Tag Archives: adventures

Facing Fears for the New Year

Racing heart, sweating palms, mouth starting to dry up as I lick my lips hopelessly trying to translate lacking moisture. It never seems to get any easier.

I’ve been told it’s foolish. People scoff at me when they find out, raise their eyebrows, chuckle as though wondering if it’s really a joke. It’s not everyday you meet someone who’s terrified of driving…

Fear is an unexplainable strange entity that few have ever been able to give voice to over centuries of pondering. No matter how irrational and odd it seems, there still remains something there, something that can inhibit people’s most basic abilities. Like mine with getting in a car and going a few blocks. It may seem foolish, but it’s there. Especially so with the fact I’m still figuring out how to drive stick.

My parents gave me a manual transmission car for Christmas. I’m grateful, to be sure. But nonetheless, it has been an adventure I’ve taken it up with a great deal of panic and a large number of tears and one too many meltdowns over stalling. Now, you have to understand I bawled the first day of my driver’s ed class, so this is nothing new for me. Every time I get into a supposedly terrifying situation I break down without real explanation. And most everyone looks at me like I’m acting ridiculous. What’s the big deal? People drive everyday!

Anxiety is a nasty beast to be sure, and one I’m still trying to conquer. And coming up to school in my new cute little car, I had trouble facing it without feeling my limbs start tensing up and my heart start acting like it wants to run a marathon. And as I struggled my first day in town to get it over the smallest little hump, I found myself losing hope. That is until my father spoke reason to my emotion ridden brain.

“You do this every single time,” my father said with a sigh. “I remember you crying and telling us you couldn’t go to college the first day you were here. And look at you now, you’re a senior…about to graduate. You have good grades, you’ve been very successful.”

And what he said was true as I recalled back to my tearful first orientation day at my college. And as I thought about it began to dawn on me my patterns of behavior. All throughout my life there have been hills I’ve had to take. And at the bottom of each one I’ve always been terrified, always been uncertain, always managed to stall a few times trying to get up them and sometimes panicked and decided I couldn’t do it. I thought back to my anxiety starting high school, or trying not to cry sitting on a plane going to France by myself, or bawling in the car on the way to volley ball camp because it just seemed too hard.

Life is full of hills. And for some reason I just can’t get it in my mind that it’s the same process for each one, no matter how high or steep or difficult they seem at first. I just need to keep calm and focus my attention on giving the engine enough gas to make it, pull off the clutch slowly without panicking and jerking off midway through.

The same applies to my life as a writer. In many ways when it comes to my writing I’m still that terrified little beginning driver. I have my car, I have my learned skills. But even with all this practice, sometimes it just seems like too much. Hence why I’ve backed down hills like editing my work, or submitting to publishers, or sharing with more people.

But what good is a car if you never drive it? And that has been my constant thought these last few weeks. It does no good to me, or to the car, or to anyone else for that matter. I’m hoping this last semester will be a good time to change that. And I’m starting big.

I’m writing a novella for my senior capstone class. Which means I’ll be sharing with my professors, and classmates, and I’ll have to pull myself out of my little shell and actually be vulnerable. And sure I’m scared, as I always am. But sometimes it’s necessary to face your fears. Again and again in life looking back I’ve wondered why I was so terrified of random moments. And sure, some of those fears never go away…like driving (although it’s somewhat easier), or traveling abroad, or even moving on to a new stage in life (like graduation *shudder*), but at the same time looking back I know now I can order food at a restaurant without getting too nervous (seriously, I was a really awkward kid), I can take my essays in for editing without being too afraid of the criticism, I can make myself do new forms of writing like journalism, or go eat at the cafeteria by myself and be just fine.

And just like I celebrated conquering the little hill near my house, I celebrate the small successes and look forward to conquering the bigger ones as well. So I encourage others to do as well. No matter how timid or shy or scared or anxious or anything else you are, never be afraid to take risks. After all, you miss every publishing opportunity you don’t try for (because hey, the soccer goal metaphor works for us too right?).

What are you afraid of (as a writer, or in life in general)? How have you conquered your fears? It’s a crazy semester but I’m hoping to be back on here from time to time, hopefully updating as I work through my process of actually putting a novella out in the open.

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Those Moments we Understand Books the Best

I’ve spent a lazy weekend unwilling to even start studying for finals, but as I wasted time today I re-watched the Masterpiece version of Jane Eyre from 2006.

Jane Eyre (2006)

Now for those who don’t know Jane Eyre is probably one of my all time favorite books. There are few others that can reduce me to such utter happiness when I read, make me smile and laugh and cry all at once. And watching the movie just reminds me so much of the book I fell in love with all those years ago.

Now I think Jane had a special meaning to me this time I watched. I’m leaving to go off to France next semester leaving behind my college to go study abroad. And while I’m certainly excited and looking forward to the whole thing, another part of me is saddened at having to leave behind the place I’ve grown so familiar with over the last two and a half years.

And in finding myself in this situation I’ve constantly found myself sympathizing with literary characters like Jane as they leave their familiar homes behind, the places they’ve come to know and love so well over a significant portion of their lives. I feel like Jane leaving Thornfield, Harry leaving Hogwarts, Lucy leaving Narnia, Oliver Twist being forced from the Brownlow’s.

That’s not to say I don’t want to go to France, it’s merely that I dread leaving the place I’ve become so familiar with. I have a loving home back with my parents to be sure, but something about college has just really clicked for me. I have learned more about myself than I ever dreamed I would, have met wonderful new friends who support me in my growth, and have simply found a place I can only describe as home.

And to be sure I’m embarking out on a grand adventure. But I’m like Samwise Gamgee heading out of the Shire, a little wary to leave the place that has been so safe and good for him all his life.

He looks at Frodo on the first little bit of their walk and says:

“If I take one more step, it’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been.”

The road ahead of me is still so shadowed, unknown. I feel in many ways like I’m setting out without a map, no concept of what might happen of where this journey might lead me. But I know if my books have taught me anything that even if the road will be hard that it will be worth it and that this new stage of my life is going to change and shape me.

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So I cling to my books right now in hopes of comforting myself as I set out. It’s moments like these that I feel like I truly understand why literature exists in giving us a sense of shared human experience and understanding for our struggles and fears.

I suppose I should warn you dear readers that I will possibly be taking a break from my blog for a while as I study abroad. I need to focus on learning the language and shouldn’t spend too much time using English. I will probably start a blog about my travels though and will be sure to announce when that’s up.

But regardless I still just wanted to share that brief moment of happiness in recognizing the way I see literature in my own life and the hope I have as I head out for my grand adventure. To all friends from my new “home” at school, just know I will miss you. I feel like Harry leaving Ron and Hermione, or Lucy leaving Mr. Tumnus. I will miss all of you, but I will be back one day for sure. And I look forward to sharing with you the adventures I’ve had in my time away. And since I can’t take you with me I take the hope books have given me about friendships, adventures, and everything else. To my followers, don’t give up on me yet. I’ll try to keep this going as long as I can. 

So, what ways have you seen parts of your favorite book in your own life? What hope do characters give you?

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“Do the Voices!” and Other Adventures in Reading Aloud

During the summer I have one of the coolest jobs out there. I get paid to…be a mom! Well, sort of. I work as a nanny for a family with three kids. I get the joy of feeding them, making them get dressed and do their chores, taking them to various places in town, and keeping them from killing each other. Though certainly tiring, I love my job and certainly enjoy the time I get with the kids.

Recently I enrolled the kids in a summer reading program, and as a result they have been desperately trying to get their hours in so they get their prizes! It has been a good way to motivate them to read. Alongside their own reading time I’ve been enjoying reading aloud to them to help rack up even more hours.

My selection for the summer: Inkheart. And it is a fantastic book to read to children. There are evil villains, great plot twists, funny moments, and loveable heroes.

For anyone who hasn’t read it, the basic plot is the story of a young girl who finds herself trapped in the middle of an adventure straight from a book. I fear anything else might spoil the story.

So I of course have had the joy of reading it out loud, just as my mother did to my brother and I when we were children. While exciting, reading to the children has reminded me of the different predicaments of this form of reading, but also has reminded me how magical it can be. Here are the things I like best about reading out loud.

1. Doing the voices- While some people just read in a monotone voice, I have always been a person to both do and appreciate different voices for different characters. In Inkheart I use soft little girl for Meggie, deep man for Mo, sort of a cockney accent for Dustfinger, an obnoxious shrill voice for Elinor, and the rest I have yet to get to. Of course, this keeps the kids interested and makes it clear to them who is speaking if there is no indication.

2. Being dramatic- I love giving the kids looks when something sinister happens emphasizing foreshadowing to them. One of my English teachers always used to say foreshadowing should make you want to play ominous music. I usually change my tone when I narrate to indicate that something bad is happening, or will happen. Likewise at funny parts I like to laugh and playfully give them a smile so they know I find it funny too. I like letting them know I am involved in the story with them.

3. Talking about it afterwards- I love having a group discussion about it. One of my kids started discussing what they imagined a character would look like. As a child my brother and I would often speculate about this after reading a book with our mom. It’s still fun for me to do.

And of course there are problems alongside the joys. The top ones I run into.

1. Not being able to skip ahead- When I read I tend to skim, skipping over lengthy descriptions. While I love Inkheart one of its biggest weaknesses is the loooong explanations of how things look, or what the weather is doing, or how someone is feeling. While it is nicer for an older child, some of my younger ones get restless after a while. When reading by myself I can skip it and if I miss something go back, with the kids it’s hard to skip on the moment. Fortunately, I’m also reading a bit ahead of them on my own, finding parts I really do think are less important that I can skip.

2. Having to stop- I can’t read as far as I’d like to. Admittedly I can read by myself later, but sometimes I’ll get little hungry stomachs right in the middle of something exciting. I’m just glad I’ve read it before or I would be really frustrated.

3. Doing two things at once- Unfortunately the kids can’t always sit still while I read. Sometimes they bump into each other. Sometimes they’ll start playing with things. And sometimes they just get annoyed at each other and start fighting. Having to try to be on top of them while enjoying the book is a challenge.

There are many different things about reading aloud that make it different than reading alone. While there are many aspects I like, there are also ones I don’t enjoy quite as much. Still, the adventures of reading out loud and reminding myself of my childhood have been fun .

Do you like reading out loud? Did you enjoy having books read to you as a kid? Have a favorite book you remember someone reading to you? Please feel free to share!

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