It is becoming more and more like a weekly project than a daily one now. :p
Anyway, today’s inspiration is church, for the simplest reason that I am presently in a church.

Church……….ah. Always evokes various contradictory reactions. I have never really been “excited” to wake up early on Sunday mornings and go to church.
But I am also not generally fon♥d of the way it is represented in the media.

I have never in my writing mentioned any church. So today’s project might help me approach a subject that I have not tried before and avoided.

Cult and church are not my favorite association. Nor is sexual and financial scandals, though I guess these are for which the church is renowned these days. These are, in my opinion, rather overused motifs, so I’ll try to skip these in this post for now.

An abandoned church, on the other hand, though it is a famous motif as well….. makes me feel like I will  have more fun and freedom (?) expanding it. (Yep, I am TOTALLY SERIOUSLY subjective and cliche after all :))

Ruins are always fascinating. I can imagine what would have happened and what could happen in those places. Secret passages have been my fascination since I was young, too.

So…
What if there is this little church.. very little church, an old building surrounded by modern houses and shops. It would be incongrous to its environment.
And there have been no sermons or clergies for a long time. But there is still one inhabitant. The son of the cleaner or gardener who used to work in the church when it was still full of people.
This sole inhabitant is not just someone who chose to live in an old building so that he/she can have a fantastic opportunity for renovations.
He gets up in the early morning,  have three slices of bread with peanut butter, clean the windows of the church, mop the floors,  mowns the grass, waters flowers, then sits down on a bench outside and strokes his old dog Meg.
A pretty classic old janitor. Except that he is doing all these in a church that no one comes.

….!!!!

Oh. Shit. This is so similar to Frank (?) in Harry Potter and .. the Goblet of Fire… Damn.

Ok. I’ll try going on for now.
So this old man–he is known as nuts.

But he is not religious himself, so he’s not doing what he does every day to conserve thw holy church in case people come back or something.

He might, however, be waiting for some one.
Maybe.,…. a girl who died a long time ago.
Now this is sounding definitely non-Christian…….. but what if her soul comes back to the Earth, embodied in different body?
……..
She could be a pastor’s daughter or a girl who would come to the church often and met this boy.

…………
Church is a special place, after all. Some prayers or miracles could happen.

I need to go now so I’ll try to wrap up this post.
It was easy for me to associate church with crimes, (because i have seen so many criminal dramas…….:p) but with romance…  it is my first time. A special, time-old (??) kind of romance may suit a special and old place like an empty church.

I feel that I am being kinda hasty here. But, well, anyway, I enjoyed thinking about something that I disliked thinking about. That is not something I expected. Maybe I’ll write about my other taboo subjects. Something surprising could emerge. :)

Around 4 p.m., I was sitting on a sofa on the second floor at home, looking out at a window, wondering what I should do for today’s project. I could see our cats going to and fro in the ground, and I thought that from upstairs the size of each cat contrasts pretty conspicuously from one another’s. I seldom got to see a cat from that angle (There are a dozen cats around my house and there are not domestic ones. They just enjoy the shelter and food we provide…. :P So usually, I see them from a distance), and it was very interesting. Things look different from high up.

And there it comes, my topic for today’s project. Upstairs. (or from high)

#1. Anxiety

Maybe because I spent my teenage in an attic, where I had to climb up and down in a ladder, there is some feeling of peculiar uncertainty or precariousness. Of course I could climb up and down even with my eyes closed, lights out, and with a bunch of stuffs on my arms, but still it was a 90 degrees ladder and I would fall down from time to time. :P But I was always proud that I had my attic, a very small but mysterious and secret place of my own. It had a small window, so the room was always dark even with my lamp on, hence not really good for studying, but I liked that atmosphere. It was like experiencing what I read in books! Protagonists stuck in their own secret places (unwillingly or unwillingly)!

A…..nyway. Precariousness. Steep. Stepping down into the outside (=not my secret space).

hotel-torrance-from-upstairs

hotel-torrance-stairs

A funny thing is that regardless of my skills with climbing, I always felt dizzy when going down the stairs/ladders. This picture makes me feel dizzy all over again. Again, precarious and uncertain! A bit of anxiety possesses me. It could be for hope (e.g. my parents coming back from their absence, meals, Mom’s cakes, etc.), but usually, for me it had more to do with hesitance. I wasn’t very willing to go down. I went down half asleep every morning and I wasn’t thrilled to go to school instead of being in my cozy haven. :P Also a feel of loneliness.

Oh, yes, and of course, I have anemia. Anxiety, huh?

hotel-torrance-simple

Hotel Torrance. Above three images from http://www.haikyo.org/abandoned/hotels/hotel-torrance/.

#2. Peeping! ….Or observing.

What a perfect place to casually (or intently) look around the downstairs!

4315412-View_from_upstairs_alcove_Cambridge

Image from http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/1db758/

pissarro

Above is Camille Pissarro’s Boulevard des Italiens, Morning, Sunlight (1897, oil on canvas, 73.2 x 92. 1 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.) The painter is looking down on the busy street. (Some) Impressionist painters are famous for taking a flâneur-like gaze. The word voyeurism may have a sexual, perverted meaning, but, to contemporary artists and poets including Baudelaire, voyeurism meant something rather different. Well, essentially the same, in my opinion, but by taking a detached look away from the crowds, artists sought to capture the fleeting moments of everyday activities in the streets of Paris.

I think this gentleman-flâneur-stance naturally embed a sense of condescension. Well, to exaggerate a bit–I’m here, sitting, smoking, a hat on my head, looking down on (or around) the streets, observing you busying yourselves with daily activities, making a fuss over little things. I am over you and your are by objects of observation. And I am enjoying this gentlemanly and elevated exercise!

Wouldn’t be very pleasant to know about this as an ordinary passerby. Might feel like my privacy has been intruded for the entertainment of a voyeuristic stranger. :(

Don’t get me wrong–I’m not condemning those painters and poets–well, yeah, I admit that I am having fun making fun of them :P

I guess to a creator observing others has been regularly recommended. I too tried to follow that advice, but I just found that observing other people (not overtly, but still) uncomfortable. I wouldn’t like my looks and behaviors observed; others wouldn’t as well.

But I do enjoy observing nature, especially little animals–right now on the doorstep of my house  are five little playful kittens, and it is a great pleasure for all my family to watch them grow (and to our disappointment getting nasty and indifferent and no longer playful). I also delight in seeing little children playing around. :)

…. This is getting too long. Let me just wrap up this point: upstairs–high up–observation–peeping–curiosity (out of innocence or voyeurism).

Oh, I almost forgot. If we take these notions a bit further, it is not difficult to reach this famous words–power (control) complex or God complex. Can’t really think of any specific movie right now, but we can easily watch a scene in which a protagonist or (usually) an antagonist looking down from a high place, often with his hands on the balustrade, with serious (malicious?) expressions on his face. :)

A desire to control the world! An ambition to play God over people! Yeah! To demonstrate that you need to climb up to the high place so that other ordinary people are all under you! :) (Well, not only evil schemers but also leaders knew that high places have psychological and symbolic power, and applied this tactic. Height is often associated with greater power, right?)

#3. Patterns

I guess It also has to do with observation. From the second floor things below look different; from the air, they look beautiful (or devastating :(). I can’t help but admire these aerial photographs. Seemingly random things or utterly ordinary things take special meaning as a bunch when seen from high above.

11-Aerial-photos-of-Great-Britain

Image from http://fabuloustraveling.com/aerial-photographs-of-great-britain/

islet-in-the-terraced-rice-fields-of-bali-indonesia

Islet in the terraced rice fields of Bali, Indonesia, photographed by Yann Arthus Bertrand

Image from http://twistedsifter.com/2011/03/25-mind-blowing-aerial-photographs/

shopping_center_aerial_view

Shopping mall parking lot. Never occurred to me that parking lots, to me the symbol of bad air, car accidents, and petty (or not so petty) crimes, could be this beautifully neat and colorful. I love neatness. I love patterns. They make me rapturous :)

Image from http://www.aerialphotosofnj.com/custom_aerial_photography/shopping_center_marketing.html

Bonnaroo Music Festival Aerial Photos from Helicopter

Bonnaroo Music Festival Aerial Photography From Helicopter On June. 

Image from http://serbagunamarine.com/bonnaroo-music-festival-aerial-photography-from-helicopter-on-june-8/performanceimpressions.com*Bonnaroo_Aerial_Photos_Fri_2012*content*bin*images*large*Aerial_Photo_Bonnaroo_Music_Festival_opp1431.jpg/.

HDtimelapse.net_City_2409_hirez

http://www.hdtimelapse.net/details.php?movie_id=3631

And the unrelated strangers who passes by one another indifferently look different. When a street is photographed from the ground level, it often appears so crowded with expression-less nonhuman people. A lot of movies and dramas contain such scenes, right?

People photographed or filmed from this high a level may also look mechanic, but at least for me, they look different. I see energy.  It’s like observing ants from above; they are swarming, so busy with their work, going in and out of their small holes. I remember then thinking that they are so full of life. The scene was so full of energy! (And cute. Little figures moving around!)

At the same time, however, some scenes shown from the sky give more dismal feelings than  those shown from lower places. For example,

time pollution

Zug Island, Mich. The photo looks so beautiful but actually it is a result of terrible pollution. A waste pit near a number of Detroit auto factories fills with a rainbow of unidentified substances.

View more pictures like this in http://lightbox.time.com/2011/04/20/terribly-beautiful-industrial-pollution-seen-from-above/?iid=lb-gal-viewagn#7

The Time article was well-named: Terribly Beautiful. Even more devastating because, these natural sites, despite they were horribly damaged by greed of humans, somehow became beautiful again. Not healthy-beautiful anymore, but toxic-beautiful now.

Similar heart-breakingly beautiful pictures in: http://thumbpress.com/industrial-scars-aerial-photography-of-the-places-polluted-by-modern-industry/

And there are these types of photos. Do I like patterns? Extremely. Do I like this picture, a regular alignment of the exactly same houses?

No. This is not just patterns but a lack of individuality. Again to exaggerate, a lifeless picture of houses of countless people.

aerial photo florida

Upstairs seem to have a lot of contradictory notions. Hope and dream, then anxiety and fear; innocent curiosity and voyeurism and control, and patterns of life and death.

I guess it is some kind of privilege to be upstairs, to be above and look down over the ground to which you once belonged. I’d like to enjoy that little privilege well, whether I am in the attic or in the top floor of the highest building in the world.

Actually, I can’t wait to go up to our tree house and look down from its small balcony. The world I see everyday would look very different, only if I am eager to appreciate it. :)

————–By the way. This 365 project is becoming more like a weekly project than a every-day one. Blogging is currently not my priority and it tends to get delayed when I have other stuffs to finish, and it has frequently become the only item that I fail to check out in my to-do list every day. :(

I don’t know what to do about it. I have priorities….. But, well, a weekly thing is not that bad after all, only if it is done regularly. :(

I’ve missed five posts last week. Work too hard–get sick–get better and play(?) too hard–get sick-work too hard–you get what I mean. It has been hectic and I was rather discouraged by the fact that my writing sucked. I’ve been reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald after watching the recent movie, and I was overwhelmed by the fact that my writing style (let alone, well, many other factors), in comparison to Fitzgerald, is just trashy.

I knew very well that I am not good at languages, that is, simply put, I am not fluent in any language that I learnt. And writing requires more than just fluency. ……….It’s been weeks since I’ve picked up a book to read (aside from academic writings), and Fitzgerald’s book came as a renewed shock. I don’t particularly admire his characters in the book, but his writing style was so fascinating that I couldn’t keep my eyes off from the book. Style matters a lot.

Ahhh…. So, yes, again, I was paralyzed by this renewed and enhanced complex, and couldn’t bring myself to write my ever-trashy story. (Well, I’ve tried few scenes and then stopped)

I need to get over this soon.

But anyway, it’s time to decide what to do for my next seven-day project. These are some of the ideas I have now in mind:

  1. A language a week — I’ve been craving to learn some new languages (despite, despite my poor language skills I love learning a new one… :(), such as Greek, Irish, Hebrew, Dutch, etc.
  2. A photo a day — either take a photograph a day or write about a photo I picked.
  3. A place a day — choose a place, from corners of my kitchen to a country or a planet, and write about it. Hmm. This could be fun.
  4. An art a day — choose an artwork, anything from a tiny paper frog my six-year-old student gave me to Titian’s masterpiece. This project might help me prepare my next art history lecture. (Extremely anxious about it… Though this is my third time.. :()

Though all the options are seductive, I think I’ll do the third one, a place a day. Can’t wait to pick a special place tomorrow :)

People have preferences for some types of people over other types of people. I do, too. So far, there have never been a person that I HATE WITH ALL MY HEART, but there have been people with whom I have difficulty spending time. For example, I find it pretty challenging to meet or watch on TV people with…………. how shall I put it in a non-snobbish way………….. empty-headed and so occupied with impressing other people, or specifically, other sex.

I know, I know, I should not be prejudiced, and I should remind myself that I am no different and that people’s personality should not be readily confused with their deeds. But it is still something I need to practice over time.

When it comes to my writing, the opposite becomes more of an issue. That is, I unconsciously repeat making similar types of characters whom I like. I am like a partial mother or creator. There are at least several of my favorite types characters appearing in every story I write. Of course the main protagonists are not the same across stories, that would have been boring for me from the start. But, God, if I analyze my characters in my stories, I am pretty sure I can come down to a limited list of character types. I don’t think (and wish) that the list will be like Type A: 35 characters, Type B: 46 characters; it would rather look like a web, with Type A and B combined and also combined with Type C and etc., etc.

But that does not change the fact that I have very strong tendencies toward some types of characters. There is, for example, a type of female protagonist that I like–a blunt, unsociable, rather dark, and unpredictable (?) female. And while I was working on my newest scenario, I realized that this is yet another character who fits that profile. Naturally there will be slight differences, but basically, perfectly fitting into the prototype. 

This is rather distressing.

I do not think that I should create protagonists, with every single one recognizably unique and different from one another. Not sure that would be completely impossible, that that does not matter. I can’t be perfect.

Then what should I do?

However, I can try to have many types of characters. So that when I analyze that character in my web of characters, I cannot find a single thread or character that is exactly the same.

And different not just in terms of…. appearances, hobbies, jobs and such trivia, but in terms of…. well, history. A person’s history tells a lot, if not almost all. By focusing more on each character’s history, or life story when constructing that character, I hope to make each character uniquely his/her own self.  :)

Ughh, yet, yes, histories can coincide at some points. Avoiding cliché is a huge thing, but I guess avoiding your own formula in your works is also another burden. “Burden” and “thrill of creation”…….. Maybe these two things just go together. :P

For this week’s 365 project, I chose to write about a thing that I got stuck today while writing. And the   thing that I am stuck with right now (as ever) is cliché.

Cliché is one of the major things that paralyzes me when it comes to writing. I often get rather obsessed with the idea that I should not fall into clichés that I cannot even begin to write. This is just pathetic. :( Maybe not a total waste of time, since something would come out of all those discontent brooding after all, but surely not an efficient way of spending your time.

“There is nothing new under the sun” is a rather consoling proverb–similar ideas and concepts abound, so it depends a lot an how you deliver those–, but the fact that the phrase itself is categorized as a cliché doesn’t really help. Errr…

I have searched around the internet over and over about “how to avoid cliché.” The result———-discouraging. For example, you could try to avoid clichés by using anti-clichés, but, well, haven’t anti-clichés already become clichés also? You could try to turn over typical plots, but that turning over is already to many readers predictable. Another big problem for me–I am so bad with languages. There is not one language that I can fluently speak and write. :( English is still a stranger to me.

I read something, I think it is a nice way to put something, then I read later (or very shortly after) that that is so much of a cliché. Sometimes I get puzzled. Of course I like to read sentences that I did not expect to read and I like to learn new ways of putting things. Sentences that begin with “In the twenty-first century” or “from the start of the human civilization” or that includes idioms like “no pain, no gain,” are on my black list, and I intend not to use it unless absolutely necessary. But I also think that some people who criticizes or often accuses a writing for using a cliché(s) could be unconsciously snobbish. I’ve read a lot, I’m learned and smart, I’ve read these kinds a hundred times, it’s so boring, predictable, stupid, and lazy. This kind of attitude can really miss the point of the writing by analyzing the form. Though form is of course important, I am a believer that the point comes first. (Laziness, though, can definitely cause clichés…. need to be careful here….:()

In addition, there are so many clichés to avoid, there even is a list of “681 clichés to avoid in your creative writing” on the internet. Though such admonitions are helpful, they are also frustrating–there are so many banned stuffs in writing!!!

Oh. Come to think of it, using typically “banned stuffs” in your writing could be fun. :) Though it may result in another anti-cliché-cliché.

…………………. Okay. I need to do something about this. Let’s try to organize my thoughts……..

1. I will have to struggle with clichés as long as I write, no matter what, because I want to write something that does not bore my audience.

2. I can but fall into some kind of clichés. Simply because I am an imperfect human.

3. But that does not mean that I should stop trying to avoid clichés. The old cliché “hard work pays off” didn’t get overused for no reason.

4. However, it should be more important to search for novel things than to try to get rid of clichés.  Maybe focusing on the former may make the latter process unnecessary. Or make the use of clichés less conspicuous and evil (?).

5. And, regarding my chronic problem, just writing on would be infinitely more important and productive than trying to create a perfectly ingenious plot.

So…..

What should I do?

Write as I want? Though that obviously is a cliché, or maybe worse, a novel idea already made widely known by a famous work? UGHHHH…. brrrrr.

Okay. This is what I’m going to try.

1. Brainstorm. Scribble all possibilities and gibberish that I can think about the idea that bothers me.

2. Confront my enemy/rival. Read or watch the work that bothers me. (“bothers” sound too strong… well..)

3. 2. will naturally make me think of alternatives and improvements that I imagine from that work.

4. If I still want to pursue an idea/plot that is similar to that in the preexisting work, ………… If I still want to do that, ……………….. Well, I’ll do it. But in my way. That is, I’ll begin with that idea in mind, and that will make me start actual writing. And as I go on………….. something, even a few tiny things, that are uniquely “mine” would come out. Then I’m going to delve into those things and magnify them.

………………..Sounds nice but only in words yet. Anyway, I’d better just begin to write. 

There are many types of dumplings, and I am fond of all that I know of–fried, steamed, for stews, etc., etc. This afternoon I had steamed dumplings, the softest kind of all. Quite delicious :)
So here goes the subject of today’s project: dumplings.

dumplings-with-herbed-chanterelles-goats-cheese-and-chicken-9

Image from http://wholesome-cook.com/2011/09/07/herbed-chanterelle-goats-cheese-and-chicken-dumplings/

And scenes from Kungfu Panda just won’t disappear from my head. Also some scary East Asian stories about dumplings and a pale girl in white dress who visits dumpling shops just 5 minutes before midnight. ;)

I’ll try to deviate my thoughts from these.

….A big family gathered together making dumplings. It is some kind of family reunion and almost all the members of the family participate in making dumplings.
So may start the

——————– And this is where my initial post ends. It’s really interesting, I have recently published two posts that should have remained as drafts in my cellphone………… Errr……… I’m so bad at using cellphones………………………. It’s discouraging… 

Well, I’ll just think of one more idea.

There is a famous girl group in Korea called Wonder Girls, and its member Sohee is (or used to be) renowned (?) for her dumpling-ish face. Not as an offense, but because she is kinda lovely. :)

sohee3

Sohee in Wondergirls

So, I was thinking…………. What about start a story in which the protagonist is a girl whose nickname is dumpling? Everyone, even her parents (if she has one) calls her dumpling, because her face resembles a dumpling–round and really chubby cheeks.

That reminds of me Red Puckett from Hoodwinked. 

Digital Fusion TIFF File

Image from http://movies.zap2it.com/movies/hoodwinked/photo-gallery-detail/160145/1747410641

HoodwinkedImage from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hoodwinked.jpg

It really is an unforgettable movie for me. In a sense I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed Shrek. Mr. Wolf W. Wolf and Granny Puckett are my favorite characters :)

But Miss Dumpling that I imagine now is not that kind of brave, ninja girl with a spectacular granny, but a girl that everything about her looks ordinary. She walks by a street… she opens her little quilted bag and takes out her small and old wallet. She is standing in front of a street musician, a young boy playing ocarina. She puts down coins in the boy’s on the ground. The boy stops playing and asks Dumpling: “You want me to guess how many coins are left in your wallet?” She replies. “Yes.” It is a usual thing for them, that happens every weekend or so.

And the story continues. Dumpling is a recent college graduate having a hard time getting a proper job. The boy is …….. How fast do boys grow these days? -_-;; Can’t really think of….. My limited sample (?? = just whom I met) of boys exclude those in high schools….. well, about the age 13-15. He should look younger than he is………

I think It’s time to end this post. I think, in a long time, I have this want to write. :) This is interesting.

Apples are often associated with the Fall, evil, and seduction. Adam and Eve, according to Bible, took these forbidden fruits (apples, as usually thought so) in the Garden of Eden, and as a result Fell and forever banished from the Garden of Eden. ….And also provided a perfect god-endowed reason to debase womankind for seducing Adam first. :(

cranach_adam and eve

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Adam and Eve, 1528, oil on panel, 172 x 63 cm / 167 x 61 cm, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

Image from http://www.artbible.info/art/large/516.html

Personally, however, I think cherries bear stronger association with seduction. The vivid dark red color (red-carpet-like!) and small heart-shaped circle are so visually enticing. Also the way their stalks are (usually) attached to the fruits. Serpentine, to add a bit of exaggeration. ;)

And maybe also because cherries was a rarity, at least for me. I got to taste one only in birthday cakes, and even in birthday cakes there are only few on them!! I had to silently compete for one. When my Dad gave me a piece with a cherry, my face would brighten up; when I had to yield that special piece to someone else, I would content myself with the thought that pieces with or without a cherry all taste the same. :) I think the first time I got to eat more than one cherry in one occasion was when I was in Canada. Cherries at the time I was growing up were not something that local grocery shops always sell. Nowadays I guess things are pretty different. :)

cherry

Image from http://qmixalot.com/maraschino-cherries

So I chose this (personal) symbol of seduction for today’s project. (oh, just came to my mind, grapes could as well be one, too! For obvious sensuous and sensual reasons..)

#1 scenario that I can think of is a thriller in which a criminal (mastermind) who likes to keep a bowl of cherries near him and eat one by one while talking casually of evil things….. Er… Hmmm…

#2 scenario: Let’s put away seduction and evil on the side and try an innocent (?) romance story once in a while. A grocery store. (Ah! I love it already. Ordinary lives with little details) A girl who works there. A man who makes cakes and shops around (intentionally) to buy some ingredients. And…. well. You know how it will roll. Execution is now important.

#3 scenario: ………..Frankly I forgot about this. Oh, yes, it is about cherry trees. Ever seen a cherry tree? Walked on a road full of blossoming cherries? That is quite surreal. *_*

11.04©ø¡íAoAOA¨ú

11.04©ø¡íAoAOA¨ú

Images from http://www.cadet.kr/index.php?cate=003001&currentPage=2&menu=3&sub=1&sh=&shc=&mode=&type=view&num=467

27170631250_60500050

Image from http://www.nocutnews.co.kr/show.asp?idx=786341

CherryTreeOverMoatLgLovely picture! Image from http://www.johnharveyphoto.com/Japan3/Ebino/CherryTreeOverMoat.html

It makes me feel like anything could happen under those cherry trees. But, yep, I wouldn’t go for a romance or school drama. :( Too many films and dramas have been made under those trees. But for all the right reasons, I guess. Cherry trees certainly evoke the aura of romance and tragedy, the natural, ever-popular duo. (In Japan they are often associated with death and vainness; cherry flowers blossom so beautifully, but only for a brief period of time. Time doesn’t wait for, it is like a wisp (?) of wind)

The immediate picture that comes to my mind is a man, standing alone in the cherry-tree road and gazing motionlessly at something afar. The trees are but barren now; the flowers have long been gone. What could be in his mind? Why did he come here? (No idea.) That would be the beginning scene of a story. The next scene could be of the man setting fire on or explodes the whole road or nearby town or something (…..). (I doubt my mental health here briefly) :P

It is exciting for me to think of countless scenarios and scenes that have to do with cherries or cherry trees. Seduction, romance, and death, huh? Combined with the Garden of Eden as a concept of once-glorious/-wonderful past, I guess there is no limit on how stories proceed. Yay!

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