On Choices

Great people see potential in a certain light.  Schools, specifically undergraduate schools, consider potential quite differently.

Over a year ago, I visited a bunch of colleges that I didn’t choose to attend.  As liberal arts schools, they sold themselves in a very specific way, a way that appealed especially to me.  They knew what they were doing.  They advertised well, they made people feel at home, and they made every prospective student feel the same way: good.  Everyone leaving the school after a visit felt as though they could really, truly, have fun and learn at that school.  But mostly, have fun.

For me, this feeling came in the form of the ‘undecided’ option.  One school— small of campus and creaky of stairway, with free food and a stone library— offered two full years without having to pick a major.  Through freshman and sophomore years, the student needed to do nothing but pay their bills and take random classes, until junior year when they would have to pick a major or, for those who really couldn’t decide, make up a major of their own.  All this because they were creaky of stairway.

Over the past four years, I have seen piece after piece of advice— essay after essay, talk after talk— encouraging people to pursue their passions and pursue them now.  If you want to be a writer, write.  If you want to be a cartoonist, cartoon.  Before you can become anything, you have to do it first.  This struck a chord with me as well.  (In fact, I’m sure I’ve turned around and given the same advice here on the blog.)  If you work hard enough at something, you can succeed at it.  This was the message all these successful people would give.

Funny, isn’t it?  I’m not trying to say that people running colleges are not successful people, nor invested in the success of their students.  But why is the approach so different?  One group says you don’t have to decide what you want to do— just play in the sandbox as long as you want, then figure out a general direction.  The other group says if you know what you want to do, you have to do it— there isn’t time for the sandbox. (more…)

Another Tag

Here’s another tag post, filled with fun, whimsy, and questionable interpretations.  I mean, interpreting questions.  Because I can’t answer anything straight.

This is the Would You Rather book tag, given once again by Katie.  Full disclosure from the beginning, I can’t stand either/or questions, because there is never a situation in which you won’t change your mind.  Would you rather have pizza or rocks?  Well, I’d probably pick pizza at first, but if I just spent the last eight months eating nothing but pizza while travelling around the magical and pizza-filled Pizzazia, I think I’d have to go with rocks.  All I’m saying is there’s always a possibility.  Thus, I’m not going to like any of my own answers, so definitely don’t read too much into them.  So, would I rather… (more…)

I’m Gonna Pop Some Tags

I guess I had this coming when I said I was open for tags for the next month.  I suppose I’m really lucky it took a week for people to get the ball rolling— I love hanging around here, but three weeks might be my limit on tagging sanity.  So cram them in if you want them answered, people.

Katie at Spiral-Bound tagged me with the Extraordinary Means tag.  Six questions full of high costs, and I have to decide which author or character or book is worth such a price.  I’m going to say right now, however, that I take issue with some of the questions, so I’ll probably spend more time arguing them than actually answering them.  Anyway, here goes.  Forgive me if I’m a bit rusty. (more…)

The Future

This is not my last post.

This post is a goodbye, and an ending to three and a half years of fun.  It’s a change.  But it’s not my last post.

First of all, some stuff about me.  I’m eighteen, and soon going to college at the United States Merchant Marine Academy, which trains officers for oil tankers, container ships, bulk carriers, and anything large that floats.  Essentially, it’s a school where I learn to sail giant ships around the world.

The Academy (USMMA) is modeled after the United States Naval Academy; it has many of the facets of a military academy as a result.  One of these things is the basic training at the beginning of the first year, and the boatload of restrictions for all students.  Also, it’s a larger school than the one I’ve recently been attending.  (As a homeschooler, that applies to just about everything.)  I have some idea of what to expect from all this, but still little of one.  During my time there, I’m going to need some time to figure all of this out.

Long story short, I’m going dark.

I need four months.  I report in July, the first trimester ends in November.  Between those two deadlines, you won’t see me anywhere except in person, saluting to someone important.  That means no blog, no Twitter, no social media of any kind.  It also means no chatroom and no NaNoWriMo site.  It also means no email.

It’s very dramatic, I grant you.  I could probably survive without cutting myself off completely, but it would make everything harder.  Even these days, I occasionally try to put social media or extracurricular fun stuff ahead of school.  I think most of us do that.  At a service academy…  Yeah, I’ll let you figure that one out.

I’ve thought about this a long time, and I think it’s the best way to go: I’m going dark for four months, and at the end of that period I’ll reassess.  It could be that I have too much time on my hands, so I reinstate noveling and blogging.  (Those two are priorities.)  It could be that I’m overwhelmed, and have to simplify even more.  Whatever happens, I will tell you all.  See?  This is not my last post.  The one in November just might be.

I’m hoping it isn’t, but we’ll see.

So all that is about me.  I have to shut the door for a little while on this part of my life.  That doesn’t mean I find it easy, or that I welcome the opportunity.  This blog has been a wonderful place for me to learn and to grow, and you as readers have made that possible.  I’ve been truly terrible at keeping it fresh these past few months, especially in comments, but you all are amazing.  I don’t expect many of you to stick around for the full four months, but if you do, I hope I can get you something new to enjoy.

I haven’t been very emotional on this blog since I found my style around year 1 (that style being dusty old professor with bifocals, which isn’t very conducive to much of anything fun), but I do want to stress this: I’m sad to leave you.  I’m sad that I have to let this stagnate.  I’d love to keep doing what I’m doing for another ten years, but that won’t be possible if I’m going to grow.  Thank you for being here, and thank you for understanding what I have to do.

Obviously there are still some more questions about this.  The biggest one is: Why would I go to a restrictive service academy when I enjoy writing and apparently want a career in that field?  Obviously there’s a 5k word reason, in-depth with multiple examples.  The shortest answer, however, is this: because I can.

You might not agree with it.  You might think the only way to success, especially in the literary career, is to drive straight at it until you achieve it.  But I haven’t found that to be true.  I’ve long held that I can succeed by knowing a little about a lot of different things.  Although I seem to be very good at writing, or at music, or at sailing, all of the qualities I learn there can apply to a million other things.  Everything on this blog?  It counts toward living life, making friends, or telling stories in any medium I want.  It counts toward being productive, being happy, being receptive to other attitudes and cultures.  The things I’ve learned from this blog apply to so much more than just writing.  That’s what I hope to do with the rest of my education.

I’m not going to a school that beats me down and teaches me a single, specific skill that I’ll use until I can retire, at which point I’ll dust off my notebooks and consider writing again.  It teaches leadership.  It teaches survival.  It teaches things that most easily translate into the shipping business, but with a little work can translate to writing, to music, to anything I want.  Could I learn all of it on my own?  Of course, yes.  Over the past three and a half years, I’ve gotten really good at teaching myself things.  But if this school offers those things up front, I might as well learn from them.  If it means giving up my blog for four months, or even four years?  I can live with that.  I can absolutely live with that.

Also, sailing.  You have no idea how much I love sailing.

It’s not going to be easy.  I’m going to miss all of you.  But this is what I’ve decided, and I hope you all can live with it too.

A little more housekeeping before I go: because of the miracle of scheduling posts, the YAvengers blog will publish a post per month during my absence, written by me.  I’m going to write those in the next couple days, so I don’t know what they’re about yet, but they’re going to be fun.  I’ll do my best to stick around as Captain America over there (especially now that I have personal experience), but if I can’t keep up this blog, that blog will have to go too.  You are my priority, and I will make sure you know what’s going on.

So, farewell.  This is not my last post— I hope to return triumphantly in four months.  Thanks for bearing with me.

Spider-Blogger

Several funny things happened yesterday— not surprising, considering its April Fool’s Day status.  I usually don’t do anything for April Fools.  If it makes someone else feel bad or really confused, the prank isn’t worth it to me.  But April first was also a scheduled wrap-up day for the YAvengers blog.  Combine the two and what do you get?

I would encourage you to check out that wrap-up post.  March at YAvengers was about voice, mood, and style, and we wrote some pretty good posts.  (And the puns in the wrap-up alone…  I’m still cringing at myself.)  If the wrap-up doesn’t suit you, I’ve compiled Spider-Man’s Twitter takeover for you below.  Enjoy.

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Temporal Existentialism and Cake

Time.

People say to live in the moment.  Don’t look ahead, don’t look behind, just live for now… because you never know when a sandwich truck is going to come out of nowhere and flatten you.

They don’t usually add that last part, but I think we all agree that’s their point.  What’s the point of planning ahead if there’s no ahead to plan for?  And what’s the point of looking behind if you can’t change anything about it?  Furthermore, what’s the point of looking both behind and ahead in order to use your present to your greatest advantage?  That’s just overachieving. (more…)

An Unexpected Award Post

This is a blog award.  Yes, Liam still accepts blog awards on occasion.  I don’t want anyone to think that I’m insulting them personally by accepting one award and not the other, so I’ll give some reasons for this acceptance.  I enjoy answering questions– not so much thinking up eleven facts about myself.  This is the main thing, actually.  Have you ever filled out an award up to the tenth fact and for the eleventh, your mind goes blank?  That happens to me every time.  Not so with questions, because in that brand of chaos, there is order.  If you make the questions into something I want to answer, I will definitely accept.  So just because I usually don’t accept awards doesn’t mean you should stop giving them to me.  Ahem.

So.  Thank you, Keras the Unknown, also known as Leinad, for the Shine On Award.  I’ve seen the picture for it, I know what the picture looks like, and I know that I don’t want that picture on my blog.  Thank you, but no thank you.

I don’t know when there has been an award without rules, and what a surprise, they’ve appeared here too!  Let’s fulfill them, or destroy them, as we please. (more…)

Thank You

Thanks are in order.

First of all, I’d like to thank my English teacher, also known as my mother, for giving me a nearly senseless plot diagram.  I’m not being sarcastic– I want to thank her for getting me thinking about this concept.  If I had still been ignorant of the definition of climaxes and falling action throughout college, some embarrassing conversations would ensue.  I am perfectly serious in thanking her for sparking a post on this subject. (more…)

Covering the Blank Page

The blank page gets a lot of bad press.  Every writer talks about staring at the blank screen with that insertion point blinking like someone with pollen allergies and getting depressed by it.  They talk about the blank screen mocking them, almost, with all the words they haven’t written yet.

And yet… the blank screen can be a tremendous source of inspiration to a writer who has nothing else to do.  If you sit there for a few minutes, focusing on the idea that you have to write, staring at the blank screen, avoiding all other parts of the internet, eventually an idea will come to you.

Unfortunately, once that blank screen is full of words, you have nothing left to write. (more…)

How to Gain Followers, Comments, and Views

If you’re reading this, you probably are a blogger.  You probably want to be recognized and noticed, and love comments popping up on your blog like groundhogs.  If two more people could follow your blog, it would make your day.  You love search terms like “narwhals related to unicorns– be nice”.  In short, you love publicity.

If all that is true, I’m rather surprised that you don’t know what I’m about to tell you: how to get more views, comments, and followers without buying fancy schmancy extras. (more…)