Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

QOTD: What are you most thankful for this holiday season, and what is your favorite Thanksgiving dish? (Mine is the turkey, duh.) Share with us in comments! 

I have so much to be thankful for, but especially: my loving, compassionate family and my amazing friends, both of whom are always there for me when I need them and constantly challenge me every day to be the best person I can be. I am thankful for my Moleskine journal for being forever patient with me when I am writing in it. :) I am also thankful for the weather, for I could not have asked for a more beautiful and sunny Turkey Day. 

But of course, my Thank You List would not be complete without any mention of my amazing blogging friends--not just all my amazing followers, but the bloggers who inspire me every day to be a better writer, blogger and friend. I want to thank each and every one of you for sticking with The Red Angel blog and for all of your support, encouragement and friendship all this time. You guys are the best!

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Wishing you all a wonderful holiday with the ones you love.

P.S. Be sure to check out my previous blog post, which I stuffed (no indirect pun intended?) full of motivation for this last week of NaNoWriMoing (plus my word count, which has actually gone up since then)!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

"You're doing NaNo? Sounds like a dirty iPod joke if you ask me."

QOTD: Tell us a funny Thanksgiving dinner story! (C'mon, we've all got those memories of Grandpa cracking funny--but not really funny--jokes and Baby Cousin Jack spitting peas at your brother.)

Okay, I know the title is super lame--but it was either that or "You know you're crazy for doing NaNo when you told your Mom and she said, laughing, 'A book? Hun, you wouldn't even write those This I Believe essays in grade school, what makes you think you can write a novel...?'." Yeah, I'm glad I went with this blog title instead. ^^

Speaking of NaNoWriMo, there are eight days left! How are we feeling about this? Excited? Frantic? Indifferent? (*points to self*) It's time to share with you all my word count. I am not really ready to expose myself to shame, but here: 


Yep, my word count has stayed the same for weeks. Not days, weeks. And when has that ever been okay? (Answer: Never.)

Yet, here I am feeling indifferent. What is this? I should be feeling terrible about myself. I mean, this was supposed to be year that I would make myself a winner. What happened to that? 

In my defense, I have been writing. Just not my novel. I have five papers due this month and I just turned in one of them (five pages on the representation of Congress!) yesterday morning. I do think that's a forgivable reason for not noveling, but still....the real winners of NaNo are the writers who get their 1,666 words in every single day no matter what priorities they have in real life. They make time. They choke out words, as many as possible;  spit them into their word processor until that 1,666th word is down. 

Me? I'm listing excuses about why my word count is still four digits long. I mean, I spend half my time cheering on others who are nearing the finish line themselves; why can't I do the same for myself?

Which brings me to today's main focus. At the start of November, did you tell any of your family or friends or the whole wide world you were going to do NaNo (the novel challenge, silly, not the iPod)? What did you say? "Hi Mummy and Daddy, if I don't respond to your calls this month it's because I'm in my closet writing a novel, okay? Thanks, love you, bye!"?

More importantly, what was their reaction? 

Reactions often play a huge role in our perception of what we believe we are doing with NaNoWriMo. If most of the reactions you receive were generally positive statements like "Oh wow, you GO girlfriend!!!" and "This is perfect for you! You LOVE to write! This is going to be so much're going to love it," then chances are you were compelled to feel the same way about your literary journey. 

But if most people you tell say things like, "50k in a month? Give it up before it's too late to save yourself," "What a waste of time," and "You're doing NaNo? What's that mean? Sounds like a dirty iPod joke if you ask me," then diving headfirst into the challenge may not have started out so great for you. 

I didn't exactly tell the world I'm doing NaNo this year, but I did tell a lot friends (okay, basically my entire friends list on Facebook once I'd updated my status). The collective response I got was: "Oh God, my fingers hurt just at the thought of writing that much..." and "Wow, um, okay! Good luck with that!" Don't get me wrong - they're all pretty supportive of me, but I can tell that behind those good lucks were skepticism and doubt--which is a totally natural reaction coming from people who have not heard of NaNoWriMo before. 

The problem, though, is that the reactions of people who matter a lot to you tend to rub off on you. Seeing as I am easily influenced by others, this is probably what's happened to me as well. I really need to fix this. I need to be my own cheerleader, my own source for inspiration and motivation no matter what other people are thinking. 

In the end, we've all got to believe in ourselves. We can't rely on other people to galvanize our creative juices and keep us going, because when it all comes down to it, this is our fight.  The truth is, we don't need to win NaNoWriMo to feel good about ourselves, anyway. Every word we put down is a winner. This is our journey, and we are the only ones who can reach the goal we set out to attain, whether that be 50,000 words or 5,000. Let's all keep this in mind as we're gearing up for this last week of writing. 

I can't promise that I'll reach 50,000 words in the next seven days, but I can promise that at the end of NaNo I will be able to say I pushed aside my papers, skipped post-turkey/stuffing/macaroni exercise and worked my butt off to reach my final word count. 

What reactions did you receive when you told others you were doing NaNo? How did it affect your own attitude? After 22 days of literary frenzy, how has your attitude and the attitudes of said others changed?


Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans 2011: "It's the Little Things That Really Mean Big"

QOTD: It's November 11, 2011! Did you wish for anything at 11:11?

Before anything else, I just want to congratulate the UNC Tar Heels for their AWESOME win against MSU (67-55). I'm usually not a Sports fan but when it comes to UNC (and especially when it comes to UNC basketball) I get kind of excited :) Even better, we won on an aircraft carrier! Woohoo! #heelsonaboat

Speaking of aircraft carriers, Happy Veterans Day! Thank you so much to all of those who have died, fought and risked everything to protect the lives of American people. We appreciate everything you do for our country, and I can't imagine the amount of courage it takes to do what you do. Thank you. 
Today, the Red Cross sponsored an event at my school that involved having students create greeting cards for our troops overseas. I stopped by the Pit (the heart of our school--both geographically and symbolically!) earlier this afternoon and, after noticing the group's booth, wrote a greeting card. Something about this particular event really warmed something inside of me. I don’t know if that's what compelled me — but I asked if I could help, and ended up spending an hour in the Pit and various school centers nearby asking fellow students if they’d like to write greeting cards as well. 

I was so surprised and taken aback by how many students actually said “Sorry, I don’t have time…I, uh, have class soon” or just simply said “No thanks.” 

Sometimes, I wish people would just stop what they are doing and think about what they could do to make others happy—not to make themselves feel good or to put that act of service on their resume, but for the sake of genuinely wanting to make someone else smile. 

I mean, I didn’t even tell the other “official volunteers” my name in the end—but I didn’t care. “Getting credit” wasn’t my mission at all. The only thing on my mind was the fact that people like these men here are fighting every day for us and may not even be at home for Christmas to be with their families. It takes three minutes to write a greeting card of warm wishes and thank-yous. It’s the least we can do. And in my opinion, it's a collection of little things like this that can really make a difference. (Agh...sorry for being a huge cheese ball tonight!)

I mean, I'm not saying that I don't get hurried some days and forget to slow life down for a few moments and think about what I should be thankful for, because I do. I guess I just feel very strongly about this because I associate serving in the military with making sacrifices for others. What greater sacrifice is there to give than risking your time, energy and life to help protect another?

I do have wonderful news, though. At the end of my "shift", we'd collected 50 greeting cards written by students from all over campus. YAY! Thanks you guys. <3 Whoever picks up your card somewhere in the world, I know he/she is going to love it. Once again, Happy Veterans Day! 

Oh, and one more thing: 

NaNoWriMo Word Count: 9,152 (still behind, but hey I'm making progress...sorta...)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Reveal of the Red Angel + NaNoWriMo 2011 Begins!

QOTD: Tell us about your Halloween. Did you dress up? Did you go trick-or-treating (you're never too old for this, I promise!) or hand out candy to the kids? Did you stay at home and watch scary movies? Let us know! 

When I was a little girl, I used to get really paranoid about being in the dark and having bad guys snatch me away from the safety of my home. Both figuratively and literally. These bad guys include dangerous creepers, but also verbal attackers and anyone who is wrongly judgmental of who I am. Honestly, I think I worry too much about what other people think of me.

Which is totally understandable, right? I mean, I know I'm not the only one who cares about how my opinions and lifestyles will shape what people see the parts of me that I share with them. But to an extent this sensitivity is a setback, seeing as I'm a writer and journalist/psychologist-in-training. How can I give other people solid advice on how to improve their lives for the better and write articles on topics I feel strongly about when I'm nervous about what nice or mean things Jack and Mary are saying behind my back? 

A major lesson I have learned in college so far is that it really, truly does not matter what other people think of you. There are just way too many individuals in this world, and focusing on one's rank in popularity and likability is just a waste of time. Of course, that isn't to say reputation and presentation of one's self doesn't matter, because they do--especially in the corporate world and in the job market. But it's important to balance reputation and individuality. 

Be who you want to be, and don't let the fear of what others may think of you prevent you from trying out new things, expressing yourself and saying what you believe in. 

This sensitivity is also what has kept me from becoming too public on the Internet. I can say anything I want to online...but doesn't that mean other people--strangers, friends and colleagues alike--can say anything they want about me too? My answer to my own question is...yes, but so what? I have nothing to hide except myself, and why do I want to hide myself when there is so much to share and so much to do in a single lifetime? 

I don't. 

So after much thinking, I have decided that I'm going to share with you all who I am--not just as "the red angel," but as me. I feel like by doing so, all of you readers and fellow bloggers will be able to identify with me better now that you can put a name to a face and have a better picture (no pun intended) of who I am. 

Yup, that's me! My name is Wendy Lu 
(Sometimes I get called Cindy Who/Wendy Wu/other forms of Wendy Lu, so whichever you prefer ;) Red Angel works too haha)

So I made this costume for a "Super Rave" that took place in one of the dorms last year. What do you guys think? And hey, Supergirl could be never know! Haha. I am always really curious as to how Halloweeners (LOL) put their costumes together, so I'll break down my Supergirl facade for you: 

  • The Superman shirt was a gift from a wonderful friend of mine. He knows how much I love Superman! You can find different versions at Hot Topic. 
  • I bought the blue/violet stockings from the mall, though I forgot which department. $3.00 on sale. Check out various styles at ModCloth
  • The red skirt is from a local thrift store. It was originally a long skirt, but another friend of mine who is excellent with the sewing machine was able to hem it for me. Only $3.00! 
  • The red cape is a really long piece of fabric that I got from Hancock's Fabrics. About $6.00 or so. 
  • My red headband was part of a set of headbands that my sister gave me for Christmas a few years ago.
  • You can't see my shoes, but I'm also wearing black Converse All-Star high-tops. They weren't originally going to be a part of the costume but they actually fit really well with the Superman look, so I figured it worked! 

Sadly, I was not able to go out for Halloween this year due to my American History (1865-present) exam, which took place yesterday (hence, the late blog post!). Halloween wasn't all just textbooks and studying, though. I live in a really quiet apartment complex and there aren't that many families or children living near me. But to my surprise, starting at 6:30pm on Monday night, three adorable little kids dressed up as princesses came knocking on my door. I quickly tossed some Kit-Kats into a bowl, threw on my Superman shirt and showered them with candy! :) How was your Halloween? 

NaNoWriMo Word Count: 582 (I blame History. But...major write-in tonight! If you are a participant, how is NaNo going?)

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