Level Up Your Descriptions!

As a visual learner who likes to paint, I need to be able to see something to understand it. If you, as a writer, can’t show me exactly what’s going on, I’m going to get lost. Here’s how to write like there’s a movie playing in your reader’s head.

1.Be specific with your colors

I’m not saying you need to be able to recognize 10 different shades of black, but at least try to use specific color names.


Colors come in all tints and shades!

Look at this square. These are 9 different shades of yellow. Some are more brown, others creamy, and the middle is truly Tweety bird yellow. If you want your readers to see the same bird you do, you need to take into account how much one color can vary in appearance.

Let’s do an example: “The yellow bird flew into the tree.”

That’s lame. And ambiguous.

Continue reading

Like a Glove

I decided to apply for another job, since I won’t start at the job I got an interview for for a couple weeks because of my foot. I realized that the problem isn’t that I can’t work, it’s that working drains me of a lot of mental energy, so when I go to do my homework, I’m totally out of it. So, I applied to a retail job at a place that isn’t super busy, and I’m hoping I’ll hear back!

I also looked more at another university in my state. They have an interdisciplinary degree that combines environmental science with humanities, which is super cool. Instead of taking Calculus like with a normal science degree, I’d be taking literature and writing courses. It’s a wonderful university. It’s only 2 hours away, so not as far as another school I’m looking at. It’s in a city with lots of things to do, with a good equestrian team. I think I’ve found a great fit for me. It also happens to be the college running the writing contest, so that puts my foot in the door.

Yesterday, my mom got me a couple dresses, one for the writing contest this coming Friday, and one for the NHS induction. They both fit really well, and I love them. One is a plain gray, about calf length, very mature and simple. The other is an almost brick red, with a white abstract floral design. It’s sleeveless with a collar, light and airy. It can be dressed up and dressed down. We also got two jackets to go with them. A light gray blazer for the gray dress, and a light brown, more rugged jacket for the red. I am in love with the brown jacket. It’s cute, but functional. It’s a nice jacket, but not so nice that you never want to wear it for fear of ruining it. I’ve never found that many clothes I liked in one day. Consignment stores are magical places.

There’s a lot going on this spring, and however scared I may be, I’m going to branch out. And hopefully, I’ll find the right fit.


I’m Tired

I’m tired of trying to meet every expectation. I’m tired of fighting myself, time and time again. I feel like I have too much on my shoulders, but when I look at people with a heavier load, I feel weak. If they can handle school, a job, and doing sports, why do I not want to work? Am I actually overloaded, or am I just lazy?

I have been making very unfair comparisons. I’m in 2 Advanced Placement classes, a member of 2 time consuming organizations, and I have riding lessons. I still want to ride, I still want to remain in those clubs, and I have to have good grades in order to pay for college. My family is able to get by without me having to work, which I know is a blessing. There are kids who have to work in order to pay for their family’s groceries. But I don’t have to work, and I don’t think I can do it. I don’t think I can keep my grades and my sanity if I start working. I’m anxious and tired normally, how am I supposed to get all my homework done, and do my duties as officer for one the clubs, and keep riding, if I have to work? I’d have to sacrifice the fun things I may not be able to do in a couple years. Only one college in my state has a collegiate chapter of one of the clubs, and I probably won’t be able to afford riding on a collegiate team. I want to enjoy being young, but I know there are so many who can’t, and I hate myself for it.

I’m just so ready for this school year to be over. Next year, I’ll only be taking 1 AP course, and the rest will be electives, besides my last science credit. Waiting until senior year to work full time might be a good idea. If I just keep my focus now on passing my exams and getting more volunteer hours, I think I’ll be ok. Next year, when I have almost no homework, I might try to go back to work.

I still technically work for one place, but we worked it out that I will only work during school breaks because I can’t meet their hour requirements with all my schoolwork. That’s not really bringing in much money, and I’m not sure if I want to stay with the company. So I applied to another place on a whim, and I actually got the position (entry level food service is not hard to get into). But now I’m reconsidering my ability to balance all this. I cried when I came home from what I can barely call an interview, because I knew I didn’t apply for the job because I wanted to. I was doing it because my dad told me I should be able to work and do school, when he only did the bare minimum in high school and never went to college. I did it because all my friends, who aren’t in AP classes, all have jobs. I did it because my two AP classmates who do work remind me of what I could be doing if I was stronger. I did it because I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. I’m trying too hard to do everything at once, and I feel like if I keep pushing, I’m going to break.

Another lesson I’ve learned from having a broken toe: I need to slow down.

Digging in the Library

I have never felt so pathetic in my life. Hobbling down the halls, my swollen toe supported by an ugly medical boot, I feel utterly helpless. For the first couple days, in defiance of my foot, I took the stairs more than the elevator. I pushed myself past my limits, and this morning, I forgot to take my Ibuprofen. Needless to say, by the time I went to volunteer at the library this afternoon, I felt awful.

The media specialist and technology guru told me I was a trooper. After I shelved a handful of books, they told me they had a job I could do sitting down. I shuffled to the back office and was given a huge cart full of books to scan. It didn’t take long for me to realize why I was scanning them. Upon finding a book entitled American Negro Poetry, it was clear that these books were all much older than me. The mountain of books already scanned were all going to be donated or thrown out, depending on condition. In the stacks of literary reference books and anthologies, I found a gem.

Thin, white paperbacks all entitled Kaleidoscope fell to the floor after I removed the enormous tome supporting them. Underneath the complex mandala on the cover was the name of my school, and the words “Literary Magazine”. Within each issue was a collection of student artwork and writing, all properly printed into a little book. I showed our media specialist, who immediately snatched them up and tucked them away, because holy crap, our school actually did something cool for once! They were over a decade old, but it was proof that my high school had at one time cared about its arts programs. I’m hoping I can convince my English teacher and our current art teacher to restart this project. Neither of them were here while it was in print, but I know we could do it. The little magazines were all printed in black and white, and it wasn’t the most attractive, but it was something.

I want to make this happen. We have so many talented artists and writers at my school who would love to contribute. My school needs something, I mean, we don’t even have a school newspaper. We just have a dinky newsletter sent out each week. Even if the lit mag was only published online, it could still be amazing! I don’t know of any other high school in our area that has one. My school is the most diverse in the county, and this would be a way to show off our diversity.

I am going to make this happen. We need this, I need this to exist. When I graduate, I want to leave the school better than I found it. This is a good place to start.

Some Thoughts: The Art of Racing in the Rain

my enzoThere is nothing like a good dog story to make you cry. Nothing can compare to the tears that flow when you read about the life of a dog, especially when it’s told from the dog’s point of view.

I bought this book on a whim at Barnes and Noble a few years ago. There was no summary on the back, simply a quote:”Hands are the windows to a man’s soul.” I wanted to read something new, and I had never bought a book without having read it first. So, in a burst of spontaneity, I bought it. Wild and crazy of me, right? I opened it, not knowing what to expect. The story that unfolded before me touched me in a way I never would have imagined.

It’s not the kind of dog book where you sigh and think of Old Rover, who passed on a few years back. It’s the kind of dog book that changes your perspective. It opens your heart and mind to new possibilities. It’s the kind of dog book where every connection to a character is made the way a dog would connect. The way it’s written makes you feel as if you’re looking up at up at every scene, seeing the world on four legs.

In a way, it reminds me of Black Beauty. It’s a commentary on humanity from the perspective of an animal. But I have different associations with these books. Black Beauty is the novel of my childhood, a movie that has it’s script imprinted in my brain. After the millionth time I watched the film, I could recite nearly every line, and I still can now! Garth Stein’s book, however, had a different impact. I may not be able to quote the entire book, but the wonderful, repeated lines throughout the book will always have a place in my heart. The strange metaphors, like the zebra, have a more mature feeling to them. I am older now, and this book is for older people. It is not the magical and tragic horse story of my youth, but the wise observation of a dog that most matches my perspective now.

A horse simply does not have the capacity to be violent out of anything but fear. But a dog, being a predator, can relate to man’s inner evils and desires. They know us better than we do.

Mio amico, Enzo, the wondrous almost-human, you are the person I wish I could be. Brave, outspoken, and a hopeless romantic; all without saying a word. I am happy to have gotten to know you again tonight, rereading the 304 pages that contain your story. I will carry on, and I will be brave.

Because somewhere, the zebra is dancing.

Community Service

I have signed up to be a library assistant at my school! During our school wide study hall, which is 40 minutes, I get to go to the library and help out. Today I shelved and organized books. My dumb toe slowed me down, so I didn’t do as much as I would have liked. But I enjoy organizing and putting things in their proper place. I just really need to learn the dewey decimal system better.

If I go help in the library 3 times a week, by the end of the school year I’ll have around 20 hours. I’m hoping this will encourage me to widen my palette when it comes to books. I think I’ll make it a goal to check out a book every 2 weeks.

This summer I’m going to become a volunteer at the animal shelter. I have lots of experience handling horses and doing barn chores, so I know I’ll be helpful when it comes to cleaning. I love dogs and cats, and I’m not squeamish about dog poop or litter boxes. Since I’ll be working at a part time job, I’ll probably only get to go once a week, and when school starts I might cut that back to every other week. If I go once a week for 4 hours, I’ll have around 40 hours by the end of summer. I’m pretty sure I can write that off, but I’ll have to ask my club adviser. I have to have 40 hours before I graduate, and if I can write off what I do over the summer, I’ll have 63 hours going into senior year (The 3 hours are when I helped at a thanksgiving event at my church).

I feel like my purpose in life is to make the world a better place. I know I won’t make any radical changes by putting away books or shoveling dog poop, but I feel like the small service I do now will prepare me for bigger service later. Whether it’s starting a community garden, or joining the Peace Corps, I want to help people. And animals. And the environment. And myself to more of my mom’s brownies.

I really do love the library staff. Our technology lady is so kind, our media specialist is hilarious (he’s best friends with my favorite teacher, so it’s even better), and the librarian is quiet, but she always remembers your name. The library has floor to ceiling windows along one wall, so it’s bright and airy. I think I’m going to enjoy being there.

Now, it’s off to my boyfriend’s house, where I will probably inhale about half of his birthday cake.

He’s turning 18, where has the time gone?

To my wonderful, amazing boyfriend of many years:

I have watched you grow from a scrawny 12 year old boy, into a strong, handsome young man. Now that you’ve turned 18, there are so many things you can do now!

  1. Legally vote in elections
  2. Have alcohol in the Bahamas, Europe, and Canada
  3. Join the military
  4. Buy cigarettes (please don’t ew)
  5. Get a tattoo
  6. Go skydiving! (Date idea, perhaps?)
  7. Buy fireworks
  8. Buy lottery tickets
  9. Be called into jury duty
  10. Kill a man, and go to adult jail
  11. Go bungee jumping!
  12. Book a cruise
  13. Go dancing at a club
  14. Become a stripper
  15. Change your name
  16. Book a hotel room
  17. Get life insurance
  18. Get married

I know you probably won’t check a lot of these off the list, but I hope that one day we can do the fun ones together. Especially that last one. And #14.

But I know this isn’t all fun. It’s scary. Now, you’re legally considered an adult when you don’t feel any different. You look around and everything has changed. Your puppy is now gray in the face and your mom has a few more wrinkles. Grandparents and other relatives are dying, and it all feels like too much. I’m only a year (and a month) younger than you, so I get it. I’m right there with you. You’re off to college in the fall, and I will miss you. But for now, you’re still in high school and the world is your oyster.

You’ve made it to 18, and I couldn’t be more proud of the man you’ve become. Happy birthday, Eric. I love you with all my heart.