I've learned that one of the best ways to force myself to be productive is to use my need to write as an excuse/reason for not doing something else. Then I feel obligated to get some writing done so I won't have lied to myself or anyone else. I skipped choir practice last night because I felt like I really needed to get past the roadblock that had developed in chapter eight, and the longer I delayed making myself work on that part of the book, the harder it would be to get past it. Sure enough, I finally worked through the trouble scene, and I think it came out even better than I hoped, with all sorts of fun little nuances that appeared as I wrote. And I did finish the chapter. Getting past the trouble spot also seems to have unclogged my brain a bit, because as I fell asleep last night, my brain was already working on the next scenes, playing them out in my head. I think that was my problem before -- my brain was refusing to play out that one scene, which made it very hard to write.
If I can keep up this momentum, I may actually get halfway through the book before the end of the year!
As the new year approaches, I thought I ought to do a little "year in review" rundown. Today I'll focus on what I enjoyed from the entertainment industry, and later I'll get into my life this year.
I'm going to have to shoulder a lot of the blame for sagging box office numbers this year because I didn't get out to too many movies. Part of that was because I was too busy. Part of it was because there weren't a lot of things that had me saying, "Ooh, I must see that!" Part of it was because the oversaturation of celebrity coverage has dramatically increased the list of people I refuse to pay money to see because I just want them to go away and I figure not supporting them at the box office is a good first step toward their fall to obscurity. And then there's the increasing cost and hassle of going to movies, including the fact that I don't remember the last movie I saw during which someone's cell phone didn't ring. Most of the time, the person actually answers and talks. Given my lack of enthusiasm for most of the movies that have come out recently, I've generally decided to wait until most of them hit HBO.
My favorite movie of the year was Serenity, and I think I'd say that even if I hadn't already been a Firefly fan. It had all the things I go to movies to see and offered a satisfying emotional experience. Although I've always been a Star Wars fan and did enjoy Episode 3, it was kind of anticlimactic. It didn't help that ever since Lucas hinted at the backstory of Darth Vader and the whole volcano battle, I've been picturing it in my head, and I think I like my version better. As for romantic comedies (my other favorite genre), I was pleasantly surprised by Just Like Heaven and will likely add it to my DVD library for rainy days. I enjoyed the latest Harry Potter installment, but it didn't really stick in my brain.
The biggest surprise for me this year was Battlestar Galactica. I hadn't seen the original series and hadn't paid much attention to discussion about the remake. Then I caught the miniseries repeat on NBC (I didn't have the Sci Fi Channel when it originally ran) and was captivated. The series itself has blown me away. It's a pity it gets classified in the science fiction ghetto where a lot of narrow-minded people who consider themselves above such things will never see it because it's possibly the best human drama on TV.
The other big surprise for me was My Name is Earl. I'd been watching The Office from the start because of the workplace comedy angle, and I'd loved it enough to tape it when it was on opposite House. But when Fox went on their baseball hiatus and I could watch The Office live, I ended up watching Earl, as well. Initially, I'd had no interest in My Name is Earl because I'm not a fan of redneck comedy. But this is possibly the most philosophically profound series on television, exploring issues like atonement, repentance and the far-reaching consequences of even the smallest of actions -- all wrapped up in comedy so funny it makes your sides hurt from laughing. I'm glad both shows are no longer going to be on opposite House.
Those three series were the only "new" shows I picked up this calendar year. I dropped some, though. It may be blasphemy, but I gave up on Lost when I came to the conclusion that I didn't care where these people were from or what happened to them. If it were on another night, I might have kept watching as one of those shows that makes good background noise, but I'm usually out on Wednesdays, which means setting the VCR and watching later, and I kept reaching the point where "later" never came so I quit taping. I also finally gave up on ER due to the same lack of caring about those people. This should translate into more time to write (I hope!).
It's hard for me to do a good year in review report on books because my reading seems to fall outside the normal calendar. Either I'm catching up on books that were published a while back or I'm reading advance copies of books that haven't been published yet. I do read a lot, so it's also hard to single out any particular books without forgetting something or without a long list. So, here are some 2005 books that stood out for me:
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke -- a really fun twist on the fantasy genre. I got this from the library and plan to buy a copy so I can really delve into it instead of rushing through it so it won't be overdue. I've always loved the Regency era in fiction, and it was refreshing to read a fantasy that didn't take place in the standard quasi-medieval fantasy world.
gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson -- I laughed most of the way through, then cried at the end, which is probably my favorite kind of reading experience. A wonderful Southern novel. And her blog is also hysterically funny.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling -- I haven't re-read it yet, but I think this may become my favorite of the series (so far). It was essentially a coming-of-age story showing the transition between childhood and adulthood. Oh, and there was magic, too.
I'm sure there was other stuff, but either it's not jumping out at me at the moment or I'm not sure when, exactly, it was published and I'm too lazy to go look at copyright dates. If it jumped out at me as I was reading it, I've probably already mentioned it here.
Now it's time to tackle chapter nine.