An Evening for Journaling

January 8, 2013 at 7:06 am (Events) (, , , , , , )

Journaling

Journaling at Half Price Books in Humble
Have you always wanted to keep a journal but couldn’t seem to get started? Your HPB in Humble will introduce you to the art of journaling. On Thursday, January 10 at 7 pm use your personal unique style to create your own pages, write your story and use your words as art. The first five attendees will receive free blank journals.

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Political Statements in Art

August 7, 2012 at 7:02 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Title: Animal Farm

Author: George Orwell (real name: Eric Blair)

Length: 80 pages

“Political Statements in Art” sounds a little scary, intimidating.  I grow weary of political statements.  But I am a reader, and among the list of most amazing authors of all time, though, great activists can be found.  Ayn Rand, Victor Hugo, Lewis Carroll, all had agendas when telling their stories, and whether you believe in their worldview, their stories were rather beautiful and undeniably artistic.  George Orwell is one of my primary examples of someone who managed to pull off making a political statement as a beautiful work of art, with the book 1984.  The book itself, is a long time favorite.  So when I saw that 1984 was on Bauer’s Well-Educated Mind: Novels list, I was very excited.  Yet, when the time came to read it, I found myself choosing Animal Farm instead.  Until this week, I had never read Animal Farm.

Although I had a general understanding of the novella, and the statement it was going to make, I was surprised when the animals all had real names.  Silly, I know, I just hadn’t expected that.  Not that I expected them to be called pig, horse, or dog, it was just one of those things I hadn’t thought to think about prior to reading the book.  Of course, I should have anticipated nothing less from Orwell, after all, the man was a genius.  In good literary form, Napoleon represents a villain, Boxer is strong, Snowball is the opposite of Napoleon, Squealer is the epitome of propaganda, and Mr. Jones is a typical neighbor you might love to hate – the human.  It is allegory at its finest.

Yet, I pretty much hated it.  How did this happen?  I adore Orwell! I do, I really do.  I just could not get into the anthropomorphism.  When I read animals personified to represent people, I find I don’t want them to be JUST like people.  I want my fuzzy mole to be a fuzzy mole who talks (Wind in the Willows), I want my mice to still live under floor boards and not have day jobs, even if they cook and clean (TumTum and Nutmeg), and so on.  Obviously, Orwell’s intent was for us to see ourselves as we are, “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which,” along with the dangers of communism and totalitarianism.

But who wants to be reminded of that?

Just kidding.  Truly, I see the merits of Animal Farm, and at another time I just may enjoy it.  But today, right now, this moment… I did not.  Still, I love Orwell.  I (usually) love to read his work, and (always) aspire to be more like him.  In Why I Write, he said:

“From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer. Between the ages of about seventeen and twenty-four I tried to abandon this idea, but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true nature and that sooner or later I should have to settle down and write books.”

Nothing speaks to me more.  I have been journaling, writing stories, and using the written word as my own catharsis my whole life, since before I could do much more than copy letters.  Perhaps I will never be the caliber of writer I’d like, but always and forever I shall write.  So because I write, also shall I read.

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Work Like Steinbeck… Journaling My Novels

August 6, 2012 at 12:28 am (In So Many Words, Reviews) (, , , , , , )

When I first started reading Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath, I was a bit disappointed.  Already having read Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters, I was searching for more of Steinbeck’s words and was met with mostly outside commentary.  There is still a great deal of Steinbeck’s journals in Working Days, I was simply being impatient.

Although I find the East of Eden Letters to be more intriguing, a representation of a more beautiful life; Working Days is more inspirational.  Working Days takes you step by step through the trials of being a diligent writer, of actively being purposeful, of learning a routine.  The act of learning dedication to the craft was refreshing and encouraging, Working Days reminded me “See, even Steinbeck had to work for it.”  Where as East of Eden Letters just seemed like a magical dream, the routine having already been discovered and maintained properly.

Although I would never dream to compare my work to Steinbeck’s, I found pleasure and familiarity from his entry:

“This must be a good book.  It simply must.  I haven’t any choice.  It must be far and away the best thing I have ever attempted – slow but sure, piling detail on detail until a picture and experience emerge.  Until the whole throbbing thing emerges.”

Is that not what we writers say to ourselves every day?

This picture features about half my journal collection.

Although I have always kept journals, both personal and story related, more often than not a mixture of the two; reading Working Days has put me in a new mindset.  My first novel is in a place where I feel comfortable with putting an absolute deadline in motion.  Sure, I’ve said this before, but I mean it more now than I have in the past.  I’ve written about 1500 to 3000 words a day my whole life, on various different stories, some for my novel, many for writing warm ups.  AJ and Ivy’s Bookshop Hotel, link found on the right, is one of my many writing warm-ups.  The problem with many of my warm-ups is that I find them easy and cozy and their stories have no direction so sometimes I opt to linger there rather than get real work done.

So now I have a plan.

From now until December 12th, my deadline of choice, I am going to write one journal entry page per one page of work dedicated to completing my debut novel.  Parts One and Two of my novel are currently in the editing process, and Part Three will be complete in time for this deadline.  Copies will then be made and submitted to a selection of friends and family to read over.  This time next year, I plan to be published.  This time next year, I plan to be making a new plan to complete my next novel, many are half written in one of those journals you see on display to the left of the screen.  Smashwords, here I come.  Dutton, look out, I want you.

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“I can always live by my pen.”

May 11, 2012 at 11:21 pm (In So Many Words, The Whim) (, , , , )

The above quote is from the infamous Jane Austen.  And although I don’t get paid for my writing (yet!), I’d like to think that I too live by my pen.

Journaling has always been such a huge part of my reading experience.  So I don’t know why I haven’t thought of it before, but I was reading through the blogs I follow this morning and discovered a new one: The Journal Keepers.  Immediately, I thought that it was about time I had a post about journaling.

Journaling is a crucial part of the learning experience.  When you read, listen, or are shown anything its so important to take note of new information.  After your notes, discuss how it affects you, and make plans for its use in the future.

Journaling keeps your brain active, keeps you on your toes.  Its also good for documentation – keeping tabs on all you’ve discovered and how you’ve changed over the years.  Its how you avoid repeating history and all the bad things of your past, see your progress, revel in your accomplishments.

There are so many different ways to journal.  Some people keep strict notes or outlines.  Some people make lists, tell stories, or merely share their day.  I’ve seen journals full of poetry, and journals full of nothing but sketches and other art work.  I’ve heard of people who only journal using prompts either from websites, magazines, books, or sometimes simply from the journal.

Mine? A combination of all of the above, but the prompts I usually come up with myself or get from close friends.

There are so many different ways to partake in this enriching activity, and it doesn’t really matter how you do it, the important thing is the doing itself.  I can’t imagine writing a useful review with out sitting down with my journal at some point while reading the book, or at least immediately after finishing the book.  I don’t know how I would effectively sort through my TBR pile without my beloved notebooks.  My entire life is chronicled, book after book, with messy, sprawling ink from my pen – years and years of thoughts, events, emotions, lists, notes, quotes, and more.

Do you journal while you read? How do you journal?

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The Mean Reds

January 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm (In So Many Words, The Whim) (, , , )

A blast from the past – this is an excerpt from a zine I used to write called The Toilet Bowl Diaries (issue #7):

Blower’s Daughter is my favorite song this season… along with Deftones’ Change… (both of which are featured on my Too Cold Outside 2005 mix) they suit the mean reds of winter, which I get quite a lot.  Anyone who has melancholy tendencies, is a writer, artist, raw and genuine, or blatantly a theatrical fake suffers from the mean reds at times.  Which is why Holly Golightly in Breakfast At Tiffany’s is such a well-loved character.  Capote wrote himself  a pure classic to stand the sands of time along with Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and Harrison’s Legends of the Fall.  It speaks to everyone, because in everyone there is a Holly Golightly and a Paul Varjak, the dichotomy of being human.

What do I do when I have the mean reds?  I go to Barnes and Noble with my journal and order Starbucks Caramel Chai Tea Latte with extra caramel syrup and sauce.  I find myself a corner under the painted eyes of Kafka, Steinbeck and all the other greats and brood about how I’m not one of them yet; and after a few hours of scribbling away in the journal of the month, with my extra fine precise black ink pens that bleed just perfectly (not so much its hard to read, but enough to feel like you are writing in ink as it was meant to be written in), I’ll smile and feel better.  My most creative thoughts and the beginnings of my most meaningful ambitions have come from  a day of the mean reds.

And there is nothing better than a bottle of jack while casually strolling the house naked/in a robe still soaking wet after a bubble bath in candlelight.  They are some of the most poetic moments of my life.

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Journal Entries from Christmas Past

December 20, 2009 at 9:26 pm (In So Many Words, The Whim) (, )

I’ve been going through my old journals, looking for scraps from stories that haven’t quite made it into my computer, pieces of characters for the books I’m writing that already exist on paper somewhere but are not yet official.

Instead, I find this:

Carlos said he’d grow his hair back if I’d be his girlfriend.  I told him I can’t because I’m getting married, I’m just not officially engaged yet.  Carlos has done nothing but proposition me since the day we met which makes me laugh because nothing will (or even would have aside from Jon) come of it.  But he is a good guy, fun, and attractive.

Ironic, I don’t remember this.  I vaguely recall the person I’m referencing, but I don’t really remember the particulars aside from a fleeting memory of him grabbing my hand at college and saying, “Let’s skip class and go make out instead.”  I remember that moment because my ears burned red and I pulled my hand away, flustered, and said absolutely not.  I can’t remember why not, but  honestly, until the re-reading of my old journals, remembered it as a one time occurrence.   Interestingly enough, it wasn’t.

How do we forget these things?  How do we not know them in the moment.  From my journals, I would tell my younger self that this was a man that was truly interested in something – maybe just physical – but something about me.  Yet, in my journals it is also clear that I was perfectly unaware of it all and I wrote about him as though he was scenery.

What else did I miss?

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