Self Doubt Must be Pretty Because it Sure is Attractive

self doubt.jpg
Me, in front of my computer, at least 50% of the time.

I’ve been thinking all week about writing a new blog. Of course also asking myself…would anyone really even care about reading it?

The subject should be self-evident, just from that sentence.

As humans, I think we all doubt ourselves all the time. We’re constantly asking for input from other people.

“Does this taste good?”

“How do I look?”
“Isn’t my new car awesome?!”

“Watch this show I love! I think you’ll like it!” (subtitled, “If you like it, that means I’m not crazy!”)

Even more when it’s something we create, like food or art or writing. We ask for other people’s input. We want other people to like it. No matter how much I say “I don’t care what other people think”, that’s not 100% true. No matter how much I want it to be true and no matter how true it really is, I’ll never get past that 99%. Because we’re social animals, the opinions of our peers matters to us.

I think that’s why we’re our own worst critics. At least for me, if I’m over-critical, I know there will be less for others to find fault in. And that makes me feel better, knowing it’s as awesome as I can make it before I send it out.

By day I make electronic parts for airplanes. And that is fun because I create things. It is also fun because there are exact parameters to follow. I know if it’s wrong, I know if it’s not. It’s right there on the schematic.

For writing, the parameters are less sure. And you can get everything right, follow every rule, and still produce crap. Or at least, produce something no one will enjoy, or even read, for that matter. This lack of a blueprint is daunting, because there is no formula for success.

So, what if you punch self-doubt in the face, as Chuck Wendig suggested (WARNING link contains lots and lots of strong language) earlier this week? Great! Now you can work without the ugly spectre of doubt looking at the screen over your shoulder! No longer hiding under the blanket of optimism to keep the peeping eyes of doubt away!

Not so fast.

I am having so much fun with my second novel. Now that I’ve completed a novel and gone through three sets of edits, I’m pretty confident I can finish another. And I’m enjoying writing it. I’ve found my voice as far as long-form fiction goes. I’ve explored my characters, understanding their likes and dislikes, getting to the core of their motivations by thinking about their backstories, getting in their heads to understand not only how others see them, but how they see themselves. Even if they’re not a POV character it’s nice for me to know how they see themselves from inside their heads. It informs their decisions, as well as their expressions and movements.

Having done that, I find what situation I’m going to be putting them in for the scene, write the first few sentences, and let the hole in the page open. And it does, and it’s fun. I enjoy my characters, I like where the story is going, and I think it’s all going to come out alright. I’m about 15k words in, and I’m confident and happy. Because I’ve worked pretty hard on punching self-doubt in the face.

So here it comes. The doubt.

But.

Instead of saying, “you’re not good enough” and “your story sucks” and “you write like crap” and “no one is ever going to want to read this”, it says:

“You don’t have enough doubt in yourself. You should doubt yourself more.”

Ok self. So I’m not critical enough for you now. Great. That’s…thanks.

I imagine dealing with this is just another version of dealing with self-doubt, it just is wearing a different mask. But I guess what this proves is that there is no getting rid of doubt, even if you get rid of doubt. Oh the world of art. What a tease.

Finders Keepers

Mumbling under his breath, he dug into the couch cushion beside his leg. Feeling nothing, he squeezed the other hand down the other cushion, coming up with half a Cheeto and some lint. He rolled his eyes and stood, pulling the cushion he had been sitting on to the floor. Change, more Cheeto’s, some dog hair. No remote. The room at large absorbed a string of curses as he yanked the next cushion from the couch. He pocketed the additional change under it and rolled his eyes at the dirty sock that had also been hiding there. The third cushion flew, just missing the lamp as it sailed across the room. It bounced to a stop against the bookcase, shaking the DVD’s. Three of them fell over but his attention was diverted. He’d found a rip in the lining of the couch that had been so recently covered by a cushion. Thinking the remote had fallen in, he’d plunged his hand into the innards of the couch.

His fingertips skidded across slick plastic. He groped, closing his fingers over warm, pliant plastic. Extracting his arm from the slit, he opened his hand and stared. He forgot about trying to find the remote and his pupils contracted until they were the size of pinholes. The object in his hand glowed, the light of the sun emerging from deep inside its baseball-sized interior. Shifting it, he held it in both hands and brought it up, almost touching it with his nose as its mystery hypnotized him. Unnoticed, the room around him began to dim as though the thing was sucking all the light into itself. The room dimmed while the little orb glowed brighter. He felt pulled toward it in both the figurative and literal sense. As his nose approached its surface he felt his feet begin to tingle. Risking a glance he watched his feet leave the ground. Something knocked his head and he looked up, pieces of the popcorn ceiling falling in his eye as his head brushed more of them loose. He looked back at the tiny singularity.

Whoever left this here wasn’t going to get it back.

My 5 Steps to Writing

There’s so much advice out there about writing. A lot of it is obvious. For instance, I read an article yesterday that suggested two things about how to write. One, sit down (optional). Two, write. Yes, two is required. Thinking about writing is not writing. Reading advice columns like this one is not writing. Doing all the things I am about to relate to you is not writing. Writing is writing, period.

But you’ve got to keep writing. You’ve got to be able to concentrate. And it’s helpful if you feel productive. So here are the ways in which I’ve done that.

Much of what I’m about to tell you I learned from a few sources and combined into my own little system. Litreactor columns like this one and this one. Like I’ve said before, Litreactor has been an incredible resource for me. I urge you to check it out for the times when you want to read about writing. Honestly, just because reading about writing is not writing, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. In fact, I think (and I’ve read) that continuing your education in writing is essential to growing as an author. So let’s get on with it.

  1. I keep a writing journal

Yes, I got this suggestion from another article. Yes, it has worked for me. I modified it to meet my specific needs. What I do is, I write down things like what time I sat down to write and what time I finished, my beginning and ending word count, if my football team won or lost (lots of wins last year, just saying), whether or not I’ve had caffeine recently, the days this year when I lost two good friends. Why do this?

my journalIt helps me see several things. It helps me keep up with productivity, AKA my word count. It shows me what affects my productivity. Death absolutely does, I knew that. But time of day does too. I write best at night. That’s just how it is. I’m too easily distractible during the day. I’m a night owl. Makes sense I’d be more able to focus the darker it is outside.

Knowing when and how I’m most productive gives me a better opportunity to be at my most productive. And when I’m on, I’m on. I only get about an hour on an average day to write. When I do it at my most productive time, I can crank about 1k to 1500 words regularly.

But there’s more to that story.

  1. I listen to music with headphones.

After I work all day, spend time with the kiddos and the boyfriend, the munchkins go to bed and I write. But the boyfriend is a night owl too, sometimes the kiddo wants water or whatever, the dogs bark, you know, normal house stuff.

So when it’s time, I put on my headphones and go to my writing place. Instrumental music is best because it’s been proven that your language center cannot decipher two inputs at once. So if I listen to music with lyrics, maybe my brain is working on those words instead of the ones I’m putting down on the page. Even if those aren’t the words I think I’m focusing on, I might not be able to instruct my brain to do otherwise without some effort of will. That affects my productivity. I don’t want that. So for me it’s instruments only, or instruments mostly with some wordless vocalizations. Some excellent suggestions for a jumping off point are here.

  1. I have a Routine

If you have kids, you’ve probably discovered that routine is wonderful for keeping them happy. They might complain about it, but if things are presented to them in the same way each day – breakfast at 9, lunch at 11 followed by nap, snack at 2, dinner at 6, bedtime at 8, for example – I’ve found things go so much easier. They know what to expect and when, and they are comfortable within those boundaries.

Funny thing is, I’ve found adults are the same way. I might complain about going to work every morning at 6:30, especially since I’m a night owl, but without that routine I get a little lost. Routine soothes me. It’s the same for most of us, so I’ve read.

So when it comes to writing, I have created a routine. Just like a bedtime routine helps to make you tired, a writing routine gets me into the writing frame of mind. After the kiddos are in bed, I put on my PJ’s. Might as well be comfy. Then, I put on the kettle. While it’s getting to a boil, I check my facebook, email, twitter. Like mad. I make comments, post pictures, do a bunch of stuff. Whatever internet related stuff I want to do, especially that pesky social media. (Research is reserved for research time, and I just do that whenever. Like on a break at work or whatever.)

The water is boiling! Great. I put in the teabag and set the timer for steeping. It’s atmy writing space.jpg this point I go to my writing place. I turn on my lamp. I power up my computer. Bust out my journal. Fill in the journal. Beep! Tea is ready.

All these things, in the same order, tell my brain it’s time to write. On to the next step.

  1. Turn off the internet

This is not a joke. This is not a maybe. This is a must. If you live alone, you can turn it off altogether straight from the router. If not, you can turn it off on your computer.

Place your phone in another room. Or at least out of arm’s reach. Just get rid of the internet. Research is for another time. Checking your facebook is for another time. Reading about writing is for another time. You don’t need the internet to write.

  1. Write

Ah, here we are. Now is the time. I plug in the headphones, start up my music, put the screen in front of me, and write.

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So there you have it. I’ve added my voice to the proliferation of voices that tell you how to do this writing thing. But here’s the thing about it. This is what works for me. Take what you like, leave the rest. Find what works for you! That’s the way to truly be successful at getting that writing done. Writing is just as personal as anything else you do, and how you do it is up to you.

But however it is you do it, I hope you have fun doing so.

Musing Over this Hubble Photo

Hubble photo

If you look closely, you can see that most of the things in this image are whole galaxies. (The really bright thing is a closer star)

Imagine.

All those galaxies, just like our Milky Way, filled with billions and billions of stars. There is someone out there, somewhere, looking back at us and wondering. Wondering if there is someone out there, somewhere, looking back at them and wondering.

We’ve thought for so long that life on this planet was some sort of cosmic accident. A perfect combination of so many factors it might be impossible to predict whether it would happen somewhere else. With the sheer number of possible planets out there, the probability that we are all alone is already near zero. Even if we are one in a million, LOOK at this picture. There could be billions of planets in this one picture of one corner of the deep night sky.

But look up hydrothermal vents. Far beneath the surface of the ocean, life thrives in that warm and inviting atmosphere. As we study this phenomenon, we have begun to learn about how life begins there. I believe we are perilously close to discovering exactly how all life forms. And if we can prove it does so in a consistent and predictable manner… well then we’ll know.

There’s someone out there, looking back at us. And wondering.

 

To find out more about this photo, visit NASA here

Miss Jean Louis – Khaleesi, Mother of Gishcots, of the House GISH

EDIT: Hi guys, I see lots of people stop by here so I thought I’d include a short disclaimer: This was written as a GISHWHES 2016 item. It’s not exactly a joke, but it’s not exactly serious either.

 

Miss Jean Louis is known as the G.I.S.H.W.H.E.S. second in command and also the babysitter of Misha Collins, gracious overlord and brain trust behind the mayhem that has become the first week of August. MJL, as she is known to Gishers around the world, is the one who keeps it all on track.

But she is more than that.

She is also known to collaborate with 20,000 Parades, an LA based art collective. They are known as the warriors against social norms and through art, they challenge what we think of the world around us, particularly how we use urban space. From “ladies of leisure” to athletes and architects, they fight to maintain what some have called an “inspirational social experiment”, and what others have dubbed “a seemingly meaningless endeavor”.

Much the same way G.I.S.H.W.H.E.S. is both meaningless and social.

Armed with this, MJL brings a dearth of useful experience to our little scavenger hunt. Using it, she wrangles the troops and helps to guide Misha down a winding and senseless path. She is the Keeper of Emails and the Mother of Gishcots. She is our Khaleesi.

My New Project

I love Sam and Dean, very much. But since the publisher doesn’t know me, they don’t want to look at my book. I’ve concluded I’ll need more credits to my name before I can get my foot into the door writing Supernatural novels. And likely an agent.

In the hopes of having something more with which to entice an agent, I’ve begun my next book. It’s currently titled “Reclamation”, and is a story about what happens after the zombie apocalypse is over. I love zombie stories because they frighten me, like actually frighten, as in give me nightmares and everything. But with the proliferation of zombie tales, I’ve begun to wonder just what happens after we’ve taken the planet back from the dead. Assuming we can. In order to explore that topic, I decided to write about it. Yet at its core, the story is about family, growing up, and finding your place in the world.

I’ve been rolling the story around for a while, but I was having trouble getting it going. I decided to age the main character up, so that I could relate to her better. That made a huge difference. Now I’ve got the characters mapped out, their individual journeys, and a three act outline (omg I used an outline!). I’m still having slight trouble opening the book, but now that I know the characters I think about them, who they are, and what they want. I can’t wait to write about them. One thing about the beginning is I can always rewrite it later. I just have to put something down, if nothing else as a placeholder.

Right here I was going to put a bit about things Stephen King wrote in “On Writing”. He’s my favorite author, as you may know, and a prolific and successful one at that. His advice in “On Writing” is sound. It’s probably the best memoir on the craft and one of the best advice books out there. But I completely misremembered his advice when it comes to plot, story, situations, and characters. So I’m not going to say what I was going to say. What I will say instead is if you are a writer and you haven’t read that book, do so immediately.

The other thing I will say is there is so much writing advice out there, it would be impossible to read it all in your lifetime, much less follow it all. Much of it is contradictory, some of it is nonsense, all of it is a matter of preference. Yes, there is an accepted way to do things, a way things are being done. They have not always been done that way, however, and anyone who tells you so is lying. Language and storytelling are constantly evolving. Doing things as they’ve always been done gets you what you’ve always got. There has to be some acceptable risk every now and again. My point being what I take from all these sources gets more weight depending on the source, then it gets dumped into the memory box, shaken, and sprinkled into the soupy mess that is my thoughts. Hopefully what that produces is palatable.

What I was going to say up there, though, must be something like my own thoughts. I enjoy a character driven story. A story that is not a story, so much as a journey for the character. It doesn’t have to be a literal journey, though it can be, but is always a journey from one state of mind to another. Also, I don’t want it spoon fed. I want to have to think as a reader, and as a writer I’d like to make you think. That way we can all accompany the characters on the journey as something of a participant, instead of just a viewer.

I’ve created these characters and I can’t wait to accompany them on this journey they’re undertaking. My outline is not rigid, and it will probably be more fluid than I think it will, but I have an emotional place I want them to come from and go to. Everything in between is window dressing.

I hope it’s enjoyable window dressing.

But most of all, I hope I don’t fall into that category of “bad writers”. I’m never positive about my place in the pyramid.

Exciting times!

Supernatural 11.23 “Alpha and Omega” Review: The End (of season 11) is Here

(image via EW)

Apologies for taking so long to get this one up, but I have been processing feels. To be honest, it’s Dean Winchester’s fault I started watching Game of Thrones, so I was still reeling from Sunday when the Supernatural season finale hit. I probably shouldn’t have to say this, but as usual…

IT’S SPOILER LAND DOWN THERE! REPEAT, SPOILERS AHEAD!!! And this is a long one. Buckle up, it’s season finale time!

Oh man, where to begin. Season 11 has been a really enjoyable, super fab season. Probably the best since my fave, season 5. We all know how good this season has been and if you’re reading this, I’m sure you’re as familiar with The Road So Far as I am. So I’m not going to recap, I’m just going to talk about season finale goodness.

Dean’s face when he realized he was talking to Cass and not Luci, let’s begin there. I knew Lucifer had been smited, but it was good to learn we for sure don’t know for sure what happened to him. In Supernatural speak that means he’s alive and we will get to see Mark Pellegrino again someday. Dean was pretty obviously relieved, and kudos to Jensen for showing us the difference between his regard for Lucifer compared to Cass with such a simple expression. The transformation on his face was delightful to watch and if I weren’t already thrilled to see Cass returned to us, I would have been after that.

On the other side of the room, we were treated to a Chuck who was finally “a little less lordly”. I have to admit, it was nice to see. Even given the argument that they’ve killed pagan gods on the show before, as well as Norse and Hindu, I was fairly certain they weren’t going to kill this one. Seeing as Chuck=Kripke=God, this one has been elevated to Creator. And that makes it pretty tricky to kill him. Also, who doesn’t just love Rob? Why would we want a Supernatural universe in which he couldn’t pop back into one day? I wouldn’t. So, sidetracked, I was able to watch the scenes with god with a sense of humor instead of foreboding. To me, that increased my enjoyment.

Also with a sense of humor-any scenes or situations which led us to believe one or both Winchesters were going to die. We all know the show has been renewed, so for at least one more season finale we aren’t worried about a permanent death.

What a show where we have to qualify what sort of death we’re talking about, i.e. “permanent“ or “not so much”. I love it.

So, back at the bunker, we were treated to some of the best scenes of the season. Seriously. Dean stating his purpose in life and asking the real questions (“How are we supposed to fix the freaking sun?“), Sam reaching in to try and pull him out of his hole, and the glorious scenes between Crowley/Rowena/God. I hope everyone enjoyed that heart to heart between Crowley and Chuck without any actual eye contact as much as I did. Mark was a delight throughout, as always. And listening to Rowena and God get going about their children was laugh out loud hilarious. Mark delivered some very excellent one liners all evening.

The heart to heart with Dean and Cass in the car was shot from a funny angle, one I’ve noticed they’ve played with a bit this season, and the conversation was a long time coming. I’m pretty sure Dean had mentioned how close they are before, but was it to Castiel directly? I can’t remember, I apologize. I’d have to sift through a few episodes to find the conversation I’m thinking of. Either way, Cass looked genuinely touched. And what I realized when Dean told him, “You’re one of our best friends,” is that they really don’t have that many, do they? They never really have, being as transient as they are. Sure, they have associates, people who will work with them, but not a lot of actual friends. Not many people who truly enjoy their company. Not anymore. And not only does Cass enjoy their company, enough so that he gave up Heaven, he routinely pulls their asses out of the fire. I’m glad Dean finally spoke it out loud, to Cass.

Come to think of it, Dean was pretty touchy feely all episode, wasn’t he? He knew, deep down, that he probably wasn’t going to make it out of this fight. He always knew that when the Darkness went, he was going with her. For myself, I’ve always felt like Dean was in love with the Darkness before she had a name and a face. So while the connection, the pull, he felt to her made him uncomfortable, it wasn’t exactly unexpected. I think it made him uncomfortable because he could see himself leaving with her. He always could, but now she was real. I wonder if that’s where he will go when the show is over?

Let’s not talk about that.

Right, so here we have Sam, ever the optimist, making plans to save the world. And it wasn’t a bad plan. Sam’s got the ideas, and with Dean to back his play (man, I love this season), he’s got the fortitude to pull it off. But again, as always, when it came time to make the “spirit bomb”, his power level was over nin…sorry. Wrong show. When it came time to make the bomb, after some fun hunting Waverly Hills, we all knew who would step up to sacrifice himself.

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You’re killing me, guys. Really, I’m dead.

As Sam and Dean said their final goodbyes, again, I began to get a sense of melancholy. They really think that the next time they die will be the last. And again, while we all know the show will go on, they do not. Sam and Dean really thought Dean was going to die. So when they pulled back and showed them in the cemetery where Mary was buried, I lost it. I’m not going to lie. I already had the tissues handy, and was surprised I had not reached for them by half way through. But after the reveal of their location, I didn’t put the tissues back down. And I found myself about three feet from the TV.

The goodbyes in the graveyard were just…oh my goodness. Castiel pulling Dean into an unexpected hug. And the speech again (“Don’t douche her up.”). But to have Dean be the one to initiate the chick flick moment…my tender little heart couldn’t handle it. I all but sobbed aloud. I didn’t think at all about how excellent a job either of them did because in that moment, everything was so perfect I forgot I was watching actors. Here’s Sam and Dean Winchester, saying goodbye for what both of them truly believes is the last time. Tragedy.

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Supernatural — “Alpha and Omega” — SN1123b_0021.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Emily Swallow as Amara and Jensen Ackles as Dean — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

So with everyone else awaiting the end in a bar, Dean stands alone with Amara in the garden. It was a beautiful, idyllic little botanical garden. Excellent job set department once again, by the way. You guys just really knock it out of the park on the regular. Even when forced to use the same sets over and over and over and over and over again. How did that staircase make it all the way to England?

Sorry, sidetracked again. I’m all over the place on this one, huh? One more note. I swear, was that Tim Omundson carrying that “The End is Near” poster?

So here we have our heroes, all the work they can do done, awaiting the apocalypse in a bar. I can only imagine where Sam was in his head. Hoping it would work because he must save the world, but wishing Dean would fail because that would mean he lives. What a terrible conundrum for him. Either way, he can have no relief. And in the end, you can see the clash of emotions all over his face as the sun heals but he knows Dean’s sacrifice was what made it possible.

But I get ahead of myself. There’s the rest of our intrepid heroes, and here’s Dean with the Darkness. As a villain, I kinda liked her. She was never bad for bad’s sake, she always had this conflict. She didn’t understand humans, she had been locked away for too long. She was as removed from humanity as God, but she was always curious just what it was she was missing about them. It was this, and her love for both Dean and her brother, that made her accessible in those final few moments. I knew it would be her love that was her undoing. Because she loved Dean, she let him talk. She let him convince her there was another way.

By this point, I’m dying in front of the TV. I don’t want to give too much away, but an ending like this, where they use love to kill the monster instead of guns, IS WHY I WROTE MY BOOK. You guys, this plot, this solution meant everything to me. To see them finally get it. Sometimes the force is necessary. But more often than not, there is another way. What was it Martin Luther King Jr said?

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

 

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Look! Talky talky instead of fighty fighty! Supernatural — “Alpha and Omega” — SN1123b_0225.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Emily Swallow as Amara and Rob Benedict as Chuck Shurley — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Yes, that. To see the boys finally learn that, and Dean of all people, was the best thing I’ve seen happen on Supernatural in seasons. Seasons. It was amazing. What a lovely, lovely way to end this beautiful season. When Amara and Chuck ascended, it was both thematically and visually stunning. I was so happy, I needed another few tissues.

Let me stop. I need to shoe-horn in a reference to the new character, Toni, just like she was shoe-horned into the episode. I will give this new Man of Letters a chance, but I’m not thrilled with the way they decided to introduce her. And we all know she didn’t kill Sam. I’ll even give you reasons. One, she was ordered by the “Old Men”, our new villain I presume, to “bring him in”. Two, if these Old Men and Toni really are who they claim to be, they will know that killing a Winchester is no solution. It’s only asking for trouble. Three, we all know they can’t kill Sam yet. For those reasons alone, I guarantee you she didn’t kill him. Only grazed, if that.

If you thought Dean’s face was like the sun breaking over the horizon after six months of winter when he saw his mother, imagine Sam’s face when they both show up to rescue him. They’re both dead, remember? I literally cannot wait to see that. I’m getting teary just thinking about it.

I was going to end with that, but I have one more note. I have heard a bit of dissention, not much mind you, but a bit, about Mary being back. Saying they don’t need their mommy and such. I couldn’t disagree more. No, they don’t need a mommy to kiss their boo-boo’s and apply band-aids as needed, but it is a gift to have her back nonetheless. I lost one of my parents when I was young, and I still have the other. As someone who has been able to experience both having a relationship with a parent as an adult and not having one, I can tell you I know what I’m talking about here. Sometimes I wish for a relationship with the lost parent as an adult so much that it hurts. The relationship you have with your parents as adults is far removed from the one you had as a young child. You get to know them as people, and almost, almost like peers. They become human to you. More real, I think. And Sam and Dean never had that opportunity with their mother. They barely had it with their father. I am overjoyed for them to have this chance. I cannot wait to see what they get into while working together.

But she is going to be PISSED at John Winchester when she finds out how he raised them. Pee-eye-double ESSSSSSSED. She is going to let him have it the next time she sees him. Which I think is possible, as long as filming schedules and contracts and things can be worked out. Either way, Sam and Dean have entered an exciting new chapter in their lives, and I couldn’t be happier for them.

Now all Mary and Dean have to do is find and rescue Sam from the Men of Letters. Should be a cinch.

Thought Verbs 2

I’m doing a little Flash Back Friday, with a post first published on my facebook page. I’ve been doing a lot of posting about the Winchesters lately, so here’s a different topic for your enjoyment.

 

Thought Verb Thursday!

So, now that we’ve discussed what “thought verbs” are, let’s get more in depth. I’ve got a couple of examples about which I’d like your opinions. Let’s talk about know/knew this week, shall we?

“Andrea knew Charlie was getting impatient.”

So, we aren’t acquainted with Andrea or Charlie and without more information, we don’t know how well acquainted they are with each other. So how about…

“Charlie glanced at his phone, pretending to check his news feed. Tapping his foot, he glared at Andrea as she checked her reflection for the fifth time. From the corner of her eye she could see his brow scrunch up as he sighed.”

So now we know he’s impatient, why, and that Andrea is aware as well. But take this example.

“Sam knew Dean was upset and decided to keep his mouth shut.”

Many of you know Sam, Dean, and what Dean looks like when he’s upset. You are aware that Sam has been Dean’s brother all his life, so Sam isn’t in need of a lot of clues as to how his brother is feeling. But still…

angry dean
image via Pinterest

“Dean pressed his lips together as he pushed the cabinet closed. He turned his back on the rocking cabinet and stalked across the room. Sam looked up at the sound of the slamming cabinet, mouth open. As he watched his brother cross the room on stilted, heavy heels, he closed his mouth and went back to the computer.”

The additional details are nice and we should strive to “show not tell”. But with two well-established characters, is the shortcut of “knew” acceptable in certain cases? What do you think? Which would you rather read? Do you agree with Chuck

“Your story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking and knowing.”

Supernatural 11.22 “We Happy Few” Review

(image via nerdist)

You know what you’re looking at. My review, not recap, of the penultimate episode of Supernatural’s eleventh season. As always,

SPOILERS BELOW****

It has arrived, the battle between “good” and “evil”. But I have to ask the question Dean’s face did as Sam breathlessly explained how they knew they were doing the right thing. Are the definitions of good and evil ever very clear? Sam is too close to God in his admiration to see the picture the way Dean does. And that’s both a help and a hindrance. Dean is jaded and biased, so we have both Winchesters essentially playing both sides of the fence. So because storytelling, we don’t have to pick a side between them. They are able to play both sides for us, so that we as the audience can see the whole picture.

And here’s the whole picture. God and The Darkness never saw eye to eye. They never will. They’re both acting a bit like children. But she wants to destroy creation and he wants to save it. So we’ve come to the battle.

I very much approved of Sam and Dean’s allies. I have heard some rumblings about Sam and Lucifer being in the same room, and have heard doubt Sam would ever team up with dear Luci considering what he put him through. I disagree. Sam has grown quite a lot since his internal battle with Lucifer. More importantly, his and Dean’s relationship is stronger than it’s been in years. The fact is, with Dean at his side, Sam feels invincible. And considering what’s at stake, I know Sam is willing to bite the bullet and do something he’s not 100% comfortable with. It means saving all of existence. You don’t think Sam Winchester wouldn’t be able to put aside his own crap for that? Because I do. I know he would.

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Supernatural — “We Happy Few” — SN1122a_0151.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Mark Sheppard as Crowley and Jensen Ackles as Dean — Photo: Jeff Weddell/The CW — © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Of course Crowley. We’ve talked about him before. He’s Team Winchester all day, every day.

And the ever lovely Rowena. I particularly loved her plan for longer life. Just go back a few centuries and live another few hundred years. So what life isn’t in the future? It’s still experience. It’s still living. Brilliant. She could just do this over and over and over again. Only next time she could avoid the Winchesters and Crowley. Sure she chose to join Team God but I’m pretty sure that was only because she really had no other options. Her witch “friend” wouldn’t help her, and I’m sure Rowena’s allies are slim on the ground. She doesn’t play well with others. Just like her son, which is probably where he learned it, she’s very good at assessing the available options and backing the one most likely to succeed. And, I’m sure, always having a back door way out in case things go sideways.

Watching her fangirl over Lucifer is always funny though. He really does it for her, doesn’t he? A rare moment of vulnerability.

So, the assembled forces of Team God looked pretty good to me. Angels, demons, witches, Winchesters, and the Big Guy. All we’re missing is a prophet of the L…oh yeah. Sorry, Donny. I knew your time would come but I’m sorry it had to be so soon. And that she didn’t just kill you right out. Being soulless gets worse before it gets worse. It doesn’t get better.

Coming into the battle, I knew it would not be the final moment for Amara. That’s because TV. The finale is the place for these kind of things. An episode like this is for building tension. I was impressed, nonetheless, by the fight Team God put up. Team Amara, the team of one, was pretty powerful though. I knew she would break through the guards and get to our intrepid heroes. The only question was what would happen when she confronted her brother.

But first, she had to deal with Rowena (sorry MegaCoven), angels, and demons. After Crowley joined the demonic fray, he really did some damage to her (go Crowley!). It was surprising and refreshing to see Amara finally hurt. When she walked in the door, Dean didn’t even think about going to his poor, hurting Darkness. Luckily, Big and Tall was there to stop him. Nice to see Sammy look out for his big brother when he needs to.

Having them back together and not at odds is seriously one of the best things about this season. I love this season because of it.

Anyhow, the most unexpected of sacrifices, came Lucifer from the dark. But just one archangel, even the biggest one, was no match for Amara. It was a good try, but I was relieved to see Lucifer exit Castiel’s vessel when she smited him. The only question is, did she kill the archangel? Or did she send him back to the cage? I suppose only time will tell. Or maybe next week.

I must admit, I was less than thrilled about the Mark of Cain plan. Sure, it made a certain kind of sense. But I just could not stand the thought of a season’s worth of Sam dealing with the Mark in his own Sam way. Could. Not. Stand. So I’m glad that didn’t come to fruition. What did happen, however, was only slightly surprising. I, for one, was watching Chuck’s face as the boys made their plans.

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via CW

He was in on the plan, and lent all his Godly power to their cause. But he knew the whole time that most likely it would be him, his own sacrifice, that would save creation. He went along with Sam and Dean, but his original plan was still the one in his head.

I would say that’s probably why he almost lost. You gotta go all in, or you get nothing back. What he got back was almost destruction. Amara left him alive though, ostensibly so that he could watch as she destroyed everything he loves. I believe the truth of it is that she is no more capable of killing him than he is of her. During next week’s finale, I truly think they will both exit the Supernatural universe together. After Castiel gets his grace back.

Speaking of next week, I hope that god is a little more Chuck and a little less Lord. I felt like he really needed to be taken down a peg, to be honest, and I hope that’s what this near death experience did for him. Plus I would really like to see Chuck again.

I still think they will not solve this Darkness problem by fighting. I think they can only cast out Darkness with Light. Just as god did at the beginning. I look forward to seeing the Winchesters bring the light this time.

A couple more notes. Did you hear god totally not rule out bringing Gabriel back?? He said it’s difficult. Not impossible. You know and I know what that means. Oh I cannot wait to see him again. I hope it’s a surprise!

And finally, are you Team God, or Team Amara?

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Supernatural — “We Happy Few” — SN1122a_0084.jpg — Pictured (L-R) Jared Padalecki as Sam and Jensen Ackles as Dean — Photo: Jeff Weddell/The CW — © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

I’m Team Winchester.

See you after the finale! After watching the Shaving People Punting Things promo for next week, Sacrificio, I’m feeling a season finale marathon coming on in the lead up.

 

Supernatural 11.21 “All in the Family”

(Image via The CW)

As usual, SPOILERS below.

Ready?

Last week, I went on a short, kidless vacation. Also, “Don’t Call Me Shurley” was so emotionally traumatizing, I had a difficult time writing about it on top of traveling. I mean, that was easily the most emotional and amazing episode in seasons. It was also an episode I had been awaiting for almost six seasons, and every bit as satisfying as I hoped it would be.

This week’s episode continued exactly where we left off, which was an interesting and refreshing switch. The differences in Sam and Dean’s reactions were perfectly telegraphed in their expressions, two more flawless performances from Jensen & Jared. Just like their first conversations about angels, Sam was in awe and all but shining with hope, and Dean was disappointed and sad. But oh my goodness did Chuck put him in his place. “Don’t confuse me with your dad.” Damn, Chuck, just cut straight to the heart of it.

Really though, Jensen broke my heart this week, with such a beautifully nuanced performance. When he asked God where he’d been, sticking up for all the people who prayed to him (and who Dean himself couldn’t save), he was both angry and heartbroken at the same time. When the tears broke but his face didn’t… I can tell you mine did. Poor, sweet Dean. Hiding behind bravado and anger.

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And can we just talk about his reaction when he realized how much trust and love God had given him? How his face was a mixture of pride and fear? Proud to be so important, yet scared shitless to be trusted with that much weight. Because of his relationship with his Dad, Dean is constantly afraid of failing. And with this, the weight of the salvation of the whole world coming from The Man Himself, Dean’s battered ego couldn’t handle it.

So when Amara offered him an out, we were treated to witnessing just how far Dean has come. Even with all this on his shoulders, he hardly considered her offer. A few years ago, relief from the burden, the chance at eternal sleep, would have been an offer he would have died to take. But now, with Sam in his corner again, he believes in their cause. He believes in saving people again.

And just who brought him here? Sammy. It began in the season 10 finale, another fine job from Jared. One of my favorite Sam moments, actually. Willingly offering to sacrifice himself for Dean yet again, but from a place of tenderness and love instead of anger and fear. That decision has informed so much of this season.

Sam has so much hope now, and it has not been more evident than it was during their conversation with Chuck. He loves God, he always has, and with the faith of a little brother, he believes absolutely in Chuck and Dean. Having them both there to back his play has given Sam a strength of resolve and the confidence to follow through. Sam has been straight up fearless this season. His hope is infectious. I sincerely believe that he and Dean can button up this Darkness problem.

Speaking of buttoning it up, I’m throwing in my chips now. It will not be God, but her love for Dean that will be her undoing. Chuck said he’d been trying to show her there could be things better than they are, and she’s found it in her feelings for Dean. Love is the greatest of all these things. Once she realizes that, her downfall will follow swiftly behind.

A few more things. I wish the Winchesters had been able to see Metatron fight for humanity. It would have been easier for them to trust his intentions when he called them. But that’s how storytelling goes. They were not privy to the same information we had. I was not surprised by his revelation about Chuck’s intentions, it was all over his face last week as Chuck sang “Fare Thee Well”I was, however, touched by his gesture of sacrifice. We all knew it was foolish, but he put his own ass on the line to save Cassifer, Sam, and Donatello.

The mutant ninja turtle. Good lord, Dean.

Speaking of the newest prophet, I just love him so far. I love the Harvey Fierstein thing he has going, and his reactions to the whole thing were priceless. I’m sorry he one day has to die, but welcome to Team Free Will, Donny! Good luck.

Speaking of prophets, the fact that Kevin had a cameo had already been spoiled for me as I did not watch live this week. I still cried.

So, how do you feel about the arc for the end of the season? Do you think Chuck will follow through with his plan to sacrifice himself for creation? Or do you think the Winchesters will block his play and come up with their own? I’m hoping Team Free Will gets this one.


Oh, and I agree with Misha.

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Source: Twitter @mishacollins