Reflections on Writing a Novel Draft

During my journey home from Italy, I was super bored and, thus, my brain went crazy and came up with a novel idea that I am ridiculously excited about. Thankfully, I hit 50,000 words on my other novel draft, so I was able to set that one aside without too much guilt to begin this next project. While I am writing like mad to make sure I don’t forget my initial ideas, I have been trying to write more mindfully as well, meaning that I am writing with intentionality and observation. Basically, I am noting the quirks and tendencies I have as a writer, along with the surprises and mistakes.

For instance…

I have a knack for writing characters like me. This sounds like a bad thing, but it is not! Yes, I have written characters who resemble me in their appearance, fashion taste, sense of humor, hobbies, etc. and I need to steer clear of doing this too often or risk becoming predictable as an author. However, I have found that I also write characters who teach me about myself. For example, a cynical and morbid actor may not sound like me, but this particular character revealed to me some darker aspects of my own mind. (Don’t be scared; he’s not a bad guy.) Characters who I have tried to make unlike me have ended up like me in ways I did not intend, displaying through their traits and stories parts of myself that I did not even realize existed: apathy, romance, ambition, etc. all revealed themselves to me in my characters.

Continuing on, I have discovered that my life bleeds over into my fictional writing. I cannot control it. A barista from a coffee shop, a quirky house, a childhood friend, an overheard sentence, have all ended up in various stories of mine. I’m sorry if you read of a character that resembles you closely someday; I can’t really help it. I’ve found that I “collect” real-life characters and place them in fictional stories. As Sherlock Holmes once said, “life is infinitely stranger than anything the mind of man could invent.” I believe using aspects and people from the real world creates greater detail and intrigue in the fictional realm. 

The advice given by numerous authors to “write the book you want to read” is 150% valid. (please don’t attribute that quote to a single author; I’m pretty sure literally every successful writer has said something along those lines.) You know why assigned essays are not usually fun? Because 9 times out of 10, nobody wants to read your five paragraph essay on your three favorite foods. Actually, make that 10 times out of 10. Nobody cares. BUT, if you think of an idea that you wish to read about, why not write it yourself? When I find a book that fascinates me, I can’t stop reading. When I’ve thought of a story idea that fascinates me, the same principle is in place: I can’t stop writing. 

Despite being the author, I don’t know where every part of the story will go and I am as surprised by its twists and turns as I hope readers will be one day. It’s frustrating when plot points won’t connect or the timeline does not line up or characters decide to be fundamentally unlikeable. However, all of the struggles are forgotten the moment a character develops naturally or a plot twist generates itself or even when a particularly good bit of imagery paints itself. Writing is a constant adventure.

That about wraps up my reflections for now…oh wait! I have a couple more little tidbits that I have discovered over the past few days of writing:

  1. Writing time is like Narnia time in reverse; one minute of writing might actually be three hours of regular time. This can get out of hand very quickly.
  2. I feel guilty but a little bit cool every time I write a swear word, even if it is an edgy character saying it and not me. We’ll see if I let those stay in later drafts
  3. I have a morbid mind. Don’t ask. If this book makes it through publishing, you’ll see what I mean.
  4. It is possible to have a crush on your own character. The problem is if that character is based off a real person. (Not this time, though.)
  5. Netflix and writing go surprisingly well together. I managed to re-watch a season of Parks and Recreation and write 10,000 words in the same day. (Blame jet-lag for my laziness…)
  6. I get so enthusiastic about my ideas that I fear it borders on annoying. Sorry, everyone I’ve talked to in the past three days. If this ever gets published, you can have a free copy to read or burn depending on how obnoxious you found me.
  7. Coffee is writer fuel. One shot of espresso generates roughly 2,000 words. I’m open to donations of coffee money. The more coffee, the sooner this draft is finished.
  8. I write because I have to. I mean, I have no idea if anyone actually reads my blog posts regularly but I cannot help writing them. Words just build up inside my brain and if I don’t string them together into written sentences, I go crazy.

That’s all for now! If you read all the way to the end of this, do me a favor and like or comment or send me an appreciative message via carrier pigeon since I’d like to get an estimate as to how many people/who actually read(s) to the end of my articles. (See extra realization number 8) Thanks!

Okay bye for reals! Back to frantically typing my draft!

Miss Darcy

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman having read or seen Pride and Prejudice, must be in want of a Mr. Darcy.” – Jane Austen and Ryanne McLaren*

*Note: The above quote does not actually represent the entirety of this post, but I did think it rather apt in capturing the feelings of Austenites everywhere.

Rereading Pride and Prejudice is probably the most fun summer homework I have ever had. I find myself procrastinating my other work as I continue to become absorbed into Jane Austen’s Regency world of country lanes, stuffy dinner parties, heartfelt letters, and- of course- the universally-beloved romance between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.

In beginning to read this book for the second (or is it third?) time, I was determined to figure out which leading lady I am the most like. My mother used to tell me to “put on my Jane face” whenever I needed to act sweet and politely charming. But, others have mentioned that my sass is more in line with Elizabeth. I hope that I have never been a Lydia or Kitty, though I fear I may occasionally be Mary.

But…the more I read, the more I come to realize that I am not completely like any of these characters. And, while most girls will argue that Elizabeth is their spirit animal, I am afraid that I am, instead, Mr. Darcy.

Granted, I am obviously not a “young man in possession of a good fortune,” but I cannot avoid acknowledging the incredible similarities I have discovered between Darcy’s character and my own.

First of all, according to internet searches, which we all know are always accurate, both Darcy and I are INTJ personalities, commonly considered to be the “architects” archetype. INTJs are characterized by planning, introversion, and analysis. Of course, the Meyers-Briggs indicator does not capture the whole of our natures, so I will continue to delve deeper, using Darcy’s pursuit of Elizabeth as my primary evidence.

  1. Rudeness and cluelessness:


“I am in no humor at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men” (Austen 7-8).

I do not think that Darcy meant any overt meanness here, but was simply being blunt with his thoughts. If I had a nickel for every time I said something insensitive simply because I thought it obvious, I would be able to buy Pemberley. He was also clueless that the woman he slighted at first will become attractive to him within the next few chapters. I’ll admit this has happened to me too; upon meeting someone, I might not give him a second thought at first, even if he becomes important to me later.

2. Eye love intelligence: 


“No sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she had hardly a good feature in her face, than he began to find it rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes” (16).

Pardon the terrible pun, but Darcy comes to admire Elizabeth’s whole figure upon finding he admires the witty sparkle in her eyes. This is usually the first thing I see in a person too; a good-humored and intelligent expression in someone’s eyes is the most attractive thing to me and gives that entire person a handsomeness that cannot be matched.

3. Knowledge is power, but also love: 



“He began to wish to know more of her” (16).

It might sound horrible, but people like Darcy and myself don’t care that much about learning about others unless we have a genuine affection for them. It goes right along with our detest of small talk. We don’t give two pence about someone’s thoughts on the weather,his/her favorite dinner course, or where he/she buys tea biscuits. Unless we care for this person deeply. In that case, we will not only want to know everything about him/her, but we will make a clear effort to ask and observe in order to gather information.

4. Falseness if futile: 


“‘Nothing is more deceitful,’ said Darcy, ‘than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast'” (35).

When Miss Bingley copies and compliments everything Darcy does, he does not hide his annoyance, but expresses it in wise sayings she is sure to misinterpret but still allow him to speak his mind. He is aware of and despises all ploys of manipulation. Similarly, nothing bothers me more than falseness or deception and when I am aware of these manipulations, I speak my mind. And, though I usually believe I am correct, I also generally regret it.

5. Slow to form opinions, slow to discard them: 


“My good opinion, once lost is lost forever” (43).

I agree with Elizabeth that this tendency is “a failing indeed,” but it is a failing I share with Darcy. Wickham wronged Mr. Darcy and deserved to lose his favor, but was it wrong of Darcy to renounce forgiveness? This is a fault of mine as well, for I am guilty of remaining cold toward people who have “lost my good opinion” for unreasonably long periods of time. But, I will add, the trust and friendship of such characters as Darcy and myself are not easily won, so it is understandable that breaks in these bonds are also not easily forgotten.

6. Desire is danger: 


“He began to feel the danger of paying Elizabeth too much attention” (44).

This is an exaggeration, but I am right when I say that Darcy feared his attachment to Elizabeth. Feelings of any kind are discomfiting to natures such as his, for they not only contradict reason but are at risk of being found out by others. The fear of a person discovering where Darcy’s (or my own…) affections lie is all too real for him (and me.) We know from experience that secrets relating to the heart are best kept in complete privacy because it allows for protection of our own egos as well as make the likelihood of getting over such affections greater.

7. Reason > Romance: 


“Steady to his purpose, he scarcely spoke ten words to her…and though they were at one time left by themselves for half an hour, he adhered most conscientiously to his book, and would not even look at her” (43).

As I said before, if Darcy could forget his admiration of Elizabeth, he would likely congratulate himself on avoiding ridiculousness. It is the first instinct of people such as him and me to try and adhere to reason rather than romance, especially when there is a risk of the romantic feelings not being returned.

8. A matter of company: 


“We neither of us perform to strangers” (135).

Although this scene centered around a piano, Darcy is not talking about musical performance, but rather social interaction. He makes it clear that he does not do well in many common social situations. This is crazy relatable for me. Dentist appointments, customer service lines, and ice breaker activities are torture because they require me to chat lightly with people I don’t generally connect with. (And, in the case of the dentist, I have to chat with sharp objects prodding my gums, which I think must literally be a punishment from hell.) However, when we find a place or group in which we meet people with shared interests or natures, we perform our social duties admirably enough to be mistaken for extroverts!

9. The gift of time: 


“More than once did Elizabeth in her ramble…unexpectedly meet Mr. Darcy…on these occasions it was not merely a few formal enquiries and an awkward pause and then away, but he actually thought it necessary to turn back and walk with her” (140).

Darcy has made it clear up until this point in the novel that he does not enjoy spending much time chatting or idling. However, this is exactly what he keeps doing! In talking and walking with Elizabeth, he is showing that he cares for her enough to make time with her a priority. This is perhaps the greatest gift he can give her at this moment and, in the same way, I express my love by making time for people I love greatly.

10. When all else fails, GET TO THE POINT! 


“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you” (145).

Here is where Darcy and I differ; when Elizabeth fails to catch all of his hints, he straight up tells her “Hey, I like like you. Do you like me? Check yes or no.” I wish I were this bold. It would probably save me lots of overthinking. Maybe someday I’ll give it a shot… I do, however, share Darcy’s appreciation of straightforwardness and wish more people were like him in this way.

11. Service speaks: 


“He had done all this for a girl whom he could neither regard nor esteem. Her heart did whisper, that he had done it for her” (248).

When his profession of love was not returned, Darcy continued to show determined care in his actions, taking on the shame of the Bennets and doing all he could to restore their propriety. It is such selfless service that speaks Darcy’s love the loudest. I only hope I serve those I care about, even if they do not always share my feelings, in the same quiet and generous manner. Let’s also take a moment to celebrate that his determination and patience prove totally worth it in the end! 🙂

So there you have it. Again, I am not the tragically romantic figure that Darcy is, nor am I so reserved and skeptical as he is. Still, while I may not be as much like our dear Mrs. Darcy as I had hoped, there is nothing wrong with being a sort of Miss Darcy, as long as I don’t go about earning a reputation of being “proud…above [my] company…and above being pleased” (6).


Works Cited
Austen, Jane, James Kinsley, and Fiona J. Stafford. Pride and Prejudice. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. Print.



Another Open Letter from an INTJ

Hello again!

A while ago I posted “a Rare Open Letter from an INTJ” and feel inclined to continue this one-sided correspondence with another.

A word that is not commonly associated with the INTJ personality combination is “emotional.” Another such word might be “caring” or “friendly.” Well, to quote a wise television character: FALSE.

INTJs are not unfeeling; rather, we simply like to keep our deepest feelings to ourselves. Jane Austen, in Emma, “If I loved…less, I might be able to talk about it more.” This principle is true of most emotions for the INTJ: tumblr_lrsc4pwqGA1qcbmnfo1_500the greater the emotion, the more hesitant to reveal it. As introverts and thinkers, we tend to dwell upon feelings and only share when we can explain them and are truly comfortable. And, in the midst of dwelling on these feelings, if we do not find any logic to explain them, we will try to either force them to conform to what we see as logical or attempt to forget them. This usually does not work very well as, try as we might, we cannot logic away everything. The need to eat, for instance. Or the basic human need for communication. (Hence this blog…)

INTJs are also not uncaring. At first, people of this type- myself included- 19ac3dfb771ebcd4e8dbee5c2cc526dbmay come across as reserved or aloof, not necessarily seeming the warm and fuzzy type. But we do care just as deeply as we feel. To quote Jane Austen again, “There is nothing in the world I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves; it is not my nature.” INTJs might not be as overtly caring as other personalities (ENFPs, for example), but when they find people that genuinely matter to them, they will put the same intense care into their friendships or relationships that they do their other pursuits.

This leads me to another point: how INTJs show that they care. Like I said, the INTJ may not express caring in an obvious way, such as with a spontaneous hug or card, but428965_3251061123447_508615621_n that does not mean he or she is not trying. From my own experience as an INTJ, I often show that I care through actions and time. You see, time is valuable to the INTJ, so if an INTJ expresses a wish to spend time with you, then you can be assured that he or she appreciates your company and is trying to care for you by setting aside that time. As analyzers, INTJs might also show caring through problem solving, an area in which they particularly excel.


If an INTJ offers advice or tries to help, even if it seems uncalled for or pushy, he or she is actually just trying to show that he/she cares enough to want to improve things for you.

So INTJs do feel emotion and do care, but express these in different ways. What does this mean? Well, obviously we cannot just shout “I’m an INTJ!!!” and refuse to share our feelings with the world or anything. That’s silly. INTJs, in order to be well-rounded, will need to show caring in other ways, as well as to share their emotions from time to time. What we need is people who honestly want to listen to us and make us feel safe in sharing the various emotions and ideas that are bouncing around in our heads. And regarding caring…INTJs will have to learn to care in other ways. I have learned that others often prefer a comforting hug to a strongly-worded letter confronting their issue and have had to adjust accordingly. But others should be aware of the ways in which INTJs care and know that, when an INTJ makes time for them or tries to help, he or she truly values their friendship.

That’s all. Carry on with your lives. Maybe force an INTJ into a hug or something to show that you appreciate them, weird little personalities that they are. 😉




Rest and Laziness: They are Different!

I am a busy person, not necessarily because I have committed to a lot or because my parents expect a lot from me, but because I make everything I am passionate about into a serious commitment and expect a lot of myself. (Started piano lessons? Practice to be accepted as a piano major at a conservatory. Enjoyed macarons on vacation in Paris? Start a macaronery from my kitchen. Did well on one AP exam? Sign up for five and study daily for each.)

I love music and baking and even studying, as well as many other things, but after weeks of straight practicing and studying without breaks, it becomes exhausting and (this has happened numerous times) I suffer the inevitable breakdown. Every time, I try to logic my way out of these slumps, telling myself that I should not be tired since I am getting a solid five and a half hours of sleep each night, that I should be a better performer because I’ve been practicing relentlessly, that I should be relaxed because studying is just reading and reading is fun. I think to myself, “Don’t sit still, Ryanne. Don’t watch another episode on Netflix or read another chapter in your novel. Don’t be lazy.”


That is the conclusion I have ultimately had to reach: N.O.P.E. Nope. No matter how hard I try, I cannot and never will be able to logic my way around the human need for rest. As much as I would like to imagine that I am a superhuman whose brainpower can overcome her body’s fatigue, I am not. Rest is vital and that is something that I wish I had come to terms with earlier. And, more importantly to a perfectionist such as myself, resting is NOT the same thing as being lazy.

I know laziness is not good, but look at his cute little face! Besides, he is only a sloth after all; not much to do.

“Laziness” is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the quality of being unwilling to work or use energy.” It is a choice and, unless found in one of the world’s most adorable animals (in my opinion), the sloth, it is not generally considered an admirable quality. In fact, (sorry, sloths), throughout literature, laziness is presented as among sins. Take the classic tale of “The Little Red Hen”, for example. The only antagonizing force in the story is the laziness of the animals who were unwilling to help. And, for a stronger example, the Bible goes so far as to declare in Proverbs 18:9 that “Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.” Based on this definition, I am justified in trying to avoid laziness.

Because is it really a blog post without a "Keep Calm" meme?
Because is it really a blog post without a “Keep Calm” meme?

In contrast, “rest” is defined as “a ceasing of work in order to relax, refresh oneself, and recover strength.” Wow. I never realized just how unrelated laziness and rest truly are. Rest is not the result of a lack of the will to work, but of having worked and needing to “recover strength.” Rest is always portrayed as deserved, peaceful, and necessary. To continue using the Bible for examples, the Sabbath was a day set aside specifically for rest (“six days you shall labor” -Exodus 20:9), Jesus promised rest to those who follow Him to the end (“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28), and, perhaps most significantly of all, God Himself is described as resting for a full day after the creation of the world (“God had finished the work…so on the seventh day He rested” -Genesis 2:2). Rest is garnered after hard work and it is necessary and, most of all, it is good.

Rest is good. I only wish that I had learned this sooner. In the constant race for accomplishing more and working harder, it is easy to scorn rest as laziness. However, it is vital that I and others like me who often forget the importance of rest, learn that it is alright, even good, to sometimes watch another episode on Netflix, read another chapter, eat another cookie, meet another friend, or hit the snooze one more time because without this rest, we will find ourselves unable to return full-strength to the work about which we are passionate.

Before I click “publish”, I would like to add something that a friend of my mother’s once said that really impacted me: “Life is like music; without rests, it would not be as musical or as meaningful.”

A Rare Open Letter from an INTJ

“You’re funny! I had no idea.”

“We will have to draw you out of your shell.”

“I used to be scared of you.”

These are sentences I have heard often throughout my life and I am sure than many other people like me- INTJs and similar personalities, have had to listen to the same basic statements throughout their lives as well. Just yesterday, I heard another such line. I told my mom that I was planning a few social events and she pretty much congratulated me. 
“What?” I protested. “I can be social!”

Can be. That’s the difference. When you want to be, you can be social.” 

Now I was even more confused.

“You are not anti-social, but when socializing is not your object at the moment, you are very focused, giving off a distant vibe and walking with an out-of-my-way-peasants air,” she continued to explain.

Ouch, I thought. In all honesty, I had no idea that this is how I can sometimes come across and my mother was right; it’s not that I am shy or that I am rude. I am simply focused and this is the case for most people of my personality type. I found myself wishing I could explain this to others and, fortunately, realized that with this blog, I can!

First of all, is the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator 100% accurate? No. And do people live according to their personality combination? Absolutely not. For instance, I may be classified as an introvert, but I still love being around friends, as aforesaid. Okay, now that we have established that I do not swear by the Myers-Briggs or take it to be certain fact, here are five things that INTJs wish we could tell others:


1. We are not always the villain. 


Sure, every comic book, movie, and novel seems to cast an INTJ as the antagonist and let’s face it, INTJs can be terrible (take me when I am tired or hungry, for instance…scary…). However, we are more than the Moriartys of the world. We are not all plotting world domination. Not seriously, anyway. Jane Austen is thought to have been and INTJ, as well as C.S. Lewis and even some of the best characters dreamed up by such authors match this personality type. So if you are aware of the Myers-Briggs and meet someone who claims to be an INTJ, you don’t need to call the Avengers or try to solve a mystery before a hospital explodes because that is fiction and we are just people, not supervillains. 


2. We want to be included, but do not like being the initiator. 


As I have said now several times, I like to be social and I especially like to know that people want to be around me. I am usually too reserved to approach a group and leap into their conversation or host a party of my own, but I do wish to be a part of such things. It is a tricky spot, wanting to be a part but not wanting to be assertive. That said, it means a lot when another person takes the initiative so we do not have to, so do an INTJ in your life a favor and text him/her first, invite him/her to something, or-best of all- just talk to him/her! It will definitely be appreciated, even if the INTJ’s face remains impassive. 😉


3. We are not angry or rude: just focused.


INTJ personalities are considered “the scientist” of the personalities; people of this type, myself included, have an intense focuse that they find incredibly hard to abandon, even for a few minutes. However, if we brush past you or fail to return your friendly smile, we mean no disregard. Actually, upon realizing that I have done this, I felt absolutely dreadful and wanted to rush out and hug the poor ignored person! If an INTJ does seem unfeeling or brusque, he or she, nine times out of ten, is just deep in thought or focused on something unrelated. Do not be offended; just smile again or try again later. 


4. We are not robots.   


 I do not cry in public. Scratch that: I don’t cry in front of anyone outside of my parents and even then it is rare. However, while everyone else is sobbing at the theater while watching Les Miserables and the INTJ is sitting there apparently unmoved, it is not that he or she is heartless; he or she just processes things internally and does not feel the need to always manifest this processing as a visible emotion. Okay, that made us sound robotic, which is exactly the opposite of my point. Ugh. I’ll just say that when I found myself surrounded by crying people at the movies, I was saddened by Fantine’s plight as well, but although I yawned and thought of dead puppies and bit my cheek, I could not force any tears to fall. I felt sad too and really wanted to show some of this emotion, but beneath all of this, I could not. You see, INTJs are human too, but just do not have as easy of a time showing their human emotion. In a showdown between logic and feeling, even if feeling ought to win, we will try our best to choose logic.


5. Overthinking is just what we do.


Ultimately, I do not initiate conversations and such because I have overthought them so much that I have scared myself into not bothering. However, I have realized that the most fun I have ever had has been had when I am not thinking at all. When an INTJ chooses to ditch his or her filter, saying whatever silly comment comes to mind without fear of sounding ridiculous and hugging that friend without worrying about accidentally reinacting the disastrous Voldemort-Draco embrace (*shudders*), he or she not only has a more enjoyable time, but is a more pleasant person to be around. As I said just the other day, I can be really loud when I am comfortable, but many times I just do not know what to do due to overanalyzing and psych myself out into silence. 


There you are: five things that INTJs wish they could tell you, a sort of disclaimer and warning for this personality type, if you will. However, once more I want to emphasize that this post is based on generalities and my own personal experience; there are always exceptions. Still, do an INTJ in your life a favor and give a hug, send a text, or say hello. He or she might struggle, forget to reply, or not hear you, but it is still appreciated more greatly than you know. 🙂