Whew.  This was an exhausting week, creatively speaking.

Ever get hyper-frustrated with something about your writing (or art (or music)) that just won’t turn out right, no matter how long you stare at it and how much you tweak it?

Of course you do.


Tip of a fishToil Your Fury Away.

Most of the time, in those instances, the best thing to do is to step away for a while.  But you can’t just do nothing – no, you’re upset because that lack of progress is making you feel unproductive, and just sitting on that pent-up irritation energy won’t do a whole lot to wind it down.

So!  Find an important, monotonous drudge of a task (that maybe you’ve been putting off) to do around the house, and do it angrily.  You’re already in a bad mood, so what could it hurt?  Cleaning is an easy fallback; it’s just one of those things that can almost always stand to be done (particularly if you live with messy people).  But reorganizing, repairs, yardwork – it’s all good, so long as it can occupy you for a half-hour or more.

Whatever the task, throwing yourself into it can be cathartic.  It won’t be taxing on your tired brain, and it will be a welcome redirection of focus (which confers the added bonus that you’ll do a better job at it than you would have if you were approaching it in the normal, reluctant, eager to get it over with manner).  On the other side of things, repetitive physical work can be conducive to creative thinking, so you may just find yourself with a new idea or two.  In any case, it will use up your anxious fervor, and when you’re done, you’ll know that you’ve accomplished something – an often desperately needed feeling.


I spent a couple of hours anger-cleaning my kitchen today.



Some of it fits in a photograph.


And now, order is restored.

(Although, to be fair, the source of the rage-fuel in this particular instance was primarily the messiness itself…but still)

Bene scribete.


Tanka Very Much

I hope everyone had a pleasant Valentine’s Day.  If not, here’s an elephant that loves you.*



*(It might not love you)


Anyway, thanks to harulawordsthatserve, I have been recently made aware of a traditional form of Japanese poetry known as the tanka.  It is effectively a haiku with an added lower phrase of a 7/7 pair.  Considering the relative popularity of the haiku, I’m a little surprised I’ve not before encountered its extended brother.  But, alas, I have now, and must of course write one.


The Monday Spider
Creeps slowly on the sidewalk.
Should I pick it up?
As I ponder this, it leaves.
I guess it must be Tuesday.


Admit it – you want to write one, too.


Bene scribete.

Watch a Writer Write

My good friend Matt Price alerted me to this interesting item the other day:



It’s a screen-capture video Brandon Sanderson (or Branderson, as I like to call him) posted of himself writing his next book in real-time.  You may know Branderson as the famed author of the Mistborn series and finisher of The Wheel of Time.  Although I have yet to read one of his books, I’ve been greatly impressed by the vast amount of well-received work he’s able to put out.

That’s why this video surprises me.  Seeing him in the writing process, it would appear that he is nearly as obsessive, indecisive, and back-and-forth as I am.  This is honestly painful for me to watch, because it’s too much like seeing myself write (complete with cursor-twitching, shunting stuff below, and pre-chapter notes).  I actually had to stop myself from grabbing at the keyboard and mouse to try and make edits to what he was doing.  With his level of output, I expected him to be a draft-blaster who’d zip through and edit later, but now I’m even more amazed with his productivity.  I suppose he did do 400 words in twenty minutes, though, which if a consistent pace would be nothing to scoff at.

Anyway, if you want to see how one prolific author goes about whipping up a draft (or how I do, for that matter), give it a watch.

As a side note, I am pleased to see that he still double-spaces sentences.  Even if he forgot how to spell ‘oar’.


Bene scribete.

Reindeer Drama: Part -1

Last month, I talked about a Finnish animated film depicting complicated family turmoil among flying reindeer.  It was a sequel to a movie entitled Niko and the Way to the Stars – one which, after being exposed to the second, I found it necessary to track down.  Having successfully done just that, I suppose it is only appropriate that I should follow up here.


Niko poster


The animation isn’t as sharp as in the second film, but it’s still pretty decent, and the detail they squeeze in despite the low tech is impressive at points.  The English dub is mostly serviceable.  But we’re not here to talk about the technical details…

As you may recall from last time, our little protagonist Niko’s parents have split custody of him in the sequel, and mom shacks up with a new caribou.  This left me with certain expectations of some kind of rocky reindeer divorce occurring in the first.  But the reality, as it turns out, may be even better.

Let’s take a look at the Wikipedia page for Santa’s reindeer.  Niko has an entry on it.  It states, and I quote, that he is:


Prancer’s illegitimate child from a one-night stand with a regular reindeer.


That…is awesome.  I mean, there’s just something kind of fantastic about the blunt, offical candor of a statement like that when considering the subject matter.  And aren’t those links helpful?

So, how do flying reindeer by-blows happen?  When the film begins, Niko is already aware that his father is one of Santa’s crew, but his mother refuses to tell him which one.  She also openly admits to him that she never bothered to tell his dad that he exists.  Real nice.  She explains that she got cozy with him one night when Santa’s sleigh “broke down” nearby (I’ll pause a moment to let you consider what constitutes the ‘engine’ of this particular magical flying sleigh, and subsequently the implications of this claim).  Smooth, Prancer.  Smooth.

Anyway, on to the story.

While gallivanting around in preadolescent reindeerhood, Niko is spotted by a prowling wolf, who naturally wants to turn him into not being hungry anymore.  Niko, being a little reindeer, runs back to his herd for protection.  The wolf, being a predator, follows.  Rather than killing the crap out of this singular wolf, however, the adult reindeer opt instead to run away forever, because apparently they are terrible at being large spiky-headed hoofy-legged animals (there’s a reason wolves hunt lone ungulates in packs).  Since the herd is now displaced, it decides collectively to hate Niko for leading a wolf to its territory.  Since little reindeer don’t like being hated by everyone they know, Niko decides to run away during a snowstorm and track down his father.  Niko’s mother at first wants to go after him, but she is easily talked out of it by another reindeer, deciding that letting her son’s squirrel sidekick try to find him and bring him back safely is good enough.  Reindeer mom of the year.

When Niko finally makes it to Santa’s workshop, he confronts the flying squad in their reindeer tavern (yes, that’s a thing).  When he asks if any of them remember hooking up with a normal caribou one Christmas night, they tell him that he’ll have to be a lot more specific than that.  This means exactly what you think it does.  Santa’s eight are hotshot rock-stars in the reindeer world, and they don’t shy away from picking up a few groupies here and there.  You know, that…actually makes too much sense for raillery.  Niko clarifies his mother’s identity and drops the bomb that one of them is his father, but their response for the time being is feigned ignorance and wholehearted denial.  Why does nobody want this adorable little reindeer kid?



That face. It’s glycerin.


Let’s talk about the villain.  Ooh, let’s!

He is the leader of a pack of wolves who’ve fallen on hard times.  His goal is to eat Santa’s reindeer.  Because – are you ready? – he believes, for no discernible reason, that doing so will grant him their ability to fly.  And then.  He aims to eat Santa Claus himself.  And then.  He intends at last to take Santa’s place so he can FLY AROUND THE WORLD AND EAT EVERY CHILD EVER ON CHRISTMAS.  I–ghh–bvv…  This is possibly the best and most insane motivation I have ever seen for an antagonist in a Christmas or children’s movie.

Then, there is a pink poodle who is inexplicably lost and on her own in the north pole, and even more inexplicably knows the way to Santa’s secret workshop.  She runs into the wolves and they make her lead them there.  The one semi-intelligent non-jerk wolf in the group, likely realizing his pack is entirely male, runs off with her.  Now I want to see what a woodle (a poolf?) looks like.

I could go on, but there’s simply too much and I can’t describe it all coherently.  Just find it and watch it.  It’s madness.  In the meantime, I’ll leave you with seven more things you should know about Niko and the Way to the Stars.


  • Niko is the same size and seems to be only slightly younger in this than he is in the second, which takes place at least a year later.  I’m guessing this is because, as the son of Prancer, who is ostensibly immortal, he ages much more slowly than a regular caribou would.
  • The ermine randomly breaks out into song in this one, and is generally psychotic.  I guess they dropped that particular direction for the second.
  • Why is Vixen male?  At least Donner and Blitzen have German accents.
  • Niko’s squirrel morbidly creates snowsquirrels of his wife and kid to keep himself company, because the real ones were eaten by wolves.
  • The gateway cave to Santa’s workshop is a perilous Indiana Jones-style death trap.
  • At one point, when Prancer gets knocked out, the squirrel sodomizes him with an icicle to wake him up.
  • Toward the end, Santa’s reindeer warp into outer space with the wolf leader, and then drop him from orbit (maybe that’s the way to the stars?).


Bene scribete.