Friday, September 30, 2011

Choosing To Write

Some writers say that they chose to be writers, that it's not possible for writing to choose them. I've never agreed with this because, quite frankly, writing is hard; so hard that if I'd had a choice, I probably would have gone with something that didn't make me want to poke pencils into my eyeballs, something a little more glamorous.

Maybe I would have been a rockstar, I know at some point I wanted to play the guitar and be in a band. Or do something adventurous and humanitarian like be a philanthropist. I could see myself trekking through the Amazon jungles, looking for exotic plants to cure the common cold. But I'm not. I'm sitting on the floor of my bedroom thinking about my characters even as I type this.

I am a writer.

I don't believe it's that clean cut, just getting up one day and saying, "hey, I'm going to be a writer." But then, it also is, to an extent. That's where it gets confusing. All writers, ultimately have to decide that they are going to write. In fact, I think we have to decide twice.

First, we decide to write.

Then, we decide to keep doing it.

Two choices.

I decided to write when I was nine and sat down to pen my first story. I decided again when I was fifteen and had about 95 half-completed stories under my belt. It's that second decision that counted the most, it's what got me through my first completed novel, as crappy as it was it was done and it was mine.

That second decision drives me everyday. It made me finish a second book and start a third. It keeps me going when I'm sitting in the dark, staring at a blinking cursor with no idea of how to make it move.

With that said, I believe that writing chose me, as it chose you, Other Writer. The ideas come--in the early hours of the morning when we're half asleep, they come during a phone call from a friend asking us to hang out--most of the time when we want nothing to do with them. We don't ask to be nagged by persistent characters caught in love triangles and century old curses, we don't choose that.

What we do choose is the part where we roll out of bed and stomp to the computer before we've even had coffee, where we tell our friends "not today, I'm writing." This is the choice we make, even as we're thinking "Good God, man! Couldn't this damn idea wait until after my alarm went off/after dinner with *insert friend's name* ? They were gonna pay!!"

The writing chooses us, but we have to make the choice to choose it back.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Where I Go #4: Dark Sky, Bright Stars

by: Ellen Faith

The night’s always been mysterious to me. When the sun goes down and the moon takes its place, casting a white glow over my backyard. When creatures scuttle out of their home into the world. It’s like a whole new world after seven pm for me. So I suppose that should explain why I always find it easiest to write at night.

Because when I’m in the dark and I can’t see three or four feet in front of me, my imagination runs wild. Even swimming in the pool at night with its light turned off has me terrified, imagining that there’s going to be a croc stalking me there since it’s a pretty normal thing to happen where I live.

But if the atmosphere isn’t right then the words don’t come out. It’s as simple as that. To write I have to be in the right frame of mind. I have know my characters before I can sit down and write their story, or else their personality is all over the page (seriously!). I have to know where the story is heading each step of the way, or else I go off track. Getting into the right frame of mind is hard sometimes, though when I put these boundaries in place. Especially recently since I haven’t felt like writing at all, even though I know I should be.

Then, one night while I was sitting outside on our swing, I ended up writing almost a thousand words. It felt great. The words kept coming out—like word vomit, but nothing embarrassing. I was writing again and the atmosphere—snuggled in a blanket with my Dalmatian Luna against my legs—was simply perfect. And an owl hooted. That was very much the second highlight of that day after the writing that I did. I love the sound of owls hooting. It truly does add to the atmosphere.

Since I journeyed into writing professionally I’ve learned that even the smallest of sentences about atmosphere can change your story. One sentence about if the air was hot and thick, if the lights were flickering, or even if the street was completely empty can change a scene’s atmosphere. Every little thing affects your writing so it’s important to make sure that when writing you’re not only in the best frame of mind, but that you’re in the right place. At least for me, that is.

Ellen Faith is a sixteen-year-old Aussie writer, reader and blogger while completing grade eleven (which makes for an interesting schedule). Ellen wants to be published, become a lawyer (in case she doesn’t get published until she’s 80) and travel/live in Europe one day. With her loony Dalmatian and her sanity by her side, she hopes she one day succeeds at all three.

Vist Ellen's blog at


For more info on this guest submissions series, visit the "Where I Go" submissions page

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Great & Terrible Things & Making Cupcakes at Midnight

Great thing number 1: I got front bangs.

Terrible thing number 1: I got front bangs.

I've had mild variations of the same hairstyle since middle school; straight and parted a little off the center. Up until recently, I've never had a problem with it. It had been dubbed Brittany's Hairstyle. But then, I started thinking about all the weight I'd lost in the past few months and wouldn't it be great if my hair was as different as my body and my mind suddenly were. I could be a whole new person. Let me just warn you that if you ever find yourself thinking "Wouldn't it be great if I didn't look like old me anymore. Maybe I'll hack my hair off..." you should stop right there, stop before you actually hack your hair off.

The great part in this is that I got what I wanted. I look different. When styled right, I look like someones first grade teacher or that girl next door who will bake you cookies when you're sick (I'm not proud of this, but Bee says it's cute). The terrible part is that my forehead is hot 80% of the time and when my hair is not styled right, I look like an frightened peacock.

Great thing number 2: I have my own apartment!

Terrible thing number 2: Technically, it's not wholly mine because I have roommates!

The great thing about this is pretty self explanatory; I have my own space that I'm paying for with my own money, and even though I finally understand the appeal of Top Ramen to a broke college student, it's still my own place (read: There's nobody to tell me to make my bed!) And my roommates are probably the best roommates I could ask for. One of them is always gone and the other one is too sweet to question why I sit at the kitchen table in my pjs with my laptop for hours.

Great thing number 3: It's my birthday!

Terrible thing number 3: I made my own birthday cake/cupcakes at midnight.

When you make cupcakes and birthday cake at midnight, expect everything to start out wonderfully.

Expect to sing Three Little Birds a total of fifteen times before the first cake is finished mixing. Expect to shove that sucker into the oven whistling in a very arrogant I've-done-this-a-dozen-times-and-it's-gonna-be-awesome way. Expect everything to go downhill from there.

The whipping cream you bought will turn out to be crappy so there will be no coffee almond filling that rivals clouds. You'll move onto plan B and make coffee almond butter cream icing instead. This will taste nothing like you expect it to. It may taste like toffee, it may taste like the butter in your butter cream wasn't whipped out enough, it may taste like a mystery; you haven't figured it out yet.

The cupcakes will look like this:

but taste better. If you close your eyes and eat them, you will almost be able to convince yourself that the $65 you spent on ingredients was worth it. You will not be ashamed of your epic failure, but you also will not offer anyone a piece.

Then, at some point, maybe around 4am you'll be reminded that you are lactose intolerant. Expect to wonder if you should kill the birthday tradition of making your own birthday cake.

But don't be discouraged, one thing you cook today will turn out perfectly:

It feels good to be 18.

Listening to: Boy With A Coin by: Iron & Wine