What’s Next?

“2016 was the worst.”

If you haven’t seen or heard that expression at some point during the year, I would be beyond impressed. Between dramatic shifts in the political climate, worsening of humanitarian crises across the globe, and a slew of celebrity deaths, it’s been a tough year for humanity and the planet.

Not everything was terrible about 2016, however. Renewable energy sources have grown more affordable than every, there were notable moments of compassion amidst the chaos of mass shootings and civil wars, and despite an overwhelming number of dissappointing blockbusters, surpising gems such as Zootopia, Doctor Strange, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them delighted audiences (review pending on the latter, since I may need to see it a second time).

Personally, 2016 was rough. I waded through tricky employment situations all year long, which in turn led to some serious effects on my writing productivity. Hence, my absence since early November.

I also realized I’m not nearly as well as I thought I was, mentally. Someday soon I’d like to write it all down and share those revelations to people, but not just yet. I’m still figuring it all out.

It wasn’t an awful year, though. I took several road trips to visit people and meet some new ones, connected with a bunch of incredible writers and learned a whole bunch about how the world worked.

As a writer, I took ninth place in a writing contest, finished both the first and second drafts of Elements, and started my second novel, Uncommon Eyes. Not too shabby, and there’s definitely room to grow.

Writing all this down certainly helps me look at everything anew. Yes, this past year was a challenge, but there was a lot that came out of it that I’ll be able to build on moving forward this year. A positive attitude goes a long way, right?

Since it’s the time of making goals, here’s what I plan on doing for my writing this year:

  • Send Draft 3 of Elements to an editor, possibly an agent, by March 1st
  • Submit five short stories to magazines (only one of which is written and polished)
  • Write the first draft of Uncommon Eyes
  • Publish here at least twice a week: one blog post on Monday, one review every Wednesday, and (if possible) one story or writing exercise every Friday

That’s all I can think of for right now, as far as getting things started for the new year goes. For better or worse, 2017 will be an exciting year for everyone out there. Here’s hoping it’s more positive than 2016 overall!

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Zootopia

zootopia

Disney’s been on the rise the past few years, what with Tangled, Frozen, Wreck-It Ralph, and all the live-action remakes they’ve been pumping out, and Zootopia proves they’re moving full steam ahead. Tarzan, Beauty and the Beast, and Frozen 2 are all in the works or set to release soon.  As a kid who grew up with The Lion King and Aladdin, it’s good to see Disney come back into their own.

Zootopia was a pleasant surprise. When I first saw the poster for an animated kids movie with talking animals living in a bustling metropolis, I thought it looked silly, maybe a little fun, with a bunch of laughs for the kids. I was not prepared for the story that unfolded before me.

***Some Spoilers Ahead***

Zootopia combines the tale of the small-town girl in the big city with a police/political thriller, all wrapped up with anthropomorphic animals and the animal puns that go with it. Predators and prey have learned to live in harmony, the crowning achievement from this peace being the city of Zootopia, an incredibly diverse haven that can accommodate most any mammal on the planet (yep, it’s just mammals in this movie. Makes things way easier.).

Judy Hopps (a bunny, duh) is the first bunny police officer in Zootopia history, and she certainly doesn’t have it easy. Bunnies are ‘cute and dumb’, according to every single character in the film, including her own family. With every step she takes, Judy has to be more resourceful and clever than the bigger, stronger animals out there to even get by. All of this culminates in an ultimatum from her boss , who doesn’t want her on the force because – you guessed it – she’s a bunny.

Judy isn’t the only one who faces discrimination. She works alongside con-artist Nick Wilde, a snarky, bitter fox. And guess what? Predators get a bad rap for being predators, and foxes also get a bad rap for being untrustworthy. They end up working together to solve a slew of disappearances in Zootopia, or both of them are in serious trouble.

Part of the reason this movie works so well is because Judy and Nick are fantastic together. I’m not talking romantically, even though that’s what literally every fan wants. They naturally fall into a genuine friendship based on shared experiences and exceptional circumstances. You can’t help but be a little heartbroken when they fight in the middle of the movie or smile when they reconcile their differences. It’s also a huge testament to the abilities of Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman, who absolutely nailed the voices of Judy and Nick, respectively

***Spoilers Over***

The big theme in this movie is overcoming adversity in all walks of life. This certainly isn’t the first movie to attempt to convey strength and perseverance over all obstacles. However, very few movies out there manage to tackle racism, sexism, police discrimination, profiling, bullying, affirmative action, fear-mongering, and political scandal all in one coherent story, especially not kids stories. Admittedly, the plot is a by-the-numbers crime thriller, which helps enormously in presenting these issues to the target audience: kids.

There’s also something to be said about the timeliness of this movie. I don’t know if writers have access to a fortune teller who will predict what issues will be most pressing on people’s minds the year the movie comes out, but somehow Disney nailed it. With all the violence and bigotry in the world today, Zootopia manages to talk about so many problems in today’s society with surprising clarity and a fantastic message of hope and love. Don’t be fooled by the well-animated, lovable animals on the screen, especially the sloths. Zootopia is one of those movies that, despite the premise, leaves people thinking about the real world more than they’d expect. It’s classic ‘90s Disney with fantastic 3-D animation, and hopefully it doesn’t become as irritating as Frozen did.

If you’ve seen Zootopia, let me know what your thoughts are.

I’m always looking for new stories, no matter the medium. If you know of any great books, movies, or video games that you absolutely love, let me know in the comments and, if I hadn’t read it, I’ll add it to the list!