Category Archives: Editorial Board Essay
It’s hard to believe the end of the school year is already here. Honestly, it felt like all the months morphed together to form one single day—I can hardly think of when I felt time was moving slow. With an entire year at our backs, the future in our sights, and the present a single heartbeat, it might feel overwhelming. I look back at this year and felt I didn’t really progress as I had wanted to. I gave up easily, I didn’t take on many new challenges, I didn’t balance my school and my writing life at all, really. I kept saying, “I’ll work on it tomorrow,” “I’ll try that tomorrow,” “I’ll begin this piece on the weekend.” But when tomorrow came, I was still struggling to make up for what I hadn’t accomplished the day before. There are still many things I am proud of, and still more challenges and experiences to come, but I do think it’s important to abolish that timeless excuse of: “I’ll do it tomorrow.” Because tomorrow may have a new challenge you didn’t anticipate, and you’ll end up never getting to do what you wanted to.
I have one year of high school left, and there’s still so much I want and need to do. If ten months felt like a blink of an eye this year, how much faster will it go next year? Probably twice as fast. Sometimes it troubles me when I feel like I have nothing to show for my growth as a writer—I certainly have felt like I’ve learned a lot this year. I learned to not hold myself to somebody else’s standard, but to strive to succeed on my own terms as a writer. I learned it’s okay to take a break if things become overwhelming—you can’t force good writing (sure, you have to force it sometimes, but the best writing comes when it wants to!). And, of course, I learned (as I do every year), that wasting your time only hinders your success. Productivity is the key, and boy do I struggle with it.
Don’t despair if you didn’t accomplish what you wanted to, if you ended up in that state of laziness that you couldn’t get out of. You have today to get working on it. Set aside some time today to get cracking. Spend time today drawing inspiration, immersing yourself, building yourself back up to the writer you were meant to be. Don’t tell yourself “I’ll do it tomorrow.” Because I have found that tomorrow became today, and like dominos, each day was knocked down without a single word written. I know it might be an overused, clichéd message. But having experienced it myself, it really is important to understand. When you work on it today, you have tomorrow to make it better.
And it’s better to have something to work off of than to have nothing at all.
I hope everyone’s summer is safe and wonderful! May it be filled with countless days of writing. I am just itching to begin!
As my high school years come to a close (as do my FLVS and CWC ones), I’ve taken a long hard look at the things I’ve accomplished and learned along the way. While thinking about the CWC and how much it has been a part of me, I came to realize the real importance of writing. Although creative writing is fun and an art all by itself, I reflected on how critical writing is as a skill one should seek to master.
I admit it, my writing skills were pretty poor when I first joined CWC. I was well aware of this and challenged myself to become more involved in an activity I didn’t particularly take up on my own. On top of all the books I was reading, I figured some writing for fun would help me out. Although I was driven to challenge myself, I didn’t quite realize that my decisions to become more literate would eventually benefit me in the long run.
As many of you reading this may relate, our generation has become lazier when it comes to improving a skill we aren’t too keen on. This could be art, a particular sport, or playing an instrument, for example. However, I believe writing isn’t something we should just ignore as one of our lacking strengths. If you want to impress people (employers, coworkers, friends), then having a strong friend in writing will be extremely beneficial.
If we’re talking specific examples of why writing is meaningful, then a few would be:
- Communication. If you’re trying to get a point across but don’t know how to word your letter correctly, that could backfire when you really can’t afford it to.
- Monetary value. If you can write well, many doors open up to you in terms of making some extra money (or even a career). Software writers, creative writers/novelists, and bloggers put their literacy skills to good use in ways they can even be paid for it.
- An engaging writer grabs your attention. For example, if you have to make a presentation for work and need to make an impression, possessing strong writing competence would certainly upgrade the quality of your work.
- Speak better. By having a superior knowledge in writing, your vocabulary would have improved as a side effect (a good one!) You’ll be able to get ideas and thoughts across more easily, give and present feedback in more effective ways and get your thoughts out more clearly when you need to most.
- It can be a hobby. Everyone needs one or two things they do for fun in their spare time, and for a lot of people that’s creative writing. If you’re reading this, the odds are that you do take up creative writing for fun (woohoo!) and enjoy all the pleasures that come from forging new ideas into stories and other exciting forms of writing.
I feel as if I can’t emphasize the importance of literacy and writing enough, but I’m also aware that many, many people feel the same. On that note, keep challenging yourself and pushing to become an even better writer no matter what skill level you’re at. When you stop learning, you stop growing. Good luck, Scribblers!
It would be cliché to spend an entire work of writing referring to life as a story, however because of the truth to this clique, it would be frankly inappropriate to dedicate this piece to anything other than such. Life is in fact a story. It is a book in our lap as we sit on a Spring day combing through page after page eager to get to the next thing that we can never see coming. Like a good book of writing, life carries a future that is unexpected, a past we sometimes ache over and other times smile at the memories of, and a unique and complex structure that holds our attention and urges us on. Like good characters life introduces us to relatable and lovable strangers that become branded on our hearts, to evil and pained creatures that scar our souls, to passing glances and smiles on street corners.
Life inspires books and stories, that is where authors got the idea in the first place. Fiction is simply reflections and parodies of real life and things we sometimes wish were possible, or would like to see change. Fiction is life through another dimension, but let’s pay attention to the real life stories for a moment shall we?
I’ve been a CWC member for all my years of high school, even some before, and this essay that I write for you my fellow club goers will be my last. As I prepare my departure from the CWC, FLVS as a whole as well, and move onto my college journey that will shape the remainder of my life, I say goodbye to Chapter One of my existence. I say goodbye to the events that have occurred in my short eighteen years of living, and I turn the page to Chapter Two. A chapter that is sure to be full of it’s decent share of adventures and great achievements, as I also expect it to carry it’s equal if not heavier burden of challenges and battles to be won.
In no way am I long lived, nor as wise as my mother or her mother before her. By not a single chance do I bare the adult experience of those that have walked this earth as beings for decades in time, however I do bare preparation and expectance. Not to say I know what’s coming, only to assert I am set. As I ready for words on fresh pages, I harden my skin and armor my soul for the future. Dawning my horse, pointing my sword straight ahead into my fight. I have fought, and though I am young, Chapter One has been full of long lakes to jump, oceans to swim across. I’ve completed one of the four seas. Three left, and I will have lived.
I consider my activism to be just learning to walk. I see my strength as only beginning to speak it’s first words. My skills are merely about to be born. Chapter Two is frightening, but to not apply all it’s labels would be sin. Chapter Two is also exciting. Chapter Two is rousing, Chapter Two is challenging, Chapter Two is standing in my face with war paint streaked beneath her fiery eyes. I must only need to apply mine to be officially part of this quest.
Chapter Two is not the biggest challenge, but it is the next step, and the next step always seems so much larger than truth. You yourself may be turning the pages, and seeing you’re nearing the next part of your story, but perhaps you don’t know what it is you’re about to start reading. Truthfully, no one knows. I believe not even the highest of power’s could have a clue, and the reason for this is because you’re the author yourself. You have turned to blank pages, that at first may imply your life has come to an end. But in reality, you have been writing Chapter One since you left the womb. The moment your breath found you in this world, your first cries dripped beginning speckles of ink to your story and the words poured from you in waterfalls. You wrote this so far, you beautiful writer you, and now you have reached a point where you’re beginning to realize just how involved you have been. Your reason is THE reason that life has happened in the way it has, that you have made it this far. Through strength and wit and bravery you persisted, and now it is time to continue to rise.
Your heart is your blank page, your soul is your pen, your intentions are your ideas, so write, write, write my friend.
Chapter Two has come at last, and perhaps sooner than any of us could ever think. So now move forward passionately. Embrace all that comes with it, fear or pain or happiness or all. This is Chapter Two, this is the second ocean. It is time to swim. It is time.
“Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise.” – Maya Angelou
YOU will rise…
As I near the end of my high school career, I can’t help but think about all of the wonderful memories and lifelong friends that I have made through FLVS. As a writer, I have been able to thrive in clubs like Creative Writing Club, News in a Click and NEHS. I have participated in Poetry Read-Ins, Shakespeare Festivals and Celebrate Literacy Month. I have also had the invaluable opportunity to collaborate with immensely talented writers and highlight student work through Open Mics. These experiences have greatly enriched my writing and provided inspiration that I will carry with me when I go to college.
In my final blog post, I wanted to remind you of the power of plugging into our virtual community. By getting involved in FLVS clubs and activities, you are introduced to a world of inspiration. In our student-led newspaper, News in a Click, we spend weekly meetings collaborating and brainstorming articles. At National English Honor Society meetings, we host discussions about the power of literacy and highlight student pieces and book recommendations through monthly events. In Creative Writing Club, you have the wonderful opportunity to connect with other student writers and read student work, while receiving feedback and edits on your own pieces. Through FLVS, I have met some of the most talented writers that I have ever known, but more than that, friends that I will keep for life.
Participating in clubs like these is a great way to combat writer’s block and get inspiration, feedback and encouragement from other students. It is also an opportunity to make new friends and step outside of your comfort zone. Writing exercises and prompts provided by Creative Writing Club are great resources to remain inspired and NEHS-sponsored tutoring is an awesome way to share your love of reading and writing with younger students. Writing articles for News in a Click is helpful practice for academic writing. These clubs are also great ways to get honest and constructive feedback on your writing. In our monthly Open Mics at National English Honor Society meetings, I am always incredibly inspired by the amount of positive feedback that our members provide writers and oftentimes this encouragement is what causes writers to continue submitting pieces. Over the past two years, I have had the priceless opportunity to watch writers grow and learn from the feedback and encouragement of fellow club members.
At the close of my senior year, I can say that my time with Florida Virtual clubs has truly made my high school experience. The inspiration, encouragement and collaboration that comes from working with other students that are similarly passionate about literacy is something that I will truly miss. I deeply encourage all of you to get plugged in to the FLVS community through clubs that align with your interests, as my experiences as a member of these clubs has greatly contributed to my growth as a writer, a learner, a student and a human being. Has an FLVS club influenced your writing? Let me know in the comments below!
When one writes with power and passion the world tends to read, and conversations begin. Some come like summer breezes, subtly cruising past the peoples ears, while other’s hit like raging tsunamis tearing through small towns, uprooting life wherever it goes with the most intense and violent of change. When writer’s write about the things that matter, often times a flicker begins in like minded souls and encourages the closeted follower to open their door and step into the light, unafraid to be gazed upon for the very first time. They are the things that matter – to you.
To you at least is where it begins. The fuse is lit at the base of your personality, your morals, your values. What matters to me? Well, that question is foundation on the skin, it’s primer across the cheeks, before all your color and shades can come into play there has to be that beginning. What matters to me?
Maybe it’s your God or your country, maybe it’s protest or hunger, maybe it’s waving flags and rousing speeches. Maybe it’s your religion or your values. I know my writing reflects a lot of mine. My writing reflects a lot of me. There is a sensation of not feeling so alone. The feeling of reaching out a hand and caressing the fingers of someone who is just like you. Outstretching the bravery within to declare your truths, and demand – not ask – for an audience.
Let your pen and paper become your soap box in the middle of a crowded park. Let it be your stage, and sing from it.
When I came out as gay, how boundless the platform of writing was as it made not only accepting myself easier, but inviting others to accept me too. And then what a way to expose a problem as well; to call out judgments and attacks on not only myself, but my people, my community of too often marginalized individuals. That mattered to me. And it mattered to others.
But that wasn’t the end of the power that I found in sharing what mattered through writing. There were frustrations over issues in my life that I saw and wanted to change, that I recognized and wanted to take action on, that just plain ticked me off and made me feel like telling someone about it. My writing healed me when I was angry about something that I wanted more than anything to fix. As I waded through screaming protestors as thick as swarming bees while walking with my arm around a crying woman into the Planned Parenthood clinic I escort patients at, I knew I wanted to tell someone about it, cause it mattered. Cause I wanted to change it, and I was mad that that crying woman I had my arm around couldn’t have the peace to walk inside and get her healthcare without a single whisper of opposition. I wanted to snap my finger’s and make it go away for her and others. But I couldn’t, so I decided to write. It was one of the many things that mattered. It was one of the many things that mattered to me, and inserting myself into the hum of voices that also knew it mattered, that was when the conversation began. Began and kept going. Ran on strong, steady legs. Cried out a battle yell in a bellowing call. Raised its fists into the air and shouted about the things that matter.
Don’t we all want that? Don’t we all want the things that matter to be so strong? Well, it starts with us. It starts when one writes, when you write. It starts when you recognize the power of your words, and use that power in any platform you know how to to nurture yourself and the world and all those things that matter. This is how we light fires. This how we shatter glass ceilings. This is how we rise.
It’s no secret: we are in a world filled with millions of things to do. We can visit and explore national parks and nature, travel the world, watch a new TV show, listen to the radio, volunteer, read, write, think, question, debate, discuss and learn. But often (and I am guilty of this), we are content with just sitting inside, scrolling through images and posts on our phones, watching YouTube videos, texting funny emojis to our friends, or listening to music. Doing things can be hard, especially when it comes to creating. It requires some amount of effort, which is enough of a deterrent to keep /me/ inside because I have the option of distracting myself. We know that we should be out doing something, out experiencing life and exploring, but instead we let other media distract us. As a writer, we must possess some sort of understanding to draw from. This can include experiences, places we’ve visited, relationships we’ve been in, events we’ve been a part of. When we let things distract us, we are robbed of these opportunities, robbed of this fuel and substance to create content and inspire others.
We are also robbed of time. Don’t let hours of YouTube videos, TV show episodes, Instagram or Pinterest deprive you of your creative time. We always like to say, “I can never find the time,” when looking at all of the writing we want to accomplish. I once watched a video about NaNo that said we will never find time. It’s not just something we might somehow “stumble upon” and say “Oh look, I’ve found time.” (There may be certain periods of free time, but what might it consist of? More distractions, if we allow it). Time is ultimately something we have to make ourselves. It’s difficult to overcome the urge to fall back into watching entertaining things. But we should be making more time for the creative side of us, too.
Put away those distractions for maybe an hour a day, or any amount time you can make. Go outside and experience nature, meet people, explore or try new things. Not only does this build character, but it broadens our imagination, our knowledge, and our understanding. These are incredibly critical tools we use as writers, and when we put away distractions, we are free to shape them as we wish. Put away your distractions to actually write, too! Design an environment that can prevent you from wandering to entertaining websites. Maybe silence your phone and place it out of reach. You could even work away from electronics altogether. Calculate the amount of time you write before you get distracted. Definitely give yourself breaks, but not too many! Another way to tackle distractions is to set goals. How many words of your novel do you want to write today? How many pages do you need to edit? What kind of research do you need to accomplish today? Identify those little things and make them goals you need to reach at a certain period. Give yourself a reward if you succeed, and hold yourself accountable if you fail.
Productivity can be an enemy when we give in easily to procrastination. But each little effort we make to diminish how much we let ourselves become distracted will ultimately lead to a more productive lifestyle, and our writing will improve, too.
These things can be easier said than done, but don’t give up! What do you do to avoid distractions? Is there any advice you have about being productive?
Have you ever read so many books in a row that you feel, god forbid, tired of reading? It’s a strange feeling that can often come after reading a few novels quickly in a short period of time. You may have enjoyed every second of the literature you read, but now it’s as if you’re burnt out on reading entirely. This is completely normal, and happens to me all the time. My interest tends to work in bursts of intense focus and dedication; so when I find a good book, I usually pull some all-nighters and practically enter the story myself. Doing that over and over again can actually get quite exhausting, but I’ve put together a few pieces of advice to keep this from happening to you or get you out of that slump.
- YouTube has a wonderful side of it called BookTube. This is a small community of dedicated readers/writers who share and discuss the latest and greatest pieces of literature together. There isn’t anything that gets me more fired up to read than watching people excitedly discuss this cool new story they discovered. I have a few favorite BookTubers that never fail to get me excited to start a new book!
- Don’t read the same genre too many times consecutively. For example, when I was reading the Twilight series many years ago I had some serious reader burnout after binge-reading the entire series in just a matter of weeks. I loved those books when I was fully immersed in the world, but it did tire me out for a while. Make sure to mix up your genres often to keep yourself engaged and focused in your reading.
- If you’re already in that slump and need a way to get out, sometimes giving into that feeling can actually help. If you really aren’t in the mood to read, forcing yourself to do so will only prolong that burnt-out feeling. Try doing something totally opposite to reading that will call for all of your attention (Netflix, video games, art) and help you regain that desire to pick up a book.
- Try to avoid reading things you really aren’t interested in. Although this seems super obvious, it actually can happen. For example, your friend could be reading a high-fantasy novel that he/she is super immersed in. They could persuade you to read it, and you slowly realize you really aren’t enjoying it the way he/she is. Instead of trying to force yourself to like it and becoming numb to reading completely, set it down and find something that does spark your interest.
- Change up the format. Do you read a lot of books digitally? Perhaps you could be getting tired of looking at that Kindle screen for hours. Have you been listening to a ton of audio books recently? Maybe it’s time for a physical copy. You’d be surprised how much changing the format of the book could mix things up just enough to help you regain your interest.
This is a case very similar to writer’s block, and shares a lot of solutions with that other dreadful mental-block. If you love to read and enjoy hearing that soft crackle of opening up the binding of a new book for the first time like I do, then don’t worry: your enthusiasm to read will certainly return. I hope you find these tips helpful and keep you immersed in your reading.
What I love about poetry is its ability to be concise and exemplify simplicity through abstract phrases. Poetry is a novel condensed into emotions, thoughts, feelings, or even memories. To me, the purpose of poetry is to say little, but make the reader feel as if they have read a long book. A successful poem lets the final word linger for a moment on your tongue and hover at the back of your mind just long enough for you to wonder what possessed the author to compose it.
Successful poems do not have to rhyme. In fact, many great poems like Sylvia Plath’s “Mirror” and Robert Frost’s “A Time to Talk” do not rhyme at all. Instead, they focus on providing a look into the character’s thoughts or actions. “Mirror” is a hauntingly psychotic poem probing the reader to look at their own state of mind, while “A Time to Talk” is short and sweet, providing a message of “smelling the roses.” The writers made these poems amazing by taking the time to deliver a lasting effect on the reader, to keep their words echoing in the audiences’ heads.
If you worry about poem length, the best advice I can offer to you is this: don’t. A poem can be as long or as short as you’d like it to be. It can be two lines, or two hundred lines. What matters is that in the span of those lines, you gave the message you wanted the readers to receive. Roman poet Catullus wrote an astounding poem “Odi et Amo” (I Hate and I Love) that was a mere two lines long, but perfectly described his conflicting feelings for his mistress Lesbia without hardly saying anything at all. On the other hand, epics composed by Homer are poetic novels hundreds of lines in length that are incredibly popular for their mystical descriptions and fantastic plots.
This NaPoWriMo, enjoy the nature of poetry writing. Look up poems online and find poetry videos on YouTube (I recommend Pearls of Wisdom and Button Poetry for great inspiration—these two YouTube channels got me through even the stickiest of writer’s block). Keep the creative juices flowing. Even if you don’t like poems or poetry writing, read some poems this month and find something you appreciate about a poem you read. It might the author’s way of describing love, or how enchantingly an author describes a mystifying dream. Find something that touches your tongue at the same time it touches your heart, and keep it close when you need a creative boost.
As I move towards the conclusion of my high school career, I can’t help but reflect upon the last eighteen years – the experiences that, like each element of a collage, came together to shape who I am today. While I am all too aware that graduating high school can lend itself to clichés, I wanted to write an essay about the books that have shaped me as a writer. Like the experiences that shape character, I strongly believe that books can shape a writer’s voice. I think that everyone can name a few books that drew them into the world of reading and writing. These are mine:
Once upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris
Once upon a Marigold is the first book that I can remember falling in love with – a part of my assigned summer reading in first grade. The book contains elements that I often notice in my own writing, as it is reminiscent of a traditional fairy tale. I have since read the book more times than I can count, and continue to look to it as an example as I work on my own children’s novel.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I read this book for the first time in fifth grade, and saw myself in the protagonist, Scout, a young girl who learns more about the world through books. This is the first time I read a book that had a protagonist that stuck with me. Even now, I can remember hurriedly flipping through the pages at the climax of the novel, completely enthralled in the conflict that Lee expertly weaves.
Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling
I read the series multiple times throughout elementary and middle school, amazed at Rowling’s ability to create an entire world completely from her imagination. As I’ve progressed as a writer, I have become more and more inspired by Rowling, especially in her dedication and involvement in her own narrative.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Similar to Rowling, Aveyard is one of my writing role models because of her ability to create suspension of doubt in a completely unique way. Aveyard is only 26, and currently has six novels/novellas in publication. I definitely admire her writing skill, talent and determination.
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
The Lunar Chronicles parallels Once upon a Marigold in its qualities and characters. Both are twists on traditional fairy tale tropes, and both continue to inspire me when brainstorming or writing my own pieces. I also really enjoy keeping up with Marissa Meyer’s blog, as she details her writing strategies and even has playlists to coincide with her writing.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451 inspires me to write because of its narrative and content. The novel is completely unlike anything I have read before, and I was especially able to appreciate it after reading Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing, in which he details his writing process and gives advice to young writers.
Those are some of my favorite novels! Share yours below!
When I was younger, all I wanted to be was a famous author. After reading novels like James and the Giant Peach or Harry Potter and learning that younger people could publish too, I focused on writing chapter books that would one day fill libraries everywhere. And because of this, I felt that to be a writer, you should write at least one novel in your career. So, that was my goal and that was what consisted of most of my “writing practice”: to write long chapter books. Every summer since the 2nd grade I’d sit down after consuming dozens of books from my local public library to write the “next great novel.” Needless to say, it never happened. I was a terrible planner; the process took too long and all I wanted to do was jump into the action. But without a plan, the gas eventually ran out somewhere in the pages of chapter five. Even though I was never successful, I continued to think I’d write that best seller novel one day.
One year I attended a creative writing class for a summer studies program, and the scope with which I looked at writing was reshaped drastically. I was exposed to the world of short stories and poetry, and how to elevate one’s writing and make it three dimensional. From it I found that I really enjoyed penning poems. My writing style loosened from the rigid molds of styles I was trying to imitate, and I was beginning to meet myself in my writing. It wasn’t just about trying to be published anymore—it was about writing, too! And even though I began to take greater pride in my poetry, I struggled to call myself a “poet.” I didn’t really fit the model—someone once told me that to be a deep poet, I had to be sad and depressed, emotionally bruised and hurt. I wasn’t really any of those things. So, was I not a poet, then? Watching Spoken Word, I would see people write dark and deeply emotional free style pieces, delivering lines of loneliness, depression and anxiety rapidly, with eruption of “snaps” following. Colorful stories detailed in carefully selected syllables filled my ears. As much as I was awed by their works, I had never endured any of what they endured. I wanted to be a poet, though, so I tried to write dark stuff too. But I never felt or believed in what I was writing, and it began to fall by the wayside.
I bounced back to the effort of writing a novel. I started projects up again, but I always became deterred if I tried to begin one with a plan. For some novels, I would get farther if I had the exposition and the ending in mind, but I’d run out of steam without the knowledge of what to write in the middle. I’d dabble in poetry, too, continuing to write with a darker tone than what I really felt. I was trying too hard to entertain the definition of “deep” in my works. At this point, a few years ago, I didn’t know what I was. Was I writer? A poet? I didn’t feel like I was doing anything right. And there was my problem.
In the process of trying to validate myself as a writer by forcing myself to do something I didn’t really enjoy, I was preventing myself from exploring as a writer. I was drowning in the fear of labels with the belief I could only be something if it had a label. But the thing is, being a writer doesn’t work in one way. Being a poet doesn’t work in one way either. I regained my enjoyment of writing poetry, finding the ability to abandon my worries about what a poet looks like. Poetry doesn’t take one shape, and it’s not driven by just one tone. We forget that just because we don’t perform the exact way another writer does, it doesn’t mean we are not just as a valid. The challenge of identity was one I struggled with. What kind of writer do I want to be? How will I be that writer? I’ve decided to not label myself. I’m not a novelist, a short story writer, or really a poet. I just enjoy writing in those forms, but I don’t concentrate myself in one area.
I’ve decided to just label myself a writer. Because a writer writes, and that is what I do.