What May Be Up And Coming On This Blog. Maybe.

Hey guys; I know I haven’t written anything in a while, but, hey, it’s not like I have loyal followers!  Just you losers… people who know me and view my blog out of pity or because I told them to, and people who accidentally ended up here.  Anyway, I have an idea for actually making people care about me as a writer, and I want to see what you guys think.

Basically, it would be like a TV series, but with blog posts.  Yeah, I know I’m not even close to being the first one to think of it, but shut up.  I’d write little episodes, engaging my little characters in little plots, and hopefully people will check back to see the next episode.  Maybe people will be even… anxious for the next one!  Oh no, now I’ve jinxed it.  Regardless, it may be fun.

My only real idea so far is centred around one of my other interests… psychology!  I see that some of you seem sort of bored by the word.  Let’s put it this way… it’s a lot like a high school drama, but everybody is diagnosable crazy.  The story takes place in a cross between a research lab and a mental institution.  Some scientists decided they want to study mental disorders in a different environment, so they try to get a case for every mental illness and put them all together, to see how they interact, and to get them all in the same place for observation.  Yeah, it’s a little shaky, but maybe I’ll make it work.  The backbone of the story, of course, is the characters themselves, and their insecurities and relationships.  To name a few:

A “Barbie” girl who can’t stand being blonde, stupid, and mocked, and has developed some real self-esteem issues regarding it.

A man who thinks he’s a knight from the middle ages.

A “figment of the imagination” who refuses to believe that he’s no more than such.  (Multiple personality disorder.)

A man struck with Kuru, a disease caused by… cannibalism!  ( And yes, I know it’s not technically a mental disorder, but still.)

So, I just want to know if there’s any support out there for this, or even any requests for specific characters or disorders.  This would be the time.

Warning. The Following is Contraversial

I’m a writer.  There is nobody who values books, the word, the story, more that me.  So, take it seriously when I say that novels should be less emphasized when it comes to learning.

WHAT!?!?

What am I saying!?  Parents and teachers put such an emphasis on the importance of young people reading.  Ask a teenager how many times they’ve heard, “Get off that couch and get some exercise and fresh air!  Socialize!  Here, read a book!”   The logic is flawed to say the least.  You’re not physically moving, so a book reader could be as fat as your regular couch potato, and most people who read and nothing else end up way socially stunted.  It’s much easier to socialize through a TV.

How many times will you see this while wondering down the halls of a school?

“But books are so good for learning!” the parents and teachers cry.  Hmmmm.  These are books.

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  • I’m pretty sure these would be just teeming with educational goodness.  Meanwhile, your teenager could have been watching the science channel.
  • Now, watch it.  I’m not saying TV is better than books, I’m saying that, when you tally up all the good and bad, they’re probably about equal.  Same with any other medium actually.  Video games, TV, movies; they all vary in their educational content as much as books.  And here’s why: the first purpose of all those mediums, books included, is ENTERTAINMENT.  No joke.  Novels are a form of entertainment.
  • I’m sure most authors would want to beat their heads against the wall, were they to encounter what is common in schools nowadays.  Kids forced to read novels, suffering all the way through it.  Stories weren’t written to make people suffer!  Most writers will tell yah if you’re bored after the first few chapters, put the book down!  Don’t keep reading it in a daze and write an essay on it afterward!  Forcing kids with no interest in novels to read novels just creates kids who hate novels.  Sure, novels have messages and themes and morals, but these are things that shouldn’t be shoved down your throat anyways.  That’s why they are garbed in an entertaining form, stories.  Oh, and again, all those other mediums have the same thing.
  • (There are a few exceptions though.  Novels that have a moral as the first goal, and entertainment as the second.  1984 is probably the best example.)
  • The only way novels offer more learning than any other medium is through their words.  A hardcore reader cannot help but booster their vocabulary through reading, which makes them sound a lot smarter, because they can convey their meanings better.  And that is a legitimate form of intelligence.  People should have better vocabularies.  But forcing people to read novels designed to be entertaining isn’t the way to go about it.
  • Maybe, just maybe, we could allow people to choose whatever “entertainment medium with a learning side effect” they wanted, and we could amp up the vocabulary in that medium.  Or maybe we could just let people learn whatever they want to.  Because, after all, there’s a lot we can learn from visual mediums that are hard to convey through a novel.
  • Don’t tell me you’ve never seen a thought-provoking movie, or that a television show has never stimulated your imagination.  And, if they haven’t, you’re probably not the type to think that way.  And there’s no amount of novels we can push your face into to turn you into that thinker.

Paper Verses Screen

Many authors/writers, even readers, seem to be harbouring a concern about these newfangled e-books.  They speak as if these ghastly gadgets will cause a decline in readers, and an overall lack of interest in books.  To which I say, “Seriously?”

I’m young, quite young, a teenager, and just barely one at that.  And I am sick and tired (admittedly I tend to use “old people phrases”) of anybody older than 3o demonizing new technology, and to boot, the young people who use it.  “Don’t sit too close to the television; you’ll go blind/cross-eyed.”  We’ve all heard this stuff and it usually turned out to be an unfounded myth.  There’s more stuff now too.  “Cell phones cause cancer.”  I doubt it.  “They’ve” done studies.  There’s no real evidence that cellular phones cause health defects.  “Video games cause teen violence.”  Teens cause teen violence.  If you have such a loose connection to reality that a violent video game can make you murder, then you’re diognosably psychotic already.  If you have such a lax conscience that a bit of blood on a screen can desensitize you, you’re halfway down the road to sociopathic already.  But I digress.

My point is, even in the medieval times, people were afraid of new technology.  I think it has to do with a nostalgic factor.  The new will replace the old, and the users anticipate missing the old.  Young people have the advantage of not having enough experience with the old to miss it.  I personally know some writers who refuse to use a computer to record their work, preferring instead to handwrite it!  I wouldn’t handwrite a grocery list if I could avoid it.

And here it goes with e-books.  And, as I’m sure you’ve figured out, I’m in full support of them.  I mean, why not?  Why would an author care about the actual, physical pages?  Aren’t the words, those marvelous, magical, mystical words that form the plot, the characters, the actual story more important?  And they don’t change!  A person reading on a Kindel is going to understand the story the same way as someone flipping pages.  As well, all those marvelous other things that novels have are maintained.  Cover design, synopsis/teaser, foreword, acknowledgements, everything!

And I daresay that e-books might cause an increase in young readers.  Seriously.  It takes less effort to go out and buy books when you can just download from an infinite selection, for one thing.  For another, and this is a serious concern for some people, nobody can tell what your reading.  Men, you can read all the Harlequins you want and your wife never has to know.  And, possibly the most important, if you buy e-books on some piece of technology that’s not exclusive to reading (like an i-pad), chances are good that you’ll have it on you even if you don’t intend to read anything.  Then, if you find a moment, bang, you read a chapter, when you otherwise might not have had a book on you.  Who carries novels around, really?

But, there still will be the nostalgics, the ones who’ll miss the fresh scent of paper, the slightly intoxicating scent of ink.  Hey, for us writers and readers, that’s a sort of comfort, the way an athlete might relax at the scent of sweat.  Well, more than you would anyway.  And, yes, I might miss those things.  But, it’s not like Imma through out my old collections.  An e-reader might help me fill in the gaps too.

So, authors, it’s not like you have to prepare for an increasingly difficult market.  As long as there are writers, there will be readers.  If you write it, they will read.  They will cry and laugh just the same.  My dad tells me that there are a few jobs that will always exist, despite the evolution of new technology.  And, I’m pretty sure “storyteller” is one of them.  (If not, I’ll settle with compulsive liar.)   

Poetry Pausing

Okay, this is my blog, so I’m gonna whine a little.

In Language Arts class, our teacher had us memorize a poem.  Not a big deal, in fact, it was then that I realized that I am pretty dang good at memorizing poetry.  (I have a linguistic mind, so words=no problem.  However, I just barely know my phone number and house number, and my friends know to remind me of anything calender-related.)

One of my little tricks is to say it aloud as you are reading it, that way you are engaging your auditory memory; if you say something wrong when you aren’t actually looking at it, it will clang, maybe not with your memory, but your ears.  This is especially important for me, an auditory learner.

So I’m sitting there, reading The Path Not Taken out loud, and the teacher has a problem with the way I’m doing it.  See, I’m pausing at the end of every line.  He believes that poetry should sound natural, just like it is being spoken.  So he hates it when I say, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood (pause) and sorry I could not travel both…” because you would never actually pause there if you were simply talking.

I completely disagree.  It’s a stanza, not a paragraph, and should not be read like one, where you pause only at the periods and commas.  I asked my teacher why then, did the poet move to another line, and he responded, “So it looks like a poem.”  Right.

And I’m not pulling my pausing thing out of the blue either.  I know I was told by a teacher, somewhere, sometime, in elementary school, probably the first time we’ve ever done poetry, that one always pauses at the end of each line.  And I like that too, I think it sounds better; it really brings out the rhyme scheme.  True, it doesn’t sound natural, but natural isn’t the goal of poetry really, that’s the goal of prose.

My teacher did defend his argument though.  He showed me a video of a professional reciting the poem, and he didn’t pause at the end of each line.  And the only thing I could respond with was, “Well, he’s wrong.”  professionals can share the same incorrect information as us average Joes.  The funny thing is, later, he was showing us a movie about another poem we had to work with, (Invictus, which I liked much better,) and in one scene, the actor recited the poem, and he truly did pause at the end of every line, save for one.  So there.

My teacher did have one good point though.  He showed my a poem that you really wouldn’t pause at the end of every line.  It was one of those poems where the lines are very short, under five words, and tend to sound a little random.  Firstly, I don’t especially like those kinds of poems anyway; t00 easy to write and no fun to read.  Secondly, my personal opinions aside, I don’t even feel those poems are meant to be read aloud, only to  be viewed.  Pausing or no pausing, it did sound awkward, though I suppose it looked fine.  This is because it is poetry, not a paragraph, and is under no obligation to sound like natural speaking. 

So, how do you feel?  Am I totally off base?

P.S. My favourite poet is Louis Carrol.

I’mpublishedI’mpublishedI’mPublished!

Well, sort of.  Here’s what happened.

I went to an awesome writing camp, Wordsworth (at Camp Kiwanis in Bragg Creek) and wrote some poetry, among other things which aren’t worth mentioning because… they sucked.  (Side-note- I actually didn’t pay anything to get into this camp; I came in runner-up in this years Martyn Godfrey Young Writers Award for “Xanthophobia”, my humourous short story, which was supposed to be published somewhere, on the web and in a magazine.  I haven’t found either.  But they did let me in the camp for free, which was pretty sweet seems as it costs, like, five hundred dollars.) 

Anywho, at the end of camp, we were asked to put some of our work into a box.  I’m going, “Meh, sure, whatever you say camp director lady.”  So, I put some poetry in.  Then, I hear that they’re compiling a book from it to be sold from stores.  Honestly, that didn’t really register to me until I was mailed a book, a real book with a cover and binding and everything, which had my poems in it!  That was an incredible feeling, for me anyway.  People were actually going to read my work in an actual book.  Sure, there were only my three super short poems amongst the whole thing, which was quite thin in the first place, but still.  Of course, this got me thinking, “What loser sits around reading amateur poetry some kids wrote in camp?”  I suspect the book won’t be very popular, which wasn’t as disappointing as it sounds, mainly because I wasn’t getting any money from this anyway.  But at least I was getting my name out there, and years from now, when I’m Steven King, J.K. Rowling, and James Patterson all rolled into one, people will look back and say, “Look!  Her first publication!  How… cute.”

Now, though, I have an important decision to make about the way I view myself.  I’ve always defined the difference between a writer and an author as an author has been published and a writer may not have been.  Am I an author now?

I’m thinking no.  My intuition tells me that would be a rather premature decision.  As I said, I’m not getting paid for this AT ALL and so, I don’t really feel like an author.

So, I’ve decided to change my definition of author and writer.  A writer is one who writes as a hobby and an author is one who writes as a career.  These definitions make more sense, and are probably shared by more people.

(Although, technically, I am an author simply because I have written works, and that makes me their author.  This would mean that every person who’s ever attended school is an author.  Hardly.”

Writers

So, here’s a metaphor of mine about writers, full of personification.  Maybe you think it’s stupid, maybe actual authors will read it and think it’s stupid.  It’s just how I look at things.

I imagine people walking down a busy street in a city.  And, above their heads, little birdy type things flutter .  These are Stories.

See, there are only certain people receptive to these stories, people who can see them, should they decide to reveal themselves.  “Fiction” Writers.  And, why would these stories reveal themselves to anyone?  For some unfathomable reason, they feel the desire, the need, to be told.  And they select the most apt Writer to do it.  These writers are the people born with a linguistic mind; and Stories are going to lean towards whomever has the best grasp on linguistics.  But that’s not all they’re looking for.  They want someone who can write their particular tale with style and flourish.  A fantasy Story would likely not choose a horror Writer, although sometimes one does get cool combinations…

And Authors will attest to this.  To seeing story ideas appearing from nowhere, to have them settle inside their minds and slowly weave a tale before them.  A newer Writer should be thrilled to have their first Story choose them, and an older Writer is plagued by them.

I like to imagine my Stories (and I do have a few) being very proud of me when I write something spectacular, or very disappointed when I write something… not.  I am trying to write it to the Story’s own standard, the way it was meant to be written.  I also imagine the stories starting the question whether or not they’ve chosen the right person when I don’t write for a while.  It keeps me writing, out of fear that the Story will change its mind and pick someone else, causing me to forget everything.  And, that would be terribly sad, for I would miss it most bitterly.  The Stories keep me company, and offer sanctuary when the real world is nowhere near as cool as it should be.  It also distracts me in math class, but you win some, you lose some.

I also think this metaphor helps me mentally explain why I’ve written what I have.  Because, I really don’t feel that I’ve “made it up”.  I feel that it just happened, and I recorded it that way.  I didn’t lay out the tracks for the train, I just followed it.  I mean, come on.  I could not have come up with something as awesome as I feel my Stories are.