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The Bench

Today I have something a little different to share. As you probably guessed from my various posts about writing, I am a writer myself. It’s something that I started doing around age 13, and it’s been a passion of mine ever since. I have been working on some writing throughout the summer, and I have a small piece of fiction that I would like to show you. The inspiration that I used to create this piece was this picture:

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Image Credit: http://screativeimage.com (Google)

The two of us came here a lot at first, it was a spot that we could find a type of peace that was impossible in our normal lives. The bench was always empty, it seemed, so it was the perfect place for two loners like us.

We would always debate over who had discovered this magical place first, me or her. We were both insistent on being the first explorer, but the truth was that we had found it together. The ground around the bench was beaten down with shoe prints, some faded from years gone by, and others fresh and new. Each indent told a story of our life together, an adventure that we had imagined and then created.

Looking at the more recent prints, though, it was easy to tell how our story had changed so drastically. The two sets of prints had become light, softer treading. These creases and indents depicted my sorrow, my anger. Their wear in the ground demonstrated the pacing back and forth that I had done in an effort to figure out how to bring the both of us back to our bench. Our peace and solitude there had been destroyed by the curtain between the two worlds. The curtain that had lured her away from me and had enticed her to cross over the barrier with promises of solitude and happiness. It hadn’t created happiness, though, not for me.

Her prints were starting to fade now, as her memory began to disappear from the world I was stuck in without her. The bench was no longer the same, and I was just as changed. Eventually, I stopped going altogether, and before I knew it, life had started to move on at its slow pace, and the bench remained where it was, lonely and empty of adventures.

Years later, I went back just to see if it was still standing and found that it was, and all the footprints had been wiped away by time. When I looked closely, though, I could still see two. One of mine and one of hers. We had both left the bench, and been forced apart, but the bench kept us alive and together. Our adventures still lived on here, and part of her would always be here with part of me. This would always be our place.

So, there’s just an abstract little something for you to read and hopefully enjoy. Feel free to let me know what you think, all feedback is good!

Language

Gaining the Right Skills

When learning a language I believe that the teacher chooses the pace. This is because the student doesn’t have a starting point, it’s given to them by the teacher. The language could be started off by the student being given a bunch of vocabulary words, they could begin learning how to put a sentence together, or maybe even start off with how to conjugate some verbs. A lot of teachers do a combination of all of these things, and the student is able to get their first understanding of the language through this teaching method. However, both reading skills and oral skills must be developed together for a complete understanding.

When I first started learning Spanish, I was reading short paragraphs by the end of the first semester, and so my reading skills were at par with my oral skills. When I moved to the higher levels, however, the classes were split into Grammar classes that focused on speaking, and Reading classes that focused on researching and writing papers. I took both because I wanted as much immersion as I could get, but it wasn’t required. I found this strange, because reading and speaking are both so vitally important to being able to function in the language.

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Image Credit: http://www.trcb.com (Google)

In the grammar classes, I learned various verb tenses and different ways to string a sentence together, and this aided me in my reading skills. I would be reading a sentence, and maybe didn’t know what the verb tense was of a certain word, but I did recognize the verb and knew what the sentence was saying. Reading helped increase my vocabulary, too, so when I would be writing practice sentences in my grammar class, I was able to have more options in word choice. These seem like minor elements, but when you combine them all together, it really increases how well we function in a language.

For example, when having a conversation, I (like a lot of people) can understand a lot more than I can speak. So, if I hear that strange verb tense, I don’t know what tense they’re speaking in, but I can understand the conversation, and reply back in the wrong tense, but I can reply accurately and contribute to the conversation. Alternatively, with my increased vocabulary from reading, I can talk about more things in my life and enjoy speaking.

Basically, a combination of reading and oral comprehension increases knowledge of the language, which translates (no pun intended) to being more confident in the language. So, why are reading and writing classes not both required in upper levels? There are practical reasons, like not enough time in class to cover both, but the teachers in oral and reading classes assume you’re taking both classes, so they will teach their own class to compliment each other, which includes reading skills in grammar classes, and grammar skills in reading classes. So it makes sense that they both should be required. Thoughts? Arguments? Opinions? Please share them!

Writing

Outstanding One-Liners

All of us have connected with an emotional scene in a movie or a line in a book that leaves a lasting impact. Some of us remember the line word for word, while others can remember where they were when they read/saw it. It’s interesting how those small little moments make such a huge impact on us. It isn’t the dramatic scenes of dialogue or description, or the funny little quips between characters, but the small fragments of the story that are so powerful. In writing, those are what some of us call “one-liners.” Sentences with four or five words that make a huge impact on the reader. They grab you by the throat and say “connect with me, feel my emotions” and don’t let you go until you’re there. Some people know this one-liners as words of wisdom, like:

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Image Credit: http://www.pinterest.com (Google)

They have the same impact on anyone who reads them. They’re little nuggets of wisdom that make you want to live a better life and live using this little phrases. We are programmed to be impacted by honest, brutal emotions, and that’s why emotional statements like those are so effective. Writers (of all types) aim to create these effective phrases, and connect with an audience that way. A lot of times they will come out of nowhere while you’re working on an intense scene, or when you really start to connect to the character you’re using.

One of my previous posts was about the differences between using a plot that comes naturally versus one that you think of scene by scene. The issue between each of those ideas was the motivation level, and trying to have equal inspiration to write every plot. The beauty of one-liners is that they either come or they don’t. There’s no struggling over how to make an effective phrase, unless you’re editing one that you’ve already written.

One-liners are the true definition of creativity in my opinion, and they should be recognized as such. That being said, there are some amazing writers that don’t include one-liners in their pieces, and that doesn’t mean that they’re not creative. It just means that it comes in all forms and hits us all differently. That’s the beauty of creativity, there are so many layers and routes that it can take, it just amazes me everyday.

What I’m wondering about, though, is if there’s such a thing as over-doing one-liners. Sure, they’re natural and come when they’re welcomed, but what happens if you’re writing a novel, and there’s an effective one-liner in every chapter? I think, personally, there’s such a thing as too many, but I’m not sure where that limit is. I mean, should we put one-liners into the piece wherever they pop up, even if it’s two per page? Or, should we squelch some of them (which is a struggle itself, because we have to choose which ones!) in order to preserve the effectiveness of others? Let me know your thoughts and opinions! Also, what are somer really effective one-liners that you’ve come across? Go ahead and share them!

Writing

Inspiration vs Work

Every writer has their strengths and weaknesses, no matter what kind of writing they do. There are many fascinating sides to writing, but the element that is most interesting to me is how people come up with their ideas.

Personally, whenever I read or write, I see the events sprawling in front of me like we would see in a movie or a TV show. I can picture my characters and their physical attributes and they’ll be acting out the plot that I created while I try to get it all down on paper. The part that I struggle with the most, though, is coming up with the initial idea.

In my experience, I am always doing something important when a good idea hits me. For example, I was brushing my hair and trying to smooth out a huge tangle, when I thought of a great idea for a short story involving a young girl who was contemplating cutting all her hair so she could donate it to an organization. Within a minute of this original thought, a scene formed in my head and I felt a thrill from it. I ran frantically around the room looking for paper and a pen to scratch down a couple keywords in order to bring the image back later. Unfortunately for me, my hairbrush was still tangled in my hair and whacked me a number of times while I wrote my idea down. In the end, the bruises were worth it because the idea panned out and I got a good story out of it.

Those exhilarating moments of moments of inspiration can often be sparked by the smallest things, such as my hair brushing incident. That being said, there are times where weeks will pass and I won’t get a single moment of inspiration and, needing to write, I will try to create an idea from scratch that I am passionate about. The inspired moments always give me the energy to write them and make them strong pieces, whereas the ideas I create on my own always lack the initial excitement and, though I tend to get excited when I start writing, it takes long for me to complete them.

There is also the fact that I will be in the middle of writing a story that I created out of thin air, BOOM, an exciting new idea pops into my head and then I’m torn between writing the new, more exciting idea, and finishing the other one that I was halfway through creating. Those moments always leave me frustrated and I have abandoned novels that got ditched for a new idea.

So, here is my debate: Is it better to write a story using the the infrequent, unreliable moments of inspiration? Or is it safer to think of my own plots and create my own inspiration to write about them? Or should I use a combination of the two in order to make a really strong plot?

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Image Credit: http://www.spawnfirst.com (Google)