KARL LAGERFELD ON MOTIVES

“Beauty—or the desire to be beautiful—is in itself a dangerous motivation. Someone (I forgot who) once said, ‘Does the person who loves someone for their beauty really love them?’ So don’t focus on beauty … a respectable appearance is sufficient to make people more interested in your soul. It is the sum of our experiences that makes us interesting, and having been through a time in your life in which you were in a bad place (or what you perceived as a bad place) physically, can be useful. It can even be necessary.”
– Karl Lagerfeld (Yes, that Karl Lagerfeld), The Karl Lagerfeld Diet

He holds a metaphorical sword of Damocles over all his friendships. He stole his friend’s adorable cat. When he decides to open his mouth, it’s sometimes good to keep track, because usually it will be undeniably unique, and you will never see it coming. 
Advertisements

TRENCHCOAT AND COFFEE: MINIMAL STYLE UNIFORM

Leather

Leather by trenchcoatandcoffee featuring short sleeve t shirts

I really like what’s going on here. Most of this is stuff I already own, so I could pretty much live out my life like this and be happy. It captures a certain elusive chic.

As an aside, I like using Polyvore images sometimes instead of pics of real people, because it struck me recently after reading this post that most images circulating on Tumblr and Pinterest, where people pick their own content, are celebrities and models who are young, thin, and white.

I’m not sure if what I’m doing is a move in a better direction, but it’s a decision made with awareness. 

tartan

breton

Time for writing

WHAT’S YOUR CHARACTER TYPE?

Italian dog

I have a friend, a good friend, who I consider mainstream in her tastes. She only watches romantic comedies and reads chicklit or romance novels, a lot of them by Danielle Steel.  She can deviate from her preferences – we’ve had deep discussions about Game of Thrones, which is not a romance by any stretch of the imagination – and she can discuss football like a man. However, she knows what she likes and isn’t tempted by anything else. This is how I have traditionally perceived the notion of having a book “type.” But, what if this is too simple?
I’ve been thinking about “types” a lot recently, starting from this post, where I rambled about how following the main character was ruining the experience of the book for me. There was nothing wrong with the book itself, but the crucial choice of main character didn’t work for me. I didn’t like him. What I have come to realize is that one of the most useless bits of feedback you can receive is “I didn’t like it,” with no explanation. So I decided to delve.  
According to my own diagnosis, I don’t discriminate across genres: sci-fi (don’t gravitate towards it, but won’t turn it away if it looks good); mystery (great sense of plot); romance (emotionally engaging and complex; funny); books about family (a look into someone else’s life you would otherwise not get); etc. However, if you’ve been around the literary block a few times, there are certain types characters who, if sketched broadly enough, will be familiar to you. You’ve seen this type before, and when you encounter them again, you get a sense of déjà vu
In a book I read recently, I recognized a type of character, let’s call him the “T” type, as someone I had read before, over the course of a number of other novels. My reaction to T was visceral: I couldn’t stand him. It was borderline irrational. When I see T again, I hate him even more. Why? 
Here is my definition of the T type character: a spectator in his own life, he reacts rather than takes action, he is constantly victimized, his defining feature is that he is sensitive and/or delicate, the plot progresses as a series of personal tragedies, and most importantly, he does not grow or change, he simply survives. This, in general, is the story of T. 
To be really specific, here is why I don’t like the T type narrator: he suffers constantly, and to be around him means that you get to suffer too. Suffering isn’t bad, it’s an opportunity to grow, develop, and overcome, and then the journey of the novel is worth it. For a good example of this, see Life After Life. However, and this is key, T does not grow, does not overcome. Things happen. T stays the same, all the way to the end, and I beside him, suffer. T lets people take advantage of him. I feel miserable. Then he does it again. 
Through the haze of misery that being with T created, it occurred to me that while I don’t have a specific type of literary genre that I prefer, I have a character type, or an anti-type that I avoid like the plague, because it guarantees a miserable experience. Sometimes, people like knowing that the focus of the story is a romance, or a mystery, but for the General Fiction category, the stories that do not fall effortlessly into categories, it might be a specific character type that holds or destroys your interest. This is my working theory. 
What are some other character types? I’m going to throw out a few generalizations: the flighty female, the methodical scientist, the bland everyman or everywoman or girl-next-door.* I could go on. When looking at your audience, the pattern into their heart may not necessarily be by approaching through specific genres, but by specific Character Types. You can be known not for your Thrillers, but for your character type, a type you vary a little bit each time, across genres, across countries, across space and time. But the character remains true.
*Not to be confused with the Playboy Playmate reality show. 

WRITING UPDATE: REVIEWS

Victorian Houses

This is going to be a bit of a ramble. Don’t say you weren’t warned!
Thanks to my new vow to stop multi-tasking, I had to to wait until I finished a book that was really pissing me off, before starting this post. I’m not going to tell you the title. I will never name books I don’t like. Someone put a lot of work and a lot of soul into that book, and I can’t bring myself to demean something so precious to another person.
So let me talk about this in the abstract: I wanted to stop reading this book altogether at some point (at many points). The main character really pissed me off. He was one of those types that I hate – a character that is a spectator in their own lives, where all they do is react to situations, and where every other character introduced is so much more interesting, and yet someone we don’t get to follow. No, we’re left with this guy, who can’t stand up for himself, who isn’t articulate, who is a constant victim in a world where bad things just keep happening, and in response he never seems to learn or improve. He’s not attractive or intelligent or special in any way, and he doesn’t become any of these things either. He’s just a sponge – absorbing and feeling bad and then expounding on the life lessons he has learned as a sponge. The longer the amount of time I spent with this person – the more I started to actively hate him. I felt like spending time with him was wasting hours of my life, and maybe so.
However, every time I wanted to stop – I thought about the reviewers that I sent my book out to, and I kept going. I’ve tried to put a constructive spin on reviews, with this post, and here’s a follow up. I’ve sent the draft out to a good number of people – a sample. There were two reviewers in particular who I had been really looking forward to hearing from, because they were published authors; they had that aura of legitimacy: they had been published in the traditional way. They were represented by agents and a real publisher had published their books. This would be some great feedback! So I waited for their responses in happy anticipation. Then I just kept on waiting. 
One of the authors could not finish the book at all. My book isn’t that long, just to be clear. But she just could not finish it. As I was reading the book which will not be named, I kept thinking – was this what it was like for her? What I’ve heard back from the reviewer is that this book is not her “type.” (I’m assuming she’s being honest here, and there’s no reason to think she would lie.) Anything that falls outside this “type,” she cannot bring herself to read, not even for a friend. What I take from this is that people have a natural range of books they will read: they have a “type.” People like blonds and Thai food, and anything else is ugly and tastes like dogfood. Human nature is what it is. I, on the other hand, am a book whore. I’ll read anything, as long as something about it piques my interest, so this was good to know. 
The other reviewer? She’s a genius. Literally, a genius. She could probably put away an encyclopedia a day. So no sweat, right? Could probably jot down a few useful notes and be done with it. I never heard back from her again. I don’t understand why people say they’re going to do something – and then don’t do it. Human nature is a funny thing. I’m going to keep shuffling along. Writing is a process, and there are a lot of obstacles along the way – I just have to keep moving forward. As long as I keep moving, I will eventually get to where I want to be.

HOW TO EMBED PHOTOS ONTO BLOGGER USING FLICKR

embed photo.png

It’s 2014 and I just joined Flickr! Yes, that same Flickr, founded 10 years and 87 millions users ago, and now I am totally on board. Why?
Well, for one thing, Flickr can be used to store photos that I can then embed onto this blog. There is a huge debate going on about whether storing photos on Google or Flickr is better, and the reason I hopped on the Flickr train is because Blogger will give me 1 GB of photo storage, Google+ gives me 15 GB, while Flickr will give me 1 Terabyte of completely free storage.  Check my logic: 1GB < 15 GB < 1 TB.* 
With a measly 1 GB of storage using Blogger and undying flames of passion for blogging without ever getting paid, sooner or later I was going to run out of storage. To remedy this, I found that I could store photos on Flickr, and then embed them onto this blog instead. 
To embed a photo is fairly straightforward if you look at the photo above: 

  1. Make sure that you are not using the new beta version of Flickr. I tried it and it sucks.** Instead of simply embedding that one photo you wanted, it will unleash a slideshow of all your photos. No one wants that, Flickr. To make sure you are using the old version of Flickr, look at the bottom left of the photo. There should be a white box that says “Try our new photo experience beta.” Don’t click on that. If that isn’t there, then congratulations you’re in the new beta Flickr. Get out. Click on the bottom left corner to return to the old version.
  2. Next, click on the lower right hand corner box with the arrow icon shown above.
  3. Click on “Grab the HTML” code. Click on Html.*** Determine the size you want, and copy the code that appears.
  4. Return to Blogger, go to HTML instead of Compose on your post, and paste the code where you want your photo to appear. Your photo should appear under the Compose view, and you’re done.
Now, here is a trick I figured out for those shifty types (like myself) who want to store pictures on Flickr, but don’t want to make those pictures public on Flickr. See photos below for steps on how to do this.
  1. Open up the image on Flickr and select the size you want. Now, right click on the photo and select “Copy Image URL.”

Embed photo.png

2.  Now hit the “Insert Image” icon on Blogger (see below), select “From a URL” and paste the image URL you copied from Flickr. The image should appear and show up on your post.  Done.

photo url.png

* In the name of honesty, I also chose Flickr storage over, say, Photo Bucket, because I’m already trolling around Flickr and this wouldn’t add too much time to my virtual commute. 
** It took precious hours of my life to figure out that the “slideshow” problem that was making me cry tears of blood was due to a feature of the new beta Flickr, and that to solve it, I only needed to go back to the old one. If nothing else, this warning should save hours of people’s lives.
*** Correction: Click on HTML, not embed. Embed will give you a slideshow. HTML will just embed that one photo.

WEEKEND DIY: SHELVES EDITION

Via Rue Magazine
The obsession officially began when I saw the image of that complete stranger walking across her low shelf above. It seemed a perfect solution to a multitude of shelving quandaries – namely how a lot of shelves can be ugly. No offense to shelves. But…where would I find two large rocks like that, and how could I make them the same height? I had images of myself sanding rocks late at night, and it wasn’t ideal.

Then, I found a much more reasonable DIY below. It’s such a simple idea really: balance a refurbished plank of wood on top of a stack of magazines, and then you can have a shelf. Perfect.  

Image via Tumblr

MUSICAL PROCRASTINATION: THE XX – INTRO

Mid-2013: Hey, this song…is wow. It hits all the pleasure centers. It’s a make-something kind of song. I’m going to play this when I need the energy to create. *Brain Fart*
December 2013: Holidays! Yay! Christmas puts the F in fun! Did I forget something? 
January 2014: New year. Life hard. Tired. *Collapse*
February 2014: Here you go.  

ANTI-MULTI-TASKING

Black Bird

The new year seems to be the trendy time to make goals. People want to exercise more, to eat better, to learn a new skill, to just generally turn into a better person. Me? I’m going to stop multi-tasking. 

“There’s really interesting work showing that when you’re focused on what you’re doing, you become happier, even if what you’re doing is incredibly boring” 

– Maria Konnikova, author of How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

Based on Konnikova’s work, trying to do maximize productivity by doing multiple things at the same time has the opposite effect – you just end up doing a lot of things badly, and are less happy as a result. There’s a discipline needed to reign yourself in from multi-tasking, but if you can achieve this discipline, you learn to really focus when you need to. I, for one, need to.  
You can take a look at the article or listen to the podcast here.