Real or True

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In this modern era, we are all about the facts. One of my profs was speaking about how frustrating it was when people just try to figure out what stories from history are “real” and what was just “myth.” Sometimes they forget that myths teaches us a lot about the people back then as well. And I’m not saying that unconvering historical facts a bad thing. I’m just trying to point out a big problem: sometimes we forget the difference between real and true.

“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” ~G. K. Chesterton.

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Fiction is magic because we can reach people in a unique way. Bringing readers through a really painful  life through character can leave a much bigger impression then if you were to just tell someone that life is painful sometimes and you have to learn how to deal with it. You can inspire hope this way as well. You can show someone like them succeed. You can have them experience what it means to fail. Writers can also say things that people don’t want to hear and if they’re a good writer, people will often listen to them even if they don’t agree. Fiction can be powerful because it can go beyond beyond facts and transport us to a new setting. It can highlight unseen truths through new experiences. Like Chesterton says, a dragon may not be real but watching someone fight one can change your life forever because it points to unseen truths like bravery, honor, selflessness.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter whether he or she was a real person. It doesn’t matter whether they actually sailed that ship or fought that monster. They can still teach us truths that sometimes get muddled or lost in the reality around us, and they can teach us how to defeat the dragons in our own lives. Related image

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What Makes You Worth Listening To?

Everyone has a story to tell right?

And a lot of people want to tell that story. So when it comes to trying to actually make a living at writing, or at least making it a consistent hobby, the question arises: What makes me worth listening to?

I have thought a lot about it lately. Out of all the people in this world, what about my voice is remotely unique? And perhaps this can be food for thought: what is something only you can say? Here are three things that I have learned about my voice…

1. My voice is not afraid to speak of sunshine. Today we have a very monotone market: if you can make it depressing enough to make someone want to take a hit, make it shocking enough to make people squirm, or hilariously vulgar enough to make people gasp then your voice gets sold. People will nod their heads at the depth of your words–there is a subtleness in your sadness. They will analyze and admire your boldness–you are not afraid to say what everyone is thinking (but that everyone has said before). It is easy to sell melodramatic soul searching tragedy or quick and disgusting humor.

Sunshine isn’t like that. Sunshine doesn’t let you nod at your suffering,  wallow in and analyze it like a disease, and it doesn’t let you escape to a different world to take a laugh. Looking at the happier things in life, can be surprisingly unpleasant. It makes you remember what you really want and so it challenges you if you have not worked hard enough. If you have not worked hard enough to appreciate the beauty in your own life or haven’t really listened to the desires of your heart lately, listening to stories or essays that are more full of sunshine can be a slap in the face. I am not saying that no one else writes about happy things. I am just saying that there is a huge market for depressing right now in the literary world and my voice is unique because its not going to follow the trent.

And I don’t just want to give happy endings. But there is beauty in the world that is sometimes really convenient to ignore because then we do not need to challenge ourselves to do any better. When we remember better we need to reach for it, we want to reach for it and that requires a lot of work.

On a totally different note…

2. My voice is that of an intelligent ditz. Does that sentence work? Nope. Do I care? Nope. I like to think of myself as moderately educated. I am certainly not the smartest person I know by any stretch of the imagination but I am not an idiot. I can write but am hopefully somewhat relatable.

I like my style better when it comes to fiction. I actually really enjoy reading my fiction stories and will some day will become brave enough to share them with the world. My non fiction style is still getting stronger to (I hope:)

3. Extreme Empathy. I haven’t had the most exciting life. I certainly haven’t had the most boring life either–I could tell you tales about running along castle walls 50 feet in the air in Italy, driving the wrong way down a one way in Paris, or perfume filled prank wars. But all these little stories are cute anecdotes, I want to talk about more than these. I have heard so many stories that rip my heart apart both because of the suffering and because of the joy.

I want to tell a bigger story. They say to write about what you know. However, I have realized more and more that I know more than just my own life. Honestly, my sensitivity can be a problem if I’m not careful. Someone can tell me a story about their life and I will be left in tears. Sometimes when people tell me about something they succeeded in, I get more excited then them. My point is not that writers have to emotional roller coasters (although they often are, I believe), my point is that since I have all these feels I can use them. If I can use words that capture a little of the intense sufferings, joys, and experiences of others then my voice is worth hearing.

These three reasons may seem generic but they are certainly a start to a unique voice on the page. A voice that is not afraid of the darkness in each human heart or the intense suffering we wish wasn’t real but is also not afraid to look at the beauty beyond the suffering and challenge us to raise our eyes up and remember to laugh with the joy in our hearts.

Mini modern adventures…recalculating…recalculating…

I get lost. Frequently. Not on purpose. But those little escapades sure give me ideas for stories:) And even when they don’t, I can at least laugh at myself.

I am coming from a long day at school to go to volunteer at a theater. Perfect energetic way to end my day, right? I’m all dressed up and feeling pretty sophisticated. Fast fact about me: dressing up raises my energy levels and makes me feel so darn girly! *little girly squeal* And sure I normally get lost but I had a GPS that talked to me on my phone.

Turn right. 

That friendly GPS lady, where would I be without her?….literally…

Keep straight for 1.7 miles.

Oh my gosh I love down-towns!!! Soaring towers try to touch the sky and are patterned with light. People of every color and dress are walking the streets and you can feel the energy of the city even at night.

Turn left.

I can see the glowing dome of a church that’s all lit up that’s so eerie it gives me shivers but so beautiful that I make a note to myself to put that on my list of things to visit some day when I’m on break. Its awesome! Wait??? Turn left?

Recalculating…

Recalculating

I managed to get my GPS confused and my destination wasn’t even that far away. I’ll just keep going straight for now. At a stop light and I tried to take a quick picture but I could capture the glittering majesty of it of all the man made beauty around me. Plus my windshield was dirty:P

Turn left.

Which left?! I’m at a six way stop. Have you ever been to one of those intersections in the cities? They just leave me so confused!

Recalculating.

Guess it wasn’t that left…hehe.

To any concerned-I did make it to the destination without being too late. But the moral of the story is that enjoying life and dealing with the little wrinkles in your plans can end up being kinda fun.

Was there any time that you got lost and it inspired a story?

The Montage Before Victory

You know that part in every inspirational movie where the hero is working out all sweaty in the gym before he wins the boxing match or that one most important game? Or you know that scene where she keeps falling on the ice over and over before she gets that perfect performance in front of thousands? I’m not referring to an exact movie, I am just saying in general. There is always that montage in the movie that is super important because it is when all the hard work happens but we see all that repetitive struggle that is eventually going to pay off in an epic win at the end.

Well, if you are wondering how I am doing with my November goals, the answer is I’m having my ups and downs but over all I am starting to slowly tell a difference! I can do my workouts harder, I have a good word count on my novel already, I have been praying every day, and my head is exploding with spanish verbs. I’m not exactly living the craziest of adventures at this exact moment but these are the moments that are going to make the craziest adventures possible, not to mention the most epic wining. So I’m pretty happy.

Living the montage. It’s all about keeping the goals in mind and living in the moment of transformation.

Beauty That Makes You Cry

Is this just me?

There is something you have seen a hundred times, something powerfully beautiful, or maybe even subtly beautiful but it is something you have only seen on a page or screen.  It is something that makes you think about things differently like the spires of a gothic cathedral that makes you look up or the soft colors in an impressionist painting or the stretching line of the ocean. It makes you feel different just by looking at it on the page but you have never actually seen it in physical form. Perhaps you have an art book or a travel guide for that trip you will take “some day” or you have seen the place in your favorite tv show…There is something you hold dear about that particular thing, that particular piece of beauty…And yet you have never even seen it.

I have so many places like this. It’s really magical knowing that there are whole new worlds of beauty just outside my finger tips that I can’t quite reach.

But perhaps… I can. I remember the first time that I saw St. Peters. The incredible columns were ones that I had seen hundreds of times before in my life when watching papal events or reading art books about the Vatican. I walked between the pillars and suddenly realized I was standing in the beautiful pictures that had already captured my heart.

It is an odd sensation to suddenly realize you are at home when you have never yet been to a place. And yet… it is possible

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Coming back to America, I have found that my life is filled with less of these awe filled moments. I am too busy working to be a tourist here and I am focused on what I need to do more than the moments that need to be. But yesterday I went the museum with a friend who shares my passion for art and far surpasses me in my knowledge of it.

At one point she told me to close my eyes and moved me through the gallery. Some how, miraculously,  I didn’t trip but finally paused. She told me to open my eyes.

Van Gogh’s painting of the Olive Trees were right before me.

It’s random, I know… but not for me. Olive trees say Rome, beautiful memories, the sense of peace and home that came with resting in Italian country side. I have loved this painting before I saw it because of all the memories it had for me. We had often talked about Van Gogh–how the pain in his life had ended up bearing fruit of loveliness. Suffering often results in despair or beauty like nothing seen before (sometimes both).

It is hard to capture all that the painting or the moment meant to me but it meant a lot and it was so perfect that my eyes stung with tears.medium

Crying with beauty. It doesn’t happen very often. Perhaps for some, it never happens at all. But for me, it is one of those rare moments in life where everything seems to come into clearer focus. Its a moment where I am completely at home.

 

The New November

So now that I have made some pretty big long term goals, it’s important that I start with smaller goals. It’s the beginning of a new month, it is the perfect time to start. Ordinarily when I think about November, I think no more lovely fall colors, frigid cold without the sparkle of snow, and gray days. I’ve decided to rethink this November. This November is a time for new beginnings. For starting to achieve all those big goals I have set before me.

So this November I am going to Write a BookNanowrimo is an amazing community for writers who want to complete a novel, meet other writers, and get amazing rewards for all their hard work. I did it last year and it was completely awesome. I am pretty exited to start it again this year! So breaking it down day by day: I will type roughly 1,700 words a day.

This month I am going to get a Whole Lot Stronger. This website has some incredible challenges for every level.  I have picked out the core challenge and the burpee challenge.  One top of these challenges I am planning on boxing when I have a little extra time and learning some new dance moves. However, day to day my goal will be: complete one day of both of the challenges.

This month I am also going to Pray More. My Catholic faith is incredibly important to me and I want to make sure that I am taking time no matter how busy my schedule gets to really think about the things that really matter to me. So every day I play on praying for 1/2 hour as well as either going to mass or praying a rosary every day.

This month I am going to reach a Conversational Level of Spanish. I plan on going through books that I have, memorizing verbs and grammar rules, hanging up vocab signs and phrases in my bathroom, and reading through some spanish books and practicing with my brother. Breaking it down day by day: I will be practicing spanish for an hour a day but on top of that I will be practicing it whenever I go into the bathroom.

Let November begin! 🙂

 

My Life as a Video Game

So Steve over at Nerdfitness.com has been a huge source of information, inspiration, and amusement for me for over the last couple of years. In one of his latest posts he talked about how he made his life a video game. Instead of looking at a screen and living vicariously through the characters he sees he wanted to live vicariously through himself. He talked about how he hopes others will also do what he did and so that is what I have decided to do. I’m not as big of a gamer as he his but this is a way for me to clearly lay my dreams before my eyes and have something to shoot for. I’m pretty excited and am grateful as always for Nerdfitness.com and how it is helping me level up my life.

My Own Epic Quest of Awesomeness is all about living an adventurous, colorful life that reflects all that I love and believe in. Each Level is 50 points each. I’ll keep adding goals as my bucket expands and blog about the amazing things I’m able to cross off. So check it out–my game of life🙂

What would your game of life look like?

Wooden Water

“Is it nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And, by opposing, end them?”

Poor Hamlet! I’m totally asking the same question right now. I’m a senior; it’s ok if I have the tendency to question whether I should do homework. It’s called procrastination. I do it well. But I’m a writer so I am going to let you know how I feel. Hopefully, it won’t be an obnoxious rant. (Or a slightly more educated rant like this.) I’m going more for melodramatic prose which borders on poetry (which can also be obnoxious. I thought I should give you fair warning!). Just think of me as an up and coming (and hopefully surpassing) Sandra Cisneros;)

Wooden Water: paper sheaves  which drown me underneath their weighty impact on my life. What is an A or B stamped across the crafted page? It’s a label which stains my work and perhaps my future for better or worse. A stain which may color the fabric of a transcript and color me into a category: failure or nerd. Magna, summa, or no honors at all. 

What does it matter? But how can it not? Never study so hard that you forget to live life. A grade is a color but only one in a grand scheme. Ask deeper questions like what does it mean? 

Ok, I’ll be honest, I scratched this down while in class and just thought I’d share it. My life stance seems to take a exponentially more pessimistic view when I am in certain classes and an overly optimistic view when I’m in others. Who knows, maybe the two extremes will leave me a very balanced individual 🙂

Thus Dies Originality

Writers like writing about writers. They say write about what you know and it makes sense that if you are a writer you will know all about the writing process. Not only is this pathetically uncreative, its a pretty crappy topic to chose because its already flooding the writing/reading world.

Take, for example, this post.

Ironic, huh?

Disgusting. I can’t believe I got sucked into this. They told me to write about what I know about and now I am practically as boring as every beginner. So let me write about something original. I will as soon as I know exactly what original means.

I think of original as something new. It looks like the dictionary is pretty much on my side: “not a copy or imitation.” No matter what it is whether it is a story idea, a purse, or a life, we want it to be original. I think that being original sounds pretty good until I look at the writing industry today. Another teenage girl falling in love with Mr. Hot-and-Angsty?  Seriously? They told me to be original but what is getting published today certainly doesn’t always follow that standard. The market is flooded with the same topics: loves sick teens, how to lose weight, and depressing memoirs. Why do people keep reading this stuff? I’m not so convinced that a new topic is really what up and coming writers should be focused on.

And then your teacher comes along and tells you that there are only ten story lines and a thousand variations.That’s pretty depressing. I would like to read more than ten stories in my life… if possible. Sue me. Is this seriously my fate as a writer? Re-tell stories over and over? Tell people what they have heard a thousand times before and keep telling them that till long after we are both sick of hearing it?

What about my favorites? Shakespeare who changed our language? What about hipster Stoker who liked vampires before writing about them was beating a (un)dead horse? I don’t know about you, but I would really prefer to be the kind of writer that Shakespeare and Stoker were.

Let’s look at Shakespeare. Only one of his plays that I know of was an original story line. Interesting right? It was all about how he told it, his insane power with words. (So basically, if I was Shakespeare I could write yet another Hunger Games wannabe and make it appealing, maybe even fill it with some deep themes. As tempting as that is that doesn’t really seem to be the answer.) During the Victorian Era vampires were already “a thing.” It wasn’t like Stoker was actually all that hipster (sorry to break it to you!). Stoker was brilliant because he captured readers with his new style of writing that uses many points of view and made monsters sexy. (So the answer is get more progressive with the structure of the story until we have un-defined the novel and make it risqué enough to keep people’s attentions.)

Actually, what these authors have in common is an innovative voice. They have an accent that no one has heard yet so everyone wants to know where the heck they are coming from. They were able to talk about people and things that we already knew about. However, we had never seen the story or characters the way that they had seen them. They had an original voice.

Having a similar story isn’t bad. It’s actually the opposite. Sure, we get sick of hearing the same story, but don’t we always want to have that, “No way! You to?” moment? We want to know what other people did when they were feeling the same as us. We want to know that  certain struggles have always been; we are not excluded from the rest of humanity. Universal human experience should leave us with stories that encourage solidarity not boredom. We are going to have similar stories (praise God!), but we shouldn’t bore each other. We need to use a unique voice. Perhaps the answer to originality is all in the voice. Good writers have a unique voice.

Doesn’t everyone?

Just to make this depressing post all over again, everyone has their own voice. I don’t know a single person who is exactly like another person. I’m going to assume that everyone is unique. I definitely don’t want to listen to everyone. So we are right back to where we started. How am I as a writer going to make myself heard?

Someone once told me that the trick to being a good writer is writing about something that no one else can. So…in other words they were just prettying the phrase “write what you know about” and throwing it back at me. They were also saying to make it original. It needs to be your voice.

Sure.

But it also needs to be a voice that they can’t imagine if they haven’t heard you. You need to be confident in your own perspective to create your own accent so that they’ll wonder where you are coming from? Where are you from/who are you that makes you look at the world like that?

You are probably wondering why I wanted to make you listen to my writing about writing. Sorry. I just wanted to know that originality is not dead. Writing about writing seemed like a good place to start thinking about that. And if you write about writing recreationally, tell me why its valuable? You probably do it better than me and so justify yourself partially. How are you original? The best answer I have to keeping originality alive in writing is writing about something that no one else can write about.

So excuse me while I go figure out what I know about that only I know about.

 

Five Pinterest Points

As a girl who spends all my a substantial amount of time pinning things… I feel that a defense is necessary. It’s top five friday so I’ll list five reasons that a girl should spend her time pinning things on her board.

1. Pinterest is inspiring. I always want to work out and do crafts after being on my board. Not that I always follow through but if I ever need inspiration, its there.

2. Is like a cookbook. If double chocolate peanut butter cake exists, I want to know. Wouldn’t you?

3. It’s great for story ideas! And as a writer, that is important.

4. You can connect with other people in your fandom. I am able to bond with other like minded people in our obsession over Benedict Cumberbatch, Tangled, and Narnia.

5.  It can add some humor to your life. As a college student, I find it part of my duty to keep my mental health at least in part intact. I do this by adding laughter to crazy days.

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If you want to follow me feel free:) I’ll probably follow you right back! 🙂