#362: The Updates

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This post is a loose continuation from my previous post, called the Proofreader, because my proofreader friend gave me a bunch of recommendations on my previous chapter to apply into my writing. I took it all, updated my writing accordingly, and it feels much better than it did before. I think the parts I changed just generally flow better and feel more appropriate to the story. I also had to clarify a couple parts that were confusing despite my best intentions. Sometimes that just happens, and you have to do what you have to do. I feel good about all the changes I made, though, and generally speaking, it’s in a much better state than it was before.

Being open to feedback means not just blindly accepting feedback and all types of constructive criticism, either. You can’t just sit there and hope to take it all in and apply every piece of advice, especially if there are tons of pieces of advice to go off of. Sometimes you need to draw the line somewhere and make choices based off of where you see the story going. People might think they know where the story is going, when in reality it’s a bit more complicated than that. Being a writer means you naturally operate with a bit more knowledge than the average reader, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore feedback, either. Feedback can be relevant to what direction you’re trying to move in, too.

Unwelcome feedback can be annoying, though. After listening to my friend speak for awhile, it was very helpful and reassuring, but then I received unnecessary feedback from someone else who I didn’t really ask for feedback from. They started giving me advice, but in reality I wasn’t really looking for it at the time. Is that normal?

#359: The Artist

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I sometimes have the urge to teach myself something new, to branch out and learn something and expand my skillset. I like the idea of watching YouTube tutorials on how to draw and using that as inspiration to get into drawing, even though drawing has never been something I’ve been good at. I still stick with stick figures and rudimentary shapes. In fact, I’m so bad at drawing that I used to sit out of pictionary with my friends because I was worried my drawings would be incomprehensible because of their weirdness. Things have changed since then, and I’ve gained a bit more confidence in my round-about ways of drawing things, but I still sometimes get the urge to learn more.

I think it’s because I saw the wonderful progress made by one of my friends on Twitter, who started by drawing a basic idea of Kirby and then it evolved into drawing whatever he wanted. I want the freedom to be able to create the visions I have in my head, and I want to actualize those visions. It’s frustrating to have these images bouncing around in your head and then have nothing to do with them. It’s like they exist only for you to enjoy.

I recently commissioned some art from a friend, though, which was a lot of fun and got a ton of likes on Twitter. It was really cool and I’m grateful for their participation in it, but I’d like to be able to have an idea for a character without having to collaborate with another person to create it, you know? It’d be nice to have that ability myself.

So that’s where I’m at. I don’t know where this journey will take me, or if I’m even going on this journey at all. Who knows, honestly.

#357: The Week Ahead, Part 1

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This blog post will go up on Wednesday I think, but I’m writing it on Sunday from the perspective of someone who’s reflecting on a crazy, ridiculous week into the future. A week that’s going to test me and make me stressed out, undoubtedly, but will hopefully give me the chance to reflect on my current job and my happiness there. For that, I’m grateful for the opportunity and hopeful that the future will benefit things further. I just need to push through this week and then hopefully things will be better on the other side!

So, here’s the deal. On Monday, also known as tomorrow for me but two days in the past when this goes up, I’ll be substituting for math the whole day because both the math teacher and math title 1 assistant have personal days planned for that day. What that means is that they needed to pull another assistant from the same building into math to help the regular math assistant teach the class as normal. I just hope he knows everything and understands the rules and all that so I can help him out, rather than having to lead everything myself. Usually when this sort of pairing up happens, one assistant takes the lead and the other naturally takes the assistant role again. When I’m working in Research & Portfolio for example, I tend to submit into the assistant role until Sean is out, and then I tend to take over the teacher role because I’m in all the R&P classes and know it a bit better than the others. That’s one of the natures of this job. It can be frustrating and weird sometimes, but it is what it is and I’m grateful in some ways that I’m being paid at all these days.

#356: The Peanut Butter

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Peanut butter is fantastic. It’s gooey and tasty and has all the right types of flavors in it. It makes a great companion in smoothies, for example in the AB&J smoothie that Alex makes from time to time, and it complements the other flavors in it so well. I love all the types of peanut butter RX bars that we get, whether it’s just the basic peanut butter bar, the peanut butter and berries bar, the peanut butter and chocolate bar, or more. There’s so much peanut butter out there to appreciate.

For lunch every day, I eat apples with peanut butter on them. It’s a nice bit of protein with some fruit in the middle of the day to get me energized again, and it’s dependable. It has a low chance of being unable to wow me. Even though it’s pretty basic and it’s always there, I still love eating it, is what I mean. Sometimes it’s hard to find a dependable staple like that.

I sometimes wonder what life would have been like if I went to lunch with everyone in the same lunch room and talked with them normally about things. Off-topic, I know, but the thoughts just entered my mind. Would I have stayed at my old teaching job?

As you can tell, I’m continuing my trend of talking about small things at large, by devoting whole blog posts to their discussion. Today, I feel especially motivated to churn out as many blogs as possible about small things, as a way of filling up my backlog so I don’t have to worry about writing them as much during the hectic and ridiculous week I have planned ahead. Perhaps I’ll share more about that on the next blog post. (Spoiler alert: I did, it’s a two-parter and it’s going up on Thursday and Friday to end the week with.)

#355: The Nails

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I hate cutting my nails. Whether it’s my fingernails or toenails, nails are uncomfortable and mostly outrageous to deal with. I have nothing against people who do appreciate their nails, the people who style them and beautify them, but to me personally, that’s never been something within the male gender norm and as a result I haven’t felt too passionately about them. Again, that’s not to say those who do appreciate them are in the wrong though.

My nails are a product of my genetics, and they grow back quickly regardless of whatever I do on them. When I cut them, I do so knowing that within two weeks they’ll be fully grown again and back their talon-like size. It’s frustrating to have to deal with, but in the end, it’s just part of my life at this point. I like the act of clipping nails, the satisfying sound that the clipper makes as it sinks its metallic body through the nail, but it doesn’t make up for the annoying and obnoxious rest of the process. It’s just a satisfying part of it that helps to lessen the wound.

I don’t often talk about the small things, the tiny bits of life that slip under the surface and don’t go talked about often. I’d like to do this more often, but I worry that I will run out of space or I won’t have enough words to fit the 300 word quota. In cases like those, I just need to get meta and talk about blogging at the end, in order to fulfill the 300 words and do away with any doubt about it all. That’s the trick. So much has come up recently that I could be talking about instead, but I sometimes feel more comfortable spending time like this.

#340: The Late Run

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I recently wrote a blog titled “The Run,” so here’s another one along the same lines, called “The Late Run.”

This is going to be about those nights when I really need to fulfill my sugar craving, or ice cream craving, or gum craving. That last one probably only happens to me, but I love gum a whole bunch and could chew it pretty much all day if I had enough supply to last that long. Gum is awesome, cleans your teeth, and keeps your mouth fresh. It’s a triple-whammy.

This is going to be about those nights when I really have to go to CVS, even though I don’t want to drive the car this late at night and while raining outside. The conditions really aren’t ideal, but I still need to fulfill that urge, one way or another. I guess it’s time to go to CVS.

I begrudgingly press the down key on the elevator and wait patiently as I can hear the elevator’s chimes along the chute as it rises up to the sixth floor. The door opens slowly. I can hear someone’s dog clawing at the elevator’s hand bar. Just my luck.

Near the entrance to CVS, a woman is pacing back and forth with both her hands covering her ears. She’s talking on the phone to someone loudly, probably because she can’t hear too well, probably because she’s also covering her ears. Nothing can stop me as I walk into the store, except for the lack of available carts and baskets. I look needlessly at the cashier who obviously has no idea where the baskets are either. I walk around the store carrying a bunch of snacks at my chest, looking like a spoiled child with too many toys. It’s the thought that counts, you know.

#310: The Technique, Part 3

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A three-parter! Here we go. I wouldn’t have guessed having started this series that it would’ve ended up so much longer than initially anticipated.

Writing is a liberating hobby. You are always expelling some kind of demon from within you for someone else’s personal enjoyment. I think back to all the memoir writers I’ve learned about, who must’ve tormented themselves over their writing to perfect the story as it happened, while also creating a unique, memorable narrative at the same time. It’s not easy to say you’re a writer without others immediately asking you what that means, and what kind of writing you do. How can you answer that question with “personal writing” without feeling a bit selfish and self-important, as if your life is worth writing about in the first place? I wouldn’t say I’m living an especially significant life, just a normal one in the 21st century. I wouldn’t even say my story is a story that needs to be told; I don’t know who would really benefit from hearing another white, middle-class, coming-of-age story. But the reason I write is not necessarily just so that I can be read by others; the real reason I write is because it fulfills my professional goals and makes me feel productive. It makes me feel like I’m keeping track of myself, my history, and the world I live in, even while I slowly but surely lose track of it, bit by bit. I used to write frequently, and I want to keep that part of myself going, most of all. I don’t want to abandon it, so here we are, writing about personal lives because it’s often easiest to write about yourself.

In college, I wrote a conceptual metaphor paper on how teaching is performing an exorcism, every day. Imagine how exhausting it must be to exorcise demons from your classroom on a regular basis.

#309: The Technique, Part 2

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Last time, I spoke about the technique that goes into writing fiction, as well as the general rules that I follow (or try to follow, unsuccessfully) because of my difficulties when it comes to paying attention. Having ADD makes writing an interesting hobby, allowing on the one hand for my mind to drift and visit whatever worlds it needs to in order to fulfill my imaginative vision, while on the other hand enabling a lack of focus and attention on the important details. (Is “enabling” the correct word for that? I’m not so sure.)

Regardless, I wanted to talk more about this subject. This is the first time I’m doing a two-part blog post without having written them back-to-back. As in, I’m writing these on separate days. To think it took me 309 posts before I realized I could do this.

The best technique that I’ve personally employed is writing wherever possible, whenever inspiration strikes me. Sometimes while at work, when I have a little bit of down time and can afford a few minutes of personal leisure, I turn on the computer, open up my Google Docs folder, and expel all the ideas taking up space in my head onto the page. It’s a useful and helpful habit to build upon, because the way my brain works necessitates a kind of urgency when it comes to ideas entering it. Being able to write freely helps so much, and without it, I’m not sure I’d be able to trust that the story I come up with is natural and faithful to whatever vision I have for it. Being faithful is essential, as I would hate to read a story that’s not an accurate representation of what the author wanted it to be. Writing is all about representing things, and authors are represented from their stories in great detail.

#308: The Technique, Part 1

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There’s a special technique to writing fiction, a recipe that always creates successful and thought-provoking writing. I don’t know what it is, but when I find it out, I’ll be sure to let you all know.

I write all over the place. My thoughts are so haphazard and spontaneous that I need to write wildly or else I risk losing the thoughts that organically come one after another while writing. Preserving that train of thought is essential to my writing process when writing fiction. I need to be cognizant of where the story is going, while also letting my brain handle the gritty word choice parts. I also sometimes let the spontaneous nature of my brain do the writing and planning for me, even though I probably shouldn’t.

This blog post is kind of a continuation of the previous one, “The Distraction.” They’re both about living with ADD and how that affects what I do and how I live.

Let me give an example of what I mean. I’m writing a multi-part, one-off story involving characters from an established universe. I didn’t know how the story was going to end until… probably about 3,000 words in, and the story is probably only going to be about 4,500 by the time it’s done. I wasn’t building toward an established ending in my head, so that made writing difficult at times. But I was able to let my brain dictate where the story was going, which made the story come off more naturally, I think.

(Did you see how I moved from one topic to another between paragraphs just there? I promise that wasn’t intentional.)

If you’ve read this blog consistently, you might know that I don’t edit my blog posts. I write them and publish them as one rough draft, without any proofreading or reviewing. This one especially.

#115: Stress

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Stress. We all experience it, one way or another. Stress over work, stress over school, stress over relationships. It’s normal to be stressed, unfortunately, despite it being so toxic and corrosive to our mental health. There’s always been talk about how stress and challenges are essential to learning, that in order to be truly engaged or challenged in a task, there has to be some degree of urgency associated with it.

In some ways, I agree completely. How can I ever expect to learn how to handle stress, for example, without having experienced it in a more constructive, educational way in school? School is and has always been a reflection of life after school, but with handlebars and the bumpers up. Teachers are dictators, at least according to kids, and counselors are helpful, guiding friends. School has the makings of a microcosm of life itself, and the lessons learned in school help students in that they can apply those lessons when they reach adulthood. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to be. I don’t claim that this is what everyone’s school experience was like, or even mine for that matter, but I hope I can convey a sense of idealism, not realism, in this.

So, looping back to stress and the factors that go into it. I am somehow who gets stressed easily, and the second a student says one thing that’s slightly disrespectful, I am taken aback and reeling all the way home. My mind absorbs all the emotions and energy of the room around me, internalizing it all. That’s the life of an anxious mind. But in order to overcome stress, I like to think some advil and World of Warcraft does the trick. (That’s partially a joke; I do play WoW to unwind, though.)