Friday, March 23

What Writers See...

Have you ever marveled at the writer's craft? I have, almost every time I read a book.  First, you should know that I am an avid reader of fantasy as my favorite genre, though other books are usually interesting if I am asked to read them.

What I find most amazing is how they obviously see the world through a completely different lens than I can see it.  How they can describe a scene so you are in it, emotionally, physically, permanently as it sticks in your mind.  I marvel mostly about their ability to physically describe their characters.  I know that sounds weird, but I have a problem picturing the facial features of a character by their description because I have no idea what an "Aquiline nose" looks like, as opposed to any other.  I can pick up on some of the features, like beautiful gray eyes or broad shoulders, but I have trouble taking the written word to a vivid image of a person, and vice versa for that matter.  Actually, I am terrified that one day I will witness a crime (traumatic enough) and then not be able to describe the culprit so they can make an accurate enough sketch to catch them.  Then again, maybe I am better at it than I think, because I have never really applied myself to describing a person's features.  It is still marvelous to me, and I don't know of any way to practice this skill, translating the image of a face or physique into words, so that I can acquire it.   It might be worth having though.

Emotional clarity is another hallmark for me of a good writer.  I personally struggle with putting my emotions into words and telling a story or scene with emotion in it, so this is a trait that I especially look out for.  When authors can tell me the emotion so clearly and move me to giggle with happiness or cry with their characters' pain, they have done their job perfectly.  And it usually isn't the bare, bald descriptions, "she was angry" that let's you feel it.  It's the showing instead of the telling.  Kristin Cashore does it marvelously in Fire, especially one poignant grief scene.  Eva Ibbotson is one of the most lyrical authors that I enjoy, with her sweet descriptions of love.  There are others, but you don't need a list. :-)

I also love truth.  Authors that make you love their characters because they have just as many flaws as me, an because they go through just as many trials.  And sometimes their endings are bitter sweet, or just the best they managed to scrape out of the disaster of their lives.  A friend told me once that she didn't finish a series, because she could see where it was headed, and she read books for the happy endings.  That life was sad and hard enough, that books were supposed to be a happy escape.  In a way, I agree, books should be an escape, but it can be just as healing to go through a tragedy with a character as to follow them to their happy ever after.  To show the beautiful but heartbreaking part of life ("normalizing" as a counselor would say) to better accept your place in the world.  The tragedies that have marred your life and your happiness.  This is partly why I love Fire too, because the heroine goes through some terrible tragedies, and the ending is bitter sweet, because you can see how she has been changed by it.  Why Zusak's book I Am The Messenger is amazing too.  I think denying the real ways things end in life is silly, so great authors tell the truth about life.

Anyway, it said that if you want a happy ending, it depends on where you stop the story.

Writers see the world in a different kind of language.  They can take what is in hearts and faces and put it on paper so you understand.  They take off the blinders of fairy tales, and tell true stories of life and love and heartache.  They speak to a soul with a gift of language that surpasses others, so that you can know as if you have been there.  Isn't it marvelous the things they see, and even better, write?

Friday, March 9

Join Kony 2012

If you don't know what I mean by "Kony 2012", you need to watch this video right now.  And don't dismiss it; it is really happening in the world we live in right now, and sometimes we just need to THINK BIGGER! Outside our 10 block radius into our cities, states, nation and world.  It is worth all the time spent on it (despite some small propaganda).

I know there are a lot of haters out there, but I don't know how you can hate this organization, or the ideas and the compassion and the action that they are stirring in our communities.  I agree that a lot of people don't know about this man and the atrocities that he has been committing while the world powers looked the other way because he wasn't threatening our children and homes.

And I believe in the power of individual people to change lives that are thousands of miles away.  I didn't think I did for the longest time, but I do now.  I can make a difference in my world, through government, through standing up and speaking out, through the education of myself and others.  In so many ways.

And this is one thing that I want to speak up about.  I went to an unorthodox elementary and middle school, and we had the opportunity to be sister schools with a school in Uganda.  Our sister school was a ways from the war front, but we still heard about the atrocities and the hope that the school brought to their community of children, hope for a life beyond the armies that threatened them.  They were hope in a time of despair and the desperate struggle to rebuild.  Schools, homes, lives.  I met teachers and students that had nothing else but their joy in learning, and I want that for every child in Africa.

We have power in our hands if we will use it.  So speak up. Share the burden and the light.    

Thursday, January 26

The Definition of Joy

I am not old enough or experienced enough in life to give a definition that I came up with, but two of my favorite quotes are about he definition of joy, and I would like to talk about them a little bit.  Both of them are from calendars (I really like calendars to decorate my room, and if they have words of wisdom under the fabulous pictures, how can I object?), but neither have attributions.  I apologize beforehand.  Now to the real meat (ironic, since I am vegetarian) :
"Joy is a spotlessly clean stove." 

Saturday, January 21

Something Inspiring... The Mind of My Sister

My sister was only 15 when I moved out of my parents house to come to college.  Anyone who has come in contact with 15-18 year olds, or ever been one, we change a lot in those years and decide who we are going to be, both professionally and morally.  One of the things I was really worried about when leaving was missing out on that time of her life (as well as the time with our even younger brother).  When I shared this concern with a friend of mine, they asked me "So what are you going to do about it?" as if it was obvious that I didn't have to miss out, as long as I put some effort into it.  I hope she can tell that I still want to know her as she is now, not keep some silly memory of her 15-year-old self alive in my mind.

Treasure Chest

Wednesday, January 18

He Aced It When He Wrote This Book...

I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak is one of the best books that I have read in a long while.  Not that I haven't read fun books, with entertaining plot lines and surprising twists and inventive characters, but this book had substance.  Lines that I remember and messages that resonate with me still.  It is made-it-into-my-library-for-my-future-children kind of good.  I bought the book to entertain me on my 12-hour travel day coming back to school after the Christmas break, but it became so much more.  Yesterday I was reminded of it by an applicable statement from the Foreword to Frankl's Man's Search For Meaning (required for my psychology class; I'll let you know how it turns out).  The rabbi author of the Foreword said:

"Typically, if a book has one passage, one idea with the power to change a person's life, that alone justifies reading it, rereading it, and finding room for it on one's shelves.  This book has several such passages."