Writer Wednesday

Writer Wednesday

For Writer Wednesday, I wanted to share a poem I wrote a while back with you. As always, feedback is encouraged!

Make Yourself

Make yourself – no one else can. Run away
if you must, with intentions to move
forward, never looking back. Let your dreams
be snatched away. Kiss love goodbye
by not abandoning future endeavors down a
heart-bursting path. Compose your life
in a single line, only to live by those words.
Know it is okay to disappear.

Literacy and My Life

Literacy and My Life

Since I was young, I have been in love with books.I began reading when I was very young, right after I turned three. By the time I started kindergarten, I breezed through every book at a quick rate. From then on, I could hardly be found without a book in my hand.

Learning the alphabet, forming letters into words, and reading complete sentences on my own were the most important things I could have learned at that young age. I excelled in the “Book-It” programs (a sponsorship my school held with Pizza Hut where students had to read a required amount of books to win free pizza and other prizes). I couldn’t stop visiting the library. I remember reading plenty about Abraham Lincoln, panda bears, the Civil War, and plenty of fiction.

When I was in elementary school and challenging myself to read every single book in the Baby Sitters Club series. I probably read the first 100 books, including all their ‘summer specials’ – longer stories about the characters and their summer vacations. Reading these books started my real love for reading anything I could get my hands on. I got to the point where I could finish one book each day – driving my mother crazy, as I would always need a ride to the library.

As I was growing older, I started to mature in my reading material choices. I loved the required readings in my classes in middle and high school, such as Hatchet, The Outsiders, Of Mice and Men, and A Separate Peace. Understanding Shakespeare was also a large influence on me, as it prompted me to read and write much more, especially in poetic settings. Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, the Odyssey, and many other works have made me feel confident that my literacy stretches far and wide.

Everything I learned over the past 20 years have prompted me to continues my education and keep expanding my knowledge of literacy. Last year, I started a book club with my best friend. We both share a love for reading, and it became a way for us to stay close after she moved 3 hours away.

People keep saying books are dead, books are becoming extinct, books won’t be around much longer. I beg to differ. There is nothing like holding a book in your hands and turning the pages with great care. The smell of a new book is so comforting. Even though I own a Kindle (which I love, by the way), I alternate between reading physical and electronic books. I have a stack of books on my bedside table, waiting for me to peel the edges of the cover off the printed paper. There is not a feeling quite like the one I get when I am able open a new book I’ve been waiting to read.

A Writer’s Nightmare

A Writer’s Nightmare

I won’t lie. I groan, wince, and kind of die a bit inside when I see those three little words when I’m looking for feedback on a piece of writing…

“That Sounds Good!”

Ugh, what a nightmare.

Reader response sessions, or peer workshop days, often make me excited for the chance to receive educated feedback. Unfortunately, I seem to run into the same problem: feedback that simply states “that sounds good.” That last one makes me shiver; leaving me to wonder what in the hell can I do with this? Where do I improve? What parts aren’t clear? There has to be something else they want to tell me!

I remember from my first writing courses peer response days very well. Maybe this is because I feel robbed once I was given my first draft back. When I give a response to a peer’s work, I tend to spend a significant amount of time pouring over their draft while the recipient barely makes a mark on mine. Even though I felt confident about my writing, I still would get discouraged the minute my eyes fell upon that one, dreadful phrase: “that sounds good.” It could be peppered in with useful comments and suggestions, but I would still grimace.

In my experience, peer response has not always been very helpful. I asked some fellow peers how they felt about reader response sessions and we have come to the same conclusion. Peer workshops simply do not help; however I have found throughout my college experience that there is in fact hope – but not until I reached 300-400 level courses. Perhaps this is because it was not until then I was surrounded by other writers who take the craft sincerely. The fact that a draft “sounds good” is not up for discussion. Writers want to know areas of improvement, if the draft is clear and concise, and if transitions are used effectively, among other things.

Now that I’m out of college and writing in the real world, I finally feel like I receive constructive feedback when I share my writing. Writing in the workplace is a bit different from the classroom and I am lucky to work with people who are not afraid to voice their opinion about my writing. It’s very important for people to give feedback without feeling like they are tearing down the author, and I can understand how hard that can be at times. I often find myself thinking of ways to politely tell someone their piece needs work, but I try to remember how much I appreciate the honesty. It doesn’t come from a bad place – it comes from a helpful place.

I believe the biggest reason for a lack of response is that the reader is afraid to actually write what they really think. We are naturally concerned about others and their feelings, and the easiest thing to do is tell the writer that everything “sounds good.” One of the two people will walk away from the session empty-handed, and this should not be the case. “This sounds good” is a phrase that is generally unheard of and not accepted when it comes to reader response in these courses. The point of a peer workshop is to get feedback on a draft – this means the reader must question the writer. The reader must engage the writer to get the missing pieces. We cannot improve as writers if we are constantly told our work “sounds good” and we aren’t challenged to advance our writing skills.

(Photo credit: http://www.thepoetryworld.com/gallery.asp?ImageID=14175&Ink-Pen-Hand)

Why I Blog

Why I Blog

Why do you blog? Does it really matter to you who reads your blog? Inspired by something I read through 20sb.net – Why You Should Blog, Even if No One is Reading – I wanted to share with you all why I blog, and why it’s important to me.

I have written since I was a young teenager, but I have blogged since high school. I wrote in journals, notebooks, printer paper – anything I could get my hands on. Hell, I still to this day prefer to write with a pen in my hand. Anyway, we got the internet when I was in 8th grade, in 1997-98 (yeah, I lived in a reaaaaaally small town, we were a little behind…). When I was a freshman or sophomore, I started using one of those LiveJournal blogs – that was the first platform I ever used to tell the world what I was thinking. I have since gone and deleted all of my old blogs to start fresh with this website. When I went back to read the blogs I had posted, I realized I was such a whiner. I mean, really. I was one of those brooding lovesick teenagers who whined about the boy who didn’t want me or who broke my heart. First, I’m so glad I got out of that stage sooner than later. Second, I can’t believe I posted that kind of crap for everyone to read! But see, here’s the thing… at that time, it wasn’t crap. It was how I felt. I was candid. I didn’t think before pressing “publish.” I let everything out without thinking twice. Sometimes, I wish I could do that again and not worry about the consequences.

Being trained as a professional writer, I find it hard to just write and not edit myself, and not think things through twice once I’ve reread my work. It is so difficult for me to just let go and hit publish on a new post. I write it out, and I read it a few times. I edit it a few times. I sometimes will go through and just completely trash it after I’ve spent a few hours writing (what I end up calling) crap. I am learning to not write for my readers (if there are any, that is), but rather write for myself. I’m trying to go back to the days where I would write candidly and just press publish. I would be lying if I said I didn’t care who reads my blog – I really do. I want people to enjoy what I write, and keep coming back to read more. As a writer who wants to become a published author, I strive to have many read my work. Of course I do – I want you all to buy my first, second, and even third book (if I get that far…)!

So, now that you know a little more about that… why do I blog?

I blog for therapy. I blog to organize my thoughts. Even though I constantly feel the urge to edit, I blog to break that habit. I have posted more than ever for a few reasons. I am becoming more comfortable with posting my candid thoughts. I’m starting to not worry so much about my (sometimes quite conservative) family reading  my (sometimes) controversial thoughts. I blog to become more comfortable with myself and my writing style. To me, this is the first of many steps to getting a book started and published. It has become more important to me to develop content and post my thoughts/feelings/desires/opinions here. This is my blog. Not yours, not your mother’s. Not your sister’s, brother’s, cousin’s, boyfriend/girlfriend’s… but mine. I can post whatever the hell I want… because it’s mine. You may not always agree with what you read, but if you can value that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, we’ll get along just fine. That’s what I enjoy about reading other blogs out there – everyone thinks and writes a little differently than the next person. That’s what makes this whole process so beautiful.

My website has become the home for my writing. Like every good home, there is love, and I love my writing. I love to share my writing with my readers, even if it’s one person, a hundred, or shit, thousands (that would be awesome!). I yearn to nurture and mold my craft to become something great, to get a sense of accomplishment. I already feel accomplished not just for having one published poem, but being able to have an outlet to share my thoughts, feelings, goals, and life you. Again, this is my therapy. As I work to become more relaxed with sharing my writing, I hope you will continue to join me. Thanks for coming along on my journey.

Peace! <3

 

(Photo Credit: http://mbatemple.com/169/mba-essay-writing-tips-2)

Homecoming

Homecoming

John went to the airport with his older sister, Eleanor, to pick up her grandson. He was arriving home today from his second tour in Iraq. Eleanor had always been uneasy about Nick being overseas – she practically raised him. She felt more like his mother than his grandmother. She was proud he signed up to deploy, but still could never come to terms with the whole thing.

While in the terminal, they were looking out the window together, waiting. Waiting for his flight to arrive. Waiting to greet him. They should be used to it by now – all the waiting. Waiting for phone calls, letters, word that he would be sent home. There had been no announcement that the plane had been delayed, so they continued to stare out the window, waiting.

Eleanor sighed. John blankly gazed out the window. Neither spoke a single word. The plane touched down and finally made its way to the gate. They both looked down, and Eleanor grasped her baby brother’s hand tighter than ever before. She grabbed her cross necklace, the one Nick gave her before he left for his tour, and she said a silent prayer. She finally sat down, John joining her. They couldn’t bear to look out the window any longer.

After some time, they both let out a sigh when the gate attendant approached them, notifying them they could head downstairs and meet the escort. John informed the attendant they would go shortly, after they welcomed home the returning troops. She nodded and walked away to open the gate. One by one, the smiling Marines walked through the gate, cheering and congratulating each other. It was finally over. They were back to carry on their lives with their family and friends.

Nick was not with them.

He would never meet his baby. He would never see his wife one last time. He would never be able to hug Eleanor and thank her for raising him. He would never shake John’s hand again. But he would never, ever be forgotten.

 

This piece was somewhat difficult for me to write, because I have lost friends to war. Thank our troops for the daily sacrifices they make to keep us free.

(Photo credit: http://insightfulnana.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/american-flag.jpg)

Writing… for me.

Writing… for me.

Taking classes this semester while working full-time is killing my writing schedule. I’m anxious for May to get here so I no longer have to worry about writing papers for class, but rather write journal entries, poetry, flash fiction, and blogs! This semester has been filled with research papers and answering specific questions, leaving my creativity on the back burner for another time. In one of the recent papers I had to develop, I was able to show my opinion rather than keep it straight forward and display only the facts surrounding the subject. I enjoy writing what I know, especially when I feel strongly about the subject at hand.

I seem to never have time to sit down and write for myself and personal pleasure. I have been making my way through a couple of the writing books I began reading at the beginning of the semester, and I’m looking forward to finishing those and apply the principles to my own writing. I’m working on my writing schedule, and jotting down my ideas that could one day turn into a novel. That’s one of my problems – I have so many ideas that could turn into something huge. I have to remember to write them down immediately. I carry 3 notebooks with me at all times, keeping them easily accessible. I like having my pick of which one to write in. My fave? Moleskine, by far.

Anyway. I have a journal by my bed, and I keep staring at it before I lie down. I need to just suck it up and start writing something – anything – every night before bed. I also think writing first thing in the morning would help jump start my creativity, because I find myself waking up thinking about the crazy dreams I’ve had. My dreams are so vivid that they sometimes stick with me for weeks. The ones I want to write about seem to slip away within a few hours of being awake. This is why I must make time for writing in the morning, I think. Here’s to hoping I can stick to it!

When do you write for pleasure? Do you have a schedule, and if so, what time works best for your personal creativity? Do share, I’m curious!