Friday, June 30, 2017

Writing By Hand Does Break The Block


I've been on a writing funk for the last 2.5 months because I've been reading like crazy and every time I opened my Scrivener (fiction) file to write, I couldn't do it. I felt an aversion to computer screens but hammering out my monthly roundup blog post using Scrivener on my MacBook Air is fine. Strange. So, I thought about buying a 1969 Royal Signet Portable manual typewriter on eBay for $29.99 (because I love typewriters and because this particular model was the legendary typewriter that brought my words to life on the page back in high school) but with the lack of typewriter supplies and how heavy and noisy it is, it's not possible. That and I don't particularly like buying stuff that will serve as dust collectors. The next thing my brain latched onto was the Freewrite Smart Typewriter by Astrohaus (it's more like a word processor) but the price tag of $549.00 turned me off. I mean, really, it's a typewriter that has built-in WiFi for use to sync documents to cloud storage like Dropbox, Google Drive and Evernote, has E Ink display and 4 weeks of battery life. Not to mention a bit bulky and heavy at 4 lbs. My MacBook Air weights in at 2.38 lbs and 9 hrs of battery life. Despite amazing reviews, I'll pass for now. Sigh, if only the iPad Pro uses Mac OS, that would be the best as I used to write my first drafts on my iPad Air which my husband now uses because I prefer to read on an E Ink display eReader and I now work from home, so there's no real need to keep the iPad since my MacBook Air is right there on my desk along side the Beast (aka my HP Elitebook 8570p day job issued laptop). 

Anyway, I wasn't worried about the amount of writing that wasn't getting done. I've accepted the fact that I have creative seasons but June came around and suddenly, my fingertips felt the pull of the words. I wanted to write again but at the same time I still have that aversion to computer screens. So, on Father's Day, I went out and bought writing supplies in the form of a pack of white Office Depot Junior Legal Writing Pads (I just love the portable size), a Pentel Quicker Clicker 0.7mm mechanical pencil and a small pack of the Office Depot eraser caps and dug out my Junior Writing Padfolio that was given out to employees at one of my previous day jobs. Since then, I've been writing long hand and churning out pages like crazy. Which is a good thing. They say that changing up your writing environment works wonders for breaking through the block. I can say that it's working wonders for me so far. Yay!

On the yarn craft side of things, I'm still participating in the Summer of Romance CAL hosted by Claudia and Clarisabeth of the Crochet Luna and Crochetcakes podcasts respectively. There were numerous times (the 2nd repeat of the entire pattern and on the 3rd repeat of Row 4 of the Virus Shawl pattern) where I felt like frogging the whole shawl out of sheer frustration because the written pattern needs to be improved upon (yes, it's still flagged by Ravelry Editors to improve the written instructions) and because on the 3rd repeat, the stitches doesn't match. I've even frogged 4 rows back to make sure it wasn't me that made the mistake. Nope, stitches still didn't line up. So I fudged it up a bit to make the Row 4 Virus pattern fit. I'm honestly not too thrilled about it. I wrote to the designer about an updated pattern but she doesn't have it and at the time, I was thinking of drafting up a chart for the whole pattern and so I asked her if it's alright to share said chart on my blog and she said yes and that she'd love a copy of it. I'm halfway through remaking the chart and the written instructions but now, I just want to get this shawl done. I'm not sure if I'm still going to continue with the charting and written instructions because to be honest, as a designer, it is her responsibility to provide a well-written pattern. It's not my job to do that for her. Maybe if I feel generous but then again, I can't waste my time on re-charting this shawl when I have other original patterns to write up myself. Don't get me wrong, I love the design and the designer was nice enough about it on her email. It's just that the written instructions suck. And boy am I so glad my determination to finish this shawl won over pattern frustrations.

Books I've Read Since Last Blog Post

Currently Reading 

Currently Writing

  • Finally finished Chapter 4 and writing Chapter 5 of Helena and the Dragon

Finished Objects

  • Elizabeth Bennet Meets Mr. Darcy Shawl for the Summer of Romance CAL, it's currently blocking in our guest bedroom

Currently Crocheting

  • First Crocheted Toe Up Socks - I'm using Premier Yarns Deborah Norville Collection Serenity Sock Weight 50% super wash Merino Wool, 25% Bamboo and 25% Nylon 230 yds/50 gms in Lavender Topaz for the Patons Kroy Socks Toe Up Socks pattern with a 2.75mm crochet hook. It doesn't look like it but I've had to frog the sock with the red stitch marker 2x now. The first time, I couldn't get the stitch count right on round 3. The second time, the join was forming a very crooked line up the length of the sock and by the time I got to round 15, my OCD kicked in (even though the side with the joins are going to be on the bottom side of the foot) and so I frogged it and started over again. And by the way, the sock with the red stitch marker was the first sock I started. So now, the shorter sock is playing catch up with the second sock.

Product Reviews


Just in case, I would like to share the blogs and/or podcasts I'm really enjoying which are also listed on the side bar...and these are in the order I discovered them...hope you'll enjoy them too!

Monday, June 5, 2017

[Book Review] Wonder by R.J. Palacio

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ebook Edition
Genre: Middle Grade, Fiction

Part 1: From The Book Cover

I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school — until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

R.J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

Part 2: Recommendation

I normally don't read anything that is about bullying or deformities. I don't need to read such books to experience how hard it is to be bullied or have a deformity because I myself have been subjected to bullying from kindergarten to 6th grade because I have a scar on my upper lip due to surgeries to fix my cleft lip and palate. I don't wish to resurrect painful memories from those 7 miserable school years. Then I saw a trailer for the movie Wonder that is coming out in November 2017 and since it was on my TBR list and available to borrow from the library, I thought I'd give it a try. 

"When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind." How I wish all of our teachers or at least a teacher during those 7 early school years taught this instead of turning a blind eye or laughing behind my back. The girls were definitely nicer than the boys as clearly depicted in this book as well. 

So, if "we carry with us, as human beings, not just the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness…", how come a lot of kids don't always choose to be kind or sympathetic? Is it because of what they see in their own families or is it because of what they see their friends doing or both? I love how the author shows both sides where kids with kind, sympathetic families tend to choose to be kind even if they were mean at first while the kids with families who are judgmental, unkind and unsympathetic tended to remain a mean-spirited, spoiled brat throughout the book. 

And some days when I wish I had a different face, a perfect, beautiful face like my sister's, I will always remember this line and be reminded of how my mom must've felt: "I missed seeing your face, Auggie. I know you don't always love it, but you have to understand… I love it. I love this face of yours, Auggie, completely and passionately. And it kind of broke my heart that you were always covering it up." 

Wonder by R.J. Palacio is beautifully written in different points of view other than Auggie's. The reader gets to experience the the story from the following character's points of view: Auggie's older sister Via, Auggie's school friends Summer and Jack, Via's boyfriend Justin, and Via's best friend Miranda. Throughout these different points of views, there might be some overlap but the story still progresses very nicely. I was just a bit thrown off because Justin's section of the book doesn't properly use proper writing styles. I'm not sure if that was deliberate like reading off of Justin's journal or something. I didn't like that part, to be honest. 

All the characters especially Auggie and Via are very well developed and as the story progresses, you not only see how Auggie grows, but you see it in his family and his classmates too. The plot is not complicated at all. It did not feel overly dramatic. In fact, it reads like a memoir, being written in first person and sounding matter-of-fact. It is what it is, no special effects, no embellishments. Simple. 

In the end, I hope to be able to laugh about myself more like how Auggie can laugh about himself (he's quite funny but I, on the other hand, have a very serious and quiet nature. It takes a special personality and patience to bring out my funny side) and live these words from Mr. Tushman: "Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness." 

To conclude this review, I highly recommend Wonder by R.J. Palacio before watching the movie because for sure, there will be a lot of scenes that won't make the cut to the final movie version. This is one of those books that you will love to hug several times and most especially when it ends. It moves your spirit to kindness and I was just thinking how serendipitous it is to have come across this book in my personal year of kindness.