Yesterday was my twenty-first birthday, which I celebrated with lots of unhealthy food and people I love (and just a little champagne at midnight, because while I am far too much of a control freak to ever want to even get buzzed, I’m cool with a little celebratory champagne).
My last final of the semester is tomorrow, then I’m freeee. Finally. I loved my classes this school year, but I need a break.
One of the classes I took (and absolutely adored) this semester was Fantasy Literature. We read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. We dissected excerpts from The Lord of the Rings, short stories by Ray Bradbury, and an episode of The Twilight Zone. We watched Pan’s Labyrinth, Doctor Who, Star Trek, The Matrix. Basically: it was amazing.
More than anything else, what stuck with me from this class were our discussions about the Trickster Figure.
We used the term in relation to the Jungian archetype, and defined it as being someone–usually of some sort of lesser status (a child, or someone from a lower class, etc.)–who defies the rules of society in a way that is cunning (and often entertaining). For example, a classic Trickster Figure is Robin Hood, stealing from the rich to give to the poor.
The other thing our professor pointed out, though, was the way Tricksters weren’t always that obvious. In fact, most Fantasy protagonists fit the role (as well as a lot of YA protags).
Take Harry Potter, for example. JK Rowling describes him as being kind of scrawny and gangly. He isn’t amazing at magic (although he is good at the things he works hard at) and he’s not super charismatic. But The Boy Who Lived does manage to defeat He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named–by tricking Lord Voldemort.
Likewise, Katniss survives the Hunger Games by outsmarting the Capitol and Tris’s whole superpower of divergence is built on her, you know, diverging from societal norms.
As a society and a generation, we’re in love with the Trickster Figure. The person who’s always one step ahead–unbreakable. We flock to see superhero and spy movies. (And speaking of Tricksters, who doesn’t adore Tom Hiddleston’s Loki?)
Why? You can argue that there’s something exciting about the act of deception. Secrets and cunning and that moment a superhero pulls off the mask. But what does that say about us? The fact that we seem to be so addicted to that excitement?
My first inclination is to say it means we’re bored with the mundanity of everyday life. We’re too set in our rhythms or too scared/tired/whatever to break the rules, so we live vicariously through the Trickster Figures’ adventures.
But while this might be true to an extent, I think more than that it comes back to Robin Hood.
People didn’t start telling the stories of Robin Hood because they were bored or scared. They told the stories about him because Robin Hood, as a character, was empowering.
After all, I doubt any of us want to live through the Hunger Games or go wand-to-wand with Voldemort. But seeing someone–and not just anyone, but an underdog–go up against something so terrible, and succeed, shows us that we could succeed against the antagonistic forces of our own lives too.
All this to say: I think Trickster Figures are awesome. And I’m happy they’re something everybody’s into right now. And while we already have a lot of Tricksters in the books and movies coming out these days, I want more.
After all, I doubt I’ll ever stop loving that squirm in my stomach I get every time a superhero reveals his/her identity to someone s/he loves for the first time.
That’s right. Next week I’m turning (brace yourself) twenty-one.
While I gain the ability to have a right-side-up driver’s license next week, I also become ineligible to participate in things like the TCWT blog chain–because, you know, not exactly a teenager anymore. (Woe is me. I always knew that dastardly John would put me out to pasture eventually.) I’m still going to be an admin and writer for TCWT blog though, so I’m cool with getting booted from this one activity.
There are a lot of fictional couples I’d love to write a letter to. I have very strong opinions on a lot of fictional couples. But because Titanic was on ABC Family the other night, and Jack and Rose are by far the worst part of an otherwise amazing movie, guess who I’m writing to.
Dear Rose and Jack,
This is going to sting (much like the icy waters of the Atlantic), so let me preface this letter with this: I love you. I’ve loved you guys since I was too young to understand that (literally) steamy scene in the back of the car and used to make everyone shut up every time “My Heart Will Go On” came on the radio.
But you’re two of the biggest idiots to ever grace the big screen.
Especially you, Rose. I mean, Jack is an idiot for going along with your idiocy. But you’re the one running this whole circus of crazy.
I get it. You’re oppressed. Your fiance is a d-bag and your mother makes the Thenardiers look like caring parents. But is that really reason to throw yourself at the first cute, decent human being to cross your path?
And I know, I know. “Cute” is an understatement when it comes to 90s Leonardo DiCaprio. I probably would have thrown myself at him too. But you don’t know him. You guys had, what, one real conversation? During which you insulted each other and got on one another’s nerves repeatedly? I’m not saying “don’t have a fling,” because all the power to ya if you wanna go for it. But let’s not be all “you jump, I jump” and “I’ll never let go” about it. You’ve known each other for what, two days? I can understand some affection for one another, but this undying love and devotion is unhealthy and honestly a little bit creepy. You’re actually kind of lucky that ship sank, as far as your relationship goes, because no way it would have lasted.
Speaking of the ship sinking: The two of you LITERALLY SINK THE ENTIRE SHIP. If you weren’t so busy running around distracting people from their jobs, the iceberg spotter people would have been able to see the iceberg in time and the engine room people would have been able to do their engine room stuff more effectively, and the ship LITERALLY WOULD NOT HAVE SUNK. (You know, in the movie. Don’t worry: I get that in real life the ship did not sink because two passengers named Rose and Jack were distracting the iceberg spotter guys by making out on deck.) (As far as we know.)
If anyone on the RMS Titanic deserves to drown, it’s the two of you. Yet we root for your survival until the end as characters much more deserving of life bite it all around you. Why? Obviously not for your flat personalities or selfish natures. I think it comes down to two reasons: (1) You’re the main characters, so duh we’re going to root for you. (2) You’re both ridiculously attractive and Hollywood has conditioned us to believe that pretty people deserve to live more.
But honestly–despite your protagonist status and on point hair, it gets hard to keep cheering for you by the time we reach the climax of the film. This is when you really reveal how idiotic you are, Rose.
The ship is sinking. You know the ship is sinking. You have decided you don’t want to die. Jack has already showed on multiple occasions that he is willing to give his life to save yours–yet you still get off the lifeboat to be with him. He doesn’t WANT you to get off the lifeboat, Rose! In fact, you’re making it harder for him to survive, because having you around means gun-happy Cal is pissed and also now Jack is obligated to drag you around with him and put you first instead of saving his own butt, and wasn’t the point of getting off the lifeboat to help him? What kind of messed up logic led you to conclude that getting off the lifeboat would help anyone?
And DON’T GET ME STARTED on when the Titanic actually sinks! Jack was so kind as to find you that lovely door to lie on, dear Rose. WHY DIDN’T YOU SEND HIM TO FIND HIS OWN FURNITURE-FLOTATION DEVICE? Or hey, when the ship was in the process of going down, WHY DID NO ONE THINK TO TAKE AN AX TO SOME OF THE FURNITURE AND DOORS IN THE SHIP TO MAKE MORE FLOTATION DEVICES SO MORE PEOPLE COULD SURVIVE? Come on, now! The Titanic took a billion hours to go down. Surely you could have spared five minutes in all your drama to lay some insurance for your survival.
This letter’s getting pretty long, so I guess I’ll end here. But if you ever want some more berating, you know where to find me. (I’ll be the one sobbing on my living room couch while watching Titanic for the billionth time.)
Love you guys. See you when you wash up on shore in Inception, Leo.
I’ll never let go,
Like this blog chain topic? Check out the rest of the posts throughout the month.
It’s the second to last week of the semester and I’m exhausted.
It’s a good kind of exhausted, though. I was up until two last night because I had a screening for a film class that ran kind of late, followed by pitching a huge project I’m really excited for to a student org on campus (and they’ve agreed to move forward on it, so I will probably be gushing about that come next school year) (!!!), followed by writing a guest post for the 2015 Ch1Con Blog Tour, followed by just trying to figure out what exactly my blogging schedule is for the foreseeable future (over twenty posts on seven different websites over the course of six weeks; I’ll share a schedule once stuff starts going up), followed by editing a blog post for another TCWT author, followed by lying in bed unable to sleep. Endlessly.
I’m not (too) worried about getting everything done on time though, and it’s been really gorgeous out lately, so that’s helping keep all of us here sane during this last stretch of the semester. (Plus Hannah and I spur-of-the-moment went swimming Monday night and next week a group of us are going kayaking, so thank God for people who like to do random physical activity with me.)
One last thing before we get to this week’s Wordy Wednesday: my friend Hannah (not Roommate Hannah, one of the other many amazing Hannahs in my life) is signed up to do a two-week liberal arts study abroad program in London this August and it sounds amaaazing. Like I would be all over this opportunity, if Ch1Con weren’t during it. But they don’t have quite enough students right now, and if they don’t get six more kids registered by May 1st, the program’s off. IF YOU’RE A COLLEGE STUDENT AND LOOKING FOR SOMETHING TO DO THIS AUGUST, YOU SHOULD GO ON THIS PROGRAM. And make me jealous. Because liberal arts and London. You can find more information on it here and here.
This week’s Wordy Wednesday is another of my creative writing class’s short story rejects. (Sorry I only ever post the worst ones, these days; the less terrible stories go in submissions to contests and lit mags. Still, I think these guys are fun and deserve a little love.)
Shovel the popcorn. Squirt the butter. Shove it at the customer.
Shovel the popcorn. Squirt the butter. Shove it at the customer.
Shovel the popcorn. Squirt the butter. Shove it at the—
“You don’t have to be so robotic about it.” Tommy leans against the back counter, broad shoulders propped between the hotdog warmer and grumbling slushy maker. He crosses his arms and curly, golden brown hair falls across his eyes in that way that gets him at least three girls’ numbers a shift. Occasionally a guy’s.
I wrinkle my nose. “It’s not like they care, as long as they get their food before the previews are over.”
“You’d be surprised how many more Thank Yous you’d get if you tried smiling once in a while.”
“Tommy.” I laugh. “You’re not getting Thank Yous because you smiled. You’re getting Thank Yous because you look more like a movie star than half the guys they’re going to ogle on screen for the next two hours.”
I’ve learned a lot from working at the local AMC the past year and a half. For one: You can totally eat all the popcorn on the job you want and the manager never notices. Also: Nobody cares if you make an effort to be nice while preparing their food. I’ve actually gotten scowls in return for my smiles, and one particularly pleasant woman told me, “Yeah, right,” when I said to enjoy the Pixar flick her six year old triplets were dragging her to.
When people are nice to Tommy, it’s not because he’s being nice to them. It’s because he’s made everyone from my best friend to my grandmother swoon. While squirting three-day-old artificial cheese on their nachos.
Still, he dramatically brushes the ringlet of hair from his eyes and turns his dark gaze to the ceiling. “Well, if you insist it’s because I’m just that attractive.”
I roll my eyes, but can’t help a grin. “Did you just start this whole thing for the pure sake of getting me to compliment you?”
“No.” He smiles with half his mouth, which is his way of saying yes. “Never.”
“Well, let’s test your theory, then.” I nod towards a group of pre-teen girls, exhausted mother in tow, who are currently prancing squealing across the lobby. I’d wager a week’s earnings that they’re on their way to see the latest John Green movie. “I smile, you just be yourself, and we see who gets the business.”
Tommy’s smile extends to the other half of his mouth. “You’re on, Sammy.”
“Ugh. For the last time. It’s Samantha. Only my friends can call me Sammy.” I twirl a lock of straight black hair around a finger in a perfect impression of our coworker Debby (sorry, “Deborah”) and he bursts out laughing, flashing teeth that are even as white and straight as a movie star’s. It would be easy to hate Tommy if he weren’t such a goof.
He pushes off the counter and joins me at the cash registers.
“Hey there!” I call with all the cheer of Barbie in the second Toy Story movie. “Interested in some refreshments for the film? Let me guess: you’re about to go cry your eyes out at a John Green adaptation.”
The girls barely even glance at me and my toothy grin before making a beeline for Tommy’s register.
I throw my hands up in the universal gesture for Raise the Roof. “Boom. I win.” He doesn’t seem to hear me over the squeals of the tweens attempting to flirt while ordering soft pretzels and blue raspberry slushies, though.
While Tommy is distracted—and distracting ever customer in a twenty foot radius—I slip into the back room and let myself fall back into one of the old theater chairs that have been stored back here, “waiting for repairs,” since I interviewed for this position. And likely before.
I yank my laptop from the crush of text books and notebooks in my backpack and pull open the document I’ve been working on every spare moment since I started here.
I told my doctor mom and lawyer dad senior year of high school that I wanted to go to film school and write screenplays for a living. They told me I could—if I paid for college myself.
So that night I borrowed my best friend’s car and drove the two hours to what would become my university, picked up applications from every movie theater close enough to walk to from campus, and now here I am: a sophomore, paying my way through college with the smell of hotdog grease permanently clinging to my hair and customers spoiling every decent movie before I have a chance to see it, but I’m doing it. I’m majoring in film.
And I’m writing my first screenplay.
I don’t care about what the customers think of me. I don’t care if I smile at them and they scowl in return, or they fall all over themselves trying to get Tommy to fall for them (by the way: he’s in a committed relationship—he and his boyfriend have been going strong for a year now), or I only get time to write in stolen moments between classes and popcorn rushes.
The point is I’m doing it. I’m actually doing it.
I get almost a whole page written before Tommy shouts from the counter, “The people coming in for the eight o’clock showings are going to start arriving any minute now. Want to put some more hotdogs in the warmer?”
“Only if you admit I was right and you were wrong.”
Tommy pokes his head into the back room, rolling his eyes. “Fine. You may have won the smiling-at-customers battle,” he raises an eyebrow, “but I, dear friend, will win the war.”
I shove my laptop back in my backpack and hop up from the creaky old chair. I pat his cheek as I pass, heading back to the counter. “Just keep telling yourself that.”
“Oh.” His tone darkens. “I most definitely will.”
“Keep pretending to be a super villain and I might add you to my screenplay.”
“It would be an honor to be written by you.”
“You say that now. Wait ’til I kill you off.”
“Not what it sounds like,” Tommy tells the horrified-looking older couple lumbering up to the counter. “Sammy here is writing a movie. Just wait. It’s going to be a huge blockbuster and someday we’ll sell out of popcorn from all the people coming to see it.”
“Shut up.” I bat his arm, but this time I can’t help but smile. The couple chooses to have me scoop their popcorn.
I schedule for fall semester of senior year on Monday.
Besides the fact that that’s absolutely crazy (HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO BE A SENIOR ALREADY?), it’s also, well, crazy. Because there are approximately a thousand more classes I want to take than I ever would be able to.
Probably the worst part of this whole scheduling thing is that it keeps reminding me how I’m not sure what to do for the next couple years of my life. For one thing, there are enough film classes I want to take that I might as well add a film major. But do I want to work in the film industry, and would it really be smart to spend the the time and money necessary to get a film major (at least one extra semester of classes) if I’m not planning on it?
Then there’s grad school. I’m looking at getting a masters in a few different things. Creative writing, or literature, or film studies/criticism. But do I really want a masters? Do I really want a masters in one of those things? What kind of masters program would I want to complete? I DO NOT KNOW.
Then there’s also the possibility of trying to get a job straight out of college, and what job would I even go for? I know that I more than likely want to work in publishing (I mean, that’s been the plan for years now and I do adore the publishing industry), but at this point I’m not positive what I want to do in publishing. Work for a publishing house or literary agency? Work in editing or marketing or something else? Move to New York or try my luck elsewhere? (Once again I say: SOMEONE GIVE ME AN INTERNSHIP. I need help figuring these things out.)
And the decision of which classes to take senior year is going to influence what I can do after college. And that’s terrifying.
All of this is terrifying.
I know whatever path I take from here isn’t the only one I’m ever allowed to take. If I’m lucky enough to live until I’m all old and grey, life will be a long haul. I can do many things if I want. But still. I’m scared for the next few years.
Anyway, all this to say: Scheduling is hard, and I know a lot of my friends are just as freaked out about what to do after college as I am, and fingers crossed that everything works out for us and everyone else in similar positions.
Are you dealing with any scary existential crises too? Want to commiserate together?
Before anything else: the Chapter One Young Writers Conference announced our 2015 blog tour today! It’s going to be so awesome, with lots of interviews, giveaways, and insider conference information. Check out the schedule on the Ch1Con site here.
Anyway: I’ve been sitting here (“here” being a lounge in my sophomore year dorm) for over an hour now, trying to figure out what to write about this week. (Also avoiding walking home from class, because my right shoe kind of attacked my foot on the way over here, which means I’m now semi-stranded a mile from my apartment.)
This is one of the worst parts of writing, for me. Finding something to say.
It’s stupid, because when I don’t have time to write, or am already writing something, I suddenly have a thousand ideas. But as soon as I need to write? Nada.
I always do end up coming up with something, though. And that’s something to talk about. So, this week’s Wordy Wednesday writing process post is on how to come up with ideas to write about.
Write Down Your Ideas
This should be the most obvious one on the list: When you have ideas, write them down. Save them for when you don’t have ideas. Even if you don’t end up using exactly what you’ve put down, if an old idea can help inspire a new one, you’re gold.
Write Down Fragments
I have random lines and phrases written ALL OVER THE PLACE. Mostly in my planner and on the notepad app on my phone. Whenever I’m struggling to come up with something, I glance through those. I try to build a story around one or combine a couple to create a character of scenario. More than writing down ideas, I write down fragments, and build from these.
Another great place to go to for story ideas: your classes/work. I take a lot of literature classes, which obviously help with writing, but I’ve actually found it’s my other classes that inspire me the most. Especially my science courses. There are just so many good story ideas lurking in preexisting facts and ideas. (Bonus: I’ve found that thinking of class as research towards writing something later helps me pay attention.)
Easiest way to come up with ideas: live your life. Don’t sit at home all day, staring at a blank Word document, hoping for something to hit you. Go out and do things. Go to the coffee shop. Go on an adventure.
Chances are, an idea will hit you at precisely the moment you stop thinking about needing to come up with an idea.
What are some of your tips for coming up with ideas?
I’ll admit: I haven’t super been paying attention to fashion recently. And by “recently” I mean “like for the past year.”
It’s not that I don’t care anymore about looking nice and feeling confident about what I’m wearing. It’s that I’ve just been really busy. Also I probably wore a crewneck and jeans to half my classes this year because it’s been really cold and those involved stuffing fewer layers under my coat (and also are cozy as all get out).
HOWEVER. It is now spring (hopefully to stay), which means I’ve been peeling off the crewnecks and actually wearing Real Clothes again. So I figured it was time to resurrect the Fashion Friday. (See what I did there? Resurrect? It’s Good Friday?) (I’m a terrible person.)
I know these have been a trend for a long time now, but I finally splurged on one last fall–then it immediately got cold and I didn’t get to wear it much. It was so exciting when the weather got above freezing a couple weeks ago and I finally was able to break it out again.
Mine is a little shorter and tighter than most utility jackets (I ordered it off Ebay, because cheap, and it didn’t end up fitting at all like I’d expected). But I really like it. It goes with pretty much anything, from jeans and a t-shirt to a floral sundress, and gives the jacket look without being too warm. (You can check out a picture of me in my utility jacket here and find it on Ebay here.)
A good beanie is another item I invested in this year. These are lovely hats, because they’re fashion items (which means you can keep wearing them inside on a bad hair day) but also functional (which means you won’t freeze your ears off if you choose to go the beanie route instead of wearing a ski cap or something one day).
My beanie is knit, bright red with a huge pom pom, and perfectly slouchy. I love wearing it with a red lip when I want to make a statement, or just pulling it on over a messy braid on the days I don’t have time to make myself properly presentable. (I’d link you to my hat specifically, but the store I got it from closed a few months ago.)
I’m honestly not sure if these are actually a Thing, or I’m just really into them because of my apparent obsession with the UK. But I love how skinny trousers are classy but still make my legs look nice. (Regular trousers always balloon out on me, so I avoid them at all costs.) Plus, they’re appropriate in so many different types of situations. I splurged on a pair of navy blue ones at the Zara in Oxford last summer (these are the closest currently available to mine) and I’ve worn them for everything from going to class (with a casual blouse or sweater, or even a sweatshirt) to business meetings and special occasions (with a, you know, nice blouse or sweater, or even a blazer). I just bought a much cheaper black pair from Kohl’s that are also wonderful, and I’m hoping to get some in other colors too if I end up interning in an office environment this summer.
I’ve always had a thing for stripes. I actually had to stop letting myself buy striped clothing at one point in high school because I had practically nothing else. The level of stripes in my wardrobe has been at an all-time low the past couple years though, so I thought I was finally over them. Then Forever 21 sent me an email with a link to this page and now I want everything striped ever all over again.
Other reason I shouldn’t do these posts anymore: I now want to go shopping sooo badly.
What are some of your favorite trends this spring? Do you have a Must Have list?
It’s now April 2nd, so I figured I should clarify, for any poor future reader to stumble across this post: April Fool’s!
I never thought this day would come.
This might come as a shock to you and I apologize, but here’s the thing: I realized recently that I really don’t like writing. Or books. Or, like, stories themselves. At all. Maybe I liked these things once upon a time, but for years now I’ve been writing more out of obligation than actual desire. And since I’m a junior in college and I’m supposed to go out and get a big kid job after I graduate next year, I realized this is really my last chance to switch career fields. And I refuse to be stuck in an industry I hate.
So I’m quitting writing. And going after my one true passion: business.
That’s right. I’m joining the Ross School of Business.
In a way, you can blame writing for this. If it weren’t for writing, I never would have started my own company and realized how much fun contracts and taxes and licenses can be. And I mean, who would ever want to sit around all day reading a book when you could look up facts about sales tax licenses (two of my favorite things combined!) instead?
I’m so excited to explore this new life path and get started with my business classes this summer. Thank you for supporting me in my writing endeavors all this time and, again, I’m sorry. (I think it goes without saying–but I’ll mention it anyway, just in case–that because this blog is called Julia the WRITER Girl, it wouldn’t make sense for me to continue posting here. You can follow me at my new blog at www.juliathebusinessgirl.wordpress.com, although no promises that I’ll keep it up much.)
This weekend I helped put on a couple events at my university. I volunteered Friday at our first annual Publishing Career Forum, then Saturday I co-ran orientation for my study abroad program from last summer to Oxford. (I’m so jealous of the group that gets to go this year.) (For real, no matter what university you attend, if you’re interested in spending your summer in England, the St Peter’s College Summer School at Magdalen College, University of Oxford is the way to go.)
Outside of those events, I’ve also been doing a ton of homework, and Ch1Con work, and revising, and last night I did my laundry and cleaned my room at 2 AM, and yeah. As much as I love my classes, I am 110% ready for this semester to be over.
The other thing that happened this weekend is that a certain Teens Can write, Too! founder started an INTERNATIONALLY TRENDING HASHTAG.
Despite John’s status as my arch nemesis, even I have to admit that this hashtag is completely brilliant. Last I checked, it had been tweeted with over twenty thousand times and has been featured in articles from places ranging from Buzzfeed UK to The Huffington Post. And the results range from the hilarious, to the serious and important.
The only reason the main character decides to save the world is so he can put it on his college application. #VeryRealisticYA — John Hansen (@ABoredAuthor) March 29, 2015
Girl finds out boy from class has been sneaking into her room to “watch her sleep.” She’s terrified. Presses charges. #VeryRealisticYA
It’s funny, because just a few days before this whole thing started, a group of us were discussing on Twitter the way being the creator of something popular gives you power. And with that power comes the responsibility to try to do good with it.
More than anyone else, John was a proponent for the fact that if someone is listening, it is your job to draw focus to minority voices.
True to his word, John has taken the platform #VeryRealisticYA gave him to draw attention to the need for diversity in literature.
While I'm honored that the hashtag became a way to promote diversity, I want to point people toward particular (and awesome) diverse voices.
It’s been a busy week and the busyness isn’t going to let up after this. It’s gotten to the point where my planner looks like a pen threw up on it and I’m lucky if I get one day off a week from leaving my apartment.
Which is fine. It’s not like I’m doing anything I don’t want to. But I am also really tired.
Which means means that writing keeps threatening to fall by the wayside.
So, for this week’s Wordy Wednesday, here’s a list of reasons to take the time and effort to write today.
Because You Want To
If you’re feeling the inclination to write, don’t waste it. Write that feeling into the ground. Write it to pieces. That feeling is a gift. There will be a lot of times in your life when you need to write but you don’t want to. Write when you do want to in order to balance those out.
Because You Don’t Want To
Sometimes the last thing you want to do is pour words onto a page, but those can be important times to write too. Think about why you don’t want to write. Figure out if it’s a legitimate reason not to. (And even then, see if you can find a way to get around that reason.)
Because You Have Better Things to Do
Right now, in addition to writing this post, I’m running a Ch1Con Twitter chat and figuring out which classes to take fall semester. After this I’m making a Powerpoint presentation for one of the events I’m volunteering at over the weekend, inputting revisions on a manuscript, editing a paper for my fantasy lit class, looking over some Ch1Con documents, and writing a film review. Sometime in the next couple days I also need to send out more internship applications, reply to the slew of emails I’ve been neglecting, and write more papers and some posts for the other sites I blog for.
You will always have “better” things to do. Things that seem more pressing or important. But you have the choice to make writing an important thing in your life. If you want to be a writer, choose to make writing important.
Because You Said You Would
Even if the only person who knows you promised to write is yourself, make that be good enough. Hold yourself accountable. It’s the only way to get anything done.
Because You Can’t Sleep
Sometimes when the thoughts are whirring too loud in my head, it helps to write them out. Bleed them out on paper or your computer or whatever. If you’re not going to be able to sleep, at least be productive about it.
Because The Words Are Beating Your Skull
Sometimes most of you doesn’t want to write but that part of you that is A Writer needs you to. You’ll drown in the words if you don’t. Don’t let this happen, even if you’re busy. Take the time to write.
Because You’ll Fall Apart If You Don’t
Words can stitch you back together. They can keep the monsters at bay. They can pull you away from the edge and dust you off and pick you up and fix you help you fix yourself in so many ways.
Writing can have magical powers, if you let it. Don’t forget to call on it when you need help.
Because You’re a Writer
Don’t let yourself make excuses. Don’t let other things crowd writing out of your life. If you’re a writer, write.
Off to do all the things (including write a little). Thanks for reading!
This weekend my university played host to two really awesome conferences: TEDxUofM and the Voices of the Middle West literary festival. I spent all day Friday listening to TED talks and part of Saturday at Voices of the Middle West, hearing about writing and literature from some of the premier authors from my part of the country.
What all this means is that my brain is basically exploding with inspirational advice now.
So, I figured I’d share some of my favorite lessons from the two conferences with you.
1. Put yourself out there.
One of the TEDxUofM speakers graduated from the university only a few years ago, but already she has a job at the White House. How? She asked for it.
She talked to us about Impostor Syndrome and how even if something seems like a long shot, it’s better to go for it and fail than to not go for it at all. She’d been working on Obama’s re-election campaign in 2008 when a job she was not at all qualified for opened up in her division and she decided to ask her boss for it. Her boss of course said no, but a few months later he did give her a huge promotion–because she’d proven herself determined and courageous by asking for the other job. And now she’s working in the White House only a few years out of college.
2. What makes you say “I can’t”? Do it.
Another TEDxUofM speaker talked about how we pass up far too many opportunities due not even to fear or pessimism, but because of the genuine disbelief that we cannot accomplish those things.
Really look into why you’re saying no to something. Think about Impostor Syndrome again. There’s a good chance you could do it, if you’re willing to believe and work hard enough.
3. Connect what you’re doing to what’s important to you.
A U of M math professor spoke about how her Calc II students started scoring wayyy better when she taught them to connect what they were learning in class to the real world. I think this is important when working on anything. I know I do better in all my courses when I can connect what we’re learning to writing, because that helps me process things, and I do better on writing projects if I can connect them to my life.
Basically: Anything can make sense and feel important to you as long as you put it in a context that makes sense and is important to you.
4. Don’t forget where you’re from.
This one came from the keynote address at Voices of the Middle West by Stuart Dybek. While I didn’t make it to a lot of the festival yesterday (yay homework), it seems like a general theme was the way the Midwest has influenced the writings of those authors from it. Dybek talked about how this is important, because your background influences your writing (and who you are as a person) in a ton of ways and being aware of that influence allows you to understand both it and yourself.
5. Don’t give up on your dreams.
One of the TEDxUofM speakers founded a nonprofit in another country with which she built and ran a nursery school for underprivileged children. Then a woman found a legal loophole that allowed her to steal the land and everything on it.
The speaker’s nonprofit hasn’t been able to get the school back, nor is she sure if they’ll ever be able to. But, despite this and a ton of other struggles, she hasn’t given up on helping the people in that village. The amount she cares about them was so, so obvious as she spoke first about building the school, then losing it, and while in many ways her speech was heartbreaking, it was also inspiring.
Caring that much about something is a horrible, beautiful thing. We should all aim to care that much. And we should all persevere for our dreams as much as that girl has and continues to.
She told us how her goal when she was younger was to change the world, but now she realizes how naive that is. Instead, she simply wants to make the world better in some way.
We all can do that. It’s almost impossible for a single person to change the world, but everyone can make it just a little better, and together we can make it great.
Take risks. Care as much as you can. Look to your past to help you understand your present and figure out where you want to go in the future.
And more than anything else, don’t forget to dream big.