A ship in port is safe but that’s not what ships are for.

•April 6, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Hello blogworld,

This picture above of is a quote I like to live by and I am writing today based on the recent news that my hometown has been rated as one of the worst cities in all of Canada to live in – specifically for its lack of jobs in the arts. Thinking back to my previous post, I’m not at all surprised about this considering almost everytime someone asks me what my University major is and my career plan, they sour at me and look at me as though I’ll be an added statistic to their overabundance of homeless people. It really is sad, don’t you think? How people don’t realize how much we rely upon the arts and creativity that they’re so quick to dismiss it. Then…you get this problem.

But you know what, now this is our generation – our time.

I don’t want to wait anymore for these people, close-minded people who are forty-years older than me, to define who I am as an artist and define my life with the limitations and boundaries they have set themselves. They have spent millions of dollars to make traffic flow easier into town, but to flow into what exactly? Sports shops, banks, and pharmacies? They spent millions of dollars forging a permanent tent only to have the same three bands perform year after year – never any young voices. So Kenora, I say to you: A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for. For once in this town’s history do what isn’t safe. Take a risk on something out of the status quo you have built for this town. Create a well-publicized and well-funded arts show, breathe some life back into this town, and get some proper industries that can sustain these lives instead of relying upon them for only two months out of the summer. We’re in friggin Canada, how long do you think summer really is? Where are the theatre groups, music shows, writing clubs, local art competitions (more than just the Festival of the Arts), culinary competitions, craft clubs. Just take a risk and quit playing with what you think is safe.

I guess that’s how arts goes, right? You have to take these risks, drive forward with a blindfold on, and hope somehow your tire marks will burn something worth while, and that you’re not going to end up as a splat on a brick wall.

 

Forever Wandering, Always Lost.

•March 20, 2012 • Leave a Comment

It’s an understatement to say that most times I’m lost in my head or lost in a good story. Putting down a book does not mean I am done with the story.

As an English major, I constantly get looks of disdain, as though I am a lost cause. I even had a woman I used to work with, a ‘lifer’ at Wal*Mart, call me pathetic for becoming an English Major and felt it necessary to spend the rest of my summer giving me pamphlets for other job fields that were more ‘respectable’. To each their own I guess.

‘More respectable’, I don’t know about that. ‘More successful’ or having ‘Actual jobs’, I don’t agree with that. Sucess is never in how much money you make, it’s in doing something you love that makes you happy and will then be sucessful. And I’m never one to do what’s easiest.

Some ask me what I’m going to do with my English degree, or what I’m going to do as a writer.

You want to know what I do as an English major? Want to know what my purpose is as a writer?

I can make someone feel something they have never felt before. I can make them feel the scorch of a desert sun upon their skins, even if the reader has never been to a desert. I can weave words to make someone smile, even in the darkest of their times. I can help someone believe something they never thought possible like magic, flying, utopia, or lost mythical cities.

I can heal someone, make them feel like they are walking when they have never walked themselves. Or I can describe the sounds of water to a person who has never heard it before. I bring families together, and build friendships. I give life to characters that your children will look-up too, that will help build their moral compass. I can teach the importance of things like forests, our earth, love for our fellow-man, the importance of courage in the face of adversity, and most of all I can help you imagine yourself out of those shackles brought on by day-to-day life depressions. I breathe life into cities, but also tear them down in a matter of a few pages to teach a lesson. I can make you cower in fear, or make you cry, laugh, sleep, and run. I breach and battle with all senses of reality to make another person see or feel something, even if only for a moment, that will fulfill and fuel some of their greatest dreams.

You ask what I do as a writer? I am everything. Teacher, mother, father, child, lover, warrior, giver, dreamer, healer, jail-breaker, monster, weaver, story-teller – I am everything in a matter of pages.

What am I as a writer? Wherever I’m lost.

Confessions of the Guilty Depression.

•March 14, 2012 • 1 Comment

Hello blogworld,

While running around a mile a minute and reading over a few other students’ blog-posts, I’ve decided to change things up with this post and touch on something I have been feeling for a while, on something I can talk to when people won’t listen.

Yesterday marked the twenty-fourth birthday of Ashlee Michael Ouellette – that is to say it would have been his birthday. Instead he passed away nearly five years ago (five in May). I loved him with every ounce in me, despite the long-distance. I know it’s a cliche thing to say but when he died a part of me died with him. I like to think that those that actually suffer with depression are the ones that can’t admit it but I can’t help but feeling that I belong under that statistic.

I’ve gone through stages in the past few years: depression, denial, acceptance, and guilt. I promised him I would be there if he got really sick, admitted to the hospital, and if things looked grim. It was hard to face these facts but it was something the two of us had to talk about – it was reality. Ever since he was diagnosed with HIV after he transmitted it from a tattoo shop, this was the reality. We had plans of going to University together, living togeher, and eventually growing old together. I don’t know why we thought things were going to be okay and that we’d reach that point, but I guess we were either stupid or really hopeful.

I still remember him complaining of a flu, then finding out the next day that it escalated to AIDS, then a week later finding out he died. I was in French class and we were working on these assignments where we had to make our own talk-show. I was in a group of four and my section was to look-up Quebecois musicians that we would interview. I just finished listening to this –

Je nous veux sans frontières, sans limites et sans lois Je veux te respirer, te vivre et vivre en toi.

I want you without barriers, limits, and laws. I want to breathe you, to live, and to live in you.

That was when I got the email from his sister that he had passed away and they already had the funeral for him. She and his family were all too upset to let me know that it happened. I never visited him – I never went to his funeral.

Certain days get harder than most. Half the times I don’t know what do with my life anymore. I gave up music because it reminded me of him too much, I tried talking to my parents about this but they could not comprehend me being close to someone long-distance. I never told my sisters cause they never really wanted to listen to anything I had to say back then. The only one that would listen and stay by my side was my dog, Rusty.

March 7th marked the one-year anniversary of Rusty’s death. I wasn’t there for his funeral either, or for when he got sick. Half the times it’s hard to do anything other than just sit in my room and I lay out excuse after excuse as to why I’m not doing anything with my life. Then I’m reminded of two quotes spoken in Harry Potter – and some may laugh that I’m talking about Rowling’s book, but no other series has gotten me through so many harships in my life.

“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

“After all to the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”

And I know that somewhere up in the clear blue, the two of them are having a hell of a time playing together – protecting me. I’m thankful everyday for the love they have brought in my life, and for bringing me someone like my boyfriend who helps me through this every second of my life. It is still one of the hardest things I’ve ever done to admit I love another, even when I felt Ash was my soulmate. And it’s hard to see someone else as my best friend, especially when I lost Rusty, my best friend of eighteen years.

Writing and him give my life purpose. Here’s hoping for more days where I remember to turn on the light.

Readings. Mediums. Salmon Shirt.

•March 14, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Hello blogworld!

So yesterday I had my very first public reading at a local library. It was a night showcasing a few writers from Lakehead’s writing courses and I volunteered to read a bit of my short story. Let’s just say the night was eventful all thanks to a certain lady in a salmon-coloured t-shirt. She felt very passionate to ask everyone questions about ‘younger generations’, the way in which speak, and our professor’s teaching abilites in a not-so-polite manner.

It took everything in me to not vindictively read my story at an overly-slow pace, but it left me realizing how people can become so passionate about something they are listening to. Of course I always knew this because of music, but I never realized how ‘hearing’ a story and how it is being read outloud can really make or break a story.

A certain student in the class, who I swear probably excels at every form of art imaginable, explained how she feels ‘words’ is just another medium of art for expression. I gues it was in the way she said this, and the way in which that woman became so enraged, that really hit me in that the written structure of a story is not as important as how the reader will ‘hear’ it, or what they choose to listen to. Every infliction, every pause, tone, volume, specification – it brings out a whole other level in the writing medium that dawned on me that night. I’m pretty sure that woman dozed off for the rest of the night’s readings.

I also realized that my short stories are not the right format to be read at public readings. I’m a twist-ending enthusiast, and I’ve been told I have a good style of weaving in subtle details and hints that connect all together at the end in a sort of “a-ha!” moment for the reader. But to meet the time restraints for the night, I had to cut down my short story…(well, as short as 17 pages can be) to five pages. I was a bit upset that the audience didn’t get to reach that “a-ha!” moment with my story, but all in all it’s an experience. Maybe I’ll get the chance to read there another time.  

Just a bit of thought that’s been playing in my mind.

Have a great one!

 

Twisting Pasts. Fated Characters.

•January 31, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Hello blogworld!

Now that I am over my terrible bout of food poisoning I’ve had for the past week and able to form coherent sentences that are not violently interrupted by the uninvited welcome of last night’s supper knocking at my teeth, I am head-on back into my writings. It feels great to be back! For any who may question what happen, let’s just say Subway…Eat Fresh Bacteria.

So first things first, I have been asking my faithful handful of novel readers who their favourite characters of mine are. Then, they asked me who mine were. This got me thinking, what are my favourite characters to write? Of course, I always love writing and creating my female protagonist because she is such an elegant, sweet, curious young girl, yet head-strong, sometimes stubborn, and tends to jump to conclusions. I love writing the dynamics caused by her personality, especially when she is faced with things she cannot control. Then of course there are her best friends – one loyal, in love, and humble, the other realistic, questioning, and while unintentionally coming off as rude. There is the minor antagonist- the school bully. 

But I’ve come to realize what it is about characters I love writing about, especially as I tend to prefer creating villains instead of heroes. Of course many would immediately thinking I prefer writing villains over heroes because they’re just so damn interesting. You want to know what motivates their thoughts and their actions, why are they so ‘bad’, how are they different, versus the cookie-cutter hero. Maybe this has a part to play with it, but even I’m left behind thinking the same questions about my heroes. Why do they care?   

For me, it’s all about back story, individual thoughts, twisting edges, and their humanity in the face of adversity. In some stories you may not always directly get a view of the characters back story, but there are hints. I want to be left speculating, pondering out my own stories, and always wondering ‘maybe this happened and that’s why they’re like this.’ Take for example Darth Vader. Although he’s not one of my favourite characters of all time, I have to love his back story as Anakin Skywalker. It was because of that that I even found myself remotely intrigued to Lucas’ films. What made him bad. In my own novel, I created a villain with a twisting backstory that you cannot help but side with his mallicious actions because of what he overcame. Eventually my protagonist will undergo a tragic event that will change her positive actions into negatives. Twists like this leaves me on the edge of my seat. Their motivations transgress with their individual thoughts and their honest humanity.

So to fully answer this question, I like characters with a dark edge to them- a mysterious past, or twisting future, or a fated tragic life. How about you?

 

Peeta Mellark. Writing Tip.

•December 28, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Hello blogworld!

I must apologize for my absence, I have been tied up with finals, university applications, work, holidays, and prepping my first novel to send away to the cutthroat world of literary agents. So I must say to you Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I will start this blog with a simple question: Have you ever read a book you found to be so amazing that it actually made you feel so incredibly inferior in your style of writing? This is what happened to me. For Christmas I received the Hunger Games, a book I’ve been wanting to read for years but never could bring myself to splurge and pick them up. So an hour or two after Christmas morning festivities, I opened the book and read…and read…and read…I finished the first book right after supper that day, then I finished Catching Fire, the second of the trilogy, in under twelve hours- now my sleep cycle is paying for it. I love the plot, especially the first one, but what gets to me the most are the characters. Sure, the book is not without fault, but for me the development and descriptions are so masterful that any flaw becomes meaningless. Throughout my reading I could not help but weep internally, realizing that my writing is no where near as good as Suzanne Collins’.

This is mainly in the way her characters are developped, especially Peeta Mellark, who closely reminds me of my character Sean Hallward. For some reason Peeta’s sweetness and bravery flow off of him so easily in a matter of a few chapters, but with Sean, it’s barely there. It got me thinking about all my characters who I’ve built up so highly in my mind, but question whether they are built up on paper.

Peeta Mellark from Cambio.com

Then a new trick of a writing style hit me like bricks. I’m sure many people already do this, but it was just so moving for me that I decided to share. I know what’s going on in these characters minds, but I am not writing in first person. So it has been hard for me to convey seperate characters’ thoughts. The solution: First-Person Point of View.

After writing a crucial scene and breaking it all into seperate segments of first-person point of view, then re-editing it back into third person, I’m proud to say that my writing has improved the slightest bit.

Well that’s all for now!

Keep flickering,

Knoxwick

Dear Literature, I love you. And Apple pie. And Santa.

•November 8, 2011 • 1 Comment

Hello blogworld!

I am furious. Well, not really…but pretty peeved. So I was reading this fantastic original story online on Inkpop and spent a lot of time on it and I was thinking, “Wow, this should be published, it’s amazing.” Then I hit the end of story. Slap in the face. There is nothing I hate more than when a writer ends a story as, “It was all just a dream!” Why…WHY?! Why did you just spend all that time on your amazing work just to end it like that? Don’t you think it’s such a slap in the face to the reader? You take them on this amazing ride just to say it was all a lie.

That’s like selling someone a meal with something like ‘Home-Made Special Recipe Apple Pie’ but then to find out that it was just frozen out of a box and bought at Walmart. Its like reliving the ‘Santa Claus is not real’ memory all over again. Sure, the ‘adventure’ is still there, but you will forever know it as a lie- a falsity, or rather a fabrication. But you have ripped away the magic of it all.

That’s probably my biggest pet peeve of some stories I read. But this blog is not to talk about this, it’s to ask you this:

Why do we get so emotionally invested in literature?

Photo from b5media

What is it about a story that allows ourselves to submerge ourselves completely, ignore the world we live in, and just let ourselves be sucked into another world with people you have never met but in a matter of pages becomes your best friend, your enemy, or someone who you’ve known their entire life. I’ve been contemplating about that a lot lately and thought about some of the more pop culture books like Harry Potter or Twilight. What is it about these books that make people so in love?

There is of course the obvious of the reader/character relatability, easily allowing the reader to picture themselves in the tale, but is there more to this? What are your thoughts?