Leave of Absence from Blogging

Dear readers,

Thank you for reading the words written on this blog; it has been an honor to write for a small audience! Writing daily has become a habit for me, which was the ultimate intention of this blog.

Now, I am preparing to apply for a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. As such, I will not be able to dedicate as much time to this blog. My writing time will be dedicated to creating a writing portfolio for the UBC.

Knowing fully well that this blog’s overarching goal was to write daily for 365 days is still in my mind. I do intend to still follow through with this goal, only I will not be writing on the internet for others to see, as to secure the privacy of my application to the universities I am planning to attend. Yes, I do have a back up plan if I do not make it into the UBC.

You will hear from me once my application has been submitted to the university. I will also let readers know whether or not I was accepted into UBC’s creative writing program.

Thank you to those who read my words! It has been a great experience thus far blogging for such a wide audience. It truly pains me to push pause on this blog for now.

Until we meet again, readers,

勇气

 

 

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University of British Columbia MFA Creative Writing Portfolio Preparation

Today, I typed near 300 words towards my fiction novel. It was an irky feeling, wordsmithing today. I felt more pressure preparing to meet with our writers group. Preparing to apply for one of Canada’s top programs and no pressure? What the heck?

That was until my girlfriend wrote this card on my Trello board (healthy pressure? Pressure from love? I am not sure…)

CW Motivation

So… I need to stop beating around the bush, and get writing! Though I did write today, I noticed a huge stall in my processesing today. I am not sure if I have the entire novel planned out in my head, perhaps mapping the story in a pointed form would be beneficial to bring my thoughts to paper.

Maybe I am crafting a short story instead of a novel? I guess I won’t know until it has been written. Is it common to continue writing a story not entirely sure where it is going, with a just a glimmer of hope that an ending will surface? I am in that position right now with this story.

Characterization is it’s strongest suit, and some interesting conflicts have arisen from the text. Knowing that I have attracted some readers to the story is also another plus for it in general. I have the overarching theme, where a soldier comes to realize God through the story, but I am not sure how to fill the space in between. Writing a story really is a mindful, and it really is overwhelming.

Again, I seem to know what I need to do, but my avoidance is killing me; maybe I am feeling more pressure than I have ever felt before. Maybe, just maybe, I am frozen and inept due to pressure.

Never have I applied to a writing program in my life. Never have I ever had a huge audience read my words before. I have only taught writing to students. But now, it’s time to show, not tell, engage the senses, get down, dirty, and pen a story!

“Living the Christian Life” Changing from Atheist to Christian–Part 5

Amen

This is the last post to a 5 part series of how I changed from an atheist to a Christian. See the first post here if you are interested in my story.

Having God in my life has been transformational. Now that I am here, living the Christian life to the best of my human ability, I feel it is time to share how I feel connected with God and His will.

My mind has been renewed, I view this life (on earth) through a different lens. It is not just about doing tasks for myself anymore, but instead, seeking to align myself with God as much as I can.

There is also a sense of safety twirling around me on a daily basis. When a being greater than any human mind could ever imagine is watching over me, I feel blessed and empowered.

Recently, my biggest struggle has been trying to align my decision making with God. I have struggled with this ever since my faith has been rekindled. Last night, John Piper’s YouTube sermon seemed to answer this question for me. Please click here to watch the sermon, he does a great job grounding his sermon in scripture and describing how humanity can find the will of God.

John Piper’s sermon resonates heavily with me. More importantly, I find myself constantly trying to press closure into God. As a Christian, I am spending more time than ever trying to understand God. I have more highlights in my Bible than any other text on my bookshelf (and I am an literature educator)! To me, all of these steps I have taken are remarkable and life altering.

Attempting to live a Christian life has been extremely difficult. Trying to tell the truth all the time is hard; not being able to masturbate is difficult, not being able to have sex with my girlfriend is hard, but is all worth it to please Him. During these last 8 months, I have been earnest in trying to meet the commands and expectations that God puts in front of me. Struggling to meet His expectations is part of the adversity that I must suffer, and my suffering pales in comparison to Jesus’ death on the cross.

Living the Christian life has been liberating. Safety dances around me; I feel more confident than ever in my everyday endeavors. Having God on my side, even just to have a conversation with through prayer is legendary.

God has changed my life; thank you God! I am blessed to have another opportunity to be alongside you. And I will not let myself drift from you ever again. Amen!

 

Book Review: Among the Barons

Among the Barons.jpg

Warm and Cool Feedback:

+Strong character development

-Flawed logic (mistake in Haddix’s plot development and sequencing).

+Lacks plot devices

-poor development of settings

-Left with questions

Rating: 2/10

Summary of Review: Haddix’s book four in the Shadow Children series delivers on some fronts, but falls short on others, making this read tiresome and trite. Most sadly, Haddix’s suspense ploy falls short due to her lack of correlation with Among the Hidden.

Detailed Review

A sheer disappointment is verbiage attached to the descriptors of this book’s reading. Though it is not all “bad,” the book does have some gems lost in the crud in this text.

Luke’s character continues to develop through a web of lies. It is fun and sometimes hair pulling to read about how a 12 year old boy deals with being an illegal in a dystopian setting. Luke’s character growth is the best parts of this book, he evolves from a scared boy to someone who is daring. This character development –at least for me– is what stopped me from tossing this book to the trash bin. Now, I am too deep to quit, and can only hope that Among the Brave is better than this crud.

Despite Luke’s character development, there is some flawed logic in this text that ultimately takes away from the suspense. Haddix fails to connect what she has written in Among the Hidden to her fourth novel.

For most readers (I think), the largest suspense is Luke dealing with Lee’s identity and wondering if the Grants know he is a third child or not. However, Haddix has fabricated this suspense falsely, or made Luke forget what Mr Talbot said to him in this first novel, Among the Hidden:

The real Lee Grant was a Baron. He had died in a skiing accident just the night before. His parents wanted nothing to do with Luke– “too painful,” Jen’s father had explained– but they had agreed to donate their son’s name and identity card the way people had once donated hearts and kidneys.

It is difficult not to spoil Among the Barons’ main suspense, but a lot of the book is dedicated to Luke thinking about whether the family knows he is a third child! Yet, in Among the Hidden, Luke is fed all the information above, so he should know that the new baron family has willingly given their son’s ID to a third.

As a reader, I am surprised this faulty logic made it past copy editing and publication. Truly, this “fake” tension truly ruins the story for me as a reader. I wonder if publishers are more lenient on an author if he or she has published multiple books? Maybe less editing goes into author’s writing that has seen print multiple times?

If Haddix ever reads this blog, I recommend that she rework Among the Barons to fix this tragic plot hole. She could pen the story where it remains more loyal to Among the Hidden. Maybe start it off where Lee already knows he is accepted as a third child; please don’t give me pages and pages and pages of false suspense where I feel like you, as the author, fail to review your previous book’s message and knowledge that each character has. Can readers of this post sense my disappointment yet?

On a more positive note, it was refreshing to not see Mr Talbot act as a plot device for this novel. It was getting a bit predictable when Luke was thinking “I should contact Mr Talbot, he will have the answers,” in the previous books. It was nice to read a change in how the resolution of this novel progressed without a plot device.

As a writer and avid reader, I am also disappointed with Haddix’s settings. She mostly compares the location where Luke is to a maze of corridors. I think this novel could do with a bit more show and not tell, especially with the settings. For the most part, as the reader, I felt like I was being blown through different settings, without any real imagery in my head. Among the Betrayed did a much better job of setting development and painting pictures in my head as a reader.

Without knowing Haddix’s true intent makes it somewhat difficult to write about my last quarrel with this book, but I will take a stab anyway: this book leaves a reader with lots of unanswered questions, both in plot progression, and in believablity  Do allow me to elaborate.

At the end, I am not sure how Luke ends up at a certain location, especially after a huge event occurs. I am not sure how a certain character suddenly changes from a rebel to obedient during the last few pages of the book. It all is a whirl. Too fast, not enough development and time spent writing transitions between events. I have lost faith in some of the character’s motives in this book as a result.

Overall, Among the Baron is Haddix’s worst book yet. Among the Brave has a lot to make up for it. If I read another piece of published trash like this, I might have to put down the series. I am sorry, you cannot have errors in your plot and suspense and still expect me to be happy that I paid 5 Canadian dollars for this book. Fix your mistakes before rushing something like this crud to print!

If you dare, give this book a read by clicking here. Maybe your reading will prop a different review? For me, this review is scathing, but “writely” so.

Do leave your commentary below. What did you think of Among the Barons? Am I committing a diatribe towards a book that is not justified? Leave it below, readers!

 

 

 

 

Writing Goals for Summer Holidays

Summer holidays are approaching for this educator. Summer vacy is not a time for me to relax, it’s a time to develop myself so that I become a better educator, person, and speaker of Korean.

My goals are definitely ambitious this summer, but there is value in taking a big swing when time permits.

Looking over my brainstorm –which, if you are interested in getting inside my head, is illustrated below– I realize that my goals can be split into six categories.

Writing

  1. Finish the University of British Columbia Application
  2. Continue to write daily on this blog

What is my why behind this goal? Pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing offers me an ripe opportunity to improve my writing. Yes, I write daily on this blog. To be blunt, some of the entries are rushed, and simple one liners so that I meet my goal of 365 daily blog posts.

To contract my laziness, I vow to write posts that are at least 500 words in length over the summer holidays.

Though I have cut some corners, it cannot be denied that writing daily on this blog has done incalculable benefits for my writing. That improvement earned from this writing on WordPress is not something I plan to ever give up on.

An MFA offers another facet for writing. Having a structured writing program is just what I need to write a publishable piece of creativity. I will try my batting at the UBC’s Creative Writing program.

The UBC is expensive, but the faculty are highly qualified and published to the teeth. Reviews of the professors are strong, and it is not a pay to get a degree program. It seems really legitimate from the research I have compiled.

Opportunity cost is another reason pursuing an MFA at UBC is for me. The program is part time, and online. Ultimately, this means that I can still educate and work on my creative writing while on my down time.

Through an option to write on campus is also available during the summer, meaning that I can write and finish courses province side.

Joining a (Serious) Writer’s Group is Kewl!

Yeah! I spelled it the way we used to in middle school, kewl! Inspiring writers should all join a group of writers at some point in their artistry. Why? Because it’s kewl!

Conventionally, writing is seen as s solitary activity. It does not have to be that way. In fact, I think there may be some benefits to writing together as a group. And, mind you, this idea of writing as a group is only one of the many kewl facets that come along with joining a group of writers.

Other perks arise from joining a writers group. Namely, the cost is zero, or near the enjoyment of a sharp glass of wine, beer, or pizza.

Partnering with a group of writers helps build confidence. Criticism is exchanged, but positive aspects of your writing is shared among the table as well. The advice shared should be considered and perhaps embedded into the next draft of your work. Writers involved in a serious writers group will see vast improvements which will help build confidence.

For me personally, writing on a daily basis helps build my confidence with the craft. Joining a writers group has allowed me a structured opportunity to meet deadlines. It has also compounded the amount of writing I do every month. Ultimately, I am writing more than I ever have in my entire life, and joining a writers group has given me even more opportunity to write for an even broader audience outside the scope of this blog.

It really is awesome to sit with a group of writers for awhile and read their stories. You have the opportunity to not only feel and see yourself growing on the page, but also the other members flourish as well, creating a sense of unison in the team. Growing in solitary is boring; growing with a team of writers is an amazing experience. As a group of writers, you feel like you are in a self MFA program, but without earning the 20 thousand dollar parchment.  In a writers group, the pressure of grades is not hovering over your cogs as you try to create.

There are several reasons I am looking to enroll in an MFA, but I am not sure it will ever hold the same weight as my writers group did for me. Time will tell, but I felt a sense of synergy with this group (and Father God, I don’t mean to smidge your name by suggesting their are other spirits and connections on this earth that are not you).

So, allow me to rephrase for clarity and glorifying Him: I am blessed to have participated in a writers group.

 

How I Brainstorm and Store Topics for Daily Writing

One of the many challenges of daily writing is coming up with topics to write. In order to combat this challenge, I have created a list on my Trello board to act as a repository for possible blog topics. Written simply, whenever my brain thinks of a topic, I open the Trello app on my phone, and type a one sentence reminder to write about that topic.

A snapshot of my Trello board is below this sentence:

Trello2

Each card on my board represents a topics that is forthcoming to The Pledge. There are moments where I will feel stricken to write a blog post, so I will begin writing notes in my phone.

On the flip side, sometimes these topics in my Trello board don’t get written. At times, I find myself deleting about half of the cards. During other times, I find myself just writing due to inspiration. This post, for example, was not planned.

Overall, I find my process to be quite discombobulated; it is difficult to pinpoint where the creativity comes from. Thus stated, writing is a process. Writing has potential to reproduce God-like ideas. I will continue to write my ideas down, but also be open to the ebb and flow of creativity that God has granted us.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my writing process.