TU: A (momentary) kink the equation…

Thesis Updates

So, I finished Spy Television today. I think I have close to 70 notecards written, and I intend on photocopying the chapter on the McGoohan spy shows for future reference.

Last week, I requested four books through Inter Library Loan for the project–only one of which is in a library in my homestate. So, after some minor complaining and wondering how I was to get two of these (I’m just going to bite the bullet and purchase one), my mom made a brilliant suggestion:

Go to the Library of Congress.


So, in August, if all goes well, I’m going to Washington, DC to do some research for this project. It may end up being only slightly more expensive to make this trip as opposed to buying all of the books that I need. The LoC has all of the books I need. Not to mention the International Spy Museum, which really won’t help my project much, but it’s a fun museum. 🙂

This may be slight overkill, but it will be fun. And it will make my project-overseeing professor laugh. And in the end, it’ll be totally worth it.

On a semi-related note, I picked up Defend the Realm, the Authorized History of MI-5 (just for intelligence work in Cold War info, more for my own enjoyment than background material). My god, that thing is a CORNERSTONE. It’s massive, weighs more than my AP Euro History book in high school.

Beth’s Writerly Recipe!

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

Every once in a while, I like to ponder lists. If I were stranded on a desert island, what five things would I bring? Who would I eat dinner with, of any person living or dead? What are my favorite books, movies, albums, etc?

So, what do I need as a writer of fiction? DavidZahir preceded me with a great post of the four things he needs.

So, ladies and gentlemen, here is my recipe for writing!

Take one notebook and one blue pen: Yes, pen and paper. Despite my horrific handwriting, I feel most creative when committing ideas directly to paper. The smooth roll of the ink beneath my fingertips is quite conducive to thinking. As great as word processors are for recording scenes and stories (and organizing them), for me, nothing gets the creative juices flowing like a crisp white sheet of paper.

Add a dash of research: Libraries and the internet make this step much easier. As I write historical fiction (and sci fi influenced by actual events), this is an important step. A lot of inspiration comes from the pages of other books, scientific, historical, etc.

Mix in one cup of strong tea: Being teetotal, my poison of choice is a strong, hot cuppa. Cuppas calm me down and get me in a more productive frame of mind.

A pinch of laughs: When things get stressful, either in the story or while writing, keeping a sense of humor is essential.

Here are the rest of the AW Blog Chain participants!

1. DavidZahir – http://zahirblue.blogspot.com/
2. shethinkstoomuch – http://shethinkstoomuch.wordpress.com
3. Lost Wanderer – http://lostwanderer5.blogspot.com/
4. aimeelaine – http://www.aimeelaine.com/
5. Ravencorinncarluk – http://raven.youareannoying.us/
6. Bsolah – http://www.benjaminsolah.com/blog/
7. Charlotte49ers – http://www.amandaplavich.com/
8. Angyl78 – http://jelyzabeth.wordpress.com/
9. truelyana – http://expressiveworld.com/
10. Claire Crossdale – http://theromanticqueryletter.blogspot.com/

An Afternoon Well Spent

General Geekiness

With a heavy load of papers and projects in the offing, a friend and I did the only thing two self-respecting college students can do on a rainy Saturday. We hopped on the train and wandered into every used book store we could find.

One was Mecca. While it didn’t have any Roald Dahl collections, it was two floors of awesome. The size of a small box book store, everything was neat, clean, and organized. Fiction, music, art, military history, civilian history…ah! Nearly anything one could want to read! Giddy, we strolled through the stacks, picking up anything that caught our eyes. Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle, Dumas…the fiction section alone was enough to send any reader into fits of delight.

We ventured upstairs, picking through books of art, biographies (no luck on the Ogilvy memoir I’ve been keeping an eye out for) and military history.

I nearly hugged the bookcase labelled “aviation” and tore through the WWII shelves. What should I find hidden among the books on the European theatre land battles but a book about Spitfire pilots? Though this book (The Few by Alex Kershaw) is about American pilots in the RAF, research is research. So much of my story is up in the air (no pun intended), and dependent on my discoveries, I figured any little bit can help.

The Way We Think

General Geekiness

How we think intrigues me greatly. I’m not a huge fan of psychology in the academic sense (I find it rather boring), but I can’t resist Myers-Briggs personality tests.

Within the realm of thinking and perspective, it would be interesting to see how different “types” of people think, and from there, create. As for me, I’m an INTJ (Introverted, iNtuition, Thinking, Judging). This means that I ponder everything, wondering what works, what doesn’t, why, and I do what I know. Reason is key.

I have a rather scientific/mathematical mind for an English major. This probably results in my obsessive need for research; if I don’t know how something worked (at least at a basic level), then I get hung up on the details. I want to know exactly what uniforms looked like, the hierarchy, all of the social aspects, etc.

As a result, I hate to share my work unless it is absolutely perfect; I’m often secretive about the specifics of plots, scenes, characters, etc. Critique groups I avoid. Goals are swell.

I don’t put all of my faith in these tests, but they are fun, and provide interesting insight into oneself.

So long to Summer

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

So Summer is gone, drifting away like a seed downstream. I’ve moved back to my beloved city, ready to grapple with this semester’s courses, continuing my own research, and hopefully writing a good portion of The Novel, along with countless other projects.

Last night, rather than get to sleep at a reasonable hour, I did a quick search of what RAF books my school has; I lucked into a memoir by Peter Townsend (with an “R” and without an “H”), a British ace of the era. Though I haven’t started reading it yet, I’m certain the first person account will help me get a sense of everything; and who knows, maybe my characters will fly Hurricanes instead.

I’m eagerly anticipating the challenges before me.

How I’m going about writing the WIP, or, how not to

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

Well, at the request of Sputnitsa, I’m going to write about how I’m writing the WIP.

Procrastination. Sort of. Since my library has a very tiny selection of books that even pertain to Britain in general during WWII, I’m doing what research I can. If I find something interesting, I write it down in my handy-dandy notebook (I’m so thankful I took a few notes during my reading of the Time Life book on The Resistance).

But I’m being semi-productive and reading WWII history books, like Band of Brothers. I did find a couple of things that may be useful.

I’ve thrown myself into my research (ha, really just dipped a toe in to see how the water is). I’m hoping that with more background information, the story will get fleshed out. This’ll be a lot easier when I return to school; I’ll have JSTOR and other sites available to me.

My plot, alas, is bare bones. I know what I want to happen. I wrote the basic skeleton down, it’s literally a paragraph. I’m hoping that once my research really turns up some gems, I’ll have a better idea.

Characters are, at the moment, few and far between. There’s Jim, the MC, who is rather…bland. I know a few details about him, but he really hasn’t been given a chance to show his true colors.

And through it all, I’m writing little scenes to get in the swing of things. I’ve determined a few details that might help me research along the way, for example, Jim pilots a Spitfire. Now, I just need to find various squadrons that flew Spitfires, what their missions were, etc. From there, I’ll be able to determine more of the specifics, such as where he gets gunned down.

So there you go. A brief explanation of where I am, WIP wise. I’ll probably be mired in research for a few more months; I’m hoping to have enough basic information to get a first draft banged out during National Novel Writing Month. Except this time, I might take my time.

Of course, I love research very very much, so I may just get carried away. Which is always a problem.