Friday, August 30, 2013

Anticipation for Northern Ireland

The tendency to feel as though I may be able to jump out of my own skin and forward in time to the very day I leave is unshakable. It may exist inside me and only intensify until the very moment I am landed in Belfast and my feet have stood upon Northern Irish soil. It doesn't seem so silly now the request my friend's mother made that I bring back for her a nice rock for her collection upon my return to America in January. I want so much now to do the same for myself; Maybe I'll start a collection of rocks from all the countries I visit instead of resuming the collection of flags I have acquired over the last few years of journeying with my grandparents.

Until then, I will pass the time at home with as much reading as I am able to indulge in. That escape, along with the progress of a solid outline for a writing project I began 5 years ago, should be enough at this time to calm my racing soul.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

LOST and Creative Writing

Is searching for writing inspiration in a television series possible? Is it a good idea to spend my time doing it?

Though I have stacks of books still lying on my bedside table waiting to be read before the end of summer when I leave to go to school in Northern Ireland, I can hardly drag myself away from seeing through the entirety of the Lost television series. As I friend of mine said, "Watching Lost is like reading a long, elaborate novel." The series so deeply delves into the lives of each of the characters to a point where I have to watch every episode to see where their decisions take them, and how brilliantly the creators of the series further the character development in each of them nearly in every episode. There's so much depth in it all that it truly feels like the experience of reading a good book series. The only way I see myself finishing all the books that need to be read in the next 2 weeks is if I put watching the series on hold, but that only leaves a paradox: If I quit watching the series cold turkey, that will leave me working out the line of the story and characters of Lost in my head, while I try in vain to thoroughly understand and care about the characters in the different books currently on my to-read list. Would it be more beneficial to see through the long TV series to watch good character development in action, or would it be better to read a few different stories and have the chance to explore different authors' modes of doing so?

I don't have much time to think on this, but I figured writing about how I am currently spending my time off after work and before school would give me a better idea about what would be a waste of time. Probably what I should have started off when writing this post was that I feel I am in a time crunch to explore some creativity in the hopes that it could spark some of my own.

I believe I'm on my way. I believe it starts with an appetite for inspiration.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hope and Empathy

"The Ultimate Art form for the Age of Outrospection is Empathy." -Roman Krznaric

I want to take a moment to jot down a few thoughts I've had just after watching J. K. Rowling's Harvard Commencement Speech for 2008.

I'm left mostly with a huge knot in the back of my throat that I feel must have been induced of this new-found respect I've never before felt toward an author. There's also a sort of physical lightness that seems to stem from the pit of my stomach. I know as a time-saver here I could just state, "It's hope that I'm feeling right now." But lately I've been sick of the sound of cliches, and I want to write something descriptive that allows me to look back on this at a later day if I need hope, and remember exactly what feelings that specific emotion takes the form of in me.

Later, with more composed opinions concerning the video, I have this to say:

Hope for humanity is one thing I think we're all searching for lately, whether in each person it is subconsciously or aggressively consciously - it lies within all of us. And I think I say "lately" because it is now more than ever that more people in the world have become accustomed to the kinds of modern luxuries that put the time it takes to begin to value learning simple humanistic ideals on the back burner. Finding connections with others and being able to relate to others' experiences as well as are own gives us all the hope that we sometimes need to recharge our days. Essentially, empathy for others is the lesson that - if learned and practiced by all - would be the key to a perfect life.

In two videos I've watched recently, I found two intelligent people who essentially express how important empathy is in everyday life. I think they're spot on with this realization, and it gives me so much hope that these two people are using modern creative means (novels and making videos on YouTube) to spread this word to anyone who will listen.

"What it means to be human is to step outside of oneself and connect to others."
The first inspirational person is Ze Frank, mentioned in this video:

The second, of course, is J. K. Rowling, for her commencement speech at Harvard:

I hope one day I myself will be able to express the value of empathy in humanity by my own creative means.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Default Tech-Savvy Generation, ADD, and TL;DR

One of the saddest things in my opinion about the current technologically-savvy generation (of which I consider myself) is the fact that we will never be able to tell whether our attention spans have been hindered as a result of being born in this generation.

I'm completely under the impression that after spending about a year regularly reading Twitter posts - and creating a couple thousand posts myself - that it has significantly shortened my attention span and made reading longer passages and books much more difficult than it used to be. As I have spent way too much time reading the Harry Potter series again over the course of this summer, I'm distracted by the constant impulse to check Twitter, check Facebook, check my email, check for text messages as it has never before been easier after having recently received a smart phone. Sometimes I get so frustrated with my inability to read like I used to so much so that I turn off my phone and put it out of sight. But as I feel I have been borne into this generation of constant forced multi-tasking, I have an undying urge to pull out the phone again and make sure none of my friends have tried contacting me, or that no one at work desperately needs me to cover their shift late notice.

I don't want to say that I would not have been ADD had I not been borne into this generation, but it seems highly unlikely. I feel I was so much more intuitive and observant in the years proceeding my use of social media, as I can see signs of it in some of my old journals. I know it's far too late to try to ditch technology now, when I've gone through some of my most crucial developing years being trained to stick to the crowd of others my age also growing up and becoming experts with it - I may even put myself behind and prevent myself from a future job opportunity if I try to do so so late in life. In this way, I know that tech-savviness has definitely forced its way into becoming a default attribute to those born in the 1990s and 2000s, and it will obviously only become more rampant for those born in the years to come.

Though I can't help but wonder through all of this what I would have achieved by this age had I not been born into this generation. How many books could I have read with all the time I've wasted checking Twitter, checking Facebook, checking email? Would I have finished by now the book I began writing at age fifteen? J. K. Rowling didn't have to go through all this as an adolescent or a young adult - would she have been significantly hindered in her writing had she been born during the same time as me?

It was constant questions like these which sent me into the guilty downward spiral that ended my time on Twitter. I deleted my Twitter account a few weeks ago, and haven't looked back since. I truly feel that regularly reading the short 160-character posts every day (even the well-constructed ones written by fellow aspiring writers) reduced my attention span and even made it difficult for me to retain information in some books I've read over the summer.

The common comment Reddit users write on the website is tl;dr, meaning: too long; didn't read. The mere fact that this acronym has become so well-known in such a short amount of time makes me nervous. If only a couple decades ago we read passages MUCH longer than the material posted on Reddit in things like magazines and newspapers, and now our attention may only be spent on things like memes and classic joke-length lines, what kind of future does my tech-savvy generation and all those proceeding it have to look forward to? Will there be much worse quality material and less of it in the arts because we creators have too many things by which to distract us or shorten our attention spans for reading?

None of this is to say that everyone in my generation has defaulted to acquire a certain form of ADD from the constant usage of material that passes the standards for "tl;dr"; Don't believe anyone who claims they can speak for everyone. But just see if dropping your usual engagement in a social media site doesn't positively influence you to maybe partake in one of your old favorite hobbies. In quitting Twitter and Tumblr alone, I've allotted myself so much more time just to read, write, and blog, and I can speak for myself in saying that having more time to do these things has made me feel much more accomplished, resulting in a more positive outlook on my own life as a whole.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

SOC 3 - Blatant Forced Writing

Everything has taken on a rather dream-like quality - I probably had too much allergy medication. The house will be quiet for the next few weeks as Grandma will be in Canada.

Skipping instantly from through three different kinds of tenses in my writing, and all within just two sentences, reminds me of the terribly nonsensical grammar worksheets we had to do in Spanish class throughout school.

I can't pretend that I'm all here right now, or that when I feel drugged up is the best time to start writing a stream of consciousness for my blog - something official with which I am sending out into the Internet world with my proper name written all over it. But hey, you have to start somewhere.

I have work in a few hours. I don't expect arriving there in this fuzzy state will do me much good. "It's just a pizza job" and "People already have the tip amount they expect to give under any circumstances solidly in mind." These are the thoughts that help me through work days like this.

I had three cups of coffee with the allergy meds. Has that helped or hindered my current state?

This is more like a lucid dream. Actually, I think I'd have more control if this were a dream. Will a nap get me out of this stupor? That can't be what I need; I slept for a good nine hours last night.

I've literally gotten to the point of writing down nothing. Stream of consciousness, please enlighten me with the writing prowess I had hoped for in beginning you.

One more cup of coffee.

Nothing nothing nothing.

Time to go outside. Engage me, vitamin D. Allergies, your work here is done.