A little more friction, please. (via Music for time's ending)

Really good blog post!

A little more friction, please. It seems that talk of innovations in classical music and the production of dynamic new performances is a frequent theme in my blogging. It seems that more often these days, I am writing about interesting things other people are doing that work, interesting things people are doing that don't work as well but still have plenty of value, or even things that I am trying to do to engage the audience a little bit better. And these are all questions tha … Read More

via Music for time's ending

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Coincidence

I found Molly’s blog via a tag search on wordpress. Immediately, I fell in love with her blog. Her posts were always exciting, funny, touching, charming, and fun to read. The first blog post I saw was one about one of her friends at a bar. Her friend encountered a creepy guy and straight off told him that she didn’t want to talk to him.

Molly loves shoes

Molly loves shoes

Molly asked, “What would you have done in that situation?”

Molly’s one of those writers who can draw a reader in by her use of words. That woman can really write. Maybe that’s why she has so many readers (she gets at least 15 comments per blog post! Usually more — I’m jealous). Or maybe because her posts are so human and down-to-earth.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that Molly lives in the same state that I do! Keep in mind that my state isn’t that big, so it’s not like we both live in Texas or something. In fact, we probably live within 30 minutes of each other.

Our State. No, that's not the Golden Gate bridge.

Our State. No, that's not the Golden Gate bridge.

Scary, right?

I got my first clue when Molly mentioned the weather of Our State as cloudy. Oh wait, do we live in the same state? Then on her Twitter (yes, I’m following her on Twitter), she mentioned the government of Our State. Oh my gosh, we do live in the same state! We should meet up for tea and sushi, or something?

It’s kind of funny. We could probably pass each other in the city, or drive past each other on the road and not even realize that we sort of “knew” each other from the blogging world, already. And yet, it’s a little scary as well. Blogging about your life, your family, yourself… and one of your readers might live in your town.

At the same time, this woman has five times as many readers as I do. Or make that 25 more, considering that one of her posts got 75 comments. I’m in awe of her. Keep writing, Molly!

(Read her latest blog post here. It’s about good people.)

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Wind and Rain

It’s funny how one can o from a lack of inspiration to an abundance of it. Thanks, Isaac.

monsoon_rainI love grey, windy days. Most of my friends get the blues when the clouds gather and the rain starts draining in perfect sheets off the edge of the roof and spatters on the window panes. Not me. Rain makes them want to hide in little holes.

Rain makes me feel alive.

I remember once going to Acadia National Park in Maine. There was a little cove on Mt. Desert Island, maybe the sort of cove that is hidden on the side where almost no one can find it unless they look carefully. My family was driving to the cove, and on the way there, it started to drizzle. Not too much rain so that one would be soaked. Just enough rain to wander along the sand in the cove, looking for pretty shells and smooth rocks. Or to sit on a boulder and contemplate the mysteries of life and the cosmos.

AcadiaLakeOr simply listen to the rain pattering on the ocean, with the gentle sound of surf going in and out, in and out . . .

It’s easy to relax and fall asleep.

I love the rain. On vacations to Maine, I always felt that the rain brought out something more in the scenery of the mountains, forests, and ocean. Something indescribable. When the wind followed, I would hear, from somewhere along a forest trail, the tops of the great pines and oaks sighing amongst themselves. The rain wasn’t a bad thing, either. Not only did it help the plants grow, it also made everything else seem cleaner.

Sometimes when hiking, I’d pass boulders lying straight, like a stone wall. The rain water would flow off the granite like sheets. I often found myself at a loss of words to describe the beauty revealed by the falling water.

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Bass Harbor Light, a storm is brewing

I also remember going to the Bass Harbor lighthouse on the island. It again was a dark, dreary day. I stood at the rail of the lighthouse, looking out to sea. On sunny days, the view would be majestic. I’d have been able to see out for miles and miles (it felt). But on this day, the fog had rolled in, and I could barely see the ocean, not to mention the islands beyond. All I could see was the grey surf churning below me and occasionally, a lighthouse light shining in the distance. Egg Rock Light, maybe? I didn’t know.

It was beautiful.

foggy-acadia-trailAnd later on, driving home in the rain and passing old country dirt roads that somehow always disappeared into the fog after a few paces. I’d look into the fog and wonder where the country roads led. To a farmhouse? Or perhaps to nowhere? Or maybe the road simply led to another road, and another, and another . . .

Falling rain also always has a way of bringing me closer to nature and God. Sitting on a rock at the side of a winding trail around a mountain makes me wonder: Are you trying to tell me something, God?

Maybe He has something to tell me out of the whispers in the rain.

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Memories from Camp

Picture from Flickr Creative Commons

Picture from Flickr Creative Commons

One of my good friends recently announced that he and another good friend are engaged. The wedding will be sometime next year, God willing.

They met at a camp. It was a week long camp for youth. Christian. Anyone ever heard of Awana? The camp used to be Awana camp until it got served with a lawsuit (molestation charges, if I remember correctly. Pretty bad for a Christian camp) and had to shut down the camp. But then, the lawsuit didn’t say that they couldn’t operate under another name, so that’s what they did. They became RBGY camp. (Red Blue Green Yellow. Why? I don’t know.) They just no longer affiliated themselves or were run by people who got paid by the Awana organization.

Jenny180-customBut back when the camp was still Awana and not RBGY, my friends met each other. (I met them there, in fact.) They became great friends. Then they fell in love. And this past Saturday, on Memorial weekend, he proposed to her on top of Mt. Monadnock, which coincidentally is a short walk from the camp site.

She accepted.

A lot of things happened at that camp. That camp was the first chance for me, a homeschooled kid, to spread my wings and get to know people without having to be around my family. It was my first shot at building friendships, and while most of my new friends never really kept in touch with me, it was a great feeling. I remember getting a roommate who was terribly homesick for the first three days of camp. She cried easily. In spite of that, we were great friends and hung out a lot. I also remember the older kid who painted his nails black. The counselors made him borrow a friend’s nail polish remover.

I also remember not wanting to go home afterwards.

mbc

The signpost for the facility we used

And then I graduated to the high school kids’ section. My first year, I had two particularly pretty roommates. One of them changed her clothes every five minutes, and would carefully arrange her glossy dark brown hair just so, to give the appearance that it was just slightly messy and that she hadn’t just spent 15 minutes on her hair. The other one had a smooth, perfectly tanned body. In our room, she would pull up her T-shirt and tuck it up so that it would be a cropped shirt. So much against the dress code, but still… she could totally pull it off.

I remember another girl who wasn’t especially beautiful. I mean, she didn’t look like Gisele Bundchen or even one of those magazine cover people or even what people think is beautiful. But she was special. I think her name was Danielle. The boys liked her, and, being ignorant and all of 12 years old, I couldn’t understand them. One guy bashfully asked her to sit at the banquet (end of week, closest to dating you’ll ever get at a camp like that) with him. Danielle turned him down. Another guy asked. She turned him down, too. Then the son of the camp’s game director expressed an interest in her. He signed up a buddy to help him row a canoe into the middle of the lake, with her sitting in said canoe and making small talk with him. “So, how about it? Would you like to go sit in a canoe with me?” Danielle said yes. They went.

Monadnocks

View from Mt. Monadnock's summit

The same girl was an accident magnet. She sprained her ankle (or something close to it), and then got bitten by a horsefly. Then along came bonfire night (spill your confessions, what God taught you, resolutions to do better, etc) and Danielle said, “This week at camp was really…” (at this point, a spark flew toward her face) “…ow.”

Good times.

Finally, I remember a particular year where everything seemed to go wrong. That was the year they ceased to be Awana and became RBGY. As a result, much of the management was new, including the game director. And the games were extremely competitive.

That year, there was a kid whose name I forgot. Shame, but he was really an awesome person once you got to know him, in spite of first impressions. But this kid had a lot to work through. I don’t remember the details, but he wasn’t an especially happy kid.

Anyway, people got mad at each other during the games (did I mention they were extremely competitive?), screamed at each other, and swore at each other. It was that bad. The said kid somehow found himself involved in a lot of it. (Let’s call him Elijah rather than “said kid.”) It’s not about whether it was Elijah’s fault or no, he just hadn’t learned how to control his temper. And… he didn’t like a lot of people and said so.

Then Elijah said, “I like Abby. She’s a cool person.”

Whoa. Me?

Mt. Monadnock, NH

A lovely picture of Mt. Monadnock.

It was a year when emotions were fried, when people lost patience with each other. But the sharing during that last night… that was phenomenal. In spite of all the things that went wrong, there was still a strong sense of connection and belonging. People felt that God had touched them that week. And that that simple touch had brought them to their knees in awe.

Unfortunately, that was the last year I ever went to that camp. I wonder what happened to Elijah, even now. It’s been a while.

But those memories are going to stay with me for a good long time, possibly forever.

My engaged friends are going to remember it as the place where they first met each other.

What places evoke memories in you?

Lack of Inspiration

For some reason, I don’t have a lot of inspiration for this blog anymore. I think it’s just a stage I’m going through. I’m not sure what to write about, my life is boring, the juices won’t flow, etc. The funny thing is that my creative juices are flowing fine for all my other blogs. Especially the perfect lady one. 

What do you do when you don’t feel the inspiration coming? 

3370931784_5c6be1fb93I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to do a lot of reading. And I’m still going to write for this blog, even if the posts never get published because they’re crap. I’m going to practice my writing. Think of it as a job, not a hobby. Because it’s NOT a hobby.

A good exercise is just to sit down and write whatever comes to mind. That can help get the creative juices flowing again. Like what I’m doing now.

Right now I’m reading a book called The Sharing Knife by Lois McMaster Bujold. Someone on Absolute Write recommended it to me. It’s the first part of a trilogy. I have to say that I’m enjoying it. I don’t want to kill any of the main characters. In fact I find the characters quite likeable. Not to mention rather attractive. The cover art isn’t so bad, but it isn’t so good either. You know how cover art goes.

Besides, it’s just what I like to read. Fantasy with romance. And a good plot that makes sense. 

Yup!

Brainstorm

In his book Getting Started as a Freelance Writer, Robert W. Bly recommends that writers choose up to four specialities to write about all the time, instead of hoping around doing all sorts of different subjects.

3354412736_66c7ee89b5Bly has a point. If you know one subject really well, you can write about it all the time and spin out about a gazillion different takes  from just that one subject. Besides, editors will know that you’re the one they should call when they’re running a particular piece that is your specialty. 

Plus there are some things you’re already good at. There’s hobbies that you enjoy reading about or doing. If you’ve been teaching for years, you know about teaching. Graduate recently with a degree in kinesiology? You can use your experience in that topic to your advantage. Write about it. You know it.

Which is the reason why I’m not going for a bachelor’s in writing or English. I’m going for a double major in psychology and music (hoping I get into the music program anyway) with a minor in writing. I love psychology, and I do want a career in psychology. I will be gaining some degree of expertise in something I love, while taking enough writing courses along the way to help me out. I can always go for a MFA in journalism or writing, though I’m not totally convinced that there’s a need to.

Anyway, I sat down and thought about some things I do know about.

  • I know psychology. In the next four years, I will be learning a lot more.
  • I know eating disorders. Never had one myself, doesn’t mean I don’t know how it feels to hate one’s self. I’ve read on eating disorders, I’ve discussed it, I’ve had friends with eating disorders so I get feedback from them all the time, I’ve interviewed people, and I’ve written about it.
  • 2494376290_fe53ace485I know chocolate. I love chocolate. I know how to describe good chocolate. And I know how to act like a starry-eyed woman on television with her legs in the air, blissfully spooning chocolate into her mouth. I’m going to get more information about chocolate by reading about it. This Saturday is library time! And I have plans for conducting interviews and polls and a possible article that I want to write. (BWAHAHAHAHAAAA)
  • I know my own life experiences. This isn’t a specialty topic as much as a form of writing. The person essay is something that all people should have some degree of experience in. In some ways, it can help market yourself. I remember writing pages and pages of personal essays when I was applying for college. I’m sure I’ll have to do it again in another four years when I apply for graduate school. I believe a few jobs may also require personal essays. Depends, though. But you can always use a life experience in an anecdote in a feature article, or something of the sort. 

While we’re talking about genres, it would be good for me to put down several of those that I could contribute to.

  • Comedy/Satire. Check this blog out. I love writing this stuff, but have yet to find a place that would take it.
  • 1430614527_2a3755bd53Christian markets. I’ve written several devotions and meditations before. That stuff is big on life experience, and since I do know my own life experiences as well as knowing a lot of Bible stuff, it’s a good fit. Not only that, I’ve worked at a church for some time. Volunteer work, but I was very involved with a lot of projects that was going on. I still work at that church, in fact. But after I go to college that probably will change. I also know that these markets don’t really pay that well but they’re good for an additional source of income. I really enjoy writing this stuff even though the response times are ridiculous.
  • Fitness/Health. I know there’s a big market for health and fitness, especially in this society. It’s all about the perfect diets, exercise plans, exercise equipment, and so on. People want to hear about the ways they can be healthy, slim, and fit. Psychology goes under mental health. Eating disorders definitely go into this category as well.
  • Cannon Beach, Oregon

    Cannon Beach, Oregon

    Personal essays. Of course! They’re fun to write, but don’t pay as well. Not to mention that magazine slots for the BOB personal essays are pretty competitive. Many people can write excellent personal essays. I wrote a pretty funny one (wow, I compliment myself. It’s because I don’t like to get myself discouraged.) but have yet to find a market. Naturally, I have to look first. Personal essays can also be tweaked to fit in most anywhere. It’s just the competition that one has to get by.

67345AA_FHere’s something goofy. I really really want to review gel pens, stationery, and cute office supplies… if only to get the free stuff.  😛  But yes, I do a little reviewing on the side. I just don’t care to do it for magazines, but more for myself. It’s not that I don’t like to do it, I just don’t want to spread myself too thin.

Find that niche where you fit in, and you’ll have an easier time when you sell your writing. At least that’s what the books all say. I haven’t experienced it for myself.

Happy writing! And while you’re at it, get me those gel pens . . .

What driver's ed can do to you

I was in Wal-mart. Mom was driving the cart. Other lady was driving a cart. Both mom and lady were not looking where they were going. The lady was going down the main aisle. Mom was coming out of the chocolate section into the lady’s aisle. I saw that they were in danger of a collision.

So I grabbed mom’s cart. Exclaimed, “Ooh, ooh, accident!”

Mom laughed hysterically.

Lady gave me funny looks.

Curse you, driver’s ed!