Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Taking Your Time While Writing

This post may or may not seem obvious. Or else ya'll are freaking out over what I'm about to say: take your time when you write. And after you write.

Some people write only 1,000 words per day. Others will stop once they get a chapter. Others will write, and write, and write, until they literally fall asleep at their laptop with a word count that's 5 or 10 k more than they had when they started. All of those are okay.

When I say "take your time," I literally mean: take your time. Everybody writes at different speeds and at different times. It all depends on your own personal process, of which is duplicated inside nobody else. Write at the speed that's natural for you, and your book. Because the first draft is supposed to be messy, and whether you write it in a week, a month, a year: the first draft will still be a first draft.

I finished my first draft of The Hollow Men in one month. Well, twenty-five days. I didn't do NaNoWriMo, but I started on November 1 and finished it the day before I turned nineteen (Happy Birthday to Me!). That was November 2013, and now it's almost May 2014, and I still haven't even gotten halfway through a second draft.

Okay, maybe a bad example because, well, ya'll have heard my rant about school. But here's where all of that time comes in handy:

-I'm not writing, but I'm thinking about THM almost 24/7
-All of this thinking has gotten me to come up with loads of ideas to make my draft better
-Taking time away from the novel has enabled me to break any emotional connection I had to that first draft

That last point is what I'm trying to get at. When you finish your first draft, you feel like you're married to it. You love it. When you realize that you have to hack away at it with a chainsaw and probably scrap at least half, you tuck it under your arm like a football and run the other way because how the hell could anybody expect you to do that to your baby?

Give yourself time away from it once you finish your draft. Odds are you're so burnt out that you can't even think straight, so take a few days or even a week hiatus just to remember that yes, there is a life outside that portal you call a doorway.

Come back to it fresh-minded and ready to edit, and you'll catch so many more mistakes and opportunities for the entire novel to grow.


Monday, April 28, 2014

The Basics of Setting

I came to the unfortunate realization that all of my posts tend to focus on characters. This is totally my bad, since the "creations" part of Mondays is supposed to cover other things, too. Like setting. And plot.

I'm going to make an effort to mix it up (like I said, my bad, ya'll!). So, today, I shall talk about setting. And let me give you a disclaimer: setting is probably the toughest aspect of writing novels that I deal with. I actually struggle with it immensely. So we're going to make this a learning experience for everyone.

What is setting, anyway? The easy answer is to look at a novel as a historian looks at their own work, when they use the five "W's": who, what, when, where, why.

Setting would be the "when" and the "where."


Time and time periods are important. If you're writing a historical fiction based on World War II, for example, you're not going to be setting your novel in the 1800s or late 1950s. Is your novel futuristic? how far in the future? Or is it present-day?


Asking these kinds of questions is good. You need to be able to answer them. Even if you don't have a specific year, it's nice to have a general idea of whether your novel it twenty years into the future or even five months into the past. The reader needs to know when they are, even if all they get is a line in the back-cover summary that reads: "In a dark vision of the near future..." (from The Hunger Games; source:goodreads). For readers of The Hunger Games, they learn that the title television show has been airing for seventy-four years. So the book takes place at least that many years in the future.

Do we ever get an exact year? No. We don't need one. As long as we have a general idea of why the heck the world is so different-which is explained in the time change-then that's all we really need to go off of.


This is just as important. Going back to the Hunger Games example, we know that Panem is in the ruins of North America. Divergent is set in a futuristic Chicago. The Fault in Our Stars is set in Indianapolis, Indiana. Not a Drop to Drink, my Mindy McGinnis, is set in Ohio. I have friends who write dystopian novels set in Italy and Spain. There's also completely fictional places like Narnia, Hogwarts, and Alagaesia.

Yes, even fantasy novels have a setting.

The point is, we, as humans and readers and writers, like to have a general sense of where we are, as well. We need to orient ourselves, to immerse ourselves within whatever world you create. we tend to make a map in our heads, so we need proper nouns, a name for this world that the characters inhabit that we can staple to the date and go, "Oh, I see."

The where tends to be a bit harder that when. Just a warning.

There's a lot more research involved. As the writer, you need to know the area, what kinds of businesses might be around, the landscape, the climate, the weather, the kinds of transportation. Don't try to put a subway station in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Trust me, we don't have one. Likewise, I'm fairly certain that Ohio doesn't do tumbleweed snowmen in the winter (don't judge, okay?). Taking a trip out to where you want to set your novel can help loads; or, if you have a friend who lives out there, you can cheat and ask them to take notes. Then there's this magical thing called the internet.

Then there's what I do: I make it up. Fictional towns and worlds are kind of my forte. I'll do a blog post about them in a few days or so (because they're SO much fun. Promise).

And this ends my little talk about what setting actually is, and why the heck it's kind of important. And I promise that I'll stop ignoring it in favor of characters.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Is There Any Such Thing as a Good Rejection Letter?

My argument: yes.

I actually had this whole other post written out for today, but I postponed it until next week because of something that happened yesterday. About a month ago I submitted a short story to my school's online literary magazine. Weeks later, I finally got my response, which you've probably guessed.

I didn't get it. But I feel like my rejection wasn't bad. I'm going to tell you why yes, it sucked, but why I'm not completely dejected. First, here's the response I got:

I want you to note how personalized this letter is. I mean, that's important. While this isn't an agent responding to a book query, it's still pretty stellar to get a response where there was actual thought included. There's an entire paragraph devoted to what they liked.

There are many people-especially up in the big bad world of traditional book publishing-who will receive what we like to call a "form rejection letter." That means there's a letter already written, and all they do is fill in your name, the title of your manuscript, and say "sorry, but no." Not in those exact words, but you know.

If they take the time to actually point out what they liked and didn't like? That's big.

And that's why I'm saying that yes, there are good rejection letters. When the person responding is actually making an effort, it means something. And you know what? I'm not going to give up. Because this isn't the first rejection I've ever gotten, and it sure as hell probably isn't going to be my last. I'm going to keep going.

My friend, Jelsa, from The Writing Jellyfish, told me that she got sixteen rejection letters on her novel. And now it's being published in a few months. Which means that one rejection isn't the entire world.

Here's the thing about writing: you need tough skin. You're going to get rejected, and you need to be able to accept the good and the bad, and get back onto your keyboard, and just keep writing.

Happy Fridays, ya'll.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Running Blind

Introspective moment, here: I have no clue what's happening with my life. And you know what? That's okay.

Everyone says it. Sometimes they're just being sarcastic, saying it because it's a common phrase that everybody uses, and then there's people like me: I have absolutely no clue what I'm doing with my life.

Granted, nobody does. Everybody has their aspirations, their dreams. And those are your figurative finish lines. But nobody knows how they're going to get there. That's okay, too.

There comes a time in your life when you have to accept that you won't be able to jump to the top of the ladder if you're only on the second rung. You have to climb slowly; you have to learn. The experiences you encounter are priceless, whether they're for better or for worse.

So I just wanted to invite anyone reading this to keep an open mind. Opportunities are everywhere, and it's up to you to pick and choose which are best for you, as an individual, and just take a leap. Trust that you know what's best for you. Even if you can't see that finish line yet, don't ever forget it. because that's your driving force to keep going.

I bring all of this up because I admit: I have no clue what I'm doing with my life. I'm running blind. I see my friends here at college getting all sorts of incredible opportunities, things that will lead them closer to their own goal, and I'm reminded that it might just not be my time yet. And I keep going and I keep stashing away little experiences, new ideas, and anything that I think might come in handy one day.

As the title of this post might suggest, I'm running blind. I'm terrified of the fact that I'm graduating from college in a year and a half and I have no clue what I'm doing after. But I have those dreams, and I have ideas. I want to live on the east coast. That's a starting point. I don't know where that's going to lead me, but hey, it's something, right?

Just always remember, and keep reminding yourself, about the things that matter most to you. Keep your head up, no matter how thick the fog in front of you is. Dance in the rain. You're going to get wet, but once the sun comes out you're going to be glad you did.

To end this moment, I'm going to quote my roommate: You're not actually as lost as you think you are.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Basic Tools for Editing

When you're editing your manuscript, there's an essential list of tools you're going to need:

1. Your Manuscript
2. Coffee/Tea/Caffeinated Beverage of Your Choice
3. Chocolate, or any other such kryptonite
4. Music
5. Movies

I say music and movies, but only if you need background/white noise. My roommate sometimes gets irritated with me because I'll have a movie on the television, and have earphones in (or my music will be blatantly blaring out from my laptop).

Make sure you're in a comfortable environment for yourself. You won't be able to concentrate properly if you're concerned with lots of people around you, or even vice versa, if you're the type of person who needs a busy atmosphere.

Something else I'd suggest: if your manuscript if on your computer, print it out. A physical copy looks and feels much different than electronic. In the same kind of theme: try posting a portion of it in the body of an email, in a Facebook message to a friend, on google docs. When you put your work in a different context or layout, it looks completely new, so it helps your eyes catch things that you might otherwise miss.

Also: if you're using a paper copy, use your favorite color of pen. It might sound weird, but seriously. If you love the way red looks, then use it. If that red pen intimidated you, switch it for pink, or purple, or orange. Stay away from blue and black, though; you want something bright that you can see easily.

Remember to take breaks, as well. If you've been editing for three or four hours straight, take at least ten-fifteen minutes to get up and walk away. Make some food, refill that coffee cup, go for a walk or take a trip to the gym. Keeping your mind refreshed is crucial. To go back to that paragraph on the atmosphere: sometimes a change of scenery can get you jump-started, as well. Even if it's as simple as moving from your living room to your bedroom, or as complicated as your house to a coffee shop, a change of surroundings as you edit can help, as well.

Note: editing is supposed to be messy. It can also hurt. Lock up that part of you that loves your baby, and let out that wild, critical monster with the scissors who wants to rip your story to pieces. Once you become comfortable with cutting and changing things, it'll get easier. It'll still be messy, but it'll be easier.

Happy editing!


Monday, April 21, 2014

The Danger of Labeling Characters

Here's something that's been stressed in my Form and Technique class: don't label characters.

It doesn't matter if you're writing them or reading them. My professor calls 'labeling' your character 'diagnosing' them, and frankly I agree that it's the same thing. And to illustrate what I want to say on this, I want to bring in Ronnie from THM:

She's a bionic super-soldier, amnesiac, violent. She can be characterized by sudden, angry outbursts in which she loses the ability to gauge her own strength. Heck, one of the things that I, personally, use to describe her is that she has heavy anger management issues.

That's where I want to stop: anger management issues.

It's a descriptor, sure. But there's a danger in using a term like that to describe a character, even if it's one of my own. What I have to remember-and you, too, whenever you're reading or writing-is that there's so much more to them. Just because there's one characteristic that seems to dominate doesn't mean that that's all they are. It makes the character flat.

It labels them.

As the story progresses, you should be able to see more. I hope that readers would eventually see Ronnie's fear; I want them to see that there's a reason why she holds back from people, and why she also cares about them so much that she's willing to destroy herself to protect them, that above all her loyalty is what shapes her. I want readers to be able to look behind her anger and realize that it's just an effect of something bigger.

She's not defined by it.

It's an issue of making sure your characters are well-rounded. When you first come up with them, there's probably only a handful of things you can define them  by. I'm going to admit that when I first found Ronnie, all I saw in her was the violence, the anger, and a detached coldness that pervaded her. One of your jobs as an author is to look behind all of those initial impressions and figure out why, and use that to learn more about them.


Friday, April 18, 2014

When Do You Know When Your Book is Finished?

The answer, here, is simple. Your book is never going to be finished.

You see, we humans are fickle things. Nothing is ever good enough, especially when it comes to the things that we create. We strive for excellence, and nobody expects more out of you than yourself. So you'll finish one draft of your book. Then you'll revise it. Then you'll revise again.

At some point, you'll realize: it's ready. You've revised it five times-probably more-and you've sent it to countless of your friends and beta readers, shoving it and a red pen in their face and saying, "Do your worst."

And let's say you hit the point where nobody has anything to say. That doesn't mean that you won't be nervous about it, that you won't feel like something's wrong.

You query. You send out the first ten pages, then the first fifty, and then you get a full request. Somebody loves your book. somebody publishes it.

Flash forward to when your book is sitting on the shelves of Barnes and Noble, and you've got a loyal fan following bigger than you could have ever imagined, and everybody thinks your book is perfect.

I hate to break it to you, but it's possible that you're still going to cringe. You might think, "I should have made [insert character here] more badass," or "This scene is totally wrong."

And you know what? That's natural. But a big part of being a writer is knowing that your first book might not be able to compare to your fifth. The more you write, the better you get, and if you didn't think there was something to fix in your first book, or second, or third, then I'd honestly be a little concerned.

Why? Because we're our own worst editors and critics. There's always going to be something you could have done different in your own eyes. But what's critical to surviving in this kind of world is forming the ability to stop and take a step back, try to look at it from a stranger's point of view, and maybe give yourself a pat on the back every now and again.

So will your book ever be truly finished? Probably not. But that's what makes fiction truly spectacular: the story always goes on.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Movie Adaptations

Today I'm going to play a slight devil's advocate role. Just slightly.

There's a lot of conversations popping up these days that have to do with movie adaptations of popular books. The Hunger Games has been breaking the box offices, Divergent was at least popular, The Fault in Our Stars is on its way and recently there have been announcements about Eleanor & Park and even If I Stay being turned into movies.

What I'm trying to say is: a lot of the current films hitting theaters are book adaptations. Or at least adaptations of some sort. Looking at the movies currently showing at my own local movie theater, four out of eight of the films are adaptations of previously known tales that I can name off the top of my head:

-Captain America 2: comic book
-Noah: Bible
-Divergent: book
-The Muppets: classic kid's characters

Okay. To be absolutely fair, Divergent's the only real (and I use that term loosely) novel-turned-movie up in that list. But a common complaint that I've heard just around my own campus is:

Where's the originality?

And then let's not forget the most common complaints after seeing the movie:

The book was way better. I can't believe they cut out [insert scene here]. That actress was horrible. I pictured [insert character name here] SO differently.

Get the drift?

And here's where my own Devil's Advocate role comes in:

Books and movies are two highly different forms of media entertainment. You can't do the same things with a movie as you can with a book.

But that's off the topic (and was just my own little rant that I've been dying to get out).

I mean, judge the movie based off movie elements. Not off the book. That being said, there have been some truly heinous book-to-movie adaptations out there (*cough* Eragon *cough*). And that's because the movie, itself, was done horribly. Like, I could have watched the movie first and agreed that it was butchered.

Back to the topic of originality. This is truly up for discussion because, as I've pointed out, many movies being released in recent times have been adaptations of some sort, usually from a book. And I've noticed a lot of interesting reactions to that because many people wonder if, now, it's just another way for the authors to make money and for producers/screenplay writers to be lazy.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Write What You Know

I don't mean, "I've been skydiving, so I'm going to have my character go skydiving." Not like that.

My friend, Hannah, had an interesting post on her blog yesterday. You can read it here, but she basically talks about how what's being published today doesn't necessarily reflect what teenagers are actually going through (Hannah, if you're reading this and I totally got that summary wrong, feel free to slap me).

I mean, I'm sure I'm not the first to say: who the heck falls in love with just one look? Or: why are all these girls so obsessed with guys? And that second comment actually applies to my real life, because there's me, who's trying to survive college and somehow find time for writing, and then there's everybody else who thinks that having a boyfriend is the highest priority.

Props to them, sure.

So what do I mean by "Write What You Know"?

I mean that you need to look inside yourself. What do you care about, what do you fear? As Hannah wrote:

"Teens are more interested in politics than dying their hair different colors. Teens want to read about someone who doesn't just go with the flow of every situation they're in. Teens want readers who ask the same questions they do when faced with adulthood:
Where am I going?"

 Consider the world that teenagers (such as myself) are growing up in today. To put it extremely simply, the world is a mess. My own hometown and home-city tend to be a mess. A few weeks ago I saw pictures of a protest that resembled more of a futuristic, dystopic movie set than the city where a lot of people I know are attending college. There's riots, bombings, shootings, wars, revolutions. The more people try to fix things, the worse they get.

It's a prevalent theme in many dystopian novels these days, too. Take Divergent: a world was created where everybody has a faction, a virtue, that they are supposed to uphold. And yet, this society was so fragile and weak that it didn't take much to bring it crashing down.

This is the world we, today, are faced with.

So why not write about it? Write about how stress and pressure collide to destroy a person. Write about how that strive to be perfect strips people of their compassion. Write about how you can't really trust anybody these days, no matter how much you'd like to.

Take those feelings that you have, from the world you were given, and create something out of it.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Minor Character Actions to Make a Scene Pop

This is going to be a slightly simple post, but I feel like it's rather important when it comes to creating characters that pop off the page.

Remember that post I wrote awhile back, about giving your characters details that are unique to themselves? Well, it kind of plays into this. Because you've got a name, hair and eye color, personality, and other traits that make your character distinct from the rest. Now you just have to keep reminding yourself that it doesn't stop there.

I mean, you don't just introduce them in your manuscript, give a description, and then make them a talking head. Character's don't speak for characters at a time unless they're making a speech, and even then there's going to be pauses, moments when they fix their shirt or make eye contact with somebody else. Most of the time, they're going to converse with others. Or even if they're on their own, there's going to be little quirks that only they do.

For example, if they're impatient, they're going to tap their foot on the ground, or their fingernails on the table. Their gaze might wander from person to person while they wait on news in the hospital waiting room. If somebody talks to them, might they get snappy? If they're waiting on something in particular, yes.

Like I said, your character isn't going to be a talking head; at least, not if you want them to be believable. Whether they're alone or with others, put the reader inside their heads (even if it's not from their point of view). Are they uncomfortable? Show it by the way they keep taking a breath to calm themselves down, or by the way they keep hugging their arms to their chest. Bored? Maybe they're picking at their fingernails.

Somebody walks into a room and surprises them: they're going to jump, and most likely the first words that come out of their mouth-regardless of what the other character says first-is going to be, "Oh my god, you scared me!" Then maybe they'll start cleaning up the glass of eater they spilled while the other repeats what they said.

Like I said, this is really basic: it's a continuation of remembering all of those details that you created way back before you even started your novel. The trick is to keep conveying these traits throughout their interaction with others, and as they progress through different events that keep changing their world. You don't have to tell the reader, "She was happy." Show the reader by the way she grins, or her eyes light up, or maybe she's bouncing up and down and trying not to jump.

Give them breaks in their speech when they look from one character to another, trying to gauge their reactions. Let others interrupt. Halfway up the stairs they hear shouting from down below; even if they decide to keep going up, they'll probably stop and try to listen in, or at least make a note of who's talking.

The bottom line: you can't rely on a description in the beginning of a scene to do all of the work for you. Show, don't tell.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thoughts of 4/10

I totally had this plan for an amazing post today, but what it comes down to is: I was up at 5 am to register for classes and I currently have the Lodz Ghetto, Dante's Inferno, Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher, and Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown on the mind. And I still haven't found out what my last research assignment for the semester is.

So instead I thought I'd entertain you with the thoughts that have currently been plaguing me:

1. For once, I actually really do know the reason why a raven is like a writing desk.
2. I really hope taking a class over the summer isn't a bad idea.
3. Oh god, I'm going to fail.
4. I'm going to fail, aren't I?
5. Okay, Rae, breathe. You got this.
6. Maybe class will be canceled again, today.
7. 18 credits for the fall semester? I really hope I drop one of those classes.
8. Okay, if I work on the Lodz Ghetto during work today, then once I'm back from class I can look for more articles on Dante.
9. What if the library hasn't sent me those articles, yet?
10. Shoot. Don't forget to go write those thank-you notes after Jensen's.
11. Why can't the library just have the articles that I need them to have? I swear it's like they want me to fail.
12. Ooh, look, coffee.
13. Chocolate. Definitely need chocolate, too.

Obviously my mind isn't in a very good place right now. My sentences tend not to make much sense, or my thought process, and all I can think is: in one month, I'll have my life back. Until August comes and ruins that, but I prefer to live in the moment.

Happy Thursday!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Liebster Award

So this is kind of exciting. I've been nominated by the lovely Lyssa Drake and Hanah Lyndon over at Poison and Tea for the Liebster Award (*cue confetti*). Like I said, this is kind of exciting because usually I'm the nominator, instead of the nominated.

The Rules (I've Been Given):
1. Post the award on your blog.
2. Thank the blogger who presented this award and link back to their blog.
3. Write 11 random facts about yourself.
4. Nominate 11 bloggers who you feel deserve this award and who have less than 200 followers.
5. Answer 11 questions posted by the presenter and ask your nominees 11 questions.

Okay, so . . .

11 Random Facts About Rae Slater:
1. I have a strange fascination with carnivals, circuses, and carousels.
2. My favorite superhero is Iron Man.
3. I have a tattoo on my right wrist.
4. I've always had a secret desire to be a spy, but when I think it through all the way I know it would never work out.
5. My favorite weather includes clouds, rain, thunder, and lightning.
6. I'm going to be an aunt in September/October.
7. Once I'm financially stable enough to have a cat, I want to name him Mako.
8. German Shepherds are my favorite breed of dog.
9. I don't like chocolate cake.
10. Birthday Apple Pies are a yearly norm for me (as opposed to everyone else who typically get Birthday Cakes).
11. As I write this, I'm secretly freaking out about three major research papers and a fourth research assignment all due in approximately three weeks.

11 Questions and Answers:

1. Which book(s) would you like to see a movie of?
Um . . . oh, gosh. That implies I actually have time to read books these days. *thinks* Shoot, okay. This is a harder question than I thought it would be. I would say Not a Drop to Drink, by Mindy McGinnis, because it's currently my favorite book ever. But do to it's slower pacing (all part of the plot, I swear. The book is practically perfect), I'm not sure it would make a great movie. So I'm going to go with All Our Yesterdays, by Cristin Terrill. Seriously, though; time travel!

2. Which one do you prefer with your books: tea or coffee?
Depends. If I'm writing said book: coffee. If I'm reading it, then tea.

3. If you could become any character from your favourite novel, who would you be?
Well . . . okay, this is a real big cop-out, and I apologize, and only because currently I don't have a favorite novel that's in the category of genre that I'd want to exist in. I've always been in love with the idea of cybernetics, bio-mechanics, and the like, so I'd love to be *coughs* Ronnie from *coughcough* The Hollow Men. Weird reasoning: she goes through a lot, emotionally, and I feel like she eventually learns a lot about herself, and also because she's super strong and super fast and she has a bionic arm. Seriously. (Again, I apologize for the cop-out, but I'm trying to be honest?)

4. Who is your number one book boyfriend?
Um. Okay. I'm not a romance-oriented person so I don't usually think about this. Um . . . Okay. Kisten Felps, vampire. From the Hollows series by Kim Harrison, which follows a kick-ass witch from a parallel present/future where humans coexist with paranormal creatures.

5. Is there a book you didn't think you'd like but ended up loving?
I didn't love it, exactly, but I was iffy about The Fault in Our Stars; honestly, I was afraid that everybody's gushing about it would ruin it, but I still liked it in the end. I didn't love it, but it wasn't disappointing.

6. What does your dream library look like?
Big. Dark-ish. Comfortable. A sliding ladder.

7. Do you have a favourite quote? What is it?
I have many. The one that's always stuck with me, though, is: "This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper." -- The Hollow Men, T.S. Eliot

8. If your favorite book was an ice cream flavour what would it be?
Butter Pecan.

9. What do you order your bookshelf by?
Space? Right now I don't have space, exactly, to put my books. I try to keep all of my series together, but with anything that's a stand-alone, it goes wherever it fits.

10. What is one book you could read over and over again and not get bored?
Um, well. This is actually a question that may or may not get me in trouble, but I can't read books twice. If I try reading them a second time, I wind up skimming, jumping around, and abandoning it halfway through chapter two.

11. Have you ever bought a book because the cover was cool? If yes, which book was it? If there are more, the last one.
Yes. It was Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas.

My Questions:
1. What is your favorite book that was assigned by a teacher?
2. If you could get one literary quote tattooed on your body, what would it be?
3. Choose your poison: weights, jogging, or the elliptical?
4. You can have any superpower in the world. What is it?
5. What is your favorite genre to read, and why?
6. Your dream job comes with your dream living location. Where are you and what are you doing?
7. Night Owl or Early Bird?
8. What kinds of music do you like to listen to when you write/read?
9. You're now a character from Sherlock. Who are you and why?
10. In one of my favorite books (A Handful of Dust, by Evelyn Waugh), the main character is left doomed to read Charles Dickens for the rest of his life. If you were forced to read any book/author for the rest of your life (and it's torture), what/who would it be?
11. What's the one genre that, no matter how hard you try, you can't read? Can't write?

My Nominees:
So, I don't know that many bloggers (le sigh), and Hanah and Lyssa  already took most of the people I know. I hate that I can't come up with 11, but here goes:
1. Brianne Moore, Late Night Radio
2. Raven Paramour, Carrier of the Snark
3. Hannah Hunt, Hannah Hunt

And now to end this incredibly long (I'm sorry!) post: au revoir!


Monday, April 7, 2014

Unscripted: Expectations

Hey, guys. It's been a while, and I'm fully content to blame me, myself, and I. Posts were supposed to be back up by Wednesday of last week, but instead what came was a series of poorly-timed things in my life.

Something's been eating at me, though. It's this concept of college, and it's something that's always on my mind. Remember all those stories where college was an aspiration? It didn't matter if you could afford it, if you couldn't, you went to college because it was a dream, because you wanted to. And what's happened?

College is an expectation. You go not because you want to, but because you're told you want to; perhaps more correctly, you're told that if you don't go then you're a failure and will never amount to anything.

So you go to college. What's next?

I mean, confession time: this is where I'm at. I'm more than halfway through my English degree; I have less than three semesters to go once Spring ends. But a common theme with myself is a sense of un-fulfillment that continuously leaves me either empty or questioning every life decision; usually both.

Most of the time, I just don't care about what I'm "learning."

Don't get me wrong, I'm proud to be here. But I also get this feeling that, if I had more freedom of choice, I wouldn't be here.

A common question that circulates is: what do you want to do after college? Well, I have my answer. I want to write books. I want to make people question themselves (not the way I am, but in a broader sense). I want to help people escape reality the way fiction always helped me escape, and I want to remind people of the more important things in life, things that both characters in a post-apocalyptic world and people of society today have in common.

So I know what I want to do. Where, exactly, does a college degree come in?

This is a question that I'm constantly asking myself, and I still haven't come up with an answer. So if you have anything to say about this, then please enlighten me because I'm not kidding you when I say that I'm completely and utterly lost.

Because I have a dream, just like billions of other people on this planet. But sometimes I feel like those dreams are lost in the expectations of everybody around us, until we lose sight of what we want because we're so bogged down with what everybody else wants us to have.

And every day-every day-I tell myself that I'm going to wake up and things are going to be different. But they never are, because I don't know how to change them. All I know is that I haven't been able to act on my dream because I'm so busy spending five hours reading one thing, and another ten writing a paper to prove that I can analyze it the way my professor wants. I'm so busy tearing something apart and shoving words into the author's mouth to create something out of my own imagination.

What happened to creativity? What happened to asking "what if," and coming up with pure conjectures, instead of being forced to gather evidence because your opinion is only valid if five others have had the same ideas?

When somebody tells me to come up with an original idea, and then buries me in guidelines about what that idea should look like, then it's just an idea. And when I'm limited in exploring human nature because I happen to study it a little differently, and because everybody else is telling me what I should and shouldn't want to do, then doesn't the idea of learning lose a little of its pizzazz?

I mean, maybe it's just me. And maybe this post doesn't even make sense, because I have a bad habit of drawing connections that don't exactly carve a straight line through my own thoughts.

I just think that there's a real problem when following your dreams means following society's standards.