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Best Writing Advice

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Posted by on April 18, 2017 in Home

 

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A Good Pace

One of our friends works in a school system that was looking for runners for the SAT testing. You know, those people that collect the attendance and give the proctors breaks and all that jazz. Figured we may as well volunteer and get a little extra spending money for our time, right?

I started remembering the time that I took my SATs nearly ten years ago. One of my friends was freaking out before the test and was totally fine afterwards, while another friend was cool and collected before the test, then started worrying when it was over. The pair spoke of how they studied the night before for this completely randomized comprehensive test while I stood there thinking about how I had spent my time playing video games with Rachel.

In all honesty, at that point in my school career, I had already made the decision to at least start out my college years at a community college, which didn’t factor in the SATs. Tests never tended to worry me, and I brought that same approach to the SATs, despite how important they are.

Thinking back on it, I bring the same approach to my writing. While I do stress about my progress sometimes, especially when working around my day job, I tend to be relaxed about it. After all, writing is supposed to be a fun, creative outlet, and it is so deliciously satisfying when all the words start to come together.

While being too lax can bring complications, I think it’s important to be a bit chill in life. Once you find a good pace that allows you to make progress without stressing you out, stick with it.

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2016 in Home

 

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Right Direction

I first started writing actual stories when I was probably about thirteen or fourteen. It was in a green-covered composition notebook with an extremely cringe-worthy The Legend of Zelda fanfiction. I still have the notebook, having continued writing in it a few years ago when I realized it was only half-full. Little fanfiction-y snippets are still what fill my composition notebooks and journals, small stories that help me wind down at the end of the night and satisfy my need to mold those certain universes to my liking.

Back then, writing was just something fun to let my imagination run wild. I was around the age where high school teachers were drilling overwhelming college information into our brains.

Take those SATs. Get those essays ready. Join half a dozen clubs so your college applications will shine. All the while, make sure you’re well-rested for the school day with all of your backbreaking homework complete.

I always did very well in school, and many friends (and family) thought it was a given that I would go to a university for a nice degree. At that point, though, I was aware of the fact that I’d just started driving — how the hell was I supposed to know what to do with the rest of my life?

Not only that, but the economy wasn’t kind to my generation — jobs were scarce for college graduates and I wasn’t keen on paying tens of thousands of dollars for a degree. I opted to focus on working, earning skills (and thick skin) in the world of retail, while going to a nearby community college for my Associate’s.

I changed my major a couple of times while at that community college, from computer science and information technology to computer forensics to add in a bit of criminal justice. My interests were all over the place, and they refused to be pinned down.

I suppose it didn’t help that I’m not the type to enjoy a classroom setting. I enjoy learning, but on my own time, researching what I wanted to know and getting hands-on experience rather than sitting at a desk staring at a textbook. I wrote more and more on my own time to escape the classroom drudgery.

One day I started drafting up an original novel, a first for me. I think it was that point that the idea of being a writer took root in my mind.

Since then, I’ve been trying to focus on pursuing what would make me happy. I switched jobs from a clothing store to a day camp for dogs to get my puppy-fix for a while before being able to take a year off to determine what creative pursuits I wanted out of life.

I have a great government job now that’ll pay the bills with a steady schedule to allow me to continue going after writing and gaming and puppy-sitting. After floundering around and getting lost on detours for a while, I’m finally taking a step in the right direction for my life.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2016 in Home

 

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Sunday Scribble – “Fall”

The names George and Lilah were randomly borrowed from one of Rachel’s current WIPs.

Fall

No one wanted to be awake at this time, not even super-powered teens. Not that Roy could blame them – it took him an embarrassingly long time to get used to the early morning school schedule, too.

“Where’s Lilah?” Roy asked, his eyes gazing from the empty seat to the rest of the class, trying to pinpoint someone who would answer him.

“I saw her at breakfast,” George offered. Roy thanked him, certain that if Roy had been a student with George, he’d be irritated at George’s goody-two-shoes behavior. As a teacher, though, Roy knew he could depend on George for information.

“So, she didn’t sleep through her alarm,” Roy muttered, looking at the clock on the wall above the door. He marked Lilah as absent. “Well, she can deal with Ms. Parker later, then.”

Out of his peripheral vision, Roy saw a few students fidget and he tried not to smirk. Sierra Parker, while he was used to her now, had always been a little frightening with her stern expressions and powerful electric-based abilities.

“So.” Roy snapped the attendance book shut. “Who wants to summarize section four of chapter one?” No one volunteered. Roy continued in a drawl, “You know, from your homework last night…?”

Unsurprisingly to Roy, George eventually raised his hand and began summarizing. While George was in the middle of speaking, a sudden gale of laughter soared through the open window, capturing everyone’s attention, including Roy’s. In fact, Roy was one of the first to look out the window.

There was Willow with her morning biology class, the group gathered around one of the estate’s many deciduous trees. A student was using her wind powers to make the leaves swirl in a flurry of red, orange, and yellow.

Wait…

Roy cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, “Wrong class, Lilah!”

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2016 in Scribbles

 

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Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago I was a sophomore in high school and had been one of twenty (or so) students who won the school’s annual essay contest. Being picked meant that you would get the opportunity to follow around and be a city official for the day.

As a student back then, no one really wanted to “win.” The majority of us weren’t too concerned with politics and government just yet, but we understood it was a great opportunity. We would have just preferred for someone else to get that opportunity.

Aside from missing classes and the student government day dinner that night taking over the time that I would have spent doing homework (I remember being grouchy about how late I was up trying to catch up on the work), it wasn’t a bad day at all. Since the police chief himself was away, I hung out with the police captain and then the head detective let me practice in the shooting range. I signed a document that allowed the officers to change their shirt colors for a day, and they gave me a little badge and t-shirt during the dinner that night.

I’m not sure if ironic is the right word to use when one considers that I am a city worker now.

Back then, though, I remember when my English teacher called myself and another student up to his desk to inform us that he was submitting our essays for the contest. I had balked at the idea considering that I did not try very hard at all on my essay, with my sarcasm shining through on sections of it. My teacher apparently loved it and, lo and behold, I was a winner.

Although I had dabbled in writing even ten years ago, most if not all of which was fanfiction for my beloved video games, being a writer wasn’t something that really crossed my mind. Teachers had always enjoyed my writing, if my mother’s recollection of my elementary teachers is anything to go by, and the thought of actually doing something with writing took root in my mind and continued to grow.

My eleventh grade English teacher point-blank told me that I should be writing for the school newspaper after reading a creative writing assignment. In my senior year, my teacher praised how real my writing was for a personal essay assignment.

Throughout the school years, students learn all about the technical rules of writing, but my best grades came from ignoring them and writing like me. My best grades, my best writing, came from using my own voice.

And I think that’s how all writers should write.

What about you? Where were you in your writing ten years ago?

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2016 in Home

 

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Of Diaries and Journals

In my last year of high school, one of my good friends had gifted me with a notebook.

The notebook was light blue in color and featured a simple little cat with a fish. The cat (and, subsequently, the notebook) was fondly called, “Jeffury,” and it was always with me for the rest of the school year where I scribbled in it during every free moment I had. For the next few years, the name Jeffury was attached to every journal I had written in.

These journals consisted of stories, fanfiction and original, and just everyday rambles about school, work, family. I would always find the time to write in them while in school, both high school and during college.

However, when I left college behind, so too did I seem to leave journal writing. Jeffury VI has been half full for years now. I’ve continued writing, of course, both typing and longhand, but for some reason, writing journal-style has become lost to me.

I wonder, has anyone else simply grown out of certain ways or styles of writing? We all improve the more we practice and write, of course, but to see how one’s style changed like evokes both awe and a bittersweet nostalgia. I have bins full of notebooks, some full, some empty, some in varying degrees of in between. It’s always nice to take the time every once in a while to relax and write longhand, isn’t it?

How about you? What do your notebooks look like?

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2016 in Home

 

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Short Story Sunday – “Unknown”

A day late. Whoops.

Unknown

Steven had disappeared. Roy glanced around for the other teen, finding Steven’s absence from the room unnerving, especially since he had just seen Steven after dinner last night. He wasn’t the only one who had noticed. The first words out of Eddie’s mouth as he had caught up to Roy were, “Where’s the giant?”

Roy could only shrug before turning in his seat to pay attention to Ms. Parker as she stood before them at the head of the class. Even her eyes darted toward the empty seat in the back, but she said nothing regarding Steven’s absence before beginning the lesson.

Near the end of the class period, Ms. Parker asked if there were any questions, like always. Roy raised his hand, but instead of asking about the lesson, he said, “Where’s Steven?”

Ms. Parker pursed her lips. “There was another opportunity for him, another place where he could learn.”

“He took it fast, then, huh?” Eddie piped up. “Good for him.”

“…Indeed.” Ms. Parker glanced around the room. “Now, are there any questions regarding today’s lesson?”

No one responded and Ms. Parker dismissed them before the bell rang for the next period. Eddie was thrilled.

“Dude, we got fifteen minutes to goof off,” he said. “Let’s go outside of Willow’s classroom and make faces at her through the window.”

“You go do that,” Roy said, quirking a smile at the other boy. “I’m going to head to the kitchen for some water.”

“Alright, fish boy.” Eddie gave him a wave as he sauntered down the hall.

Roy paused, watching him go, then went in the opposite direction toward their dormitories. It didn’t take him too long to reach the room where Steven had been, finding the door ajar. His stomach flip-flopped as Roy took in the empty state of the room.

The closet was flung open, devoid of any of Steven’s sports jackets and polo shirts. There were no sneakers haphazardly creating traps among the floor after being unceremoniously kicked off. Movie and music posters had been ripped off the walls and his shelves were missing the knick-knacks and mementos from his family.

Roy walked softly through the room, glancing down from the window at the mansion’s back gardens. As he turned, his foot crunched down on something. Roy’s stomach threatened to throw up his breakfast as he gingerly picked up the photo of a beaming Steven with his arm around his younger sister.

“He wouldn’t have left that behind.” Heather walked into the room, sidling up to Roy as she glanced down at the photo in his hands. Her blue eyes were glassy. “I don’t think he left on his own, Roy. He would have told me if he was leaving.”

“Maybe he couldn’t,” Roy said, trying to sound gentle and casual. He didn’t want someone else’s girlfriend bursting into tears on him. He was sure he’d do a lousy job of trying to comfort her.

Heather shook her head and the mattress creaked under her weight as she plopped down on it. “He was talking about how I would go and meet his family after we graduated. He wouldn’t have left me behind, not like that. You knew him, Roy. You know how honest he was.”

Roy put the photo down lest he accidentally rip it with the way he was wringing his hands. “Well… What else could have happened?”

Heather hiccupped and tears started to stream down her cheeks. “I don’t know. I just… Ms. Parker won’t say anything, either. I just spent ten minutes arguing with her about it.”

“You argued with Ms. Parker?”

“Oh, come on.” Heather scoffed between sniffles. “She’s not that scary.

“There were always rumors about this place, though,” she continued. “I mean, about what happens after this place. Students would be shipped to places unknown, places that could use their powers. I think that may be what happened to Steven, but… I didn’t think it actually happened, or that it would happen so suddenly.”

“I thought we would get help getting jobs or something,” Roy said, sitting next to Heather. “That’s what I thought those rumors were about.”

“That would have made sense.” She used one of the blankets that had been left behind to dry her face. “But… there were darker rumors, Roy. Ones that had to do with getting rid of students who had useless powers.”

“What do you mean?” Roy hadn’t meant to ask the question in a whisper.

Heather’s voice dropped too. “Supposedly, years ago, there was someone with the ability to create clouds. Like, that was it. If there was moisture in the air, the person could shape a little cloud and watch it float off into the sky with all the other clouds.

“Anyway,” she continued, “so this cloud maker was doing fine in school and kind of learning to do a few more things with the clouds, like maybe make them big enough for camouflage purposes, but the student wasn’t learning fast enough. One day, the student just vanished. None of the teachers said where the student went, and half of them even pretended that the student didn’t exist in the first place. It was said that the school board got rid of the student because she wasn’t up to their expectations.”

“That can’t be true,” Roy said. “This place is designed to help us with our powers, isn’t it? It can’t just… give up on us like that.”

Heather shrugged, her shoulders falling as she gave a long sigh. “I don’t know… I really don’t know anymore. With Steven just up and leaving… I don’t believe he would leave and take another opportunity as Ms. Parker said.”

“I’m sure it was just a last-minute thing,” Roy said, standing up and offering a hand to Heather. “He’ll probably contact you as soon as he can, letting you know all about where he is and what he’s doing and when you can go and meet his family.”

She took Roy’s offered help and gave him a smile that didn’t reach her reddened eyes. “I hope so, Roy…”

“C’mon,” Roy said, eager to be out of the room and the conversation. “We’re going to be late for Tech’s class.”

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2015 in Scribbles

 

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