Shake yourself out of a creative brain freeze by taking a walk

Sarah JS:

An excellent post! Sometimes we all just need a little fresh air!

Originally posted on onewildword:

I have a love/hate relationship with my computer. I love it for the way it connects me with people and makes it easier to do research and write. I hate it for how fried I am after sitting in front of it for hours at a time. And as much as I can accomplish with a computer, I find that sitting in front of it isn’t the best place to find those epiphanies that can change everything.

Some of my best ideas come when I’m taking a shower, going for a swim, driving my car,  and going for a walk. As it turns out, scientists have proven that people generate more creative ideas when they walk than when they sit.

Santa Clara professor of psychology Marily Oppezzo was the lead author on a study that measured creativity among participants based on if they were walking or sitting. Oppezzo and professor…

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Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower; Book Review

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Published in 1999 by MTV Books/Pocket Books.

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One of my favorite book covers ever!

I’m varying from my typical structure for this book review because every time I think about or begin to write about The Perks of Being a Wallflower, there is one central point that I cannot get away from, Charlie. Charlie is the 15-year-old narrator of the story. The book is written in the form of letters, from Charlie to an unnamed “friend.” They are very casual and journal-like. The letters balance between accounting Charlie’s day-to-day life and mining the diamond-like thoughts he unearths before us.

Charlie writes his first letter the day before his first day of high school. He is a loner, a listener, an observer, a wallflower. His only friend committed suicide the year before and his brother, whom he was very close with, left home to attend college. He reads an obsessive amount of books, enjoys walking around his neighborhood alone, and cannot seem to stop the tornado of thoughts from swirling 24/7 inside his head.

charlie

There are parts of Charlie that we all wish we could be
and parts that we all fear we are.

But through all that, I think the most important part about Charlie is this: there are parts of Charlie that we all wish we could be and parts that we all fear we are. He’s a thinker. He thinks about why he thinks things. He does not tunnel his thoughts; he lets them lead him. Because he thinks so much but rarely speaks, he uses writing to get the thoughts out of his head. That is where we, the readers, come in. 

The quote on the back of the book says Charlie is “caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it” and I surrender to the fact that I could not have said it better myself. The books he obsessively read is a way for his to escape, especially from his own thoughts. Its not a mistake that Charlie doesn’t think deeply about the books because if he did, it wouldn’t be much of a mistake.

We don’t worry about Charlie being a reliable narrator
because his thoughts, his interpretations
are all we grow to care about.

This next quote from the book struck me so true, it still puts a smile on my face months after I’ve read the book. “I almost didn’t get an A in math, but then Mr. Calo told me to stop asking “why?” all the time and just follow the formulas. So, I did. I get perfect scores on all my tests. I just wish I knew what the formulas did. I honestly have no idea.” Being able to plug Charlie’s personality into something as boring and irrelative as math class proves how well Chbosky was in-tuned with his character. It’s brilliant. 

I connected with Charlie (as so many people have). I felt bad for him and I felt sad with him. Written in any other point of view, this book would not be so successful. We don’t worry about Charlie being a reliable narrator because his thoughts, his interpretations are all we grow to care about.

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“It’s a true fact!!! People who edit things no longer neeeded”

This article was passed around my Editing Team at work and we got two things out of it:

1) echoing laughter

2) a stronger sense of job security

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! Here is the link! 

Book Review on The Long Walk by Richard Bachman aka Stephen King

The Long Walk was published by Signet Books in 1979. It was written by Stephen King but published under his pseudonym Richard Bachman. In King’s essay “The Importance of Being Bachman” he says “Bachman, a fictional charter who became more real to me with each published book which bore his byline, was a rainy-day sort of guy if there ever was one.” The Bachman essay was place at the beginning of my copy of The Long Walk and interested me very much. The full essay can here read here on Lilja’s Library

SummaryThe long walk

The novel is focused on an annual event where 100 boys under the age of 18 walk as far as they can without stopping. The event, called The Long Walk, begins in northern Maine and goes on until only one boy is left walking, several days later. If a walker falls below 4 mph, they are given a warning and after their third warning, they are out of the competition. Sounds like all fun and games, right? Wrong. Because what I left out, what the author leaves out until the moment the first boy gets his third strike, is that there are armed guards lining the road and after the third warning is given, the boys are shot and killed. With guts spilling out of their stomachs and pools of blood drowning their teenage bodies, the boys are killed on the spot in front of thousands of onlookers. Do I have your attention now?

The Long Walk is a very dark, brutal story. Much darker than other King novels I have read. In many ways, it is a psychology study of the boys. “Why did we volunteer to do this?” is a question that periodically rises in the boys’ conversation. Our main character, Ray Garraty, never even expected to win when his name was drawn out of the national pool, yet, ignoring the persistence of his parents and girlfriend he lets the drop-out dates pass by. “We want to die,” was one of the boy’s theory, “we all want to die.” Of the many walkers we are introduced to, only two, Stebbins and Scramm, portrayed any confidence that they could win.

That poses an intriguing question: Does our society rely so much on pride that we are willing to give up our young, blossoming lives just so we don’t have to say that we backed out of a competition?

Characters

In a story where the only present characters are 100 teenage boys, you would think they would all mesh together with vague differences but that is not the case. There is a good variety of personalities, with traits that help them stand out from one another. Some are self-righteous while others are humble. There are hick country folk as well as city boys. Some are smart and ambitious young men, others were content high school dropouts. This mix of personalities made that resurfacing questions even more interesting, “Why are we here?”

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Timeline

The story beings when our main character, Ray Garraty, gets dropped off at the Long Walk and ends at the conclusion of the event. There was no filler, no afterword, no flashbacks, no perfectly wrapped up conclusion. In my opinion, it was a perfect timeline for the story. Clean and clear with no thrills.

Overview

FIVE STARS!!! The Long Walk is an outstanding character study focusing on human’s most natural instincts; friendship, love, hope, pride, fear and most importantly, the desire to live. The story shook my bones and rattled my soul. It may be a slow moving plot but it will keep your mind racing the entire way through and for some time after.

dead end

The ending ***SPOILERS***

I normally hate giving away the ending of books but this one had such great symbolism and emotion that I had to discuss it. So, if you haven’t read The Long Walk but plan to, DO NOT READ FURTHER! At the end of the book, Garraty approaches Stebbins to tell him that he was done, he was going to surrender. Stebbins seems to have gone crazy and surrenders himself. Going into this scene, the reader is not aware exactly how many boys are left but after Stebbins dies, its clear that Garraty is the last boy standing, he has won The Long Walk! But up ahead Garraty sees the dark figure of another boy, unsure who it is, but clear that he is still walking. Like the reader, he is somewhat lost, he does not immediately realize that he has won. Because he never expected to win and was prepared to give up only seconds before, the win shocks him too deep to be put into words.

Garraty was unique in the way that he cared about the boys, more than anyone else he became friends with many of them and the other boys often confided in him in ways that they would not to the others. (Examples: McVries told him the story of his scar; Baker asked him do something for him if he won, “I’m scared to ask anyone else,” he’d said.) Because Garraty felt for the other characters, he will carry them with him forever. He may have won the competition, but the dark, ambiguous figure Garraty sees in front of him on the road indicates the walk will never end for him. Those dead boys—his dead friends—will haunt him forever.

5 Things Every Writing Space Should Have

As I currently redesign my “writing room,” I’m constantly thinking about what I want the room to be. What color should I paint the walls? What kind of decorations do I want to hang? What should I fill my bookshelves with? What do I want the general feel of the room to be? I understand not everyone is lucky enough to have an entire room they can call their “writing room” (and I feel very grateful to be one of the few) but I think every serious writer needs a “writing space.” Somewhere they sit down and immediately feel like writing is the right thing to do. If you want to be a writer and don’t already have a writing space, make one! It could be the desk in the middle of your living room or the corner table at the local coffee house. It could be the porch in your backyard or a park bench with a notebook on your lap. Wherever it may be, however big or small, keep the following in mind when you choose a new spot or perfect your current one. 

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1. A Sense of Comfort

If your not comfortable, you won’t be able to focus on your work. If your too cold or too hot you’ll be strangled by blankets or wishing you were jumping in your neighbors swimming pool the whole time. If your in public and worried about that creepy barista staring at you, get out of there! If your roommate’s giggles are echoing through the apartment as she watches that movie with her new crush, put your headphones on. Control the things you can control, put distractions out of reach.

writing room post it

2. Writing Tools

At the minimum you need a notebook and a pen/pencil. Maybe also a desk, a computer, a chair, post it notes, inspirational photos, a window, a whiteboard to sketch an outline, music, headphones. Not everyone will need all of these things but everyone’s writing space should have all the tools they need to make Number 1 a reality.

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3. BOOKS!!

Is this not the thing that inspired us to write in the first place? Then it should be there to always remind us and to teach us. Reading is essential to any writer’s success, so make sure to have books close at hand.  We’ve all heard Stephen King’s quote, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” And he is right. Reading is how we learn as writers, its how we figure out what we like and don’t like, what works and what doesn’t, what makes our eyes zoom across the page and what makes our eyelids heavy. Not to mention that if you enjoy writing, I’d be shocked to hear you don’t enjoy reading. So keep your books close! 

writing room

4. Resources

This will most likely be more books; a dictionary, thesaurus, a book of interesting facts or jokes. Books on writing. I know what you’re thinking, why do I need books when I can search all that stuff on the internet? Well, when you’re hunched over your keyboard for hours and you suddenly can’t spit out the word on the tip of your tongue, why keep hunching over the keyboard to Google it when you can lean back in your chair, grab a book and flip a few pages until inspiration strikes?

writing wordle

5. Something That Reminds You Why You Write

Place your favorite book on your desk and mark your favorite passages. That quote that puts it in perspective, paint it on the wall above your desk. Pictures of people and places that inspire you. A collage of beautiful, mysterious, interesting, curious, unique thought-provoking Google Images. A Wordle image that includes everything you need to remember while writing. Make it personal. Make it something that when your head feels completely empty and you throw your head back in despair, this something will catch your eye and say to you, “There’s a reason you’re doing this, don’t you remember? This is what you’re suppose to do. This is your art.”

Check back for pictures of my remodeled writing room!! I’ve had a lot of fun decorating it and am excited to share pictures!! :) Should be in a week or two!

“Amazon Won’t Kill the Indie Bookstore”

“Amazon Won’t Kill the Indie Bookstore” a great story from The Daily Beast.

My favorite quote from the article about an independent bookstore in North Carolina: “…the place is buzzing with life, a magnet not only for book buyers, but also for meditation sessions, children’s story hours, talent shows, young writers’ groups, and readings by everyone from seasoned novelists to poets to homeless people.”

Photo taken from The Daily Beast article

Photo taken from The Daily Beast article

Turn Your Favorite Song Into a Poem

music typewriterWriting prompt:

Pick a song, one with lyrics that really speak to you, and turn it into a poem. Stay true to the meaning and the story but feel free to delete and add small parts. Reorder words, lines and entire paragraphs if you want. You can choose to stay true to the rhythm/rhyme scheme/point of view, or you can change it. As long as you focus on discovering and strengthening the parts that stir emotion within yourself, you can do whatever you want. 

I completed this prompt with the song “Monsters.” Written and performed by Timeflies, featuring Katie SkyWatch the music video here! 

timeflies

Rob Resnick and Cal Shapiro from Timeflies

 

“Monsters”

A poem by Sarah Schneekloth

based on a song by Timeflies

 

I know it can’t get worse than today,

sitting here

while she’s trying to rehearse what to say.

She’s in the bathroom, hoping I’m not in earshot.

A cup of coffee still steaming, staring back at me

and it’s blacker than the night.

I’m awake but still sleeping.

 

She’s getting used to the sound of her teardrops.

 

Splash,

it hits the towel.

 

I know it’s been awhile

since you’ve seen me smile and laugh.

I’ve been in denial since it happened.

I can’t explain this

so I keep it all inside,

wear my pain

but it’s masked by my pride.

She finally came to hold me and she cried.

She stared into my eyes and said…

 

“I see your monsters.

I see your pain.

Tell me your problems,

I’ll chase them away.

I’ll be your lighthouse. I’ll make it okay.

When I see your monsters I’ll stand there so brave,

and chase them all away.”

 

I can’t,

you won’t like what you see,

if you were in my head and had to hear my plea.

And could someone please shut off this fucking answering machine,

so I can stop leaving these messages that you will never get.

And all these cries for help you’ll never see,

you’ll never check.

But I guess it’s easy for you to leave.

But believe me, this isn’t something I’ll just forget.

I’m still sitting here wondering

who did it

while I’m staring out our front door, knowing

you’ll never walk through.

Said you’d come right back.

A blank stare as I stand so alone,

I know you’re never coming home.

 

I’ve got a heart made of fools gold,

All the promises I told, they keep chipping away.

It’s hard to get to know me

when I don’t know myself.

And it helps cause I felt I was down,

I was out.

Then you looked at me and said…

 

“I see your monsters.

I see your pain.

Tell me your problems,

I’ll chase them away.

I’ll be your lighthouse. I’ll make it okay.

When I see your monsters I’ll stand there so brave,

and chase them all away.”

 

Now I have to be so brave.

I’ll chase this away.

 

Book Review: This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Published in 1920.

Summaryparadise

This Side of Paradise follows the young life of Amory Blaine through the 1920s. Believing he has an extraordinary future ahead of him, the Minnesotan attends boarding school overseas and then goes on to Princeton. He leaves Princeton early and serves in World War I. The war and Amory’s time in the war are not described at all. What is described are the relationships he has with the people around him. We see him fall deeply and quickly in love, only to walk away from it a few days later. Knowing nothing about Amory’s father, we see him develop a father-son-like relationship with a man who believes Amory is his reincarnated self. The friendship between the religious monsieur nearing the end of his life and an adventurous young man who does not believe in god is an extraordinary one. Later, we see Amory fall in love again, this time to a woman who loves him just as deeply. In the spirit of the 20’s, the woman chooses to marry a man of wealth, choosing security and status over love.

The novel is known for the clear picture it paints of the 1920s. This post-WWI age was one where drinking, casual dating/kissing, jazz music and flappers were the new rage. Some critiques consider This Side of Paradise the first (and maybe only) book that truly captured the life and culture of 1920’s youth.

Scene vs Summary

Too much summary for my taste. Because of the extended timeline, a good amount of summary was needed but there were times when I would have preferred to jump into the scene and learned things for myself rather than be given an broad explanation of how events have been occurring. There were no flashbacks in the story and very little to no summarized backstory. Again, this was supported by the extended, linear plot line but it simply did not work for me. The life of the main character felt too normal. He wasn’t doing anything extraordinary, the people in his life were bland, ect. Although, I’m sure many would argue that the brilliance of the book is the way it explores ordinary life. I won’t disagree with the literary writer’s belief that every character’s life holds a story worth telling.

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Every writer alive has heard the phrase “write what you know” multiple times. I assume the same goes for the early 19th century when Fitzgerald wrote This Side of Paradise. If not, the phrase may have sprung into being out of this book!

Like his main character, Fitzgerald grew up in the Midwest, went to boarding school out east, attended Princeton, and dropped out to join the military. It takes place in the same years that Fitzgerald himself grew up and even a lot of the Princeton “clubs” mentioned in the book are actually present. The book is Fiction so we can assume details and characters are made-up, but I believe its safe to say that every writer portrays part of him/herself in their main character. In this instance, my guess is that Armory Blaine is an exaggerated version of the young Francis Scott.

1920’s language

There is no denying that Fitzgerald had a way with words but reading prose from nearly 100 years ago (published in 1920) can be jarring. I find it similar to reading a book written in exaggerated slang/accent or a strange structure; sometimes you fall into the grove, sometimes you don’t. I could not get into the grove of this book. Though I’m sure the language flowed beautifully in the 1920s, it was too choppy for me. The letters written between characters were specifically jarring. Is this really the way people talked to each other in the early 19th century? I suppose it was, but in 2014 it doesn’t seem realistic. So unfortunately, it threw me out of the story.

As The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books of all time, I know this feeling does not encompass all of Fitzgerald’s work or classic literature in general.

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Overall

2 Stars. It was a decent book. Although I’m sure the language flowed beautifully in 1920, it kept throwing me out of the story in 2014. The plot line was not a very engaging, the side characters came and went too quickly, and the story as a whole failed to leave an impression with me (positive or negative). Therefore, 2 stars is all it gets. 

Discussion Point: Because the main character of This Side of Paradise is a teenager/young adult, would you consider this a young adult novel? Although a lot of stories with teenage characters don’t stay true to the typical young adult themes, they are often still placed on the YA bookshelf. What do you think?

Check out some of my previous book reviews: 

Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep

The Storm at the Door by Stephen Merrill Block

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

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Word Crimes Video

Any and all WORD LOVERS need to check out this video!

You won’t regret it! 

Word Crimes by Weird Al 

weird-al-grammar-hed-2014 word crimes1 WordCrimes

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