Challenge: Complete {APADO #31}

(I’m not even gonna bother with my APADO intro because this post is so meta it doesn’t deserve it. Hehe.)

(Also: all the gifs are from when I ran outside to celebrate getting to this momentous occasion. Enjoy.)

APADO 31

All I can say at this point is wow.

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To be honest, I expected myself to fail this challenge. When I went into this, I thought I would end up with about seventeen APADO posts before falling off and being done with the challenge. And I thought I’d have to look at them for the rest of my meager existence. Seventeen reminders that I can’t keep my promises.

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I can’t tell if it’s better to have low expectations and knock it out of the park or have high expectations and fail, but we’re going with the happy medium. I had bad expectations, but I ended up with something pretty awesome (if I can say so myself).

This past month, I posted once a day, every day, on weekends and holidays and all throughout May October.

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To be clear: to me, the day was not over until I went to bed. I used the backlog feature to get the date right on the posts I published after midnight (which was almost all of them, hehe.)

Though words can’t describe how good this feels, a gif or two might do the trick.

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GUYS, I DID IT.

Ahem.

Let’s do a quick recap of everything that went down this month.

This month…

(none of these stats are counting this post)

…I wrote 30 posts, adding up to an estimated total of 22,159 words.

I took 98 new photos (not reuploads of old stuff or things I already had photos of).

And made 11 gifs (not counting ones I lifted from youtube videos):

I broke 100 posts:

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And this blog got 823 views, 175 visitors, 414 likes, and 228 comments.

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I would say I’m speechless, but I’m a bit too talkative for that.

My thoughts on APADO:

I now see why clickbait content farms are the only ones who post once a day. It’s tiring. Just like a marathon, I started to stumble around day (mile?) 13. It’s like my motivation started to slide downhill until I took that glorious Wednesday walk.

Yet, I enjoyed pushing myself. I love the feeling of having a ton of cool posts for people to read. And most importantly, I found my fervor to blog again. I’ve built good habits. And I’m now motivated to post more often, although not every day.

I’m not about to say that every post was perfect, though. In fact, quite a few of them were sub-par.

My (Personal) Bottom Three Posts:

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300,000 Words {APADO #14}

Sin number one: it had almost no pictures. Sin number two: nothing is more self-centered than low-key bragging about how many words you’ve written. C’mon, Tess. You’re better than that…

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A Brief Rant-Review Of Great Expectations {APADO #15}

I don’t think Steeplechase posts get more negative than this one. Wow, I had a ton of roasts to scald this poor novel with. And again, no pictures! Readers like pictures, Tess. They really do.

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A Quick Chat About Flawed Characters {APADO #19}

Oh, I wish I’d put more time and effort into this post! I didn’t say nearly everything I have to say about this topic. Perhaps, in future, we’ll have to have a longer chat about flawed characters.

But – there were several posts that I really, really liked.

My (Personal) Top Three Posts:

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Roller Coasters {APADO #6}

Inspirational message? Heart-pumping roller coaster gifs? Yes, please. AND THE FEATURED IMAGE IS SO FLEEK.

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Taking A Casual Saturday Stroll On A Wednesday {APADO #17}

Not only was this post a ton of fun to make, I ended up discovering something about myself that has changed my view about the world. It’s comforting.

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A Random Letter For A Random Person {APADO #29}

This completely spontaneous idea turned out so neat! Just an update: I’ve been given permission to mail the letter. Once I hunt up a stamp, it’s off to Washington!

The Crowd Favorite:

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Conversations With 13-Year-Old Me {APADO #4}

Maybe it was the past-self-depreciating jokes. Or maybe it was that jamestic gif at the beginning. For some reason, this post got 41 views. As a reference, my record is 91 views (for that interactive birthday adventure which will likely return).

The Unsung Hero:

Scouty {APADO #9}

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Somehow puppy photos weren’t tantalizing enough. Was it because Scouty had already written a post on The Pawsome Press? Still, it has more views than half the posts I’ve written – a respectful 12.

What’s your opinion?

Everyone’s preferences are different. Want to let me know what you thought?

In conclusion:

I’m shocked at how much my blogging game has changed since the beginning of this challenge. I’m now proud to call myself a blogger. I’m happy with the posts I’ve made.

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I wish I could keep posting once a day, but I’m sure there would be a drop in the quality of my posts, knowing how much effort and how many late nights these ones took. And besides, there’s Nanowrimo, and that’s going to be taking up all my spare time.

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But this doesn’t mean I won’t be posting on Steeplechase next month! I’m going to try to do five Nano recaps (one every six days) with snippets, gifs, writer struggles and inspiration. Let’s hope they’re as fun as APADO has been.

Farewell, APADO. You were fun. See ya next year.

(Did I just make a rash promise again?)

Now let’s jump right into Nano.

Sheesh. Talk about out of the frying pan into the fire.

tl;dr: I finished APADO and ended up with some posts I liked and got practice for Nano, which starts TOMORROW guys I’m officially freaking out.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

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the last relaxation i’m gonna get before NANO

 

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31 Things To Do Instead Of Trick-Or-Treating {APADO #30}

(Today is the next-to-last day of APADO – the blog series where I try to write a post for every single day of October. My wittle challenge is almost over *snif*)

(I was planning to post this tomorrow but I might be planning a giant APADO recap/vote/thoughts on the challenge tomorrow so we’re going for today. Besides, it’ll give you some time to think about this post.)

(Of course I’m posting this so late that it’ll probably be tomorrow before you see it. Hmmmm….)

(featured image is an edited version of one of my photos)

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(Disclaimer: If you celebrate Halloween, that’s okay for you and I’m not trying to preach at you. I’m just sharing my opinion. Please don’t get triggered.)

I haven’t ever celebrated Halloween. Aside from its roots in druids and demons, it’s a self-centered holiday, and I have no brain energy to waste on it.

Reasons I Don’t Celebrate Halloween

There’s so much darkness and evil in the world, I don’t think we need to add any more. And before you go and say that Halloween is just a fun little holiday, the Wikipedia article backs me up:

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Society has turned it into a fun little holiday, but the roots of it are something I can’t get over.

But on another level, the thing that bothers me about Halloween is that it’s a very self-centered holiday. Kids are trained from a young age to stress out over costumes and then go show it off and ask people for treats. That’s something that I don’t find very wholesome.

To show you what I mean, let’s do some math.

People spend $9.1 billion on Halloween candy, decorations, and costumes a year, according to this source.

Just around $1.9 billion would buy every homeless person in America three meals a day for a year, plus a sleeping bag and a Bible for each of them. And the remaining $7.2 billion could buy 120 private islands in the Bahamas for $600 million each.

That’s.

A lot.

Of money.

Just to please some kids and candy companies for one night of the year.

I feel like Halloween is a sorry excuse for a holiday. It makes absolutely no impact. Even aside from the pagan ideas that are at its core, it breeds selfishness and discontent.

So what’s a non-trick-or-treater to do?

As I was going about my day today, seeing people buying last-minute bags of candy or pieces of costumes, I started to wonder if there was anything I could do on Halloween. I mean, I usually sit inside with the lights off and watch the most obnoxiously happy movie I can think of, but…is there anything more constructive I can do?

I got my mom in on the idea, and we ended up brainstorming 31 different ways to spend Halloween that are more positive and meaningful. They had to be:

  • relatively cheap
  • not associated with giving out candy or dressing up
  • helpful to the community in some way
  • and fun!

So whether you’re like me and you don’t celebrate Halloween, or you’re just looking for something to do instead of trick-or-treating, here are…

31 Things To Do Instead Of Trick-Or-Treating

Earn $31, $3.10, or 31 cents and give it to your favorite charity.

If your grass is still growing, find 31 weeds in your neighbor’s yard and pull them up.

Copy out 31 verses of Scripture. If you wanna be Pintrestable, you could even write out Proverbs 31.

Do 31 “random acts of kindness”.

Buy the #31 shade of nail polish and commit to painting your nails that color. Electric green? Teal glitter? Go for it.

Everyone loves to find a happy note. Write 31 random notes and hide them in 31 random places. Who knows whose day you might brighten?

Spend 31 minutes exercising. Let’s face it, from here until January, the food just keeps getting more delicious…and more irresistable.

Reverse trick-or-treating! Go to the dollar store and find 31 comfort items to hand out a nursing home. 

Do you know any kids who aren’t trick-or-treating tonight, for whatever reason? It’s no fun to be left out. Find 31 stickers and give them to those kids – and make sure you a) tell them how proud you are of them for standing by what they believe or b) console them about their allergies/illness/grounding.

Find 31 nice-looking leaves and make someone a Thanksgiving card by taping the leaves to a piece of cardstock. Don’t forget to decorate the envelope!

Get a trick-or-treat bucket, but instead of filling it with candy, pick up 31 pieces of trash around your park or neighborhood.

As long as you’re okay with hauling around 31 bottles of water, find 31 thirsty people at your trunk or treat or gathering and give them a bottle of water.

Donate 31 cans of food to a soup kitchen or food drop.

Lots of people are buying tons of clothes for their costumes, but how about giving some away? Go through your closet and find 31 items of clothes or shoes and donate them.

Buy 31 tire valve stem covers (don’t worry, they’re cheap) and go on a hunt for 31 tires that are missing their little cap.

Pranksters in your neighborhood? Find 31 of their eggy messes and clean them up.

Go to the mall or the grocery store and seek out 31 items that are misplaced or have fallen on the floor. Pick them up and put them back where they belong.

Find and clip 31 different coupons. (Some grocery stores have them hanging up at the front.) Then, go find the 31 items on sale and tape the coupon to the item. If someone didn’t know it was on sale, they’ll get a chance to save some money.

While you’re at the store, see if you can find 31 loose carts and deposit them back in the cart corrals.

Spend 31 minutes playing with your pet.

Spend 31 minutes with your little siblings or relatives.

Wash or dry 31 dishes for your mom, if it’s not already your chore. I guess you could also do 31 loads of laundry, but that’s kind of ambitious.

Come up with 31 useful coupons for you to fufill and tape them to the refrigerator, to be used by whoever wants them.

Make 31 paper stars and start a vase for a loved one!

Give away 31 of your old toys or stuffed animals.

Bookworm? Here’s a really scary challenge for you. Round up 31 books you’re done with and donate them to your library. Bonus points for putting 31 random notes in them!

Hand out 31 tractates, if your church does that.

It’s not quite Thanksgiving yet, but how about writing down 31 things you’re thankful for?

Strain your eyes and your fingers and make 31 friendship bracelets for your friends.

Make a list of 31 important people in your life and write a letter to each of them.

Spend 31 minutes in prayer. It won’t be wasted time.

The bottom of it all?

Whatever you choose to do this Halloween, I hope you’re happy and safe. If you choose to do anything from this list, though, I’d love to know what you did!

Who knows? You might end up making a new tradition, or at least having more fun than that lame Halloween party you were inevidably invited to.

Maybe, just maybe, we can start a new movement. Spending this night of self-centeredness helping others.

I like to think it’s possible.

tl;dr: If you’re bored tomorrow night, have a go at one of these weird, helpful ideas.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

A Random Letter For A Random Person {APADO #29}

(apado is a blog series we all know what it is and I’m just amazed I’ve almost completed it)

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I’ve had a hunch for awhile that people aren’t as different as they think they are.

I mean, I say about thirty times a day that I’m weird, and yet all my friends do the same. So am I really weird?

I wanted to put myself in someone else’s shoes for a half-second. Pretend I was your average person. Feeling compartmentalized and alone, the only odd one out…don’t we all feel like that sometimes?

And then I imagined receiving a letter. A figurative hand that connects me back to the idea that we’re not so “weird” after all.

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Hi. 🙂

My name’s Tess Richardson. I’m about 99.99999% sure you have no clue who I am and honestly I hope you’re okay with that.

I’m writing you a letter because I have faither in the unknown. I don’t know who you are, or what you do, but I feel like this letter found its way to the right person.

I’m not trying to be creepy. I’m not asking you for anything. You don’t have to help the defenseless kittens or disabled veterans. You don’t even have to reply to this letter.

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I just hope that when you read this letter, it puts a smile on your face. I’m not exactly sure how. Maybe the thought that someone’s indirectly thinking of you.

Whatever floats your anvil, that’s cool with me.

I hope you have a nice day, whoever you are. You deserve to. God Bless and I’m thinking of you.

Sincerely,

Tess

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^ random address I found by dropping the pin in Google Maps in a random spot.

Should I mail it?

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

You’re Not The Victim {APADO #28}

(apado yadda yadda yadda we get it)

(this post is extremely short but inspirational?)

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You’re not a victim.

I know you feel like you are.

Things come your way and push you down and you feel like there’s nothing you can do about it.

But there’s plenty you can do.

The first thing is to decide to not let life beat you.

You’re not the victim. You’re the master of the situation.

So go out and make your own future.

The power’s in your hands.

You are not the victim.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

A Productivity T-Chart {APADO #26}

(APADO is my blog challenge that I’m sure you’re familiar with because I’ve been posting about it once a day for twenty-five days. Yay.)
(this is a short friday post™)
(also it’s only five days till Nano y’all, i am officially fReAkInG oUt)

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Contrary to popular belief, spontaneous people can get stuff done. My secret is just to come up with different methods and hacks that make productivity fun.

What I’m doing today is a Productivity T-Chart.

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At the beginning of the day, I wrote all the things I need to do on sticky notes. Then, I used masking tape on my desk to mark off an area for things I need to do and an area for things I’ve already gotten done. It’s really, really satisfying to move a note from one side to the other.

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Okay this is now officially meta.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

Landscapey Stuff {APADO #20}

(How am I already 2/3 of the way through APADO? It seems like it’s gone by pretty quickly. Who knew that posting once a day would be so much fun?)
(Also I apologize for yesterday’s sorry excuse for a post. I was in a hurry. In fact I didn’t even go through that twice. And I’m really, REALLY regretting that. Hehe.)

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I don’t think it’d be fair to say that I “do” photography. Do I like taking pictures? Yes. Do I think about taking photos all the time? No.

Really, the reason I take photos is to create a visual trigger for something I could describe in more detail. Be that a place I really love, or good times with friends and family, that’s the extent of my “love” of photography.

(And then I turn around and take photos for my blog and that has nothing to do with visual triggers. I hate it when I can’t make a reason for something absolute.)

I’ve got a folder called “Lanscapey stuff”. (To say that my file naming system is bizarre is an understatement.) In addition to myriads of blurry photos I can’t decide if I should delete or not, it’s got a lot of my visual triggers in it. Today, I’ve decided to pull ten of those out of the vault and see if I can jar my memory.


Back before I knew how to use a camera, I went to the Grand Canyon and had the opportunity to take the photos of a lifetime.

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Unfortunately, hardly any of my pictures turned out to be any good. However, there were a few good shots, like this one.

But do photos really do this place justice? In real life, this place was bigger than any frame. All I could see from one side of the horizon to the other was the canyon, the striped rocks descending down toward the river. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so small.


Icy trees look pretty cool.

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I froze my fingers off trying to capture how cool it was. My hot breath hanging in the air, my hands trembling, but a triumphant smile spreading across my red face as I got a shot that looked alright. That was an interesting afternoon.


I took a camping/hiking trip to Caprock Canyons State Park – a ton of my “good” photos are from that trip. The area is really arid, but we heard that there was a cave where a bunch of ferns grew naturally, thanks to a spring and some irrigating rocks. So we hiked to the unimaginatively named Fern Cave.

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I was not disappointed.

It was at least ten degrees cooler on the enormous rock I was sitting on – just the thing to cheer up a group of hot, dusty hikers. The constant drip of the water off the edges of the ferns echoed off the sides of the little alcove where they hung, swinging in the breeze, growing despite the desert around them.

And I saw a wild frog for the first time. That was pretty neat.


During that same trip, we got so hot in the afternoon that we decided to go drive around in the car for some relief and some wind through our hair. We wandered down a bunch of country roads and by several farms and ended up finding this relaxing tunnel of scraggly oak trees:

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It was so quiet here, I could here my own thoughts.


We also found a dirt road that led out to the middle of nowhere that was sort of anticlimatic but very pictreusque.

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I think the most wonderful thing about this photo is that there are absolutely no power lines – just the ribbon of caliche stretching for a good mile and the tawny brush swaying as the wind tickled the top of it.


But to be honest, God’s beautiful creation is everywhere.

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Like this gorgeous sunset that painted the sky back home one night. Not even the power lines can spoil this one.


I guess all my good landscapey stuff photos are taken while hiking and camping. Go figure. Needle Rock is a neat natural monument on a Boy Scout ranch in Fort Davis.

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Unlike the Grand Canyon, pictures do this one visual justice. But they don’t show the feeling of passing under this spire of twisted rock, the shadow that falls over you as you stare up at it in awe, the sun sparkling from behind it…


Yeah, I swear all my good photos are hiking photos.

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My brother had wandered ahead of us when I took this photo. I didn’t realize until I went back through all these photos that he makes this photo eighty times better. A man, walking all alone in the desert while stormclouds loom over him…

…I promise no more camping photos. Hehe.


Sometimes, a new angle changes everything.

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These icicles look really neat from the underside. Kind of like teeth, I imagine. What’s even cooler is how the ones on the right are bent from the winter wind blowing them as they melt.


And finally, oleander flowers.

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They’re some of the prettiest things out there, and they come from the strangest source. Who would’ve thought that these big, green, lumpy bushes would have nice flowers?


I can’t decide if this was a photography post or a writing post. Maybe it was both.

I suppose I need to start taking my camera more places. Who knows what I’ll find that’ll a visual trigger?

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

A Quick Chat About Flawed Characters {APADO #19}

(is-thay is pado-ay, y-may og-blay eries-say at-thay i’m ired-tay of troducing-inay. one ost-pay ery-evay ay-day or-fay the tire-enay onth-may of ober-octay.)
(I’m going to pretend like I actually know what I’m talking about today okay? Okay.)

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As I’m sure you’ve heard a million times, a complex character is a good character. One of the ways that authors flesh out characters is by giving them flaws. But I’ve seen time and time again where a character’s flaws aren’t actually flaws. I’m hoping to shed some light on the subject of flawed characters with some examples and a lot of satire.

But are your characters’ flaws actual flaws?

For it to be a flaw, it has to actually have an effect. If your character has anger issues, they have to actually hurt friendships and make things difficult. Because is it really a flaw if it has no impact?

If you say that your character’s flaw is clumsiness, but all their clumsiness does is make them endearing, is that really a flaw? What about dropping the important object and breaking it? Tripping over a sleeping guard’s foot?

When you give your character flaws, make sure they actually have an impact.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

 

My “Torc” {APADO #18}

(thubis ubis ubapubadubo, my lubittle blubog suberubies thubat ubi’m subo tubired ubof ubintrubodubucubing. subo ubi dubecubidubed tubo dubo ubit ubin ububbubi dububbubi.)

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Brandy wears a braided chain / made of the finest silver from the north of Spain…

…or a piece of steel stock from an engineering workshop.

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restraunts, swimming, in the car, photobombing at my sister’s wedding…

I’ve worn my necklace every day since I got it, and I’m still not sure why.

Maybe it’s because I’ve tied the leather cord it’s hanging from so tight that I can’t get it off. I have to pull it off the hitch ring every time I go through a metal detector.

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penny for scale

For awhile, I was calling it my torc. I forgot what it means. It’s something in Russian, because when I got it, I was obsessed with a race of Russian wolves I was trying to come up with for my infamous dogstory.

I got it from a professor at our local university who really took a fancy to our family after he met my older sister. He made it out of some scrap steel and told me, “I dunno what you’re supposed to do with it, but it sure looks cool.”

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oh yeah, this was the journal where I was pretending I had a twin brother.

I wanted the torc to mean something. Maybe a reminder, or a symbol.

So I found a shoelace in one of my drawers and worked up a necklace. Somehow, the shoelace lasted for way longer than it should have, but when it got nasty, I kidnapped a leather strip from a Moleskine notebook and I think it looks alright.

It’s been a year and a half, and I still have no idea what it’s supposed to stand for.

Any ideas?

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

Today I Found Out… {APADO #16}

(*insert spiel about APADO here*)

(and we’re back to inspirational stuff. honestly i now know why people don’t try to post every day.)

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First thing this morning, I found out that humans need sleep. Or perhaps they don’t, and are just weak enough to crave it.

While studying genetics today, I found out that I’m probably heterozygous for blue eyes. Meaning if I have kids, there’s a good chance one of them will be blue-eyed, thanks to our recessive gene buddies.

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closeup of my eye (feat. heterochromia)

That’s comforting. I’ve always wanted blue eyes, even though I like my hazel/central heterochromia iridium.

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In my government course, of all places, I found out that the CIA and the US Postal Service are on the same legal level – independent agencies working for the Executive Branch.

(Also I discovered that taking a photo of sunglasses that doesn’t have a weird reflection is impossible.)

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At the barn today, I found out that you really should break a flake of hay in half to feed it to two horses. They will chase eachother around over it. Aren’t we all possessive over food?

Maybe I already knew it. But I also discovered something else today.

Staying curious is staying positive and connected to this world. Asking questions, choosing to be interested in what you’re learning, and making mistakes go a long way to making life exciting.

Even if it’s just over genetics.

Today, I found out that not everybody is curious.

But maybe tomorrow, I’ll find people realizing that they’re a lot more curious than they think.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

A Brief Rant-Review Of Great Expectations {APADO #15}

(this post marks the halfway mark of apado – the only blog series that I know of that involves posting once a day for the entire month of october and chocolate-covered cactus fruit.)
(okay tess, let’s not rant about this little booger of a book. focus on the calming piano music. the sun’s getting real low.)
(with that in mind, we’re going to keep this brief)

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Since I apparently have a knack for triggering people with my thoughts on critically acclaimed works, let’s talk about Great Expectations and everything I dislike about it everything it has taught me about storytelling.

If you like this book, I don’t mean you any offense. You’re totally allowed to like what you like and no one’s stopping you. In fact, I’d like to hear what it was that made this book worth it for you.

But for me?

I was done with it after about chapter four, but for some strange reason, I read the entire thing. Maybe it was a willpower issue.

At the end of everything, I thumped it closed, took a deep breath and said aloud – “I hated everyone and everything in that book and I’m so glad it’s over.” Of course, hate is a very strong word and I try to avoid overusing it…but this was not an overstatement.

Reading the first stage of Pip's Expectations
a little gif i animated during this nightmare of a reading process

There are a few reasons why I was so frustrated with it.

  • For starters, it’s very verbose. This is the least of its problems, but I kept on losing track of what I was reading because I was distracted by one of his incredibly long sentences. I read that the story was originally published in serial format – a little each week, paid by the word. It shows. The interruptions and rambling made me focus less on the actual story and more on his unorthodox way of saying things.
  • It also feels kind of creepy. In my opinion, the synopsis on the jacket doesn’t merit the spooky, crumbling-to-pieces setting and tone the book has. Everything is disturbed, off-kilter and missing the spark of vivacity and brightness that most classics have. I don’t like this feeling for the same reason that I don’t like Tim Burton – it creeps me out.

(Can we also talk about how Pip has this huge crush on Estella even though she treats him like a doormat and he knows it? I don’t think that’s flirtatious banter anymore, buddy. I think that’s abuse.)

Romance advice aside, though, the characters were the biggest problem in this story. I had to ponder as to why I was so indifferent toward them, seeing as one of the only good things about this book was the diverse cast. After a while, I finally cracked it.

  • I hated everything about this book because I didn’t care about any of the characters. Their goals, their ambitions, their expectations…all of it was lost on me because I couldn’t get over their whiny attitudes, intense revenge plots, and so on. There were barely any people in the book that I felt like I could stand behind, and this made everyone’s goals seem pointless.

I guess the thing with Great Expectations is (for me) that the cast fails to complete the goal of every character: to build a connection with the reader and get them hooked into the story. If no one cares about a character, they’re not going to care about their goals, the plot, or the point the novel is trying to make.

This is a really important point that I want to emphasize before I talk any more about character creation. The only way to keep a reader’s interest is to maintain that connection from the page to the real world.

Nothing is as important in storytelling as this.

tl;dr: I have to like your characters to care about your book.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}