Friday, September 22, 2017

A Writer Told Me

A writer told me to think about being a writer 24/7. He said that keeping your eyes open, your ears open, and being present in every day is how you practice being a writer. He said that stories you hear every day have the potential to blossom into a novel. He said paying attention to how you react to things, how you speak, and how other people carry themselves gives you insight into your own world and the potential worlds of your characters.

A writer told me to write every day. To get stuck in a routine of writing for at least fifteen minutes between the craziness of essays and the challenges of college. He said that routine will make it easier when you are eventually working on a book for hours a day.

A writer told me to fall in love with reading all over again. He said that reading books that make you want to write are the kinds of books you should immerse yourself in. He said that stories will surprise you, make you want to be the writer you've always dreamed of being.

A writer told me that it's okay to hate yourself. It's okay to think you're a terrible writer. He said that there are good days and there are bad days but you need to be willing to work hard at something and not give up, and eventually you will find your novel, your story, your calling. He said that good things will happen if you let them; that good things will happen if you work hard.

A writer told me to listen. He said to listen to what my heart wants. He said to listen to the people around me. He said to listen to the stories I'm reading and hearing and he said to write those down. He said that inspiration is all over the place, that you just have to run with it. He said this won't be easy, that it hasn't been for him. But he said it would be worth it.

Be a writer 24/7.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Back to School

There's a weird sense of adulthood that has settled in with me over the past few weeks.

This year, being in an apartment, sort of separate from the rest of the school and all, I feel this weird sense that there's so much more riding on this year than just finishing school and getting to graduation. There's an aspect of problem-solving on my own and learning how to live with other people where you're not just sharing a sleeping and studying space, but you're sharing a kitchen and food and chores. It's nice to feel so independent and to be able to make choices on my own but it also feels a bit daunting to be approaching the end of the safety net that is college.

There are a lot of things that I probably take for granted. Having the packed schedule that I get from taking college courses and having a job and such forces me into routine. I still get help from my parents for a lot. I still go to band and spend time with friends, but things just feel a little different. Only having the year left leaves me with a looming feeling. Not walking down to the dining hall for dinner every night means I don't always have a big group of friends to sit with.

Here I go again, into my studies.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tap Tap Tapping on the Glass

A new semester is arriving, and I'm about to get so much new information thrown at me. Writing on my blog will have to be a regular thing, but most things novel-wise will probably have to be put on hold. I have a lot of notes but not a lot of physically written chapters. Two and a half, to be exact.

Trying to figure out whether this is going to be cohesive and somehow good before I bring anything to professors at school is the trick. I want to have enough figured out that I can explain my concept and my characters and the plot and give them a sample of my writing without them saying this is not worth pursuing. I'm asking myself if I'm following the story I want to be following. Somehow, I think this is going to do something for me. Hopefully that something isn't just nonsense.

The hardest part in the next few months--it's a tie. Between finding time to actually work on anything I'm writing and sharing my work. Mostly, I'm just hoping I can write something that people will connect to. The way I connected to my favorite books growing up. The way a book I read today may catch my imagination and make me think differently.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Futuristic World Where Fake News Rules

Before digging into writing the novel this morning, I wanted to write about a piece of my inspiration for writing this particular story.

It seems we live in an era of "fake news." Stories that are false circulated around Facebook and other social media platforms around the time of last year's election, targeting one candidate or another candidate. Websites were found that literally generate headlines and stories that are in no way, shape, or form, rooted in fact. It's pretty terrifying to think that hundreds, even thousands of people read some of those stories and believed them without fact-checking just because something in that story aligned with their beliefs or scared them into believing it.

This went even further when President Donald Trump called reliable, held-to-high-standards news platforms like CNN and Washington Post. Kicking well-established journalists out of the press room exacerbated the distrust that the President--and his supporters--had in journalism. The news stations we are supposed to trust became "fake" in the eyes of conservatives who believed what Trump said. "Fake news" is now joked about on every late-night comedy show, but it has become a scary truth. People question media outlets that were once considered reliable.

My faith in journalists has not been lost, though--it's a tough job in the first place, and now that they're being scrutinized, they have to be more careful than ever. Keeping the public informed, questioning authority--this is what the media is supposed to be doing. For now, they're trying harder than ever to keep up and i'm sure that the good journalists are fighting to maintain high standards of journalistic ethics.

So, taking this idea--what if "fake news" went too far and everything the public knew was either a lie or only pieces of the truth? This is a question that this book is going to be centered on. The importance of truth and transparency in the media is clouded.

Hopefully to an extreme that we will never see.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

In a Beautiful Place 2.0

I wrote for the Odyssey Online for about a year--and then took a hiatus because I had a lot of school work. When I returned, I found my school's page had been inactive and no one would answer my e-mails.

So, I've decided I need to keep writing. Therefore, this is the start of a re-vamped blog page. I'm going to re-post some of my Odyssey articles here so that everything is in one spot, but moving forward I'm going to post at least once a week. I've set goals in the past that have fallen through--so this is just going to replace my weekly Odyssey articles with a little less stress and a little more freedom. (And separation from the "10 things" articles that clog the Odyssey page.)

Anything in the past on this blog can be viewed at your own discretion--It started in high school.

Now, the main reason I decided to post today: I'm working on a novel! It's post-apocalyptic in time but very grounded in the world today. People have asked me what it's about and it's not that easy to explain so I'd prefer not to talk about it unless you want to talk for an hour.

I'm about twenty-five pages in and it's slow. I have a lot more planned out in my notes than what I have written, but the act of actually writing out the sentences is a bit nerve-wracking. I'm definitely excited about it but I'm also intimidated by the amount of work ahead of me. Nervous about actually coming to the end of the story, but glad I've started.

While I'm working on the novel, most of my posts will probably be related to that. Here's hoping this actually happens this time around.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Busy Bee

It has been a busy month. In fact, it has been the highlight of my Holy Cross experience thus far.

Instead of going home for Spring Break, I went on the Spring Break Immersion for the second year in a row. This time, I went to Whitley City, Kentucky--which is on the list of top ten most impoverished areas in the United States. Though some of the contact with the people there and the sights in the area were disheartening, there was something different about Kentucky. All the people we met were more than welcoming, and so incredibly overjoyed that we would take our Spring Break to come work with them. I helped build a foundation for a house, and a ramp for another house. I volunteered at the food pantry for Senior Day, where hundreds of senior citizens came to get their share of food for the month. The state of the community may have been sad, but most of the people there were not. They were so pleased to see us, so grateful for everything we did.

I hiked a bunch of trails in the Daniel Boone National Forest, and saw several waterfalls. This was all done with ten other Holy Cross students, ten strangers that I got to spend the week getting to know. All the time we were not helping out the community, we were playing games, coming up with interesting questions to ask each other, and reflecting on the day we spent in the community. I went to Kentucky with ten strangers, but left with ten friends. All the people in my group are incredible and I'm so glad I got to know them. It was thanks to them that my week was so phenomenal.

While I was in Kentucky, the Men's Basketball team at Holy Cross miraculously won the Patriot League Championship. Just two days after I got back from Kentucky, Sunday Selection notified us that the team would be playing against Southern to get a spot in the official NCAA bracket. The next afternoon, I was on a chartered flight to Dayton, Ohio with the team, the cheerleaders, and the coaches.

Read my Odyssey article for the full story about that:

The trip was fantastic. We hung around in Dayton and went to the game Wednesday night. After screaming, cheering, and playing my saxophone throughout the game, we won. I've never seen so much excitement from the band and the school. I watched clips online the next day of game highlights and cheering students at Holy Cross who watched the game in Crossroads. It was fantastic. There was more school spirit that night than I'd ever felt previously from Holy Cross students.

We got on the plane to Spokane, Washington right after our victory. We were greeted with warm welcomes, and the staff at the hotels was incredibly kind the whole time. The accommodations the NCAA provided us with were great. I didn't have to spend any of my own money to eat or anything the whole trip. Although we didn't beat Oregon (16 seed versus 1 seed wasn't a very good match up), it was still a lot of fun. We returned to school proud of having gone where we went. Spokane was beautiful and my Waterfall count for the two weeks was up to 5.

It has been a busy month. I can say it has definitely been the highlight of my Holy Cross career. It is scary to think that I'm almost halfway through here, but I am sure proud of what I've done so far.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

An Open Letter to My High School English Teachers

Freshman year.
I hated Romeo and Juliet.
They were whiny and over-dramatic,
in the span of 24 hours they decided
they couldn't live without the other.
Reading it was just as tedious;
Shakespeare made up words!
Why do you think I’d understand what’s going on?
Despite the fact that I hated the play,
you challenged me to think about it.
I spent so many hours
in front of my home computer that week,
typing and re-typing sentences,
trying like hell to make sure you
wouldn’t write “awkward” above a phrase I wrote.
My other papers that year were fine and all,
but handing in my Romeo and Juliet essay
was like crossing a finish line in a cross-country race.
Getting it back
was like a siren call.
The next year, you used my essay as the example for
the next freshman class to read.
You can’t imagine how thrilled I was when you
were my teacher again junior year.
I read satire and Andy Borowitz,
learned that being the early bird
really is about getting all the worms;
I loved the class,
but continuously handed in multiple-choice tests
that sent me back with a feeling of impending doom.
The AP test didn't go as well as I hoped,
But we read the crucible after the test,
and my group made a video about Arthur Miller
that made no sense whatsoever but provided
some comic relief to his life of play-writing.
Senior year.
I’ll never forget that time we read Invisible Man;
discussing the human condition according to the book
made me feel like such a nerd (in a good way)
I won't forget the daunting timed-essays
that always left me absolutely crushed
Or that time my prom date knew English was my favorite class,
and had you interrupt our class discussion
with a new question: will Rebecca go to the prom with...?
You certainly had a sense of humor.
That class challenged me--but yes--I loved it.
It wasn’t until the end of the year,
when most teachers gave up teaching,
that you really inspired me.
We listened to Storycorps narrations,
I cried, I laughed, I fell in love with stories again.
You had us make our own.
The project captured individual conversations
I could listen to over, and over again.
Storytelling was never more important to me
than during those few weeks.
To my high school English teachers: both of you.
I don’t think I would have worked so hard
in my English classes, if it weren’t for you.
Because you pushed me to be better,
to get rid of my awkward sentences,
to choose my words more wisely.
I want you to know,
you are appreciated.
Today, I’m taking a Shakespeare class.
We started with Romeo and Juliet.
My only love sprung from my only hate!
You both inspired me to love stories,
inspired me to appreciate books.
And hey, why else would I choose to study English?