Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Novel Idea

Though I've always stuck to writing short stories, I've been slowly building up a catalog of ideas for novels in my head.
This semester of college (my last semester, for those counting) I've got an Advanced Writers' Studio class in which the students are to pick a personal writing project to work on through the semester and turn in about fifteen pages of at the end.
My first thought to this assignment was "wow, only fifteen pages? Sure that's going to take some time but given how much short story writing I've done recently, it shouldn't be too difficult". After all, I've got three "finished" short stories that I feel represent my current level of quality, and a fourth one (first draft) halfway done. If I wanted to, I could even turn those all in and have an easy semester.
Then I realized, that's not why I signed up for this class.
Advanced Writers' Studio is a capstone writing class meant for students majoring in writing, which I am not. It is not required for me to graduate in any way, I'm taking it as an elective. I signed up for Advanced Writers' Studio so I could take advantage of my last semester and improve my writing, maybe even challenge myself.

As much as I didn't want to start writing my first novel until I felt I was talented enough to make it publish-worthy, I realize that, aside from the normal struggles, there's not much challenge left for me in short story writing. That's not to say that I've perfected the craft and that there's no room for improvement, it's just that I've gotten too comfortable with writing short stories. I need to move on to the next level. I need to use this class to improve myself.

I've got a novel in mind that excites me to think about. It's a dystopian novel with social commentary, which means I get to invent an entire world and give it real meaning.

Maybe I'll surprise myself.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Recording and Sharing My Life

From May 31, 2005 to April 3, 2012 I recorded my thoughts into a journal, which was made up of three black composition notebooks.

I didn't mean to stop, it just sort of happened, and when I realized it had been a while since I wrote I decided not to worry about it.
I didn't write in it regularly, you see, but only when it struck me that I had something to say or record. As life went on I realized that I had less to record or less ambition to record it, so near the end the gaps between dates in the journal got larger and larger.

I never really intended on keeping a journal. It just sort of happened. I was sitting in the classroom on the last day of 8th grade, looking around the room at the faces of all the people I'd spent almost a decade growing up with, wondering if I'd ever see them again. "Will they remember me?" I wrote.
I always thought it was poetic that I began my journal at the very end of the first phase of my life. The world of being a teenager awaited me, and I was already sensing the roller-coaster to come, especially since I knew that I was going to a high school with none of my friends.

I got hooked on writing my feelings and thoughts. Looking back on it, it makes perfect sense. I was going through a difficult time in my life full of puberty and all the internal and external drama that comes with it. I recorded my rebellious thoughts of distaste towards my parents, my insecurities as an awkward teen boy with acne, the time I got braces, the times I hung out with my new friends, and how it felt when I started dating my fiancée.
Keeping a journal was a form of therapy. A way of talking through my issues. No matter how small or embarrassing some of them seem now, I know they were important to me at the time.

Sure, life still has it's drama, but it's a different kind of drama. It's adult drama. Instead of worrying whether or not anyone could ever love me, now I'm worrying about getting a job and supporting the woman I love.

A part of the reason that I gave up on keeping the journal, I suppose, is that I've got this blog. And while I use it mostly to record announcements and thoughts about my writing, there are times (like this) that I love using it to detail some more personal aspects of my life. Sure, I don't feel comfortable blogging about some of the more private matters, but there are so many things I feel that I can share with those willing to read.

I've got several blank pages left in my last composition notebook, and the drama of graduating college is coming. I think I'll go back and finish it up.

What can I say? I'm a sucker for memories and I'm a sucker for inspiration in the form of real lives.