Stories Are the Study of Being

Human behaviour is a peculiar thing. There’s just so many of us, and so many different kinds of us, that it’s hard to pinpoint what “human nature” actually is. While that’s up in the air, what is certain is that stories are the study of being.

No matter what story you experience, no matter what genre or medium it is expressed in, the one thing they all have in common is the exploration of human behaviour. The main characters will all behave in their own unique ways that either clash with or compliment each other depending on their temperament and relationship to each other.

Maybe one character is easy going while another believes in strict discipline in conducting their lives. Let’s just name these two characters Mary and Sue. Mary would be the type of person who calls her friends out randomly whereas Sue prefers to schedule her hang outs and jot down the dates and times these occur in her day planner.

The conflict these two can have is that they’ve been best friends since pre-school, but they have diverged into having different responsibilities in life such as jobs and families that occupy most of their time, so it’s really hard to keep in touch. Mary keeps calling Sue to hang out on a random night where Sue is already scheduled to watch her kid’s soccer game. Sue tries to schedule a hang out time with Mary, but Mary is disorganized with her time that she goes out drinking one night and is hungover on the morning she and Sue are supposed to have brunch.

Throughout the story, you as the audience get to explore the core being of each character, and how each of their behaviours have their pluses and minuses: Mary’s spontaneous ways keep things fun and exciting, but can also hamper on the precious resource of time to which she’s spending carelessly. Sue’s strict schedule allows her to organize her time and spend it like a precious and scarce resource, but she can also end up becoming a slave to her planner, allowing no room for spontaneity and fun surprises.

And even more peculiar thing about human behaviour is how we all affect each other when we are in proximity of each other. Every little interaction we have with conflicting and complimenting mentalities reshape us and leave us taking a piece of the other person to adapt into our own mode of being. In our example story, Mary could teach Sue how to let loose a little bit and have more fun instead of worrying about the next appointment. Sue can teach Mary how to prioritize her life better so she doesn’t lose track of the days.

One of the fundamental functions of storytelling is exploring and expressing different modes of being. Modes that either inspire you or warn you on how to be. What are the costs and benefits of acting a certain way? Assuming a story is written well enough to show the most logical and realistic consequences of certain behaviours, your audience or you as an audience member will have a manual on how you can better yourself, and make better use of the relationships you have, especially with people who you share some conflict with.

We’re all here to help each other grow and part of that means allowing contrary philosophies to challenge our own.


Your Write to Revive

It’s been quite a while since my last post and I’ve actually grown increasingly anxious about the future of Your Write to Live. I’ve neglected the blog and potential readers since September of last year, but then I realize the pressure is all coming from within. My site isn’t so popular that I  have legions of fans demanding my return, nor is it so unpopular that no one cares whether or not I disappear. Or maybe it is, and that’s something that adds to the anxiety lol!

In any case, as I’ve written before about writing being my life blood, it doesn’t matter whether or not I have an audience. I write for myself and then edit for others. Primarily, I write these Meaningful Monday, Tuney Tuesday, and Workshop Wednesday posts for myself as love letters to remind myself of my love toward life, music, and literature. If the byproduct of all this is people read my work and hopefully get some value from it, then I would be pleased and eternally grateful for the readership.

I’m at a point in my life now, though, where I think I need to take this little blogging hobby of mine to the next level. I know I can be doing more with it and synthesizing my writing wisdom (or lack thereof seeing as I haven’t written in a long time, nor studied the art of writing recently either) to better connect it with my intended Writing Coaching practice.

I tend to start projects when I’m passionate about them and then stop when they start to become responsibilities, which in turn then allows my ego to find a way to turn them into obligations. Obligations that I end up resisting because I become my own worst enemy and no longer have the capacity to help anyone out the way I want to.

When my life is going well in terms of finances and socializing, I tend to value writing as sacred solitude time. But for the past couple years I’ve been too focused on writing and studying Korean that I haven’t given much time to anything else, hence I got depressed and had to go through those Trials of Tribulations.

I’m starting to realize just how important it is to balance love, work, and play in your lives because tunnel visioning towards only one of them closes you off from truly appreciating the one thing you spend your time obsessing over.

What the hell am I talking about?

Well three years ago I was the manager at an escape room and it was the most meaningful and fulfilling job I ever had in my life. I got to connect with wonderful customers and provide a fun experience for them, and whenever I clocked out, I continued to buzz with productivity that writing became second nature alone time, along with attempting to create a YouTube following through my good old BSBS Reviews.

Along the way I started coaching other writers on how to organize and express their ideas and this meant the world to me. I had a meaningful and fulfilling job that paid my bills and entertainment purposes, and on the side I was also creating things based on my true passion for writing. But then after some scheduling issues along with some family issues happening around the time, I got overwhelmed by all of it and quit my job prematurely.

This is where 2017 and 2018 come in where I thought I could focus on just creating my own business to make a living. I thought that maybe now that I’m free from a day job, I can put ALL my energy into creating something of my own.

I really wish it could have worked out that way, but what happened was that living off my giant savings only set me up for giant disappointment. Simply put: I can’t create when I’m starving. Fresh out of the job I WAS able to finish the third draft of my novel and then host some writing workshops that allowed me to pay some of my bills, but I never made enough disposable income to enjoy myself with.

That’s when it hit me.

I have a bad habit of jumping the shark too soon. Three times in my life where I thought I could quit my day jobs and pursue writing full time, the story ended up the same. I would develop hatred for the job and think “I’m better than this, I should follow my own path!” And so then I would pursue writing full time whether it was night school, staying home to write what I thought would be my debut novel at the time, then again for another…

It’s a cycle that I was tempted to call endless, but nonetheless I want to end it.

The realization I’ve had was that I need to have a day job to make me feel safe and secure so I can in turn feel free to create without worrying about going broke. Then I also need writing so that I feel like I can express myself and create my own escapism that is far superior to the tremendous enjoyment I get from other entertainment that’s out there.

I need BOTH in my life. It’s just that simple. So from now on I want to honour the mere idea of working for someone else because that doesn’t take away from the fact that I can also work for myself if I choose to create on my own time.

Here’s to hoping I strike the right balance between a day job and a side hustle.

I hope that this year goes a bit better for me. Scratch that. I hope that this year I MAKE things go better for myself. And that means taking on more responsibility by earning money to help pay for my family’s bills at home, while also nurturing my own soul by rebuilding my business at the same time instead of thinking I need to be free from a job in order to do it. No, having a job will help me FUND That business and let me have fun with it the way it did when I was doing BSBS where I would spend my paychecks toward new books and movie tickets just so I can make book to film reviews about those adaptations. Even if it didn’t take off in viewership like I thought it would, to me it still mattered I was creating and immersing myself in this world at all.

So I’m back everyone, and I’m going to make sure I’m in it for the long haul now because I’m sick and tired of playing small and stabbing myself in the back all the time. I really want to thrive  this year by contributing my time toward a reputable company that will provide me the decent enough cash to invest into my true passion for writing. My hope is that in one year’s time I will have hosted some writing workshops and amassed a good amount of clients I can coach with their writing.


Because I have this gift that I haven’t brushed up on in a long time and I think it’s pretty shitty to keep it from the wolrd.

Geek Out About Your Favourite Stories

Is there a story that has left such an impact on you that you can’t stop thinking about? What is it about that story, its characters, plot, and setting that’s so appealing to you? Write about that until you can’t stop!

A good way to get inspiration is by dissecting your favourite stories and pick apart what you like about it, and even things you don’t like about it. Try to see what excites you the most and figure out why.

Maybe the characters behave in ways similar to yourself, or you’ve found yourself in similar situations, or you even consider wishing you could live in the fictional setting the story takes place in.

Whatever the case may be write as much as you can about your experience with this story. Go in so far as to recite certain instances where a plot twist or special moment gave you an involuntary reaction of either shock, joy, or even sadness.

As you write about your thoughts and feelings about this story, you are priming yourself for writing in ways similar to your favourite writers and thus increasing your chances of impacting your future audience in powerful ways as well.

Or if you’re a private writer who only writes for themselves you can still borrow from your favourites the same way and increase the joy and entertainment you give yourself when you write.

Here are some questions to consider when dissecting your favourite stories:

1. How do I feel when I experience this story? Why?

2. When do I feel the most immersed by it? Why?

3. What do I wish was different in the story? How would that improve the story?

4. What do I think is perfect in the story? Why?

5. Who are my favourite and least favourite characters? What is it about them that inspires me or cause any other emotional response?

These are just a few to consider as I don’t want to overwhelm you with even more of what I ask myself when I dissect my favourite stories. I trust in the creativity and ingenuity of writers to think of their own questions unique to their value systems.

But in the end the most question I would ask is: what does this story mean to you?

If you can’t or don’t answer any other question, this is the vital one to keep in mind as it opens the avenue for even more thoughts that inspire your creativity and capacity to impact others.

Music Review: Dreamcatcher – Alone in the City

Wudup, fellow Somnias?! Dreamcatcher is back to grace us with yet another comeback today!

With the huge success of Escape the Era and its lead track YOU AND I attracting even more fans than ever before, does What continue to build on the Dreamcatcher legacy?

Well let’s take a look and find out by first enjoying the music video together (if you haven’t already spammed it a couple times this morning like I have):

What? What. Wat? Wot? What!

What is a very breathtaking thrill ride! No that was a statement, not a question. What do you mean, “what’s a breathtaking thrill ride?” What is! The song What! By Dreamcatcher.

Okay, I had to get that out of system. Excuse me.

Go to any YouTube comments section for a Dreamcatcher video, and I bet you’ll find a handful of comments saying their music sounds like anime music. If we’re going to think along those lines, then this song sounds like the appropriate fresh new sound an anime’s 5th season should sound like.

You know, the cast has gone through so much together and have grown a lot since the 1st season. They have a brighter outlook on their journey realizing how powerful they can be, so it sounds brighter, but not too bright as to imply their journey is over. There’s still a hint of much more ahead, but they have even that much more confidence in taking it on.

All in all, strong intro to the song and I welcome the change more, surprisingly much more than say how Fly High kind of threw me off guard at first. For What, my enjoyment of it was more instantaneous.

The verses are mostly identical sounding to me and that’s okay. Notably for the second verse, I like how the distorted guitars come back immediately rather than being built up to as they are in the first verse. They’re sparse with a couple power chord strums as to not overshadow the vocals and busier synth and violin combo. And of course give space for the vocals to shine as they should.

Melodically I don’t think the verses are that interesting. Every member definitely gets the job done when it’s their time to shine. We’re still treated to a very short Handong moment in the second verse and it makes me sad that they didn’t give her another line for the bridge because hearing her sing in that range I realize her vocal timbre does seem to fit better with the more laid back sections of songs.

And now while it’s easy to fanboy about Siyeon and Yoohyeon’s power vocals, Jiu’s soothing yet hauntingly soft voice, Sua’s badassery, Gahyeon’s innocence and charm–I think it’s time to admit that I’m a closeted Dami bias. My growing fondness for her is growing the way it has for Moonbyul of Mamamoo where they both started off as the underutilized rapper now allowed to reach their potential by getting some actual vocal lines, and by golly does Dami own both of her sections in this song like a bawss!

The chorus is composed a lot simpler than previous tracks, but that doesn’t take away from how catchy it is with its 90’s sounding dance melody, and the syncopated What’s help keep the song going. After all, who doesn’t love a little syncopation and accentuated break beats that the “break up my dream” part provides. It goes well with the lyrics like moments in a nightmare where you think you’re about to wake up, but there’s still more to haunt you because the second post chorus treats us to a nice chuggy riff.

This could just be the metalcorefag in me, but I want to hear more chuggy riffs in Dreamcatcher songs. I felt they were too short in Fly High (why do I keep comparing this song to that one?), but even if they’re short in What as well, it’s a nice smooth transition into the bridge. We get that intro piano riff again with Jiu singing over it this time before we’re blasted with the final chorus.

It’s strange that this is the second longest lead single by Dreamcatcher, but it doesn’t feel that long at all. It actually moves along at a brisk pace, none of the parts drag on, and ultimately feel like they transition together quite smoothly. Though it’s not structurally or even compositionally complex as their other songs (as far as I can tell), What gets the job done in introducing us to a new era in the Dreamcatcher world.

For delivering the goods, feeling shorter than it actually does, and somehow manages to impress me even if it had less dynamics and simpler verse construction than previous releases I give it a 5/5

What vs Alone in the City

I actually love What just as much as any other lead single Dreamcatcher, and I definitely welcome Happy Face Entertainment wanting to experiment with their sound a little bit. But it’s for that reason that I feel a bit conflicted about the rest of the album.

Intro: Epic as always and builds the expectation that Dreamcatcher will continue to deliver the rock sensibilities that distinguish them from their peers. And this time with more electronic sounding synths, dare I say EDM and dubstep-ish even if ever so slightly. It would be a nice welcome changed from the more classical strings sounding synths from previous releases.

By default I usually love short instrumental intros that build up the hype and tension for the title track that follows them so it gets a score of 5/5!

Wonderland: The track following What on the album is a nice dark sounding R&B track. It’s a nice pallete clenser after the adrenaline rush What is as it does slow down the pace a bit. It has some nice wub wub wub sounds for the chorus and I generally EDM and dubstep so that stuff is pretty cool.

Though I can’t help compare its post chorus vocal melody to Loona’s track Perfect Love off of their OT12 debut album. Because my ear is accustomed to Perfect Love’s pre-chorus, my brain tries to fill in the gaps during Wonderland with Perfect Love’s fuller sounding melody. Then before I know it, the song ends on a very abrupt note. It could have benefited from a short instrumental outro that sounded different from the rest of the song, but it didn’t.

Maybe this song needs more time to grow on me as its own entity, and it does have a nice overall vibe, but its abrupt stop and its similarities to Loona’s Perfect Love it gets a 3.5/5

Trap: After Sleepwalking, everyone seemed to want Dreamcatcher to explore what they can do with a more EDM sound and I’m actually happy we got that with Trap. The chorus has some decent wubbing and the vocals and their melodies are pretty good. I actually do like this song’s clean guitars comboing with the piano for the verses and outro, but that chuggy riff at the start kind of pisses me off!

Wait, didn’t you say you wanted more chuggy riffs in Dreamcatcher songs?

Yes, I did say that!

But it kicks so much ass that it’s so disappointing that it never comes back later in the song, nor do the distorted guitars at all. You know, the instrumental element that sets Dreamcatcher apart from other K-Pop groups? It’s a huge let down that they didn’t employ any more rock into this otherwise decent EDM track.

I would probably love it more if I wasn’t deceived by that distorted guitar riff at the beginning building up an expectation for me. And once again a very very abrupt stop to the song doesn’t give me time to savour the other good stuff that has going for it. I mean, I know What ends very shortly after the vocals do, but so far Wonderland and Trap both have that problem of ending with not much of a bang or climax. Or since they are softer songs than the rock infused lead track, they could have easily faded out instrumentally or have just a few seconds for us to savour the beat with a more definite finish.

Did I mention how much it pisses me off that they only used distorted guitars for the coolest part far too early and far too sparsely in this song? I mean with the tom drums pounding for the pre-chorus they missed an opportunity to put a palm muted riff! Why you gonna play me like that?

Sorry, but Trap gets a 3/5

July 7th: Is the date that Love Shake was released back when Dreamcatcher was Minx and had five members instead of seven. Hence it has a bit of a tropical kind of sound that takes a bit getting used to, especially after how much dark, aggressive, and fast paced music we’ve gotten so far from Dreamcatcher.

Yes, yes, I know. There were the ballads of course and those were nice contrasts to the heavy lead singles.

And speaking of the ballads does the July 7th chorus sound familiar?

If it does, then you would notice that it’s the same vocal melody as Lullaby, but slightly altered to better fit this tropical house track that I suppose also needs time to grow on me. But once again. What is up with the abrupt endings to the songs on this album?! July 7th does it also…

It’s a shame too because the bassline to this track is quite groovy and does well to compliment the swankier vocal style they were able to experiment with. I would give this song 2/5 because reggae and the whole tropical feel is not really my cup of tea…because…it’s a glass of pineapple juice instead–

(Yeah let’s pretend I didn’t make that shitty joke…)

BUT! I do like the vocal melody and style of this song as well as the nods to Lullaby by not only borrowing its chorus melody, but also having a piano riff that’s similar to Lullaby’s that is snuck into the end of the bridge. So that much I can give them credit for 4/5

Final Thoughts

Like any other Somnia I am proud of what Dreamcatcher has accomplished in the past year and a half since they’ve redebuted. They took the K-Pop world by storm with a unique rock and horror concept with powerful choreography that can only contend with the likes of GFriend whose only similarity to them is the anime intro shtick. But otherwise, the two groups are drastically different from each other in genre.

Despite of the negative criticism I’ve given to this album I think it is still a nice step forward for Dreamcatcher to continue expanding their genre range. It’s interesting to hear what their voices are capable of adapting to, they can do it all; they can rock out, soothe us with a lullaby, or get us to rave dance very embarassingly by accidentally knocking things off your desk, which is something I totally didn’t do when I first heard Sleepwalking off of Prequel.

But yeah…the rocker in me is sorely sorely disappointed from the lack of rock tunes and sensibilities the group is meant for. I loved Escape the Era for them totally owning that sound and I love that the company delayed its release as it gave us a much more polished product with better overall song structures and dynamics, whereas Alone in the City feels a bit rushed to me. There weren’t any memorable moments where I feel like constantly rewinding the song to re-experience them.

For instance when Yoohyeon blasts her power vocals back in after Dami and Handong’s vocal trade in Good Night’s second verse, or when Mayday goes for a soft rendition of its chorus after the bridge right before the full band kicks in. And let’s not forget the pre-chorus of Chase Me, the song that started it all, surprising the hell out of everyone with the distorted guitars there being introduced for the first time ever.

Anyways those are my initial thoughts on Alone in the City. My opinions may change upon more relistens, but that’s how I felt upon a first impression. I am usually conscious of how my expectations for artists cloud my objectivity to enjoy any new music from them, but it always goes three of the same ways:

  1. They defy expectations and I am instantly in love with the new direction.
  2. They defy expectations, but I’m on the fence about it and need time to let it sink in.
  3. They defy expectations and I can’t stand it because either my expectations were too high and/or they simply failed to top what they delivered before no matter how much I try to re-listen to their new stuff

Let’s hope for option number 2 because I like to retain some amount of optimism in life.

Be Sure to Support Dreamcatcher By Purchasing Their Music Through:

  1. iTunes
  2. K-Pop Mart
  3. Yes Asia


The Role of Sympathetic Villains

They’ve been around for as long as stories have existed; bad guys who are just sad guys taking their anger out onto the world.

Now while it’s easy to write off villains, especially stock villains as modes of being to be avoided, what I don’t hear often is how their malice and/or ignorance can very well mirror our own. We are so used to trying to identify with the clearly identifiable hero of a story and live vicariously through their experiences in standing up for what they believe in and triumphing over evil.

So I have a suggestion: next time you consume a story, try rooting for the villain as if it’s you. Because let’s face it, no one’s perfect and we all make mistakes. And while it’s really really easy to say “I would never behave like that,” in regards to whatever evil deed a character enacts, I think the true purpose of sympathetic villains is to have us think “I could have been like that.” Or even better. “I could be like that.”

Obviously, not in a way in which you would want to be blowing up buildings or drowning puppies, but just the simple admission that you have some malice in you, whether large and aching to burst out in a fit of rage, or benign like a tiny flicker in a well lit lightbulb–we are susceptible to negative emotions, thus the possibility of thinking some negative thoughts to go along with those emotions. Some of those thoughts can include wanting to harm others or yourself.

There’s a scene in Daredevil where he and The Punisher have an argument over ethics. Daredevil doesn’t kill or wants to kill any criminals because of his moral code. The Punisher on the other hand has no problem killing them and thinks he’s justified since it does seem to end crime in Hell’s Kitchen, if not only temporarily until even bigger stronger villains come on the rise and challenge the established order.

One of my favourite lines of all time comes from The Punisher when he tells Daredevil, “you’re just a bad day away from becoming me.”

And I think that says a lot for all of a us. Please don’t mistake this as me acting like a priest telling you that you are all full of sin and should repent. All I’m saying is that it’s important to recognize your own capacity for malice, whether you’ve acted it out or not, and view villains as the expression of that malice.

You know you can empathize and sympathize with some of their reasons for causing mayhem, so empathize and sympathize with yourself whenever you catch yourself wanting to run those bad drivers off the road that cut you off or honk their blaring horns at you for tiny little mistakes. How you want to shove your boss’s face through the paper shredder because they’ve gotten your case about your work ethic or how your break lasted two or three more minutes longer than you’re allotted.

Silly examples, of course, but you know what I mean.

Within each and every one of us resides good and evil, whether you like it or not. Some things we do to hurt each other can either be due to ignorance or pure malice. Whatever the case is, sympathetic villains serve as a template of not only how not to be, but also how we bad we could be, just as much as heroes serve as templates of how good we could be.

So give it a shot; next time you consume a story see yourself through the villain’s eyes and see what it does for you. How does it make you feel? What steps have you taken, or should start taking, to avoid being vanquised by those who stand for virtue? Not to say that you don’t, but more often than not, there are dark motivations for good deeds. Something we can discuss another time, but for now let me know what you think and how the little experiment goes!