Falling up the Stairs

I’m sure no one’s ever told you to fall up the stairs, right? In fact, doing any kind of falling is generally ill advised, particularly on stairs.

When you want something in life, you want it and you want it now. I understand these feelings. These feelings are why it’s important to stop and see life as stairs instead of a endless road stretching into the distance.fall_up_t_shirt-r2468bd9a4bd54ca0a599f60e11e7df6a_va6lr_324

Frustration with yourself for not being where you see yourself is understandable.

Give yourself a break. There are several things I want for myself–relationships, new experiences, a secure job, travel…

There is rarely a sprint or hop between you and a goal worth having. That’s why you should take it in steps. As a new graduate, as I mentioned in my last post, it can be hard not to panic. A lot of us thought college would be the “guaranteed path.”

Not quite, but it does help.

For me, taking one step at a time can be like mentally walking on glass. Every step hurts and doesn’t seem like it’s worth it until I look ahead at where I’m going. There lies freedom. I have to work not to despair at the distance I still have to go.

Relief will come with work. Not everything will be achieved. There will always be another set of steps to climb. The alternative is falling back down and waisting your work. Then you have to start over. The thought of that is worse than failure, don’t you think? If you’re going to fall, at least fall up the stairs. Falling down hurts a heck of a lot more.

So keep pushing on. Look at each step as a victory. Celebrate. Keep moving.

It may not get easy but it will get better.

Now What?

6316219_48ac536d6a_mThe year is over. All finals are done (and hopefully passed). Commencement has come and gone. Now what?

I suppose this is the time to look for jobs, consider future education, and decide what we want out of life.

Wrong.

Now is the time to rest, if just for a minute. Give yourself time to rest because when you start up again, gods know when you’ll have another opportunity to stop. If you’re an artist this is especially true for one reason: Burn Out.

How long depends on you.

A day? Two weeks? Three months? Just give yourself that time and observe the life field.

If you’re like me, you’re a little numb to this reality. College is over (for now). What to do…what to do?

Sometimes, particularly when you’re as lost as I feel, you want to do do do until there is once again too much to do and you’re busy and stressed.

I’ve never been a “happy” person and now that this semester is over I intend to take steps towards being less miserable in the next stage of life. It will be hard, I know. I’m broke, A-type, and I have a natural desire to always have something to do. Running myself into the ground was what I saw as a natural part of my life until now. Happiness was something I would get some day. It would come after I graduated, after I found a job, after I moved away from my family, after I started my own family….

If that isn’t an unhealthy way of thinking, I don’t know what is.quote1

So, what I’m saying is. For us new grads the best thing right now is to sit and be still. To remain calm and give as little play as possible to the existential crises many of us feel coming. For just a short while we should think, find a simple job that’s not too demanding (if possible) and regroup for a month or two.

For those of us who already have jobs, more school and plans…Awesome. More power to you.

As for the rest of us who feel as lost as a two-year-old dropped in the middle of downtown….Let’s take a moment. Breathe. Exist. And Think.nottilwearelost

We may not be anywhere near self-actualization or “happiness” but we can avoid a hell of a lot of heartache and frustration if we give ourselves time to consider our futures.

At this point and at our ages, there really are so few mistakes we can make. This is the time to experiment and try on various suits and decide which feels right. It’s time to make some plans so we can eventually hit the ground running.

Congratulations fellow graduates. We did it. Fighting!

Perseverance, Acceptance, and Excelsior

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myinspiration.com

I wanted to do a quick post on the importance of perseverance when writing. This is something I’ve struggled with in several areas, but only just recently when it comes to writing. I have several blog posts half ready because of my own irrational fear.

Fear is something I hate more than anything. They say you tend to hate qualities in others that reflect those in yourself.

It has taken me my entire college career to grow to accept the anxious and brooding part of myself. The one I thought came naturally as a person who studied an art. The one that wants so desperately to succeed that it fears trying. Most importantly, the part that clings the bad in life but throws away the good.

It may sound obvious, but we are guaranteed plenty of disappointments in life. The same goes for writing.

Not every novel is going to be finished. Not every character will work out. Most of all, not every story will be published.

As writers we signed on for this type of struggle whether we were fully aware or not.

I just wanted to point out the importance of acceptance and excelsior and perseverance.

Every writers and every artist must accept they’re failures and hold the word “Excelsior!” in reach.

“Upwards!” “Higher!” Even in success we have to keep these words close. As long as we’re reaching and striving for better we have something to keep us going.

So accept all. Persevere. And say, “Excelsior!”

Success will follow.

 

Bitty Book Remarks

Finally, I have time to write this. I hate writing long things because I know that can get boring. So with that said let’s get in and get out.

This is the first of what I want to call Bitty  Book Remarks (BBRs). This is where I review a book in 200 words or less.

Starting now:

US Category: YA (and adults)

Category: Horror/Thriller

Overall: 4.5/5

Diversity: 1/5 (Note: Author has other very diverse works.)

Recently, I finished the third volume of Dan Wells’ John Cleaver books. They were something I usually would not have stumbled across, but I’m glad I read them.

Picture it, 15-year-old kid is diagnosed a sociopath, lives in a mortuary, and is obsessed with serial killers.

Interested yet?

I was! The structure of this story keeps you interested from page one. Mr. Dan Wells makes it easy to relate to someone you might not expect to understand: a “sociopath.” John is portrayed not only a demon hunting teenager trying to protect his small town, but also as a person with real issues. He is growing up and has trouble fitting in and understanding those around him.

Despite the often dark humor (and often because of it) I feel this book would work well for readers ages 14+.  It is a nice mix thriller and  paranormal horror that is sure to keep you guessing.

Fun facts: Dan wells wrote his book with himself as the intended audience. It’s very popular in Germany where it is categorized as a adult thriller while in the UK it is YA Horror, while in the US it is marketed to both.

More: http://www.thedanwells.com/

Next BBR: Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

Eight Things I Want From New Adult

I’m a new adult.

Being a new adult is daunting, particularly during your last semester of college. You re-ask questions you asked as a high school senior. But the answers to these questions mean something very different than it did then.

I have been reading Young Adult off and on for years, loving most experiences. Regardless, I have still longed for something that fit my specific type of existential crisis. Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about that awkward time when you’re expected to fend for yourself while still feeling like a teenager? I’m 22, not 16 or 36. Where are my stories?

Unfortunately, NA is still a young category. So let’s count down some things I still hope to see more in future NA. Some are already present, but others really need some work.

8. Younger Writers

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I have nothing against older adults writing YA and NA, that would be ridiculous. Almost all YA I’ve read has been from older adults. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be nice to see some people in my age group churning out some work for this category (myself included).

I can understand why YA isn’t generally written by teens. They are busy with school and have not necessarily reached the level of craft skills necessary to do so. (I don’t buy this, but it’s something to consider I guess.)

New Adults like us (age 18-26) are actually adults who are likely able to string entertaining and relatable content in a semi-sophisticated way. Why are we not writing our own stories en masse?

7. Ignoring the Sex Fear Mongers

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I’ll admit that NA is fairly new and as such is trying to find an identity (ironic as that is). Still, I don’t think it will have a shelf in bookstores like Young Adult. I don’t really think it should .

Honestly, it would probably be good to consider it the next natural step from young adult, the way games are labeled as T (Teen) or M (Mature 17+).

The main argument I’ve seen in my research is this idea of how much sex is “appropriate?” In every article I read, this was the big side issue, if not the main issue.

We have a puritanical thought process when it comes to teens, as if we should tell them that they should never ever have a sexual thought. They are not allowed to be sexual beings. Such as with the issue with Diary of a Part-Time Indian that was called 50 Shades of Gray for Kids. *sigh*

Not to say we should throw up our hands and start writing YA smut, but teens are not as dumb as you think. They have hormones, yes, but a book probably is not going to turn them into raving sex fiends. Plus, many are already reading from the erotica section anyway. This is why it’s important for there to be clarity, confidence, and safety. Sex should be handled in ways that allow a teen to learn something important about themselves and those around them. (In the off chance they accidentally-on-purpose grab a book labeled NA.)

6. Cut Down on the Traditional Romance Themes

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Seems contradictory, I know. I’m not a romantic in the sense one expects a girl to be. (Those silly gender roles.)  This causes several problems when choosing movies but even more when choosing books. I can remember so many books I’ve read that were 80+ percent romance/sex focused (usually recommended by my mother or close friends). Each time, I either stopped after the third sex scene or pressed through, disappointed by the end.

I would rather there be a fresh look at romance, the future of relationships, and relationships that are not the norm. What happens when you’re not ready to be married and your partner is? What happens if you never are going to get married or conversely are obsessed with it? What about abusive relationship? Long distance? Dating a teen accidentally? On purpose? Dating the TA? Arranged marriages? Intercultural relations? Interracial? Same-sex? Let’s not create the same unjust majority that is still in YA.

5. Content

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There is more to being a new adult (and young adult) than romance and sex! Some of us aren’t interested in those things and are driven towards other goals. Some travel abroad. Some are learning languages and joining speech communities. Some are trying to find lifelong friends. Some are determined to be married by the end of college, sex all but irrelevant. Some of us have to juggle full time jobs and a full course load. Some of us aren’t even in college and are just trying to survive with a job. Some are dealing with the side effects after getting pregnant as a teen. There are family relation issues. Returning home after college. Depression. Jobs. Crisis of Faith! Not identifying with your heritage. Reconnecting with your heritage. The possibilities are so plentiful and so unique to this age group.

And don’t even get me started on genre. Fantasy, Scifi, Historical, Dystopian…Let’s do it!

4. Better Cover Art

Another small note. I saw these covers. No. I disagree fully. Though similarly could be said of YA.

3. Life Beyond College

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As a NA about to graduate I would appreciate there being plenty of fiction related to this topic. There is more to being a New Adult than the college years, as I’ve said. Peace corps, work/travel abroad, dead-end jobs, great overwhelming jobs, starting a business, starting a family as a young person, anything that will make a great stress filled story.

2. Bridge in the Industry/Literary Citizenship

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NA seems to be a great place for literary citizenship. It was pushed and grown by it. Blogging and online promotion are the main driving forces that keep this category from being a trend that fades out. It thrives on interactions between authors and readers.

In several places I read, there was the idea of NA being more than just a bridge between YA and “Adult.” It is also a bridge between self-published work and traditional publishers.

1. Diversity

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Princess and The Frog Concept Art by Chris Appelhans

This is the most important point and the one I’ve seen the least about. It deserves it’s own post, and it will get one, but for now it will be a point here.

It’s a shame that this is even an issue, and I know it’s not a malicious thing. People are writing what they know. That being the case, we need more writers of color in this category (all categories). Most protagonists in the category are white women. Again, there’s nothing wrong with them. There just needs to be more writing done by other POC who can give interesting and unique views on this transitional period of life.

Further Reading:

NA Alley

USA Today

Huff Post Books

The Christian Science Monitor

Yalsa: The Hub

Writer’s Digest 

Starts

There’s a lot to be said about starts. You have to start somewhere. That’s a hard thing to grasp for procrastinators like me. I’ve put off this daunting task of creating captivating content for the masses for some weeks now. The impending due date of my lovely Literary Citizenship class was a great push to get me in gear. Like novel writing, a blog can be an endless and frightening endeavor. But unlike a novel, a blog must go on and on with a need for continuous, consistent, and captivating content. So, I went about this it in the best way I know. I over-thought until I was forced to throw up my hands and just dive right in.

I’m starting with a prompts that came to mind today:

When did you start writing? What was the defining moment that made you feel like you could do this? Or was it a person? A teacher? A parent? Your dog’s unconditional love and support? Or something else?

I’ll go first. Feel free to skip to the end.

For me, it was in elementary school. In fourth grade, there was a substitute teacher who came to our little private school for a week. She had us write our own stories about whatever we wanted, something that was strange in this overly controlled setting. I sat for a long time, staring around at the twenty or so other kids. Creative freedom was something I had come to associate with “Art-time” and “Free-time” but nothing else. Usually, the only writing we did was copying out passages from our books into cursive until our hands hurt. It was the first time I recall that spark of inspiration igniting.

I wrote and wrote until I had two whole pages (I was very proud of this staggering length). I wrote about the imaginary friends I remembered from when I was five. It was fun to reconnect with those old ideas.

The substitute teacher took up our work at the end of class to read the following night.

Our next class was like any other, and I didn’t think much about what I’d written. Words didn’t matter to me. They were just frustrating things that I read painfully slow. Being below my grade level in reading, I couldn’t be good at writing.

When she finally handed back our papers, she celebrated our efforts. I cringed when she held up my work, assuming it had been particularly bad. Rather than shame me, she gushed over how interesting it was, told me to keep writing, and claimed mine was one of the best. I wrote as well as some of the older kids.

Even now, though I remember very little else of elementary school, I recall that mix of excitement and embarrassment. This was something new to me. I was proud of my own work for the first time. Me, someone who could not read as quickly as my peers, could write something good.

That memory and the support of some teachers, friends, and family have kept me writing.

So, tell me about your stories. What event, person, or accomplishment sparked your writing life? What keeps you writing now?

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