Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Redefining beauty through a photo assignment

Dead Roses: Roses are the epitome of beauty, yet they are quickly dead. I wanted to capture roses not in their glory, but in their fall when they are tossed into the garbage and forgotten forever. In taking this photo I realized that beauty can also be looking back on the loveliness of life.

Ruined Mascara: When I asked her to leave her make-up on while she took a shower, she only grudgingly obliged. While I took the picture she was uncomfortable, impatient, asking when I would be done. She didn’t like the pictures I showed her. Can she not see how lovely she is even with mascara dripping down her face?

Kitchen Sink: “Sorry the house is such a wreck,” I hear people say. “I’m sorry for the mess,” I tell my friends. While we should keep our houses neat and clean, why are we so quick to apologize for the clutter? Why are we so quick to judge the messes of ourselves and others? Life is messy. It is un-perfect like a dirty kitchen window.

Dandelion: No one likes them. They are weeds. They spread quickly. So I wanted to take a picture that portrays my love for them— the beauty of this weed, this forgotten flower that children wish upon.

Sun and Rain: In the movies, when someone dies it begins to rain, and at the funeral they are all in black with black umbrellas. But rain can be good, too. It waters the earth. It makes us grateful when the sun reappears. It allows me to take pictures of the rain drops glinting on the trees.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Why it is Hard to Write a Novel

 I am trying to write a novel. A novel that has been in my head for a couple of years now and in my heart for many more years.

 So why is it so hard?

 1) I am a person who gets distracted. As I type I remember that I am waiting for a specific email and check to see if it's there. I remember a book I am currently reading and read a chapter. I get bored of my current play list and end up searching for new music on Spotify. My writing is easily forgotten even with good intentions like trying to find music to put me in the right mood for a specific scene.

2) The word novel scares me. I have written short stories, all of which have been planned completely in my head as I write. I write, move things around, copy and paste, and I have a short story. But my novel is a mess in my head. I want a plan. I need an outline, a map to follow. Except I am not a planner when it comes to writing. For some reason I have either convinced myself that to write a good novel I need an outline, or my brain is exploding with too much information, themes, images, and characters.

3) I have other things to do. I long for the day that many published authors dream of: for my job to be a writer. But that day is not now. Sometimes my job as a student entails writing stories, but it is only a part of my homework. Even my job as a writing tutor is about helping others with their writing. Though it helps me become a better writer, it is not helping anything of mine get written.

4) I feel like I am alone in my novel writing. I don't mean I want another writing friend to come over and we sit down together drinking tea and cranking out a certain word count. We would just end up talking anyway. No, I mean support. My family has always believed in my writing. I have a lot of friends that are excited about my future novel and have been so sweet in asking me about it. I even have one special friend who begs for the next installment, who I can always talk things out with and ask her honest opinion. But she's in another state. My family is busy. Sometimes even though I know people care, I need them to look at me and ask, "How's that novel coming?" I need to ask people, "Would this be a natural reaction for this specific character?"

5) I am a perfectionist. When I write I want to sit on my bed, open the Word document, and start typing frantically. And I want those words flying out of my head to be perfect, beautiful, breathtaking, and meaningful. If none of those things happen, I get frustrated, I get annoyed with myself. And I stop writing, or in most cases, trying to write. And that ends any progress on my novel at least for that day and probably the next, and potentially a week, sending me into a small writer's block depression. To put it simply, I want to be the best and I am not.

 That is why writing is hard.

 It is art. It is thinking. It is trying to recall every writing lesson, tip, and technique I have ever been taught and incorporating them into every word while somehow trying to remember the big picture, or in my case, multiple big pictures. It is a lonely hobby and a dream profession. It represents all that I am as I incorporate the Gospel into every story, what I believe God wants me to do. It is hard work that seems unrewarding. It is a college major people think is wrong. It shows me my sins and reveals my faults while at the same showing me Jesus' faithfulness, grace, and mercy.

 It is writing. It is hard. But with God's help, I need to keep going despite the fact that I am only about one eighth of the way done with my novel.

 Because I can't imagine not writing.

 Because I can't imagine Heaven without writing- writing about my Savior.

 P.S. You can read more about my novel in progress here

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

2 Books That Have Changed My Life

 I have always loved reading, especially novels. It is how I discovered the joy I have when 

writing and why I am a creative writing major. Though just like any avid reader it it impossible 

to narrow  my list of favorite books to any number below twenty, there are a few that have 

changed me and I want to share them with you. Please note there may be some spoilers.

The Chosen by Chaim Potok

  If someone had a knife pressed to my throat and I was forced to name my most favorite book in the

entire world, it would be The Chosen, but it wasn't until a few months ago that I figured out why.

 I first read this book my freshman year of high school in my writing and literature class. The Chosen 

is about two Jewish boys living in New York during World War II. When Danny Suanders

accidentally sends a baseball flying into protagonist Rueven Malter's eye, they form a strong

friendship despite their different Jewish sects. Rueven is soon horrified at finding out that Danny's

father is bringing him up in silence. They never talk-- something that hurts Danny deeply, but he is at

peace with, and something Rueven finds hard to forgive.
 A few months ago I had to re-read The Chosen for a class assignment. For the third time I read this

book, and I realized what it meant to me and why it has affected me so much. I feel like I am Danny

and Reb Saunders feeling the pain of the world, grieving for all of the Jews murdered under Hitler.

God has given me a huge amount of empathy. Certain movies and books can leave me in a

depression. A crying friend's tears at the loss of a loved one leaves me in despair. A meeting filled

with tension makes me scared as I feel each person's anger, hurt, or confusion.

 This is the only book I have read that attempts to explain that kind of empathy. It helps me

recognize it as a gift from God and not a curse that people can't understand that makes me feel

miserable at times.

 This may not make sense to you. If so I am sorry. I am trying to convey to you what this book does

for me, and I fear I am failing miserably. But I think the things that mean the most to us are the

hardest to share or put into words, like trying to explain why I love the color blue.

Writing Magic:Creating Stories that Fly by Gail Carson Levine
  I can't remember when I found this book. Maybe it was middle school. Maybe I was a little older. I loved Gail Carson Levine's novels, so I was very excited to find a book she wrote about how to write, especially a book with such an amazing title.
 Though it is written for children, I would still recommend it to anyone who is serious about their writing. Levine weaves together writing lessons and tales from her own life all in a very simplistic and down to earth manner that anyone can understand all taken from her experience in teaching writing classes. She even provides writing classes at the end of each chapter.
 This is what I remember from her book many years later:
"Said is a magical word. Boring maybe, but magical nonetheless. It's magical because it disappears. It becomes invisible" (115). 
She went on to explain that using big, fancy verbs like "she exclaimed" or "he interjected" only distracts the reader
 Writing Magic helped me at an early age to recognize good writing as well as embrace my own writing style. I have never been a person with an impressive vocabulary, but I realized that was okay and even good. Not only did Gail Carson Levine encourage me as a beginning writer, but she has helped to make my writing what it is today, teaching a lesson about a magical word that I have never forgotten.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Reclaiming July

 Two months have passed. Two months of summer where I was supposed to take a few classes at my community college and have a full time job to pay for those classes and start paying for my fall tuition. Instead, after about 10 job applications, I am just a part time student who is self employed full time as the world's most prominent worrier.

 Before I left school, I told my friend, "I wish I didn't have to work this summer so I could just write my novel."

 Summer is half over over. I have no job and am running out of places to send my resume. I am afraid there will be no money for last year at college. I am ashamed that I spend my days at home- busy, but home. I hate these feelings of restlessness.

 When I finally came to God with this burden confessing my fear of not making money and my shame at feeling like a failure, it was liked He laughed and said, "Well write." Can God be teaching me to trust Him with my lack of money? Can He be telling me to write as I trust and wait?

 This is the second hard thing that has happened where God's answer to me seems to be writing my novel. Last semester desires surfaced and I begged God for answers. All He said was, I am enough and write. Now, as I try to navigate the shame and fear my unemployment brings, He seems to be saying, Trust me and write. 

 It seems like God has given me a summer to write. Though unfortunately half of the summer I have spent only on homework for classes and worrying about finding a job.

 So with His help, I am hoping to reclaim July. In-between the geography quizzes and photo assignments, I need to be writing my novel.