I'm thinking I'm going to start a Japan blog. I'm trying to figure out what site to use. I know, I know, I'm on livejournal asking what blogging site to use. But I don't have anything else to ask about blog sites on and I don't want to use this for that purpose.

What I'm looking for is something where I can be word heavy if I want to, but it's also super easy to integrate pictures. One of my main issues with pictures is that I try to put them in and write around them, but they just take up ALL the space. Or none of it or whatever. I know that's probably just because I don't know how to use things, but wutevar.

Anyway, so I'm thinking maybe - I started a fictional blog on there a while ago that never really took off, so I'm famiiar with at least making a layout there - or wordpress. I have a friend who uses it for her blog and has pretty pictures and movies integrated well with the text, and it doesn't look bad and boring when she's word heavy sometimes.

If anyone has any suggestions for other sites, let me know and I'll take it into consideration (for example, is it considered appropriate to make a word-based account on tumblr or is it all about the pics?). Or if anyone has any yea/nays for the two I've mentioned, that also is very welcome :)


EDIT: I'd like to point out that I'll still be using this for regular stuff, at least maybe until I'm in Japan, at which point I'd look into how I make blogs I make somewhere else turn up here like some people I know do at times :/


So I mentioned before that I was applying for a job in Japan, teaching English with Hisai Bible Church? I got it :) I start in November. They want me to arrive late September or in October so I have time to get settled in before I start working. It's perfect. Absolutely perfect. I finish my degree if I pass all my subjects this semester (I see no problems with that at this stage), if Chamber Choir decides to choose me to go with them on the USA tour, that's June/July - plenty of time to save around that - my best friend gets back from Bible college at the start of September, so I get to see her, and (hurr) my piano teacher's student-concert is mid September, so I'll be able to perform in that. I chose not to play soccer this year because I was having issues getting work and Saturday was my main day for that, so that's not going to be overlapping with Japan time.

There is absolutely nothing I'm doing this year that will overlap with Japan. God is good - preparing me this early!

I'm considering starting up a blog about Japaning. I'm still deciding what I'd include in it (would I put over my information from my other trip to Japan? Type up some of the journal entries I wrote, etc.? Or just have information from this trip - preparation and what's going on when I get there?). It could be a really good way of keeping up to date with people back home.

Tonight I get to tell my Cell group, who have been praying with me about this. So exciting! :) I've told a bunch of people so far, but I've been waiting until I can tell my Cell face-to-face before I make it facebook official. More fun this way.
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Mind thoroughly blown

Well, I've got myself in a minor pickle.

I have a bit of a workload at the moment. French has a billion links I'm supposed to look at each week (13, I think it was?) and some of them are marked "compulsory", which I'm considering testing. Mainly because as well as homeworks, I also managed to score myself a position in the Newcastle Chamber Choir. Or at least a trial spot. This is an internationally touring choir - I think it's supposed to be the 7th best chamber choir in the world, or something - and I have 12 pieces of music I've never heard before that I need to learn in my own time because they don't teach notes in the practices, just fix problems with the sound. And then if they ask me to come to the competition (in America, this year), I'd have to learn another 10. Scaaary, but . . . not entirely impossible.

But then, in conjunction with this . . . I've also found an amazing offer to get a job in Japan, teaching English in connection with a church there. This is like the missions work I've been praying about/for since November, except they've organised accomodation, I'll get paid, and it's connected with a church there, so I won't be entirely alone. This could start at any time after I apply, applications due March 20th.

Sooo . . . the trip to America is hardly something that's been on my heart. To all of my American friends, I wave an apology for shunning your country. But then again, I don't want to back out of the choir just after being accepted. But everything seems so amazingly timed for the trip - despite my looking for other work, nothing has been forthcoming; hockey's almost finished for the season; I didn't sign up for soccer this year; I'm not really attached to this semester's Uni classes yet.

I think . . . if at all possible, the best solution would be to go to Japan after this semester. That gives me enough time to prepare mentally and instead of leaving classes halfway through semester and having to pay for them without getting the marks. And I get to stick with the choir for a bit, to enjoy the discipline of a proper one again, and I can use the time between now and then to learn some more appropriate Japanese, even though none is required.

God is good @_@ Two awesome opportunities. What do?? Hahaha, ohhh . . .

Cooking! 4P Pasta :)

Throwing some things together in a pasta today. I did it yesterday - turned out yummo - and have ingredients left over, so I'm making it for two friends :) It's basically this:

1. Bake some pumpkin for ~40 minutes or until soft. When cooked, cut into pieces roughly 1x1cm.
2. Make sauce:
  - roughly 150mL of cream
  - 1 or 2 egg yolks
  - 3 heaped teaspoons of pesto
      mix them all together
3. Cook some pasta (I used penne - it takes ~12 minutes). Drain when appropriately soft.
4. Mix all ingredients thoroughly, and a tablespoon or two of pinenuts.

I ended up with some of the sauce left over that I didn't use, but I think if I doubled the pumpkin (I only used about 70grams) and make a little more pasta, it'd probably serve about 4 or 5 people.

I'm thinking about adding pepper this time, but that's something that depends on each person's taste. And next time I make it for myself I'm going to try it with mushrooms and maybe some sundried tomatoes, but for the moment it'll work :D

Oh, and it needs a name. I'ma call it my 4P Pasta, because the sauce was a last minute addition - all I was thinking of when I made it was "I want to make something . . . with . . . pumpkin, penne, pesto and pinenutes . . ."



I'm trying to remember to write things sometimes and to be creative, but it's not working very well >:| I think I generally work better with prompts - found some notes from last year, when I had to write based on the texts from that week, writing down some of the techniqus those pieces used that I could borrow to make my piece seem relevant. Maybe I should start doing that. But that means getting in and analysing what I'm reading.

Still, could be fun. For example, with Terry Pratchett:
- use more adventurous verbs
- tell the story partly though the footnotes
- don't be afraid to make characters ridiculous.

Fiction Snob

Just finished reading a book. While the storyline was interesting enough, I have to say it's reminded me of why I want to be an editor. No, there weren't spelling mistakes or punctuation errors running rampant, but it's more that in an attempt for drama, or perhaps humour, or maybe even just writing style, the author treated his audience like complete idiots.

Now, I realise that one of the key things in writing is to explain an idea fully - behave as though your audience has no background knowledge, often phrased as "imagine your readers are stupid". But there's a point at which you're going too far. Not so far that the critics pay any attention, as apparent by the muliple awards listed on the back of this book, but far enough to make me sit up and take notice. The main incident of this was in a particular reveal: X character is the son of Important Person! How would you go about doing that? Maybe when he's mentally disparaging the [family] guards, make him sound personally bitter about them rather than bitter from a distance! Maybe when he's being interviewed by someone and gives his full name, have them point out that name is significant! Maybe when he's in trouble have him mention his father doing something about "all this"! Maybe even point it out directly! Or what about all of those! Brilliant! Wonderful! ò_ó

The thing is that eventually, with all reveals that are central to the plot, you need to spell it out, so there's no confusion for the audience. But when you've made it absolutely obvious with hints before the reveal, the reveal itself kind of falls flat. "My father is the Emperor!" Yeah, kid, I kind of realised that a chapter or two ago. In fact, as soon as the guy said "Oh, really? That's a royal name!" I realised, and the whining about your father just rubbed that fact into my face in a nauseatingly contrived way.

I think I wouldn't mind so much, but the layout of the book was different to most, in that there were a lot of double line-breaks between paragraphs. In books, you get your classic new line + indent format rather than the gaps I tend to put into my writing (see paragraph format here), but in this book they used the new line + indent, and also in the case of switching perspective or a small gap in time or something particularly dramatic being said, they put in a gap between the paragraphs. I get that it's meant to add drama, but when you have four or five or them per chapter it just seems tacky. Drama, drama, drama. And it means that when you reveal something I figured out a chapter ago and then add in your big dramatic pause, I just feel as though you're expecting me to clap at something that really doesn't impress me.

There were other things, too, that I would have changed if I'd been editing that book - descriptions that postured and posed too much, explanations that were too far away from what they were supposed to be explaining, characters who were understated despite their importance to the storyline (although, from the looks of it, one of them has been set up as a villian in the next book or one after that, and maybe that's why he didn't get a lot of looking into this time around - still, could have been handled better). It was pretty much a minefield for my editor-y sensibilities. But the story was interesting. There was one view-point character I found capable and believable, while the others were, well, almost comical . . . but without being funny. I hope they weren't meant to be funny. One of the reviews on the back said it was, but it was so clumsily done that I don't want it to be.

In short, I am not reading the sequel, even to find out if that under-developed character is going to be developed the way he should have been in the first book, but I am glad I finished reading it. I consider it research into what can be considered publishing standards and why. I mean, I did finish reading it, so it can't have been that terrible. I'm sure there are many, many other people whose standards aren't the same as mine who thoroughly enjoyed it.

Poetry vs. Songs

When I was younger, I used to compose music for the piano. Not huge, amazing pieces - I didn't have the knowledge or technical skill for that - but just little, repetitive pieces that sounded kinda cool to me. When I started taking piano lessons, I stopped composing. Not because I didn't like the piano anymore, but I guess because I felt obliged to practice those particular pieces I was learning with my teacher rather than work on anything else. Any attempts to compose anything since then have been feeble and abandoned after too long. I never had a method for writing music; I kind of just mashed the keys until I found something I liked, and tried to hear where it should logically go from there.

Now, I want to compose stuff again. Not just music, but it's like . . . I'm expanding my creative options to include music again. I can never get a theme I like, though. So I thought maybe instead of composing something with a focus on the music itself, I could write a song. I use words, so I should be able to do that. Problem is, how do I do that? The only song I ever wrote before was . . . so-so at best.

So I've asked one of my friends, who frequently writes songs, and I've been observing her methods a bit. She says she writes her lyrics before her music, because they're the focus of it all, then she finds a melody that fits them, and then puts the chords around that. I've even seen a glimpse of her lyrics for a Bridge before she'd figured out the melody, and it sort of sparked something in my brain. The lyrics rhymed sometimes but not always, and their rhythm was questionable. But I've heard her music, and I've seen how she puts things together, and I fully believe she'll make it work. It's sort of reminded me of the difference between poetry and song lyrics, though.

Poetry relies on the consistancy between the writer and the reader to get timing right - that's why syllable count and meter is so important in the poems that choose to use it. Lyrics, however, are made to be heard, so the song itself can be built to accomodate inconsistancies in length of lines so long as equivalent lines (eg. line A of Verse 1 and line A of Verse 2) are roughly the same.

Armed with this knowledge - of lyrics first, and flexibility of meter - I feel a bit more confident. I haven't tried anything yet, but I'm thinking that effectively, I could write something as a poem, except with those little flourishes that make it song-friendly, and that could work as a base for a song. Or I could even take one of the poems I've already written.

I dunno. I want to, but I'm still figuring out how to make it work or where I'd start. Some day.


Just thinking, in Doctor Who, you could still have previous reincarnations of The Doctor running around :/ He could bump into himself and one of them wouldn't even realise what had just happened, so long as the TARDIS stayed out of it all.


My earlier post prompted a thought on paragraphing. While quite dull to many other people, I've recently found myself becoming interesting in the different paragraphing techniques used in different styles of writing.

Essays are the classic example that most people know by the time they finish school (I write optimistically). A paragraph begins with a topic sentence, contains the argument, and ends with a rewrite of the topic sentence to sum up what was just stated.

In fiction, paragraphing is based partly on topic and partly on character. The narration is determined not just by words, but by the punctuation - in which I include paragraphing. The beginning of a new paragraph indicates a greater pause, sometimes for change of topic, sometimes for a switch between description and speech, and sometimes just for emphasis.

Paragraphing in an article, however, is based more on the pattern of speech and emphasis than in an essay. An entire article is, effectively, a piece of dialogue. The paragraphs are short because very often people put all of their information into one sentence and then move on to the next important part, which with equal importance but different content, needs its own paragraph. And the sentences that serve to hit that point home, finally, always need to go on their own for their little whack of emphasis. I love emphasis.

This, however, is not an article. As much as I'm growing to like the spacing of an article - I quite hated it before I'd spent some time working with them, because I'm used to lovely, long fictitious paragraphs - it isn't appropriate here. In trying to determine what this is, exactly, I'd say it's something of a terribly written essay. I'm making a point, each of my separate ideas are in separate paragraphs, but I haven't even the class to do a proper topic sentence. Shows why it took me a while to do any good in writing them at school. Hopefully my Uni essays don't turn out as terribly as this one :/

(Perhaps structurally this is more like a feature article or column. That could be quite interesting.)