Uncategorized

A Very Exciting Announcement {+some more rash promises}


oh, oh / somebody needs you more than you know / oh-oh, oh / ignite and watch it blow / beyond this world…

Before we start, please exit your reader. Thank you. I worked way too hard on my new blog design to have the formatting be messed up by that fool thing!

Oops.


I spent a really long time redesigning Steeplechase.

How was I going to introduce my new design again? I think it had something to do with fanfares and drumrolls. Well, it’s too late now.

Are you on the site yet? Good. So maybe the snazzy new design isn’t the only thing you noticed. Did you see the aliens that just crash-landed in your yard? Psyche! Gotcha! Made ya look!

Well, in addition to our new martian friends, maybe you also noticed that…

**noisemakers!**


The Real News

steeplechaseblog.wordpress.com is now steeplechase-blog.com!

I’m so excited to finally have my own domain! I can’t describe how it feels to get to this milestone. It’s something like ecstasy and curiosity, with a dash of anxiety and terror. But I can’t wait to fully use my new powers as a Real Domain-Owning Blogger™.

Which brings me to the scary, beautiful talk of PLANS.

I’m not really a natural planner. Usually, I find that it cramps my style. Nevertheless, I’m a dreamer, and as I like to say, dreaming is planning without logistics.


Psyche, the actual Real News

Up until this point, Steeplechase has been an “end-of-the-pipeline imagination dumping ground”, as I think I’ve said in several old posts. And it’s been fun to post mediocre art, unfinished stories, and general bedlam.

I’m not saying that it won’t still be general bedlam, but I’ve known for a long time that I’ve wanted Steeplechase to be more.

But the Big Question™ has been rolling around in my head for months now: if it isn’t a scrapyard of abandoned creativity, then what is Steeplechase?

I don’t think it will ever be a successful inspirational blog, because I barely know what makes me feel inspired, let alone hundreds of followers.

At this point, my art isn’t good enough to treat this like a portfolio. And besides, where’s the joy in that? The day my blog becomes a resume builder will be the day it’s no longer fun.

I’m not a bookish person (yes, I’ve come to terms with it). I don’t really care for photography (despite how necessary it is to blogging). I have no tips to share, no pseudo-sage advice to impart to you guys.

Over the past few months, I’ve considered almost every single blog “category”, but none of them have felt like me. I shouldn’t have had to be shown that I don’t fit the mold. To be honest, I haven’t ever fit the mold of “successful homeschooled teenaged girl blogger”, mostly because I’m somewhat lazy and kinda stubborn.

And then – eureka!


After all this consideration, I finally realized why I blog: because I’m different.

Because the things I like doing are delightfully weird.

Because my escapades are relatable and maybe people see a bit of themselves in me.

I’m always looking for adventures, and I love making a big deal about things that aren’t that important. (Who doesn’t?)

I live for living, and that’ll probably kill me off early, but I don’t it’s a bad existence.

My blog is about adventure – finding adventure – inspiring adventure. Big adventures, teeny stupid adventures. Creative adventures. Destructive adventures. They’re all part of a healthy life experience, and I feel like I’m the only blogger who talks about them regularly.

This could mean I’m strange and different. Or it could mean I’m good and different. I’ve decided to be optimistic and say that my deviation from the norm makes me special, even if the former is more accurate.

So even if I’ll never be an uber-popular teen blogger, I can fill this weird niche I’ve created for myself.

I can entertain people with my adventures in hopes of inspiring them to follow suit.

I can tell people that it’s okay to be truly weird. As in, not the kind of self-aware weird most people think they are. I mean the kind of weird that isn’t aesthetic in any way, that makes people wrinkle their noses and swear you’ll let go of it in a few years.

I can entertain. I can encourage. I can inspire.

I can do pretty much the same thing I’ve been doing for nearly three years, just with more gusto and a more regular posting schedule.

So? In the end, nothing has really changed, but also everything has changed.

This is the intro post I never made.

Welcome to the Steeplechase.

Officially.



In other news, I had a birthday! I’m sixteen now, aka older than sliced bread and Internet Explorer. I feel like I’m ancient, for some reason.

In other other news, I never did my birthday choose-your-own-adventure. Which you might have noticed. Or probably didn’t. I owe y’all one, okay?

In other other news, I’m going to make another promise. I would promise that I won’t make any other promises, but isn’t that another promise?

Sheesh, I really need to stop promising things.


Tess’ Unofficial Posting Schedule

*le gasp!*

My high hopes are to post three times a month, to begin with. If, by some miracle, I start being able to manage that, we’ll go to once a week. What it’ll probably end up as is twice a month, though. See what I mean?

If I fail, I fail. If I succeed, it will be the first promise I’ve ever kept true to.

Wait, does APADO count?


Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

Art, Life, Thoughts

A Conglomeration Of Half-Post-Ideas

a conglomeration of half-post-ideas

Last post, we talked about goals.

Ya know, those things we all make, but I never seem to keep up with. Even though I have a chronic inability to complete my goals, I still want to make some. But instead of doing it by month (I’ve learned that I’m not the kind of person who pays attention to dates), we’re going to do it by Macro – Mecro – Micro.

I also was nominated for the Liebster Award, so we’re going to do that. How do you even say Liebster? Leeb-stir? Lib-stair? Lie-b-stehr?

And finally, I want to talk about improvement. Again. I know I talked about it during APADO, but that was 31 posts ago, so I think it deserves another post. Improvement is big deal with me.

*clap clap* let’s just get into it

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The Liebster Award

I’m so glad that Jewel nominated me for the Liebster Award! Jewel is one of my good friends, and I love both of her blogs to death. Thanks, Jewel!

liebster award rules

So, with acknowledgements made, here we go.

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The Questions

What do you want to accomplish by your next birthday? Gah, I can’t spill my goals yet! But I want to accomplish surviving for an entire year. Hehe, just kidding. I’d like to be more fluent in Hebrew. טס עדיין לא טובה בדיבור עברית.

What needs to be invented that has not been invented yet? A bed with spikes that makes getting up in the morning significantly easier…>:)

What is your favorite song? DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE. Can I make a top ten? Hello Future (tobyMac), Take On Me (a-ha), Wolf Bite (Owl City), Love Song (Royal Tailor), Right On Time (Aaron Cole), WaveWalker (Citizen Way), Pompeii (Bastille), The Wolf (SIAMES), Get Down Get Down (KJ-52) and Transformed (Shonlock). And like, thirty million more.

What is your favorite movie? The original Thor. But my favorite thing to watch is Batman: The Animated Series. Like, I’ll pick a few episodes of that over a movie anyday.

When people are told to guess a number between 1 and 10, which do you think is the most common answer? I think…7. I can’t really say why. This is a cool question!

Do you have a bad habit? If so, what? Shhh…I bite my nails. And use the eraser on the end of the pencil when I’m drawing. *cowers*

Soft Pretzels or Hard Pretzels? SOFT PRETZELSSS they always make me think of Six Flags. And they’re amazing.

Would you rather own a fish or a snake? Definitely a snake. They’re way more interesting, and wouldn’t it be neat to own a potentially deadly creature?

What is something you know how to do that you could teach? I feel like I could teach anyone how to be socially awkward, but I don’t think anyone would want to know how to do that. 9_9 So let’s just stick to beginner horseback riding skills, because I do teach those on a regular basis.

If you could be famous for 1 thing, what would it be? I’d want to be famous for making a circumnavigation, possibly because I want an excuse to buy a campervan.

What are the 3 most important qualities in a friend? Loyal (because who wants friends who never back them up?), sensitive (able to tell when others are having a problem), and fun (wanting to do fun stuff instead of just sitting and talking).

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11 Facts About Me

(that realistically no one wants to read but i mUsT fOlLoW tHe rUlEs)

  • I have a bunch of Assorted Unstable Jobs: babysitting, cleaning my dad’s work, mowing lawns in the summer, and professional weirdo.
  • I only drink diet sodas – not because of health reasons, but for some reason I find regular soda really bitter…?
  • I have a really strange obsession with commercials. They fascinate me.
  • I have touched a human brain, and I think I can still smell the formaldehyde.
  • I can’t do monkey bars because I have Chicken Arms™.
  • I have four sisters and two brothers.
  • I really, really, really love peaches. I’m not kidding. Get me a peach and I will squeal.
  • I don’t like documentaries. They’re kinda boring.
  • I can’t stand it when someone is raking leaves and they scrape the tines of the rake on the concrete. It’s like the sound of nails on a chalkboard except three bazillion times worse.
  • I have a lot of t-shirts, but most of them are black.
  • I used to want to be a doctor when I grew up. Now I’m leaning toward illustrator…but who knows, I may still do medical work. Or culinary arts. I’d really love to have a food truck. The only problem is, I can’t cook to save my life.
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Tagging Some Fwiends:

Ava
Bella
Christiana
Enni
Jo
Laura
Mya
NC Stokes
Sam
Sapphire
Serene

(i put it alphabetically, stop squabbling)

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Y’all’s Questions:

(i am texan, i can say y’all)

What was your favorite TV show/movie when you were a kid?
What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
What do you think is the best way to start the day?
What is one of your favorite smells?
If you were suddenly put on a stage and told to deliver a speech, what would you talk about?
Do you think Wikipedia is a reliable source?
What’s the worst advice you’ve ever received?
What age would you like to live to?
What do you want carved on your gravestone?
Have you ever saved someone’s life?
Opinion on chow mein?

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Okay, realistically, that took much more than I thought and I could honestly make a post with just that. But I feel obliged to actually fulfill one of my promises. For once.

*clap* next topic *clap*

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The Stuff I Need To Do And Get Better At (2019 Edition)

As I start to think about goals, I’m wondering if it’s too late to talk about goals, seeing as we’re already a week into January…but let’s say that it’s for the next year. So I’ll open these…next January 7th?

Macro Goals

(translation: goals that are really huge and untangible)

  • Get better at managing my time. Work with, not against, myself. Use the precious days I have in this season of life wisely.
  • Unlock the motivation I know I have and banish the laziness that cripples me.
  • Be unafraid to speak my mind and talk about important, serious things in all my mediums (writing, art, blogging, etc.)

Mecro Goals

(translation: goals that are still huge, but actually physically achievable)

  • Write three 50k novels in April, July, and November (Nanowrimo ftw!)
  • Come up with a good comic concept and illustrate ten pages of it.
  • Relaunch Steeplechase (!!!)
  • Post at least twice monthly on both of my blogs.

Micro Goals

(translation: very achievable, given I don’t procrastinate too much)

  • Get more practice making graphics.
  • Finish the MAP part I’m still working on.
  • Be more active on the Story Embers forums.
  • Make a post explaining MBTI!
  • Keep up with all my awesome friends over email.
  • Buy a copy of Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards.
  • Stay on top of schoolwork.
  • Make myself like photography. Ugh.

It may not as complicated as last year’s goals post, but considering how many I failed, I think simple is best.

I feel like this blog is a never-ending Hallmark drama. Will Tess ever do anything she promises she’ll do? This year might be the year, but that’s what I thought last year, and what I think every time I make a promise…

*exits stage left with an existential breakdown in tow*

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I Talk About Art For 500 Words And You Inevidably Scroll Past

I go through a specific cycle with all my work, but particularly with my art. I’ll get semi-okay at something, and be proud of it for approximately three days. Then I’ll realize it needs improvement. But as that realization turns into bitterness and I try and try over and over again without seeing change, I get to a point where I wonder if I’m ever going to get better.

Then, right as I think I should just stop doing what I love to do – clink! The penny drops, as Richard Williams would say.

And then, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, the cycle repeats itself.

It’s no secret that I battle self-esteem issues, that I feel inadequate a lot of the time, and that my depression takes over my motivation if I let it. I think this happens to all creative people, to be honest. Without the right kind of encouragement, it becomes a monster that controls both your creativity and your confidence.

Every time I get to that part of the cycle, I have to force myself to keep pushing. To keep trying. To make one more crappy drawing in hopes of making a good one next time.

And then, after too much headache and heartbreak, I finally get through it.

In this particular episode of Tess’ Life Gets A Little Bit Better, it all got started with an Action Bible. I got one because I am completely in love with the art. It’s so dynamic and detailed and the shading and it’s pretty much a Masterclass on drawing cloth.

I wouldn’t say I felt inspired, because the feeling is closer to jealousy, but I decided to copy some of the pictures.

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In past, I’ve discounted copywork as a viable form of learning to draw. I had previously thought it was cheating. Or something. Or maybe it’s just that I never found anything that was what I wanted to draw.

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But after doing some copywork, I’ve seen drastic improvement in my artwork. I’ve since branched off from copying again, after these studies I did. But the lines I made, the shading I did, all that – it stuck.

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Here’s a little redraw of the piece I made for an APADO post in October.

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I’ve even been drawing in my journal before bed. I think I’m back on the right track.

So if you’re feeling down – if you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel – if your feet are dragging in whatever it is you do…

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…don’t give up. Relief is coming. Give it one more push, even though you think there’s no hope for you. Try just one more time. And one more time after that. And still one more time after that.

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If everything was easy to learn, there’d be no value in it, right?

So prove that you have what it takes. Go give it one more try.

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You’ve got this.

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Thus endeth the Conglomeration Of Half-Post Ideas.

Although it changed gears faster than a 21-speed bicycle, I hope you enjoyed. I’d love to hear what you think. Leave a comment! Pretty please?

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

Life, Thoughts

Goal Recap + 2018 In Review

(Oof. I guess I’ll have to explain what happened to those Nano recaps. Or to my blog in general. Smh.)
(If you’re looking at this in your WordPress reader, it doesn’t have the same effect. Read it on my blog, won’t you?)
(Also: this graphic is possibly the most adorable thing I have ever created. I almost feel guilty for being this aesthetic)

Goals Recap + 2018 In Review

Well.

For now, we’re going to pretend that I’ve been true to my promise, that you’ve been reading the posts I’ve been writing, and that I haven’t up and disappeared for two months. I need to learn to stop promising things I can’t deliver.

The last bit of 2018 has been hectic and crazy – although there has been time for some fun…

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cronching prongles w/ ezra in my sister’s van = fun…?

I’ve been on two trips to see family and been allowed plenty of time to rest after a very stressful Nanowrimo experience (we’ll get to that!)

I would never have guessed that this year would turn out the way it did. In fact, I was pretty certain I knew what I was doing at the beginning of this year. Exactly 360 days ago, I wrote a post called Goals. I don’t think I need to say how different it is from my actual achievements.

Let’s revisit these goals, aka these rash promises. (See? I never learn.)

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January/February/March

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Post at least a dozen posts here on Steeplechase. Hm. My stats say I posted…nine times. I’m going to call this half-done, because I was going strong at about a post a week until March. Ugh.

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Finish my part for the MAP I’m working on (and write a blog post about the process). Okay. I didn’t end up finishing that MAP part until June. But I did finish it, and I wrote a post about it. Half-done.

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Finish plotting my April Camp Nano project. Garsh. What was my April Camp Nano project? I think it was Project Orion. I spent April Camp Nano plotting PO, so…I think this is also half-done.

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Help my team win AAWC. We lost hard, only getting third (last!) place despite my best last-minute efforts. Failed.

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Learn diagonals. This is a horseback riding goal, and I don’t remember exactly when, as Richard Williams would say, “the penny dropped”. I do know that I’ve mastered it now. We’re going to call this an obliteration. Yeet!

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Have a birthday. Ehehe, why is this even a goal? But I had a birthday. And I’m about to have another one. GUYS, THIS YEAR JUST FLEW BY. Obliterated.

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Do more Art Dumps. I did two in February, so this is obliterated! Thank goodness I didn’t set an exact number. HEHEHE.

April/May/June

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Do Camp Nano! Undeniably obliterated. I talked about it in this post, so I’m not going to go through the rigors again. (But that post contains more unfulfilled promises! Yikes!)

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Finish my Wreck This Journal (and do a WTJ tour). Nope. I’m still not done with this. Failed.

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Join another MAP. I joined my second MAP in late June/early July? Not exactly sure. I think I’m going to call this an obliteration, though.

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lolina strikes again

Learn to draw human faces. HAHAHAHAHA no. Still no. Failed.

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Replot Project Orion. Wait. Hold on. Does this mean I wasn’t originally going to replot PO? Huh. I can’t remember. Half-done, because it still doesn’t really have a plot. And at this point I’m wondering if it ever will.

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Hold a giveaway. Steeplechase did turn two years old, but I didn’t hold a giveaway. I barely even acknowledged it at all. Welp, there’s always next year. Failed.

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Aaaand post more on Steeplechase. Did I post at all? Three times? We’re calling that technically “more” so…obliterated. Wow, this feels like cheating.

July/August/September

Untitled design
lame cover mockup

Julynowrimo. Undeniably obliterated. And I actually like what I came out with? What? I mean, it’s definitely not perfect, but The Sentinel is the best thing I’ve written so far.

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Ride Traveller. Aka my bike. I don’t think I accounted for the fact that I would get crazy tall? And be too big for him? Um? Yeah, I’m 5′ 9″ now and a 24″ bike isn’t going to cut it. It’s not like I could help it, but this is, unfortunately, another failure.

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Read three long books (and review them here on Steeplechase). I don’t remember if I read three long books, but seeing as I didn’t post on Steeplechase all summer….noap. Failure.

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Learn at least three new riding skills. I can canter in full seat, jump verticals, and use rein contact to my advantage now…hey, I think this is obliterated!

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my favorite freezie!

Take a dare. Well, this goal’s specific. We went to Six Flags a lot over the summer, and I definitely dared myself to do a ton. This is an obliteration. I think.

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Get in physical shape. I’m still not sure where I stand on my physique….? Let’s say half-done, because I was really active, but it’s not like I’m super fit or anything.

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Document it all on Steeplechase. As aforementioned – nope. Sorry. Ugh. Failed.

October/November/December

Plot out a Nano. I tried. But I also learned that I am an undeniable pantser. So even if I’d planned something out, it’s not like it would have worked. I’m going to say half-done, not because I did any planning, but more because this goal was stupid. See what I mean about having no idea what this year had in store for me?

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Write that Nano. I…did? I didn’t write what I intended to write this Nano, but it was something.

I guess now is a perfect opportunity to say why I haven’t posted in like, two months. As usual, I joined the throes of writers racing to complete their novels, but this was an exceptionally gruelling Nano. I had planned to write a sequel to The Sentinel, but after wasting two weeks of Nano being unmotivated, I did a Tess-classic Nanoditch. But even after said Nanoditch, I was still not motivated.

It was to the point where I was bewailing my situation so badly that people had started to give up on me. (As in, “why are you still writing when you insanenumberofwords behind?”) But my mom, MY WONDERFUL MOM, kept telling me that I could do it. I knew I was going to do it or die trying.

The bottom line? I ended up writing the final 33k words in 3 days. I pulled an all-nighter on the last day. I wrote all the way up till the last second, pretty much. But I did it. I’m so proud, but also ashamed, because there should never be an excuse for doing what I did.

Here’s a little video I took at 5am on November 31st, after my all-nighter, with 10k still to write (subtitled):

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Yeah that should describe my mental state for all of November.

I did end up finishing a dumb novel called A Hundred Paper Stars, which is…just another thing to add to my repretoire, and nothing more. Though pointless, it’s pretty fun.

So…obliterated? Yeah, I guess. Remind me never to do it this way again.

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One more MAP. Because of Nano, I’m still working on my “summer” MAP. So failed.

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Get in bed at some sort of normal time. HAHAHAHAHA oh my gosh it’s so funny how I thought I’d be good at doing this by this time! Nope. Not in October, definitely not in November, and not even now. 48930248230% failed. (I was up at 1:30 last night reading my new Action Bible, just to prove a point.)

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Make a Hanukkah tag/blog series. Hanukkah went soooo fast for me. So – uh – failed.

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Actually buy all my family Hanukkah presents. But hey, I actually achieved this! Obliterated!

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Post. On. Your. Own. Flippin. Blog. *cough* APADO *cough*. Catastrophically obliterated.

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Total Goals: 28

Goals Completed: 15

Success Rate: ~54%

wow that’s low

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2018 has been a surprising year in many ways. I’ve done so many things I never thought I would have done, yet I haven’t done a lot of things I thought I really would. And I regret that, because it’s hard to move on from something. Yet, at the same time, I don’t regret it. Because where would I be without moving forward?

Stan Lee recently passed on. That was shocking news for me, seeing as he is one of my heroes. However, I’ve decided that his motto is going to be 2019’s motto:

Excelsior.

onward and upward.

Without change, there is no growth. Without growth, there is no greatness.

Okay, I feel like I’m overdoing my announcement now. But maybe I actually don’t want to reveal my dreams for Steeplechase, or what I’m thinking about doing with it…

Yeah, I don’t think I want to say what I’m going to do with this little blog next year. Although guesses are welcome…

Here’s to an exciting, fulfilling 2019!

merry late christmas and happy early new year to everyone!

Sayonara for now,

Tess

(okay I can’t take it, I’m getting my own domain)

APADO, Thoughts

A Random Letter For A Random Person {APADO #29}

(apado is a blog series we all know what it is and I’m just amazed I’ve almost completed it)

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I’ve had a hunch for awhile that people aren’t as different as they think they are.

I mean, I say about thirty times a day that I’m weird, and yet all my friends do the same. So am I really weird?

I wanted to put myself in someone else’s shoes for a half-second. Pretend I was your average person. Feeling compartmentalized and alone, the only odd one out…don’t we all feel like that sometimes?

And then I imagined receiving a letter. A figurative hand that connects me back to the idea that we’re not so “weird” after all.

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Hi. 🙂

My name’s Tess Richardson. I’m about 99.99999% sure you have no clue who I am and honestly I hope you’re okay with that.

I’m writing you a letter because I have faither in the unknown. I don’t know who you are, or what you do, but I feel like this letter found its way to the right person.

I’m not trying to be creepy. I’m not asking you for anything. You don’t have to help the defenseless kittens or disabled veterans. You don’t even have to reply to this letter.

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I just hope that when you read this letter, it puts a smile on your face. I’m not exactly sure how. Maybe the thought that someone’s indirectly thinking of you.

Whatever floats your anvil, that’s cool with me.

I hope you have a nice day, whoever you are. You deserve to. God Bless and I’m thinking of you.

Sincerely,

Tess

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^ random address I found by dropping the pin in Google Maps in a random spot.

Should I mail it?

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

APADO, Thoughts, Writing

Landscapey Stuff {APADO #20}

(How am I already 2/3 of the way through APADO? It seems like it’s gone by pretty quickly. Who knew that posting once a day would be so much fun?)
(Also I apologize for yesterday’s sorry excuse for a post. I was in a hurry. In fact I didn’t even go through that twice. And I’m really, REALLY regretting that. Hehe.)

APADO 20

I don’t think it’d be fair to say that I “do” photography. Do I like taking pictures? Yes. Do I think about taking photos all the time? No.

Really, the reason I take photos is to create a visual trigger for something I could describe in more detail. Be that a place I really love, or good times with friends and family, that’s the extent of my “love” of photography.

(And then I turn around and take photos for my blog and that has nothing to do with visual triggers. I hate it when I can’t make a reason for something absolute.)

I’ve got a folder called “Lanscapey stuff”. (To say that my file naming system is bizarre is an understatement.) In addition to myriads of blurry photos I can’t decide if I should delete or not, it’s got a lot of my visual triggers in it. Today, I’ve decided to pull ten of those out of the vault and see if I can jar my memory.


Back before I knew how to use a camera, I went to the Grand Canyon and had the opportunity to take the photos of a lifetime.

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Unfortunately, hardly any of my pictures turned out to be any good. However, there were a few good shots, like this one.

But do photos really do this place justice? In real life, this place was bigger than any frame. All I could see from one side of the horizon to the other was the canyon, the striped rocks descending down toward the river. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so small.


Icy trees look pretty cool.

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I froze my fingers off trying to capture how cool it was. My hot breath hanging in the air, my hands trembling, but a triumphant smile spreading across my red face as I got a shot that looked alright. That was an interesting afternoon.


I took a camping/hiking trip to Caprock Canyons State Park – a ton of my “good” photos are from that trip. The area is really arid, but we heard that there was a cave where a bunch of ferns grew naturally, thanks to a spring and some irrigating rocks. So we hiked to the unimaginatively named Fern Cave.

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I was not disappointed.

It was at least ten degrees cooler on the enormous rock I was sitting on – just the thing to cheer up a group of hot, dusty hikers. The constant drip of the water off the edges of the ferns echoed off the sides of the little alcove where they hung, swinging in the breeze, growing despite the desert around them.

And I saw a wild frog for the first time. That was pretty neat.


During that same trip, we got so hot in the afternoon that we decided to go drive around in the car for some relief and some wind through our hair. We wandered down a bunch of country roads and by several farms and ended up finding this relaxing tunnel of scraggly oak trees:

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It was so quiet here, I could here my own thoughts.


We also found a dirt road that led out to the middle of nowhere that was sort of anticlimatic but very pictreusque.

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I think the most wonderful thing about this photo is that there are absolutely no power lines – just the ribbon of caliche stretching for a good mile and the tawny brush swaying as the wind tickled the top of it.


But to be honest, God’s beautiful creation is everywhere.

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Like this gorgeous sunset that painted the sky back home one night. Not even the power lines can spoil this one.


I guess all my good landscapey stuff photos are taken while hiking and camping. Go figure. Needle Rock is a neat natural monument on a Boy Scout ranch in Fort Davis.

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Unlike the Grand Canyon, pictures do this one visual justice. But they don’t show the feeling of passing under this spire of twisted rock, the shadow that falls over you as you stare up at it in awe, the sun sparkling from behind it…


Yeah, I swear all my good photos are hiking photos.

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My brother had wandered ahead of us when I took this photo. I didn’t realize until I went back through all these photos that he makes this photo eighty times better. A man, walking all alone in the desert while stormclouds loom over him…

…I promise no more camping photos. Hehe.


Sometimes, a new angle changes everything.

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These icicles look really neat from the underside. Kind of like teeth, I imagine. What’s even cooler is how the ones on the right are bent from the winter wind blowing them as they melt.


And finally, oleander flowers.

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They’re some of the prettiest things out there, and they come from the strangest source. Who would’ve thought that these big, green, lumpy bushes would have nice flowers?


I can’t decide if this was a photography post or a writing post. Maybe it was both.

I suppose I need to start taking my camera more places. Who knows what I’ll find that’ll a visual trigger?

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

APADO, Thoughts

My “Torc” {APADO #18}

(thubis ubis ubapubadubo, my lubittle blubog suberubies thubat ubi’m subo tubired ubof ubintrubodubucubing. subo ubi dubecubidubed tubo dubo ubit ubin ububbubi dububbubi.)

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Brandy wears a braided chain / made of the finest silver from the north of Spain…

…or a piece of steel stock from an engineering workshop.

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restraunts, swimming, in the car, photobombing at my sister’s wedding…

I’ve worn my necklace every day since I got it, and I’m still not sure why.

Maybe it’s because I’ve tied the leather cord it’s hanging from so tight that I can’t get it off. I have to pull it off the hitch ring every time I go through a metal detector.

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penny for scale

For awhile, I was calling it my torc. I forgot what it means. It’s something in Russian, because when I got it, I was obsessed with a race of Russian wolves I was trying to come up with for my infamous dogstory.

I got it from a professor at our local university who really took a fancy to our family after he met my older sister. He made it out of some scrap steel and told me, “I dunno what you’re supposed to do with it, but it sure looks cool.”

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oh yeah, this was the journal where I was pretending I had a twin brother.

I wanted the torc to mean something. Maybe a reminder, or a symbol.

So I found a shoelace in one of my drawers and worked up a necklace. Somehow, the shoelace lasted for way longer than it should have, but when it got nasty, I kidnapped a leather strip from a Moleskine notebook and I think it looks alright.

It’s been a year and a half, and I still have no idea what it’s supposed to stand for.

Any ideas?

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

APADO, Thoughts, Writing

What Makes A Good Character? (Tess’s Character Theory, part I) {APADO #13}

(you’re reading APADO, my wittle one-post-a-day-for-a-whole-month series that i somehow haven’t failed yet.)
(a bunch of disclaimers: i’m not a master author, in fact i legit just called myself a fauxthor™ and it’s true. however, i’ve received a lot of praise for the characters i come up with. i’m going to try to ride the line between hoarding the knowledge i have and puffing myself up bigger than a wacky arm-waving inflatable tubeman. let’s hope i don’t step into either too much.)
(and now i’m like “isn’t it a bad thing to doubt myself? but isn’t it also a bad idea to think you know more than you actually do?” hello anxiety, i haven’t missed you but here you are.)
(now let’s turn this into a series)

APADO 13

Characters are an integral part of fiction. Actually, they’re more than half of what storytellers worry about. They can make or break a story, and they often do – which is what we’re going to take a look at today.

Trigger warning: my preferences are weird. Even if you don’t agree with everything I say, please be nice about it.

I recently sat down and watched Interstellar.

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Let me first preface this by saying that I’m not a scientific person and only understood about 52% of this film’s dialogue. There was a lot of infodumping, which I’m not a fan of.

(quick, poorly-written plot rundown for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie: earth is dying and no one’s sure how to fix it. cooper, our main character, is alarmed that his daughter’s bedroom seems to be alive – there are morse code patterns in the dust in the floor, books falling off the shelf in morse code messages, etc. they say pretty much two things: a set of map coordinates and the word “stay”. visiting the map coordinates reveals the secret location of nasa’s last base and the main plot: earth is about to become really uninhabitable and cooper, due to his experience as a fighter pilot, will be needed to help execute one of the two plans. “plan a” is to relocate all of earth’s population to another planet. “plan b” is to leave the population to die and take 700 new embroyos to a new planet to start a new colony and save humanity. all the characters are on different sides of this ethical question. cooper and his team fly off into space to have a look at some planet prospects. long story short, nothing looks good and everything’s sad and we lose one of the crew members. they’re running out of fuel, too. in order to get to the last chance of a planet, cooper volunteers to go off into the black hole that’s messing with the time of everything and honestly i didn’t catch how all of this is working because infodumps. once in the blackhole (which somehow works as like a time sphere/way to communicate with the past and future?) cooper realizes that this was a horrible idea and he should never have come and tries to tell his past self to “stay” (books coming off the shelves and stuff). i have no idea what happened here. murph is grown up now and gets stuff going back on earth because he can also somehow communicate with her through this watch that he gave her. everyone evacuates, somehow they rescue cooper, cooper learns that his female friend went to start that embroyo colony on the last planet and that she’s all alone and vows to go rescue her. THE END.)

I was extremely disappointed at the end of it. I was expecting this movie to be amazing – it’s Christopher Nolan, for crying out loud. Though I will give it props for its amazing visual effects, terrific music, and interesting take on the “end-of-the-world” idea, it commits a sin that makes me never want to see it again: blank, thin characters.

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Now, I understand that I am not the target audience for this film (it’s very popular in the nerdy, scientific circles) but this is a problem that could have been fixed with just a little more time and a little less word salad.

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Yes, they have a few motivations and remotely memorable personalities, but they don’t seem to do anything. Things are happening all around them, and they react to them, but their reactions are the only thing they’re giving to the movie. The black hole, the space travel, the time discrepancies and the emergencies push out the characters and take over the plot.

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And we never answer the big ethical question this movie asks (save the living or start over?) because the characters don’t have enough screentime or enough depth to make a choice. They’re weak, passive, and almost forgettable.

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I could have loved this movie if the characters had been given more time of day. It was visually beautiful, sported terrific world-building, had a larger-than-life stake, and would have made an amazing point if they had gotten around to answering their ethical question. They didn’t answer the question because the characters were too weak to form a good opinion.

Interstellar was a frustrating movie because the characters weren’t allowed to lead the plot.

Now, an example of a horrible plot with terrific characters: Thor: The Dark World.

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(Please lower your stones.)

This is a hated movie. This is a weird movie. This is one of the “worst” Marvel movies in the entire franchise, and yet I enjoyed it way more than I should have. Its merit is with one thing and one thing only: the characters.

(quick plot rundown: there’s this creepy alien liquid virus called the aether, unleashed in some ancient battle, and it’s super gimmicky and the sole reason why this movie is weird. after the events of everything in all the movies leading up to this in the MCU, loki’s being imprisoned for invading earth, thor is trying to make peace in what’s going to be his new kingdom, and jane foster, his girlfriend, is really wishing he were around more often. there’s going to be a cool cosmic convergence thing happening, which will make people be able to travel between the nine realms and meet eachother, yay. a portal has already appeared in a warehouse. although jane and darcy don’t know where it leads to, it definitely takes things places. jane, without realizing it, follows a similar portal and gets infected with the aforementioned space virus, the aether…and it really doesn’t make sense. meanwhile, back on asgard, heimdall, everyone’s favorite gatekeeper/living nest camera tells thor that he can’t see where jane is anymore, prompting him to go to earth to find her. he finds her, she’s full of aether juice, and it’s not good. we learn that the aether is connected to this creepy pale dude named malekith who plans to take over the nine realms…or something. he wants the aether cuz it’s apparently able to be weaponized. he attacks asgard looking for it, because thor brought jane there, and frigga, thor’s mother, dies protecting her. malekith and his dudes are barely repulsed. thor has a plan, and it’s a hairbrained scheme, really, but it just might work and it’s all they can do. with the help of loki (who thor convinces to help him based on frigga’s death), the warriors three, sif (who’s causing tension because she’s romantically interested in thor), and jane, thor goes to try to find and stop malekith. which he sort of does. thor and loki trick him into getting the aether out of jane, but they fail to destroy it and loki dies (well, he doesn’t really, but we don’t know that yet). the aether isn’t in jane anymore (?) but it’s now roosting in malekith. the convergence is imminent. the warehouse portal apparently led to the place where they were, so thor and jane (minus loki and everyone else) go to earth to try to beat malekith, who’s planning to unleash the aether while the convergence thing is going on and so destroy all the worlds. they have a big fight, thor beats him up, he gets crushed by his own ship and dies, the aether is contained in an infinity stone and stashed away, problems have been solved and yay life is good until the next thor adventure, which i didn’t like but oh well. THE END.)

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Yes, we have a similar weird space-themed plot with confusing element (what exactly does the Aether do again?) and word salad. Yes, we have a movie almost devoid of anything good. It’s the exact opposite of Interstellar: the plot is horribly paced and confusing, yet… I liked it. And I certainly wasn’t the only one.

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It’s obvious now that the main difference between Interstellar and Thor: The Dark World lies in the characters. In T:TDW, the characters are actively driving the story, despite the Convergence-thing being out of their control. They’re going after the cosmic liquid space virus. They’re reluctantly teaming up.

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In fact, most of the conflict is character-centered, despite this movie’s overly-massive stakes. This doesn’t make it any less confusing, but it makes it infinitely more likable.

If the characters had been reactive, this movie would be utter trash. It still kind of is. But the characters bring it from a -70 to a 5/10.

The point:

yes, I just praised Thor: The Dark World and trashed Interstellar:

If your characters are flat, uncompelling, and make no choices of their own, they can take your A+ amazing plot and turn it into something without a soul.

If your characters are well-rounded, decisive, and bounce well off eachother, you can take something confusing and weird and make it mostly enjoyable (even if it’s still confusing and weird.)

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A story is only as good as the people who are making it happen. As an author, the very worst thing you can do is just make them react to what’s going on.

tl;dr: Good characters are proactive.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

(what have i done?)

 

 

 

APADO, Life

Everyday Miracles {APADO #12}

(APADO = a post a day, october = nerve-wracking heart-attacking self-inflicted blog challenge i should be regretting but i’m not)

(this is going to be a short post, seeing how yesterday’s was as long as four cvs receipts)

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I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it, but I really love to roller skate. I’ve been doing it off and on for years, but I get the same thrill every time I pull a pair of skates on.

But life’s been busy recently, and I haven’t had a chance to get to the rink. It doesn’t help that I outgrew my skates (which were hand-me-downs from one of my sisters). They were a good little pair of quads…before I got gargantuan feet.

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from a go pro vid at the the skating rink (and feat. my older older brother mac)

It’s not as easy when you don’t own your own skates. I have to bring an extra dollar to rent a pair, and they really aren’t terrific. (I mean, if you consider the constant abuse they go through, they’re astonishingly good. But the wheels are really slippery. Maybe it’s a ploy by the management to get insurance money or something.)

Earlier this year, I was considering buying a pair of roller blades. But they’re expensive, and although I have some spending money, I can’t justify spending a hundred dollars like that.

That hasn’t stopped me from wanting a pair, though. They’ve been on the brain since the beginning of summer.

So let’s flash forward to today. My granddad was going to this giant fair-thrift-store-rummage-sale-thing, and being the spontaneous person I am, I came along.

(Now when I say “Granddad”, please imagine a 70-year-old man who looks like he’s 40, laughs like he’s 20, and gives advice like he’s 104. He’s the definition of hardcore awesomeness.)

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I give you – an ENFP paradise!

This place was awash with awesome stuff. I brought my camera, meaning to take lots of pictures, but honestly I was too busy looking at everything on the tables.

At least I got a shot of these baskets of records, though. Aren’t they minorly aesthetic?

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Anyways. I was having fun looking at everything, destressing from a very long week, forgetting about all the things I really should have been doing – when I saw them.

Rollerblades.

Beautiful rollerblades from the era where they had the joint for your ankle to flex correctly. In my size.

For – I could have sworn I was dreaming – $3. Three dollars.

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I still can’t get over how amazing God is. How I had almost given up on getting roller blades, and He dropped them in my lap when I was least expecting it. How He works in big, big ways – but still cares about little things like…rollerblades.

It’s been a really, really good day.

tl;dr: Little miracles happen every day. You’ll never know until you start looking for them.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

 

APADO, Life, Thoughts

Roller Coasters {APADO #6}

(This is APADO, a series where I attempt to write a post once a day for the entire month of October. And I’m already burning out. And this is fun, I’m reminding myself.)
(This is Saturday night, it’s been a really long week, and I need to get batteries for my camera so I can write some posts that actually mean something – but hey, gotta do whatcha gotta do.)
(And the photo in the graphic’s not mine. And I don’t really care….? It’s from Six Flags’ website. Kudos to them. Ditto to the gifs.)

APADO 6

You never know just how brave you are until you sit in a roller coaster car and pull down the restraint.

Not only are you about to experience ridiculous speeds and incredible Gs, but you also just chose to do so. Willingly.

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For me, this realization brings my heart rate up at least 25 bpm every single time I ride a roller coaster, even though I go to Six Flags a bit more than your average person.

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It’s easy to talk big when you’re safe on the ground, watching the coaster do its thing. But it gets progressively harder as you weave through the cue line, as you get up close to the ride, as you feel the energy it’s throwing off surging beneath your feet.

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And the very hardest part is sitting down in the car, pulling the restraints down, and accepting the fact that you’re going to do something that doesn’t make logical sense.

But that’s the fun part about roller coasters.

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Because you made a stupid decision. You’re doing something that doesn’t make sense.

And you’re able to.

When you’re going up the hill, you know you’ve been really, really rash, but when you’re going down, you know why people love roller coasters.

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Because humans like to go fast.

We like to feel the power of something we’ve invented.

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somewhere in there is yours truly after riding the coaster pictured above – my mom dragged me on it >w<

And we like to feel proud of ourselves when we come screaming into the station. Because against all odds, and everything coming at you – you just rode a hundred-foot-tall metal beast. On purpose. And you had fun.

Imagine the places that kind of mindset will take you.

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me and younger older brother – nothing like a day at the park ^v^

And this is why I love roller coasters.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

(P.S: yes, I have ridden all the roller coasters pictured in this post. yes, it took much determination/panicking. my home park is six flags over texas.)

 

 

APADO, Thoughts

Improvement: It Happens To The Best Of Us {APADO #1}

(Welcome to APADO, where I attempt to post once a day for all of October: A Post A Day – October, that is the last time I’m spelling that out. I’m making more rash promises than Josef Stalin but let’s see how far I can get.)

(also this post might be inspirational? how did that happen)

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I want you to go on a quick trip down memory lane. Remember the first time you tried to be creative? And how good it felt when you signed your first drawing, finished your first story, threw your first paint-dipped potato at the wall?

It felt good, didn’t it? You were proud of what you made, weren’t you? Even if it was pretty bad-looking, there was something about it that you liked. Maybe it was the excitment. The raw creativity. Or something similarly poetic that I don’t have the aptitude to make up.

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2016

Now, let’s flash forward a few weeks. Months. Years. If you’re anything like me, you’re discouraged, burnt out, and wishing you could do it better.

It’s normal to feel that way.

I struggle with self-confidence and patience. There are times when I want to just throw in the towel and be done with everything I do, just because it isn’t exactly the way I want it to be. I have to remind myself that I’m still learning. I’m always learning. And that I’m never going to go anywhere sitting around moping about it.

Big Secret No. 1: You have to want to improve.

In this day and age, we’re told quite often that we’re perfect just the way we are.

I’m not saying that we’re not, but that kind of thinking tends to trap us into never doing anything with our lives.

You are perfect. But what you do needs work.

If you want to be mediocre, you can give out half-polished work. You can “do what you can” and never want anything more. And spend the rest of your days as an amateur.

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2018

Or you can give it your 110% best. You can go the extra mile. You can keep going, even when it gets tough and when you don’t feel like it. That’s the big secret to getting better. And it comes from the place you’d least expect it – yourself.

Big Secret No. 2: Improving your skills takes time.

We live in an instant world – instant coffee, instant ramen. Instagram. It’s only natural to think that our skills will come quickly and easily (and that just one podcast or blog post will enable us to churn out a finished, polished novel.)

Honestly, if it were that easy, it wouldn’t be worth anything.

The cold hard fact is that becoming better at what you do takes a long time. You’re not going to be an expert overnight. And this is what makes pushing yourself difficult – it’s much easier to sprint down the block than to run a mile.

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2017? where are his appendages

Patience is a virtue. And an asset. And a challenge worth conquering.

Big Secret No. 3: Creative pursuits are subjective.

Why do we want to improve? So we can be better. Duh.

But what does better mean? Is it an end-all point where we can be done with what we’re doing?

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2018

Ha!

There shouldn’t ever be a point that you stop learning to do what you love. You might as well get used to the feeling of not knowing everything, because it’s going to follow you for as long as you’re creating great content.

If you’re doing it right, you should always be improving.

The point I’m trying to make with all this:

Improvement is tough. It feels like the more you know, the less you think of yourself.

But you have a fire burning inside you. Use it. You’ve got what it takes.

And you’ll never, ever, ever get anywhere by throwing in the towel, saying you’re not good enough, and leaving your dreams to turn to dust. Quitting is for losers.

Be patient. Keep working. You’re going to make it. You’re going to do this.

tl;dr: Don’t be a pushover. Keep your chin up and go make something great.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}