When being sick is useful

I know the title doesn’t make sense, but bear with me. It’ll make sense.

I’m borrowing an instrument from my college so I can play in the wind ensemble. I play bass clarinet. Here is the instrument I’m borrowing from the school:

The college’s bass clarinet.

I borrowed it a few days ago (sans mouthpiece, since the band director couldn’t find the one that went with the rest of the instrument). The other day I went into the music building to retrieve the mouthpiece – the band director bought a new one – and I told him that I was slightly worried about playing because I’m getting a bit sick. At that time, it was all in my throat – fortunately, it’s not really sore anymore. Continue reading “When being sick is useful”

Life bubble 1

Life has been pretty hectic since classes started! And I, naturally, have been doing a lot of thinking as I work on adjusting to college life.

The picture above is from my college campus – that’s Johnson Pond. It’s on the far side from me, but, going to a small school, that isn’t actually too far away. I can walk there in a bit over ten minutes. It takes about half that time to get to my first class, and the nearest dining hall is actually in my dorm building. When that’s closed, the next nearest is only a couple minutes away.

As I’m experiencing independence (and adjusting to it), here are some thoughts I’ve had during the week:

  1. Classes are fun! So far, I’m really enjoying them. Especially my Latin American history class – more on that later.
  2. Lab periods are really long… which will definitely take some getting used to.
  3. Doors get slammed. A lot. Especially since the doors in my dorm building are really heavy – so if you just let go, they’ll slam.
  4. It’s important to not do homework all the time. I knew this already, but it really sank in the first few days of classes.

Continue reading “Life bubble 1”

Moving past writer’s block

Have you ever been at a point where you’re just stuck and can’t think of what to write – and everything you do write sounds terrible?

Yeah. I’m at that point right now. But I’ve been here before so I know how to get out of it! And I thought I’d share that here.

It’s usually called writer’s block. And I guess I do think of it as writer’s block, though I know I’ve heard other names for it.

There’s really not much to be done about it except powering through and continuing to write. Write even though you think your work is awful. Write whatever random things are in your head. Keep working on your current project – just keep adding words. Chances are, your writing isn’t horrible, and you can always go back and edit. Don’t edit until later, though.

The other option is to take a break. It’s okay to not work on your current project for a few days. Sometimes, breaks are helpful. Over the summer, I took a month off of writing a project – I just wasn’t feeling inspired and needed a break from that one. I wrote another story in that time, and went back to it after a month. And surprise, I was feeling inspired and was able to finish that other project.

That won’t work if you’re writing towards a deadline. For a deadline, it makes more sense to just plow through and revise and edit later.

Right now, I haven’t been pushing myself too hard to find something new to start – college classes start soon! – but I have been looking. My fingers start to itch if I’m not writing something, so I’ll most likely start something new when I find something that speaks to me. (I will discuss inspiration and musings some other time.)

Good luck, and happy writing!

Thoughts on social media usage

As I prepare for college, there’s a (somewhat long) list of things I need to get done. One of those things I have to do for orientation this fall is a “first class” assignment. It’s something that first-years have to do, as a sort of preparation for college classes.

My first class assignment is about digital anxiety and social media usage. Since I have to write an essay for this first class, I thought I’d also share my thoughts on the subject here.

I have an interesting relationship with social media. It’s not something I’m terribly interested in, but it is something I have to live with. Social media is widespread and unavoidable, it seems, in this day and age. It took me a while to even get a Facebook account – I didn’t create one until high school. (Likewise for my other social media accounts – not until high school. I preferred my books and writing for entertainment, and still do.) Continue reading “Thoughts on social media usage”

“The Ice Maiden” review

I don’t have a picture of this book, since I read it on kindle. Find out more about this book here.

Recently I read The Ice Maiden by B. D. Smith. It was an interesting book, especially since I don’t typically read murder mysteries, and I liked it okay.

I give it a 3.9 out of 5 stars. Mostly for plot.


Detective Doug Bateman partners with newly arrived Anne Quinn to solve a homicide in central Maine. As they research the murder of the young woman, it becomes clear that the killer is playing an elaborate, deadly game with them. The killer continues to abduct, torture, and murder young women as Doug and Anne struggle to catch him, showing off his superior intellect; as they investigate, it slowly becomes clear that there might be a deeper purpose behind the homicides. Continue reading ““The Ice Maiden” review”

Creating characters

There are a couple of ways I create characters.

The first way involves starting with someone I know – one of my friends, usually – and altering them. Maybe I change an aspect of their personality, by giving them a temper. Maybe I change the color of their hair from brown to blue. It’s a lot easier to write someone you know, and by tweaking them slightly, you can invent someone entirely different.

And, of course, putting them in a new setting will help with the differences. Dynamic characters undergo changes as they continue along their journey – the way the person will react is different from the way the character will react. As the character grows and changes, their reactions will change, moving even further away from their original inspiration.

The second way is to invent an entirely new character. This is harder, because you have less of a starting point, but I think it’s more common. Some of my characters walk fully developed into my head; others I have to work at.

My characters are a mix. Usually my main characters are based, at least partially, on people I know; my minor characters tend to be wholly from my head. Of course, this isn’t strictly true for every story – it really depends on where the idea for the story came from, which I will delve into later.

Happy writing!

Character development

Let’s talk about characters.

Characters are essential to nearly every story – well, okay, every story that I can think of. In fact, if I start reading a book and I don’t like the characters, I’m less likely to continue reading it. But we can talk about creating compelling and interesting characters later. For now, let’s stick to development.

There are two ways to develop your characters: direct and indirect. Both ways can be useful and can move your story along. Of course, there are limits to them, as well.

Direct characterization is when the writer simply states something about their character. Let’s say you want to convey that your character is deathly afraid of heights. Here’s how you would say it directly:

He was terrified of heights.

It feels very clunky, doesn’t it? Depending on the rest of the composition, it might flow or it might not. It’s just a fact that was thrown out there for your readers to enjoy.

Of course, you could use indirect characterization as well. Indirect characterization is when the writer doesn’t just say the trait about the character – they show it. Let’s use the character who’s afraid of heights again:

He refused to go one step closer to the edge of the cliff; the very thought of stepping closer made his stomach lurch.

It’s a bit longer, but it conveys the same thing. And it’s more interesting than just flat-out stating his fear of heights. Now we have a physical reaction along with the implied fear, and an indication of setting. There’s a cliff to spark his fear.

Personally, when writing, I prefer indirect characterization – but there’s a place and time for direct characterization as well. I usually use direct characterization when someone is thinking about another character or meeting them for the first time. We tend to think in direct terms – but we should write in indirect terms.

Good luck with your own characterization, and happy writing!

Comfort reading: a list

As a reader, there are books I always come back to.

In fact, there are books that I could reread over and over and over again. It’s a lot of fun, actually. Later I will delve into why some books stand out to me more than others, and there are different reasons for each book that eventually becomes beloved.

But here is a list of some of my favorites:

  1. Trickster’s Choice and Trickster’s Queen by Tamora Pierce
  2. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
  3. The Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher
  4. The Frontier Magic trilogy by Patricia C. Wrede
  5. The Beka Cooper trilogy by Tamora Pierce

These are actually some of the books I’m taking with me to college!

It’s important to always have a way to relax and to keep yourself from fracturing; I do so by reading. Especially by reading my comfort books. They help me keep from going insane.

I would love to hear your favorite titles!