Saturday, September 29, 2012

Some Back Story...

   Geez... I haven't blogged in forever. I will allow you all to cut off my hands now.Well, I was only joking. Let's not mutilate me please. I will be a good little blogger.

  So, I guess to make up for not blogging in a few weeks I'll be giving you guys a special treat. Today isn't really about advice to writing. It's about the evolution of writing in my own personal experience.

  That sounds too sciency.

  You'll find out what I mean soon enough.

  I remember when I was younger, I loved playing House with my sisters. That was the basic name we used for the game most everyone does as a child which is, play pretend. One of us was always a mom, two of us were sisters, and we would create a story from there. I loved playing it. I still, to this day, remember a story we made up once that made an impression on my mind.

  We were all laying on the couch, pretending the couch was a boat and we were stranded in the ocean. The mother (who was my older sister) had turned evil and was trying to throw me and my younger sister off board. So me and my younger sister were fighting to stay on while our older was tickling us, demanding us, doing anything she could to get us off. But we wouldn't get off.

  It isn't until now that I realize we were creating a story. Two sisters bonding against the tyranny of a mother. It was times like those as a child that I knew I loved making up stories.

  I went through life, never really thinking, oh, I know I want to be a writer when I grow up! I just knew I liked making stories.

  In recess at school everybody would go out to the field and I play kickball. I hate kickball. Always have, always will. Plus, I was always last to get picked. But my teachers usually wouldn't let us sit out. We had to do something. Nobody else wanted to do something besides play kickball, so I ended up being the loner child who walked around the field the entire recess. It was so boring just walking around and around and around. So to entertain myself, when I walked I made up stories in my head. At the end of recess I would be reluctant to leave because then I would have to leave my story. I didn't realize until about third grade that I didn't have to leave them. I could write them down.

  I was in the third grade  when I actually started writing, as in, grabbing a pencil and writing down the stories that floated around in my head. But I didn't write them in story form, I wrote them in script form.

  I still have some of those scripts stuffed up in an old drawer somewhere. I wrote one about a mermaid and her friend getting captured. I wrote one about a band of bugs that grew in friendship. I wrote one about Santa adopting a daughter (misspelling "dauter" the entire time.)

  I was so in to it! I tried to get my teachers have our class perform my "masterpieces." I even had my own editor. A friend of mine who being nine at the time, typed up my plays after I had written them. Did writing life get better than that?

  Yes, yes it does.

  I was in the fourth grade when there was a required writing test everyone had to take. You know, like those standardized tests at the end of the year, except in writer form. They gave you this fancy lined paper and everything. They told you to write about a topic they gave you, and then shoot off a story. My story was about a girl who gets a diamond encrusted wristwatch from her friend that turns out to be a time traveling watch. The diamonds were magic or something, I can't remember.

  I do remember getting excited about the story idea though, and writing it down happily. When I was finished I looked back at it and frowned, thinking, this needs a re-write. My inner editor was screaming at me even at the age of nine. Oh joy...

  This was a timed test, about four hours long, and when everyone else was sitting at their desks doodling on leftover notebook sheets I was still writing away, erasing over things, narrowing stuff down, making alternate endings. I felt like a dummy. You know that feeling when everybody else in a room is finished with a test except for you, and you feel like everybody is watching you, waiting for you to finish. Yeah, that's what I felt like.

  Eventually the test had to be turned in and my teacher came over. The story was in what I now realize as maybe third draft stage, when I had to turn it in, thinking, this is terrible! I'm going to be the only one who gets a horrible score because I didn't have enough time. The scores were based off of numbers, as all standardized tests usually are. 1, being the lowest which means you utterly sucked, just in nicer terms. 2, not very good, better than 1, but you still failed. 3 ranged from anywhere from satisfactory to good.Give yourself a pat on the back. 4 up to 4.5 was that was amazing!

  I was thinking I would get maybe a 2, if I was lucky, with the monster I had created.

  I got a 4.5.

  The day my teacher told us we were having circle time or something like that and said she had gotten an email from the school board about all of our tests scores, and one of us had gotten a perfect score. There were some snickers of students guessing who it was, some smart kids in the class, pointing fingers. I was only thinking, definitely not me. And then the teacher pointed in my direction. 

  I swear I could feel my heart drop in my stomach.

  I was the only kid in the school who had gotten a perfect score, and like one of five kids in the state. To me, that was the craziest thing in the entire world. How could little old me be given a perfect writing score? Perfect! That nasty old story was anything but perfect. Magic time traveling diamonds...

  I got a plaque at the end of the year that had my name on it and everything. It was all too surreal. Teachers suddenly decided that I was destined to become a little author, and sent me off to yearly young writer's conferences.

  And I loved every minute of those conferences.

  I think it was then that I realized that I loved writing. I still wasn't thinking about writing for a career, I just knew what I liked doing, and that's what took up every minute I wasn't doing something in my hectic fourth grade schedule...

  Time went on and I kept on writing little plays, I wrote some short stories as well. It wasn't until the sixth grade that I actually got struck with an idea, but realized, this idea is too big for my little stories. I had the premise for a book working out for me, but I never really entertained the idea that I could actually write a novel until I read the book Airborn by Kenneth Oppel.
  This book will always hold a special place in my heart because it's what got me actually "writing-writing." If that's the term for writing books. I was so enthralled by it, from it's explosive beginning to the cliff hanger ending (seriously, I would consider this book an amazing read for whoever wants to read it.) I finished it in one sittting and then sat there thinking it needed a sequel (it does have one by the way, but I didn't know that at the time.)

  I had one of those my-lfe-can-never-be-the-same-because-this-book-is-over moments. Kind of like the end of Harry Potter, or the Hunger Games. I didn't have anything else to read though, and it would be a long time before I got another book (I was on winter vacation or something like that.)

  And then I had the epiphany where the clouds opened up and angels sang from above.

  I could write my own adventure, but in the way I want to. Not just in a little skit form, and not in just a two paged short story. I wrote the first chapter to my book A Room For Lost Souls that night.

  Little did I know what I was getting myself in to, but I liked writing, loved it actually. I wrote in a very naive blissful kind of way, but isn't that what the first blooming of writers supposed to look like?

  And that's how my writing life started, kind of like a domino effect, one after the other.

  Years would pass and more novels would pop out. Secrets about the writing world became known to me and those secrets shaped me in to a better writer.

 I am still waiting for the day when I get to say: And then I wrote my debut novel. That day will come sooner or later, but for now I am a fifteen year old girl who just likes writing stories that I want to read, and in some ways I still feel like the seven year old fighting off  my sister to stay on board the couch.

Monday, September 3, 2012

School's Starting Again...

  So... school.... *insert synchronized sigh here.*

  It's started back up again, and you know what that means. Homework, homework, a little bit of play practice, homework, maybe some sleep, homework, more homework, homework, oh and did I mention homework?

  It doesn't really help that I'm taking AP World this year which is supposedly the hardest class you will ever take in the history of your high school life (not sure if I believe that yet.)  And with school means more plays, since it's required to do at least two plays a year at my school.

  Oh, and none of us can ever forget seminary, can we?
  (For those of you wondering, seminary is this thing we Mormons do where we get up in the morning at five and go to church. Fun, right?)


  With all of this stuff going on, it's hard fitting writing time anywhere here. So, how does one master the art of time management?

  As writers, that's something we all should learn. Something that helps me manage time is keeping a schedule. It's just a basic set up for what I do every day and where writing slots fit. I have one, but it's not like a follow it to the very last minute type of schedule. Just an outline.

  5-Get up and go to seminary
  7-8:30- Writing Time before school
  9-4- School
  4-4:45- Chores around the house and the occasional snack
  4:45- 6 or 7ish or 8 (Depending on the homework load)- Homework
  6 or 7ish or 8- 9- Writing Time
  9-10- Whatever I want time (Most days this transforms in to writing time)
  10- Go to bed

  And then I get up and start the pattern all over again! Yay for monotony!!!! With this I can basically see where I can squeeze writing time in. Of course, eating finds it way in there and some bathroom breaks (unless, you know, you want to become a starved person with a bladder infection.)

  I know extracurricular things come along. With the plays I'm in the rehearsal usually go from 4:30 to 7, taking up much of my homework time. I have church activities as well and later in the season basketball. These can all get tangled and mess with a perfect little schedule you have mapped out in your head. That's why it's best to get ahead of your writing if you can. Instead of writing 2,000 words, maybe add an extra 100. Those words will pile up and make up for lost time.

  Through all of this it's always important to keep your writing time holy. Don't just waste it by re-reading old writing, or staring at the computer screen wondering what to say next, or being persuaded by the evil internet icon and having hour long journeys on Facebook. Not that that's ever happened to me before though... *coughs nervously.*

  So, as a writer time management is something you need to master. Which in the end will benefit you and your writing.