Life

What I Learned from 2016

6:00 AM

I have learned so much this year. Far more than I could ever fit in one post. But since my seventeenth birthday was just two weeks ago, and 2016 is coming to a close, I thought it would be fitting to give you all sixteen things I have learned in my sixteenth year of life.






1. You can learn and grow so much from studying the bible for yourself.

Last January was when I finally started to study the bible for myself. It took some time to find a rythym of how studying the bible really worked for me, but every step of the process brought insight, development, and growth. I am not the person who started this year. I am much older, deeper, and I'd like to think wiser. And I definitely know God on a deeper level than ever before.



2. Editing takes time.

I started draft two of The Thief's Conspiracy in February and I still haven't finished it. It's taken me so long to make progress, in part because this is a new step for me in my writing journey. And it's still taking me a lot of time to understand that editing is not a fast process like first drafting. It takes time, and it is agonizing.


3. I enjoy blogging.

I also started a blog last February. And in doing that, I've realized just how much I enjoy it. It's a way for me to sort out my thoughts and share what I have learned with you all. And I am so glad I started it. The whole blogging community is amazing.


4. Growth takes time.

I wanted to grow fast. When I started studying the bible, I wanted all my issues to be solved like *snap* I didn't want to wait. Yet some part of me knew I needed to. Knew how important is was to take my time, to meditate and pray and not rush through it just so I could check it off my list. 

Growing takes a lot of time. A lot of things take a lot of time.


5. Bad situations will always exist in your life. Once you accept this, then you can learn how to handle them. 

Sadly, my first instinct when something bad happens is to go OH NOOOOOOO and kind of shrivel up and wail and flop and groan and just throw a massive pity party.

Which does absolutely nothing.

Bad things will always pop up in life. Something remotely bad is always going to be going on. So the best you can do is just suck it up and deal with it. Learn how to get over it and live with it, or fix the problem if you can. 


6. The world is so much bigger than you.

Which might sound kind of insulting at first, and rather dismal, but is actually a really good thing. Imagine if the world really was all about you? Every little flaw you had would be magnified, every mistake you made like a declaration of war in its importance. You couldn't rest!

Problems that chew you up and spit you out, that grind on your every waking thought, often lose their deathly, crushing hold once you step back and realize that life really isn't all centered around you. Other people exist, too. And a big part of our life here on earth is to help others.

Once you step back and appreciate that the world is bigger, that you are small, the problems that seemed so big before dwindle. Your priorities might become reorganized.


7. Lies that you believe take time to deal with and overcome.

There are a lot of lies that I struggled with this year. Lies I believed about myself, about others, about what others thought of me, etc. And I knew a lot of them were lies. But still, I couldn't overcome them.

It's so much bigger than that though. These aren't things you just "get over". You have to learn why they're there and figure out the truth to them. Realizing a lie is a lie just isn't good enough. Until you've gotten a hold of the firm, solid, undeniable truth, the lies slip and lose their hold.


8. Distance makes things harder, but not impossible. 

My best friend moved 1,652 miles away back in March. Half my closest friends live states away from me. Most of my childhood friends left for college in August. The distance makes things harder, certainly, but not impossible. Relationships may change, but you can still grow through it. Don't give up your long distance friends. They're golden.



9. What you think people think of you is often not what people think at all. 


(good luck making sense of this one)

For some reason, I had it in my little brain that most of my writer friends suddenly didn't like me very much at all, and that I was an annoying nuisance (in essence). I'm really not sure where these thoughts and fears came from, but when my writer friends surprised me with a laptop, I couldn't exactly hold to those beliefs.

Just because you think/feel something doesn't mean it's the truth.


10. You're not as bad as you might think you are. 

Before the workshop in June, I wasn't sure if I really stood a chance at being an author. I wasn't even sure if I was good enough. But the authors there all believed in us. You could see it in every class, every panel, every keynote. They believed in us. They knew we could do it, that we had what it takes.

I learned that I'm not actually bad at writing. I've still got a long way to go, but I've already come really far. Which leads to number ...


11. Writing is a journey.

It takes time. It takes growth. Every single step and stage has something to offer, some lesson to teach you. Stop concentrating on what you don't have and look for what you do, and what you can learn.


12. Things take time. 

This is a theme I've seen in this post so far that's going to get ZERO editing because I'm writing it at 1 A.M. Friday night with burning eyes and sleep calling my name so it must be a good point

This day and age is so rushed. We don't know how much time we have here, after all. How can we stand to wait? But growth takes time. And life is all about growing and changing and learning and discovering. But these things take time. Remember that.


13. Prayer is important.

For a long time I struggled with the question, "Does prayer even make a difference?" I still struggle with it (in one sense). But a good friend told me this, and it has erased many doubts for me. "Prayer may not change your circumstance, but it will change your heart." 

Prayer gives you perspective.


14. Loneliness can be felt when surrounded by people. 

I don't know about you guys, but that's when I feel most alone. Not at home in my room at night. When I'm at Church or a devo, surrounded by my peers with people who are only kind of my friends. It's okay to feel alone when surrounded by people. Just make sure you have real friends out there, even if they're a thousand miles away.


15. Live with intent.

Don't let things just happen by accident. Don't just go about accidentally doing things. Do things. Mean things. Think about stuff. Don't be afraid to explore. Don't hold back. We've only got so much time, after all. And things take time. So be bold and decide what you want to do and who you want to be.

You will become the person you want and strive to be, after all. Make sure that person is the right one.


And the last thing I will share with you today, the last lesson on my list is this.


16. Get your heart right.

Life is all about heart. Where is your heart?

It doesn't matter what you do. It doesn't matter how bad or how good you are. It doesn't matter if you helped the old lady with her groceries or treated your siblings nicely.

What matters is where your heart is.

Because once you get your heart in the right place, then these things will be the obvious course of action. Before getting your heart right, these actions are pointless and empty. When you get your heart in the right place, doing the right thing will become a part of you. And when you mess up, it's okay. Because you still tried to do the right thing.


There's so much more I want to say. But that's what Stan here is for, right? XP I'll be back again next week to blab. But I hope you enjoyed this post!

What did you learn this year? 


<3

Embrace It

6:00 AM

I AM BACK. (...obviously)


My brilliant brother worked for an hour to bring my beloved Natasha back to the world of internet and communication (for some reason she wanted to live under a rock) and now I can bring you all a post on this lovely Christmas Eve.

And, no, I'm not talking about Christmas (I love Christmas, don't get me wrong). Sorry. Should I? Maybe ... Hmmmm.

Nah. 



So nano was a thing that happened *sweats nervously* We've all had some time to recover from that, and I'm just getting back into edits on my pre-nano WIP, The Thief's Conspiracy. Before returning to this, however, I had some dark thoughts. I'd read some YA and couldn't help notice the similarities between my stories and others. And I began throwing around dangerous, detrimental questions.

"Why am I writing this book anyway?"

"It's taking so long--is it even worth it? Will anyone even care to read this?"

"It's such a wreck. I don't have a clue what I'm doing. I should just give up."

These thoughts are all very real and very difficult to ignore.

Which is why you shouldn't ignore them. 

Don't pretend they're not there: they are. Don't act like they're not really a problem for you. Acknowledge them. 

Don't push them away. They'll just creep back up in different ways that are harder to see. 

People (or at least, me) tend to think that admitting we have these thoughts and struggles makes us weak and cowardly. That we're being stupid and timid when we dare to utter aloud, "But what if it isn't actually good?"

But that's all wrong. It's totally wrong. The cowardly thing to do is shoving it aside. Why? Because when you're shoving problems and struggles away, you're just taking the easy way out. You're hiding from the battle, not winning it. Shoving them out of sight makes it so no one else can see it. It makes it seem to go away for a bit.  

But really? It's just deeper, buried under thoughts. And sooner or later ...

it

is

going

to 

come

back. 

Burying a fear does not get rid of it. It just gives it more power.

So when you're afraid of something, when you're struggling with something, don't shy from the thought. Sit down and fetch it and examine it. Look for the lie in it. If it's not a lie--just an ugly truth--then think about what you can do to change it. 

This applies to more than just your writing. Thoughts like, "I'm so ugly" "I'll never be good enough" and "No one likes me" are very big fears. Why should we hide them? 

I say embrace them. Embrace the fear, embrace the doubt. Embrace the hurt and embrace the flaws. They're all true to some extent, after all. We shouldn't hide from the truth. 

And then ask why. These are big issues here. We need to properly confront them. If you're getting hunted by an angry rooster, it won't go away if you run and put the barn between you and it. It's still there in the barn, and you're going to have a difficult time thinking about anything else, for fear that it creeps up on you and flogs you. Sure, it might forget about you for a while, but it's still there so the problem still remains.

"We get the point. Where are you going with this?"

Let me give you an example.

"I'm so ugly."

I'm sure this is a thought we can all relate to. We've all looked at ourselves in the mirror and disliked what we saw. So rather than just shoving that aside and saying, "No, don't think that. It's not true," just stop for a second. Look in the mirror and really let yourself think that thought that's usually just a little nag in the back of your mind, a nasty whisper in your ear.

"I'm so ugly."

Look at yourself. Why are you saying that? On what grounds has this fear taken hold? Do you really think that, or is it just a fear? And if you really think that, why? What part of yourself do you think is ugly, and why do you think those parts are ugly?

I'll use another little example. I have freckles. Lots of them. They cover my face and arms and legs. My skin is also a little reddish, to top that all off. And that's really a big insecurity for me. I always used to think my freckles were so ugly, and I would write my characters as having "pale faces" because in my little mind, pale and clear skin was beautiful skin.

Why did I think that? I'm not really sure. But we have a way of seeing something that's completely opposite of what we are and thinking it's beautiful--and since it's the complete opposite of what we are, that must make us ugly, right?

See, look at this progress. We've let ourselves think this thought and given it the recognition it was probably cowering from. Because when you recognize it, sometimes that's really all it takes to realize how stupid it is. Once confronted with the truth, lies have a way of crumbling and collapsing. Ugly truths are harder to overcome and get peace with.

Don't be cautious to think. Be cautious to hide from the questions and thoughts and fears. 


Well, I totally went on a rambling rant. (this post actually started out on a completely different subject oops) I hope this might have helped some of you in some small way. And that it, you know, makes sense. *sometimes doesn't actually make sense oops oh well*

What are some thoughts and fears you struggle with? How do you overcome them? 

stubborn Natasha + lack of sleep = posting break

6:00 AM

Hey guyssssss *waves weakly*

So my lovely laptop, Natasha, decided she did not want to connect to the internet, and so the post I had mostly written is now inaccessible to me. I am writing to note to you all on my little iPad keyboard, and wondering how on God's sweet earth it was that I blogged before my awesome writer friends got me a laptop.

I also need sleep.

I am just so tired, guys. And I think all of you can relate. Life is hectic and busy. So I'm going to take this Saturday off, and I might take next Saturday too if I can't figure out what's wrong with Natasha.

But I won't leave you completely Today without some brain thoughts! (Cause I'm just so nice) Where you might have read my post, instead I want you to do something different.

1) take a moment and pray. Pray for the amount of time it would have taken you to read this (five minutes, maybe?) or longer.

2) go hug your mom. Or your dad. Hug your family, say hi to them.

3) clean your room. (I don't know about you guys, but my room is a wreck. Nano's a thing. That happened.)

4) go outside and breathe. It's cold and windy but so beautiful. This earth is a beautiful place.

Wake up. Open your eyes and admire the beautiful world around you. Thank God for it.

I'll be back soon! <3

Nano

What I Learned from NaNoWriMo 2016 (AKA. in which i actually just ramble)

6:00 AM

You're probably getting tired of these, because let's face it: everyone is going to do a nano recap.

But you know what?

I DO WHAT I WANT.

So I'm gonna tell you how nano went for me and some things I learned because I'm sure you're all dying to know.

This is draft two of this post. I ditched the last one after I’d done this to about 50% of the thing and realized I was going absolutely nowhere. And embarrassing myself.

*sigh*

NANO IS OVER. MY WORDS SHOULD BE BACK.

Let’s see if I can be a bit more coherent this time round, yes?

I’d like to not just blab about my nano project, but give you a bit of brain thoughts to ponder. We’ll see. (I’m already rambling, aren’t I? I guess this post is determined to be a rambling post.)

For those of you who don’t know, I DID finish my novel! The last two days of Nano were … crazy, for lack of a better word.

I whipped out the last 15k in them, determined to finish. I know some people can do that much in a DAY, but this month wasn’t like that for me. I averaged about 3k a day, making several 5k days and three 7k days. My highest day was 8k, on the 29th. The novel itself came to a close at 94k words. Which … is not an acceptable word count for a MG novel. *proceeds to pound head against desk*


I also had something going on EVERY. SINGLE. WEEKEND. O.O I spent six nights away from home. That caused a bit of stress, but it all turned out well in the end! 

But I'm rambling. Here, let me tell you what I learned this month in a bit more orderly fashion. 





1) It is actually OKAY to write something new. 

I’d been working on draft 2 of TC for like, seven months. I was going a little crazy. Plus, I still have not received feedback on the three chapters I sent off, so the whole book was beginning to look rather ugly to me, dirtied in my eyes by the raging doubts and fears of my poor little writer heart.

But this book was just so … refreshing. I’m sitting here, and I know there’s a bunch of stuff to be fixed and lots of edits to be made. But I’m hopeful. And, really, I don’t have a single negative thought about this book. I don’t hate it, which will probably change when edits come round. But I don’t hate the mistakes I’ve made. I know they’re there, and that’s okay.

It's really nice to have something you can be proud of. Something you can feel good about when one child is being stubborn.

Breaks are important. Not just writing breaks in general, but breaks from specific projects.



2) WRITING ENSEMBLE CASTS IS HARD. 

I wasn’t really expecting this to be much of a problem, but it kind of was. In the depths of my sleepiness ridden nano nights, I would type out the wrong names and have the wrong characters speak and characters answer their own questions and some characters basically disappear because INCLUDING SIX CHARACTERS IN CONVERSATION IS HARD. Especially when it’s in certain characters’ natures to be quieter? But then somehow when you write a character who is quiet in conversation, it’s hard to make them not disappear.



3) WRITING MIDDLE GRADE IS HARD (at least considering word count and not killing people

A 94k word middle grade book is … not okay. So I need to do some serious cutting on that. I don't know how that's a possibility right this second, but that's what edits are for ... right? *uneasy laugh*

But yeah, writing middle grade has actually been really fun. When I write YA it's just so HEAVY and I don't know why but whatever. This book wasn't a bundle of happiness and rainbows and laughter, but it did have its moments. AND I ONLY GOT MISTY ONCE WHILE WRITING. I DIDN'T FULL OUT SOB AT THE END LIKE I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO.

Hm? Ha. No. Of course I didn't write a sad ending. Would I do that?

4) First drafts can bring new ideas and surprises 

Of course, I already knew this. But STILL. I say, go for it! Embrace them. It’s always super fun to surprise yourself

My biggest surprise from DW was probably the chapter length, which averaged about 600 words. 

,,,that's really short, guys.

I wasn't sure how I felt about this at first, but I ended up really liking the short chapters. It made things feel like they were happening faster, and allowed me to take full advantage of my omniscient POV while not head hopping, since I generally kept with one POV for each chapter. 

So if your book takes a turn you didn't expect, embrace it! The chapter length is just one example. This book gave me a nice amount of surprises, and I can't wait to see what edits will bring. Be bold! After all, what do you have to lose? 

And I guess that's really my last point so now I'm going to bold it to make it more meaningful and official.

5) Be bold with your writing. What do you have to lose?

Throw in an elephant named Herald? Sure.

A bridge of living birds? Dude, totally. 

Turn a car that's sinking into the liquid-like earth into a bunch of rubber chickens? Why not.

It's your book. And with draft one, it's yours and yours alone. A good friend once told me that draft one is just you telling yourself the story. So be bold with it. Be crazy! What do you have to lose, anyway? With the type of book I wrote, I had so many ways to be bold and crazy. I needed to be bold and crazy. I wouldn't have gotten a lot of good ideas if I hadn't taken the plunge.

Ignore that inner editor and ask, "Why not?"


I know, I know. This was a slightly rambling post. BUT IT'S BETTER THAN DRAFT ONE, I PROMISE. Next week I will give you a nice, clean post about the beauty of messy art. 

And since you've made it this far, HAVE SOME SNIPPETS. *hurls all my first drafty writing in your faces*


***

Wolf is my faaaavorite

***

Wimbo is also my favorite XP

***

And that's all of my first draft writing that you're going to see XP 


HOW DID NANO GO FOR YOU, MY LOVELY STALKER BEANS? What did you learn? Did your book surprise you? 

<3

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