Thursday, June 27, 2013

Finding Yourself...or Creating?

I'm sure you've all have seen my little animated box off to the right of the blog. It's the button I use on my pinterest posts, though unfortunately you can only see the first part of it and can't find out the punchline...until you click on it. Mwaha! (Yes, of course that was intentional...ahem.)

So. Consider the statement. Life isn't about finding yourself; life is about creating yourself.

We go through life hearing people say, "Oh, she just needs to find herself," or, "He's going through the process of finding himself." Find yourself, find yourself, believe in yourself, on and on and ON AND ON AND ON.

Why am I getting worked up? Because for those of us still in the "works," this statement can be pushy and annoying. We're trying to find our voice and our place in the world, but for some of us it's harder than others, and the pressures of the world keeps growing and growing, and soon we feel behind and like a failure because we haven't moved forward.

My whole life I've felt like the one behind. I had two older brothers who were gone way before I even entered/was finished with high school, my friends are older than I and so they finished school before me and are in college/about to graduate, and I was (weird saying was, just FYI I graduated from school THIS month, so I'm still getting use to the...lingo?) the literally isolated, homeschooled, shy girl (still isolated and shy, however ;) ) who made too big of a deal out of it. I often felt like I was going nowhere.

Growing up I had so many plans for my life, but a few big events changed the way I looked at things and how I handled them, and I found my whole self changing. I realized the only thing I want to do and feel like I can do is write. I've decided to pursue online studies in writing and not go for a degree because at the moment, I don't feel it's necessary. However, I don't know about you and your plans, but right now these plans I have are scaring me. Freelance writing isn't necessarily a steady, well-paying job, you know. How is my life going to pan out? Should I really consider something else and putting writing on a hold?

I can give you an answer right now: No.

For so long I've looked at this in the wrong perspective, but lately I've been switching. I use to think it was horrible how I had so many different ideas for what I "wanted to be when I grew up." Then I was excited to settle on writing, but then I was afraid of the career and the possible instability it would give me down the road, and I became terrified of not having given myself other options. Do I still have time to change my mind? Absolutely. Am I going to change my mind? No. Why? Because knowing what I want, no matter what it is, is a blessing. The REAL question isn't how will this affect me in the future, but how will I LET it affect me in the future? What am I going to do with this passion? Shall I bemoan loving to write and hold myself back to keep from failing, or will I jump forward, unafraid of failure, and fuel my passion for the better?

I've determined to jump forward. My whole life I've been afraid of failing, but I'm not going to let that mindset get the better of me this time. I am going to study the craft, find my voice in writing, and see where it leads me. There are hundreds upon thousands of possibilities where writing can lead me, and to be honest, when I sit back and consider them from a wider point of view, I get excited. I don't know where I'll be led - hopefully somewhere amazing, but maybe it will be low-key. I'm going to be happy with either and be confident in knowing I didn't give up.

When people say they are trying finding themselves, I think it's really the opposite. They are waiting for their true 'selves' to magically come and find them. It doesn't work that way. You can't sit back and wait for your life to begin. You have to take the first step and get off your lazy bum and get out there. Create yourself - that's the only way you're going to really find your voice.

On that note, I'm going to have an announcement coming up soon about a personal project I am starting to plan that's really getting me excited. So, make sure to keep up with the blog so you can find out what it is ;)


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Summer Goals

Happy official summer, y'all!

This summer is extra special to me because I don't have to dread going back to school next fall! Well, that is, I can start my college coursework whenever I want, and I'm free to choose whatever I want to study. Sounds like heaven, right?

This summer and early fall are going to be extremely hectic for my family and me, but that's not stopping me from creating some goals I want to strive for in the next few months. I thought I'd share just a few:

**Work hard in my WIP, The Descendants of Drasia, and get a good chunk of the second half of the first draft done.

**Outline and start researching/creating 2 other story ideas

**Figure out a set plan for the courses I want to take to help me further my education in creative writing and screenwriting (and other areas I wish to study, which at the moment include History, Psychology, and German.)

I would love to have the first draft of The Descendants of Drasia done at least by Thanksgiving (sooner would be amazing, but if I've learned one thing, it's not to rush). I have lots of story ideas running through my head that I'm excited to get going, but if I get this draft done, I'll start planning the next book in the series and one other book (okay...and maybe one more, we'll just have to see where I am!).

A free summer...when it first starts, you feel like you have all the time in the world. However, by the time family vacations roll around, unexpected trips to the beach pop up, and unforeseen obstacles come your way (jobs, anyone?), it's fall again. I'm always amazed at how summer just flies by (even more so for me, as where I live the summer *season* is very short). So I want to encourage you all as you are making plans and goals, whether it be for writing or other endeavors...make your plans whole-heartedly, but DON'T get discouraged if you don't reach them in the time you hoped. Put your heart and mind into it, strive to do as much as you can with the time given to you, but don't forget to enjoy the spontaneousness of life. Beating yourself up or regretting not getting that draft done (or again, whatever applies to you) will only put a damper on the memory of your summer and discourage you from ever making goals again. Enjoy the life given to you, make the best of your time, and relax and have fun in the next couple months. :)

What are your goals for this summer, whether it pertains to writing or not? Sound off in the comment section below or on the pinterest link for this post!

**I'm leaving tomorrow for my own family vacation. I don't know what my schedule will be like, but I hope to be able to get a couple of posts on here in the next couple weeks. Bear with me if I fall behind!**

Friday, June 21, 2013

Write What You Know: Restraint or Release? (Pt 2)

Last time I talked about writing relationships you're not experienced with (using specifically the example of a sibling relationship) and how that can either restrain you or broaden your view.

Today, I'm going to talk about certain situations and circumstances, and whether or not it is even appropriate to write some things we're not familiar with. The example I'm going to use is death.

More than likely, you have experienced some sort of death, whether a grandparent or friend or even just an acquaintance. Death is a part of the world now, and in some ways we've become use to it. But what about that one death that shocks? The unexpected death that takes a life away too soon, leaving a family behind to fend for themselves.

We've all seen the movie about the wife who lost her husband and never thinks she'll find love again, and then meets another guy who makes her feel special. It's a fairly cliche, but granted heart-tugging storyline. But as someone who has never had such an experience...should I be writing that kind of story, or would I be offending someone who has actually gone through such a tragic loss?

I've thought about this for a long time because I came up with a storyline a few years ago about a wife who lost her husband in a war. However, I didn't even know anyone who had a husband in the war, and I, once again, had never lost someone so close. I was afraid I'd get the emotions wrong, make it superfluous and injure the feelings of others who have gone through this. So I stayed away from the story and continued to other things.

Let's take one of the words I used up there: Afraid. I was afraid...good excuse, or no? Let's think about it. What do you think?

The fact is, we're writers. We make up stories. If we stuck to writing about only the things we know or have experience with, I would be one person who wouldn't even be able to write a decent story. You have to be bold. You have to take the risks. Research: perhaps you know someone who has a spouse in the military, or someone who has lost a spouse to death. If you feel comfortable enough, and if the timing is right, perhaps they would be willing to talk to you about what it's like so you can truly convey the thought-process.

I'm not going to refrain from writing about love just because I've never actually been in love. The fact is, we are surrounded by love, and we can see and feel what it's like. We are also surrounded by death (sorry if I'm morbid, but it's true) and if we have a story that is tugging on our hearts, we should write it and not worry about what others think. Make sure you've got your facts straight, examine your inner emotions, and go for it. Release your creativity and be confident in your writing.

QUESTION: What's something you've been afraid of writing?

(**Click for Write What You Know: Restraint or Release [Pt 1]

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Write What You Know: Restraint or Release? (Pt 1)

Have you heard that phrase? Write what you know; what you have experience with.
Well, I never use to agree completely with that. The way I'd always heard it, it sounded like you were suppose to limit yourself to, well, only writing about what you know - and for some of us, that may be very little. When my dad heard I was writing a story set in Wyoming, he asked me, "Shouldn't you write in a setting you know?" See, I had never been to Wyoming, or anywhere out West, but as a writer, I felt I needed to branch out, stretch myself, write about things I wasn't as familiar with.

What I didn't realize is that phrase can be taken different ways - it can relate to all sorts of different things, not just your setting or what kind of job your main character has.

When I was in my young teens, I struggled with separation from my brothers. My oldest brother was off in college by the time I turned 12, and my other older brother was gone most of the time with his friends. I literally felt like an only child, and for a long time I dreamed of a better, closer relationship with them. Since I couldn't seem to have that, I began to create stories about brothers and sisters who were extremely close with each other, sort of a way to live vicariously.

However, when I went back to my stories a few years later, I wanted to gag. The relationships were not real. For those of you with siblings, you *know* - there is going to be fighting, irritation, and frustration, no matter how close you are. I had taken out all conflict from the sibling relationship and replaced it with ooey-gooey sap. I never intended for the stories to come out this way, but in the end the brother/sister dynamic reminded me more of a lover's relationship, not a sibling one. Not good.

I was writing about what I dreamed of and wanted, not of what I had.

I'm not saying that if you don't have a close relationship with your sibling you can't write about one. You do have to make sure you have a good perspective on that kind of relationship, though. Talk to other people who do have that relationship; observe how they act around their siblings, what they talk about, and take that plus the conflict you experience and tie it together. My writing in this area has greatly improved because I opened my mind to letting myself write about my own experience.

**Next time I will be writing about situations and circumstances. For instance, how do you write about tragedy you've never experienced?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Book Review: Fahrenheit 451

Today, I'm going to do something very simple to ease back into posting, and so I'm going to give a short book review. For school (which, by the way, I have now graduated! Hoorah!) I had to read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradubury. Often I don't care for the books I'm made to read in school, but this was one of those rare exceptions. I'd heard a lot of good reviews on the book and was interested in seeing if I would end up liking it myself. If you have not read the book, let me give you a little teaser and show you what I saw when I opened to the first chapter...

(Taken from Fahrenheit 451, Chapter One: The Heart and the Salamander)

It was a pleasure to burn.
It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python splitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history. With his symbolic helmet numbered 451 on his stolid head, and his eyes all orange flame with the thought of what came next, he flicked the ignitor and the house jumped up in a gorging fire that burned the evening sky red and yellow and black.

Guy Montag lives in the futuristic world. He is a fireman, but in this world, firefighters no longer extinguish the flames - they start them. Books are banned and modern technology has taken over the sensible minds of men, but when a mysterious young woman starts putting ideas of the old ways of world, back when books weren't banned and time was taken slowly, into his mind, Guy begins to wonder if the fires he creates are really that sacred.

This book was short and an easy read but incredibly thought-provoking. Though I may not agree with all of the author's ideas, I was reminded of the quote by Albert Einstein which says, "I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots." This is exactly what has happened in this book. Cars speed so fast no one has time to see the scenery, and no one cares if they end up running someone over; children are in school "8" days a week, and real families have been replaced by "TV families." There is no true interaction among people, there is no love between husbands and wives. You live for immediate happiness. Bradbury shows the corruptness of this thinking, and perhaps he is no longer so far from the truth.

I would recommend this book to everyone. It is an enjoyable read, if not a little disturbing at times just because of the despicable mindsets of these people, and it truly makes you stop and think of the world around you and your own life. (If you're someone who is sensitive to this, there is language in the book that gets worse towards the middle/end). I highly recommend this book.