Feb 29, 2012

Creative Non-Fiction

Have you dabbled in or extensively read creative non-fiction (CNF)? Last semester, in Michigan Lit, we read a healthy chunk of CNF works. Most of them were short stories, but we also read House of Fields, by Anne-Marie Oomen. Have you heard of House of Fields? Probably not.

House of Fields takes place in the county below my own. I live in a rural area of West Michigan and Anne-Marie's CNF work explores what it was like for her as a girl in the late 1950's and early 1960's. She discusses her tumultuous journey toward becoming a reader and the pleasures and dangers of living out in the middle of nowhere.

I'd really like you to take a look at House of Fields, but I am not sure if you'd find it. I'd lend you my copy, but the margins contain another story.

Instead, I am wondering if you have examples of your own creative non-fiction. I think I am heading in that direction for my honors project for Children's Lit and Creative Writing:

"I spent my first ride in a plane looking for my brother’s body. My father rented a plane from Mason County Airport at something like $75 an hour. There were four seats; one for the pilot, my dad, my step-mom, and me.
                My parents often referred to me as Eagle Eyes because they believed I had better than average sight; I certainly saw more than the average person. At fourteen, they still called me Eagle Eyes even though I had been complaining that I could not see the whiteboards in the classrooms, especially when the teacher used a red marker.
                Thousands of feet above Mason County, I saw orchards, barns, and supermarkets at a whole new perspective. I saw my middle school and it was a tiny white rectangle with wonky angles. It did not at all resemble the ominous halls of judgment that I saw every school day from the ground."

Feb 27, 2012

Did You Know?

Did you know I have almost scrapped Jon's Life many times? As in, I felt my blog presence was pointless and needed to be euthanized. Clearly, that didn't happen, and I have not entertained thoughts like those in many months.

Did you know I have gained three new followers (and lost one) since October of last year? So, in five months, I have gained two followers. (Hello to my two new followers!)

Did you know I used to find numbers like that important? If I cared, I would have attempted several followers drives ploys by now. But, I've become more and more content with what my blog is today.

Did you know I'll be speaking at a conference hosted by my college in April? It's called Food for Thought and is focused on how eating well will cause you to live well.

Did you know I am writing an almost novel as an honors project for my Children's Lit and Creative Writing classes? The professors have allowed the project to count as honors credit in both classes.

Did you know that just three short months ago I was holding on for dear life as I tried to not hit rock bottom? And today, I am somewhere between the bottom and the clouds. I believe they call that 'grounded'.

What my dogs' daily walk looks like:

Feb 24, 2012

Don't Forget to be Inspired

Often times, as I read a novel or watch a movie, I find some line or image to be inspiring and right up my alley. I tell myself I'll go back to that spot and jot down the line or write about the image, but I rarely do.

As I was reading The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green, I took the time to set down the book and write about his words, meta-drafting, if you will. You would not believe the fruits of my labor! I have had immense writing success since allowing myself to grab onto the inspiration rather than asking it to wait until I have time.

Some writers claim their muse is elusive, I have certainly said so many times. I don't think our muses are the least bit elusive, we fail to see the signs.

The universe is always calling. Do you choose to listen? Do you choose to be inspired? Take time, slow it down, and let yourself process.

Feb 16, 2012

Blog Chain: I Love You, Billycan

This blog chain was started by Amparo.

Since Valentine's Day is around the corner, I think it's only appropriate to pay homage to those we love. But instead of our better halves, family members, and friends, this blog chain will be all about loving the haters:write a love letter to your favorite literary villain/villain-ish character. It can be short, long, serious, funny. You can use song lyrics or poems instead. Choice is totally yours.

My favorite all-time villain is...

Billycan, from Hilary Wagner's Nightshade Chronicles!

Dear Billycan,

I'm sorry for the fact that you were brutally raised in a lab filled with bizarre chemicals. 

You're blood spattered white fur and glowing red eyes are so cute and cuddly. I want to pick you up and kiss you on the top of your head. Of course, that might not work out too well, since you have a thing for tearing out the eyes of your enemies. Not that you and I are enemies. I like to think we'd make great cohorts. But, teamwork is just not how you operate.

Billycan, your fur is cuddly, but your brains are what really fuel my love for you. You can out-smart and out-wit every other rodent on this continent. If it weren't for your adorable temper (and genocidal tendencies), you'd be adored by all. Just imagine how good a shiny gold crown would look on your massive head!

From the depths of my heart, Billycan, I ask you to come back out of the shadows and take what is yours!

Love your biggest fan, 
That's Billycan in the white.

Yesterday, Margie wrote a letter to her favorite villain. Tomorrow, look for Christine's!

Feb 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

I don't really have anything Valentinesy to post, but on my design blog you'll find a treat of sorts. Come here Thursday for a love letter to my favorite villain.

Feb 6, 2012

Thought I Should Share

We're covering modern fantasy this coming week in Children's Lit. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is undoubtedly the most famous example of modern fantasy. I read  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz  on Friday; it's very different from the movie. I knew that ahead of time because it's no secret, but I was intimately exposed to that fact while reading Harry Sue, by Sue Stauffacher.

We read Harry Sue in Educating Diverse Learners last semester because the story is a great example of the inner workings of a school and how it handles its diverse learners. Within Harry Sue lie many, many allusions to and quotes from  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and even if you're not attached to the story, I highly recommend reading Harry Sue. 

On Saturday, I read Crank, by Ellen Hopkins. WHOA. What a book. What an epic poem. What a freaking mind-blow. Whether you're open-minded or too attached to living life within a security blanket, Crank is a must-read, and I do not often say anything is a must-read.

I am reading Crank for a semester project in Children's Lit. I used small, green Post-Its to mark things of interest as I read through. I will go through another time to Post-It meaningful passages, and yet another time to Post-It exemplary moments of craft. This is how I become a better writer.

In conclusion: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a curious book, Harry Sue is an excellent example of a well-rounded story with round characters, and Crank is a must-read. I think I just used 'in conclusion' in the wrong way. Oh well.

Feb 4, 2012

Creative Writing, Unedited II

For this week's class, we were instructed to write about an impossible reality. "Make the impossible 100% real." Here's my unedited take:

Flint walks out his front door ready for another day of tenth grade. He’s dressed for the twenty-seven degree air in a black North Face parka, baggy jeans, and a black-knit beanie with a white skull. He even has his hand stuffed with Kleenex, which surrounds a metallic material that is in a sheet the same size as the sheet of Kleenex.
          He made it through his childhood and early teen years without as much as a sniffle. “Invinthible” Flint called himself at age four, after hearing his father call him an invincible little hero. But lately, he’s had some killer sneezes. And today, Flint has been experiencing sneezes that seem to burn his palm every time he sneezes.
He’d play hooky again, but of course he’s used up all his available absences on days he didn’t even need them. Now that he has super painful sneezes, he has to be at school and endure the pain no matter what.
Flint catches a ride with Damien, who lives in the next subdivision. Together they ride to Holland High School. Most mornings, Damien takes the long route so they can swing by McDonald’s. Flint jogs half the way to Damien’s to make up for lost time.
“Dude, where ya been?” yells Damien from his red late-Nineties Jetta – he has the window rolled down with his hand and a half-smoked cigarette resting on the top of the glass.
“Needed extra provisions for the day. I’m feeling like shit, man,” Flint says.
“Well, keep your germs outta my car!” says Damien, already shifting the car into drive even though Flint is halfway in the car. A Katy Perry and Kanye West song plays on the radio at a volume loud enough to rattle the rearview mirror with every beat. Flint leans back in his seat and closes his eyes. He doesn’t want to catch a glimpse of the sun because looking into the light always causes him to sneeze.
“Dude. Dude!” yells Damien over a new song that sounds just like the last one. “Want Mickey D’s?” He punches Flint in the arm.
“Nah, I just don’t feel right,” says Flint, keeping his eyes closed tight. He clenches his eyelids the rest of the way to the school. Damien parks his car and looks over at Flint. “You really don’t look too good, man,” he says.
Flint looks at Damien, whose face is blurry, and catches a glimpse of sun over the headrest behind Damien’s head.
A tickle starts in Flint’s right nostril and causes him to look like a rabbit catching a whiff of an old woman’s garden after a fresh rain. He tightly squeezes his eyes shut and wiggles his nose in hopes of deterring the sneeze. He’s sick of these weird sneezes. He’s sick of not being normal.
“Why are your eyes so red, dude?” says Damien.
Flint whips his head back against the headrest and is beyond the point of return. He breathes in a bubble of air and readies his Kleenex and aluminum foil. It’s futile, though.
The sneeze comes roaring out of Flint’s nose with flames shooting out like from the dual exhaust of a 1969 Ford Mustang.

Feb 1, 2012

Creative Writing, Unedited

In order for me to commit any time to my blog beyond the blog chain posts, I need to double duty some things. I am going to start posting some of my writings from my creative writing class.

Today, I am posting my writing based on the following prompt: write a word portrait of an old person who is extremely happy. And another of someone who is filled with rage and hate.

Her eyebrows are a parabolic arch and stretch deep into the soft white plains of her forehead.
The cerulean irises of her eyes suck in the light off the mostly white canvas before her. The light radiates out from her eyes, in the same pattern as her shallow wrinkles. As the light scatters across her face, her winkles form low valleys of shadows and high hills white with light. Closest to her eyes, the contrast between the hills and valleys is greatest. Further from the eyes, the valleys sweep across the side of her face in the shape of eyelashes until they fade up into the hairline.
Between the eyes, the nose is wrinkled with supple horizontal lines and age spots that resemble the striations in the bark of a birch tree. Down the blunt, black-diamond slope of the nose begins her laugh lines. They are at an obtuse angle, about one hundred ten degrees, and lie distinctly below her bulbous, rosy cheeks. Between the open mouth crocodile laugh lines is her mouth.
Her lips are stretched thin in an upward arc, like a hot red Corvette ready for winter storage storage. Jutting out from under the upper lip are four big, milk-white teeth, flanked by smaller teeth on both sides. The bottom row of teeth peeks just above the bottom lip in a coy effort to stay hidden. Behind the teeth, her tongue sits shaped and colored just like a red blood cell. It’s close to coming out, in which case she’d be sticking out her tongue.
Her chin sharply juts out and her age shows the most as her skin looks like vellum over a turned oak newel.

Her eyebrows stick out well over her eyes, making hr irises look like light trapped at the back of a cave. Ridges in the shape of the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York creep across her forehead and upper nose. A deep, horizontal crevice breaks her nose into two, the bottom half is red on the bulb of the nose and white at the edges and in the cracks. Glasses at the end of her nose hang on for dear life. Stray lines run in downward arcs from the eyes and meet up with sharp, ridged cheekbones that look  like they’d hurt to knock on.
Below the skeletal cheeks, lips clench so tight they look like they might burst. The chin looks like a crumpled up brown paper lunch sack. Her laugh lines are sharp and deep, but head downward into droopy jowls.

And there ya have one of my first assignments, unedited. Hopefully, I stay brave enough to most more.