This song is just how I’m feeling right now and is an important aspect of my creative writing at this point.

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Anxious

That is how I feel about sharing my creative work with the world. Sharing my academic writing gives me similar fears, but it is much safer and less vulnerable, so the feeling is not as intense. However, I am so scared to show my creative writing to my classmates, much less read the short story I composed out loud for all to hear. I know that is a vital part of my Creative Writing class, but it is still very difficult for me. To try to soothe my fears, I had two of my close friends read over my work and I still couldn’t bring myself to stay in the same room as they read it. It is a tough phobia to get over, but I know I will have to face it this semester. Hopefully I conquer it.

The Short Story Section at Barnes and Noble

My visit to my local Barnes and Noble was quite surprising. After I asked the Customer Service woman where the “Short Story” section was, she looked at me as if I asked her where to park my unicorn! She then went on to tell me that they had no section such as that. However, she brought me to two sections in the store, one shelf in Fiction and one shelf in Science Fiction, both with a sticker that read, “anthologies.” I have never heard that word before, but she explained that an anthology was a collection of pieces from different authors. These two shelves were the only short stories that were organized together in the whole store. Otherwise, as the woman explained further, others were scattered throughout various sections based on author, editor, or genre, and that they had very few selections because most people come in for novels, not short stories. Despite the small selection, I was able to make observations about the short stories in Barnes and Noble.

According to Merriam-Webster, a short story is defined as, “an invented prose narrative shorter than a novel usually dealing with a few characters and aiming at unity of effect and often concentrating on the creation of mood rather than plot.” I felt an in-depth definition was in order, since people often see short stories as nothing more than just that, a small tale. As for the popular collections of short stories, from what I could see, many were about horror or the supernatural; however, it may have just seemed that way from the sections of the store they were in—Fiction and Science Fiction. Unfortunately, I am not one to enjoy short stories all that much, as I am always left wanting to know more of the story. In the past, I have enjoyed works by Edgar Allan Poe, like “The Raven” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.” I also like one story I had to read for a high school mid-term assignment called “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. On the other hand, I was surprised that there were a few anthologies I found myself skimming through. For instance, there were two books that jumped out at me: “Don’t Read This Book” and “Clockwork Fairy Tales: A Collection of Steampunk Fables.” I suppose the covers are what made me gravitate towards them. Being such an eclectic collection, there wasn’t a theme for the short story book cover art, but that’s what made the books I wanted to read all the more fascinating. The title of “Don’t Read This Book” grabbed my attention for the sole reason of why it is appealing to do something one is not supposed to do. However, once I picked up the book, the cover was even better. It had two identical girls with sewn up mouths, covered in blood, guarding a chest that held a book. It was practically begging for me to pick it up. As for “Clockwork Fairy Tales,” it had a classic Steampunk style bird, made of shiny metal, standing on a pair of Steampunk binoculars, and the border was all gears. The cover was tempting me to look into the book for a view into those binoculars. I could be overanalyzing, but both those books and their artwork really jumped out at me. Sadly, this wasn’t the case for all the books. For example, on the Fiction Anthologies shelf there was a book titled, “The Best American Short Stories.” The cover was so bland with dull blue and red colors and a plain white font; it was not appealing to the eye at all. As I stated before, the selection was varied due to the small space that was dedicated to short stories, so most of the books were unique in there appearances and styles. Finally, I must admit that this visit to Barnes and Noble only gave me one piece of advice, to grab the reader’s attention. Although with my portfolio work I will not have book covers to design, my opening sentence has to be what draws the reader in. It must be as commanding as “Don’t Read This Book” and as inviting as “Clockwork Fairy Tales.” It may not have been a lot, but the visit was significant and taught me to look at short stories in a new way.

A Semester of Possibilities

I look at creative writing as one would an old friend. I have many fond memories from  my high school years when I spent countless hours in the glow of my computer screen, as I typed out pages and pages of the several ideas that my teenage mind had concocted. Alas, life got in the way in the form of increased workloads at school, having a job, and ultimately starting college. As a result, I have hung up my “writing boots” for a few
years now. Nevertheless, I am excited to get back into writing! I was eager to take Creative Writing this semester because I did miss this, at one time
essential, element of my life. Even though the class has only just begun, I feel myself reflecting on personal experiences that will affect my writing, themes I want to include in my work, and even ideas for what I want to write about.

If one were to view a timeline of my life, he or she would notice that it has not been a typical journey for me. I have had major occurrences happen through the years that have changed my outlook on life and, in due time, how my creative writing will also be. As all great tales open, the beginning of my life is the best place to start. When I was born, I was ten weeks premature. If that wasn’t unfortunate enough, I also had a disease that was so rare, I was merely the eighth case that the specialty hospital I had been transferred to had ever dealt with. The syndrome was called Hemihypertrophy Macroglossia and it affected my tongue in such a way that resulted in me going to speech therapy for years in elementary school to help me assimilate with the other children. Sadly, in third grade, I was informed that I had hit a plateau and that the speech program could no longer help me. All in all, from the beginning, I was different than other children. Although, it has been many years ago and I have learned to deal with my disease, my speech still holds a high level of insecurity for me. Fast forward to my year of seventh grade, when I read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and was inspired to write my own work. Up until that school year, I hated reading, much less writing, and to find a book I actually liked was amazing to me. The way the story was written and the characters that were involved in the coming-of-age plot really resonated with me. It was in that year that I wrote my longest piece to date, a fifty-two page, Times New Roman font, size 10, single-spaced work titled The Outsiders through the Eyes of a Girl. It took me months to complete, but I loved every minute of it! After that experience, I frequently wrote because I actually found it fun to create my own worlds, situations, and characters. For about four years, I wrote with the same diligence, but then I had another monumental occurrence in my life, something that still affects me to this day. When I was fifteen, my personal life took a dive deep into a place I never thought I would be. In my sophomore year of high school, I left my friend group. The people I had surrounded myself with for years were gossipy and deceptive, and I could no longer tolerate it. Although it had taken a significant argument between us to push me, I chose to take a brave leap from being at the center of a secure group to becoming a loner. For months, it was hard to do anything. In school, my desk was by my former friends, so I became secluded during class. In lunch, I sat alone for months, until one person, another outcast, finally joined my table. At home, I would stay inside most of time because there wasn’t anyone for me to hang out with. Friends I had known for years were suddenly no longer in my life, and it was a lonely, dark feeling. I am from a very small town, so there weren’t cliques, but lifelong friendships that felt too hard to try and break into at such a late stage of schooling. Fortunately, the next year, I threw myself into extracurricular activities, made new friends, and things got better. Regardless, for that year, I was a mess, but it taught me the importance of being honest and that integrity is something I would like to hold true to in my writing. This brings me to where I am today. Looking from a writer’s standpoint, my positive experience with writing during middle school and early high school has instilled in me a love of composition that though dulled, has not been extinguished completely. Meanwhile, my malevolent experiences have inspired me to write about things that are real. I cannot write a sugarcoated fairytale, I have to be realistic or I feel I am doing a disservice to my readers. My life has not been picture perfect, but it has made me into the person and writer I am today, and for that, I have no regrets.

The events that have taken place in my life have led me to the themes I would like to involve in my work this semester and in future writings beyond it. First and foremost, I want to convey the theme of overcoming. Life isn’t as easy or blissful as it is often seems to a child or even in some movies and books. Life is a hard, bumpy road, but as Robert Frost wrote, “it goes on.” Through my characters’ experiences, I want to show my readers that though things are tough, they will get through it, and come out stronger. A second theme I want to explore is staying true to oneself, even as one faces adversity. When I wanted to change my actions for the better and stop doing what my friends at the time were, it was difficult. However, I stuck to my guns because I knew what was truly right, and that decision to stand alone has molded me into the person I am today. Although it is challenging to think back to such a dark time in my life, I shudder at the thought of the person I could have been had I stayed and followed the group. My characters will also go through challenges that will force them to make a similar choice of whether to follow the herd or lead it. I feel this theme will empower my readers to make the decision to stand as individuals in their own lives if need be. A final theme I would like to work into my writing is love. It is such a simple word, but it holds so much meaning. Love can cause people to do crazy things, inspire bravery they never thought they had, or stir up a passion that has been lying dormant inside them, just waiting for a chance to be awakened. I want to express love, whether it be
between a family, a budding romance, or even a secret crush. Love is an immensely powerful force that I am only beginning to comprehend. Although I do not have a full grasp of it, and doubt I ever will, I feel the need to express it through my characters and in the stories I write. I want to capture that
essence and spread it on a page with words. Love can never be fully expressed through mere written language, but I would like to explore it to the fullest capacity I can. Themes are a strange topic for me. For years, I did not understand them and loathed doing book reports for the sole reason that there would always be a section on themes. However, being in college, I have come to make amends with themes, and it will be interesting to use them proactively as I write.

The ideas that I have for this semester’s work are both exciting, but also a bit frightening. For the first part of the project, I would like to choose to write
excerpts from a novel. I have had a story idea in my head for quite a long time, but have not yet put it down on paper. I do not want to reveal much of it, but basically, it is about two teenagers, a girl and boy, who, despite theobstacles of their destructive home lives, manage to form a love that they have never known and become successful in life. I have thought so long about this story that I have even come up with a three novel series for it. It feels ridiculous to not even have a throughout story, yet still have so many ideas, but it seems to have happened that way. I want each chapter excerpt to be from a different book, that way I can show variety and character growth. Despite my eagerness to start making my story come to life, I am worried it won’t come together in the way I have envisioned it. However, with hard work, persistence, and help from my classmates through peer review workshops, I hope it will all work out. As for the poems, I don’t have a clear plan for what I want to do. Poetry has always a struggle for me. Even when I used to write, I never penned poems. I feel I can possibly use them to express opinions I have or vent real emotions, but I don’t know how to accomplish it. Hopefully, during the semester I will learn more about the mechanics of poetry so I can feel more comfortable writing it. I also hope that I can practice more poetry writing on the blog because as the cliché goes, practice makes perfect. I know I won’t be perfect, but why not strive for better than average? My ideas may not be fully developed, but I know the foundations I have will flourish into greatness if I work at them.

For five years, the entirety of my writing has been academic. After getting lost in the fast paced trials of life and school, I think it will be nice to sit back and get reacquainted with my former companion—creative writing. It may be awkward at first as we haven’t kept up with each other, but in time we will get back to where we left off. Regardless, I thrive in academia and feel nervous moving away from it in my writing. On the other hand, as it is often said, “Those who never take risks, never succeed,” and I want to succeed, so I have to try.

The Irony

I want to write, but nothing comes. Every beginning sentence seems wrong, and I find myself continuously hitting the “backspace” key, over and over. Waking up this morning, I felt today’s blog post was going to be good—maybe a poem, short story, or even song—a lead into what was to come for this semester of Creative Writing class. However, too much is going on: anger, disappointment, regret. Why am I alone on this Saturday night? Why did he not show up when we had made plans? Why do I always count on him when I know he has let me down so many times before? Couple these feelings with so much school work, and I am truly overwhelmed.  My mind is bombarded with so many thoughts that I can’t possibly write anything worth creating, much less posting online for others to see.

I Remember Him

It was a cold autumn day when my dad and I traveled to New York City with the sole purpose of going to the newly opened 9/11 Memorial. The experience evoked more emotions from me than I had expected.

I was only eight years old when the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were attacked, so at the time, I didn’t grasp the situation that well. However, year by year, as I grew older, and I watched the specials on TV every September 11th, I couldn’t help but feel some emotional tie to it, despite having no substantial connection to the attack or even the towers themselves.

Arriving on the site, once deemed Ground Zero, was the first time I had even been to that section of the city. As we stepped out of the iconic yellow cab that my dad had hailed at Penn Station, I was immediately drawn to the huge Freedom Tower that seemed to reach the stark white clouds which stood out amongst the bright blue sky.

After getting through security, we were allowed in the sectioned off area that contained the memorial. It was as if we passed into a different world. Unlike the chipper guards that greeted us on the outside of the area, the inside officers were serious and stern. Even the same people we chatted with on-line while waiting to get in had lost their friendly smiles.

To say the least, the mood was somber. Although it was a crisp fall morning, there was an extra chill in the air, for the very ground we walked on had been where thousands of people took their last breaths.

As we advanced around the “first tower,” I remember running my fingers over the names. So many people and so many families, all changed from one selfish act. A slight ache pulled in my heart.

Suddenly, my dad got a call and walked away to a bench. I was too engrossed; I couldn’t wait. I walked to the “second tower” alone. Halfway around the perimeter, I saw him.

A few yards away from me, there was a man, that seemed to be in his early thirties, with brown curly hair wearing a black pea coat and dark jeans. His blue, glistening eyes were red rimmed and fixated on a name. I had no way of knowing which one, but it didn’t matter to me. The expression on his face was too distracting. The sheer pain that was held in his eyes and the look of utter disbelief was heart-wrenching. A stronger pain ached in my chest. At any moment, I was waiting for him to fall to his knees; the emotional toll being too much to bear that it surely had to cause a physical reaction.

Had he lost a brother, sister, mom, dad, aunt, uncle, cousin, friend, girlfriend, or even co-worker? Had he been there the day of the attack? Had his loved one been traveling on one of the planes that hit the towers? Had his friend rushed back in the building to save more people, just as the tower collapsed?

The questions bombarded my brain. I hadn’t known this man or even seen him for more than a few minutes, but I wanted to know his story. My attention was completely taken from the memorial while I stared at him. As if the longer I stared, the more possible it was that I could somehow view his thoughts and figure out what exactly happened that affected him so much.  As a country, we all felt a loss on that tragic day of September 11, 2001, but this man seemed to have been affected more deeply.

My mind was still racing when I felt a hand on my shoulder. Startled, I turned around to see my dad with a confused look on his face. Why did I leave him at the bench? Why was I not viewing the beautiful memorial that we had traveled specifically to see, but instead was staring at a stranger? Why was I so on edge that when he gently touched me, I jumped? My mind was suddenly filled with another set of questions, but from my dad’s perspective.

Before I could say anything, I felt the need to look at the man again. I turned back to where I had been staring moments before, and the space was empty. The man was gone. Although he walked away, and I joined my dad to witness the rest of the 9/11 Memorial, his face never left me, not that moment, not that day, or even now.

Looking back three years, since I have been to the memorial, I can still picture his face and that anguish. Three years and I still experience the pain I felt when I saw him. Three years and I still have the unrelenting urge to know his story.

Three years and I remember him.

Confusion

I am still trying to understand what this blog is for. I have a grasp of it, but I am not sure if it is correct. I feel like it is supposed to be a place to record random bursts of creative inspiration as they come, but I am not certain that is correct.

Regardless, tonight, I have decided to use my blog to think about the two pieces we read for homework in Creative Writing—“On Keeping a Notebook” and “A Temporary Matter.” To be honest, “On Keeping a Notebook” was confusing to me. The style of the author’s writing made me feel like I was in a car that was traveling fast while making several unexpected turns. I did like the idea the author gave of making observations about the life in the way that you see them. I want to make it a point to do that more in my own life so I am not drained of ideas for characters and events as my writing progresses.

“A Temporary Matter” was a lot better than I was expecting it to be. I am not a fan of short stories, mostly because I feel as though I can never write one effectively. However, this piece was interesting. I liked the strained love of the distant married couple and how the reader was able to know why their relationship was failing, which tragically was the stillborn fate of their one and only child. I must confess, I did not like the ending though. I felt the author lead the reader into believing the relationship would last, only to make the couple’s relationship even tenser in the end by having the wife move out and the husband revealing a dark secret. All in all, I did like this short story more than most I have read.

As I look to the near future, I hope to pencil more time in to freewrite creatively. I miss the days when I had so much time to write when I wanted to. Now with school and a job, I find it difficult to even connect with friends. However, creative writing is now not merely a hobby, but a class and to get better, I have to work at it. Therefore, despite my insecurities, I must power through and find time to let my mind create with nothing more than a laptop and several keystrokes.

My First Blog Post

Such an unoriginal title, but it is what it says so it gets the job done; I suppose. Despite being a part of the “Internet Generation,” I am not very tech savvy and my skills are limited to the social networking of Facebook. I never thought I would have a blog, but now that I am about to begin this journey, that will extend throughout the semester with my Creative Writing class, I am more open-minded to the concept.

As for my creative writing, it has been years since I have seriously dabbled in such arts. In middle school, I would rush home every day after school to open my laptop and write the scene I had been formulating in my head all day. Back then, I had a WordPress account and would publish some of my writings to an online audience. It made me feel proud that people were reading my work and the feedback helped me become a stronger writer. Unfortunately, in high school I started to lose my flow. I didn’t write for pleasure as often, no matter how many ideas I had. The final nail in the coffin was graduating high school. Alas, in college, academic writing is quick to take to the forefront of most students writing, even for Writing majors like myself. I can reluctantly admit that I have not written a single piece of what can be considered “creative writing” since my second semester as a freshman.

However, going into my third year of higher education, I am eager to get back into creating pieces of art through my gift of composition. I hope the old habits I used to have mastery of are quick to return back into action. Regardless of my rusty skills, I am excited for this semester of Creative Writing and know that it will better me as a writer in more ways than I can imagine at 11:30 p.m., which is unfortunately when I am writing this first post due to a late work shift. I would like to close with a quote by Abraham Lincoln, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”