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
Have you ever wondered what personality type your character has? I took a personality test for two of my characters in “Our Father”. These men are brothers and have very different lifestyles. I thought it would be interesting to take the test and see how they would answer them. The link is at the end if anyone wants to try it out.
They described Nathaniel as practical and more logical than emotional. People like him have dedication in their work. They believe honesty and loyalty are most important. This sounds like Nathaniel. He’s a bit of a loner, and has a tough time trusting those around him. It also said they go the extra mile for the people they care about, even if they do not understand their feelings. They also love to acquire new skills and knowledge. The second character I did was his brother, Jason. Reading through the results, I kept saying, “This sounds just like him!”. The results were spot on. It described him as being a kind person that cares for others and their happiness. People with his personality type are sensitive, analytical, and can be social. They are very altruistic and sometimes their accomplishments go unnoticed.
Some of their traits did align with each other and I was kind of surprised. It makes sense though, they are very alike, but use those traits differently. They are both very caring of others and emotional. Nathaniel doesn’t have handle his emotions, while Jason sometimes suppresses them. This is a great tool to use if a writer wants to understand their character personally. I do wish I’d done this last year when I restarted “Our Father”. Recognizing your characters as humans and not just characters in a book makes them well-rounded. Their personalities drive the story. It is about them. Someone who suppresses their emotions is bound to explode at some point and that should show in the story. A reader can relate to them and comprehend their actions, or why they said certain things. Like I said, it's a great tool to use, even to understand yourself more.
*Photo by Photo by Marco Bianchetti on Unsplash
**Test used: https://www.16personalities.com/
This is something I wrote in high school about a piece of technology that mattered to me. I wrote about my old I-pod and what music meant to me.
My little blue I-pod has a crack on the top left corner, but it doesn’t take away the sentimental value. Music was introduced many, many years ago, and it has changed from different stages to where it is now. We interpret music in various ways, whether it’s by actual instruments or by using the sounds in your mouth. There are a lot of different genres of music such as Pop, Country, Hip-hop, Electronica, Techno, Rap, and so on. Music is a way to escape, flowing out of reality and into the notes and/or beats of a song. Technology has evolved the way we create and listen to music by making it possible to drag and drop different beats on a computer, or sharing a music video on Facebook.
Getting lost in the story the artist created with a few drum booms here or the strike of a violin is amazing. This piece of technology is something I cherish and use every day. The music inspires me when I’m out of ideas, and cheers me up when I’m down. Without this I-pod, the world would be a very silent and boring place for me. Imagine a world without music. I don’t even think that is possible. It’s everywhere, birds chirping a song high in the air, or whales belting out, deep in the waters. But I think I’m getting off topic.
Once I plug the ear phones into my ears, and the music begins, I’m transported into another world. I am now someone else, in a brand new story each time. I am the song. Experiencing music firsthand is a special thing, feeling the vibes in your body, in your soul, in your mind. It puts you in a mood that is unable to leave you days after you listen to the song. It sounds crazy, but it’s not. Ask any lover of music, they’ll tell you. Using the variety of music production programs makes it possible for you to become the artist. My I-pod is my favorite piece of technology, and it drives me to try and make a song of my own. Now you are the artist with the ability to create a story. You ca include your own adventures and hardships that you went through.
The 21st Century is ever growing in new inventions. Every year it’s a new version, and if you don’t have it, you are not “in”. What is important to me is the music. The outdated I-pod wrapped up in my pocket gives me exactly that. I’m not one to fret over materialistic things, but this has a special place in my heart. It’s not just an out dated, cracked blue I-pod; it’s a big chunk of my life.
*Photo by Sai Kiran Anagani on Unsplash
In my sociology class, we are going over classical theory and the "founders" of sociology. Each thinker has formed their definition of society, interactions, and how to study it. One person in particular is Auguste Comte who lived during the time of the French Revolution. Don't worry, this isn't a history lesson. I am going to talk about bias and conflicting beliefs between people and how they work together to shape society, not break it. In Comte's view, society was in need of order and progress. Again, he lived during the French Revolution and saw this event as chaotic without understanding the implications of the revolution. People did not protest, yell and fight, because of boredom. They wanted change. Sometimes with change comes conflict because of those differing beliefs everyone has about authority, the economy, or human rights.
Comte didn't take into account the benefit or function of other ideas and groups he saw as inferior. His narrow-minded view of a future society also did not account for conflict or the role they play in a society. He foresaw humans as living in harmony in a deterministic world where humans are rational and make the "right" decisions. He fails to realize how other beliefs function in and create society. He claimed the French revolution was chaotic, but doesn't address the reasoning. In fact, contrary to his thinking, there was order and progress within that movement.
Comte also refused to read other thinker's writings because he thought they would taint his view. It's important to stay open-minded and embrace difference of ideas. Analyzing situations from another point of view gives you insight. Fills in the gaps even. You can agree to disagree and hold on to your opinions, but don't invalidate others. Don't allow bias to cloud your judgment. Consider everyone's truths. Realize there are so many different lives that are being lived which means billions of different experiences. How can your one view of the world be the ONLY valid view? It's not possible. Embrace difference. There is nothing wrong with conflicting beliefs. It becomes an issue when people allow those beliefs to clog their ears and not hear others. It's not about getting someone on your side. It's about respecting each other's differences. That's how society works!
*1st photo by Kyle Glenn and 2nd photo by Ethan Weil on Unsplash.com
Reference: Ritzer, George, and Jeffrey Stepnisky. Classical Sociological Theory. SAGE, 2018.
Want to share something?
Leave a comment below!