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Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Vanity Assignment

Hey y'all!

So recently in English 1110 we were given an assignment to write a personal essay. So, I decided to do it on how writing has impacted my life, just so I could post the final draft as a blog post ha ha. So here it is(with only a couple of minor changes):

"How I discovered writing again"

When I was in the second grade, our student teacher read “Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone” to my class and I was transfixed. Even back then I knew how well written and original it was. That Christmas, Nana (My Grandmother) gave me a biography about the author: J.K. Rowling. Rowling brought herself out of rock bottom, by becoming a successful writer. As I kept reading, I learned how much depth and research she put into her work. She was a master because she truly loved the craft. It’s no wonder she came so far. She became my idol, I wanted to write stories and get them published one day. If she could come so far, so could I. Little did I know that through my imitation of J.K. Rowling that I would become pretty good at (and come to love) forming a creative extension of myself through writing. (Thanks to a lot of practice.)
Throughout the rest of grade school, I always looked forward to English. I could put my classmates’ writing to shame since creative thinking came naturally to me. In my spare time I always was coming up with story ideas, reading, and writing. When Middle School came around, I submitted a short story to the Writers and Artists Fest in both the 6th and 7th grades. I was accepted both years. I got to miss a day of school and get my work critiqued by actual writers! I felt that I was well on my way to becoming the next J.K. Rowling.
Then 8th grade came along to take me off my cloud. That year, English seemed like a History class with three times the course work. I faltered in it because it wasn’t a place where creativity was encouraged. I wrote less and less on my own, and began to give into self-doubt; my dream felt far away, more like a fantasy. I think I gave up on it sometime between 8th and 9th grade. I still liked English enough, but I stopped writing entirely.
When I started getting actual writing assignments (ones that asked for more than the standard mass produced answer.) again in 10th grade, I decided to give it one more go. As I started writing again, I was a bit rusty. But it all started coming back to me. I poured my heart into writing about helping a friend collect bugs for a project in the 7th grade. I was so proud of it, the old Katie who wanted to be like J.K. Rowling was back! I turned it in seeing stars. When it was returned to me however, there was a red C+ at the top of the paper next to my name. If I ever had a dream, it died that day.
When it came time to schedule my senior year, I had a slight dilemma. I needed to choose an English course. I’d always imagined taking A.P. English my senior year, but since I believed I wasn’t cut out for that stuff anymore I had narrowed down to three other classes: English 1010, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and Creative Writing. I chose the latter two since they sounded like fun. It might seem like I took the easy road- maybe I did, but I’m glad I took it. That’s what I needed then, a teacher with a Masters in creative writing (he taught both of those classes), and a place to learn and in some cases relearn the foundations of creative writing. If I didn’t take those classes, I might have never ended up writing again. (Which is frightening, but true.) I was having fun again, and I realized that I was still a pretty good writer. I read voraciously again, started checking out writing advice websites, and I even started a writing critique group (and this blog!) with three of my friends. Somewhere in the middle of all of that, my dream came back to me from the great beyond.
Even after graduation and starting college, I’m still unfazed. I know it will be hard, but I’m seriously considering Majoring in Creative Writing and becoming a freelance writer. I’m preparing myself vigorously for the challenge, because to me, writing is worth it; it keeps me going. I have too much to discover and to share to quit now. The real world can be tough, but so am I. I’m going to give writing the best shot I can become like J.K. Rowling.

And there it is! Any questions or comments? Post a comment here or on our wall, or send us an email at: cliffhanger.hangout@gmail.com.

-Katie

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Inspiration

John Bytheway in his book How to be Totally Miserable describes a place called the Imagi-Nation. The Imagi-Nation is the place where people go to imagine their wildest dreams. (Really?) I have a very vivid imagination. I have alway had one. When I was lonely or bored I would often tell my self stories to occupy myself.
My trips to the Imagi-Nation usually is the birth place of my stories. My daily experiences contributes to this process, such as books, music, movies, and life experiences. Lately, one particular song has been inspiring me. This is very unusual for me. I hated the activity in school when I had to write a story about a song.
The title of the song is Fantasia on a Theme By Thomas Tallis. The composer of this work is Ralph Vaughn Williams. His most recognizable work is Five Varients of Dives and Lazarus, more commonly known by If You Could Hie to Kolob. Fantasia on Theme By Thomas Tallis, in my opinion, has a story like quality. I could easily label the basic parts of a story within it.
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Well enough talking about how wonderful this piece of music is. You can check it out. The You Tube version of the song is good, but I personally feel it is not the best version of the song. My personal favorite performance of the song can be found on iTunes. It is the one with Barry Wordsworth and The New Queens Orchestra.
-Lindsey

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My "Magna Carta"

Hey y'all,

Yeah, I know it's been awhile...sorry about that. But does beginning a new chapter in our lives at college count as an excuse for the blogging silence? No? Fine.

Here's something I made awhile ago that I just wanted to share; it's my "Magna Carta" of what I love and hate in story telling. What I love is what I aspire to, and the things I hate are what I want to avoid like the plague...Check it out!

What I love in Stories:
-GOOD first person narration
-I adore J.K. Rowling's usage of the limited third person point of view
-Smart plots
-Good and compelling villains
-Research (While there are things I admire about Dan Brown, I have to admit some of his research is rather...fabricated)
-Substance
-Nice dialogue
-Well rounded characters
-Good and appropriate romance
-Interesting covers (But don't judge a book by its cover 'Kay?)

Things I hate in Stories:
-Boring first person narration (or any boring narration for that matter)
-Dumb formula based plots where I say, "Well, I saw that one coming..." A LOT
-Cliched two-dimensional characters
-Glaring research flaws or grammatical errors
-The lack of any positive messages
-Gratuitous inappropriateness or swearing/crude language
-Cheap ripoff covers
-When I think, "Why am I reading this?"
-Purple prose (Some prose is needed to establish setting and character traits but, less is more. Try to show us, don't tell us)

Well, there you go! I'll try to update as soon as I can!

-Katie