Beware: I am mean.

A little something you have to know about me.

Apparently, I'm mean. But, I don't mean to be mean. :P

So, Olympic Taekwondo is all about kicking. That's how you score points. They're now incorporating rules that award points for punches...but nobody actually scores them yet. Like, we're supposed to, but we're all hard-wired for just kicks, so that's still the name of the game. Kicks to the head get more points than kicks to the body. Naturally, the more advanced your rank, the more people tend to kick to the head. In the Black Belt ranks, you hear of people called "head hunters" who do nothing BUT head kicking. But that's another story.

I tend to get underestimated a lot. You see, I am not quite 5'3" tall. I'm stocky. Sparring matches are assigned by rank, age and weight. So a girl who's a lot taller than me will be a lot skinnier than me and weigh the same. So I tend to fight a LOT of people who are taller than me. This gives them a huge advantage--my head is a lot easier to reach. And I don't look like a fighter--I'm stocky and...well-endowed in certain areas. This all plays into the underestimation.

As I proved yet again today, I can hold my own in a fight. The first girl I fought today was at least 7 or 8 inches taller than me. Granted she was older than me. But still, she should have walked all over me with head kicks. But you see, I'm scrappy. I do a lot of what we call "jamming"--I stay in really close to her, where I can still nail her but she can't get to me because I"m too close. And I play mind games, which is really where these matches are won. I'm loud, I'm confident, I smile--rather wickedly sometimes--and then I beat the tar out of them. Ya, I get tired. My endurance isn't what it should be, and I'm not as fast as I need to be. But I win.

I was still coming off the high from my first fight when I went into the second--an exhibition match, which means that the opponents aren't people who would normally be put into a bracket together because of differences in either age, rank or weight. In this case, it was age--she was 48, I think. I, um...kind of wiped the floor with her. I didn't mean to. But I've been well trained and I was in tournament mode, and it was really hard for me to back off. Fortunately, she was still cheerful and upbeat later. It's never my intention to really discourage anybody--and when you lose 27 to 3, that has a strange tendency to occur. :-/

Nobody looking at me would think I'm an athlete. Nobody looking at me would think "ninja" or "fighter." Nobody looking at me would think that I know more ways to hurt or kill someone than I care to count. Nobody looking at me would think "martial artist." But that is how I think of myself. I am a martial artist. And on days like today, it's nice to know inside that I am good. At least, I can hold my own. I might not look like much, but I warn you--don't underestimate me. Because apparently, I'm mean.


A horse in my parking lot

I'm sitting on my front porch. The sun is setting. It's absolutely beautiful.

I have to acknowledge that I live in a small town. This was brought home to me when I came outside this evening to check the mail, and found a girl trotting a horse around the parking lot of my apartment complex. Now, granted, this doesn't happen every day, but it has happened before. You'll find random patches of rural land throughout my town, with cows or horses or chickens. And then it's back to Wal-Mart and the new shopping complex. It can be a strange dichotomy.

But it is beautiful. Birds are chirping in the trees that are finally starting to bloom. The air is peaceful. Just a distant hum of traffic. It's the perfect temperature right now, though I imagine it will get chilly soon.

I've been sick for a couple of days, and I didn't feel like doing much today. But the inside of my house was starting to feel like a prison, so I came out to check the mail and decided to stay. I brought my laptop, and now I'm hoping to crank out another chapter in my novel. Regardless, it's nice to breathe some fresh air that doesn't smell like my kitchen or the Scentsy in my bedroom. Don't get me wrong, I love my Scentsy. But it's not the same as the air outside.

I hope that you can enjoy some fresh air too. It does wonders.


The Muse has Descended once again

Easter weekend was fun--I spent most of it at a friend's house watching LDS General Conference. We ate yummy food and dyed Easter eggs, which is something I have not done nearly enough in my life. I also went to my birth grandparents house for Easter dinner and the Easter egg hunt. Everyone has a certain number of eggs with their name on, and the eggs are hidden according to the age of the finder. So, the little kids' are just lying around in the grass. It gets progressively harder as you get older. My aunts are somewhat diabolical in the egg-hiding. Everyone has a good time with it.

In other news, I've been writing some pretty awesome stuff lately. Forgive me if I pontificate too verbosely. ;)

My best friend Sam and I have been working on this novel since last summer, though its roots are based in a story we worked on in the summer of 2007. At any rate, we pushed through and wrote 3/4 of this book last year. But in December as you may recall, I hit a terrible awful loathsome case of writer's block. Now, normally I don't give credence to writer's block. I have a quote from a writer named Peter Carey that I really love that basically says you have to keep writing no matter what, no matter if "you're sick or sad or dull. Nothing must stop you." Sam though it would be wise for us to take a break from the story, maybe work on other things, but come back to it when the inspiration was there. I didn't much care for this idea. I know myself. I'm a Discovery-style writer (term courtesy of writer Brandon Sanderson). I write and write and write, push through to the end. Any story I've stopped in the middle of, I've never finished. It's just not how I work. So, reluctantly, I agreed to take a "break" from this novel.

Three months passed. I didn't write a thing. It was awful. This is the longest I've EVER gone without writing. Like...EVER, as in, since the age of 7 when I started writing. I am always writing SOMEthing. Three months with no words was seriously traumatic.

There came a day when I told Sam we needed to brainstorm a new story because I couldn't stand it anymore. We brainstormed...and then his wife Ashley and I had an idea. Poor Sam got left in the cold that day, as Ashley and I took this idea and ran with it. In the space of two days, I had the entire plot of a novel planned out and I was ready to write.

I wrote a little. The first chapter or so, though it took me far longer than that quantity of words normally takes me. I felt rusty. I scrapped the first chapter and re-wrote it. Still wasn't quite satisfied...I found myself thinking about other characters, of a plot that I had left unfinished three months prior... Characters wouldn't leave me alone. I found that instead of wanting to write my new novel, I more desired to finally return to the unfinished manuscript.

Setting aside my new novel, I decided to do a re-read. Now, you have to understand a little how I work as a writer. Revision is one of my weakest points. As a Discovery-style writer, it is my instinct to push through, write a story, and then move forward. This has strong points and weak points. The strong points are that I finish stories that I write, and I finish them fast. I've cranked out an entire novel in a month before. The weak points are that I often have plot holes or weak plot lines, because I rarely plan things out in depth, I just push through and write to the end. And revisions are minimal. I rarely have the patience or the desire to do an in-depth revision. More often, I'll just abandon the manuscript and move on to write what I hope will be an even better story.

Thus coming back to this manuscript was a big step for me. It really marked a change in my process as a writer. Because it wasn't just a re-read (and Sam and Ashley were reading thru at the same time). As I went, I made revisions or marked them to do later. Sam and I were able to make a MAJOR plot change--we have five protagonists, and we decided to completely change one character's thread. So we ripped out a fifth of the novel and re-wrote that character's plot line. I added chapters, I re-arranged the order of several chapters. I added flavor and culture to many sections. I can't tell you how many small but detailed changes I made through this re-read. I've never done anything like it before.

As it turns out, I needed the time and space from the manuscript. When I came back to it after a three-month break, my eye was fresh and ready to see the things I wouldn't have cared about, ensconced in the writing as I had been before. In December, I was getting tired of the story. Most likely, if I had pressed through and finished, the end would have been rushed and the writing would not have been engaging...and then, I would have abandoned the manuscript and never returned to it. Now, I am excited about the story. After a month's worth of re-reading, revising, and re-writing, we are ready to push forward. Sam and I spent Friday night plotting out the climactic fight scene where we left off in December. I am finally ready to finish this story.

You know what the best part is? This story is awesome. I am so excited to finish it...and share it.


RE: Welcome Spring

Today it snowed.

Ironically, today is April Fool's Day. I and many I know have long considered Utah weather to be inconsistent and unpredictable. Today, Utah played a big practical joke on us all.