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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Why I Prefer Writing Fiction (It's Not What You Think!)

     Usually a blog post with a similar title to this one’s would ramble about how fiction helps the writer escape reality. Well, that’s not the case here.

     My reality is pretty great. I don't need to escape it. I like to draw from it for both my fiction and nonfiction. But the really cool thing is when I can make fiction from my reality. Drawing from my reality for nonfiction is just talking about my day. It's not that remarkable.

     But fiction is where I get to pick and choose bits of my reality and other people’s reality and a bunch of crazy elements that were never reality, and I weave them together for something so much more complex and beautiful.
 
 
     For example, I could talk about writing like this:

      “I am a writer. I write. It’s what I do. I breathe life into the page. I terrorize English teachers with my wild first drafts. I plot and outline and organize so much, but when it comes down to it, I just love the words. It’s magical to watch the words in my head become words on the page.”

     Or I could write a fictional story about a writer. Here’s an excerpt:

     “No place like home,” I sighed. The day had been long.
     I got out my writing utensils (that is, my laptop) and typed up an entry in my private online diary, which they call a blog these days. Except mine was a private blog.
     Ah. I wiggled my feet out of my shoes and socks.
     I tied my brown hair up in a bun.
     Day 125.
     Wow. Had it been that long?
     Nothing made sense during the day until this moment when I unburied the thoughts and feelings I felt in the deepest part of me. I poured out my soul onto the glitch screen. Line after line. Paragraph after paragraph. Esther really had hurt me. And I had so many feelings.
     Why do we have to have feelings? Why do they hurt so much? It’s not lovely to be human. I’d rather be a god or a unicorn or something. Fly away as a pterodactyl on a cloud of gold. Sail down the Amazon River with natives.
     Nothing could keep me sane as I clicked away at the keys.

     Which is more powerful? I like the fiction better. You can throw random things into it (ie. pterodactyls, unicorns, Amazon natives) and it makes sense. Because people and plots and prose are powerful and confusing and complicated.

     You don’t get that from an essay.

~Madeline

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Giver and The Lion King: 10 Wild Similarities You Never Noticed


     When you think too much, you notice things. So you Google them to see if anyone else thought of it. And when all you can find is similarities between Frozen and The Lion King, you write your own post.

     Or at least, that's what I do. :)

     Initially, it doesn't seem there are many--if any similarities. But there are...

     Here are the 10 wild similarities between The Giver and The Lion King you never noticed:

1. Their covers/posters. Go ahead. Scroll back to the top of this post. I'll wait. Look at that! Crazy, huh? There are even ghosts in the sky in both of them!

2. Their titles. The Giver. The Lion King. Both titles state the central topic of the movie very clearly and bluntly.

3. The chanting. In The Giver (book & movie), names are chanted louder and louder or softer and softer depending on the occasion. Listen to "The Circle of Life" again to remember how much chanting goes on in The Lion King. It'll make your voice hoarse to chant along!

4. The set-up of hero and mentor. Jonas looks up to the Giver and learns from him. Simba looks up to Mufasa and learns from him. Tear tear.

5. The hero being prepared for a task he thinks is too big for him. Although Simba "just can't wait to be king," there is a point he runs away-- away from responsibility and the job he was trained for. Jonas also is unsure about being the next Giver and tries to run away at one point.

6. The hero is friends with a girl who become a love interest. Shoutout to Fiona and Nala!

7. All the characters have cool names. Fiona. Jonas. Gabe. Simba. Nala. Mufasa. 'Nuff said.

8. Desert scenes. The Lion King is one big desert scene, now that I think about it. But still.

9. The theme of the celebration of life. In The Giver, the dystopian society is overruled in the end and set free (by Jonas) in exchange for culture, color, dancing, etc.. In The Lion King, the wilderness thrives under Simba's leadership. And they sing "The Circle of Life," but that was obvious.

10. Both are movies you should watch. I'm dropping the mic.

~Madeline

Thursday, June 18, 2015

On My Birthday

 
     I feel like I've been waiting for this my whole life. It's such a strange feeling to try to capture with words. I've been ready for sixteen. I've been waiting. It doesn't sound too old. It sounds just right. It sounds very me.
 
     And now I'm here...blinking in the starlight...Disney, anyone? But for reals. I am 5'4". I am a teenager. I am in high school. And I am sixteen.
 
     Sweet sixteen. Sassy sixteen. Serendipitous sixteen.

     I can sing "I am sixteen going on seventeen" without technically lying.

     So this is what it feels like. It all comes down to two words. Delayed gratification. My anticipation of this year of my life has been healthy. I have only 365 days of being sixteen. And today is Day One.

     Day one of the rest of my life. Day one of remembering to live this year to its fullest. Day one of being me.

     It's not really different. It's the calling of something different that makes it different. It's the calling of something special that makes it special.

     To most, June 18th is just another day.

     But to me and Blake Shelton (my celeb b-day buddy) it's special because we make it special.

     What's my birthday wish? If I told you, it wouldn't come true! Haven't you ever seen a Disney movie?

~Madeline

P.S. More about my party next week!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

So You're a Writer...


     So you're a writer. You pour your heart onto the page. You love to hear the crafty ways your brain arranges words into art.

     You work and sweat and bleed onto white surfaces. Every day you're jotting down a gazillion writerly notes. You are thinking of your next project or what you'll order at Starbucks.

     (Most likely, Starbucks, because this writing thing is hard.)

     Sometimes you will get stuck. Uh-oh. Other times the words flow too fast for your hands to capture them. A lot of the time you're just waiting for inspiration or forcing it to come to you. You're releasing creativity after strangling it during dinner.


     You kindly ask to be excused because you thought of your next great blog post or novel or essay or Tweet. It really doesn't matter what it is. Or how long it is. Or who sees it.

     (You just have to get it out because inspiration can be scarce, and this writing thing is hard.)

     Let your characters come to life. Let the words leap off the pages at you. You will get tired, but the rhythms of the adverbs and adjectives will lull you to sweet slumber.

     Apostrophes make you giddy. Alliterations make you gawk. Poor spelling makes you throw your device or book across the room. Let's face it. You're a writer. You write.

     (And this writing thing is hard.)

     Did I mention that this writing thing is hard? But it's so worth it!

~Madeline

P.S. This is my 400th post! Whaaaaa? Awesome! Which one has been your favorite?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Beautiful Dream

 
     I had a little dream where everything I touched became more beautiful. When I touched a friend's hair, it was to braid it. If I had touched a plant, it would have blossomed. If I had touched an ugly chair, it would have been recovered in a beautiful fabric.

     Everything became more lovely with my special "touch."

     You have to know where I'm going with this. On a blog about beautiful things and bringing God the glory, it makes sense that whatever we touch becomes a little more beautiful.

     One way to say it is, "She leaves a little sparkle wherever she goes."

     Wherever you go, and whatever you're doing, at work or play, leave things just a little better than you found them.

     Some ideas?
  • Pick up that piece of trash.
  • Paint the lamp.
  • Lay the old, holey sock to rest in the trashcan.
  • Play the piano, filling a room with music.
  • Alphabetize the books.
  • Vacuum your home.
  • Add a necklace to your cute outfit.
  • Braid a friend's hair.
  • Paint over an old canvas painting you no longer love.
  • Take a few pieces of trash out of your car and bring something beautiful in instead.
     Leave a trail of beauty wherever you go. Others will follow.

~Madeline

Monday, June 1, 2015

My God

 
     When I was faulty, I found the Rock of Ages. I desperately needed to be redeemed, so You became my Redeemer. I was a peasant, but You are the King of kings. I was hungry, but you are the Bread of Heaven. I was thirsty, and You said, “Drink of the Living Water.”

     I was a nobody, but now I am a sister of the Son of God. When I am weak, I can know that I have a Sure Foundation to cling to. I was a lost sheep; You are my Good Shepherd. Although I am just another face in a crowd of thousands, You are the Fairest of Ten Thousand.

     I am in need of rescuing; You are my Savior. I can’t communicate; You are the Mediator. I need someone to stand in the gap; You are my Advocate. Although I had a beginning, I shall have no end, for You are the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Eternal One.

     I am rejected by the world because I follow the build on the Stone the Builders Rejected. When I need wise advice, You are my Wonderful Counselor. I sin, but You are the Friend of Sinners. I constantly get sick, physically, emotionally, and spiritually; no matter, for You are the Great Physician.

     I am lowly, but I adore the Anointed One. My heart was broken, but You are the Healer of Broken Hearts. I need a gentle, listening friend, and You say, “I am the Lamb of God.” I feel disoriented most of the time, but I run to the Prince of Peace. I had no hope, yet You are the Blessed Hope.

     I am deep in sin, but You are my Atonement. I need a safe place to hide, and I have discovered the only Mighty Fortress. I was unprotected, but now I have a Shelter. I was headed toward destruction, not Heaven, but I have entered through the Narrow Gate.

     I am ruthless, strict, full of evil, but You are the Lord of Grace. When I am in despair, I remember the God of All Comfort and run to His arms. I was dead until I loved the Word of Life. I was unclean and horrid in this world before I glimpsed the Rose of Sharon.

     I was low and forlorn, but then you whispered, “I am the Lily of the Valley.” All was dark before I eyed the Bright and Morning Star. Althought I am but dust, You are the Glorious Lord, so I shall seek to glorify You. I have no one with me except Immanuel, “God with us.”

     I am built upon the Chief Cornerstone! I am created by the Creator! The Ancient of Days gives each of my days new purpose. When I am faithless, You are still the Author and Finisher of my Faith. I am human, so You became the Son of Man. My strength is sapped, but I push on because I serve Almighty God.

     He had proven time and again that when there is no joy, no hope, no life, He is the Resurrection and the Life. Truly, there is no other way to Heaven than the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Everlasting Father, the Captain of the Lord’s Army.

     Shall I not seek to serve, love, and glorify the Holy One?

     There is no one like my God!

~Madeline

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

3 Things That Will Revolutionize Your Day


     Time. It's so short. And so long. So brief. So infinite.

     There are 24 hours in a day. 60 minutes to an hour. 60 seconds to a minute.

     But you knew that. And I'm not here to tell you something you already know.

     Lots of high schoolers (and adults) struggle with managing their time. They work late into the night on homework because they wasted two hours on Pinterest before dinner. I'm guilty of not managing my own time well as much as the next girl (or guy.)

     But I have found three things have revolutionized my day compared to the average American's. These are sleep, habits, and healthy food.

     Sleep (or the lack of it) greatly affects how anyone operates during the day. Doctors recommend eight hours of sleep. I personally think that if you're used to...say, five hours of sleep a night, try to get up to eight.

     Five hours sounds like so little to me. That's what I get at sleepovers! (From about 3 am-8 am.)

     Beauty sleep is important for your all-round health, your skin, and your digestive system.

     Americans need to get more sleep! 10 pm-7 am are the prime hours your body NEEDS to be asleep. To get to sleep easily (without the hours of wakefulness I used to have) don't eat or have any screen time during the hour or two before bed. Especially sugar and caffeine! No sugar or caffeine after 8 pm!

     This will help you be more awake when you're awake and more asleep when you're asleep.

 
     Secondly, habits. Your daily rituals (some of which you don't even realize you have) will either help you or keep you from being productive during the day.

     If you get on your phone or computer first thing in the morning, you're likely to waste about an hour scrolling through things that aren't even important.

     But the first two hours of your day are the most important! They're the ones you can be most productive during (especially after a good night's rest). Even if you're not a morning person, put down your phone and get moving in the morning. Do some school work, go exercise, or clean your house so it's ready for the day.

     Daily habits of brushing your teeth or drinking eight glasses of water or journaling about your day will help you to 1. get those things done faithfully and 2. leave space for other things as you get better and better about establishing these rhythms.

     Finally, good (good for you) food and lots of water will keep you alert, energetic, and healthy. Don't have a bowl of fruit loops or donuts for breakfast. They will get your body and mind off to a bad start. Don't grab a bag of potato chips or bowl of ice cream for your snack. They'll mess with your digestive system, immune system, and all the other wonderful things God built into your body.

     Don't do it! Drinking lots of water (NOT COKE) will help you to quench those cravings. Often we eat when we are really thirsty. Water is the best possible thing in the world for us. All of America is so dehydrated. Never stop drinking water. In fact, go get a glass or bottle of it right now. Just reading about it is probably making you thirsty.

     Those are my three tips. The three things that set me and others apart from the people who say "tired" or "bored" or "stressed" whenever someone asks how they're doing. Those are lethargic, beaten-down answers. Let's rise above them. Join me.

     (P.S. If you're as excited about this as I am and want me to come help you sleep better, form good habits, eat better, etc, I would love to help you out. Email me. Subscribers can just hit reply to this email.)

~Madeline