Psych 101 – Anthropological and Social Differences

Psychology as we learn it in America is very interesting and very different from many other places in the world. As mentioned previously:

A lot of media has improved in the way mental illnesses have been portrayed, but there are still overwhelming stigmas and stereotypes that are pervasive in everyday life. In this series, I consult our friend, a doctoral student who goes by Sanjiv, on her field of Psychology as it pertains to literature and character creation.

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We have gone over a few different things such as Major Depressive Disorder and Eating Disorders on this series, but so far we’ve been focusing specifically on American Psycopathology. In this post I want to talk about a few interesting facts about American Psychology as a system of research and diagnoses and then present a few of the differing views that can be taken when approaching the issue of mental health in diverse populations.

American psychopathology is outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), currently on its fifth version. Before we talk about its international and cross-cultural applications, it’s important to note that even within mainstream American psychology, the DSM and its current definitions (criteria) for aspects of mental health are hotly debated. In recent years, the issue of the applicability of our diagnostic categories and therapeutic techniques to minority populations in America has gained increasing attention.

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Sub Genres: Silkpunk

Here is the second installment of our series: ‘Sub Genres.’ This one was more of a pet find because I read an online article (that can be found here) where Ken Liu, an author, came up with this new genre for his book, The Grace of Kings. It appealed to me because of the idea of delving into a different view of the world brought upon by different cultures.

Grace of Kings

What is Silkpunk?

Silkpunk is similar to steampunk in that it is a reimagining of history using a futuristic viewpoint while maintaining the aesthetic and sensibilities of a time long past. Unlike steampunk, rather than focusing on the western world, silkpunk focuses on ancient China and their wealth of technologies and resources.

Steampunk vs. Silkpunk

So where steampunk focuses on corsets, steam, and mechanisms and gadgets of steel, silkpunk focuses more on organic materials such as silk and bamboo and biomechanics using technologies that were already understood and put into practical usage – like the use of kites in military applications. Rather than the mechanical, they focus more on the biomechanical using human/animal/nature powered rather than coal/steam.

steampunk

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Cheri’s List Prompt – By Chebk

Awhile ago, Cheri tried to stave off her writer’s block by reading some books and making some lists (precise details can be found here). Needless to say, I decided to jump into the torture and created a list of my own. It has taken a bit longer than expected, but I managed to complete the prompt. Unbeknownst to me, we did not need to use all the things in the list, but here is my attempt at breaking through writer’s block including EVERY PROMPT in my list:

The glasses. The balloon. The costume. The middle of the volcano fields. The dieselpunk. The underwater. The hot boy.

INTO THE FIELDS

Water drips off of his sculpted torso and glistens as it makes its way down to ripple through the pond. Isolated and surrounded by the silence of pre-dawn nature, he flips his black hair back, a void in space speckled with the droplets of a thousand stars, and spears me with his gaze. Dark tanned skin moves through the blue water until I see his hipbones peek above the shimmering reflection off the liquid surface. I hold my breath as he stops. His hands rise in front of him bearing black smoke and the smell of diesel. As the wind picks up and blows the cloud away, I see a glint of metal then —

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I wake up.

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6 Tips for Continuing your Novel

One of the main problems I’ve been running into when writing my novel is staying motivated enough to write it. Here are a few things that I do to keep me interested.

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1. Re-read the beginning: When I get stuck far enough into the novel, there is a good chance that I’ve forgotten the minute details that I had written in to the beginning. Re-reading it from the beginning is a great way for me to remember some things that I had intended to address and maybe hadn’t gotten to and things that I need to remember to keep in (forgotten swords anywhere? or bags?). Also, there tend to be small hints that I write in for the future that I forget about; things that I foreshadowed then completely forgot about or even unintentional foreshadowing that I catch after re-reading. With the new insight you gain from writing forward and knowing what is coming next, sometimes you can see what will happen next if you had been stuck previously.

This doesn’t work for some authors who, when they read the beginning, get stuck so be cautious of what kind of writer you are.

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The Write Stuff

Becoming a writer is something I never thought I could do because it was somehow always out of reach; unachievable. Why? Because my friends were writers creating works of arts with words and I scribbled ideas down on paper, telling stories as I would to my friends (not the right way to write).

Anyway, a few months ago, in my naivete, I submitted one of my works into a writer’s workshop at a sci-fi/fantasy convention. The days leading up to the meeting were full of second thoughts and trepidations, but, boy, did I learn a lot.

Most of what the professionals told us were general tips, but to someone new to writing, it was like a whole new world opening up. To hear authors talking about their trade was very informative and exciting because that is their lifestyle, it is what they do for a living. They talk about this piece that they’re working on, and also the next one, and the next.

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One question that came up frequently was about their daily writing processes. There were many different answers. One author would write two thousand words a day, everyday. Another felt lucky to get through one chapter in a day. But the main point was that all of them had to write everyday. They don’t wait for inspiration to strike and for every word to be perfect; that’s what editing is for.

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Random Reference: Hypothermia

A scuba diver comes out of the warm waters of the pristine beaches of Oahu with the sun burning high in the sky. He collapses and shivers onto the sand, struck with hypothermia.

When writing, random knowledge that I have gathered over the years has a way of popping up. I find that it has a way of making my stories more realistic when I can put in information that I know, but may not be common knowledge. So we’re starting a new series here on OKPotato where we will talk about random references that you might learn something new from and be inspired to write into your stories. (Please let us know if any of these random references make it to your stories in the comments below!)

This series was inspired by a panel I attended at a past convention where we learned about hypothermia. I went to it under somewhat false pretenses as it was sold as a panel about hypothermia and deep space cryogenic travel (which I am terribly interested in because it seems so unfeasible, but that might be for another post), but it was interesting nonetheless and I thought I could definitely use it in a story where there was a MC in the middle of the snow on a different planet and lost in a blizzard with a tauntaun (Star Wars reference).

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So, first off, what is hypothermia? According to webMD, its symptoms for adults are:

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Writing Environments

Lately Chebk and I have been taking it easy on the blogging front to work on some of our independent projects. Some of Chebk’s are still under-wraps — though suffice to say she is gearing up for Hawaii’s first sci-fi/fantasy convention, Comiccon Honolulu — alongside her usual writing endeavors. Meanwhile I am basically writing full-time…which is not to say successfully.

I have never been one for ritualized writing. While I am a creature of habit, I don’t need to write at a specific time, in absolute silence, with northern light, and a certain mug with the same brand of tea every day. Thinking about making all those stars align day after day would drive me to defeat.

Probably not an acceptable ritual.
Probably not an acceptable ritual.

And yet, after a slew of rough sessions (feeling stagnant, distracted, unproductive), I began looking for tips to not feeling quite so bad at the end of each writing day. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the knowledge that a lot of authors wrote while lying down in bed (George Orwell, Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, Winston Churchill, and Marcel Proust ) because I’m 100% sure all I would do is sleep, or that Victor Hugo ate two eggs raw and then stood in a front of a mirror for hours writing. I’m not sure whether the raw eggs or the mirror deters me more.

My girlfriend suggested I try experimenting with different writing environments to see if anything proved more or less helpful. Here’s what happened:

  • Home (Productivity: 7.5/10)
    My usual haunting grounds. I start after I eat breakfast, around 8 or 9 AM, write until lunch (30 min. break) and then continue until anywhere between 4 and 6 PM.
    Where: Dining room table.
    Requirements: Water. Music in background (usually 8tracks; great music site).

    Didn't have a picture of home. Have an MS paint version.
    Didn’t have a picture of home. Have an MS paint version.

    Pros: Maximum comfort (i.e. no anxiety). Easy access to bathroom and food. Free wi-fi.
    Cons: Occasional interruptions to help my father around the house. Easy distractions. Cabin fever because I write here so often.

    Thoughts: Maybe I need to start standing when I write at home. I get too comfortable.

  • Chebk’s house (Productivity: 7/10)

    Not gonna lie, I write here a lot. Time ranges from two to, like, twelve hours.
    Where: Main dining room table.
    Requirements: Water. Chebk’s presence.

    Chebk and co. Don't mind the convention stuff scattered everywhere.
    Chebk and co. Don’t mind the convention stuff scattered everywhere.

    Pros: Chebk keeps me on task. Someone to bounce ideas off of. Easy access to bathroom and sometimes food.
    Cons: Constantly intruding on Chebk’s space.

    Thoughts: I need to keep myself on task instead of using Chebk.

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