Inspiration Where You Least See It Coming by Tamar

To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I was shaking at the core. I stood before the pastel pink door, telling myself I didn’t want to do it. But subconsciously, I turned the knob, and then there was no way back.

Last summer, I spoke to the director of the studio I dance at, and told her that the class I was in was not challenging enough for me. The class had recently accepted many new students who had never danced before, and the teachers were forced to lower the level of instruction to accommodate the newcomers. Some of my friends liked having it easy, but I was looking for something that would push me more.
The director broke the news to me that the only other class suitable for my age would be the competition-level class. Those girls are crazy flexible and super talented at everything they do. I thought I could never join them!
“I’ll tell you what,” the director said. “I think you can do it. So let’s make a deal – You try the class for a week, and I’ll tell Ms. Hannah to keep an eye on you. If she agrees with me that you’re capable, you’ll be allowed to stay. Is that a deal?”
How can you say no after the director tells you she believes in you? So of course, I agreed. But aside from my fears of not being good enough and not fitting in, there was one fear that rose above all: Ms. Hannah. She had a reputation for being cold, strict, and ruthless, and I was dreading having to be in her class.

As I walked in, about fifteen pairs of eyes turned my way. Ms. Hannah immediately assigned me a spot at the barre, and our exercises began. I tried my hardest to keep up, but I kept stepping on the wrong foot, turning the wrong way… I was a wreck! And to make it even worse, I saw that Ms. Hannah kept glancing my way, her eyes a piercing green. I was sure she could see right through me. I was sure she sensed my insecurity, and that she’d go to the director right after the lesson to tell her I was a failure.
I left class that day on a real downer. I thought I couldn’t do it. I’d never be good enough. I even considered telling the director that she had overestimated my capabilities. But I’m not sure exactly what it was; something made me go back to the next class, despite my plummeting self esteem.
Week after week I returned, and I actually found myself improving. I still thought I’d never be like the other students, I’d never earn Ms. Hannah’s approval, but at least I didn’t mess up as often anymore.
It was one class, during a particularly strenuous stretch, that changed everything.
“Everyone down for a three minute plank!” Ms. Hannah shouted. Planking was my worst enemy. I struggled to stay up for one minute, so you could imagine how I looked attempting three. I found a spot against the wall and got into position.
All of a sudden, Ms. Hannah crouched beside me. She had barely spoken to me until now, so I was surprised to find her coming to talk to me.
“Just remember,” she whispered. “The mental strength is always the first to run out.”

Now, half way into the school year, Ms. Hannah and I get along quite well. She’s not a very bubbly person, but we talk more often, and sometimes we’ll have a good laugh. But I’ll never forget that day, doing the plank, when she made that remark that inspired me so much.
It applies in dance, in writing, and in every aspect of life. The mental strength is always the first to run out. You have the potential to take one more step, hold your plank for one more minute, write one more page… but your mind tells you that you can’t. It tricks you into believing that you’re exhausted, you can’t do more, it’s just not possible.
Since that day, I’ve made it my mission to increase my mental strength. I’ve decided that for every time I say I can’t, I have to say ten times that I can.
And you have no idea of the difference it’s made.

Meeting Next Week!

Harks and alarms! Greetings and Salutations, Scribblers!

Our next meeting is Thursday, March 5, 7-8pm EST.

During this meeting we will discuss the group short story and a characterization activity.
If you’re not able to join us this week, I will send out information about the assignment.

Open Mic
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, March 4.
-You can submit fiction, poetry, or non-fiction.
-Your piece or excerpt should be 500 words or less.
-Pieces must be school appropriate.
-Pieces will be read on a first come, first served basis as time allows.

Literature Chat
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, March 4.
-Your powerpoint should be limited to one slide.
-Topics must be school appropriate.
-Topics will be read on a first come, first served basis as time allows.
See you there!

Revisiting by Rosalind

I always find myself swearing at the start of the year, the very moment the ball drops on the middle of New York City, that the year is sure to drag on and last forever. I continue to be wrong.
   I cannot believe that already we have reached the month of February. It seems (like every other month of the year) there is so much to do this month. A lot is going on, though since this is a writing club, I’ll go into an event specifically exciting for me as a writer. I’m just about 50,000 words into a revisited treatment of an older novel of mine, and I must say it is going awfully well.
   It really is extraordinary the changes that can come about when you step back from a character for a while, and then dive straight into their lives all over again from a whole new beginning.  I firmly believe our characters age with us, and mine have certainly done that and more. With my craft advancing each day, my characters do the same.
   A story I began in 2013, I have not touched since the middle of last year, and now am finally comfortable enough to get into hands on. I think in a lot of cases, it’s good for an author (especially a beginning one) to step back for however long necessary, and to return when completely and totally ready. I’ve never been more proud of the progress and turnout of the story I have resumed work on now, and I have a feeling at the rate I’m moving, I should be finished with this brand new treatment by May!

Writing Prompt

From Tea: How about a little booster? Ten things you love about yourself.

Write for 10 minutes. Post your piece to comments.

Mixed Fairy Tale Book Recommendations by Hannah

So, this month’s topic has been about the retelling of old fairy tales, and so I figured I’d recommend a cool series to the club.

From the New York Times Bestselling author Marissa Meyers is the Lunar Chronicles, a series of four books (five if you could the prequel that is meant to be read between books three and four) where each book retells a classic fairy tale. I personally met Marissa Meyers after an Alachua County Library competition called Battle of the Books and heard her give a speech to us participants. It was some pretty inspiring stuff, and it compelled me to read the rest of the series (and I’m dying for the fourth and final book!). So here’s a bit of a sneak peak on what the Lunar Chronicles are like…

Book 1: Cinder

This is the story of Cinderella; that is, if Cinderella was a cyborg and a mechanic who lived in a scifi world where the people of Earth had high tensions with the colony on the moon (or Luna, as the locals like to call it). This story strictly adheres to the original tale, but it has masterfully balanced action, drama, and romance to make this fairy tale a completely original and an exciting read.

Book 2: Scarlet

This is the story of red riding hood; that is, if red riding hood’s grandmother was an ex-military pilot who has gone missing under strange circumstances and Wolf is a mysterious and handsome street fighter whose intentions aren’t exactly clear. One of the coolest parts about this book is that it includes what happens next in Cinder’s story as well, as all of the characters live in the same world and end up being interconnected.

Book 3: Cress

This is the story of Rapunzel; that is, if Rapunzel was a gifted hacker with a whole mess of hair that’s trapped in a satellite orbiting Earth. (It’s getting a bit harder to summarize this story without giving away big spoilers) Again, Scarlet’s, Cinder’s, and Cress’s stories intertwine as this book ramps up the series towards its epic finale.

Prequel: Fairest

This is the story of the wicked queen from Snow White, aka Queen Levanna. This story will not try to make you like or identify with the main antagonist, but instead come to understand the reasoning behind her twisted actions. This is an extremely intriguing romance that all Lunar fans will love.

Book 4: Winter

Unfortunately, this book has not yet been released. However, it has been confirmed that this is the story of Snow White; that is, if Snow White was a Lunar princess who was slowly losing her mind (the reason why is a bit of a spoiler). This is the conclusion to the Lunar Chronicles.

Writing Prompt

From Cheyenne: Start your writing off with the line, “This doesn’t make any sense.”

Write for 10 minutes. Post your piece to comments.

Dreaming of Corn Fields Excerpt by Fabia

I awoke, startled out of a fitful dream into a nightmare. I was somewhere, but as far as I could tell, I was also nowhere. I was in a room and as my eyes adjusted to its darkness, I realized I was not alone. I was packed in like sardine with a whole bunch of others in this room, and as soon as I tried to move, realized we were all shackled. Not a single open space to move; to my right was an arm that belonged to someone underneath another person and to my left a leg that was sprawled over me. I could hardly breathe, the room had a strong stench of something disgusting.

I tried to turn my neck, but this time a sharp pain greeted my curiosity. I let out a deep, soulful scream.

“Hush, child!” A voice called out. “Don’t try and bring the white men down! They some nasty folks you’s don’t want to know.”

A soft hum of agreement buzzed throughout the room. Then, I heard a voice I never thought I hear again.

“Chiamaka?”

“Pa?” I whispered.

I heard a painful grunt of confirmation. My heart did a double take and I resisted the urge to look for him with my eyes.

“Pa, are you okay?” I said, right before the door to the small room swung open.

A mean looking man stood at the entrance. He said nothing, but I could see his face harden into a look of disgust. He stared at us long enough, however, that he eyes spoke for him. I couldn’t quite place it, but I knew it wasn’t a good thing. He walked into the room, and for a second, the light that streamed in blinded me. When my eyes focused back on him, I saw him unshackle some girls from the people that surrounded them. But they still had individual shackles around their hands. He motioned them outside, and continued to move towards me, selecting a few girls every now and then, and stepping on the rest of the people. When he got to me, he bent to unshackle the person next to me.

But before he could, he suddenly stopped, and I turned my head just a little to see why. She was dead. I let out a strangled cry and he turned his hard face to mine. He unshackled me from the dead girl, hoisted me up, and pushed me towards the door.

Q&A with Gregory Maguire

Writing Prompt

Prompt from Tea: Your main man is touched by a beautiful romantic comedy and is brought to tears when someone walks into the room.

Write for 10 minutes. Post your piece to comments!

Writing a Friendly (Love) Poem

With Valentine’s Day, finding the perfect gift for a special someone or dear friends and family can be tough. That is, it can be tough for people who aren’t writers. I like using my passion for writing to create pieces of work to give as gifts to those I love, and what better way to tell someone you care about them than with a poem made from your heart?
If you and your special someone know another language, a great way to express your love for them would be to write them something in that language. Expressing sentimental things in languages that you both can understand is special because it shows that you are tapping into the culture you both have a passion for.
Though many associate Valentine’s Day with couples, it is a holiday meant to express love and care to all that you treasure, not just a person you are in a relationship with. If you have a best friend or siblings, write a poem describing the things you appreciate most about them. Perhaps they are good listeners and sit through hours of you reading passages of your novel, or they enjoy comedy, so an impersonation poem of them may be the perfect choice. Either way, they will treasure it and know that you have a place in your heart for them.
Songs are poems with music accompaniments. If your special someone is a music lover, write a creative song detailing wonderful things  about them. Make it as personal as possible. It’s okay if you’re not a songwriter. The point is that you’re pouring emotion and thought into a piece specifically designed for them, and chances are that they won’t care too much about an off-beat melody when your words are making them tear up with joy.
It’s true when people say “it’s the thought that counts.” Oftentimes we charge through life so quickly that we do not stop to smell the roses. Even a short and sweet poem for your loved one or friend will make their day bright, and one of the best things about love is that there is always some left over for others you have yet to meet.

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