By: Rebecca Carey
What are your ideal conditions for writing?
Do you have a specific place that you write or can you sit down anywhere and strike up your creative side? Do you write down your ideas on paper or do you use a laptop? Does anyone prefer to go old-fashioned and use a typewriter? Do you need complete silence or listen to music or something in-between? What kind of resources do you like to have handy when you write?
I personally can sit down anywhere and write, although I usually go to one of two places to do so. I either curl up on my couch with my laptop and resources on a TV tray or sit downstairs at my 'office' desk space. I have my laptop and a notebook. I write on a Word document and use the Focus View feature to keep my distractions to a minimum. I keep a notebook close by when writing a 'story' so I can keep notes of various details and ideas that I will need later. For my most recent 'story,' (Side Note: I don't call my writing works a book or novel until I feel comfortable to do so. So until I feel confident in it I call it a story so I don't put pressure on myself and the idea.) I even printed out pictures of what I think my characters look like so if I ever lost sight of who my characters were I could look back and see their faces and be reminded why I felt the need to tell their story.
I used to think I had to write in complete silence but found that I couldn't concentrate with the silence surrounding me. I felt suffocated by the silence and couldn't write under those conditions. I have been working really well lately with music to drown out the sounds around me. I have started creating a playlist of instrumental versions of classical and epic music used in movies. I have also thrown in a few other smooth and inspiring songs in, as well. If you want to follow my playlist on Spotify my username is rebecca_lynn_carey and the playlist is titled My Music To Focus. I'll add music and change the list as I go.
I usually have a large variety of resources around me when I write. At the moment I have my trusty notebook, graph paper (comes in handy when drawing out floor plans), a pencil, a pen, a roll of Scotch tape, a pad of green sticky notes, two bottles of water, a bag of walnuts and almonds, a party size bag of M&M's, and a chewy nut bar wrapper. I tend to use my laptop for a dictionary, thesaurus, and the internet for an endless supply of knowledge for my research.
Everyone tends to be different in how they successfully write. What are your conditions for writing? Do you have a rockin' playlist that you want to share with others? Do you have a resource that would help out a fellow writer? If you write on your computer is there a program that you use instead of Word or Online Docs? Do you have a specific writing utensil that seems to pull the creativity right out of you?
Let us know your ideas, tips, and opinions in the comments below!
By: Ren Westerman
Now I've likely talked on this before several times if not at least once, but it has been on my mind quite a bit lately and it's something that we as writers should and do think about on a regular basis.
There's always the question of what should I do next. Maybe you're working on developing a character. Maybe instead you're focusing on plot. Perhaps you're in editing. Take it to the beginning and there's the possibility that your piece is simply a concept in your head.
It can be intimidating to take that next step regardless of where you are at in the creative process. Do you move onto that next chapter or do you look back at what you've written so far? Do you do, what I often end up doing, and erase entire chunks of your piece to explore a different narrative? At the bottom line, writing is a constant decision making process.
I've received several emails, both inside and outside of the journal, regarding the 'post-writing' process. Should I put my work out there for the world to see? What will they think of it? Will they like it? Will they hate it? Is it even worth it?
Now there are obviously those pieces in our lives that we write as personal treasures. We write them and find that they hold this unmeasurable significance in our lives as artifacts of who we are. There's no doubt in my mind that it might be difficult for someone to put something that precious out into the viewing world.
I like to think of this sort of situation as a gamble of sorts. That might not seem all too intuitive, and it probably isn't, but it bears some truth. The fact of the matter is that not everyone is going to like everything you write. That's a given of human nature. We each have unique beliefs and ideals that give us our different preferences when it comes to the material that we read. The opposite is also true. Now it isn't going to be an exact 50 / 50 split of likes to dislikes. And not every 'Like' is a good thing whereas not every 'Dislike' is a bad thing. But there will be someone out there who enjoys your piece just as there will be someone out there who doesn't. Call it bittersweet, but there's also something poetic to it.
At this point there is a certain, for lack of a better word I'll use 'responsibility, on behalf of the author / creator of the piece. When you put your work out there for the world to see, I have found that it is helpful to have a purpose nestled in the back of your mind when you make the decision to publish your piece. What do you want your piece to accomplish in its published form. I often find that regardless of the piece, I am more than willing to accept criticism across the board whether it's praise or otherwise because that helps me to take a step back and analyze my writing. Perhaps that's the purpose you choose as well. Depending on the piece, I'll often have at least two or three different things that I would like it to accomplish.
Regardless of the feedback you get from critiques, you can use these purposes to establish for yourself whether or not you feel your piece accomplished what you hoped it would. If it does, that's great. If it doesn't, don't worry. Part of being a writer is facing that constant battle of trial and error, writing and rewriting, etcetera. If one piece doesn't go well, use that as a milestone and learn from it. Perhaps the biggest piece of advice I can offer on this, though it is cliche, stay true to who you are as a writer. As a writer myself, I value the ability to put my voice into my writing. While advice can be helpful, don't lose yourself in it. If you begin to twist and tear apart your piece to fit every bit of advice you ever receive, you ultimately lose a part of your voice as well. I'm not saying to avoid advice like the plague, but accept it and disregard it wisely. Always remember that you are the author, and you are in control of whether or not you take that next step.
By: Rebecca Carey
Hello all of my fellow writers! It's been a while since I've written a blog post, I apologize.
Today I want to talk about what I learned from my time as a Writing Studio Tutor at Adams State University. As a tutor I worked with students to better their pieces of writing; whether it be a term paper, a homework assignment, or a creative work. I've learned a few tips that apply, to not only writing academically, but also writing creatively.
So get out there and start writing!
By: Ren Westerman
This is going to be attempt number two at this post so bear with me on this.
Coming up fairly soon is going to be a wonderful occasion where I will be able to unload a massive amount of baggage that has been hanging over my shoulders for several months. To say that a college student is a busy individual is by far one of my least favorite understatements that I've come across. You constantly find yourself in this perpetual balancing act. In that process of balancing you often find yourself in a sticky situation where you have to leave certain baggage behind in order to progress forward. You hope that one day you can return to that checkpoint and pick up where you left off, but on some occasions that can take a considerable amount of time. Luckily for me, that time has finally arrived, and I thought it was about time that the Revolving Door Journal got some much needed 'TLC' and a good dusting.
That being said, I'd like to announce some future changes and additions that will become a part of the journal. We have been discussing during our hiatus a variety of different things we can do to improve the overall quality of the journal.
One of the conclusions we arrived at was that the world we live in operates on a clock powered by an over-caffeinated hamster on a wheel. This hamster is constantly wired and never knows when to stop or at the very least slow down. On a less rodent-y note, we understand that it might not always be convenient to sit down to read several hundred words of a blog. Taking this into consideration, we have decided that in the coming month or so, we will be adding a vlog component to the journal. We haven't quite decided how often we would like to publish these vlogs, but we do have a grasp of how we'd like to conduct them. The bottom line is that the vlogs will condense topics discussed in the weekly blogs while also adding some other elements of commentary and discussion as well. The duration of the vlogs is currently a variable, but the idea is that we will be able to create an easier to access form of media for our readers and viewers. As I said, this is still a little ways off, but it's going to be an interesting avenue to produce and deliver content.
Along with the vlog will be the implementation of a podcast. At this point we are thinking that the podcast will simply be an audio-only version of the vlog, but there's the possibility that it could be something else entirely on its own. This idea is a little less developed than the vlog, but in terms of development and release, it should become a feature of the journal roughly around the same time as the vlog. Either way, it too will be an additional form of media that we will be utilizing to add some more variety to our journal.
Now there is one addition that will arrive within the next week. We have decided to add a new section to the journal under the title of "Special Topics." This new addition will take the form of a blog, but it will serve a different purpose than the existing "Weekly Blog." The idea behind this page is that it is potentially limitless in terms of possible topics. At the moment the "Weekly Blog" is limited more or less to writing philosophies, techniques, or general updates about the journal. We'd like to give more to our readers and visitors. The "Special Topics" page will encompass a wide variety of thoroughly developed blogs covering a whole new assortment of information. For the month of February, I will be the sole contributor to this page, but after that we will be able to have a better grasp on how often we'd like to post to that page as well as other publication details. I already have an interesting theme to discuss throughout the month, so I'm looking forward to sharing that with everyone within the next week.
There are some other minor changes and alterations that will be made to the journal as a whole, but none of them will drastically change the overall feel that we're aiming for. We hope you like what is to come.
By: Rebecca Carey
So recently I treated myself to another tattoo. In beautiful cursive, curly letters it reads "Write like no one is reading" down the side of my body. I decided to get this saying on myself because I like to think of it as a reminder that we all need to just write for ourself and for our own enjoyment before thinking about what others will think of it.
I have always had a problem thinking in this mindset. I always believed that maybe if I wrote this scene out it wouldn't be well received, or if I wrote a totally cliche poem it would be torn apart. But honestly, who really cares? If I want to write a really cliche poem then I should be able to write one. If I want to write a scene with a lot of harsh, true details then I should be able to write that scene. If it isn't well received then who cares? You wrote it for yourself and if you like it or if it spoke to you then it shouldn't matter.
This can also go in the direction of people believing they should write a novel that plays into what is selling the best at the moment. So during the vampire craze, people wrote a lot of books about vampires. During the Hunger Games phase, people wrote about future dystopian cultures. They did this to sell books, to fit the norm, to be a part of the most recent craze. But why not start the next, new craze? Why not be the author that takes the bookshelves by storm? The one they make the next big movie about? The one who brought a new idea, a new world, a new character to life and became the one that new authors looked up to?
If we all decided to write like no one is reading then maybe we can start to make a difference. If we all take on this mindset maybe we can all take the world by storm and give readers something to look forward to. Maybe we all should write like no one is reading.
By Ren Westerman
This blog is a couple days late from when I had intended to write it, but for once there is a particular message behind it.
Anxiety seems to be more prevalent in society more than ever, especially for college students. Whether it's oriented around testing, speaking, homework, grades, or just about anything in general, there always tends to be something fogging up a student's mind. To the individual it makes sense to be worried about it. Outsiders looking in might not share that level of understanding. Personally I've been on both sides of the spectrum. I've had my own problems with anxiety as well as hearing others' experiences with anxiety.
That odd intro out of the way, I thought I'd share my philosophy on how to deal with anxiety. This will not only relate to writing; instead it will relate to anxiety in general.
So my philosophy is this.
That might not really mean a whole lot without an explanation, but there's technically more to it.
So the way I see it, you always have two options. Even if you're presented with 200 choices, you'll either accept or reject each choice. Now obviously this isn't a blanketed universal concept because sometimes anxiety isn't a circumstance of whether or not you choose to do something.
Take a test for instance. The odds are you're going to take the test one way or another. One of the things that allows test anxiety to surface is the worry of getting a question wrong or even taking it a step further and possibly failing the test. This causes individuals to panic, lose focus, lose logical reasoning, etcetera. Their overall test performance will suffer as a result of the anxiety.
After working through my own anxiety, I can't believe some of the things that caused me to have anxiety. I was an A+ / B+ student for most of my life, but I still always hated taking tests because even though I knew the material through and through, I was always afraid of the outcome of the test. I'd even lose sleep over it. As you can imagine finals week was a total nightmare. This was at least the case through my sophomore year of high school. Right around the start of my junior year I started to embrace my two word philosophy of "F*** it."
In the situation of taking tests, a lot of my friends whom I've asked that have dealt with test anxiety say the same exact thing. They panic about each and every question on the test. If you have a test of 50 or so questions, that's 50 or so instances of someone panicking over the same test. Referring to what I mentioned earlier, instead of focusing on 50 questions and worrying about each and every one of them, focus on the test as a whole. You're going to take the test and you're going to receive a grade on it. That grade is going to be one of two things. You will either pass or fail. In terms of thinking about the test, it's significantly easier to just take the test with the thought of the end outcome being either a passing or failing grade instead of questioning yourself at each and every question. I'd rather worry about two things as opposed to fifty. Your teacher / professor or what-have-you will collect the test at the end of the testing period whether you've finished the test or not.
Consider this scenario. Maybe you're a writer or someone who produces some sort of creative content. There's often an insecurity felt before sharing your work with others. Let's create the scenario revolving around a small blogger. They're new to the blogging world, and they're afraid if people are going to like what they have to say. A friend of mine had a similar circumstance, and one of our discussions regarding the topic came down to this. There's still only two main options / outcomes of the situation. People are either going to like or dislike your work. If people like your work, they'll support you. If people don't like your work then they don't like your work. Now think of it like this. You have a 50/50 chance (unless you're really going to be picky and say there's going to be people that don't care either way... shhh... :D) of someone liking your work, but you have a 0% chance of getting either audience if you don't put your work out at all in fear of people not liking your work at all.
Essentially you have to look at the big picture here. Anxiety is one of those illogical process that occurs within our minds similar to phobias. Our conscience gets hung up on small little details and kicks in our instinctual behaviors which causes a sort of tunnel vision which prevents us from being able to see the bigger picture.
Honestly, "F*** it" might seem kind of crude or vulgar. If you'd prefer Shia LaBeouf's "Just Do It," it's still the same philosophy. I've gone a little further and broken it down to explain that if you break down the situation to only a couple outcomes instead of overwhelming yourself with a myriad of variables, you'll be able to move forward without nearly as much worry.
By Amie Chadwick
Personally, I feel as though writing is more of a discovery; the stories are already whole and finished and I just have to uncover them for others to see. In this regard, it is very easy to discover new things and new characters, or learn new things about previous characters that I never knew. However, there are often times when I misinterpret these characters at first. I will write them in as I thought they should be, then I realize that it just doesn't quite fit. It seems as though the character really is his/her own person and they are rebelling. There is a lot of deleting and frustration that follows and I began to become discouraged and overwhelmed.
I know many authors struggle in a similar way. Here are two exercises I do when I find myself struggling to make the pieces fit.
1 - Learn the character outside of his/her home world.
This is actually a really fun exercise and can become a game. Plant your character into someone else's story. I typically choose a well known book or movie, but it can be good fun to do this with another friend's world. Then play through part of the story and experiment with your character's actions and reactions. How does you character respond to Katniss Everdeen, the capitol and it's people? How would they try to help or harm Tris Prior or which faction would they be in?
This is a great way to focus solely on the character him/herself. You don't have to worry about the other characters or the setting. All of the other requirements for your story can be put off while you and your character have a little one-on-one time in a world that you also enjoy.
This is easier if you keep the character in a similar genre and time period. As much fun as it would be to send your post-apocalyptic young adult character time traveling into Middle Earth, it can be too much of a stretch for the character to adapt and thrive. You're not going to know what they will be or how they react and think if they're struggling to comprehend what a hobbit is. Unless your story includes a gigantic shift like this, I suggest you avoid putting your character through that.
2 - Have a chat with your character OR have someone else chat with them.
This can also become a game for writing groups. I find it incredibly helpful in fleshing out the character's knowledge as well as their voice. This was suggested to me by Ren, one of the Revolving Journal's co-founders and my close friend. Basically, all you do is ask your character questions about pretty much anything. It can be about the world, about their family/friends, about the enemy, etc. It can be difficult to do this for your own characters if you know them too well. However, I find that even if you know the character and the story intimately, it can be refreshing and new to have it spoken in a monologue. If you're like me and you think about your story in the form of a grand monologue, but never write any into the script, then it is unique to have the character's voice and personality behind it, rather than your own.
This is also an excellent way to double check your plot and character relationships. I like to have a monologue explaining the over-all story, and a monologue about each of the other characters (at least, those who have a relationship or impact on this character). Then I visit each of the other characters, and have them do the same. By doing this, I am exercising the characters' voices, exploring and clarifying their knowledge and opinions of the plot, and expressing their opinions and feelings toward one another. That last point is vital. This is the time for you to put all of the character's feeling into words, particularly those vague or unspoken emotions that may be the spotlight of the story, or may hardly be noticed. Despite the fact that the reader will never see these explanations, it will clarify the character's feelings and provide you with a guide as you try to express what you cannot say.
If you are struggling too much with your own knowledge, if you feel like you are getting in the way of your story, an alternative to this exercise is to have someone else ask your character questions and you write out the response. This version works really well as a game for a writing workshop. If the person feels comfortable, try having them talk as they would to the character, then write down their questions and spend time writing a response, even if it's later when you are alone. Reading the character's responses out loud to the friend can be fun while also giving them the chance to point out unintentionally missing information or changes in voice.
I really love both of these exercises. Often, when I am struggling and looking for some sort of break through, I feel like I know my characters too well for this to be of any help. However, these two games have never failed to bring some kind of change to my perspective. Also, like I said before, they are an excellent way to keep your plot in check and can act as a guide for you as you return to the story. Sometimes they can even reveal a change you need to make or something that you don't enjoy about the story. I strongly recommend trying both of these methods at least once. They are fun and can help a lot when trying to understand characters and fit them into the story.
By: Ren Westerman
As the title suggests, I'm feeling under the weather at the moment; however, this does not mean there is a lack of writing in my day to day life.
Once again I'm foreseeing this as more of a commentary than making a statement, so with that I invite you to a possibly interesting read, and all I've to say is, "enjoy the ride."
Let's see, I've talked about why I write, how my style of writing has changed from the past to now, and on Twitter I've thrown a few writing tips out to the viewing public along with various writing topics.
Challenge: Write some more about writing.
So while I was lying in bed all night staring at the ceiling while my stomach mimicked the mating call of the beluga whale, I had a lot of time to think about random topics. One of said topics was in regards to some of the pieces I've recently written. They haven't really been exceptionally long. To be honest I doubt any of them have reached more than 50 pages, but this doesn't mean I haven't gotten something from writing them. After thinking about it for a little bit, I came to a couple conclusions.
The first conclusion is simple and complex at the same time. The pieces I've written have all had different individual characters as the protagonist. Here's the thing, they're essentially the same character.
Now I'm not trying to get into some sort of paradox, conundrum, or anything of that sort. When I say they're the same but at the same time different, as individuals they're different characters with different backstories, different situations, different names, and traits like that. In terms of their appearance, personality, behavior, and more psychological traits, they're in essence the same. Granted their physical traits are more or less similar, but in the case of three recent pieces in particular, each character ranges in age from early teens, to late teens, to mid twenties. I'll look at this further in the second conclusion, but for now I'll clear up the first. I'm beginning to get the feeling that I've settled my mind on a particular character outline. I know what traits they'll have. I know what personality they'll have in different situations. Regardless of the age between the three stories, the character has more or less turned out the same in their particular circumstances.
The second conclusion is essentially that I've been writing one massive storyline without even realizing it. Considering how the protagonist has essentially been the same regardless of the storyline they've been placed in and that their ages have varied from story to story, I'm beginning to get the feeling that I've been trying to write the same story in different pieces.
Think about it like this. A typical character development will have something to establish who the character is. It might have something from their past to inspire their current personality or behavior. It might use something in the current situation such as a worldly event. It might have something completely different or some combination of them all. In the end, you'll usually enter a story with some idea of who a character is, and why they're intending to do what they're going to do.
I'd explain the connections between the three pieces in my mind, but I'd like to keep them as private ideas for now. The concept is vague enough at this point that I don't necessarily want it to be out in the open. I will say this however. Taking the above, into consideration, the first piece serves as the backstory, the second piece serves as the worldly events going on in the world, and the third piece serves as the character carrying out what they intend to do.
This might not make a whole lot of sense at the moment due to the ambiguity, and for that I apologize, but I'm thinking that if all goes as planned with this next piece, this post will serve as a nice reflection to see just how accurate this idea I have really is.
Now I'm not going to just end it there with a heap of unanswered questions. Instead I'll take what I've said and direct it into somewhat of an all encompassing idea.
Writers often have a niche to their writing. After finding these connection I think I've found my niche. I know what genre I want to write. I know the characters I want to write. Personally, I think it's important that writers find their niche. Writing a story is an extremely personal experience. You'll get the most out of it if you feel a personal connection to what you're writing. Having found my own niche, I might be able to get closer to my characters and better understand their developing story. In reference to one of my previous posts which discussed cultural competency, finding my niche is bringing me closer and closer to being able to write from my character's perspectives. To see the world through their eyes is quite an experience. To imagine things as they see them is just incredible.
So my challenge to all of you. Write. Write some more. And Keep writing. Write until you find your niche and then write some more. Find that connection with your characters and your writing. Get to know your characters and their stories, even if you're feeling under the weather.
By: Rebecca Carey
The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.
So during my freshman year of college I took a introduction to poetry class where one of our projects was to research a poet from a predetermined list and at the end of the semester give a presentation on them, their life, their work, and what influenced them. I read through the poets' names and couldn't find one that was calling to me so I chose Mary Oliver at random.
Of course, as a freshman, I didn't start working on this project until a couple days before it was due. I learned about her life and her accomplishments and I found my favorite poem by her "Sleeping in the Forest." I gave a quick presentation on her for my final project for the class and then thought I'd be done with poetry.
Later on down the road I took a creative writing class and one of the subjects we discussed was poetry. We tried out different forms and shared our successes during class. One of the assignments was to imitate a poet's poem and we would present it at a later date during class. I went back to Mary Oliver and her poem "Sleeping in the Forest" because she was one of the only poets I knew. I found that to get into the mindset of writing an imitation poem I needed to do further research on Oliver, what made her tick, and why she wrote about the subjects she did.
I went on to find interviews she had with reporters and journalists and I discovered some of her quotes that I now try to live by. One of which I know keep on my FB profile:
I decided very early that I wanted to write. But I didn't think of it as a career. I didn't even think of it as a profession.... It was the most exciting thing, the most powerful thing, the most wonderful thing to do with my life. And I didn't question if I should - I just kept sharpening the pencils!
I know not everyone will read her quotes the same way I do but I find inspiration in the way she speaks and how she feels about her writing. I believe that finding Mary Oliver and her work has helped me find myself as a writer and her quotes have helped me continue to push on with my own work even when I feel as though nothing is going right. I would encourage any writer to do the same and find an author that speaks to you because sometimes finding inspiration to keep going is a hard road to travel.
I read the way a person might swim, to save his or her life. I wrote that way too.
By : Ren Westerman
This is more of a speculation blog compared to my previous post, so whether it has a central point to it or not will more or less be left in the air.
Sometimes I will rummage through old computer files or boxes of old school papers and assignments, and naturally I'll reminisce over past writings. One piece I found a good while back in my first year of college was an assignment from 8th grade where we had to create a short fictional story. I think there was something to the extent of making it more of a fable, or it had a surprise ending, but I'm not entirely sure.
It was a three-wishes story with a twist. The end of the world in some form or another had occurred. What was left of humanity had a subterranean base with a massive mechanical gate to the outside. The story starts with the main character, Frank Archer (The name of a character from Fullmetal Alchemist, an anime I was highly fond of at the time) is sitting in a bedroom cell reading a journal from an old friend who'd died when the world went downhill. The journal described how the friend had found a gemstone which seemed to grant any wish. As Frank is reading this journal, he's holding said gemstone in his hand. Skeptical he decides to play along and makes a wish. The next thing he knows, a plump cat walks into the room and curls up at his feet. I can't quite remember the details of the second wish, something to the extent of water trickling into the base from a newly formed river or lake outside. The inhabitants of the base are able to open the mechanical gate to a rush of fresh air and to their surprise, green grass and various other plants. Regardless of what exactly the second wish was, Frank is thoroughly convinced of the gemstone's power. As such he makes a third wish. Here's the twist. He makes a wish to the extent of reverting the world back to normal before it had entered a dystopian state. The following events following this were the complete opposite. Suddenly the ground begins to shake, the air turns fiery and unbreathable. Essentially mass chaos erupts. Frank walks outside as he casually reads the final pages of the journal. As one might expect, the journal describes events similar to the ones occurring as Frank witnesses the destruction around him. It's left to the reader to make a connection that the world's initial apocalypse was created by the previous holder of the gemstone. As Frank himself comes to this realization, a fissure emerges beneath him and he falls. Fin.
I remember writing the story, and having a good number of people read it. In fact my teacher at the time even described it to the class as a "Ren Story." On a side note, this is around the time I developed an ego. (Insert sound of crowd ironically laughing).
Anyway, back to the speculation.
I feel that one of the most important people to have read that story, was myself. That might sound a bit self-centered, but there's meaning behind it. I feel as though our own critiques of our writing help us grow as writers just as much as any other critique. Again, here's the twist. I'm talking about myself critiquing my writing from back in the 8th grade. The reason our own critique can be so powerful is essentially because we're able to see how much we've grown over the course of a period of time.
Despite the dark nature of the described story, I couldn't help but smile as I reread it all these years later. That story really was a "Ren Story" because it was me. It was my story. I can see myself writing that story and seeing my imagination unfold.
My writing has changed considerably in the years since then.
Yeah I'm able to write exceptional papers with a clear thesis and multiple sources to back up each of my main points. Yeah I can think of an argument to make off the top of my head and defend it without a problem. But there's one thing I did lose.
Fictional writing died as part of the educational curriculum throughout the rest of my schooling years. Fantasies and fables were replaced by argumentative papers and literary analyses. As such, my writing began to conform to fit a mold. Standardized tests didn't test for creativity. Schools didn't teach you to become an individual; they taught you to become the standard. What happened to my stories? I don't know. I honestly do not know. I absolutely cannot remember any story I wrote through high school. I'm sure I wrote a story or two, but as to what they might have been, I've no idea. I can tell you everything about the Diary of Anne Frank, Kite Runner, Heart of Darkness, All the Pretty Horses, Frankenstein, Their Eyes Were Watching God. I can tell you about Antigone, Othello, Caesar, and Hamlet. I can tell you why my voice is important, how my optimism helps me overcome obstacles, and plenty of other speech topics. I'll tell you why the government should or shouldn't be subsidizing corn fields, why an adolescent should or shouldn't need parental permission to access birth control, or whether or not the cost of college outweighs the benefits. I've researched and written about all of these in great extent and detail, and can more or less tell you about them from heart. But I can promise you that I cannot tell you about a piece of creative writing from high school.
It has honestly been difficult to go back into fictional writing. I didn't get back into the swing of things until after my first semester of college. I suddenly felt an inspiration after taking a class where we spent the semester analyzing and decrypting the hidden messages behind various movies and media. We talked about the importance of setting a scene and how each and every detail has something to contribute to the overall story. From this inspiration I wrote a 100,000 word story. The first chapter was amazing. All subsequent chapters I sincerely disliked. The story was going nowhere and any and all plot devices I'd thrown in were entirely forced. I've criticized it heavily and repeatedly, but the stories I've written since then have slowly gotten better. I'm beginning to regain some of that imaginative creativity that I used to have before high school. Many of my recent stories have gone unfinished. More often than not, they take on the form of quick writes that often occur at random hours of the night.
In my previous posts I have repeatedly mentioned that my stories now often take on a dark nature. They discuss death, depression, insecurity, and other topics. My old stories from middle school talked about adventures and amazing feats of heroism. One story from early in my sixth grade year was about a young man named Hiro who had to venture out to fight many mythical dragons whilst fighting a persistent antagonist all for the sake of defending his home village from the forces of the darkness. Another story describes a group of children who stumble upon an entirely other world and become cats who are forced to solve a number of problems and overcome a myriad of foes to return to their own world. In the end, both stories reach a successful end. Anymore I can't guarantee my characters will make it to the end of the story in tact. They'll face hardship around every corner which in some circumstances becomes unbearable.
I suppose I'd describe the change in my writing as a change in perspective. Back then I had a childlike innocence without a care of what was going on in the world or even remotely fathomed the concept of hardship. Now that I'm a young adult, my eyes are open to a lot of what is wrong with the world. Many people choose to ignore such things and act as though everything is just peachy. Call me a pessimist, but everything is not all sunshine and rainbows. People are being discriminated against on a daily basis because of their race, gender, color, profession, income, possessions, weight, height, beauty, handsomeness, masculinity, femininity, religion, and just about every other descriptor. Society preaches equality, but we've all heard about the 2% controlling 98% of the wealth. Entertainers get paid millions while the individuals which keep society functioning live paycheck to paycheck. The current presidential election has become more of a farce of antics than a legitimate campaign to see who will be the next head of the executive branch. We've a hypocrite on one side and a class clown on the other (I'll leave the ambiguity to your own discretion). Many schools purchase new sports equipment every year while textbooks have been reused since the 1980's. Inmates in prison experience a higher quality life than our elderly, and just take a guess who has to pay out of pocket.
That being said, if my more recent stories depict class disparities, imperfect governments, characters facing depression or anxiety, or just facing some variation of a real-world conflict in general, there's a reason behind it. I no longer want to create these mystical worlds where the hero always comes out on top. Instead I'd rather write about the ongoing battle that many people face every day. I want to write about reality and not this veil of idealistic nonsense we've used to make ourselves feel better.
Now I'm not trying to say that we're in a "hell on earth" situation. There are many beauties in our world which are well deserving of appreciation and admiration. Not everything is blanketed in misery and convoluted nonsense. But part of me has to wonder how some situations that exist in our current society, which is supposedly advanced and sophisticated, are even able to exist at all, and it baffles me how we prefer to embrace ignorance than actually deal with the problems at hand.
Everyone has their own views. Everyone has their own beliefs. I write as an expression of my own views and beliefs. If you disagree with them, go for it, but tell me why. If you agree with them, go for it, but tell me why. Create a dialogue with me. Create a dialogue where we can express and defend each of our ideas. Only then can we truly move forward. Put an end to ignorance through writing and critique. Shed some light on what's been swept under the carpet. Through discourse, new ideas emerge, and innovation is allowed to emerge.
So consider this a formal invitation to critique and debate my writing. My characters, their stories, and I will be waiting.
Do you dare to dabble in the discord of discourse?
My writing philosophy is that they story is already written, and you as the author are just discovering it, and sharing it with others who can't find it. Yes, that's incredibly cheese-y however, in the words of my band director, cheese is delicious! This is something I truly believe and feel about all of my writing experiences. It isn't my story, but rather the story of someone else (i.e. the characters) and I'm simply telling it for them; giving them a voice. I don't create worlds, I simply find and explore them.
I have been engrossed in a world for a few years now. The idea came to me while I was at band camp (go ahead, laugh, make jokes) at the end of my high school career. It's one of the few stories I have fully planned out, partially because I've been in it for so long I need help remembering, and partially because it is so large and deep. It's a young adult style (though there is some content that will likely boot it off the actual YA list) fiction series with a science driven plot. I plan on it being a four book series but honestly, there's a good chance it will be more than four books or at least produce other stories written into the same world. I'm not intending to brag, I'm simply stating that this story is so much more. It's an entire world with hundreds of stories and characters and chaos. So why haven't I written it yet?
Well, just as I read multiple books at the same time, I tend to write multiple stories at a time. So this story, as captivating as it was, tended to be pushed back in favor of shorter projects or stories for which I had a particular inspiration or discovery.
So here it is, years later and that story is still brewing and seething within my heart, waiting for it's chance. I decided this summer would be the perfect opportunity to give it that chance. Lately, I've had a lot of realizations about the story. I met new characters, uncovered secrets about old ones, and even learn much of the science behind the central plot (thanks BIO 101!). I was ready to go and so excited make this stunning world that I had been living in for years come to life for someone else! So I got comfy, sat down, opened my laptop and wrote two strong sentences. And then.... nothing.
This happened multiple times throughout the last month. I would get really excited about it, sit down and produce nothing. So what the heck is happening? As I said, I had plenty of inspiration and many scenes intimately detailed and planned out, so it's not your typical writer's block. I know exactly what I want to write. I can talk about the story all day long. I can even vocalize a lot of what I would be writing. But as soon as I put my fingers to the key board, or pencil to paper, nothing happens. What is this strange black magic? My problem seemed to be getting into the story itself, writing from the correct perspective. Which seems so strange because my entire hear and mind have been consumed by this story for the last couple months. So how do I get deeper in a world I am completely immersed in?
Of course, I researched tips and tricks to get me past what most would call a "dry spell." I did every exercise I came across for a few weeks (even though many of them didn't apply to my writing style, it's always good to try something new!) and had no results. This is one of those times when there doesn't seem to be a magic answer. As of right now, there is no solution to my problem. I tried to write just before I went to work composing this post and still nothing. But that's okay. I'm sure this will help me grow in some ways, even if it's not specifically in my writing but in some other area of my life.
I do have one last exercise to try. It was suggested by our very own Ren Westerman and it sounds really cool. His idea was basically a conversation between you and your character. Yes, that is a technique that has been around a while, but Ren has a bit of a unique spin to it. He suggests you ask the character questions about their story and situation and then write (or speak) out the answers they give you. In this way, you're discussing the story just as you would with a friend or club (in other words, it won't likely lead to anything you don't already know), however the perspective is not your own. It's the character's and they have a lot more to say about it than you do. This is a great way to explore your character's voice as well as what they do or do not know. He calls it 'spatial creativity' and I think it has a lot of potential, particularly for me since, as I said before, my issue seems to be writing within the story. I'm going to try it in the next week or so and I will let you know how it goes in my next blog post.
Until then, I want you all to know that we all struggle and there isn't always a magic button that you press or a secret technique to apply to get out of the struggles. What worked for one person may not even relate to you. It can be discouraging to research and read and try so many things written and recommended by professionals and not get any results.
Know that you're not alone. If you have or are currently struggling with your craft, feel free to comment below! Let us share in your struggles and eventual success! Because there will be success. I can promise you that.
By: Ren Westerman
I often say that I absolutely despise writing characters from my own perspective. I feel as though it is a drab and rather boring approach to a story given that I perceive stories as adventures for both the reader and the writer. Simply said, it isn't much of an adventure if I already know every detail about my character and how they will react to various situations. For this reason I often challenge myself to a rather stubborn extent to never write my main characters through my own lens. This may seem confusing at first glance, but in a sense, I don't want to see myself in my own story, something which I honestly find challenging simply because it's 'my story,' so of course I'm going to see myself as a large part of it. It is that challenge which I've grown to crave and pursue to great lengths.
Perhaps my greatest inspiration behind this strive to challenge perspectives in writing came from a course I'd taken my first year at Adams State University. The course was ENG 203 Major Themes in Literature taught by Professor Aaron Abeyta. One of the discussions we had was in regards to three levels of the feminist approach to literature. I'll provide a link at the bottom of this post if you're interested in looking in depth at the levels, but for now I will focus primarily on the one that sparks my inspiration. The third level of the feminist approach to literature is the female approach. One of the ideas discussed was the idea that because we (the males in the class, including the professor) were males, we would never be able to write using the female approach. In a sense we were a graph which followed an asymptote (for sake of simplicity, an asymptote along either the x or y axis). The axes, our asymptotes, represent the female approach. Try and try and try as we might, we would never truly reach that approach. The logic behind this is that we have not, do not, and will not know what it is like to be female. Now this comes into a grey area with varying approaches to the concept of gender, but again for the sake of simplicity, a male will not know what it is like to be female, and vice versa. Essentially, males can write in the feminine and feminist approaches (the other two of the three levels), but they cannot write in the third, female, level. This concept doesn't need to strictly follow the distinction between male and female. The same logic applies that females will be able to write in a 'male' approach. And in a much broader sense, if you aren't _____, you cannot fully write from _____ perspective.
To this effect I've turned my attention to another view on literature and writing. While I might not be able to fully write through particular perspectives, I am however able to learn about them and advocate for them. In a three level system, this approach gives meaning to the first two of the three levels which can be attained by anyone. Again I will provide a link at the end of the post for greater explanation on the following subject, for now I'll give a brief explanation. This approach which I've become accustomed to follows the stages of cultural competency. In this system there are six stages ranging from destruction to advocacy. This system doesn't follow a "you start at the bottom and rise to the top" philosophy. This is due to the first stage of cultural competency being the destruction of another culture. More often than not, especially in the current generations, most individuals fall into the third level of cultural competency which is blindness. This stage is unbiased in that traits of an individual such as race, sex, gender, color, ethnicity, etcetera do not make much of a difference in the development of opinions. I like to think of it as an "ignorance is bliss" approach. It has good intentions, but it still has potentially harmful side effects. I suppose in regards to the graph analogy, the blindness stage is in the curve of the graph before the graph starts to approach the asymptote along the axis. There isn't much influence one way or the other. It is in the following three levels that an individual begins to approach the axis and come closer and closer to being able to advocate for a particular perspective. As an individual becomes more knowledgeable and familiar with a culture, as they seek to obtain said knowledge, as they become familiar with the pros and cons of diversity in culture, and as they begin to accept and develop a respect for a particular culture, then they reach the sixth level of cultural competence, proficiency. Proficiency is essentially the equivalent to the feminist approach in the above discussion of the feminine, feminist, and female approaches. This is that never-ending stretch where you're so close to being able to truly see, write, elaborate, speak, and understand from a particular perspective.
It is through these stages of developing cultural proficiency that I find a purpose behind writing outside of my own perspective. Even though I may never be able to truly write from a particular perspective, I want to strive to familiarize myself as much as possible to the extent that I can come as close as I can possibly manage. I want to get to know my characters. I want to understand them. I want them to teach me as they live their lives from chapter to chapter. I've mentioned in an earlier post that I use writing to make sense of the world around me. And now you've gotten to know a little more about my character.
By Rebecca Carey
So looking back after graduation I realized how little time I gave myself to write while I was in college. While setting aside time for myself to write was difficult before college it proved to be impossible while actually enrolled. The excuses would pour from my mind, I have to study for the test or I have to write the paper that is due three weeks away, and I never took the time to sit down and write.
Sure I would write for my writing classes but those writing works produced in those classes are just never the same. I was never able to get any good material from those classes except maybe a few poems.
I wish I had a better work ethic when it came to my writing because it would have been a perfect time in my life to write. I had open times in my schedule between work, school, friends, and clubs. I could have fit writing in somewhere, so why didn't I?
Was it my lack of motivation to spend the extra time at my craft? Perhaps. Was it my unreasonable need to watch Netflix and finish every single season of House in one semester? Probably. Was it my belief that I needed to improve my resume while in college so I could get a job afterwards? Maybe. Or was it my belief that I wasn't strong enough or good enough of a writer for it to matter if I wrote? Definitely.
After sitting through multiple workshop classes (fiction, poetry, nonfiction) and listening to my friends in the Pen & Inkwell talk about their writing or reading their pieces out loud I just didn't feel like my writing was strong enough to bring up. I would only workshop my pieces when it was needed for a grade and I never read one of my writing pieces out loud for my club. While every writer feels self-conscious about their writing capabilities I definitely did not believe in mine. So in the sense that there is writer's block, how about we call this craft block.
In an attempt to fix my craft block I started researching. In an article on the website Men With Pens Esther Litchfield-Fink, a blogger who writes about writing, talks about why you can't write and how to overcome those problems. There are four steps according to Fink that a writer needs to take in order to get back into writing. The first step is to identify what is holding you back. Once you do that you are able to move on to flipping those beliefs into positive sayings instead of negative ones. The third step in the process is to pick three of the new beliefs or positive sayings you created and to post them where you can see them everyday. Then start living by those beliefs. It may prove difficult at first but eventually you will find yourself succeeding in your writing like you used to.
In another article by Joe Bunting on The Write Practice titled "When You Should Be Writing But Can't..." he gives examples of what a writer can do instead if they can't write what they want to. His first tip is reading which would be very useful since reading often is the inspiration for writing. He suggested making a goal of how many books to read in a year and then you are always reading so you can make that goal. Another tip he gives is to have an adventure. A lot of times writers will use their own lives to pull from when they write their own works. By going out and having an adventure you would be giving the writing part of your brain more fuel and wood to get the fire going again. One of his tips is to just write anyways which is something writers always hear. Even if you are writing complete crap you should continue to write because somewhere in there you have a good story or a good sentence waiting to spring to life on your page. If you don't write it then you are letting it rot and die.
In another article by Elizabeth Moon about writers block she identifies three different types of writers block: The Novice Nerves, Stuckness, and Block. The Novice Nerves is the inability to start a new project. She suggests using writing prompts to help loosen you up before actually diving into your new project. She also finds that working on two projects at once can help with the Novice Nerves. Stuckness is when a story is still alive and breathing but is just stuck on one detail or one sentence. Stuckness mostly happens early on in a writers career because they lack the skill needed to proceed. If you work on it through your writing you will soon rarely find yourself in the situation where Stuckness is your problem. Block is when the story is dead and feels like there was never any life to it at any point in the past. If you have block that isn't under a contract with someone or a company then you can drop the story and maybe try to salvage the characters or setting for a new story. She includes a few different forms of each which are really interesting and helpful if applying to your own life and work.
Overall, not being able to write is not the worst occurrence for writers. It is a fixable situation that can usually be aided by some prompts, reading, and continuous writing. Oh, and coffee...always coffee.
I'm having a difficult time jumping into this, so this first sentence is going to be a bit of a throwaway. Where to start... Alright that was a throwaway as well and so is this.
Let's get to the point here shall we?
When I first started my college career, I more or less kept the same mentality I had from high school. I didn't much like people, and I fully intended to do anything and everything in my power to distance myself from other students. All I wanted was to get through my classes with as few instances of socializing as possible.
Eh... I'm a loner at heart, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate a good friend, or in this case, a couple of good friends.
Amie. Rebecca. It has been a crazy fun year, and I can't express how grateful I am to have had the honor of knowing and being friends with both of you.
Hope y'all enjoy the following letters, your summers, and anything to follow after that.
A Letter to Rebecca
Rebecca, you're one of those people that I wish I could have known sooner. It wasn't really until the production of Great to Make your Acquaintance that I'd gotten to know you, but as the title of your film suggests, it was great to make your acquaintance. Honestly, it was a pleasure to have been the editor for your film, and it's been a pleasure to be your friend since then. You're awesome. You're funny. I've enjoyed working with you and having classes with you. You've honestly been a really cool person to be around.
Today you're graduating, and possibly by the time you read this, you may have already graduated. Either way, I know that whatever it is that you find yourself doing after this milestone in your life, you'll do great. I hope things go well for you, and no matter what, you'll always have friends back here in this little old dust bowl in Colorado.
Keep being yourself and enjoy the life that lies ahead of you. You're a wonderful friend, and I look forward to seeing you again in the future.
A Letter to Amie
Amie I have to admit I'm jealous that you're both a musician and a writer. Both professions take a considerable amount of dedication, and you're pulling both of them off. Hopefully in the coming semester I'll have time to actually go watch you perform.
...Because I can't resist... OH MY GOD YAAAASSS.
It's been fun working with you this past semester. We've had some pretty awesome laughs and some equally awesome conversations about writing and just about anything. One of these days you'll have to teach me the secret of switching between uncontrollable laughter to complete seriousness in a split second. Seriously though... what is your secret? TELL ME! -cough- Anyway...
You might not be graduating just yet, but you'll be there before you know it. I'm really interested in seeing how the field of music journalism turns out for you. I think it'd be great for you, and you'll be great at it. Stay true to your writing and write the way you see fit. Perhaps our small journal here could be a step towards a larger publication for you. Whichever way you get there, I know you'll find a way.
I'm looking forward to the coming semesters, and I really hope we get a shift or two together at the studio. It's going to be another fun year. I might have a few ideas for a couple collaboration projects throughout the semester if you're interested.
By: Rebecca Carey
My writing has always been a difficult journey for me. I never have enough time to write, Writer's Block is my biggest enemy, and I never seem to have the right words to say.
I used to just focus on fiction because that is what had taken up my time as a child. I would whisk characters into faraway lands and future eras to place them through heroic adventures and troubling journeys. Unfortunately, as I grew older my time dedicated to writing slowly diminished. I was occupied with other activities such as homework, sports, and hanging out with friends.
When I reached college I took a few poetry workshop classes and fell in love with the form. I also found it was easier to write poetry because I could cover any topic in a short form of writing that still allowed me to get my point across creatively. I still wrote fiction but that was still far in between because I was occupied with clubs, homework, four jobs, and hanging with friends.
I think my most previous writing experience was my nonfiction class. I really learned a lot from that class and was able to be really honest with everyone in the class. Since I was able to be so honest I was able to come out of my shell a lot sooner and that lead to a more social and successful college career at Adams State. I really enjoyed writing creative nonfiction because I can take one part of my life and relate it to something that is so much bigger than what I might have thought that moment originally meant. I can touch others through my experiences and help them reach a better understanding of their own situations through my work.
One of my pieces that really affected my life was writing about my experience of coming out to my parents. It was a really recent thing for me and writing about it for class was really hard. I was pushed by my professor to reach for the truth in the situation and to write about how my parents' reactions to my news affected my future experiences. Because of the positive responses I received in the nonfiction class to my piece I gained confidence in who I was as a person which helped me get to where I am at today. Without that class I'm not sure where I would be, so thank you to Dr. MacWilliams and my Creative Nonfiction Workshop class. You all really helped me strive for success and become the person that I am today. I will never forget that.
By: Rebecca Carey
So on April 30th our first edition of the Revolving Door Journal was published on our website. We slowly combed through the 32 submissions to pick out the submissions that met our standards. It was a slow process at first. I personally read through the submissions as they came in and evaluated them for simple errors that wouldn't have to be sent back to the author. As the entries slowly trickled in it became easier to tell which ones would work well with what our journal is trying to offer readers.
After the evaluations had been done it was just waiting for the other two founders to approve the corrections I requested and to approve of the submissions. I made sure that all of the corrections were made to the documents and then uploaded them to our shared Google Docs Drive where Ren was able to take them and upload them to our website. We did have a few problems with formatting with the website. We were unable to upload three submissions because of the formatting problem so we ended up with a total of 16 submissions at the end of it.
I'm very pleased with how our journal turned out. The formatting problem will need to be solved before our next edition but overall it was very successful!
By: Ren Westerman
Due to a technical malfunction, I (Ren) will be posting two blogs this week. The first will be in response to last week's topic, and the second will be in response to this week's topic.
What can I say? I'm excited to see our first publication come to fruition. It will be our first major milestone aside from launching the journal. It has been a little bumpy. Considering the time constraint for submissions, it was questionable at times if we were going to get very many submissions at all. Luckily some wonderful writers pulled through and wrote some wonderful pieces for our journal.
The wonderful part about all of this is that it is a learning experience. We will be able to move on into our second submission with lessons learned. This will be the case for every submission moving on into the future. We will be able to continue improving on the journal and perhaps even offer more content as it grows.
This journal submission will also serve as a memory. Many of us will either be graduating or in some shape or form parting ways. Others of us including myself will still have a couple more years before we graduate. We'll be able to look back at this journal and think of fond memories. It has been a pleasure to read all of the submissions to the journal and to talk with some of the writers. In a sense this first journal entry will solidify the experiences we've all shared during this semester and perhaps even the past couple of years of knowing each other.
.I can't really say that I have much of a set method of writing. Whenever the inspiration hits, I write until I can't write anymore. Do I have unfinished pieces? Well yes. Not every idea comes to a conclusion. There's no set requirement in writing that something must have an ending. I suppose in a sense it just means there's more to the story that is yet to be discovered.
I absolutely love writing psychological stories. This doesn't necessarily equate to horror stories or something where a character is brought to the brink of insanity. Though I do enjoy playing around with the emotions of my characters. It's always interesting to see how characters react to certain situations. It's almost as though they become their own person. They become actual people. As such they will react to certain situations differently than other characters. This sort of approach becomes a lot easier to play around with considering how I write based on inspiration. I don't really have a set plan for what I write or where the characters are going. They create their own story; I am merely documenting their experiences.
It sounds somewhat surreal in text, but I rather enjoy letting my characters experience the world in their own way. If I have a predetermined path set for them, it limits their ability to explore and adapt to certain situations.
Lately I've been trying to expand my genre of writing a little bit. I'd like to write a successful romance story at some point. A murder mystery would be fun to write too. Once in a while I feel the need to return to my roots and write a fantasy story or two. For now I'll wait and see what my characters want to show me next.
By: Amie Chadwick
If your writing process is easy, then you might not be writing the right stuff. Most any writer experiences problems, whether it's writer's block, lack of inspiration, plot confusion or (my worst enemy) personal involvement. I believe that these issues are a large part of what enables you to progress.
Often I find my writing issues lead to some discovery about myself and/or my writing. Think of it like a leaky pipe. You can't fix it until you find the leak. Creative or personal works are the same way. You can't improve until you find out what needs improving. Now, this list is often quite long (at least, it is for me) and that's okay. In fact, that's great! The more you can fix, the more you can improve. However, I understand that it can be overwhelming and discouraging to see that list. That's when you have to focus on the improvements and progress you can make as a writer!
I typically write fiction stories, both long and short. I even have a couple of novels on the way. Of course, the longer the story, the longer it takes to write and consequently, the more challenges I encounter along the way. It doesn't help that most of my inspiration comes from my dreams. I record these dreams in a notebook, but it isn't quite the same inspiring moment as it was when I actually experienced it. So when I'm stuck in my story, I can't really re-experience that moment.
My process involves a lot of starting and stopping, a lot of staring and complaining, and a lot of trial and error. But I try to remember that there is always progress to be made as well as progress being made. Bottom line: never stop writing!
By Rebecca Carey
I mostly write fiction short stories, creative nonfiction, poetry, and I have a few longer pieces that I'm working on. I have also dabbled in screenwriting. Although mostly for a Mass Comm class it remains an intriguing style of writing that can allow certain things that maybe you couldn't reach with actual writing. I am by no means a consistent writer. I have projects that I started forever ago, was crushed by writer's block, and I still haven't gotten back to them.
Usually to start something I have to be inspired by an idea, picture, concept, or character. When I am inspired the writing just comes to me. I have written many poems through inspiration of concepts or ideas. One of my fiction short stories was inspired by a painting I saw at Fine Arts Day in high school. I believe inspiration can strike a person anywhere--with anything; a writer just needs to be paying attention.
I prefer to do all my wiring on a computer because I can just write out all of my ideas as they come and then go back and edit it later. I do keep a notebook and pen out beside me when I'm writing so I can write down any details that might play a part later.
Once I have an idea my writing process really depends a lot on the form of writing. With poetry I can just sit down and write it right away. With creative nonfiction it usually takes me a little longer to write my story because it takes me a little longer to figure out what my experience is actually trying to say. I haven't written a lot of fiction pieces but I once I find an inspiration usually it comes pretty easily to me. I can usually sit down and get the story done in a week. After the initial writing process is done I usually need to go back and make sure everything connects the way I need it to. With my longer pieces my writing process is a little more drawn out and different than my other writing forms. I usually do a lot of research and I keep all of my research efforts in a notebook. That notebook is then dedicated to that story for the rest of its life. After the initial research process is through I can sit down and write about a chapter a week.
Throughout all of my writing I take a lot of coffee, concentration, and patience. There may be several stories that you want to write at one time but you need to pick the one that speaks to you. If it does then it will become a great story and avenue for your creative energies.
By: Amie Chadwick
Stress. Lots of it. But when you are a college student, that's something you become greatly accustomed to, right? Wrong.
Well, not wrong. Personally, I know stress well. It is my regrettable best friend, the one who always shows up to special events drunk and salty toward living creatures. You know, like the overly involved mother figure who doesn't even know how to support her own breasts, let alone you. It's the guy who smells so bad that you'd rather suffocate to death than risk catching his sent but, because you're a nice person, he is constantly and consistently jumping out from behind corners to talk to you. And, because you're a nice person, you teach yourself how to speak audibly without breathing in or out.
You get the overly metaphorical idea. I'm well acquainted with stress, it's symptoms and the effect it has on my work and life. However, I find that it has a tendency to show up with different personas each time (see above for examples).
This first publication has introduced me to a new side of stress. For example, today is the final day for submissions. As expected, we have had quite a few last minute entries. However, I did not expect the number of entries to feel so over whelming. My cohorts, I mean colleagues, and I now have ten days to read, evaluate, edit, format and publish these pieces. That's a lot of work for ten days. Particularly when you have multiple papers, projects and performances (in case you haven't read my sparkling bio yet, I am a musician) during the same ten days.
The worst/most stressful part? Figuring out the standards, what we should reject, and how to reject them. This is someone's art. This is their baby, made of the deepest parts of their being. In the words of Don Richmond, we are "working with their heart and soul." There are very few feelings that are worse than rejection, especially when it is something so personal and beautiful as writing.
Honestly, we have had so many good submissions that this isn't a huge problem... this time. However, our goal is to create an opportunity for writer's to become better at their craft. For some authors, being published right away is not the best to do that. That's where our Third Chance program steps in.
Figuring out what to publish or not publish will be an ongoing process throughout our lives. I'm just hoping that this first publication will prove be the most stressful and beneficial.
Honestly, this is the most wonderful and welcomed stress I have had to endure yet. I would gladly take on this exciting project even with the crazy uncle, the one who gets high at a bar mitzvah, hanging out on my living room couch. At least this stress persona will benefit me as a writer, editor, and human being. Plus, he probably has some good stories to tell. I know I will when this is all over.
By: Rebecca Carey
I can’t wait for our first publication! It’s our April 2016 edition, which will come out on April 30th. Honestly, what can anyone know what to expect from their first publication? Can we expect it to go off without a hitch? Without any bumps or bruises? Or should we expect those bumps and bruises, especially with our first publication?
In a dream world I’m expecting to fill this publication with the creative works of college students from across the country. They will be filled with such incredible passion and unique ideas. The students who will fill it will be attending various colleges and universities across the nation and will vary in expertise, genres, and styles. The publication will be online by April 30th without any problems to stress out about.
In a realistic world I’m still expecting to fill this publication with the creative works of college students from across the country. They can still be filled with passion and unique ideas and students at various colleges and universities and the publication will still be online by April 30th. However, it may have a less variety of colleges and universities and the publication most likely will not go without a hitch.
I’m still extremely excited for the first publication of the Revolving Door Journal but I know it will come with some stress.
Hello writers, viewers, and subscribers of the Revolving Door Journal!
We at RDJ hope you all have had a successful April and are looking forward to our first collective publication. We've enjoyed reading the pieces that have been submitted to us and are glad to see a rising interest in our project.
If you've been keeping up with the Weekly Journal page, you'll have noticed that each founder of RDJ has written a brief blog post expressing their hopes and dreams for the future of RDJ. We've decided that we will be doing something similar to that each week. The topic for the week of 4 / 11 / 2016 - 4 / 15 /2016 was to express and describe what we each want to see in the future of the Revolving Door Journal.
This weekly blog is a wonderful opportunity to get to know the founders of RDJ. These pieces may be brief, but they offer an incredible amount of insight into what has driven, is driving, and will continue to drive the Revolving Door Journal. Feel free to reply to our posts as well. We'd be more than happy to discuss our posts with you.
At this point we have successfully established our Twitter and Facebook pages as well as our official website which gives us more than enough liberty to say we've had a successful launching process. We're testing the waters to see if we would like to utilize a LinkedIn page, but that will be a work in progress.
Our deadline for submissions is quickly approaching, so if you're interested in submitting for this first publication, you have until 4 / 20 / 2016. Any submissions after that date will be considered for our publication in three months.
That's about it for now. We hope you all are looking forward to our April publication. Continue writing to your heart's content, and enjoy your week.
Founders of the Revolving Door Journal
By: Ren Westerman
This is a little shorter than I would have liked, but I'm currently under the weather. As such I've gone for more of a short and sweet approach.
It’s honestly difficult to say what all I’d like to see in the future of the Revolving Door Journal. Being a founder of the journal, naturally I’d like to see more and more success as time moves forward. Considering how the journal exists as an avenue for college students to be able to write, share, and publish their work. As the journal becomes more successful, the benefits and opportunities for individuals who submit to the journal will increase as well. It would be fantastic for our journal to be able to have that level of influence.
As far as improving the journal, I'd like to eventually be able to utilize more premium features in order to expand the number of services we can offer. I'd imagine they'd also help us to reach out to more college students and perhaps even broaden our audience. As nice as it is to branch our following between Twitter and Facebook, I'm looking forward to the day we can directly add members to the actual journal. And I'm certain we (the founders of RDJ) can all agree that once we drop the "Weebly" from our URL, a party will be in order.
My little technological fantasy aside, there is a vast amount of potential for my colleagues and I to grow as the founders of the Revolving Door Journal. As with any project, there will be numerous challenges and obstacles to overcome. Regardless of what awaits us, I am certain my colleagues and I will be more than ready to push forward. After all we are writers, and for now, this is how we are choosing to write the next chapter of our lives.
By: Amie Chadwick
I have so much hope for this journal. In my head, it’s a hundred page book with a dazzling yet, sophisticated cover that everyone is fighting to get their hands on. It’s the most honorable vehicle for college student’s work and getting published is a highly regarded accomplishment. Everyone in the collegiate world will know of our name!
I see my colleagues swimming in thousands of submissions and stressing out as we can only choose a hundred. I see us arguing over our favorite works and strategically planning how we will order the submissions that we do pick. I see us working with eager students in the Third-Chance program and becoming the masters of modern literature. We will rule the world of creative writing at a college level! Mwah ha ha!
In reality, the student journal doesn’t actually exist yet. We have yet to publish the first edition. As of this moment, I can count the number of submissions we have received on one hand. Also, it’s an online journal, so there will be no fighting or actual hands on our work (however, I assure you there will be a fabulous cover).
Sometimes, I am so wrapped up in what I want for our future and for our readers and writers that I don’t enjoy the present. I get impatient and I ignore or miss the process of creating the journal. It’s as if the Revolving Door is our little baby project and I’m missing it’s first steps across the floor.
I am very excited for this little literary journal to grow into a large publication that changes the writing world (at least, on a college level). But I am going to be very conscious of slowing down and enjoying the little things we undergo today. I am also going to be excited about the slow process and small scale we are at now.
I invite you, dear reader, to join me in my efforts to slow down. Join us in witnessing the transformation. Follow us from our tiny beginning to our highest dreams. Enjoy the present!
By: Rebecca Carey
Looking into the future from our launch date point I can't help but think about all of the avenues this journal can take and I'm so excited. Not only does the journal have high potential with each edition but also exponential potential with our Third-Chance Program. Through the program we will be able to help writers and improve their work, and that means more to me than creating a literary journal that just takes and gives nothing back. If we can help one person reach their goals or achieve their dreams then this will all be worth it. Granted, we are giving college students the avenue for publishing their creative works but also to go that one step further would be incredible.
Since we are only in the beginning stages of the Revolving Door Journal's life, we haven't reached the point of bringing everything into this journal that we want to for various reasons. In the future I would love to bring on an intern position for a college student so they can learn about the market of literary journals and publishing world and we will have access to someone who is actually in the demographic we will continue to target. I think this internship program would be very interesting to put together and to work with a student who is interested in the same things we created. We could make this program last four months so the student would have the chance to work on an entire edition while also gaining experience in other aspects of our website and journal.
I can't help but think of all the possibilities this journal holds and I can't believe I am a part of this amazing journal and team!