Monday, June 17, 2013

Personal Parallels in my Stories

Hello, hello, hello! I'm writing this post between camp and dance class, so it'll be a one-shot deal.* Forgive any typos or awkward phrasing.

“How have both the people in your life and your own personal experiences impacted your writing? Do you ever base characters off of people you know?

One of my problems with writing is that I often tend to base things too closely off my own personal experiences.  I tend to do this more in NaNoWriMo than I do any other times. For example, "Quick! I need to figure out the layout of Helen's school!" "Well, just use the layout of your own school." Or, more often, "Aaaah, I need a new background character!" "Just take this trait from your little brother and make her a more subdued version of friend B, then give her the first name of that one girl you dance with and the last name of that boy in your Honors English class."**

When I actually plan major characters, at least one is always inspired by someone in my real life. Now, the biggest mistake I ever made with this was with my 2012 NaNo. My main character, Helen, (who I will say now, is nothing like me) had a best friend, Adi, that was inspired by one of my very best friends in the world. Now, personality-wise, Adi is nothing like my friend. What they share, though, is that they both have a twin brother and Adi struggles with depression. Now, Adi quickly became disconnected with my friend in my head as I was planning. 

Of course, one of the major plot points was Adi committing suicide. I didn't associate it with my friend until I got to writing that scene, but I sat there at the computer typing by feel because my eyes were streaming with tears. Not only because of connection to the character, but because I was scared. I was writing in first person from Helen's perspective, and it all just felt too real. It's a terribly written scene, because I was too overwhelmed to write it well. 

I actually think that this specific scene is why I haven't been working on novels as much this winter and spring.*** It scared me so much that I'm having a hard time writing more stories like that. I've continued blogging and writing poetry, but I need to muster up the courage to give noveling another try, and not be frightened. 

But, dear reader, consider yourself warned. Don't base characters who die off your friends, even very vaguely, or you will be scared away from writing for a good six months. 


Wow, what started off as a trivial post turned into something... deep.**** I hope you aren't too scared of me now. :)*****

Farewell, lovely readers! Take a cookie for the road. 



*Actually, I ended up finishing this after dance class, but I need to go take a shower and go to bed, so it's still not getting edited. Sorry I'm not sorry
**And yes, I really do talk to myself like this. Actually, it's often more condescending. 
***Wait, is spring over already? Isn't it still the end of April?
****This sentence is really awkward. Actually, this whole post is really awkward. 
*****Ugh, did I really just use a smiley-face in my blog post? And now these notes look like I'm swearing. Better end them soon.

June Blog Chain Participants:
26th – (We’ll be announcing the topic for next month’s chain.)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Storytelling, Or Something Like That

Hello, everyone! Welcome to my stop on the blog chain! Now, if I were a gracious host, I would offer you all some lemonade and freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies, but alas, this is the internet, and any cookies I could offer you are some form of browser download that I don't fully understand, not being a web developer like my father. Also, I'm sure at least one of you is allergic to gluten or dairy or eggs or something in said hypothetical cookies, and I would hate to make you ill. That is, shall we say, rude

Forgive me if this post is a little shorter or less eloquent than usual. Today I took my state's standardized writing test, and I'm also finalizing my credo for Coming of Age at church, so I'm a little worded-out. (Ha! As if that's even possible!) We'll see how this goes.


“What is your ultimate goal as a writer?”

I have always been a little baffled as to why I love to write. They say that writers tend to be people who like to be behind-the-scenes and generally dread the spotlight. ("They", of course, being other authors with somewhat influential powers.) They say that authors and performers are about as different as any two people can be. Apparently I break the rules: I love writing, and I love the stage. The reason I don't get to spend more time with my characters is because I spend so much time at dance and theatre. Next year, I'm taking both Choir and Orchestra at school, along with Honors English. 

This prompt is actually very closely related to something I've been thinking about a lot lately. Over the past year or so, I've been struggling to figure out the common theme between all the things that I love to do. I guess I had some sort of epiphany a month or so ago (if epiphanies can occur while sitting on the couch in sweaty dance warm-ups, eating double chocolate brownie ice cream and watching Worst Cooks in America*) when I realized that what I love is storytelling. I love being passionate about things and being able to portray that in a way that other people can share my excitement, whether it be through writing, singing, dancing, acting, or playing violin, or any other strange method you can think of. And when I'm not doing one of these things, it consumes me. I believe it was Ashley Clements who said something like, "Once you discover that you love storytelling, you never want to do anything else."** (That's definitely not a direct quote. Seriously. I mean it. Don't look it up because you won't find anything.)

So I guess my ultimate goal as a writer is to tell stories. (Duh.) I want to make people hold back tears while reading in class, or laugh out loud while curled up on the couch at home, momentarily startling their sleepy cat.*** I want to make people feel emotions so fervently that they have no idea what to do with themselves, so they obsess over it until it takes over every fiber of their beings, and then they finally realize what the entire  purpose of the story is and are able to tell it better than I ever could, so they tell it in their own way that makes it start all over again.

You see, it's a cycle of creativity and of sharing and of storytelling, and my goal as a writer (and a dancer, actress, singer...) is to be a fully functioning part of this cycle. If that makes any sense whatsoever.

I apologize for the lack of cookies. As I mentioned, I've been busy! 

...I know, I know. Still no cookies. Next time. 

So, thanks for reading this. I'd really love to hear your comments on the topic, or critiques for my writing. Keep being the supercool person that you are. :)



*I'm not sure it was actually Worst Cooks in America. It could have also been The Amazing Race or The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. 

**Actually, I just discovered that it was a Reddit user on Ashley's AMA from the other weekend. But she has also said a lot of things pretty close to that, so.

***Don't worry, I don't wish any harm to any cats. Ever. I mean, have you SEEN my tumblr dashboard?

Follow the April TCWT Blog Chain!

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29th – (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring, Or So We Call It: A Poem

Hello, everyone!

It's that time of year again. The endless drifts of snow are slowly melting into sludge. The calendar says it's spring, and yet, Minnesota weather forecasts insist otherwise. Oh well.

Regardless, I thought I would share a poem that I wrote around this time of year in 2011. It could be my single favorite piece of poetry that I have written. (Yet!) Enjoy!

Spring, Or So We Call It 
By Jane

The bare-boned woodlands of frozen wasteland
Glinting, evilly, in the near-darkness
Where drops have dared step, then iced inside
Without the pureness of a fairy-dust white.

Instead, the matted, browning fur of the Earth
Is littered with parting gifts from trees,
Paul Bunyan’s footsteps brimming with sludge
An indecisive slop of a thing.

Ghastly gray heavens show no hint of a smile
While whispers weave cruelly through branches
Tracing bare skin with merciless claws
Herding all beings into traps of despair.

Defying the very name it received so long ago
There is no spring in the trudging step of pedestrians.
There is no spring in the nonexistent growth of dead shrubbery.
There is no spring in this depression of depression.

So yeah. Um, feedback is cooler than a can of pop that has been sitting on the deck for an hour in February. Just saying. :)


Monday, March 25, 2013

A Letter to Caroline

All right, it's blog chain time again. (Actually, this really should be essay-writing time or math-homework-completing time, or even getting-ready-for-dance time, but PROCRASTINATION.) I need to preface this post with a little explanation. As some of you might be aware, there is this genius creation currently on the internet that is known as the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I've been following this brilliant web series from the time the first episode was released last April, and my emotions have become completely attached to it. (Come on, Jane. You can think of something better than "attached". How about "E-6000ed"?) The last episode of this consumer of time, thought, love, and pain is going to be released this Thursday. Therefore, I have been thinking about little else, and now that it is time to write this post, I can think of little else. My instinct for the prompt, "write a letter to an antagonist", was to write to Caroline Lee, the lesser of the two antagonists of this lovely little web-series. Of course, the goody-two-shoes inside of me was screaming, "That's not a book!" But alas, as writers, we are, above all else, storytellers. Whatever format stories come in, we can learn from their strengths and weaknesses and use that to improve our own masterpieces in progress, be it a book, poem, movie, TV show, web series, or comic. (Yeah, I know there's way more, but I don't want to spend time thinking of them.) And so, without further ado, I present to you my letter.

Also, there's some spoilers. Consider yourself warned.

Dear Caroline,

Allow me to take a moment to admire the brilliance that you possess as a character. The depth to which the writers of this web-series create personalities, including your own, is unparalleled to the point where I connect with you like I would a real person.  You motivations are believable, your disposition exquisitely detailed, and, I must say, you strongly resemble a certain beautiful lady known as Jessica Jade Andres.*

Moment over. Now, I offer you something which I guarantee your pride will prohibit you from accepting: my sympathy. This is not to be confused with pity; I do not pity you in the least. But you and I share one very real and terrifying fear: losing the ones we love. I need only slip on your shoes to see overwhelming reason for why you dislike Lizzie so much. You moved into a new town with your brother, and instead of spending time with you, all his attention was focused on the poor girl he had fallen in love with. Sure, Jane was nice enough, and her sister, Lizzie, seemed to be someone you could get along with well--a little wit and sarcasm are always good bonding tools. But then Darcy fell in love with Lizzie instead of you. You were overtaken with jealousy as his eyes followed her every move. I get it, it sucks to have your crush like someone else.

So, you took it upon yourself to get your brother and his best friend away from that family, working up a convoluted web of lies that would make Mrs. Bennet proud. In the meantime, you broke the heart of "The kindest soul on the planet." Really? Low move, Caroline. But this isn't my place to tell you just how very wrong you were; I'm pretty sure you heard all of that from Lizzie, who did end up falling in love with Darcy after all you tried to do. It hurts right now, I'm sure, but remember what's important. There will be other men for you to fall in love with, mark my words.

And Caroline, may I please impress upon you two very important lessons for you to have learned in this process:

1. Taking care of the people you care about entails putting what they want first, not what you want. Even if it means that they're going to get married and have 2.5 children and live in a house with a white picket fence.

2. Don't mess with the Bennet family. Seriously. They're tougher than they look.

So, honey, don't lose hope. You'll be successful, I know you will. Also, Bing is your brother and he really cares about you, so even if he does go off and marry Jane, he'll always want to spend time with you--this is from the perspective of an older sibling.


All right, folks. That's that. Here is the only note for this piece--I think I put all the others in parentheses in the intro. :P

*...who I just found out is from my state. MINNESOTANS REPRESENT!

Check out all the other people in the blog chain this month because they are fabulous! (Almost as fabulous as you, if you read this far!) As always, I really value any constructive criticism--it can only help me get better. So yeah. You're cool.


TCWT blog chain March 2013


“Write a letter to an antagonist.”


March 5th –  

March 6th –

March 7th –

March 8th –

March 9th –

March 10th –

March 11th –

March 12th –

March 13th –

March 14th –

March 15th –

March 16th –

March 17th –

March 18th –

March 19th –

March 20th –

March 21st –

March 22nd –

March 23rd –

March 24th –

March 25th –

March 26th –

March 27th –

March 28th (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

In Which I Share Some Poetry


I have recently come to two conclusions concerning my blog. The first one is, I would like to blog more than once every month or two, which will mean that I actually have to post things that aren't related to the TCWT blog chain, as lovely as it happens to be. The second is that I would like to post some more of my writing, as I think that this is a good place to share poetry and short stories, the former of which I like to think I'm actually decent at. 

But before the actual presentation of poetry, a little bit about my writing. I am a person who does not stay focused very well, and my writing happens in phases of intense creative binges. I'll go for two or three months without writing a single story or poem and then spit out five in a matter of two days. It just depends. Part of why I like poetry is that I absolutely love descriptive language. I also like writing in free verse, because I like the way I can take the rhythm of the piece and just let it flow the way it wants to.

And so, without further ado, I present to you... a poem.

The Dark Rain

The rain brushes the rooftop 
Clouds paint the sky a deep gray 
The sky cracks
Showing the light beyond 
As lightning forks down 
The tapping of the rain 
The pounding of the thunder 
The darkness of the storm 
The light bulbs flicker and darken 
The wind washes through leaves 
Forcing trees to touch their toes 
Visibility is faltering 
Rain coats the window 
The candles are lit 
And they glow on the table 
As I read by the burning light 
Like the sun that’s hiding 
Behind all the clouds 
In a rush hour traffic jam 
Until the roads clear 
And the beams slide around 
Through the leaves 
Reflected in my blue eyes 
Looking out the window for a heartbeat 
Before dimming the candles 
And placing them on the shelf 
To sit patiently for the next dark rain

I would really appreciate it if you would let me know your thoughts in the comments; a writer will only improve with feedback!

Before I sign off, I'd like to mention what I hope the next few months will have in store for my blog. I decided to opt out of the blog chain for February, but I'll be back for March. I also hope to start writing monthly blog posts prompted by Wonderly's monthly theme. I won't be posting too much writing--I get annoyed when people spam their blogs with poem after poem if that's not the intention of the blog--but I'll probably share a handful more.

I really don't know how to end this blog post, so... au revoir?


My apologies for how confusing this post is. I'm currently running on less than four hours of sleep. When this happens, my language gets... garbled? I suppose it's a side effect of being delirious. 


Sunday, January 20, 2013

On Harry Potter and Stuff

“Is there one particular book that changed your life? If so, why did you originally choose to read it? What impact has it had on you?”

My instinctive answer, like at least half of the other nerds my age, is the Harry Potter series. Now, usually, I would try to find another answer that isn't so... obvious? Mainstream? 

But this time, I'm actually going to go with my first idea. Because the Harry Potter books really DID change my life. They helped me discover the communities that I am a part of on the Internet--Goodreads led to Nerdfighteria, then to TCWT. The friendships that I've made and the role models I have found have been paralleled by none in my non-virtual life. (I choose not to say "real life" because these friendships are very real.)

As for why I chose to read it, well... we've reached confession time, my friends. The first time I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's stone, I... didn't like it. I KNOW! I'M SORRY! I was a third grader at the time. I think it was just too scary for me. I was always the kind of kid with a huge imagination. (I remember being seven and having to fast-forward through the part of The Little Mermaid where Ursula comes out of the sea because it absolutely terrified me.) By the time I read the first HP book, it wasn't so much my waking mind as it was my dreaming one. At night, when I was about to fall asleep, the things I had read about or watched prowled into my head and gave me nightmares. (But, of course, this overactive imagination has led me to be a writer, so no complaints here.)

So for the next three years, I went around telling people that I didn't like Harry Potter. I still wince at the thought of that.

Then, the summer when I was eleven, my family and I went on a road trip. We were driving to Yellowstone, I think. My parents convinced us (meaning my little brother Sam and me) to listen to the first Harry Potter book on audiobook. It took some convincing, but I was finally willing to give it a second try. About three hours into the trip, we were hooked. We listened to the first two books and the first half of the third on that trip, and once we got home, Sam and I read the rest of them. I got to read them first, because I was older and read faster. 

When I was in seventh grade, my friend told me about a group on Goodreads*, where I first connected to other writers and nerds my age through discussion of Harry Potter. Some of the people I met then, three years ago, are still some of my best friends now. Then I was introduced to the YouTube community through Kristina Horner's vlogs (of which I am still an avid fan,) then to  wizard rock** and fiveawesomegirls and then to the Vlogbrothers***. The people I've met through the nerdfighter*** community and those who I've become a fan of have really helped me view my life in a way I was never able to before. I have gained so much self-confidence and pride in who I am. I've discovered what I love and have had the courage to pursue it. I hate to generalize, but I really do think I've become a better person overall than I was before.

And all this wouldn't have happened without Harry Potter.

A few notes:

*If you're interested in joining the writers' group on Goodreads that I mentioned, please feel free! The group is called Writers Who Are Children, and we're always welcoming new members. Be warned that one of our former traditions was to try and scare off (read: weird out) newbies for about a month. If they made it through that, we considered it their initiation. I think that practice has since died off a bit, but... anyways, here's a link: Writers Who Are Children

**Wizard rock is fan music written about Harry Potter. It is frankly quite wonderful. You may have heard of Harry and the Potters. My favorite wizard rock artist is Lauren Fairweather (who was also Tuesday on Fiveawesomegirls and is a really beautiful and inspiring person in general.) Here's a song of hers that pretty much sums up my experience with the Harry Potter/Nerdfighter/Goodreads community that I've been writing about:

***John and Hank Green (Yes, that's John Green as in author of The Fault in our Stars, Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, etc.) have this awesome vlog called vlogbrothers. And they've created this awesome community called Nerdfighteria. (Note: Nerdfighters don't fight nerds. They are nerds who fight to decrease the overall suckishness of the world. Did I really just put a note within a note? Why yes, I think I did.) If you've never seen any of their videos, go watch. Now. You'll be glad I sent you. :)

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this post! As always, I'd love any feedback you have to offer. I'm hoping to start updating this blog a little more, too, so I'm always looking for people who will read my stuff. Also, that notes section pretty much turned into a mini novel. Sorry 'bout that. :3


January Blog Chain Participants: 

January 5th – – Muslim Spirit by Fida 

January 6th – – The Teenage Writer 

January 7th – – Miss Alexandrina 

January 8th – – Between The Lines 

January 9th – – Avon’s Babbles 

January 10th – – Life. 

January 11th – – Inside The Junk Drawer 

January 12th – – Notebook Sisters 

January 13th – – Musings From Neville’s Navel 

January 14th – – The Loony Teen Writer 

January 15th – – A Mirror Made Of Words 

January 16th – – Epistolary Girl 

January 17th – – Inklined 

January 18th – – Zara Hoffman’s Blog 

January 19th – – SydneyJoTo 

January 20th – – Reality Is Imaginary 

January 21st – – The Little Engine That Couldn’t 

January 22nd – – Writers Response 

January 23rd – – John Hansen Writes 

January 24th – – Miriam Joy Writes

January 25th – – Teens Can Write, Too! (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Is This Real Fantasy?

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” --Madeline L'Engle

Among the many side effects of NaNoWriMo is a distinct lack of free time to be used for writing a blog post for the TCWT blog chain. This is why I currently sit in my third-period AP Human Geography class on Wednesday morning, writing this post on a piece of loose leaf paper. So, with my pen at the ready, here I go.

YA literature (or Young Adult Literature) is a topic that is highly relevant to me. When your'e fifteen years old, you read YA and write YA. But that's the thing. My stories fall in the YA genre, according to some people, simply because they are aimed at teenagers. As a teen myself, though, I don't think of these books as "YA". To me, they are still fantasy and realistic fiction and the ever-dreaded nonfiction.

My NaNo novel this year is called The Time-Weaver. NaNoWriMo asked me to define the genre of my book, and I was left for the third year in a row to decide between "Fantasy" and "Young Adult". While I finally chose Fantasy, I was left a little miffed. Young Adult literature, like Children's or Adults', deserves its own set of genres. 'Young Adult' should be a descriptive phrase used to distinguish its subjects from books aimed at other ages, not to create a genre of its own. I find it rather insulting hear it called a genre, as if YA fantasy is somehow not "real" fantasy, or as though all the books aimed at adolescents are the same. That's saying that Harry Potter and The Fault in Our Stars belong in the same genre. In other words: utterly preposterous.

Let's put it this way: When I say "doctor", the first image most people see is (or at some point was) likely a man. This stereotype isn't true for me; my mom is a doctor. Does being a woman make her a worse doctor, or any less qualified? Of course not! The idea of YA lit being its own genre is, simply put, a prejudice. It is a prejudice against the idea that novels written for teens can be thought-provoking, or complicated, or more than, as we call them in my house, 'fluff'. John Green's books definitely aren't fluff, that's for sure!

Now, I agree that YA lit should be shelved separate from Adult books and Children's books, but YA lit varies as greatly as Adult literature and should be treated the same.

And now, if you'll excuse my past self, I must get back to my NaNo notebook.

Sorry for the short post. I know it's far below my usual standards, but I'll be back to normal next month. Oh NaNo, the things you make me post on my blog! :)


Blog Chain:

November 5th – – Musings From Neville’s Navel
November 6th – – This Page Intentionally Left Blank
November 7th – – It’s All In My Head
November 8th – – Miriam Joy Writes
November 9th –  – The Loony Teen Writer
November 10th – – Ink Spilled = Pages Filled
November 11th – – Inside the Junk Door
November 12th – – A Mirror Made of Words
November 13th – – Life.
November 14th – – Reality Is Imaginary
November 15th – – Books Are Better Than Diamonds
November 16th – – The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer
November 17th – – Kirsten Writes!
November 18th – – Teens Can Write, Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)