Class of 2017

I was supposed to be class of 2018. It feels so weird. I don’t really know what I’m doing anymore. I graduated college – technically. But I didn’t stick around for the ceremony and stuff like that. I’m just not into that sort of thing so it almost doesn’t feel official. And that bothers me. It’s like the rest of the world won’t validate me because my diploma is being mailed to me instead of me walking across a stage in an expensive cap and gown that I would only ever wear once in my life. I didn’t want the fanfare or any of that, but it would be nice to feel like I really did something.

It also feels weird because for the first time in about 16 years I don’t have plans for the fall. Originally my best friend and I had planned to move to Indianapolis, but that just isn’t going to happen at that point in time, maybe by January, but the fall is so up in the air I don’t remember what it looks like.

I’m also looking at getting a job in my field – for which I need more experience than I actually have – or even possibly, graduate school, but those just don’t feel right at the moment. I mean, I know I’ll have to have a full-time/permanent job of some sort eventually. How can I get away from that? I mean, I’m also looking into being an entrepreneur/freelance writer, but I don’t quite know if that’s right yet. What do I do? What is right?

I feel pressured from all sides right now to “grow up” and “get a big girl job” and to know what I want to do with my life. But the problem is that no one seems to remember that I’m only 20 years old and most people my age don’t have to have a clue for another year or two. I’m getting out of college a year early, two if you want to be technical since I barely made the birthday cut and started school a year early, and that’s confusing.

My parents think I should go back to school for that masters of library science as soon as I can because the longer you stay away from school the harder it is to go back, but I just don’t want to go to school for that anymore. I don’t want to be a librarian anymore. And frankly, I’m so done with school right now that it’s scary.

PLUS! I have a bachelor’s degree already which neither of my parents do. I’m already ahead of where they are speaking from experience. If I don’t want to go back right away I don’t think it’s a big deal. Why spend THOUSANDS of dollars on a master’s degree that I don’t even want?

I feel like a kid again who changes their mind on who and what they want to be when they grow up – every five minutes.

But I do know that library science is not for me.

Here’s the thing, though.

Retail – which I’ve been working all of college, is SO NOT my thing. I don’t do as well as I would like, though my employers seem to think I’m pretty good at it. I don’t enjoy it. I dread it. I even cry over it. But a 9-5 office job, or library job, which can be exciting but is also pretty well structured and you have to wear nice clothes all the time, be at certain places and have your day scheduled out in some form, and you basically sit at a desk all day – that really doesn’t appeal to me either.

I need adventure and I need a more chaotic lifestyle to thrive. I don’t like to be overworked unless I’m choosing to do it rather than being required to. I don’t like to be bossed around at all. (I’m a rather dominant personality.) And unlike most people my age, I didn’t live the first twenty years of my life socializing and doing fun and interesting things. I lived the first twenty years of my life with my nose in a book and waiting for interesting things to happen to me. I’ve only just gotten a taste of what it is to have fun and go on “adventure girl” moments.

I want to write more than anything. But it’s Sunday night as I begin this post, two days after graduation and this is the first thing I’ve brought myself to write since I finished school.

I had a professor whose mantra is was to say “Writers write and when we don’t write we read,” and dear lord, school did a number on me and my writing. I was required to do so much that I started avoiding writing at all costs. I do anything but write and I don’t write unless I have to now because it got so stressful. Let me say something to all writers right now that are looking at a creative writing program.

DON’T DO IT. Major in anything else. Just do not major in writing. Major in literature, history, or a science of some sort. Majoring in writing will alienate you from your craft. don’t make it your life. Make it your art. make it the thing that allows you to do the other things. Do not make it the thing that you have to do. Make it the thing that you want to do. Take a few writing courses, eve take it as a minor if you have to, but do not make it the only thing you do.

Don’t get me wrong. I am forever grateful to BSUEnglish and what they made me into as a writer and a student, but take my advice with my newly minted bachelor’s degree in the damned craft. If you really love writing you’ll do it no matter what you major in. I promise. If it’s not what you really want to do, then you aren’t a writer and weren’t meant to be – just yet. There’s always time to write. If you aren’t six feet in the ground yet, you have time to write that great American novel, or the great French novel, or the great Canadian novel. Whatever Great insert your: nationality/ethnicity/sexual orientation/planetary preference here Novel. Those are the facts of life.

If you major in anything else you will learn so much and you’ll have fuel for your writing. You’ll become something else. You will learn to do things that you’ll get a job doing and you’ll write about it all and you will have so much to write about. And you will be amazing.

Me – I can almost feel myself about to move into my grandparents’ permanently as I work at Lowes or some other retail place for the rest of my life while I try to write. I don’t have a degree that qualifies me for much other than academic or office type jobs.

If I go back to school for anything it’ll be for a second bachelor’s I think. Maybe in Zoology, like my best friend, or in environmental studies, some science that lets me be outside and doing fun and interesting things. Something that will take me on a real adventure. Or maybe I’ll find an apprenticeship program and get my dog training licence. That sound like more of an adventure than what I’m working with right now.

I wish I could post a Bilbo Baggins “I’m going on an adventure!” meme right now but I don’t feel like it’s appropriate at the moment. I’m looking for an adventure rather than going on one right now. Eventually I’ll get there, and when I do there will be LOTR memes galore. I can promise you that.

 

What am I doing?

Yesterday I put four works in progress (WIPs) to bed. Each WIP was at one time an inspired piece.

Rise of the Dragon’s Daughter started when I was sitting in a doorway of my high school waiting for my SAT math prep class to start. Eventually, it grew into my main work, with me finishing a draft of the first book in the series, or so I thought, my senior year of high school. I was urged to just edit for grammar, spelling and self-publish. I’m so glad that I didn’t do that like I had originally wanted to. As I went back over it for revision I figured out that there was a lot about the story itself that wasn’t sitting right for me. I’d told the wrong story. Now, after three years of revision work on the first third of the book, I need to step away. I’m not touching that manuscript again, I think for at least a year. It’s for the best.

Song of the Traitor King  I’m putting this to rest for good. This project has lost my interest and is just… done, but not in a good place done. I might use pieces of it elsewhere, or I might come back to it in a decade and see something new and start with a new piece based off of this one.

Dear… So this one is just shelved until I’ve had some experience outside the classroom to work with.

The Forest, a T.V. Series Script. I’m not sure why I started this one… a prompt I think and then I got excited about it… and then I got unexcited about it. I think this one needs some distance as well, just to figure out what the actual plot is. I have a setting, but no plot… and that is not a great problem to have. Without a plot you have no story and right now my plot is only a setting.

So here’s the thing. I’m putting all of these to rest. I think I want to work on some short stories for a while, see if I can’t publish some of them. Of course, I need to start said stories. I have started a new storyboard on Pinterest, we’ll see where that goes, but that looks like it would/will be a longer work and I’m not sure I’m at a place in my craft right now that I want to start writing that long of a piece just yet.

And while I’m putting these things to rest, I’ve come to a decision. I have to get out of the classroom if I’m ever going to write anything. My professor said that in class Tuesday and it’s been nagging me. I have to read, and I have to live, I have to do things. So…

I’m not going to graduate school this fall.

Continue reading

This Doesn’t Feel Like Life

Yesterday my best friend had a bottle of wine in her car and she ran over my foot.

Maybe I should clarify, she was not drinking said bottle, it was closed, and still has not been opened to my knowledge.

We started our day by her waking up at 7ish to go to work at 8, I woke at about 7:30ish after she left and got ready for work before going in at 9. I stopped at Dunkin donuts on the way for coffee. We both worked until 4 pm.

I should note that we both work at the same CVS pharmacy and I stay at her parents’ house on an air mattress in her bedroom. She got me the job after I figured out that on-campus jobs a) did not pay enough, and b) just weren’t enough activity for me… also I had problems at that last job that it would be unprofessional to go into.

Right after we got out of work we drove back to Muncie in separate cars because we had worked such different hours Friday and Saturday we couldn’t manage to carpool like a normal weekend. When we got back we drove directly to the overflow lot at Ball State where I park my Gramma’s car during the week.

My Gramma is awesome and lets me drive her car because I kind of need one to be able to do things like have a job off campus.

While I was transferring my things from my trunk to her car she somehow got it into her head that I was already in the car… I don’t understand because I was at the rear passenger door and not in the seat next to her. My foot happened to be next to the back wheel and she started moving to get out of another person’s way. I started yelling at her to stop, and stop she did… on my foot.

For what felt like an eternity and was probably less than a minute the car sat on my foot as I yelled at her, “It’s on my foot! Get it off! Back up!” and other phrases similar to that effect. And she stared at me as if she did not understand.

In my memory, she said something along the lines of “Well just pick it up.” or “Move your foot, then.” But now I’m pretty sure she didn’t say anything in reality… even if I remember her saying something.

Finally, I managed to look her in the eyes and say. “Reverse! Back up! You’re on my foot!” And then it dawned on her. You could see this little light flip on in her head and she reversed the car and was halfway between laughing and feeling really bad and apologizing.

The whole way to dinner at Panda Express she apologized, and I imagine tried not to laugh. I was a big baby about it, but a 4000# car kind of hurts when it’s on your foot so I think I had a right to be a bit of a baby. Nothing was broken, it’s not even bruised or swollen, but it was sore all last night and I can still feel the remnants of that particular pain.

Eventually, she bought my dinner to apologize for “running me over”. I decided not to argue because I just got over the flu. As a result, my last paycheck only had 8hrs on it. So enough for gas money, maybe.

After dinner, we went to the library and studied for 3-4 hours, till 10 pm. I finished reading the screenplay for Passengers, One of the more recent films that came out. I’ve seen the film so I didn’t mind reading for spoilers… and let me tell you this… no spoilers. The original story in the script was a way different ending.

But all of this is just a segway into what I really want to talk about today… I know, long segway.

I’m tired. No, that’s not because it’s Monday, and it’s not because it’s a positively dreary day outside and there’s rain pounding on the window while I have minimal lights on. I’m just tired. I’m depressed again, but I’m fighting it. I refuse to give in, easier said than done.

I’ve been talking about going to graduate school for library science and now, I’m not so sure… and that isn’t entirely the depression talking… or the nerves either as the application deadlines approach and I need to ask for recommendations from my professors.I kind of want to take a semester or even a full year off. I want to focus on my writing and maybe try to get a job with the degree I’m about to get in the beginning of May.

I kind of want to take a semester or even a full year off. I want to focus on my writing and maybe try to get a job with the degree I’m about to get in the beginning of May. My family originally told me not to take a year off after I graduated High School, and that was the correct course of action at the time. Now… I think it might be better for me and my goals if I took a semester or more off and decided for sure if I wanted to go into Library science, or if I wanted to continue my writing as my main focus.

Lord knows I haven’t been able to focus very much on my writing these last three years. If I have time I read and write for classes, not me. When I have free time I’m so frustrated with all my school work that I don’t want to read or write anymore. There are too many things going through my head from class for me to sort out what I want to do and what I have to do so I end up on Netflix or just sleeping. Sometimes I just sit at my friend’s apartment or in the library and surf the internet.

I feel guilty more often than not. I don’t feel like a writer. I don’t feel a drive to write, but a drive to get away from writing, to breathe.

Life isn’t a support system for art, it’s the other way around. – Stephen King

In my three years here at Ball State my art has become the one thing that is constantly being looked at. I’m being made to learn all these… really cool… things. I’m being given all these tools, but I’m not applying them the way they need to be applied. The art has become the focus and my life the secondary function of my existence. The demands of classes in my chosen form of art have made it that way.

I do have to add that this isn’t the fault of Ball State or the English Department. It’s not what my professors intended I think. But the way I scheduled things in my (successful) attempt to leave college within three years and with as little debt as possible, I managed to overload myself. I have so much art that I’m supposed to do that I don’t have enough life to go around. And I’m starting to really take this Stephen King quote to heart.

I have so much art that I’m supposed to do that I don’t have enough life to go around. And I’m starting to really take this Stephen King quote to heart. My life shouldn’t be my retreat from my art. Art should be my retreat from life so that I can live and be a moderately sane human being.

Just for this reason alone, I want to take some time off and live a little, let the art come as it will and support the ups and downs of life instead of life supporting my ability to create art.

As a result of all of these things, I’m going to be setting aside my current works in progress. All of them. What art I do for classes, I will do on my own terms. what art I do outside of class work will not be because I feel I have to because I’m a writer and that’s what writers do. What art I do will be because I can’t breathe without it. It has to be such a need that if I don’t do it I’ll go insane.

I’m going to read more outside of my class work.

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. simple as that. – Stephen King

Another Stephen King quote… and another extremely accurate quote. My professors would be proud of me for taking this one to heart. But they’d also be a little annoyed by what comes next… who know’s maybe they’re reading this now.

I’ve been reading so much for classes. I’m reading what they want me to read. I’m learning the tools they want me to have. Which is great, don’t get me wrong. It’s good to have the benefit of being taught by people who wish they’d known these things when they were in your shoes… but I’m also getting the picture that this is the like the prime directive.

For Star Trek fans, you know what I’m talking about. The prime directive is the law set in place by the federation not to interfere with the development of other worlds who aren’t as advanced as they are. For instance, don’t give missiles to people who haven’t quite figured out the bow and arrow yet, they won’t know what to do with them and will probably go crazy with the power because they don’t know how they got it or how to use it.

In this situation, I feel like the person who doesn’t know how to get the bow and arrow to work properly. I’m being guided into learning the technology for missiles to work, and I’m using it… but I’m confused. It’s not a natural progression. I’m not learning through trial and error so much as I’m learning by “sink or swim”… and if I sink, I drown. That’s not a bad way to learn, but it’s also proving to be dangerous.

The farther I go, learning things that I didn’t progress to in a wholly organic way, the less in love with writing I am. That breaks my heart. I’ve wanted to be a writer for a very long time. Even when I had brief flirtations with math, neuroscience, psychology, medicine, and zoology (all in high school), I still wrote. I was always working on one story or another. A poem, when I was angry.

I’ve wanted to be a writer for a very long time. Even when I had brief flirtations with math, neuroscience, psychology, medicine, and zoology (all in high school), I still wrote. I was always working on one story or another. A poem, when I was angry. It’s who I am/was.

I need some time to figure out if that’s still who I am.

I want to read. I want to learn on my own for a while and see if this isn’t really where I want to go rather than into the library field. I want to see if I really even need Grad School.

I recently heard an author say that you don’t need an MFA to write, it just gives you time to write and permission to live the writer’s life… Maybe I’ll take that to heart too.

Right now… it feels like there’s a metaphorical car on my foot. I can’t get away and I can’t move it. I’m freaking out, and I’m way too calm for the situation. I’ll keep you updated on how that works.

Driving Straight

On Monday, August 17th I woke up; like any normal Monday I did so reluctantly. I got ready for the day, and I packed up the last few items I needed and waited for my parents. The dog was worried, he doesn’t like it when he sees people packing large amounts of their life into a vehicle… When my parents arrived at my grandparent’s house where I stayed for the summer I moved my fish out to the van and the three of us got in. I was in the driver’s seat.

My dad wanted to listen to some music that he had just gotten on amazon, but I pulled rank as the driver. I was stressed and wanted to listen to the local Christian station as far as I could go and I did. we listened to it until it fell out of range and then I hooked my tablet to the auxiliary jack and continued with the Christian music. As I drove I was thinking. I was talking with my parents, but my brain was elsewhere.

I drove from Elkhart County Indiana to Delaware County so I could move in to my dorm early. I only received my learner’s permit this past May. The three-hour drive was a test in everything I have learned so far. The most important thing I thought of though was that no matter what you have to keep your eyes on the road in front of you. Don’t pay attention to the things behind you; they don’t matter. (Or at least they don’t matter nearly as much as what is in front of you.)

Between that and the Christian music it made me think about how people talk about the path of a Christian being straight and narrow. It also made me think about how Lot’s wife looked back on the destroying angels and was turned to salt. A particular song had come on and it said something about fixing our eyes on Heaven, rather than the distractions of life. That made me think about a song we had sung in church the day before: Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God. 

I’m going to be honest with you… I think that right there God was trying to teach me something wonderful.

In this life, full of distractions, we are obsessed with the past. We hold grudges and we look back at the things we have done or haven’t done. We can’t seem to make up our minds. We forget to look forward. We stumble blindly as though in the dark because we don’t look at what’s in front of us, but more than that, we never look past the moment. Rare is the day that we look past what we want and what will benefit us right now. Rare is also the day when we look past what is already behind us, wondering what we did wrong and what we could either change or repeat. We don’t focus on the future, on what is waiting for us.

This isn’t something just for writers. This is some basic advice for life. Look at what is ahead of you. For a Christian, like myself, we need to focus on God and on Heaven, for that is our future, that is what we have to focus on. Make your choices in life in order to best reflect what is coming. do whatever it is that will get you there. For many people God is not in their future. My beliefs tell me what the end of that path holds… but that is not the point of this message.

Follow your path, keep your eyes facing forward on what is ahead. Don’t look back for too long or you will either miss what’s in front of you, or crash into it. Make the right decisions and stay on your path, no matter what problems you see ahead of you. If you stray too far you might get lost and have more problems finding your way back than you would have if you’d just tackled the original problem.

Drive straight, Christians fix your eyes on God and on Heaven. Do not stray or let your path waver into sin and don’t look back on the life you led. Drive straight and get to God, he’s waiting with arms wide open.

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