It's SUMMER VACATION!!
As I said in my update post, I am doing a study abroad program in Brazil and I leave today. This quarter has been fun, but hectic. I learned so much from my classes that can actually be applied to the real world (I know shocking). It's a long flight to Rio, an early morning for orientation the next day after we arrive, then five weeks of learning and exploration. I may not be on here as much, but I will try to share bits and pieces of my experience abroad.
I finished the first round of editing for Our Father after seven months. Though, I only worked on it during winter, spring, and a little bit of summer break. The focus was on taking out scenes and sentences that didn't fit and replacing it with words that expressed what was going on. The edits were color coded for organization.
Purple: Explain something that is too vague
Red: Take out
Green: Add description/detail
Orange: Move a sentence or paragraph somewhere else
Blue: Change wording
I printed out my entire manuscript and went page by page cringing, laughing, and yelling at my characters. That took me about two weeks during winter break. Then, I made corrections to the typed version on my computer and a week ago. After my trip, the second round of editing will commence.
*Photo by Herson Rodriguez
Hello again! I've been gone for a long time due to school and other projects so here's an update post. This summer I will be going to Brazil, yes THE Brazil for five weeks. It's a study abroad program and we'll stay in Rio at a apartment style hotel. I am very excited for this opportunity and will definitely post pictures and short blogs about it during the trip. When I return, get ready for more posts about my novels including the editing stage, characters, and beta readers!
During this month I have been designing an online class for Skillshare, an online platform that gives you access to classes on various topics such as writing better poetry, entrepreneurship, how to use a camera, etc. I participated in their Teachchallenge to create and publish my first class by April 30th. They provided participants with deadlines for a small component like creating an outline or sharing your intro video. It helped me stay on track.
My class is titled How to do Research for your Novel and I give you a method to use to effectively find information. This process was nerve-racking for me. Sitting in front a camera filming videos for people to watch, finding great lighting, the process was stressful. It's a bit scary to put yourself out there especially for something you care about. Trying new things isn't easy, but the outcome is always worth it. As we acquire new skills from the many activities we partake, we should showcase and utilize them. I work at the front desk in a freshmen residence hall at my university. Through this experience I have gained interpersonal skills from interacting with people on a daily basis. Those skills are useful during networking events, grocery shopping, even parties! I can use them now. This is why I decided to create a class on doing research because I have a method -taken from my own experience during writing stories- that writers will benefit from. Once the class is published, I will share it on my social media pages so be sure to follow me @abbyakyiaw on Instagram and Abby Akyiaw on Facebook if you want to watch it.
*Photo by The Climate Reality Project on Unsplash
Creative idea: A story about a woman with Alopecia who finds out she is adopted from Madagascar. She tries to find her biological parents, but ends up becoming a Queen and dealing with Alopecia and self-consciousness about losing her hair.
Story title: The Other Side of the Mirror
-Word Count: aiming for 50,000
-Malagasy culture and traditions
Story introduction: Everything seems to go well for Volana when receives her first job offer months after completing university. Unfortunately her Alopecia resurfaces, causing a larger chunk of her hair to fall out. This prompts her parents to tell her she is adopted and her biological parents live in Madagascar. Volana then embarks on a journey to Madagascar in hopes of locating her parents and possibly finding a cure or solution to the Alopecia. During this search, she meets and falls in love with a King, becoming Queen of Fleur Fanjakana. This new position creates new problems and brushes away old issues as she deals with keeping up appearances and hiding her falling hair, while feeling frustrated at not finding her biological parents.
Story description: Volana has dealt with Alopecia her whole life. It comes and goes as it pleases, taking away chunks of her hair. Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease which means the body sees itself, more specifically, hair follicles as foreign and attacks it/ This causes a person's hair to come out. After finishing university and landing her dream job in a transportation company, Volana's alopecia comes back. This prompts her parents to reveal that she is adopted. Volana decides to save up for a year, take off from work, and travel to Madagascar. She thinks this will be a simple journey doesn't plan on the detours in her path, including marring a King and becoming Queen of the five kingdoms in Madagascar. During her reign, she deals with tensions with her husband due to the unsuccessful methods of curing her alopecia. She becomes more self-conscious about it, hiding her hair from the kingdom. Volana will soon come to realize loving yourself starts within, not with what you see in the mirror.
Story overview: A first person POV of Volana and Thulani (her husband), and a third person POV (kingdom). A woman has alopecia areata and finds out she is adopted. She attempts to find her biological parents but ends up marrying a king and becoming Queen of a kingdom. She has troubling acclimating to this new position while dealing with old problems.
This Skillshare class I watched was taught by best selling author, Preeti Shenoy, and she gave tips on the fundamentals of creative writing. Here are the prompts and my project:
1. Use a timer. Set it for three minutes. Now write down all the ideas that you get.
2. Create three characters using all that you have learnt. Remember to add the details!
Idea #1: 13 year old sculptor. Black hair. Lives in a village. Makes beautiful sculptures to sell. A local drug lord (King Caesar) employs Mitchie (Or he asks the drug lord) to puts bags of cocaine inside his sculptures ans ship them across the world. He makes enough money to help his village and his family. He moves into a house with his family. Of course they don't know what he really does, they just think his sculptures are in high demand.
Mitchie loves to sculpt. He started with pottery, making jugs, cups, plates, and other things for locals in his village. He's 5'4 and is in secondary school. Mitchie had mud brown eyes as he likes to describe them. He loves playing freeze tag with his friends. Mitchie also like to be alone. To gain inspiration, Mitchie takes walks at night when everyone is asleep. He stares at the stars and the moon. Mitchie wants to travel and help people in his village.
Idea #2: Old Lady Martha is lonely. Both of her children died in a train crash four years ago on their way to Greenwich. Old lady Martha as the neighborhood calls her, has a cursed diary with various entries in it. Those entries are made from the lives of people that become trapped in the diary. Then, she reads them at home and can them come to life.
OL Martha is a short lady that wears different capes depending on the day. She has burgundy, blue, black, red, purple, and glitter. Little kids love and abhor her. She makes breakfast at six thirty in the morning everyday except Sunday. She makes breakfast at eight. OL Martha lives by a strict routine of breakfast, a walk through the park, staying at the library for two hours, eating lunch at a nearby sandwich shop.
*Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash.com
On Thursday night, I attended a figure drawing session and Friday I strolled through two museums. One was specifically for photography and the other was all types of art. The figure drawing session took place in an art gallery and went on for three hours. It takes place in an art gallery called Pain Sugar, located in downtown Riverside. The sessions go on every Thursday night except the first of the month. I attended the session three times before and all the models were female. This time we had a male model. I always enjoy these sessions. Even though I don't draw exceptionally well, I still try and my drawings have gotten better each time. The vibe there is calm and encouraging. It's a chance to release those creative juices. Not only do I draw, I write poetry during this time and recently started writing stories. I write a couple lines or a paragraph then draw the pose that accompanies it. Many people may feel uncomfortable drawing a nude model. The first day I went, it was a little weird, but everyone participating is so focused on the art. Of course, I also wanted to respect the model. It takes a lot of confidence to do that.
I went to the UCR/ California Museum of Photography and the Museum of Art in Riverside. The first museum displayed commercial photography by various artists. There weren't many pieces shown, but I enjoyed walking around viewing the photographs. The Museum of Art had multiple exhibits and pieces of art by high school and elementary school students. One exhibit was dedicated to the people of Japanese descent held in internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It had replicas of the tags they had as identification and a story about a family during that time. Another exhibit had excavated artifacts from Tlatilco, a village that thrived in ancient Mexico.
Yesterday was filled with exploring many forms of art and walking the city enjoying the atmosphere. To see hard work, dedication, creativity, research, and care in these exhibits an pieces of art, inspired and motivated me to continue being creative and to believe in my self.
I watched another class on Skillshare by Morgan Lindsay Nelson and she explained the difference between suspense and surprise. Here is my project:
In the forest i saw
Rays of sunshine poked through the small gaps, illuminating my path just enough. The trees swayed in sync as if dancing together. I took a deep breath, chilly fresh, piney air, filling my lungs. Branches crunched and snapped under my feet as I continued down the path.
What is that?
A tremor overtook me as my heart beat hard against my ribs. A hand stuck out from behind a thick, gnarled tree. Tears welled up in my eyes, as I crept closer. The fingers were bloody with dirt stuck underneath the fingernails. The palms upward and bloody. A hand turned into an arm, and the arm became a body of a young woman. She had on yoga pants and a T-shirt, an I-phone wrapped in white earphones lying by her side. I dropped to my knees, my stomach about to hurl up the breakfast from this morning. Her eyes were closed, head turned towards the sun.
Rays of sunshine poke through the small gaps, illuminating my path just enough. The trees sway in sync as if dancing together. I take a deep breath, chilly fresh, piney air, filling my lungs. Branches crunch and snap under my feet as I continue down the path.
This is a lovely day for-
I stop in my tracks, a foot hovering in the air. My eyes widen, pulse racing faster than a racehorse on Sunday. My stomach warms and gurgles, this morning's breakfast of oatmeal and granola corralling its way up.
Drops of blood sporadically splattered over grass and branches lead down the path. My foot lowers. The trees sway forward, directing me on where to go.
I should call the police! I should- wait, what if someone is hurt?
The thought is enough to send me sprinting forward, hopping side to side avoiding stepping on the evidence.
Evidence? Oh no, this is a crime scene. A possible murder!
"No, no, I shouldn't jump to conclusions. Maybe someone fell or got hurt."
But the blood splatter... I've watched enough crime dramas and Dateline to know what that means.
"H-hello?" I call out.
Oh no, oh no, oh no! Maybe the person went home?
The blood trail ends at a thick gnarled tree to my right. A tremor overtakes me, my heart beating hard against my ribs. A hand sticks out from behind it. Tears well up in my eyes, as I creep closer. The fingers are bloody with dirt stuck underneath the fingernails. The palms are upward and bloody. A hand turns into an arm, and the arm becomes a body of a young woman. She has on yoga pants and a T-shirt, an I-phone wrapped in white earphones lying by her side. I drop to my knees, my stomach about to hurl up the breakfast from this morning. Her eyes are closed, head turned towards the sun, its rays kissing her pale, blue lipped face.
Skillshare is a platform where you can watch classes on anything you're interested in and learn a new set of skills. They have four categories: Creative, Business, Technology, and Lifestyle. Within these categories, they have specialized fields for you to choose from. I use the Creative category and click Writing, which gives me countless videos- made by real people from those fields- on how to write characters, pitch stories, plan a plot, etc. This is a great tool for someone who cannot go to a physical classroom. For each class, there is a "project" you do to try out the tips given in the class AND the teacher will give you actual feedback on it. You can explore it for free for two months by clicking this link: http://skl.sh/2pjW1B7
Now, as an example, I will share a project I did for a class called "Brainstorming Your Story" taught by Steve Alcorn. The objective was to write a summary of a new plot you could create a story from. The story I did wasn't new, but I wanted to write a revised summary and incorporate my new ideas. Here it is:
Mai Jenkins moves to New York to pursue her modeling career and faces hardships in this journey that test her character. She grew up with a single father in small town Venolia, Texas. She dreamed of walking down runways since she was five years old. Fifteen years later, she makes those dreams a reality. Mai expects the model life to be luxurious, filled with free fashionable clothes, champagne all day, and jobs coming in hot. Unfortunately, she soon realizes the modeling industry isn't all glitz and glam. Through hardships, lost friends, and expensive rent, Mai tries to stay afloat above the ever churning waters. In this journey Mai learns not to trust everyone who says they want to help her, and she begins to trust in her confidence. Not only does Mai's new life in New York bring hardships of the modelling life, but it causes her to grow as a young woman and find her place in this world.Not all that glitters is gold.
This isn't a finished product, I have always struggled with writing summaries, especially in school. Either I add too much or too little information. The teacher of this class message me and told me to add more of her challenges and how she overcame them. I didn't expect a quick response, but I'm glad he had a chance to look over what I wrote. Skillshare is a really helpful website and my writing is going to grow for sure.
*Photo by Kari Shea
Does it pass, does it cry? Does it sigh when it loses sunlight? We want more when there’s less, and less when there’s more. It gives us context and deadlines. Milestones and headstones. We can waste it or spend it wisely.
But it doesn’t exist.
Time is not real.
Humans created time to document the rays of sunshine. To categorize wake and sleep. Time is an illusion. You cannot run out of something that doesn’t exist. We have built a world around time and now it has authority over our lives. We will never have enough time to do something. It is never enough time to have fun. Each day comes and goes in the blink of an eye, next thing you know it’s 2025. So what’s the solution? Time management they say. But we don’t control the Earth’s tilt or rotation. We cannot bend it to our will and stop it on command. It goes on with or without us in orbit. Everyday is the same. We are living in the past, present, and future at the same time. There are no breaks between. There’s no yesterday or next week. We are floating in space latching on to meaningless words and numbers that elude us.
Remember this the next time you wish the hours could go by faster.
*Photos by Andrik Langfield and Ashley Bean on Unsplash.com
**Edited by me
This past week was Writer's week at UC Riverside. Writers of all kinds -poetry, non-fiction, fiction, essays, and others, came out to speak and share with the rest of us. Due to my busy schedule, I was not able to attend until the very last day. I'm glad I went. It wasn't about what I learned, but how I felt leaving the theater.
Sometimes when I leave workshops or events I don't remember much. Instead, a feeling is embedded within me. A surge of encouragement and inspiration to write better, study harder, laugh longer, or dream bigger. I could take notes all I want, but they'll just end up in the bottom of my bag or in the trash weeks later. The reason I go to these things is to gain something to apply to my life. They help me to stay motivated and remind me why I do what I do. For any career people think there is a secret, a shortcut, or a quick fix to get them ahead. We rely on others as a guide to our own lives, but they can't tell us how to live our lives. These professionals don't know us and everyone's path is different. It's the same with asking people for help. They will recommend the "best" plan without understanding your background. Options that work for someone else may not work for you. Person A may need to take a quarter/semester off school, or get a second job, or move to another state for better opportunities. Person B might take a gap year, delete their social media accounts, or start a new business. I take what they with a grain of salt while acknowledging what I am capable of. Don't limit your aspirations and possibilities based off another person's life. Their limit is not your limit. Their footsteps are not your footsteps.
*Photo by Ali Yahya on Unsplash.com
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