It’s the month of January, which means it’s a brand-new year. The past year has been left behind, with a trail of successes and failures, wins and losses. You grew and learned a little bit about yourself, and now it’s time to take that knowledge and apply it to your future, to this year. As a writer, I look at this new shiny year as another building block in my tower of writer development. This past year, I’ve wasted time I could have been using to really develop who I am as a writer. Sure, I’ve written some pieces I’m proud of, and I have scratched the surface in being authentic in my poetry. But I still haven’t done as much practice and studying as I should have (for as writers, we are always working on our craft, right?). I’m taking this year as the year I begin to read. Not just for enjoyment or pleasure, but for learning and developing. I may love to write poetry, but I’ve hardly exposed myself to the greatest poets in history. Often I write and only edit a little bit, and I rarely experiment. This is something I’d like to do this year. I look at the road ahead and see so many things that will give me stress: ACTs and SATs, college hunting and scholarship finding, AP exams and whatever else will be put on my plate in no time. But that’s no excuse for doing what I love, and making time (not finding time) to do it. I believe my lack of writing has led me to assume I’m just not cut out to be a writer. That maybe I was intended to be something less creative, because I hardly create anymore. But it’s only because I let these challenges get the best of me, and I’ve shut down instead of opening up. Take hold of this year and make it what you want to be. Don’t let the things you have to do control you, and take you away from what you’d like to do. Every day is a gift, and you have the opportunity to use that gift to grow as the writer you aim to be. The Creative Writing Club will be delving into more topics, writing workshops, and contests that will help challenge the writer in you, and give you the tools to improve. Take hold of these opportunities, too—they are very advantageous!
This year, I’m going to work harder on my craft, and learn more about it, too. As a writer, what are your new year resolutions?
From Natalie: Use a non-important side character for an entire scene.
Write for 10 minutes. Post your piece to comments.
Ever since, I was young I’ve had a habit of running off and doing my own thing completely disregarding the fact that I have to tell someone where I’m going first. I have a reputation of getting lost in my family, which is why my parents bought me a phone earlier than most children get one (which I’m definitely not complaining about.)
In 2010, my family and I went to Australia, but before heading to Australia the plane stopped at California. My mom worked at the airport as an TSA officer and I guess they have clearance to special restricted areas and we got to go to a building next to the airplanes so we could see them. I wandered off to get a closer view of the planes without telling anybody where I went and got lost. I would’ve been lost for hours except I had a phone so it was easy to locate my family.
When my family and I went to Australia to visit my cousins, we took a trip to Sydney. My mom and sister didn’t want to do anything and I did, so I just walked off without telling anyone. I still to this day don’t know why my ten year old self did that, but I did.
I observed a lot of cool places in Sydney like Bondi Beach, a huge library, a small park full of statues or something, an outdoor mall (which was really cool since FIFA was going on and their soccer players were hanging out, but I didn’t watch or know what FIFA was until 3 years later so I didn’t pay attention to them), the Sydney bridge, and the Sydney opera house. Which is really nice and has really cool bathrooms [not trying to be gross or anything but the bathrooms, well the women’s (I don’t about the men’s bathroom) is really high-tech and clean for just a bathroom.]
After my “exploration” was over. I was really tired, and for some reason I climbed up a huge tree to get a good photo of the water under the Sydney Bridge and when I jumped off the branch to the ground which was 10 ft. away. I hit my ankle really hard upon landing, so my ankle was aching badly. I tried going back to the spot where my family was last, but they weren’t there. The sun was completely gone, and being so young (I had literally just graduated from elementary school) I was pretty scared.
I tried to find my way around the city, which thankfully was easy because all the signs were in plain English and Sydney looks just like a regular American city. I searched around carefully but still had no sign of them. I didn’t bring my phone with me because I had to choose between my camera and my phone, and I of course chose the camera.
I walked inside a nearby McDonald’s for shelter, because it was getting cold and well IT’S McDonald’s. I ordered a sprite and fries and searched for a table to sit down at. Even though finding my family before they left back to America was important; I still somehow made time for McDonald’s, and I was actually pretty lucky I did because my family was actually in the restaurant also.
I made my way over to them and then was safely reunited with my family. I did get in trouble for walking off without telling anybody, but my punishment was not getting a souvenir from the airport gift shop or something like that.
Little 11-year-old me. Chubby, acne covered face, self-conscious little me about to head off into middle school. It was the end of summer and the thought of school starting up again, haunted me. More specifically, the very thought of starting a special four letter word, that can send any student into a panic – math. Math had never been my strong suit, and still isn’t to this day, I was already a year behind where I should have been, barely being able to wrap my brain around all these facts and rules floating around in my head. Self-conscious and middle school are two words that often go hand and hand, and me being a nervous wreck wanted to skip an entire year. I was filled with too much worry to think about what was best for me, too scared that everyone in 6th grade would make fun of me because I was still struggling with 4th grade math. An absurd thought now considering I was homeschooled, only going to a small Christian homeschool group where I would be in a physical class only once a week, but it was all new to me, and I heard how brutal kids my age were, and I was determined to not be a victim of that middle school cruelty. So I indulged in one of the many joys of being homeschooled, and skipped right ahead to 6th grade math. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, I reassured myself there was plenty of review to jump back in and be okay, but as I continued it become obvious I was building on top of a broken foundation. I stumbled on to pre-algebra in 9th grade, but only having made everything worse, gone back down a couple years. Nothing seemed to help and breaking into tears became part of my daily routine. Far too often I was curled up in my mother’s arms, eyes puffy and red, salty tears falling like rain on my plump cheeks, feeling utterly useless because even such a simple concept seem to go in one ear and fly out the other. Procrastination seemed to be my best skill, and I always said if it became an Olympic sport I would win gold every time. I lived in bliss until deadlines approached and I was forced to bring along my math book to social events and curious questions of, “Oh what are you doing?” led to “Oh, you’re learning that now? I learned that years ago,” and offers of help with tons of pity in their voice meant only one thing to me, “You’re an idiot.” With all my smart friends talking about the AP classes they were in and good grades they were getting, school became a topic that I couldn’t stand. Instantly becoming nervous whenever it was brought up because I knew they would think I was stupid or simply not trying hard enough. I was always so set on being like everyone else, desperate to feel like a genius in their eyes, but I learned something along this path, we’re not all meant to learn the same way. We’re always told to be our self, stand out and be different, so why should that not apply to the way we learn? Here I am, having taken several steps, and though it’s frustrating sometimes and people may question me, it’s crucial to learn the importance of slowing down and taking the extra step that you may need. Maybe I’ll never be good at math, but I’m determined to not let the standards of everyone else define who I am.
“Are we finally going to go?” I ask, the excitement evident in my voice. She nodded and motioned for me to follow. We walk up to a door and she raises her hand to knock.
“What are you two doing?” I turn to see Gloria, my grandmother, walk down the hallway and stop in front of us. She had blonde hair and was around the age of 50. Whenever she spoke, her country accent was very clear.
“We’re going for a walk,” I tell her.
“Go ahead. Just make sure you don’t go too far. At least not until we know this neighborhood better.” My sister and I start to walk to the front door but my grandma says one more thing.
“Make sure you only go to the stop sign down the end of the street.” We make our way outside and walk down the dirt driveway. I shivered from the harsh winter air and grinned. It has been very hot the past couple months and I was sick of it. I enjoyed the wind gently blowing against my face and chilling my bones.
“That sucks that we can only go to the stop sign,” I quietly say to my sister, Claire.
“Yeah, it does.” We’ve been cooped up in the house ever since we moved here. Claire has been saying we could go for a walk for the past week but we’ve both been so busy. Not tonight, though. We’re finally out of the house. Once we reach the stop sign, we turn around and walk back towards our house.
“We’re not going inside, are we?” I ask. I did not want to go inside right when we’ve just gotten out of the house since the time we moved here.
“Of course not!” she answers. I nod with satisfaction and we continue walking. Once we reach the driveway we turn back around and head back to the stop sign. After we’ve taken a couple steps we hear a loud voice.
“I wanna go for a walk.” We both turn to see a teenage boy standing in the doorway of his house.
“Go ahead,” Claire shouts to him.
“Okay, let me get my shoes on.” I see him go in his house and I’m guessing he’s putting on his shoes.
“What’s happening?” Claire asks, clearly confused.
“You said for him to go ahead and take a walk and he is now going for a walk. With us.”
“I’m so confused.”
“Claire. You need to tell him he can’t go for a walk with us. If you don’t, I will.”
“Then do it,” she tells me. Crap. What did I just do? I don’t want to talk to some stranger. The teenage boy comes back outside with another teenage boy, probably his brother, and stops at the end of his driveway.
“Let’s go for a walk,” he says.
“We’re only allowed to go past the stop sign,” Claire says.
“Well, that’s not really a walk then.” My sister laughs and agrees with him. A cat runs up to us and Claire bends down to pet it. I look away with disgust and watch as the teenage boys walk over to us.
“That’s Twitch,” he tells us.
“Can I keep him?” Claire asks jokingly.
“Nah, but you can have one of the other cats. Not that one though.” I see the second teenage boy, who is shirtless, sagging. I even think I see him pushing his pants down a little. The first teenage boy walks over and picks his cat up after Claire is done petting him.
“And I was hoping I could go for a walk,” he says. The two teenage boys go back to their house and we start walking back to the stop sign.
“You don’t say yes when some teenage boy is asking to go for a walk!” I whisper, knowing they would be able to hear me if I spoke any louder.
“I didn’t know he meant he wanted to go for a walk with us.” We keep walking until we reach the stop sign. We keep walking back and forth, which is very embarrassing, until we realize it was getting kind of late. We walk back inside our house and lock the door behind us. I go to my room and get ready for bed, my sister doing the same, and then we say goodnight to each other. I close my eyes and have a dreamless sleep. From that day on, the neighbors never bothered us again.
It was only 6:45 in the morning, and the sun was just beginning to wake up.
Trees with yellow and green leaves swayed in the light wind, waving to her as she passed through.
The coffee swished back and forth, threatening to spill over the rim as she raised her cup.
And the sky began to clear, leaving it light blue,
A rather untouched piece of land awaited her in the clearing, a place she’d never been
Filled with flowers and leaves and magic, though a place she’d never seen
The car seemed stop just as the paved street ended and began a dirt road
And she’d didn’t know where exactly to go, for she’d never been told
Yet she gravitated toward a flower-lined path that had wildly grown
And the sun rose above the tree tops, welcoming her home.
Harks and alarms! Greetings and Salutations, Scribblers!
Our next meeting is Thursday, January 19, 7-8pm EST.
During this meeting we will finish up our discussion of memoirs and David Sedaris’s essay “Plague of Tics”. Take some time to read it if you haven’t yet.
We’ll also spend time coming up with the basics for our Group Short Story. If you’re interested in coming up with the foundations for a story that we’ll write together, come help us! It’s a lot of fun. Each year, members of the club come together to write a short story. This is a fast pace, challenging, and fun exercise! The story will be written by everyone participating. One person will start and send their part to me. I will send the story to the next person. They will add their 500 words, and send it back to me. And so on. How many turns you get at writing the story will depend on how many members participate. You can read “The Death of Canterbury”, our group short story from the 2015-2016 school year, written by 15 members of the club.
If you’re not able to join us this week, I will send out information about the assignment.
Please sign in with your first and last name for attendance.
Want to read some of your writing at this week’s meeting or have someone else read it?
Open Mic Requirements:
-You must email your piece by Wednesday, January 18.
-You can submit fiction, poetry, or non-fiction.
-Your piece or excerpt should be 500 words or less.
-Pieces must be school appropriate. Pieces should not be explicitly political, religious, or intimate.
-Pieces will be read on a first come, first served basis as time allows.
Do you want to share a book you’ve read or an author you love with the club? Maybe you read about a writing technique or idea that you’d like to share.
Literature Chat Requirements:
-You must be present to discuss your slide and have a mic to be able to speak to the group.
-You must create a powerpoint slide about what you’d like to share.
-You must email your piece by Wednesday, January 18.
-Your powerpoint should be limited to one slide.
-Topics must be school appropriate. Pieces should not be explicitly political, religious, or intimate.
-Topics will be read on a first come, first served basis as time allows.
From Grace: Write an acrostic poem with either the word “snow” or “winter”
Write for 10 minutes. Post your piece to comments.
I don’t usually make resolutions. I find that they often get forgotten amongst other priorities and the typical hustle and bustle of everyday life. But this year, I have made a few resolutions that I hope to keep – all involving writing and its influence on my life.
Amidst the typical busy schedule of academics, extracurricular activities, clubs, school events and preparing for college, it can be extremely difficult to dedicate time to creativity. I have found that it often gets left on the back burner: an afterthought among more pressing obligations. As an involved student, this issue affected my writing process for far too long. I often found myself staying up scribbling ideas in a notebook or waking up early to try to fit writing into my schedule in 2016. In light of the New Year, I am excited to dedicate more time to my creative process as I move into the final stages of editing my novel.
I have thought a lot about the solution to this issue and believe that it might come down to time management. I plan to schedule writing into my day. In my experience, scheduling events in a planner or notebook makes it easier to make them a priority and writing should be one of my chief priorities. I love to write and have found that it aids in my development as both a creative individual and a human being. It is a wonderful imaginative outlet, and far too often, has been sacrificed in favor of other obligations. I think that physically scheduling it in my planner will solidify the importance of writing as a part of my day, almost like attending a class or practice.
I also hope to make writing less of a mundane task. As a writer of over six years, when I get the chance to sit down at my laptop to write, my writing process has become almost routine. In 2017, I hope to make writing more personally exciting by responding to prompts and exercises more often. I believe that this will help in the final development of my characters and writing style. My past experiences with prompts have taught me the importance of continuing to fall in love with writing every day. Prompts help me to write for fun without any pressure, as opposed to writing under a deadline or with an audience in mind. I also think that collaboration is key. I hope to continue attending coffeehouses and writer’s workshops to get honest feedback and collaborate with others who are passionate about writing. I have found that receiving feedback from others helps me to take a step back from a piece that I am deeply invested in, and review what I can do to make it better.
All in all, I hope that 2017 is a year for prioritizing writing. I hope that writing remains an important part of my life and I hope that I make creative progress. Let me know in the comments if you have any writing resolutions for the New Year!
From Cheyenne: Your character and their friend are at a party on New Year’s Eve waiting for the clock to strike midnight. Then, a stranger approaches your friend and mutters something in their ear. Without warning, the friend panics and says, “We have to get out of here!” What happens next?
Write for 10 minutes. Post your piece to comments.