Part of me
Wants to stand top a mountain of success
And look at the blurry faces below.
And another part
Wants to hang upside down
And let all of the blood fall out of my body.
Part of me
Wants to stand top a mountain of success
And look at the blurry faces below.
And another part
Wants to hang upside down
And let all of the blood fall out of my body.
I’m a white girl.
Or at least, that’s what you’d think when you saw me. I don’t blame you, I’ve got blonde hair and pale-ish skin, and I only look like an interesting ethnicity when… well, when I’m around my family. And even then, it’s probably hard believing I’m somehow related to them when I’m the only pale person in the mix, this blonde singularity in a sea of Native Americans.
Now, I am not actually related to these people. I’m adopted. I figured it out a while ago; there were just so many clues. However, even if my birth father wasn’t Native, I’d still consider myself Native American. I was raised in a Native American-centric household with Native American immediate and distanced family. When I was a kid I went to a local pow-wow thing, dancing in this fancy native dress. I read books about Native American traditions and folk tales. I learned Mohawk words from my cousins when they came to visit every summer when we were young.
More recently I’ve been visiting family on the reservation more; the photo above is of my cousins and I after we left the reservation and took a detour with our grandparents to Boldt Castle a few years ago. As you can tell I was just so enthralled.
My heritage and ethnicity have always been a large part of my life.
And this isn’t a racist statement, but because of how I look, no one really knows this about me unless I tell them. It’s just hard to come to the conclusion that the girl with pale skin and blonde hair is half Native American. And if I ever do mention this, most people try and tell me that their half cousin’s second wife’s nephew’s sister in law was a member of the Sioux, so they are as well. But… no.
Growing up in Native American culture and not having darker skin and dark hair kind of sets me apart, sets my privilege higher than my family. I know it sounds odd, but not having anyone really know my ethnicity took me away from the stigma and the constant need to fight for my rights. Yeah, I’m the girl that will call you out for saying raciest things (*ahem* we are not Indians) but I don’t really have much to loose from them because no one can use raciest things against me, or at least, no one does.
If it were 100, or even 50 years ago, being a half native American woman would be one of the worse possible things for me. But here I am in 2016 without a trace of any ignominy to show for it.
There is a kid in my “friend” group (a gang of rapscallions I eat lunch with) who is also half native. I’ve known him for years, we were in the same 5th grade class, and it’s interesting how differently we’re treated. No, he’s not made fun of because of his heritage, but he can mention it more freely, not be questioned, and occasionally get some kind of “trail of tears” pun thrown at him.
I find this interesting because in 5th grade, when we learned about “thanksgiving”, my teacher said “We… not you so-and-so, invaded the Indian’s land and just took it from them.” Our teacher excluded him, and not me,which makes sense, but at the same time, I’m pretty sure no teacher in their right mind would exclude a black person from a talk about slavery.
That’s the kind of racism I don’t have to deal with, the kind of thing that I get to completely avoid because, for some reason, I didn’t get the dominant gene and I look like a “normal” white girl.
I kind of hate that I am not always attached to my heritage because it’s just such a large part of my life. Most other people with a strong subculture of ethnicity have their race to show for it. In other words, they look the part. This doesn’t mean every everyone who looks a certain way has a certain culture, it just means that it’s harder to defend mine to people. I’m not some white girl with a tiny trace of Seneca. I’m half Native American by blood and almost fully immersed in the culture because of my family and the ties I get from them.
But no matter how many reforms for the reservation I vocally advocate for, no matter how many times I make note of people’s insensitivity, I’m just the pale white girl to them.
I’m the one with the privilege.
I’m starting to feel sick again.
It isn’t the gooey darkness in my heart, no, now
It is beige like a balance beam.
I’m teetering on the edge of the cliff, this time
I’m close to falling, unlikely to fully regain stability.
It’s just who I am; been this way awhile now.
It’s just something I deal with, once in a while
I’m within the inebriated beigeness so I sit and ponder some.
I’m lost in the swirling complexities that could be.
It’s without reason that I drown in sand, breath in water, and
It’s without reason I respire, only half alive.
I’m alive, my heart beats with every unfair rhythm, and
I’m breathing, just under the pressure of the sand.
It’s with thoughts that I find small treatment, only treatment, as
It’s far from being a curable ailment.
I’m on a balance beam, and this time, it is foggy, this time,
I’m not sure I’ll stay beige.
Everything is bland, unflavored. Everything is beige and feels like sandpaper. I’m not here… I am floating somewhere else, somewhere dark and beige and lifeless. I don’t like it here. It hurts my chest.
-Excerpt from Solomon, a novel by Kylie Eileen
“Nothing is original…Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent.”
Jim Jarmusch is an independent filmmaker, creating things like Coffee and Cigarettes, a movie that I vaguely remember falling asleep to once. Though I particularly didn’t find myself absorbed into his creative efforts, I’d consider that movie pretty original. It captured things like subtleties in dialogue and made something as raw as conversation into this tangible (and boring) movie. Normally you see action and adventure or at least conflict, at least something to get the viewer’s attention in order to portray whatever complex thing you have to say on screen. Not Jim, though. He did something different, something unique, and people really took that on and grew a liking for it.
However, the quote above is a snippet from this larger excerpt about how Jim goes on to say that it’s okay to steal things from other artists. I know it sounds bad, but as you can read here, it’s actually pretty insightful.
It also helps back up this point that I am now going to make.
Nothing is original.
Since I’ve put myself on the foundation of being a “writer”, and in my spare time I make videos and whatnot, I guess I could call myself an artist, in a way. I’m really trying not to be that pretentious here. But, as an “artist”, the only cool thing about my passion would be making something new, something engaging, something people want to read or watch or, most likely, criticize.
And I obviously love writing. I love making stories and poems and expressing myself and my feelings to the world in a way that can end up being slightly unique. However, nothing is truly original. I’m inspired by things in my life. From watching a book’s pages move in the wind, to spending time with someone I adore, everything I write is inspired by something else. The style I choose to write in is inspired by recent things I’ve read or things I’ve been planning to try. My vocabulary is taught in school and is then pushed around and added to by books, people, places. Nothing I can compose on paper, or on screen, will ever be truly unique.
And I know the old saying: It’s unique because you wrote it.
But, really, it isn’t. I’m writing in a classic style here. It’s a blog/essay/rant/thing that millions of people have done before. That whole one sentence paragraph thing isn’t mine, the overused parallel structure isn’t something I’ve whisked out of thin air. Nothing besides a tiny bit of Kylie flair differentiates my 3 view blog post from the countless others across the internet just like it.
Now, looking at Jim’s quote at a different angle, it can be proved wrong (and then proved right again because no argument can be that simple).
There is something that stands out to me when I think of originality. About a year ago now I happened to stumble upon something that really changed my outlook on writing. It was a poem:
Aram Saroyan, my favorite poet, created that poem above. He is known for being this revolutionary in concrete poetry, making one word poems that weren’t meant so much as to be read, but rather looked at. His sentences weren’t prose, but a picture on a page that held more than verbs and nouns, and signified something unique to his era. He actually, I believe, created something authentic, something original.
Aram is this representation for me of what is new, what is actually original. His poetry inspires me to strive to do something different, to try and create something idiosyncratic.
Withstanding, I don’t think I’ll ever be the revolutionary in anything. I don’t think I can convey everything I want to in something as simple as words. Even video and other forms of media can be limited and the effect I want to make just isn’t achievable. I admire what both Aram and Jim have done in their perspective fields of expression, however as groundbreaking as they were even they weren’t completely original.
It’s a paradox, maybe.
Originality is subjective. Henry David Thoreau, my favorite philosopher, didn’t create his ideas about society and values out of thin air. He actually mentions in his writings how fond he is of Homer and how everyone should be required to read the Iliad, or something of that nature. His beautiful prose is a combination of taught language, read literature, personal experience, and then, at the very end, sprinkled with that old Henry pizzazz. The length of time something has been around doesn’t directly show how original it is. And I think many people don’t really understand this concept, hence all pretentious people raving about classical music. Even Homer probably gathered his original thoughts from other people and experiences and
I’m guessing you get the point now.
Originality is subjective. And though it may not truly exist, and I may not become any sort of revolutionist in terms of writing or film media, at least I’m being an… “Artist”. I’m creating something new out of a bunch of other ideas and things that have happened in my life. I may not be completely content with that, with the fact that nothing I do will have any huge impact in the world of writing or otherwise, but at least I’m taking these ideas and adding the Kylie flair. It’s really all in the way you look at it.
Nothing is original.
And even when you see an original idea, it’s just another one taken, diluting the sea of authenticity.
It was a little past 9:30 pm. Small streaks of light fell into the hotel room through the half covered window, a few cascading on Amir Agha’s sleeping face. A few lining up with the door to the dastshooi. Bathroom.
I could still feel the tears on my face, dried up by then but still there, still reminding me of what he had said. He had tried to dress it up, calling it a home for kids. A home. A home is where my father and mother raised me. A home is where things are happy and clean and free of the Talibs, of men in suits, saying something disappointedly in English. A home is free of violence, of terror.
I wanted then, desperately, to go home.
I thought about how he was going to send me away, how he broke his promise, lacing it with lies to make it seem better. His voice so soft and sure of itself. Telling me that this orphanage would be different. That he would visit me, make sure there’d be no pain, no dard. I asked him, I begged him to promise not to. To find some other way, any other way, the whole time memories of the orphanage flashed in my mind. Dirty floors, hunger, hands all over me. I couldn’t live through it, even if what he had told me was true, even if he could visit me, even if it’d be for a short while. Because, in hell, a short while is an eternity.
I kept watching my half uncle sleep, trying to wipe away the tears dried on my face. I felt lonely in his company. His breathing, rough and uneven, might have once been a comfort. He was a guardian, giving me light, giving me a sense of peace in what he offered: little things about my father, assurance of a new life in America, a way to maybe move on and feel like I belonged in the world so forcibly unjust.
But each staggered breath filled the hotel room in an uneasy, lonely way. Amir was not my protector. I knew that then, sitting in the dark, watching him sleep. He was nothing more than a man in a procession, leading me back down into hell.
Though my eyes were now dry, I was filled with deep, dark sadness. I could feel the orphanage calling my name, I could feel Amir’s hands escorting me back into the pit of despair. We’ll go home together, he said. You’ll see. It’ll be alright.
When my father looked out the window and saw the black car of the Taliban pull into the drive, he looked down at me with his kind, green eyes, and said “It’ll be alright, Sohrab. Just wait here.”
I noticed, again, the hint of light fallen over the hotel room. My eyes lingered on the strip of bright yellow, illuminating the door to the bathroom. It was a glowing, golden stream in midst of a dark abyss.
I stood up, tiredly, and walked over to it, stepping through pools of darkness, wading my way through the dismal reminders and memories, and made my way to the flaxen haven.
I closed the bathroom door, turned the light on. It clicked with a warm buzz, and soon I was immersed light, feeling like a moth when it approaches a street lamp.
I touched the cool end of the razor sitting on the sink. I noticed it yesterday after Amir had taken it out and used it. The blackness in my chest fluttered with a palpitation of hope mixed with uncertainty.
While I waited for the bath to fill with warm, liquid bliss, I took out the polaroid in my pocket, the one Amir gave me, the one of his half brother, of my father. I studied the picture, my hands starting to shake, the dark, lifeless feeling in my heart growing, expanding like a sponge in water.
Soon father. I whispered aloud. I will see you and mama soon.
I took the razor and got into the warm bath. My hands were shaking so violently, I wasn’t sure if I could do it right. One of the children at the orphanage had told me how. Warm water. A sharp blade. The vein under your thumb. Wait.
I can’t remember much. It hurt, not as much as I thought it would, but enough. I left the arm in the warm water, watched the red life escape into the pool of purgatory. With the life left all the badness, all the pain, all the hands on me, all my sins, all the gunfire, all the lies. It seeped into the water, clearing out everything that so consumed me, that made me so dirty and dark. I felt the life leave, cleansing itself as it mixed into the warm saturation.
Maybe, I thought, Amir Agha was correct. Maybe it would be, finally, alright.
As I let the blood seep from my body, I felt the dejecting feeling slightly dismiss, lifting me up out of this disgusting world of darkness.
That was when, finally, I felt clean, and not dark, but, noor.
This is my final project for a class I’m taking called “Eastern Studies”. We read contemporary literature in order to better understand the problems facing the Middle East. We have just finished The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. There were several project options; I chose the creative writing one. My task was to write a section of the book in another character’s point of view, keeping Hosseini’s style… so obviously I chose the suicide scene. If you haven’t read The Kite Runner, I suggest you give it a go. It’s pretty spectacular.
Oversharing (gerund) – To reveal an inappropriate amount of detail about one’s life.
Oversharing. Usually it’s that “friend” you accidentally run into in the grocery store- the one with three new kids, a divorce along the way, and a boss that hugs her for too long. You’re filled with useless information about her already, however during this two minute fluke in the cereal isle, you could write her biography. Of course, you’re impartial, you’re nothing more than a simple audio recorder; you say nothing. You causally skim for some multi-grain Cheerios while she drones on. And on. You won’t get a word in edge wise, save for the occasional “Oh yeah”, or “Cool”. She’s a classic oversharer.
She is my worst nightmare and constant daydream.
I’ve talked about something similar to this in another post. You see, the thing is, for some reason people feel the need to blatantly open up to me. And it’s not the usual everyday conversation about homework or… whatever else high schoolers talk about. It’s the deep stuff. The real shit. Name any person, usually a girl, in my grade and I can give you a fact list of her family problems, her deep seeded emotions, her gossip too good to share with someone who actually participates in social activities. Anything. I know so-and-so sees a psychologist, bla-bla-bla’s friend is self medicating, Bitch 1 hates Bitch 2… the list goes on and on.
And it’s not that I really try and incite this sort of thing either. I usually don’t like intimately talking with people I’m not close with. I find it uncomfortable to talk with someone about other people simply because I don’t know most people well enough to make assumptions about them. And, to be frank, I genuinely don’t care. I don’t care about this person’s depression, or another person’s constant parental struggles. And I’m not specifically trying to be distant and cold, I just never know these people; they’re not my friends.
I may be acquaintances with some of the oversharers, maybe I sit next to them in a class, or are working with them on some sort of out of school activity, but I’m never close friends with them. I don’t have many close friends to begin with, and even they don’t know every extent of my person. I just feel like certain things are best to be kept to myself. And even if there is something I’d like to talk about, it’s usually not the place or time to hash it out.
But, for the oversharer, it’s always the place and time to make everything about them and vent to me about their melodramatic life.
People have been doing this to me for a long time. And it’s to the point where I don’t even try and relate, even if I do. I just give the scripted “Oh wow”s or nod my head politely. It must be my face, or something, but people expect me to listen. Just today I was asked a literal question and then interrupted by the person that asked it because she started talking to someone else. Funny enough, I was actually talking to her about oversharing. Notwithstanding, the principal still stands. I’m usually the listener.
I don’t mind being the listener. I know that if I need to vent or explicitly talk about something lengthy, there is a time and place for it, with people who actually care. I’m not going to burden the random people around me with what I deem is important at the time. Because it isn’t important. And the people listening don’t care. And even if I do go on a rant with random acquaintances about homework or something, it’s better than oversharing.
People have been doing this to me for a long time. During this time, I’ve accepted it, but I’ve also realized why people do it.
These aren’t all the reasons, and some don’t apply to every incidence of oversharing I’ve experienced. It’s just a general list that I’ve made based on what has happened in the past.
So, if you haven’t already guessed, I fucking hate when people overshare. I just feel like they don’t understand what is appropriate to talk about in certain circumstances. I feel used when people do this; they talk to me to feel better, or whatever, but then I’m left with this information, this baggage that I don’t want. I’m not friends with these people, and knowing their deep problems changes nothing. I can’t go up to them at events and exchange formalities, I can’t verbally relate to them or find common ground. I was just some pathetic loser who got sucked into someone’s self absorbed vent about things I could care less about. It’s truly awful.
Now, I have to add this: Oversharing is different than just talking with someone.
When my actual friends tell me about their life or give an insight into their past, I relish in it. I enjoy my friends’ opinions and problems; I’m human. It’s different when someone you listen to actually listens to you. It’s different when I ask for information, or make it obvious I’d like to hear more. I understand people need to be able to talk about their life with other people. Just as there is a right place and time, there are right people for things like that.
And it’s not strangers.
Thanks for reading about my thoughts on oversharing. I’d love to hear your opinions and experiences on this topic, and I’m not just nodding politely.
“There is no describing a massacre.”
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five
There is no describing a massacre. A bit of paraphrasing to this powerful statement does not make it any less true. In Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut challenges the idea of describing the demise of Dresden, a city in Germany. He does in his novel, but the focus of the anti-war message diverts from the actual war, from the actual massacre, and tells the tale of a man bumbling through life, finding himself traveling through time, through space; symbolically saying everything Vonnegut wants to through bleak statements about this odd life he lives. There aren’t pages upon pages of description, of the heartbreak, of the emotions running through Vonnegut’s or the characters’ heads as they watch an entire city fall to rubble. The deep disturbance seems almost unnoticed until Vonnegut makes this statement. And I feel, like many other quotable sayings, there are many interpretations and applications to the statement. There are many things that can be derived from these simple words. Simple in context, they contain something much larger than themselves. There is no describing a massacre. There is no describing death. There is no describing life. So why do we try? Perhaps all anyone can do is focus on something lesser yet more amazing; perhaps Vonnegut’s time travel story is the equivalent of authors writing about dragons, or impossible adventures they themselves can never have, while saying something completely real and true to life in the process. There is nothing to say about a massacre, there is no true way to compose any emotion that strong, there is no way to capture what raw feeling people have. Yet, somehow people manage to do just that.
I don’t know. These are just my random, rambling thoughts.
White listlessness upon the leather bound spine gathers up with the wind, creasing the air with every weathered page’s sound, life itself not sturdy enough as print to stop the incessant drain of words that have leaked out of the blank spaces of the mind. The mind, of course, being a representative for actual life. For actual words.
Wind as sweet as the trees which drive it carry the dead, thin passages through the dimensions. The wind’s howl, though soft, rustles the layers of death and leaves the carcass standing still, for it does not have the strength to ruin everything, to affect everything in it’s way. The structure is surely gone, as the black liquid has already vanished, a varnish not suitable for the droplets of purity, for the cleansing it rightly deserves. However the skeleton stands, upright in comparison to what structure actually is, deep and saturated in color, unlike it’s dead predecessor of winding, crinkling, white lies. Lies, if not true, can also be washed and forgotten. A secret, in a way, is an empty surface where the death used to stand.
When the wind seems to stop, and the hollow structure is indeed not hollow, but rather just empty, the print does not feel inclined to find it’s way back. The telling way in which the cream is left pure, or broken if the wind proves stronger than usual, directly showcases the life which has been forgotten. The air, though crisp, is deep and changing. It is symbolic in the sense that to allow such to occur, forgottenness would have already taken place, and the blank mind would have already been formed. (Of course in an extent all minds are deemed blank). And the structure would have been appealing still, have not the judgement been blank in its measures as well. Hollowness, fondly found in a tree, ironically, may not be as apparent as in the dead coffin. For there to be blankness, there must be something to be blank, even if words reappear, though unlikely.
Wayward wind picks up again, fluttering the life, manipulating the death, whiteness aghast at what insolvable misery has become of the darkness that once left. The spine, of course, stays, supporting nothing, supporting everything. The mind, lesser than the spine in a sense, has become aware of it’s fate. Knowledge not meant to jest, the wind does not hold the fate. For, eventually, each white, listless, blank, empty slice of life, will be overturned, will be evaluated for no purpose. Each will have it’s light, it’s darkness. But the mind will stay in place, the spine will not move. Fate is not determined by the wind, as soft and sweet as so. Even a harsh wind will not change the binding; not really.
Winding up in a pattern, an unforgiving combination of wind and misery, each white layer of life will still be blank. For the strongest wind cannot change the fact that all death has left. That the black lettering will not return, even if so replaced, will not give meaning to blankness. The wind carries the ideas around, not very far, for the binding still acts as a skeleton for the mind, still encompasses every blank thought. The wind, then, perhaps stands as a sweet relief, a realization that all of it would have been for nothing. Unless, of course, the absent print means something else entirely. However so, the pattern continues, the white listlessness upon the leather bound spine gathers up with the wind, creasing the air with every weathered page’s sound.
In the starry world all around,
Death calls sweetly;
And with that
“You know you don’t have to talk about it.”
I’ve been staring at the same poster for the entire hour. It says “Racism: Just undo it”. A square, laminated piece of paper, half black with white lettering, half white with black lettering. Not only does the declarative not make any sense, but it is virtually unachievable. People will always be fighting over something and a pathetic piece of paper isn’t going to change that.
The walls around the paper are a light gray color and the sun makes it almost look cheery. The sun casts a yellow line across the poster, cutting some letters apart, segregating them with the happiness of the sun.
My eyes slowly trace down the gray wall to the man sitting across from me. I think about how no matter how many posters they hang up around this place, around the world, he’ll always be African American. Not that he should have to carry the raciest baggage with him, but the poster might as well be saying “Race: just undo it” because the faults in society will always be as concrete as genes, if not even more so.
He adjusts his glasses, the glass glinting the sun into my own eyes. I squint, and for a second, I can’t read the poster. It all falls under the same blurry haze, fogging out specific words or facial features. He adjusts his glasses, but he might as well be pointing a gun to my head.
I look back up to the poster. I wonder who put it there, or if he even knows it’s up there, toward the top of the wall, kind of tucked away in plain sight. I wonder if he knows what it means. I wonder if I know what it means. Just undo it. In our world, sadly, I don’t think anything can be unthreaded that easily. It isn’t as simple as erasing the letting from a poster; everything is so cemented and embedded in human nature that nothing, not even the end of the world, could get rid of it.
I see that he is looking up at the poster as well, body turned around in the chair like a plane just landed in the office. He looks up at the poster for quite some time, brown suit wrinkling awkwardly at his disheveled disposition. I wait silently for him to turn back, and when he does, he nods. Maybe he finally understands how idiotic that poster is. Maybe he gets it.
“That came with the office.” He says, gravelly voice harsher than the sun cascading on his face. He folds his hands on his lap carefully, as if they might break. “I never took it down. I don’t know why. Maybe it was just because I couldn’t get a ladder in here. It’s awfully high up there.”
“And it’s a positive sign, I think. Positivity is always good to have in a place like this.” He says. I don’t know if I believe him though. He looks up to the poster one more quick time before clearing is throat, a sign that our hour is over. “It looks like that is all the time we have for today.” He says, standing up. I stand as well, taking one more glance at the poster. Racism: Just undo it. If only everything could be simplified into a declarative. If only everything could be undone on a whim. Just undo it. I wish it was that easy.
Last year, in my AP History class, I spent probably too much time looking up at a poster like the one described above. Now, I’m not blaming the poster for my ultimate failure of the class and exam, however it did inspire a lot of questions as to what it meant, exactly. My teacher said that it came with the classroom, but I wasn’t so sure as to why he never took it down. It obviously isn’t a very powerful message since things like racism are so embedded into society, even after the lettering hung on a classroom wall.
Anyway, it inspired this little piece as well. Hopefully my distraction and detachment while looking at the poster for the majority of the classes are clearly represented above. You can’t just undo things, and I hope this message at least gets through a bit more than the poster.
As always, thanks for reading.
While looking through a pile of loose leaf papers, which all have miscellaneous writings on them, I found something that was intended to be a blog post, but never made it onto the internet. So, instead of typing it all up, I thought I’d do something different and put the actual paper on the blog. This was you can see my minor editing that is done before the actual changes made when typing, and can see how many spelling errors I rely on the computer to catch for me. Hopefully my handwriting is legible. I wrote this on my first day of summer school while abjectly sitting in class, not paying attention to the information needed to pass the test…
In case you haven’t heard, I often find myself doing one thing: writing. In the “Longer Works” tab you can find a bunch of ‘short’ stories I’ve written over the years, most of them not very good. Though my writing has (hopefully) improved as time goes on, I think one thing remains the same. The structure of all the novel(ish) length pieces.
When I start writing, I start out with a small conceptual idea. In the case of “The Amleth Tales“, my idea was, what if one person in a group of friends was insane, but it was told from the perspective of a sane person? Of course, if you ever end up reading that anthology of tales, the story stretches way beyond that. And this is because I do little planning, and the concept that strikes the idea to write becomes less of a focal point and more what makes the story unique. This pattern is all throughout my writing. In the short story “Freely“, I thought it would be interesting to write something where a person was diminished to the role of an animal; I wanted to strip all the humanity from someone. Of course, the actual piece has much more depth to it than this, even poking at the nature of love and human condition, but it just the same was drawn out of a simple idea.
So, once I have my idea in place, I start writing. I don’t really know what the story is going to turn into. This is why most of the pieces start with what the TV business calls a “cold open”. Meaning, I start the story right in the middle of an event or scene with little exposition, or just enough to get a grip on what’s going on. Many of the beginnings to the stories I write are different, especially in voice, than the rest of the piece. In the beginning I’m finding the story and what is going to drive it. I’m setting up the world and the emotions in order to set the story in motion and do as little planning as possible. “Solomon” starts in the middle of a very descriptive, distraught scene. It’s separated from the rest of the work in many ways. I did the same thing with an unfinished work, called “War Accord”.
The cold open allows me to either pass time, or set up a separate scene from the rest of the work. It makes it easier to write the actual story and to set the scene without actually setting the scene. After this, I either start the first “chapter” or section, or I put in a visual break and continue on. This is where the real writing takes place.
And this can take place within weeks, or months.
As I said before, I do little planning when writing. This is probably apparent, though I do try to loop things back and focus on certain themes in order to blur out this fact. I write a section, a few pages or a few words, and leave a little note for myself with what I want to happen in the story when I return to writing. In the beginning I focus more on characters and setting up things. Towards the middle I’m planning more and realizing where I want the story to go and maybe even how I want it to end. Most of the things I’ve written follow the same type of structure, though. All of the longer pieces have “chapters”, but are told in an almost episodic manner. They’re told in scenes, similar to a movie type of set up. There usually aren’t pages upon pages of thought, unless pertinent to the plot, and each scene usually has something important to offer to the work as a whole.
I wrote the “Amleth” series in my freshman year of high school. I wrote “Basil” Sophomore year. I wrote “Solomon” in the beginning of my senior year. The writing quality may be different (and hopefully better as I went on), however the structure is relatively the same. Even many of the themes throughout my writing, I’m finding, are the same. The titles, which I’m just seeing now, are all names.
All the things I’ve written usually end in some kind of realization. Most of them are slightly “coming of age”, and most have the characters realize something that is apparent, or at least accepted, in the end. I don’t like grand endings because they almost never happen in real life. So each story usually ends on a nice note, a note of growth and understanding. As it ends, also, I usually make larger time jumps, or have a few large time jumps. It helps wrap up an ending that would wrap up slowly in real life, too slow for a few hours or weeks between scenes like usual.
And after I finish a work, I write a little blurb about it and then when it was completed, and I save it. And, if it’s good enough, I make it a PDF and put it on this blog.
And that’s how I write a story.
You can read some of them here.
The season everyone seems to adore
Is left dead in a comparison war.
For when leaves begin to fall
No one can tally the total all
Of my overall impression
Of your rapport.
Nothing in Autumn comes as green
As your smiling scene.
For when leaves begin to fall
Short days make time stall
And it’s never my desire
With you to retire
Because that would be obscene.
(Unless, of course, I can implore
Another usual Sunday tour).
After three months of writing, I finished a “short” story, that can be found here, titled “Solomon”. I’m writing this blog post because no one would really know I added to the page otherwise. If you choose to read it, then I guess this will have served it’s purpose. I go into why I wrote it on the last page. Also, I just finished it today, and the version on the page isn’t edited of course, so there are a few minor mistakes in spelling and whatnot along the way.
Thanks, keep on writing.
For my senior project I am proving that two different film genres can convey the same exact idea due to the creative approach. Me being me, I wanted both films (a short and a documentary) to touch upon the idea that education plays a crucial part in the ingraining of obedience in society, something that ultimately results in arbitrary conventions and the ostracizing of different individuals. The two quotes below basically sum up my idea.
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
-Henry David Thoreau
“Education… becomes all the more disgusting, the more, by the action of Modern Industry… and their children [are] transformed into simple articles of commerce and instruments of labour.”
-The Communist Manifesto
Since the screenplay isn’t finalized, nor good enough to put on the internet, and this is mainly a story-based writing blog, I decided to post the concept, which can be read more like a story than a script.
An outcaster looks at the conformity of school subjectively, hyperbolizing the actions of others which display an obedience to the arbitrary conventions of society she omits; this disregard results in the ostracizing of her and her ideas.
An alarm beeps to alert someone to wake up, and the hand of a girl turns it off. The Girl is then seen driving to school, particularly downcast, though offset with freedom as she travels down the road. It isn’t necessarily a positive tone, however the scene is at ease, she does not have major stresses to deal with. Perhaps some noise from the radio or such leaks through, the ambient hum of the car providing a warm feel to the situation.
She enters the school with everyone else, arrives at a classroom full of peers. She sits by herself in the classroom, alone, and is clearly not friends with anyone in the class. Over the loudspeaker cracks, “There will be an assembly today in the Auditorium during free period discussing the upcoming school wide events. Students please report to the auditorium instead of your period teacher.”
Everyone gathers in the Auditorium. The Girl sits slightly away from others. A voice over a microphone says, boringly, “We will start the assembly with the pledge of allegiance.” Everyone stands up unenthusiastically and says the pledge, facing the flag. Everyone is in a uniform position, except for the Girl, who is standing with her arms at her sides. As her face is the focus of the camera, the pledge continues on. A wide shot shows the students now raising their arms in salute to the flag, bringing to memory the images of Nazi Soldiers saluting Hitler and his regime. The pledge continues on, growing louder, ambient noises increase, and as it continues it forms into a sort of cult-like chant as follows “…Without liberty, without justice, for all. In the sense that we are all the same, we are all each other, in words and in actions, we unite. Omitting free will, following society, we are but simple articles of commerce. We are instruments of labor. We are the people who blindly follow the great nation, encouraging difference, allowing only obedience and conformity.”
The hum of the pledge and the ringing in the Girl’s ears all break with the slamming of books down on a table in the lunchroom. Again, the Girl sits alone, and the sounds of mindless chatter and laughter overcome her. Bits of conversation are heard, as well as other ambient sounds which blend everything in together. She is watching two other people talk about nothing, perhaps even arguing about nothing. It is clear she is becoming agitated with everything, feeling as if she cannot change the way things are. The scene then flashes back and forth from the lunchroom to turning off an alarm clock, to driving, to saying the pledge, to people in hallways, etc. As it flashes, the hum and talk continue. The two continue to chat, and the Girl grows perplexed as how they can talk about nothing in particular.
The Girl leaves the school building, and everything gets quiet. She walks to her car, gets in, and takes a deep breath. As she drives home, calmness sweeps over her face, showing the relief of leaving the school, putting the conformity and ostracizing behind her.
Again, an alarm clock beeps and is turned off, the cycle starting all over again.