. What does ease the pain, however, is knowing that I didn’t even start on the first day of the year anyway, so I haven’t really ruined anything save my idealistic dreams. Those can stand a little bruising anyway.

Stardust: Book Review

First book review of 2016 (well, not that I did that many during 2015, but here’s one now)!!! First off, this year marks the first year I’m making a booklist, literally a list of books that I read in 2016. It’s going to be amazing, I’m sure, because I already have four books down. One of those books that I’ve read happens to be the one I’m reviewing today, BUT I’ll try to quit rambling and get on to the backstory behind how I read the book.

Stardust is another loan! I love it when people loan me books because in my head it means that they’ve accepted me as a fellow literary nerd and they also trust me to keep the book in good condition. So yup, Stardust is one of four books lent to me by a very good friend. I started and finished it in the same day, partly because it’s really short and partly because it was extremely interesting. You know what? I would use the word alluring. 

Ahem, ahem, I think I’ve got back to rambling, so without further ado…

Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Title: Stardust
Author: Neil Gaiman
Pages: 194
Genre: Fantasy
Tense: Past
POV: Third person
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Rated: NC16

 

Stardust by Neil Gaiman is set in a fantasy England area called Wall, thus named because a wall encircles the village, the only barrier between Wall and Faerie. But every nine years the Faerie folk and people from all over flock to Wall for the Market, and it is there that the story starts.

Enter Tristran Thorn, seventeen years of age and absolutely smitten with Victoria Forester, to him the most beautiful girl in the British Isles. Desperate for her hand in marriage, he makes a rash promise to bring her back the star she had seen fall from the sky and sets off on a journey to Faerie. But several other than Tristran will have the same star, and will cheat and kill and lie to obtain it. Innocent of what dangers may befall him, Tristran wanders deeper into Faerie, only knowing that he will bring the star back to his true love.

But there are other things he finds, such as unicorns and chains and a desperate fight among seven brothers for the throne. Ultimately, will Tristran and his youthful love conquer all obstacles, and will Victoria Forester keep her promise to give him whatever he asks for?

Okay now that the summary is over, it’s time to review. I loved this book. I’m going to read it again. Oh, so you want something more concrete than that? Well, firstly the whole style of the narrative was beautifully crafted, full of colourful descriptions and phrases that seemed to have been born in Faerie itself. I don’t even know how this works, but the prose was like poetry that danced and felt so smooth and easy to read. Nothing boring about it at all.

Then the characters. And the names. Oh, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved the names. Every single name fit so beautifully and perfectly. I almost cried out aloud for joy when I read the name of the star. Excuse me while I spoil this a bit, but the star is a person. And for a long time in the story she refuses to speak to Tristran or give him her name, but when she eventually does IT’S PERRRRFECTTTTT (I want to sing it it’s so lovely). But honestly, it makes me so happy when I see beautiful names that fit the character like a mould. (Really, when she was about to reveal her name I was holding my breath and then she gave it and I nearly SCREAMED because it was beautiful!!!!!!! Fangirl moment!!!!!! Ok I’m back.)

What was I saying about the characters? Oh yes they were crafted. I don’t even have to put an adverb there. They were crafted, they were real. And they fit so nicely into the genre of fantasy because when you read fantasy you always have this suspension of belief that holds better than when you read ‘real-life’ books. So even if the characters do weird things, it all seems perfectly normal. It’s great like that.

Um. Now we get to some prickly territory? Why is it NC16, you ask? Hello Sarah, you aren’t even 16 yourself! Who are you to tell me I shouldn’t read it if I’m not 16 when you aren’t and you’re gushing all over the place about this book? Well…there’s…THERE’S A BAD WORD! And even though you’ve probably been exposed to vulgarities for a long time even if you aren’t 16, I still don’t like reading foulness in prose. I don’t know about you, but there are certain standards I set for myself (but I’m still going to read it again because I know what part it’s at and I can just cover it). But yes, it’s only one (one is still a lot! It taints the whole thing and makes me sad) early on in the book, so after that you can sort of forget about it and read in peace.

One more thing about the NC16 thing is that at the start there’s some stuff that probably wouldn’t be appropriate for younger people to read. Ok fine actually it can be NC15 but there’s no such thing as that so I’m leaving my rating.

Now we get back to the awesomeness of the book. The theme is wonderful, and coming from me that’s amazing because I’m such a clueless butterfly that I usually have a very hard time finding the themes of books. Want to know what the theme is? ‘Tis:

Follow your dreams; strive to attain your goals. Even if you find that what you wanted at first was not what you truly wanted, it is on the journey to fulfil your dream that you will find your real desire and attain it.

and I’m telling you I would have rated it 5 stars if not for the parts mentioned above. It was excellent. It was art and poetry combined in prose, and to make matters better it’s a really short book! So I’d advise you (if you are of the accepted age) to read Stardust and come and talk to me about it. I love it.

Writing Endeavours: Day 1

Day 1: Describe your own hands.

The back was a light brown, and in the intersection between the palm and the wrist was a plethora of tiny brown scars. If you looked closely you could see the greenish veins running smoothly up to the fingers and branching out at the knuckles. More scars—these ones pale pink with a soft brown edging around in uneven rings. On the index finger was a streak of ink that made one wonder at the owner’s carelessness in brandishing a pen. Under each nail bed of each finger, the skin gave the appearance of being minorly bruised and peeling; the nails themselves cut down, without any trace of decoration or polish. The base of the middle finger was slightly darkened and indented by the nib of a pen, as could also be seen by the inkstain on the fingerprint area. The side of the fourth finger also gave testament to the pen’s hold—another reddened indentation under the nail, where the pen rested. Beneath the thumbnail was another mark, this one a tiny brown scab that looked as if it would flake off in the next two days. Drawing down from there was a white raised diagonal scar, from more than seven years ago.

On the other side the fortune-teller lines carved out an abstract twisting letter M, but otherwise the palm had not worked out any callouses. There was nothing else save more scratches of ink, and the natural creases that cut across each finger joint.


 

Day 1 complete. And yes, my hands are very scarred because they used to have this eczema thing which is now gone (hallelujah), but with its scarred remains. I also have no idea how my pen draws so much on my hand, leaving ink all over the place. But oh well; makes for a more interesting description.

Writing Endeavours

Happy New Year! (Oh look we’re four days in already. Well, better late than never I guess?)

I started Grade 11 today. It looks as if this’ll turn out to be a hectic academic year, what with Chinese O Levels and Higher Chinese O Levels and trying to actually get all my work submitted on time and with good grades at the end of it all. But with all this stuff taking up time of day, I’ve also made it a priority this year to write every day. That’s right.

In order to hone my craft, I’m going to start actually writing every day. Not just scribbling casual speak in my journal, but rather actually trying to create a new picture every single day, whether it be narrative or descriptive, paragraph or entire story. I could take my inspiration from a Pinterest prompt or just a word that I find provoking. Anything. As long as words flow. Practice makes perfect, so they say. Well, time to work that out.

I’ll post whatever I’ve written whenever I think this ole blog needs some fresh air, and I’ll always put the day. Some stuff might be rotten rubbish while others might be literary goldmines. I’m just practising. I’m just trying to develop a skill, a habit.

I hope you enjoy my scribbles.

“What God Must Be”

I recently finished David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Even though it was the second time I had read it, the emotions were the same, if not accentuated. I love almost everything about it—the language, the emotions, the characters, the lessons, etc. The only thing I might not have loved was that Mr Micawber talked way too much. But then again, he’s like that.

In short, this is what happened with the book:

Nothing like a Veggietales gif to explain your feelings about a book.

Anyway, to the point. What especially struck me this time while reading was a sentence near the end (page 750 out of 837 in my edition) in a letter from Emily Peggotty to David Copperfield. There’s a lot of sorrowful backstory behind the letter, but to stay spoiler-free I won’t say anything about it.

Starting from the second paragraph of the letter:

I have put the words close to my heart. I shall keep them till I die. They are sharp thorns, but they are such comfort. I have prayed over them, oh, I have prayed so much. When I find what you are, and what uncle is, I think what God must be, and can cry to him.

Goodbye forever. Now, my dear, my friend, good-bye forever in this world. In another world, if I am forgiven, I may wake a child and come to you. All thanks and blessings. Farewell, evermore.

Sure, it’s sad and beautiful, but so what? Look again. This is what struck me to the core and resounded in my soul:

“When I find what you are, and what uncle is,
I think what God must be, and can cry to him.”

There are thousands of beautiful sentences in David Copperfield, but in this reread of it I feel that this is the most beautiful. To unpack and delve into it, I’ll give some context.

Both Mr Peggotty (the uncle referred) and Copperfield had been exceedingly kind to Emily and had helped to extricate her from a scathing scandal. She’s full of remorse and penitence.

And then she writes those words that I have emboldened and italicised. She had certainly strayed from God in those dark years, but now she returns to Him and dares to pray to Him. But why? Because she has seen an image of Him in others.

“I think what God must be”—if humans, who are fallible and sinful and broken, can show such love and tenderness and forgiveness; how much more can God be to her? Because she has seen a reflection of God in humans made in His image, she is now able to cry to Him. Before she may have been terrified of His judgement of her, but she now sees what God must be—only ten thousand times more loving and tender and forgiving, and then in Him she can find solace.

What I’m trying to say is that few people can see God visually, physically. And that’s why we need mirrors that reflect His glory and His goodness. We need to be those mirrors that give people a glimpse of what God must be, and then to let them feel free to cry out to Him. Otherwise people can only guess at God’s form. Is he a crotchety old man or a mean grouch? No; we must be images of God and let people peek into the unseen realm of what God must be.

If all of us who call ourselves Christians would just do this—strive to embody God’s moral characteristics of love and grace and holiness—how many more people would see Him in His true light and dare to pray to Him? Let me pose a challenge to you: embody Christ. Reflect Him.

And this is why everyone should read David Copperfield (Sorry, couldn’t resist).

why can’t ostriches fly?

i looked at the sky and heard birds cry
and i wondered why
ostriches can’t fly

who cares if they’re big and heavy
surely they want to carry
themselves in skies when weary

but all they can do is run
endlessly they just run
it doesn’t even seem fun

so why couldn’t God sing
and help the ostrich’s whims
and give that huge bird wings

wings that would help it soar
above the clouds and more
what was God waiting for

but they can run well
and they run pell-mell
and it’s all swell

so they gave up the dream of flight
since it wasn’t in God’s sight
and in that their hearts were light

sometimes i wonder
was God asunder
in making me did he blunder

i can’t dance or draw
i can’t run nor can i soar
i’m not coordinated at all

but there are so many more things
i can write and (passably) sing
who needs the other wings

so i release those dreams
up to God, it seems
and at me he beams

well done, child
it took you a while
but you’ve found your style

the next time i see
an ostrich look at me
i’ll remember this fancy


For some reason not capitalising looked cool so I ditched a rule for once and went with my poetic feel (which again seems to me a load of rubbish). But seriously? Why can’t ostriches fly? Hmm…maybe I’m losing my mind but oh well. There I go again, pretending to be a poet when I’m just a rubbish writer.

By the way saying that I could write was not referring to poems, so I’m not that egoistical. 🙂