“Go”als

Here I am again, sat at a computer, doing exactly what I love most: in this particular case, listening to “8 Days a Week” by The Beatles and writing this blog. The feel of a pen or keyboard in my hands and time signatures tapping in my ears is the dream.

How will it translate into a career? Unsure.

This is the week when I’m supposed to post creative writing, but instead am going to talk about creative writing in the bigger scheme of my life, along with music… because I just read this:

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…And it meant a lot to me. I went in thinking it would be a nice little book by a big inspiration, and what I didn’t prepare for were the many tears streaming down my face, because of how personally it resonated with my artistic journey. I saw myself in Leslie’s words: my exact fears, self-doubt, and passion for words and rhythms. I saw my family within his, as he navigated an unconventional journey to find joy and dreams. And while I’ve always known how human we all are, reading his book really brought that home for me in an emotional way.

The world is a “big” scary place when you don’t know what you want to do with it. But when you start making steps toward dreams, you start realizing how small the world really is, and how interrelated we all are, even if you’ve never been across the ocean or across the country. Perhaps it’s scarier for us as artists to realize how incredibly tangible our dreams actually are, as long as we’re willing to put the work in.

My favorite summer show to watch is America’s Got Talent. Today I was struck by an elderly man who came on the show to do stand-up comedy and was then put through to the next round with 4 yeses. Despite his risque humor, I shed a few tears, because that perfectly exemplifies the heart of a true artist.

As an artist, you need a resilience of spirit. Sometimes your dream is right around the corner, and sometimes it doesn’t happen for 50 more years. So the real question is: are you willing to maintain an upbeat attitude and always strive to fail upwards, regardless of the time commitment? Because that will distinguish the dreamer from the achiever.

The past few weeks without social media have been wonderful, but I would be lying if I said it doesn’t freak me out. Social media has been the main outlet through which I pushed blogs to readers, and now I don’t have that in my grasp. My reader statistics have gone down drastically and that hasn’t been the easiest for me to watch.

Honesty time: this blog means a lot to me. I’m currently making no money, but the dream I’ve had for a while is to go further with this blog. I hope to eventually invest money into this blog. I’ve considered expanding this blog through YouTube videos, to add another dimension to my interactions with readers, especially where entertainment blogs are concerned. These are all tangible possibilities.

I know my blog cannot be my sole job. I know publishing books cannot be my sole job. I know my pursuit of the music industry in whatever capacity that manifests itself will not be my sole job. I need all three in my life, somehow, some way. I could see myself working for others or being my own boss. But in whatever I do, I need variety, and I think that’s why my interests are so broad.

More and more, I’ve felt like I’m called to something more than unconventional. Something unique. But I cannot place my finger on it.

I’m currently revising a fictional book that is fairly autobiographical. The necessity to have it published is out of a need to be heard and a feeling of under-representation as a petite woman. Throughout my scourings of the internet, I have yet to see anyone sending out such a message as the one in my book. With such autobiographical influence, it has truly become a story I believe only I can tell, which has propelled me forward in the artistic project.

Many of my blogs have originated out of a similar vein. Oftentimes I’ll want answers or agreement on a topic of interest, and cannot find such, so I feel the need to blaze the trail. Mostly because I know the power of silence, where lies can fester and wound. Frankly, even if people hate what I have to say, I’m going to say it, because at least SOMEONE will have talked it about it at that point.

So maybe I do know one piece. Whether I help brush dust off the pop music scene, whether I put out a book, whether I pen 5,000 more blogs, whether I edit books, whether I cover musical events in journalism, and on and on… I think I’m supposed to start conversations.

And I think now I’m ready for the word “go” in all of its capacities.

~Annah

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Top Favorite Book Series

Since giving up social media last week, I have gotten bit by the reading  bug again. Although only on my second book of the summer, I plan on growing that number rapidly, as my to-read list is also expanding exponentially.

As you can tell by the title, I thought it would be fun to talk about my favorite book series! I tend to be pretty selective about what books I want to read, especially if they’re a series. Usually I don’t chance getting into a series unless I’m pretty positive I’ll love it, so I honestly can’t think of any series I’ve read that I haven’t loved. I’m more drawn to reading standalone books.

Most of these are well-known, so instead of giving full run-downs of the books, I’m going to briefly describe them and then explain why they have meant so much to me.

1. (You guessed it) Harry Potter – 7 books

Out of all pieces of entertainment, Harry Potter has impacted my life the most. My first venture into Harry’s wizarding world was at the age of 5, when I tried to pick up and read Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone, the book I had seen in all of my siblings’ hands. Although my first journey through the book lasted only a few pages, I remember being excited by the prospect of multiple books being about the same people–it was my earliest memory of encountering a book series.

Harry’s adventures have followed me over the vast majority of my life, with numerous rereads along the way (my friend and I are currently reading them aloud together, and trying to finish them before graduation). Although a common answer, Rowling has been one of my favorite authors, because she taught me the true depth of imagination and has continued to show me through Harry that despite deep grief and worldly trials, love will always come out on the winning side.

Through the ginormous phenomenon, Rowling showcased how essential children are to the literary world and how no one is too old to delve into the depths of their brain’s creativity. Childlike wonder is a valuable trait the world needs. 

2. The Hunger Games – 3 books

To me, this trilogy was one of the most unique and intriguing concepts I had ever heard of. When I first started the book, I had no idea what to expect, and was surprised and entranced by the gripping tale of a young woman thrust into a twisted national game show where she must fight other children to the death to win.

It’s no secret that I love dystopic books, and The Hunger Games series tops the ones I’ve read. The combination of politics and game shows seemed so fresh to me, and I loved the concept of a fictional world that was also plausible, by exaggerating aspects of our society. I think dystopian books can be an intriguing look into what others find as downfalls of our society, like political deceit and greed in the case of Suzanne Collins’ popular trilogy.

I think what both draws readers into dystopia and what pushes readers away from dystopia is the fact that in the midst of far-fetched tales of puzzles and violence, we can see some great and disheartening seeds of truth about the evil in our world. But that’s all the reason we root for the protagonists–because as bleak and violent as it gets, they persevere and keep fighting for what they believe is right, even if it means overthrowing a government system.

3. Percy Jackson – 5 books

Rick Riordan’s series both introduced and hooked me into Greek mythology. In middle school, pretty much everyone I knew read these books. What makes them so great is that they center upon relatable and sassy characters that attend a camp–a tangible, warming concept to most children. Riordan then pairs these unique and fun heroes with Greek stories in a fun, understandable way that also educates his audiences. I think that’s a really great example of effectively drawing children to literature and education. Personally, I haven’t read many other Greek-related works except Riordan’s, which makes his tales memorable and unique for me.

4. A Series of Unfortunate Events – 13 books

This series was another childhood, elementary-age staple. I’m also starting to realize there’s a theme in these series… education masked by imagination. Although Lemony Snicket’s writing style is quirky and much less discreet; oftentimes in his narratives he makes asides to define words for the reader within the story’s context. Some people found the writing style odd and awkward, but I thought it only enhanced the story’s voice and made readers feel closer to the lives of the three Baudelaire orphans.

I remember having to wait for a couple of these books to publish and then trying to read them as fast as I could. One friend in third grade and I read The Penultimate Peril at the same time, making it a competition to see who could read it faster. But I also know my favorite part of these books, both as a child and now, is the theme of age vs. intelligence.

For those of you who don’t know, the books center on three children who’ve lost their parents and are transferred to live with a guardian named Count Olaf, who ends up being an evil man that will do whatever it takes to get his hands on their parents’ fortune. Eventually, the adults believe that he’s evil and transfer them to another guardian, but Count Olaf continues to follow them in different disguises. The children try to convince the adults in their lives that Count Olaf is following them, but time and time again, the adults never believe them until it’s too late and he’s escaped.

Too often, adults look down on children or think they know better than others simply because of age, and I think that can cause a lot of blindness among individuals. Yet children are wiser and more valuable than we give them credit for, in mindset, attitudes, and opinions.

5. Divergent – 3 books

This is another dystopian series and one of the most controversial series out of my favorites, mostly because many people hate the ending of the last book. However, I really enjoyed this series and Allegiant was the first book I ever read that made me sob for a good five minutes. Again, the themes or plot choices in the books I like that many others tend to dislike are usually based on reality or truths we don’t like to think about. In this case, not everything is tied up in a nice bow, and that’s life really.

This is another dystopian concept I found intriguing, plus it kind of takes an idea from Harry Potter that is really interesting to me: there are different, distinctive groups/types of people. In this series, people are sorted into different factions when they turn 16, that open up certain types of societal roles for them. There is Amity (the kind), Dauntless (the brave), Erudite (the intelligent), Abnegation (the selfless), and Candor (the honest). But there are also the factionless, who either failed intiation tests into the different factions or refused to join theirs, and divergents, who can fit into multiple factions and are dangers to the society. As you can imagine, the story centers upon a girl, Tris, who is divergent and trying to hide that fact from the government.

6. A Great and Terrible Beauty – 3 books

I adored this trilogy in every way possible; it combines everything from fantasy to romance to adventure. I made quick work of these in high school. My favorite aspect of them is that it takes something very current and enjoyable, a fantasy world, and juxtaposes that in the midst of nineteenth century Britain. Mainly, I tend to enjoy a combination of two very different things in books, and I think that’s a great way for writers to come up with original ideas, especially in fantasy. It also had some hints of Indian culture, which has always been a subject of fascination for me. Definitely the least heard of series in my list, but I would recommend it to anyone who loves a dramatic fantasy adventure.

7. The Maze Runner – 3 books

I’m in the midst of the third book now (book #2 of the summer), but I already love this series. Many people dislike it for its graphic imagery, and while I tend to be a bit squirmy with violence, James Dashner’s writing really pulls me into his dystopian world. He has one of the most vivid writing styles I have ever read, and while it’s not the most complex writing, it really allows you to empathize with the protagonist, his emotions, and all of the difficult situations he has to undergo.

This series follows a boy named Thomas, who shows up in this place called the Glade, without any memories of his past, not even his name. He and the other boys living there are stuck with no escape, surrounded by an ever-shifting maze with scary creatures that come out at nighttime. Eventually Thomas is invited to take on the most prestigious role in their little Lord of the Flies-like society: Maze Runner. His job is to help find an escape to the maze, all while getting back before sundown, when the maze doors close and offer certain death. Each book has been incredibly different, so it’s really hard to predict how the series is going to end, but I’m excited (and a little scared) to find out.

8. A Future Trilogy That Shall Not Be Named

Okay, I couldn’t resist. I’ve had a trilogy on the brain for a couple years now. It was one of those lightning-struck, I-don’t-know-where-this-came-from ideas, but I have been really excited ever since the idea landed in my head. My hesitations and reservations that prevented me from getting down to business are now quashed, as I’ve taken a novel class that has presented me with the technical plan I need to tangibly reach my goals that were only abstract before. All of the aforementioned series, with their wonderful characters, are definitely huge inspirations to my own writing. But before I can get to that trilogy…

July is Camp NaNoWriMo, which is a regular part of novelist vocab, but sounds like a weird disease to other people. Essentially, November is the original NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), but July is a laidback camp variation. Normally in November, writers around the world attempt to pen 50,000 word novels in one month. But in July, writers are encouraged to work on any writing project (novels, poems, scripts, etc.) and set any kind of goal they wish (e.g. word count, page count). Writers create online “cabins” with friends or strangers, and track one another’s goal progress as a team. Community and accountability are great ways to stay motivated as a writer (and in life in general).

I’m dying to write my trilogy, but I have a standalone I need to complete first, as I’ve decided I want it to be the first glimpse readers have of my work (even though it’s completely different). Now that I already have a rough draft, my goal this July is to spend 100 hours working on revisions, which will include rewriting, revising, and researching different aspects of my story. I’m not going to lie, my characters are bursting to talk again.

So if you need me, I will be camping out at my computer, with a notebook, or with a novel in hand all month, soaking in all of the outside perspective on my story and my writing style as I can, while trying to craft a more vivid, engaging story for my future readers. When I get exhausted I just tell myself–this is for all of the petite women out there who don’t have a voice yet. Not for long.

~Annah

Freckles, Trains and Other Identifiers

I literally just wrote this in 10 minutes for my final project in YA Ethnic American Literature and felt that the world wide web needed to hear it.

 

A typo turns into

The “Untied” States:

The land of the panicked.

The home of the fearful.

 

We are an unraveled thread

Of ethnicities

That refuse to braid into one another.

We cannot possibly envision

The final sewn project;

We just think the colors would clash.

 

But aren’t all colors related?

The best hues on the palette are

Those that are mixed.

The best salads are

Those that are tossed.

I think we need to toss our prejudice

Out of the window and

 

Color by feeling, not sight.

 

You are not beautiful because you are

White

Black

Brown

Yellow

Or red…

You are beautiful because

You are you,

And because we all have a little of

Momma’s courage

And Dad’s stubborn love…

The freckles on Nana’s back

Or the thinning hair on Abuelo’s head.

 

We are not compartments,

You see,

We are a full train.

So why do we segregate ourselves so

And mask it under the name

Of unity?

 

Get up.

Stretch your legs.

You have miles to go.

 

…But won’t you let me walk beside you?

 

~Annah

Grade 15

A heavy workload. Aching eyes that cried too many times to count. Tough, beneficial conversations. Deep loss. Deep grief. Some 3 AM nights. Other 11 PM nights. Big career conundrums and frustrations. Little blips of clarity concerning one’s true passions. The realization of one’s youth. The realization of one’s maturity. Old friends. New friends. Internships. Housing crises. A lot of sass. The assurance of things hoped for. My very first novel draft. Large steps of independence and individuality. A fearful introvert becoming fearless in times of uncertainty. Constant pushes outside of cozy comfort zones. A broadening of my awareness for diverse opinions and lifestyles. An ear for the minority races and sexualities. An ear for the broken and confused. An ear whilst everyone else has lost theirs. Flinging into spring. Lots and lots of hopeful yellows that echo truth into my weary soul. Heavy weariness with a belly laugh of a silver lining. Crying girls in bedrooms. Crying boys in bedrooms. Smiles in between tears. Romance and the tenderness of feelings, so breakable indeed. People from the bad parts of town are people too. More attention to the minorities and outcasts. Protests for change. Sorrow that things will never be the same. Spontaneous outings for yummy treats. Professional resilience. Unapologetic appreciation for whoever puts a smile on my face. An introvert yelling friends’ names across rooms. Remembrance of commonalities. The necessity of music with its soothing narratives of pain and joy. Bittersweet, this life we have crafted for ourselves. Oh wait… It is not for yourself. Moldy hearts, forever being tilled. 💛

Junior year: defined as “how to power through anything and everything, one breath at a time.”

~Annah

Twelve-Piece Kite

Maybe I’ll be a kite today.

Throw me up in the air, so I don’t have to touch the moist muck of rejection and putrid stench of desperate feeling for a while. But if I’m transparent, I only need a tiny gust of wind to blow me into a snag, a pointy branch off a tree, a limb adding to my lack thereof. See, I pocket away what I don’t want to experience, even significant chunks of flesh and bone, deeming it inconvenience to chase after things that leave me a little worse for wear. But really? A heart broken? It could never be so; you can always mend up the patches on the snagged kite. Throw it back up, she’ll be fine. But she’s seen a little more and heard a little too much, maybe that her qualifications are not good enough, maybe that she’s a bit plain… but mostly that she’s perfect just the way she is and that still can’t black out the pain of conflict and delicate feelings that always lurk in dark corners. Flutter, fly, abide, glide, my little, sturdy, patched, kite. Don’t be tied down by the takers of the world who want to wrap you up and tell you what box you fit into. Out here the sun is closer, the wind has a wheezy laugh, and the jagged trees present daring challenges. After all, a kite is still a kite, even if it is torn into two, four, six, twelve.

I think I’ll be a kite today.

 

~Annah

Pre-Hamilton Thoughts

I’m not going to say I like Hamilton any more than the next person, because I know there are thousands of more devoted fans than me, but there’s something about listening and experiencing it as a writer that really gets to me. Or maybe I’m just too empathetic? I don’t know, but the lyrics, especially the questions, really stick to me. How does one write like they’re running out of time? Have I done enough [with my words]? Who will tell our stories—will anyone?

How does my writing play into this narrative that is the vast planet we live on? You know it’s kind of terrifying, writing. You put your heart and soul into characters, you believe in your stories in the midst of millions of others, enough to spend months and years on them. Then you publish them for anyone and everyone to read, you put your story on the line because you believe so immensely in it, resulting in inevitable rejection by some readers. Stories can easily be looked over, even if they are published, because of the sheer volume of them. But they’ve all been worked on and loved so well by the ones who penned them.

The vast majority of stories will not be heard by the general public, but does that mean we stop writing them? No. Because as scary as it is, we shouldn’t write with the numbers or lack thereof in mind. We write because we have faith, we write because we’re gamblers, we write because we’re not scared of the odds. We shoot our stories blindly into the dark because we know they’ll help someone somehow. And that’s pretty dang cool. So keep writing and “keep fighting in the meantime.”

(10 days until Hamilton.)⭐️

~Annah