J. Sevick

Just Write.

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Planning Ahead

[I’m going to start posting only on weekdays—I need the weekends to write. :) ]

For the commitment-challenged, there may be nothing more intimidating than planning a series. It can also be great fun, and for those of us who enjoy reading series, it’s a tempting project.

But is it a disaster waiting to happen?

I can’t count the number of projects I’ve planned, and abandoned. I don’t believe any…

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The Two Writing Skillsets

The Two Writing Skillsets

I find a lot of comfort in the idea of a writer’s growth into skill. I believe that if you write frequently, practice, never give up, and try new things, you will eventually attain the skill you are meant to have. I believe that anyone can be as good a writer as they want (though, I suppose, certain artistic deities among us may have a talent we can never claim).

But I think that there are…

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Filed under growth skills writing psych

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Is It Ever Okay to Let Go?

Is It Ever Okay to Let Go?

Almost everything you hear from writing advice (my own included) is: just write. Don’t think. Don’t look back. Fight the doubt. Word vomit. Chained to the desk. Just stick with it. Don’t give up.

And I would say, for the most part, this is good advice.

But what about when it’s not? What about when an idea just isn’t working, and it’s not about doubt or insecurity but about your heart not being in…

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Filed under commitment doubt drafting Letting go

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Blog Award Nomination

Hello all!

I am extremely honored to have been nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award by thepaperbutterfly!


Thank you SO much for the nomination, and I encourage you all to check out her blog!

As part of the nomination, I’ve got seven facts to think up… hmm…

  1. Embarrassingly enough, I like to talk to myself. It helps me to get my thoughts out verbally, rather than letting them bounce around…

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The Friendzone and The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Friendzone and The Hunchback of Notre Dame

[I posted this on Tumblr, where it was promptly ignored, so I figured I’d put it here to be ignored as well. Just some random thoughts I had…]

So, on a whim, I watched the Disney movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame tonight.

And I noticed an interesting theme running through the film, though I’m not sure it was intended to come off exactly this way.


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Filed under disney feminism movies politics romance

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The Three Types of Drafting Doubt—And How to Fight Them

The Three Types of Drafting Doubt–And How to Fight Them

It’s a little premature to say I’ve mastered my doubt. Unfortunately, one finished first draft does not a career make. But the mental transition I’ve made in the last month has at least given me the confidence that I can conquer my doubts enough to finish a draft.

A month ago, I would have given anything to know how to banish the doubts and just write.

I’m afraid the advice I have may be obvious,…

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Filed under craft doubt drafting first draft Ideas process writing psych

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The Active Mind

I realized the other day that there is a misconception in the way we think about states of mind—that they are fixed, static, and once attained, never lost. Most of all, that they can be “achieved,” held, and maintained without any further work on our part.

My recent fluctuations in mentalities have proven all of this to be a complete myth. A “state” of mind is no more static and self-sustaining…

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Filed under mentalities state of mind writing psych

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Signs http://wp.me/s345a0-signs

I like to believe in signs.

I mean, they’re really just coincidences and my brain noticing certain things more given context, as well as assigning random events certain meanings, but it can actually be quite helpful to aid the mysteries of the writing process.

Signs can come from whatever you like to believe—God, the universe, fate, a deceased loved one watching over you, the literary deities,…

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Filed under encouragement signs writing psych

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Writing Through a Bad Scene

Writing Through a Bad Scene

Despite all the omnipresent advice to just keep writing, no matter how bad, there is nothing quite as cringe-inducing as writing your way through a scene that just isn’t working. The dialogue isn’t flowing, the characters are boring cardboard, and the pacing is off—too short here, way too long there, and the transitions are a nightmare.

Sometimes, you know as you’re writing it, that it’s not…

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Filed under bad writing drafting first draft scenes writing psych

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Friendzone and The Hunchback of Notre Dame

[This is probably going to be a really ill-formed rambling thought, but it interested me…]

So, on a whim, I watched the Disney movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame tonight.

And I noticed an interesting theme running through the film, though I’m not sure it was intended to come off exactly this way.

First, the villain Frolo is clearly a symbol of sexual violence—he smells Esmeralda’s hair against her wishes, she calls him right out on what he really wants, and he has an entire “villain song” about how she will be his or she will burn. This is somewhat dark for a kid’s film, but it also clearly portrays desiring someone against their will as the actions of a villain…

Which is interesting when compared to the arc of Quasimodo’s attraction for Esmeralda.

Clearly, Quasimodo is the hero, the main character we are meant to root for and identify with. He’s made very sympathetic from the start, and Esmeralda bonds with him. The narrative seems to establish them as the potential romance of the movie—given that they are a male and female pair who interact positively, in a movie with exactly one speaking female (if you don’t count Laverne the gargoyle), and he’s the hero.

But then there’s Phoebus. A handsome “jock” type character, not necessarily portrayed as cruel—in fact, the opposite, helping her out and resisting Frolo. But still, not the hero.

What made me really pay attention to this interesting set-up is the song that the gargoyles sing to Quasimodo that basically boils down to the words: “She has to love you” (emphasis mine). The point of the song is that Quasimodo is not the typical handsome guy, and she’ll love him because he’s different and he’s kind—sort of the classic Nice Guy TM motto.

But… she doesn’t have to love him. In fact, right after that, she brings over another guy (wounded Phoebus) and asks for Quasimodo’s help, which he gives, and then she kisses Phoebus in front of him. Quasimodo is hurt—he cries, there’s a refrain of the love song he sang about her earlier. It’s a painful moment—though he says nothing to her, and still promises to help Phoebus.

After this moment, after he learns that Esmeralda’s in danger, he does resist. He even says, “She already has her knight in shining armor,” as if that’s a reason not to help her. But after recalling a tender moment between them, he goes after Phoebus to help him warn Esmeralda.

Now, I think the argument could be made that perhaps Quasimodo still holds out hope that Esmeralda will love him back, and hopes to earn more Nice Guy points. He does look sad when Phoebus and Esmeralda reunite with a kiss.

But here’s where the narrative goes against what typical male-driven narratives do… When Quasimodo rescues Esmeralda at the end, heroically saving her, she still doesn’t love him. He hasn’t “earned” her love, even by saving her.

And he’s okay with it! He even smiles and places her hand in Phoebus’s, smiling as they kiss, clearly blessing their relationship. No bitterness, no resentment (okay, it’s a Disney movie, but still…).

And he’s not given a consolation girl at the end—just friendship. As if to say that friendship is enough.

So while Frolo is clearly the villain because he doesn’t respect Esmeralda’s right to say no (and he’s racist against her people and a hypocrite and murderous as well, of course), the heroic arc that Quasimodo sort of goes through is learning to respect Esmeralda’s right to love whoever she wants, no matter how heroic or helpful he is, and to help her anyway. She doesn’t pick “the hero” and she still gets a happy ending, along with the guy she loves.

I mean, I don’t think the movie is actually portraying this as “the arc” of the hero, but in how many other movies do we see the main hero Nice Guy TM “win” the girl at the end, even though there’s more handsome guys and she’s so beautiful and so on…

I just thought it was interesting to see a kid’s movie go a different route. I don’t know the original narrative, so I don’t know how close they stayed to it, but still. Interesting.

Filed under long post text post media criticism feminism friendzone friendzoning nice guy hunchback of notre dame disney movies pop culture sometimes i think about things