New Year's Resolutions

Yes, I know I'm late with the New Year's Resolutions. No, I don't care.

1. Write more.

I don't write enough. I've got a lot of ideas, but usually something gets in the way. On a completely unrelated note, FLVS needs to die.

2. Edit more (edit at all).

A while back, my Composition teacher was telling us about the difference between Love and Passion. For art. Not for whatever you're thinking of. And the basic gist of her lecture was that you need both to make art. Passion she described as throwing yourself into your work, painting with gusto, with umph! or whatever kind of art you do, and I've got that in spades with my writing. What I don't have is the other half. Love for your art, she said, was being willing to come back to it day after day and make it perfect. I don't have that. I hate editing my work more than any other part of the process, but I have to do it. I haven't edited any of my fiction work, novels, short stories, at all, ever. Except for one, but it was really short and I didn't edit very much anyway. But I need to edit, especially if I want to enter some contests. Which brings me to my next resolution.

3. Enter contests.

When I finished NaNoWriMo, the What Do I Do Next? page included a link to CreateSpace, a place where you can publish your novel in a people-buy-it-then-they-print-it kind of way. There, I found a novel-writing contest for unpublished authors, in which the winner gets a $25,000 against commission publishing contract with Penguin Group, a pretty well-known publishing company. The deadline is February 8, so I have about one month to make my novel top form. That's not enough time, so I decided to just go back and add stuff in where I think it needs it (and it needs a lot). But I think I can get at least to the quarterfinals, which is 500 contestants out of the original up-to-10,000. The rounds are kind of strange. First, everyone submits the novel, an excerpt (the first 2,000 words), and a 500-word description of the novel (what you read on the back cover of the book, basically.) 2,000 contestants get chosen from the 10,000 based on the short description, and I think I can get past that because my novel's pretty unique. I'll talk about how it's a mix of Ecuador and Florida and mountains and oceans and stuffs. Then, one of every four contestants gets picked on the strength of the excerpt, and I think I can make it through that cut as well, but we'll see. Next, one of every five contestants are picked on the excerpts for the semi-finals, and then the entire manuscript is read and three finalists are chosen. These finalists get an all-expenses paid trip to some place in the US, and the winner is chosen by popular vote of Amazon.com customers. And, even if I don't win (I probably won't), many of the semi-finalists get offered publishing contracts anyway. So, I really want to enter this one.

I also want to enter Writers of the Future. This is an award set up by L. Ron Hubbard, in which people submit entries and the three best stories of the quarter get a $1,000 prize and the chance to compete in the year award, which is $5,000. This one would probably be a little easier to win, because there's three winners and the prize is lower.

4. Walk straight.

For most of my life, people (my dad, my Spanish teacher, my ex-girlfriend) have been telling me to walk straight and not slouch. For most of my life, I didn't listen. But then the girls at the orphanage told me to, and, being ten-year-olds constantly looking for a way to avoid work, they didn't leave it at that. No. They jumped on my shoulders and forced me into an upright position. But I realized that they're right. While walking, I usually look at the ground, and don't pay attention to anything else. It's going to get me run over eventually, so I need to stop that. I figure now's as good a time as any.

5. Paint more.

I hate painting. I'm forced to do it at school, and I hate it. But I realized something today. The reason I hate painting is because the teacher's a jerk who's never complimented me once. I talked about him in my entry about Ecuadorian school. So today, we were supposed to paint a countryside ("Paisaje" in Spanish. It doesn't translate exactly to countryside in English, but that's as close as I can make it.), and my teacher pretty much said he expected mountains from everyone. So, they obliged. Except me. I've been feeling pretty homesick lately, because I had to go back to school for the first time after a two-week break, and the first class was painting, which I hate, so I was depressed and lonely. In my yearning for the warm climes of sunny Florida, I decided to paint the sea. It started out as a short rectangle of green. Then I put blue on top of that, and it started looking okay. I think at this point, I realized that my teacher was the reason I hated painting. The very first time we sat down with tempera paints in the class, I went to do this layering technique, and my teacher shot that down, saying "We mix colors here." And so I followed his instructions, and it sucked. And I hated painting.

After the sea, I added the sky with a couple different shades of blue. I used a lot of water. Alex Ramos (there's a picture of him on here somewhere) came up and said, "You're using too much water." All the kids like going around to everyone else and pointing out what they're doing wrong to make themselves feel better. I stared at him rudely until he went away. That works very well, especially with girls who care about feelings and dumb stuff like that. I sat there, staring at the blue block and the green block, and I realized that we had more than an hour and a half left in class, and I had to throw something else in there to make it better. I remembered Stephen King's book Duma Key, and I thought about painting a ship, but I didn't think I had enough skill to do a ship. So instead, I added a sun, in red-orange, just on the horizon. It's a sunset, even though the sun only rises on my part of the ocean. I added pink and orange beams running off of it, and green-orange beams reflecting in the green block. Using a lot of water really helped here. Anyways, here's what it looks like. I call it "Sun Sets en Mar" ("en mar" is Spanish for "on the sea," and for some reason I didn't feel like going for the epic alliteration).

You can't see the green very well in this photo. Oh well.
It's the best painting I've ever done. Alex said, "Oh, you're paint's running." I said something to the effect of "That's the point, dumbass," but I don't remember exactly what it was.

I also painted another sea and sun picture, but it wasn't as good as this one. I turned that one in instead of this one because if you turn something in to this guy, you don't get it back. He cuts them up and uses them for scrap paper. Not kidding. I've gotten my own paintings back from him cut in half. Luckily, they sucked pretty bad, so I didn't care. But I wanted to save this one, so I kept it out and brought it home. I really like the way the rays look like they're reaching out for something.

So, yeah. I'm going to paint some more and see how that goes. Our next project is a canvas painting of a landscape (that's closer to "paisaje," but it's still not exactly right), so I'll flip the Daniel Reyes Painting Institution the bird and do a vertical picture of the sea. Everyone does landscapes horizontal, and they all had little pictures out for their models today. It may not be great, but at least it'll be better than Jackson Pollock.

I can never pass up an opportunity to make fun of Jackson Pollock.
But this leads me to my next resolution.

6. Tough it out at art school (I can hear my mom cheering from across the Gulf).

With this new epiphany about painting, which was my least favorite class, I've decided to stay at the Instituto Superior Tecnológico de Artes Plásticas "Daniel Reyes" until I leave. I waffled back and forth on leaving for a while, but I guess it's too late now to do anything. Plus, if I left, I'd probably lose my friends that live far away from Ibarra, and, as Jesse said, I have to be able to say in the future "Oh yeah, I'm going to Ecuador to visit my friend Stalin. Yeah. He's actually nicer than most people think." What I am going to do is completely ignore my painting teacher, forever. Which works out okay, because he ignores me too. The whole time we were working today, he didn't say a word to me, even though he helped other people and I caught him looking at my painting more than once. Except at the end. I caught him staring pretty obviously at my work, and he opened his mouth to criticize it, shut it, opened it again, shut it, and then finally said, "Buen trabajo," because he couldn't think of anything wrong with it. It's the first compliment he's ever given me, and I might be proud of that except I don't respect the man. I'm proud of my painting because it's the first painting I've ever done that I felt good about. I figure that what I'll do is buy some paint myself and paint my canvas at home. That way, I don't have to put up with him either ignoring me or "helping" me, which is worse.

7. Call everybody from 3FL at least once.

This one's going to need some explanation. When I was at MITES last summer, I met a bunch of people who shared my interest in subtitled anime, interesting numbers, and gratuitous violence, and we formed a supergroup. By "supergroup," I mean "a group of kids who went out to breakfast together a lot and all had Nerf guns," in case you didn't catch that subtlety. Because we hung out in the 3rd floor lounge, we called ourselves "3FL." Here's a picture (props to Sabrina, for the awesome drawing.) I'm the tall one with the giant hair. This was back when I had hair... *sniff* (I have to comb my hair again! But the combing only works for about half an hour, and then the curls start clumping together.)

Sabrina wanted to draw us with animal personalities for some reason. I'm a bear.Being down here in Ecuador, I miss out on a lot of stuff, like when the Florida 3FL members (there are four of us in the Sunshine State) got together. So I decided that I would call every member of 3FL before I left Ecuador (it's a January-February kind of resolution). We're going to have a conference call on Skype on Saturday, so this is probably the first New Year's Resolution I'm going to accomplish.

8. Not get mad at people and never talk to them again.

This is probably going to be the hardest of the eight resolutions for me to keep, but I've started out doing well so far. One of my faults is that I hold grudges for a very long time. In ninth grade, I sat with the kids from my middle school at lunch, and one day, I heard them talking about having a party. I asked what it was about, and they pretty much unanimously told me to go ask someone else for the details. I'm a smart guy (or so I pose), so I figured out pretty quickly that they didn't want me there, and I left. And I never really talked to them again. Wasn't that much of a loss, since I made friends with the math team guys and stayed friends with Michael, but that just goes to show what I'm like. It wasn't so much that they didn't want me at the party (I'm notoriously dull at parties, except the one time I showed up in a V for Vendetta costume, and I don't like parties anyway), but that they didn't want to tell me what was even going on. Which brings me to the now.

On the Wednesday before vacation started, Johannes, one of the German AFS kids, found me at the internet café and gave me a package with $300 in it. He wanted me to take it to the mother of Lotta and Daniel (other AFS kids) that night. I asked him what it was all about, especially since carrying around $300 is not the best thing to do in Yacucalle (seriously, most of the other AFS kids have gotten held up at some point, but that's a story for another time), and he sort of mumbled and didn't say anything. I didn't press it. Lotta's mother didn't say anything either. I forgot about it until after Christmas, when I went to Lotta's house to get Rodrigo, Daniele, and Chooki (Rodrigo's brother) to play some basketball. Chooki was the only one there, so I asked where everyone else was. Turns out they went on a whirlwind tour of Ecuador, the coast, the Orient, the whole bit, taking Johannes, Hannes, and Alexandra with them. This is wrong on so many levels. First, because we had a meeting where the AFS coordinator in Ibarra, Grace, told us very explicitly that we couldn't go on trips without our family, period, that it was an offense for which you could get expelled from AFS. Second, Johannes, Hannes, and Alexandra are taking off from their families during vacation, when it's the most important time for families to be together here, when their families have already expressed anger over the fact that the kids treat their homes like a hotel. But third, and most important to me, they didn't say a word of this to me, and Johannes specifically dodged the question when I asked him. I'm a smart guy (I hope), so I figure that's what the $300 was for. I wouldn't have gone anyway, both because I don't feel like leaving home for a couple of weeks during vacation and because I don't have $300 to throw around, but it would have been nice to have been asked. Turns out Sara and Camille didn't hear anything about it either, so Sara started planning a revenge vacation, in which only us three leave. Alexandra called Sarah and talked about how beautiful Baños was and how warm the hot springs were, so Sarah was fairly indignant about the whole thing. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, or something like that.

Sarah at age 23.
But I'm trying my hardest not to get mad at them and never talk to them again for this. There are plenty of other reasons to avoid the other AFS kids, and I'm using those, but I'm not angry at them. (I figure if I repeat that enough, it'll become true. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy.)

So that's it for my New Year's Resolutions. Hope you liked them. I did this thing called alt text on the photos. For those who don't follow xkcd, that's where you hold your mouse over the pictures and text appears in a box that would usually appear if the picture doesn't load. I did this on the last batch of photos, too. (Note: This isn't working for me in Firefox, so if you're using that, you may have to switch browsers. Or just check the page source, if you really want to read my bad jokes that much.) Thank you to Vicky for commenting on my story (Do you prefer Vicky or Victoria?). I appreciate the compliment! It'll be done sometime soon. Maybe. It's the one I want to enter in the Writers of the Future contest. The idea of using a first-person narration for the bulk of the story was good, because it keeps me from using overly-flowery language. I keep having to stop and say, "A normal person wouldn't say that," and change it. It's good for me.

I couldn't resist one last shot at the man.
It's so beautiful!!!!!!!111 Now, who wants to pay me a couple thousand for it? Please, make a line, no shoving.


1 comment:

Victoria said...

Very few people call me Victoria and the ones that do only do it because they think it sounds prettier... i guess it kinda does, but i really don't care. whatever floats your boat.

btw, your painting is really nice. way to stick it to the man XD

bbttww, I'm applying to MITES, and now i really want to go! reallyreally. I just need to write my essays -_-' I'm not as eloquent as you and not as enthusiastic about writing either, hence the ---> -_-'

question: do they us the saying "que hueva" where you live?