Tag Archives: college

Keeping My Head Above Water

So, I am approximately three weeks into school and it is already taking a toll on me. I have to do so much reading constantly and there is so much analysis in that reading that I need to do. I am glad to say I am continuing to get good grades and am keeping my head above water, but it is hard and what sucks is that it never ends. I had plans of revising my story and getting it off to my Beta-Readers by the end of the month and that may be pushed back a little bit but I am definitely going to try and keep to the schedule since I know many people are anticipating the sequel to the story.

Here is my class schedule:

Special Education 205 = A have to read a chapter or two in the book every week. This one typically gets pushed to the back burner because the class is meant for Freshman and the teacher isn’t too hard so I’m not too worried about this course.

English 460 (Major Authors) = This is a course all about Herman Melville. Luckily there isn’t much to this class as far as homework goes and the dates the homework need to be done by. All of it (besides a research paper) need to be done by Spring Break though, so I have approximately a month and a half to finish the homework for that class. But, there is constant reading and discussing of the works of Herman Melville which isn’t the most exciting of authors.

English 369 (Multicultural Drama of the United States) = I have to read and analyze a new play every week in this class. On top of it every three weeks there is another analysis due that compares previous plays with a theory. Luckily my teacher likes me in this class.

English 405 (Shakespeare) = I have the same teacher for this class as I do above. But, just as in the other class I have a new Shakespeare play to read every week. Shakespeare is definitely not the easiest thing to read and when you have to understand and analyze it to, your head starts to throb. With these discussion courses, it is all about participation so I make sure that I come prepared with at least one idea per class.

Education as a Second Language 311 (Linguistics) = The professor here is teaching the class for the first time. This makes this class quite the joke and he makes things much more complicated than they need to be. Not only is it in the morning (so I find myself snoozing because linguistics isn’t the most exciting thing in the world), but the tasks he assigns are tedious. There is only one assignment per week and the chapters are small and easy to get through so I am thankful there.

English 310 (Young Adult Authors) = This is definitely one of the most interesting courses I will ever take. My teacher loves science-ficiton and fantasy and so she is always curious about how my book is doing (she happens to be my adviser and the head of the English Department). Score! However, there is one huge downfall in this class. I need to read a new book EVERY SINGLE WEEK. We will go through 10 throughout the course of the semester and these are full length novels. On top of all the reading I need to do, this is the biggest timesucker I have ever had. As far as homework goes, though, I have not received any besides to read the stories and come prepared to discuss and since it’s a discussion class a lot of my grade rests on participation.

So, there you all have it. My schedule and what I am going through with this 18 credit semester. Right now I am a week ahead of schedule and I am hoping to keep one week ahead of schedule but it will be no easy task. I have found that planning in my calendar for what I am to accomplish each night of the week has really started to help me manage it. For example, I have been consistently reading four to five chapters of Melville along with maybe 75 – 100 pages of my modern books per night in order to not have it all pile up over the weekends. Honestly, I am surprised I still get a workout in. But, alas, I cannot do as much writing or reading on social media as I want to. Hopefully I’ll get some time this weekend to do some writing and revisions in my story. I want the story to continue!

But, if you do not see me post as often as I want to, it’s because of my extensive reading. Actually, I guess because I read so much now, I can start writing reviews of these books for some of my posts. Perhaps I’ll do that! Until next time!!! Hopefully I won’t drown in the pages of text I need to read.

Looking Ahead to 2014

So, my last blog post dealt with everything that has happened to me in 2013. This one will focus on everything I plan on accomplishing in 2014. Boy do I have my sights set high. But, you know what, that’s fine. If anything writing a book last year has told me is that nothing is impossible, only you decide what is and what isn’t, so I’m gonna tell myself “I’m Possible” and get stuff done!

Well, first things first, my schooling. This next year will be CRAZY! On January 21st I officially start schooling again in UW-Whitewater in order to get my teaching degree which will also be my second bachelor’s degree. I will be taking 18 credits in the spring, 9 over the summer, and 17 in the fall. Needless to say I will be busy.

My resolution for this part of schooling? Well, I want to maintain a decent GPA of at least a 3.3, but I am striving for that 3.5. That is what I got in Eau Claire, so I feel as though it should be obtainable for me here, the only thing that worries me is my outrageous amount of credits that I will be taking along with the organizations I want to be a part of. A few of those organizations being: Sigma Tau Delta (English Honor Society), Boys and Girls Club (looks good on a resume for teaching) and even a hip hop dance club cause I think it’d be cool to learn some of those moves.

Secondly, I have a large battle ahead of me with my writing. Here is my tentative layout for how this year will go so that I can accomplish my dreams of having the second book published depending on finances in 2015.

Book #2 Draft 1 = December 31st, 2013

                                                                                         2014

Book #2 Draft 2 (Outline #3) = March 21st

Book #2 Beta Readers Test = March 21st – April 30th

Book #2 Draft #3 = June 29th

Book #2 Developmental Edit = August 15th (This will depend on finances)

Book #2 Draft 4 = September 30th

Book #2 Copyedits = Done by November 28th (Depends on finances)

Book #2 Final Draft/Proofreading = Finished by December 31st

2015

Book #2 Pre-Release Marketing Begins = January – June

Book Launch Party = End of May

Book #2 Release Date = June 21st, 2015

And, that is the tentative schedule for when I want to release my book. Now, why do I have a specific date for launching it already in 2015? Well, the major event of the second book deals with the converging of the two suns in an event called Pirini Lilapa (The Great Inferno). Although overly beautiful to see, it is very deadly and something bad always happens during it. What better day to release it than Summer Solstice when the days are longest and hottest?

What else is going on this year in 2014? Well, I have a trip to Savannah Georgia planned for late February. I have a trip to Vegas planned for late March. And then, just living life I suppose.

Even though I have all of these goals, here are some of the other resolutions that I plan on following through on during 2014.

Resolution #1 = Read 12 books within the year that are non-school related. One book per month, I think I can handle that. There have been a few on my to-read list that I really need to get into.

Resolution #2 = Completely finish (drafts and all) of my second book. I do not think this will be too much of an issue, the only problem comes from financing the project. I have taken a hard hit with this first book and am not seeing as much of an ROI on it as I would like to see so it will greatly determine whether or not this second book goes according to plan.

Resolution #3 = Be Healthier. I already am pretty healthy but these past couple of months I have been going out way too much. Mostly being due to the fact that I recently broke up with my significant other, but I really need to slow my role a little bit. I think that going to college will help this (especially the course load I have) because I won’t have that much time to go out.

Resolution #4 = Keep up with my once-per-week blog. I know it may not seem like a lot because many people blog a lot more than I do. But, it’s good enough for me and I’m already seeing the significant benefits of it.

 

Woh! That was a long one. Glad you could stick with it for me and I hope you enjoyed learning about my goals in this new year. It is full of possibilities and I am hoping to take advantage of all of them as I start this new phase in my life.

What can be Improved Upon in English College Courses (Part 1)

So, there are a few things that have been bugging me for a while now. This blog post actually gets a little long so I’m expanding it into multiple parts. Part one talks about writing courses in college, although all of this can probably be applied to high school writing courses as well.  Part 2 will focus on courses I think that should be added to the college curriculum. And, who knows, maybe I’ll expand this into a part 3, as well, topic yet to be determined.

Firstly, why is there such a tendency to curb the way we college students write? I understand that different people have different taste in genres, but I believe each genre should be an acceptable format to write in during a college writing course. We come there to enhance our skills after all, not to write something that has no interest to us. I’ll use my college experience as an example here (and I know many colleges are focused around the same way), in my junior level creative writing prose course we were meant to have a portfolio at the end of the semester with 3 short stories in it. I had an awesome teacher who allowed us to write whatever we wanted. . . Initially, anyways. I decided I’m going to kill two birds with one stone and I’ll write a short story that coincides with my larger piece that I’m working on, my novel. I loved it. I had an awesome time writing it and I feel as though much of the class enjoyed it (that last part could be due to the fact that I consider myself a decent writer). Anyways, 2/3 pieces I wrote for that portfolio turned out to be short stories that supplemented my novel, The Trials of the Core, which is a fantasy piece.

In my senior level creative writing prose course my teacher strictly forbade anyone from writing fantasy short stories and decided to stick with literary prose. Okay. I don’t mind literary prose, I can write about anything, that’s what practice will get you, but if I had a choice what would I choose? Probably my fantasy stories and again work on things that are going to compliment me later in life. Now, the problem here?

The problem is that my senior level creative writing teacher forbade us to write on anything other than her specific interest even when we had two pieces we needed to turn in at the end of the year. My junior-level teacher did not. To me a solution could be that, yes, you can write a story genre specific to your choice, but then you must also write another story that is not in your typical genre. This forces us as writers and readers to do a couple things: (1) As writers, we find our voice in different genres. We are exposed to a wider range of writing, and as such, become better versed in all aspects writing. (2) As readers, we learn to look at different types of literature and judge it in the genre that it’s in. We see the shortcomings of a specific genre, and the strengths of another. We learn to analyze differently and perhaps even take what’s specific in one genre and merge it with another (for example, merging an idea of fantasy into magical realism). (3) As teachers, you should be able to discern good writing from bad writing no matter the genre. Even if it’s something you don’t typically read, you know a good sentence when you see it—it is not as abstract as poetry is in my opinion.

I am pro-fantasy writer, a definite advocate, and so I hate it when teachers tell me I can’t write a specific way and there are typically a few reasons: (1) Fantasy is about world building and you don’t have enough time to properly world build in a short story, (2) You need to deal with magic and supernatural elements, that again, take a long time to explain and not suited for a short story, (3) there may be creatures in it that we cannot suspend our disbelief to.

Great…

Here are some reasons why we should be allowed to write fantasy (but you can apply these reasons to other genres as well): (1) The ability to create a delicate plot structure. Just think about it, imagine how much planning and timing it takes for fantasy authors to juggle multiple plot lines in a single story. J.K. Rowling had 7 books in her series, Harry Potter, and although I doubt she had all 7 outlined when she wrote her first book, she had a good idea of where she wanted the story to go. As fantasy writers we need to think about things that happen in the first book that will affect the second book, third book, and so on. That is hard! And a reason why if we can practice that in short story format, utilizing the setup-payoff technique, we are going to be well off when we actually start our career after college. (2) World building. I don’t think there is another genre (perhaps besides science-fiction) that worldbuilds like fantasy does. This is a trait that can carry over to ANY GENRE. We as writers are writers, first and foremost, but I’d scoff at anyone who says that as a writer they are not an observer—a people watcher, a world watcher. If you can dream up or think up these fantastic settings that are, for the most part, imaginary just think about how well you will be able to do describing something that takes place in Smoky Mountains, Tennessee. The language we use is the same, the reality is that in most other fiction, it literally is reality that is the difference. It’s there. Tangible. (3) To further recognize how to deal with not only cliché characters, but hackneyed scenarios. This is huge in genre fiction. In romance you have the love triangle and the most known one is the High School quarterback dating the head cheerleader and then this other undiscovered girl comes in and attracts the quarterback and they fall in love. For fantasy it’s the idea that an orphan will be the one to save everyone. And so on and so forth for the other genres. But, writing these short stories in these different types of genres allow us to practice creating different archetypes of characters, because we don’t want the predictable love triangle. By listening to others’ feedback who aren’t maybe versed in the genre as much as we are, we get an outsiders perspective which might just be the thing we are looking for when it comes to changing up our pacing, style, tone or perspective.

Well, that actually happened to be a lengthier blog post than I intended it to be, but it needed to be said nonetheless. So, there you have it teachers and professors, don’t limit your student’s creativity just because you don’t like a particular genre. Instead, embrace it. Allow them to write perhaps one of there 3 portfolio pieces in a genre of their choosing but then encourage them to go outside their norms and write in something else. This will only create better writers, better readers, and better analyzers. We as students are thirsty for variety, thirsty for knowledge, and that sort of thing is taken away when our writing habits are dictated. I think Plato says it best when he says, “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” Know one thing, you know nothing, know many things, and you are on the write path.