Today marks the end of my 14-day writing challenge (though this post might not actually end up making it online until day 15, since it’s currently storming and the internet and things don’t like that too much), and I can honestly say that working through these two weeks of writing definitely was a challenge, but it was also incredibly growing from a creative standpoint as well, which I’m thankful for. I originally decided to start this project because my creative reserves were basically empty, and I had recently had a good conversation revolving around the idea that sometimes simply stoking the fire of whatever you might be struggling with might be exactly what you need. So, instead of taking some time to think and brainstorm for creative purposes, I chose to force myself to write something, anything, for two weeks instead, to see what I could come up with, and it was surprisingly effective. Continue reading “writing challenge reflections”
The past couple days and rest of this week have been and are continuing to be pretty busy, which has been an additional struggle on top of the creative one for this 14 day writing challenge I’ve been putting myself through, trying to write something or publish something every day. I purposefully timed out this writing challenge to end just about the same time as I’m leaving for a trip, since I’m not sure if I’ll have the time to continue publishing work while I’m gone, but hopefully this writing challenge will give me the creative boost I need to at least be storyboarding and brainstorming while I’m gone.
In order to keep myself in the fiction mindset, I’ve been outlining and storyboarding a bunch related to an older ongoing project that I’m still hoping to finish at some point in time, but I’ve also been going back to older pieces that I’ve written a while ago when fiction came a little easier to me, looking at the style, voice, and some of the themes I was working with to see what I can continue to channel into my current work and what I’ve grown out of.
The piece below is one I recently went back to as I’ve been trying to rediscover and tap into my fiction energy. Originally published in my university’s literary magazine three years ago, this piece deals with several darker themes, something that I’ve oddly always been drawn to in fiction, which is perhaps why I love dystopian and noir works so much. On top of that, it’s still one of the better pieces I think I’ve written, perhaps because it’s partially inspired by real life, though I do see myself having grown out of some of the more dramatic elements as I skim through it a few years later. If you were wondering what kind of fiction I skewed towards writing three or four years ago, this piece would be a prime example, haha.
Currently doing some storyboarding for some more fiction I’m working on, but I discovered another piece hidden away in the archives that I had never published (seems like this is a semi-frequent occurrence). As I’m transitioning back to writing some fiction, I’ve been finding that it’s taking me a lot longer to figure out how I want to write things and what kinds of ideas I want to use, but maybe that’s more normal than I’m giving myself credit for.
With this piece, the primary idea behind it was conceived through a series of discussions I had at my Bible study where we talked about what it means to actually be a Christian in the 21st century, in 2016 and how we can sometimes read our own biases into the parables and stories we read in the Bible. Oftentimes, this manifests as us, as mostly privileged, American Christians, identifying more closely with the oppressed people groups described in the Bible rather than with the oppressors. However, something that we realized over the course of our discussion and Bible study was that while the Israelites and the entire nation of Israel have typically been the minority ethnic group and minority religion in the majority of eras, that’s not really the case for most Westernized or American Christians. What we decided is that more often than not, our actual lived realities align more with those of the oppressing Pharisees than with those of the oppressed Israelites. Interesting food for thought for sure.
Wow, writing this piece was definitely more of a struggle than any of the others I’ve written recently, but it does mark my return to fiction writing or fiction style writing for the first time in a while. Figuring out transitions and how this piece was going to flow from beginning to end were probably two of the hardest things I had to overcome while writing this one, which sort of threw me for a loop.
At any rate, this piece is based off a passage from Ezekiel 37, and I thought that adapting and reimagining something already in existence would be a good exercise to stretch out my stiff fiction writing muscles. Hopefully this will spur on some more fiction writing and energy in the next few days, but for the moment, I’m just glad I was able to get through this piece.
As I’ve been working on a couple short stories based on prompts I’ve been given by friends, I think my mind has also been reflecting back on a lot of the posts I’ve written in the past several days. Specifically, I’ve been pondering the effect technology has on our relationships in this day and age, since so many of us (myself included) practically treat our phones as an extension of our bodies at this point.
At the same time, I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts and divert more energy to these short stories so I can actually get them done (beside the fact that I haven’t written fiction in quite a while and those creative muscles are still a little stiff), but going through my old archives, I discovered this piece talking about relationships and technology that I had written several months ago but for some reason or another had just never put up anywhere. Its style is a little different and a bit harsher than some of my more recent pieces, but I think it’s still relevant, and I definitely still resonate with the original point behind it as well.
Side note: The next couple days are going to be packed, so I’m really hoping to churn out those short stories in a timely manner, but I suppose we’ll see.
After a couple days of writing almost strictly poetry, it feels a little strange to be writing in more of a prose style again today, but then again, I think my prose has always skewed a little more flowery and poetic anyway. The process of writing this piece was almost the reverse of when I wrote ‘roses,’ trying to originally put this piece through a poetry filter when it ended up emerging as more of a prose piece.
The initial idea for this piece came to me when I accidentally dropped my phone out of my locker while I was at the gym. At first inspection, all seemed to be well, but as I was getting ready to leave, I noticed some light refraction (really no other way to put it, haha) and realized that I had cracked my screen. My heart sank a little, seeing as I had already shattered my screen earlier this year and gotten it replaced, but my fears were quickly assuaged by a closer look that revealed it was only the glass screen protector that had a crack along its width (at least I think…I put it on slightly crooked, so it doesn’t cover the entire right side, and the cracks only extended as far as the border of the glass screen protector, with the actual screen underneath not appearing to have any cracks, fingers crossed).
With a sigh of relief, I hurried home and almost immediately ordered another glass screen protector from Amazon to soothe my OCD, which was when I started to think about how much we worry and think about our phones, because any damage is readily visible and because we look at our phones dozens of times every day, while forgetting about so much of the invisible pain and suffering that people around us have gone through that we might never see, especially if it was in their past and they don’t talk about it anymore, either because they’ve overcome it and it’s truly behind them or because they live under the pressure of our American society which stigmatizes mental illness or any severe emotional trauma that people may have experienced. Out of those reflections, this piece was birthed.
Final thought: I’ve always been fascinated with pieces of writing, whether entire books, poems, essays, etc. that are titled after one single line or scene from its body, so I played with that a little with this piece.
So I’ve decided to indulge all the literary-ness that’s been bursting at the seams recently in this post. If that’s not your thing, feel free to stop reading now, but otherwise, maybe some of these things will resonate with you. If anything at all, reading something trying to be artsy never hurt anyone.
Humans are many things. They are bipedal. They are intelligent. They have opposable thumbs, and they even have souls. But I think that above all, humans are frail.
What’s the frailest part of a human you might ask? Is it that thing in your head that controls all the other things? Is it that thing in your back that the thing in your head uses to tell all the other things what to do?
No. In my opinion, the frailest part of a human is that thing in your chest. Although, I suppose I don’t mean that in the most literal sense. I mean it in the sense that has probably touched a lot more people than arrhythmia; I mean it in the sense that it can get broken, and pretty easily I would say.
Isn’t it strange that the thing that rhythmically keeps you alive and the thing that causes you to fall in love and cry six times in one day share the same name? I guess it isn’t so strange though, considering that pain in either of them will cause you to feel like you’re dying, regardless of whether the actual imminence of your death is fact or fiction.
I suppose that’s why they share the same name.
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if humans didn’t have the second thing. (Because, obviously, you must have the first thing in order to be alive.) Wouldn’t it make things a lot easier? If that were the case, you would always know what the pain in that thing in your chest meant. There would be no instances of you feeling like you were going to die while being perfectly, completely healthy. Wouldn’t that be so much simpler?
But the thing is, that second thing does so much more than making you feel like you’re going to die when there’s pain in it. Because it also does that thing where it makes you want to spend all of your time with one person. It makes you feel like nothing else matters when you’re with that person.
What does the first thing do when there isn’t any pain in it? It functions. It keeps you alive. But nothing more than that.
And that’s the beauty of the second thing. It’s frail, but it also contains an unpredictable magic.
When the right combination of people, circumstances, and will come together, it creates a magic that can’t quite be described. Humans have a word for that magic, but it gets hijacked a lot to mean lots of different things that aren’t actually it.
But then that frailty comes in again. If you take out just one of those three magic ingredients: chaos. But I think the worst is when only the circumstances are wrong. The people are there and the will is there, but the circumstances don’t fit. When that happens, it just feels like the whole world is pitted against you. No one did anything wrong, so there’s no one to blame and there’s no one to be mad at.
What are you supposed to do then, when there’s no possible way to justify taking out your pain on someone else, when all of your insides feel hollow, when none of it really seems to make sense, and when you don’t know what you’re even supposed to do?
At that point, the only thing left to do is to reflect on all the good memories and be thankful for what was, instead of pining away for what could’ve been. Because all of those hazy, golden memories will always be there, but the future you envisioned might never be. And a lot of the time, you’ll find yourself saying that regardless of the pain that got into that thing in your chest, you still wouldn’t go back and change a thing, because it was all perfect the way it was, even if it ended the way it did.
But that doesn’t mean that you don’t try again. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you should stop creating your visions of the future. C.S. Lewis said something about how letting that thing create its magic is equivalent to being vulnerable, open to being broken, because by letting that magic happen with anyone or anything, there’s always the possibility that thing in your chest will get some pain in it.
But that’s just the frailty of that thing in your chest. Because humans also aren’t many things. They aren’t perfect. They aren’t invincible. They aren’t unbreakable. But most of all, they aren’t always strong, and they aren’t always immune to pain.
Because humans are frail. And the frailest part of a human is that thing in your chest. And even though sometimes pain gets into it, it’s almost always worth it in the end.