My First Love

Other than my faith and loyalty to my family and friends, books and stories were my first love.

I first fell in love with bed time stories: Cordoury and his missing button; Whinnie the Pooh and all the delightful adventures he went on with his friends; Amelia Bedelia and her countless mishaps. I fell in love with the things that made me laugh and the things that made me sad. I learned from these stories that life is full of wonder.

Then, I fell in love with an amazing place called Narnia. This ordinary girl finds herself in an extraordinary situation and rather than stepping back to think about what should be done, she follows her heart and steps bravely forward into an entirely new world located…in a wardrobe. I fell in love with the magic and creatures and characters. No matter who they were, I could relate to them on some level. From The Chronicles of Narnia, I learned magic does exist even in the ordinary.

As I grew older, I fell in love with the world of reading. I read as much as I could get my hands on. Science fiction, the entire American Girl series, The Saddleback Club, Star Wars fiction, fantasy, The Lord of the Rings, classics–the list was endless. I obviously had preferences for certain genres but my “to read” list has alway been a smorgasbord.

Sometime around sixth grade, I feel in love with creating my own stories. My first attempts were reflections of favorite stories I had watched or read. I loved describing characters, discovering worlds, and finding out what happened to the people in these places. I loved writing with pen and paper. I loved typing furiously on the computer when my thoughts raced ahead of my fingers. I loved knowing that I was making a place that was as real as anything I could see or feel.

In high school and college, I fell in love with seeking truth through writing. I had amazing teachers and professors who helped me hone my craft through writing columns for school newspapers, analyzing literature, researching history and politics, and learning how to best present my opinions in a logical, well-thought out way. I fell in love with people disagreeing with my words or relating to them wholeheartedly. I fell in love with the truth that words and idea should can change the world*.

Now, as an adult, I am in love with the process of writing and understanding the creation of stories in any medium. I love writing without having to think about it. I love working hard and planning my sessions. I love research. I love looking at other books and films and television shows and songs and seeing how they can make me a better writer. How did they approach a character? Why did they make this decision about the character’s costume? Why is the setting so important? What is a camera angle contributing to a scene? How do cliffhangers work as effective storytelling devices? How does a key change or specific instrumental solo elevate a song from notes to something that touches the soul?

So when I doubt my abilities, I think of all these things and remind myself of this simple truth: I am a writer and no one will ever be able to take that away from me.


*Paraphrase of quote from Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poets Society.

Advertisements

Typewriter Bleeding

When you tell people you’re a writer, you get a lot of questions that are difficult to answer.

The basic one’s aren’t so bad: “What do you write?”; “What’s the genre?”; “How long have you been writing?”

The trouble comes when people ask you how you come up with ideas and what your process is and what do you hope to accomplish in the long run. These seem like straightforward questions but the process of writing–more specifically the process of discovering who you are as a writer–is difficult to explain.

Some days we plan. We write outlines and make notes in preparation for a scene. We think of all the details we need to include. We decide what we’re going to write and where it fits into our story.

Some days we research. We look at history, science, and culture. We decide how much we want the real world to influence our fictional spaces. We get lost in all the possibilities for fine detail and nuance.

But some times, we bleed. Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Some days we open our laptops and in a moments that can only be described as transcendent, beautiful, and perfect, words flow from our hearts and souls through our fingertips and onto the page. We aren’t just creating–we’re discovering. It’s as though the words are there just waiting to be discovered and today, for whatever reason, our access to them is easy. There’s no thinking, there’s no deliberation. We just bleed.

And while these inspired days often feel few and far between, they are what drives writers. We crave those experiences that reminds us of this: “I am a writer. This is who I am and this is what I am meant to do.”

 

Dear Carrie Fisher

Dear Carrie,

I’d like to think you are somewhere out there watching all of us post tributes, videos, and tell stories about how much you meant to us. You’re probably touched, moved, and–let’s be honest–laughing up a storm.

I’ve never met you. I can’t say that I know you.

But I kind of feel like I do. I’ve been reading your biographies and while I’m well aware that reading someone write about his or herself does not make one an expert about that person’s life, you’ve provided a window–however small–into your life. Your candor is refreshing; your stories are heartbreaking and hilarious. You’ve managed to capture that weird, sweet, beautiful thing we call life somehow sounding elegant and brash all at the same time.

I’m currently read The Princess Diarist. I don’t know where exactly you were in your life when you wrote your entries. I do know that you’ve captured the convoluted mind of someone dealing with a mental health disorder. It’s beautiful and disturbing and haunting and perfect.

Like I said, I never met you but your passing has left this odd emptiness in my heart. I was upset when I first heard of your death but like so many things with life you figure out how to box it up and move forward.

It wasn’t until more recently while watching your friends talk about you at the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando and staring at a piece of fan art I have as my wallpaper on my tablet that I realized what exactly I was missing.

There was no one like you and there will never be anyone else like you. No one can sit on couches at chat shows with Gary at their side and make us feel like you’re sitting in our living rooms. No one can make us laugh and cry all in the same moment the way you did.

No one else will ever be our Princess.

With Much Luv,

Jana

I Weep But There is Hope

It seems there is more and more evil in the world. The recent tragedies in Sweden and Syria have broken my heart. As always, my heartbreak and I am confused.

The death of innocents. The destruction of homes. The sorrow of losses.

The blood of children. The tears of the fearful. The questions from all.

At times it feels like there is no way to avoid evil. You begin to despair that terror will become all consuming. Good news and happy stories are few and far between. Images of the dead and suffering bring you to tears as you wrestle with your beliefs in your heart.

But please remember this: “Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear.”*

Yes, there is terror. Yes, there is despondency but there is also hope.

Hope in the way we receive those around us. Hope in the love and prayers we send to those affected by terrible acts. Hope that there are people fighting for good even if it feels like the good is a tiny spark in the middle of a forest fire.

So though I am sorrowful, though I will weep for the dead and those suffering, I choose to hope.

I choose to believe love always wins.


*Spoken by President Snow in the film The Hunger Games.

The Dip Between Hills and Peaks

The Dip Between Hills and Peaks

Soft swift sunset sweeps across dry grass

And tiny gaps between tight-lined almond

Trees.

Black bellied starlings perch on stringed

Power lines with weathered wings waiting to

Fly.

 

Black outline of factory pipes and towers

In front of vibrant oranges and pinks and

Yellows.

A soft divide between end of daylight

And dawn of night time plays in shifting

Patterns.

 

Day tomorrow may bring blistered heat

Or shifting breeze but this moment sings

 

Perfection.

26

Being an adult is hard. 

I realize the above statement may make me sound like I’m a little late to the game. I’ve been a legal adult for the past five years (according to US legal standards).

But when I say being an adult is hard, I’m referring to the emotive turmoil surrounding identity and belonging not the seemingly endless list of responsibites to be completed. 

I’m twenty-six. I don’t have an established career path or even the beginnings of one. I’m only working once a week and sometimes it feels like I have no friends. 

And I’m single while friends and people younger than me are married and having children. 

But I do know what I want to do and who I want to become. I am walking step by step toward my dreams. I have a general plan of how I’m going to get there and overall, I’m optimistic about my ability to carry out said plan. 

So when I say being an adult is hard, I guess what I really mean is it’s hard work. 

But I’m beginning to realize it is so worth it. 

When the Moon First Saw the Sun

When the Moon First Saw the Sun

I wonder what the moon thought when she first saw the sun.

Was she jealous of her radiance or did she smile, stretch out a hand,

And say, “Hello, friend. Let’s walk a ways together.”

 

I wonder what the sun thought when she first saw the moon.

Was she drawn to her pale mystique or unimpressed?

And did she say, “Yes, dear. A walk would be so nice.”?

 

I wonder if today they think back with fondness and love.

Was it love at first sight or did they take some time

And space to understand who they were?

 

I think perhaps we’ll never know

But I’d like to think it was magical.