No Claire and November song this week! Just wanted to share something I can't stop listening to. I'm in love with Pentatonix, and this song reminds me of my days of dance, and taking multiple classes a week. I watched older girls do an adorable tap routine to this song. I don't think I even did it myself, which is probably why I'm not sick of this song. I can never get enough acapella!
“Nice to meet you,” she said. “I’m Nikki.” They shook hands. Her fingers were long and white, and her hands were cold, though it was a warm day. But her smile was warm, and Savannah felt a little less afraid.
“We were just talking about Eva,” Hannah said. “The twins want to learn the glow. Was yours always blue and cold, or was it after?”
“It was after. Before it was always yellow or orange.”
Savannah wondered what happened “before” to make Nikki’s glow change.
“People glow different colors?” Ellie said.
“Yes,” Nikki said. “And the magic feels a little different for each person too. Some people, like Eva, can make the glow change colors, and change the attitude of the current, but that takes practice.”
“So,” Ellie said slowly, “How did you, um... Why did yours change?”
Nikki smiled. “Do you really want to hear a long story of the dark days before the storm on your first day back?”
“I do,” Ellie said.
“I just don't want the Senka twins to run from their task before even beginning to develop their magic.”
“I'd never run from a magical world. No matter how dangerous it is.”
“Good. Because these days are as dark as those soon before the storm, if not darker.”
Savannah glanced around the table at all the happy faces. They didn't look like they were living in dark times.
“The mansion is a safe haven,” Nikki said, noticing Savannah's expression. “It's always been that way. But before the storm, I'd left the mansion for a time. I was still in touch with. She foresaw a disaster like the storm, and summoned me back to the mansion to help her prepare.
“I'd been traveling all day, and needed a place to stay for the night. The only place was this broken-down little hotel, in this middle-of-nowhere town just outside the forest. It was the only shelter I could find.
“I was about to go to sleep when I heard shouting coming from the other room. At first I was annoyed. The walls were paper thin, I'd just been able to block out the noise. I got up to yell at my neighbors to quiet down, but when I opened the door I was just as scared as everyone else.”
“What was it?” Ellie asked.
“Dark creatures from who knows where, like something out of the Garden of Evil. Somehow, they’d gotten into the hotel. There was something human-like about them, but they definitely weren’t human. They were dark. Completely dark except for glowing white eyes. June had said evil was growing and she was right. They came in and attacked. As soon as the creatures had one of the boys in a corner, he completely froze. I tried to fight them off using the glow, but they didn’t even notice me at first. That kind of magic had no effect. Another boy grabbed a lamp and hit one of the things on the head. That seemed to knock it out. Then he opened a window to throw the thing outside, but he was totally frozen as soon as he touched it. I tried to wake him up, but when I touched him he was freezing cold, and he didn’t move. We couldn’t do anything for him.
“I just ran. I didn’t know what else to do. Two of the creatures were following me, so I started climbing out the window, but there were more of them outside, so I slammed the window shut. I remember thinking that couldn’t really do much good, but what else was I going to do? The creatures were everywhere, and the only way to fight them was with fire. Some people have the ability to conjure and control fire, but I hadn’t studied that sort of magic back then. I could only control water, and that was no use. But soon I smelled smoke, and figured out pretty quick that the hotel was on fire. Someone must have been careless while trying to fight the creatures off. It was spreading like mad. I climbed out the first window I could find, but the creatures were waiting for me right outside. I couldn’t get away from the fire, and I couldn’t run from them. I couldn’t even move. I tried fighting, and tried to put the fire out, but I couldn’t. The last thing I remember is the creatures closing in on me on one side, and the fire closing in on the other.”
“How did you get away?” Ellie asked.
“I don’t exactly know. June found me later, and brought me back here, but I don’t know how I survived. June said she came as soon as she heard something was wrong, but I don’t know how long it was before she found me. I just remember waking up in a room here to her voice. Then I wanted to find out what happened to the boys at the hotel. We communicate through mirrors here, so I asked her for one.”
“Communicate how?” Ellie asked.
“You’ll find out more later,” Michelle said.
Nikki continued. “June didn’t want to give it to me. She said I looked different. I didn’t realize what had happened at all. I’d been trapped in the fire with those things, and the mix of light and dark is what changed my glow, and changed the way I look. I can show you a picture later of how I used to look.”
“I think we saw a one,” Savannah said. She remembered seeing a picture of a young woman with red hair, and now that she thought about it, her face had the same sharp angles as Nikki’s. “Is there one in the room upstairs that’s covered in pictures?”
Nikki nodded. “Yes. So you can imagine how surprised I was when I first saw myself looking this way. But once I discovered my new power I decided it was worth it. I can walk through fire, and do a different version of the glow Eva uses. I came back renewed.”
“That’s incredible,” Ellie said.
“And now Ellie and Savannah are going to renew the whole world!” Hannah said.
The twins glanced at each other nervously.
"You’ll be fine,” Nikki said. “The mansion’s family lifted me up again after that fall, and it’ll do the same for you.” She stood, shaking their hands again. “Welcome home, girls, and good luck.”
Shane and the Twins
When their lesson was over, Ellie took Savannah to the courtyard, to introduce her to Shane. The courtyard was sunny and beautiful, with a large fountain in the middle, and trees of many different colors. White, pink, purple, and blue blossoms fell from the trees down onto the benches, and Shane sat in their midst. He greeted the girls with a smile.
Ellie introduced Savannah to Shane. Just as she had assumed, Savannah acted shy at first, but Shane hardly allowed a single quiet moment to pass. Now that he had the two of them together, he seemed to think he could get all his questions answered.
“Why is it that only you two can reset the balance? I’d have thought for sure June could do it herself.”
“She said it has to be done by twins,” Ellie said.
“It needs a perfect balance,” Savannah said. “But I thought maybe there’re other reasons we don’t know.”
“Yeah, I mean we can’t be the only twins in the world, right?”
“There’s probably another reason,” Shane shrugged. “But it is really rare for anyone to have twins here.”
“We’ll ask June,” Ellie said.
“Maybe she doesn’t know,” Savannah said. “She would have told us if she knew.”
“I don’t know about that, Savannah, but we’ll ask.”
“And tell me when you find out, all right?” Shane said. “I’m tired of wondering about you two.”
A Mystery in the West
“Still, we accomplished a great deal. We rescued all the prisoners, and I was also able to speak to the man who discovered what happened to Jerome’s mother. He gave me a vision of what he saw.”
“It’s complicated magic. He moved one of his memories into my mind, so I could see it as clearly as he did. The magic used is similar to that of a mirror-journal.”
“Could you give us a vision?”
“Not of what I saw,” she shook her head. “I could show you some other memory of mine later, but what I was shown isn’t something anyone would want to see.
“Jerome’s mother was living in a remote part of the West, staying hidden. She was living with a man, though I don’t know what happened to him. He wasn’t in the house with them. There was also a child, hardly two years old. The mother and child were both dead.”
“My assumption is the father of the child didn’t know the woman was Jerome’s mother. Eventually he found out, and he killed her. As for the child, I don’t know. He had no visible wounds, and nothing to make the man who found him think his father killed him.”
“He could have been killed by magic, right?” Savannah asked.
“Most likely,” June said. “First I guessed his father was a healer, and once he knew what the child would grow up to become, he used his power to end his life painlessly. But I don’t believe that was the case.”
“Why would he kill them?” Savannah asked. “Just because she was Jerome’s mother?”
“Yes. Power runs in families, and if this man believed the legends about the Garden of Evil, he would believe anyone with that kind of power had dark intentions. This woman might have lied to him because she didn’t want him to know who she was, but she couldn’t keep that a secret forever. If he were a healer, he would have felt the power in her blood right away, so I’m assuming he wasn’t. Once he found out the truth he might have felt she betrayed him, and that knowledge along with his fear could have driven him to kill her.”
“What about their son?”
“I don’t know,” June said, “It didn’t seem like his father killed him. My people are searching for this man, but I’m afraid we might not ever know what became of him, and what really happened that day. The explanation that seems most reasonable for what I saw is that the child was killed by turning magic, but I don’t know how that's possible.”
“It means his own magic turned on him, and destroyed him. But that’s an incredibly rare phenomenon. As far as I know, it’s impossible for it to happen to children. So, there's still a mystery left to solve. But at least now we know Jerome is the only one left for us to worry about, and my people are safe.”
“Are you staying now?” Ellie asked.
“I’m afraid I can’t say for sure,” June said. “There’s a great deal to do closer to home as well, but hopefully I won’t have to be as far for as long. You two are still my first priority.”
An Angel in the Making
This bonus scene needs a little explanation. There is a very minor character in book one who used to have a more prominent role, but everyone who read it said "get rid of her." I couldn't delete her completely, because she is important later on. So, I wanted to introduce her in book one, and keep her around, even if she stayed in the background. The girl I'm talking about is Bree, and this is her backstory.
Her hair was forest green and beautiful, long and wavy, down to her shoulders. Her eyes were a deep brown. For the concert, she wore a flowing yellow gown, made of a light fabric that danced in the wind. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I was three years old sitting on my father’s shoulders, at my first Summer’s Angels concert. I didn’t know her name, but the image of her stuck with me ever since. She’s still the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, all these years later.
In the mansion, I danced upon the stage of the Child’s World, waiting, waiting, waiting…
At last, there they were. I saw Aaron’s face light up with happiness as he toddled over to his parents, and his mother lifted him into her arms. I waited. My parents had to be just behind his...
Amber walked toward me, and I knew there was something wrong. She looked sad. I waited some more, but she didn’t say a word. I couldn’t take the silence.
“When’s mommy coming home?”
Amber took a deep breath, and sighed. “I’m sorry, Bree…”
I don’t remember what she said, I just knew that she was trying to tell me they wouldn’t be coming back. I don’t remember where I was, just that I was crying, that she was holding me, that I screamed for my parents over and over until Amber was crying too.
“It’s not fair!”
Those words, over and over… That was all I could think of when I thought about them. They’d been gone, kidnapped by Jerome… They escaped, they came home, and I was so happy… And far too soon, they were stolen from me again. I knew it was because of Jerome, and I hated him for it. I even hated my parents for leaving me, for walking out the door again when they had just returned. But I hated Jerome more, and that was a hate I couldn’t let go of.
That was my first encounter with the Ambrosi family. I didn’t know why my parents had been pulled into such horrors, and all I knew was the unfairness of it. I learned the rest of the story later on.
Eventually I realized I was a burden of those who cared for me. I wasn’t the only child without a family. My best friend was so independent, and her parents were dead too. They’d died in the storm. I believed that.
We danced like that was all there was in the world. She was so proud of me when I got my gift, even though she was so much better than me. We spent late nights in the club together, flirting with the boys, laughing like nothing mattered…
Eva was incredible. In my eyes, her light was the brightest in the whole mansion—even more so than June. I remember how much I regretted that thought when I found out the truth about her.
“I’m too tired to dance anymore,” I sighed, collapsing on my bed. Eva and I were twelve years old, and we’d been practicing our routines, trying to fill a mirror-journal.
“I’m not tired!” Eva said.
“You’re never tired!” Bree exclaimed. “I don’t get it Eva, we’ve got the same gift but you’re never tired! It’s not fair.”
“You’ll be able to do it too someday,” Eva said. “I can help you.”
“I just don’t get why you’re so much stronger.”
Then she got quiet. Weirdly quiet. When she finally spoke again, it was to ask a question that changed everything.
“Bree… Can you keep a secret?”
There was nothing, I thought, that our friendship couldn’t handle. We’d choreographed our own routines, put on shows together, and cried together for our parents—now I know her tears were only for her mother, but I never suspected anything back then. I trusted her.
Before she spoke, Eva actually set up magical guards against both types of vision. I was nervous and excited for what she was about to tell me. She trusted me, and I felt so important.
“You have to promise not to tell anyone, okay? Aaron and his parents know, and June knows, but you can’t tell anyone else. Promise?”
“I promise,” I said.
“You trust me, right? Nothing’s going to change our friendship, right?”
“I don’t know what could. Just tell me, Eva.”
“Okay,” she sighed. “My parents didn’t really die in the storm. My father… My father killed my mother and kidnapped me. Jenny, Rob, and June rescued me.”
Some part of me knew that Jenny, Rob, and June were out in the forest at the same time my parents were, but I didn’t piece it together at that moment. I thought her lie would be as small as mine. I’d only told her my parents died in the storm because so many others were in the same position. I didn’t want to explain they’d been murdered by Jerome, because I didn’t understand why. Hearing that Eva’s father killed her mother seemed similar to my situation at first. “He killed your mother? Who would do something like that?”
I didn’t think anything could change my opinion of Eva. The only time I ever came close to hating her was when I was jealous. But her next words changed everything.
“An Ambrosi,” she whispered.
She lifted her hand, and ignited a red glow. I shrieked, and clamped my hand over my mouth quickly.
Eva started talking so fast I could barely understand her, and nothing she said really mattered. “I hate him! He’s not my father, okay? He killed my mother and I hate him!”
“You’re an Ambrosi?”
“No! I’m not!”
“Yes you are! You just did a red glow! That’s why you’re better—that’s why you have more power than me!” I got up and ran out of her room.
I ignored her. The full meaning of her words slowly set in. My parents had gone out because of Eva. They had died while searching for her. I’d heard that he had a daughter. I’d always assumed she’d died. But it was Eva. She was the reason my parents were dead. And she hadn’t suffered the same loss I had. Her father was still alive. She’s lied to me. She’d lied like an Ambrosi, and maybe she’d never cared about me at all.
I avoided her after that, and soon grew to hate her. After she told me what she was, I could only see Jerome when I looked at her. I’ve never hated anyone more than Jerome, but I could do nothing about my hatred for him. He was far out of my reach. But Eva was right there in front of me, and I could hate her.
I still spent my nights in the dance club, bouncing from guy to guy, finding joy in the thoughtlessness. I was never in love with any of them, not even Jordan. But he was one of the kindest, and I didn’t want to lose him. Especially to her.
I knew I was too jealous. I didn’t want him to even look her way. I told myself I was protecting him. She was an Ambrosi, and he’d only get hurt. Jerome had killed Angelica. How did I know Eva wouldn’t grow up to do the same?
Yes, I was a bit crazy. But when Jordan actually broke up with me, it wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined. I was used to being alone. The “break up” with Eva was worse. I hated myself for missing her. Knowing he was with her was worse than knowing he was no longer with me.
I couldn’t rejoice in the return of the Senka twins with the rest of the world. It seems everyone but me has found their home and family in the mansion. The resetting did bring joy, but I’m not satisfied knowing Jerome is just trapped in the forest. I want him dead. Of course that's what I want. Jordan once asked me what I really want, as though there's some deeper answer. I know it won't bring back my parents. But it has to make things better once their avenged. It has to.
Here's my trouble: just about every song I hear becomes relevant... to book two. For some reason, I've had the hardest time finding book one songs. Maybe it's because every song in the world is too romantic, and there's nothing out there that will ever fit twins. Oh well. We've still got a few songs, and you know you'll get a nice long playlist after you read The Mansion's Family.
Both of these are for Ellie and Savannah, dreaming out leaving, and finally doing it. "Breakaway" by Kelly Clarkson was probably the first song ever to be referenced to Crossworlds. And of course, I need my acapella.
Sometimes, you need opposite sex covers of things and can't find one that fits perfectly. But how do I know Nathaniel's singing voice doesn't actually sound like this? Actually, this song works for everyone storm-created.
Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva Eva
Some songs only almost fit, and I'm not sure if this one does at all. But it always makes me think of Savannah and Nathaniel.
And finally... This. Because I think of Eva every time I hear this song. I mean, the club really can't handle her, sooo...
Everyone is trying to sum up what happiness is, or what the key to happiness is, in cute little catchphrases. Like, “Happiness is a journey, not a destination,” or “Happiness is a choice.”
I don’t really know what I think of the journey vs destination quote. Actually, I think I semi-agree with both of these. I do think it’s an ongoing process (a journey), but the idea of a journey without a destination is kind of weird to wrap my head around. As for it being a choice, I think that’s putting it a little too simply. Some people have depression. Some people are in genuinely horrible situations. You can work to change your circumstances, sure, but it’s a little insulting to those people, while their fighting to get somewhere they can be happy again, to just say “happiness is a choice!” Like, they should just be okay with where they are and choose how they feel.
Also, sidetrack moment, but we don’t choose our emotions. We choose how we react to them. We can choose to work to calm ourselves when we feel anger, or cheer ourselves up, but that initial emotion isn’t a choice. It’s all what we do once that emotion comes on that’s a choice. Sometimes the best choice is to walk away, and go to a place where we can just feel, and sit with the emotion, and then go out and face life once we’ve drained our poison. But you can’t just choose to shut that emotion off, especially if it’s something huge and powerful like grief.
Okay, back to the subject of happiness. I believe there are two keys to happiness, one leading into the other. The first is letting go of expectation. Not just in the way Jenna Marbles said, which is letting go of your expectations of the world, but also going the other way: letting go of the world’s expectations of you.
What do you mean you don't care?
In my freshman year of high school, I was depressed to the point of contemplating suicide. But when I was a sophomore, a new perspective emerged: “I don’t care” became a freeing, powerful thing instead of a depressing weight. This might go to kind of a morbid place. Dear suicidal thoughts, what’s your hurry? The fact is, we’re all going to die someday. Maybe when we’re 90, maybe tomorrow. And I don’t know how exactly I flipped from “I’m gonna die anyway, why bother living, nothing matters, I don’t care” in a bad way, to “I’m gonna die anyway, why not just enjoy the ride? If nothing really matters, I can do whatever I want! I don’t care about what the world wants from me!” It’s like having a lucid dream.
I found this lovely little quote that sums this up quite well:
I mean, why not?
The world has so many expectations. Get a job. But not just any job, something you’re really passionate about. But that’s not enough either, you have to be making a ton of money. Then you’ll be on the right track to be happy, but don't stop there. Get married. But make sure it’s to the perfect person. Are they beautiful? Smart? Funny? Rich? Alright. But don’t just get married, have all the babies, too. And be a perfect parent with a perfect career, in a perfect house. Now you’re a little closer to being happy.
But whatever you do, there will always be more expectations, more judgement, and the truth is, the things that genuinely make you happy might be tiny, dumb things.
That feeling you get when you're reading a book, and call something that's about to happen. Or when you get taken entirely by surprise. An unexpected deep conversation with your co-worker that brings you closer together. That shirt from your favorite TV show your boyfriend got you for Christmas.
I always get irritated with people who make fun of others for getting excited over small things. We should be excited. I honestly feel bad for you if you don't. You're missing out on the second key to happiness.
Gratitude is huge. Being thankful for those tiny, dumb things that bring you joy is a major key to being a happier person.
Like, maybe you like drawing. People are going to assume you want to be a famous artist, and “ARE YOU THERE YET??” But maybe that’s not what you want. Maybe you just want it to be the thing you do at the end of the day to unwind. And if you do want it, and going for it makes you happy, of course you should go for it, but don’t lose yourself in the expectation of recognition. Remember the reason you started in the first place.
I feel like the world judges some of these small, joy-bringing things, especially if they’re “nerdy.” Not so long ago, Pokemon Go was huge, and everywhere on the internet. I had never played it, but seeing the harsh judgment from others still made me uncomfortable. "You’re twenty years old playing Pokemon Go? Get a life, get a job, act like a grown up!" And I’m like, why do you care if they like playing this game? You don’t have a hobby that helps you unwind? If something 1) brings someone joy, and 2) doesn’t harm anyone, why do you care? I'm 27 years old, I'm not dead inside.
I also saw a great post about teens who still want to go trick-or-treating on Halloween. You're really upset with them for wanting to hold onto this piece of childhood innocence? Would you rather they go out and get drunk? Calm. Down.
So, to end this rather long blog, and send you off into the rest of the week, I'll leave you with this thought:
A lot of writers are held back by the fear that they’ll come across as unoriginal because parts of their idea have “already been done.”
We should always try to be original and creative, but the truth is, most things have been done before. There are already stories about twins in the world. There are tons of stories with magical elements.
What makes the biggest difference is the new combinations of these old things. The depth of your characters, the excitement and emotion of the story. If you can take me out of my regular life and bring me into a new world, you’re doing something right.
Plus, your story will be new to someone. The more time passes, the more creative work there is in the world. But no one is going to experience all of that creative work. Personally, I’m not a big movie watcher, so when someone says, “I think this is a cool idea, but is it too much like that one movie?” Normally my response is “I haven’t seen that movie. But the idea is pretty cool.”
I also think there are some stories that should be told multiple times.
For example, I've read a lot of stories similar to Dawn’s Acapella. Dawn's Acapella is a story about a group of high school kids who put together their own club based on doing good deeds. The main message behind it is simply how a small kind act can have a huge impact on someone’s life.
Now, this message is fairly common. I’ve seen it in brief stories just scrolling through facebook. I haven’t heard the exact same story, but the same general theme.
No way did this stop me from writing “Dawn’s Acapella.” I think this message is so important, it should be told over and over again.
If your following your golden rules, and reading a lot, you'll start seeing a lot of similar elements between the books you read and your own work. You'll also notice how many books have elements in common with each other. Take note of it. Change what you feel you need to. But never give up just because you see a few similar things.
You might have a magical object of power, but you can still set yourself apart from Lord of the Rings. You might have a school of magic, but you can still set yourself apart from Harry Potter. You might have a strong female character starting a revolution in a dystopian world, but you can still set yourself apart from The Hunger Games.
You’ll usually know if you’re going too far. When it doubt, get feedback. If you find yourself emanating a particular author, or you see too many elements of a particular story showing up in your work, that’s when you reconsider. But I’ve known a lot of writers who get slowed down just by one or two little things that “have been done before” and then start questioning their entire creative process.
Don’t doubt yourself, just get going.
Even though this is a little different pace this Monday, this is still an Early Days song. Not a perfect fit, but still good for Claire and November again
Stories of the Early Days is coming soon!
Finished The Mansion's Family and looking for more? You've come to the right place! Haven't finished it yet? Don't read on, there are spoilers ahead!
"I am not fly, I am levitation!" Finally, a perfect song for my girls, especially Ellie. The dream of flying, the struggles the twins face, this song sums up all of it.
Another song for the Senka twins, very specific to this book.
The songs of Cassandra Senka, because I'm not done smashing your heart to pieces! One of these, is, of course, acapella. "Crying for no reason" is mostly her own feelings, while "Run" is fully dedicated to her daughters.
Alright, now that we've finished being sad about the twins' mother, let's take a moment for their father. Travis has already lost Cassandra, and he knows there's a lifespan difference between himself and Susan. This song is for them.
Okay, before you scroll down to the next song, I need you to do me a huge favor. Everyone I've played this next song for absolutely hates it, because they have an idea in their brains of what it's "supposed to be." I love mashups and covers, because that's how songs adapt to different stories. So I need you to pause for a moment and open your mind just a teeny bit before you press play.
"But this song is depressing! 'Let it Go' is a happy song! This doesn't work at all!"
*Siiiigghhhhh* ...I tried. I'll always love this no matter what anyone else thinks! This mashup was made for Jerome, and perfectly sums up his feelings toward Eva. Personally, I love this song and the singer, and see this as a completely separate thing from Frozen. Once you can separate them, and play this as Jerome's song about his daughter, I really, really think you'll love it too.
And lastly, another song for Eva. I felt it appropriate to end with a song of hers, because like I said, her story begins at the end of this book. This song is Eva letting go of her past, and looking forward to her future with Jordan and raising Dece's babies.
Last Wednesday I posted what I've titled "The Lost Girls Poem." I remember the first time I shared it better than writing it.
When I was a senior in college I took a "psychology of women" class, that was more like group therapy. It was four hours long, so we had plenty of time to talk. The class began with everyone "checking in," which was supposed to be brief but always went on for about an hour. The class was big, and we all sat in a circle, so it was easy to get carried away.
Anyway, some people would bring short readings to share when they checked in. Someone shared a poem, and I got what I thought was a brilliant idea. I could say I had a reading to share, and recite my Lost Girls poem without saying it was mine! I could get real opinions on something I'd written! After all, if your classmates know your work is yours, they're going to try and be gentle with you (at least, they were in this class).
So, the "check ins" began, and circled around to me, and I was already losing it, even though, I told myself, "no one knows this is mine!"
"I have a reading," I said, and looked down at the poem in front of me. My mouth went completely dry and my heart was pounding loud enough for the whole room to hear. I was probably quiet for a solid minute before forcing myself to begin. That might not sound like a long time, but try pausing that long in a sentence.
I just kept trying to tell myself "they don't know it's yours! Just go!" but it didn't matter. I was freaking out inside the whole time, and when I finished, my plan fell apart. Our professor asked, "who wrote that?" and I couldn't lie.
"I wrote it." Teeny tiny voice that didn't sound like me at all (and I'm a shy introvert, so I don't know how I could get much softer).
"I could tell before you began that it meant something to you," or something. I don't remember what she said. My arms were literally sore the next day because I was tense through the whole lesson (four hours!).
I'd never shared anything before to that many people. I didn't even like reading other people's work out loud, because I was afraid I'd trip over words. When I took creative writing classes, we were allowed to share or pass, and I always passed.
But, the class seemed to like it, and it ended up being remarkably relevant to the subject matter. We had a guest speaker who talked about feeling lost and connecting with others, and our professor told me as the class ended that she was going to have me read my poem again, but we ran out of time. I was very flattered, but there was also no way in hell I could read it again.
I only wish I'd been able to control myself enough to ask for opinions before saying it was mine, but now that I think about it, they probably would only say nice things anyway. That class just had a very calm, peaceful, kind atmosphere.
This is just a fun memory for me, because how can I simultaneously want to be famous for my words yet be that terrified of sharing? Plus, this wasn't my whole world, this was just a short poem, and poems really aren't my thing. I mean, clearly it means something to me, because I am a Lost Girl for life.
In a way, this was step one in overcoming my fear. I still can't be in the same room with someone reading my books, and I still get all flustered when someone talks to me about them, but I'm ready for feedback, and I love hearing it. These words are my light in the darkness, and I'm looking for connection. How can I find it if I'm too afraid to reach out and share? I'll still raise my voice, even in fear. Lost Girls unite!
Nope, this isn't another review of your two golden rules, though you know I'll never let you forget them (read a lot, write a lot). This is a fun little exercise I've discovered from reading books of different genres and then sitting down to write afterward.
Because I was reading such vastly different styles, for example, a children's book followed by "Little Women," I saw my writing style shift momentarily based on what I was reading.
Now, I'm not the biggest fan of "writing exercises," mainly because I like to stay in my own world, and most exercises are writing prompts that throw me somewhere else. This, however, was perfect for me because I could simply write in my own world and watch my style change.
What are you reading right now? The next time you decide to carry on reading whatever it is, be prepared to try writing immediately afterward. For maximum effect, you should be writing as soon as you put the book down.
You don't have to try to copy the author's style. Just see where the book takes your writing, and let it happen naturally. You could be writing about anything. Continue your own story, or, if you like prompts and need a boost to get going, look up a quick prompt. For best results, find something to write about before you start reading so the transition is as smooth as possible.
Save your work. Put the title/author of the book you were reading above your writing segment. Your writing can be short or long, however much you want to do. Then, come back to it whenever you read a new book. Try it several different times, with different genres/styles. The more you try out different things, the more you'll see an effect.
You might feel like your "copying" other authors, but this will help you develop your own writing style. You can check back over it and see what elements came from other authors, and what is consistent throughout (that's yours!). This will also help you determine what you like, what you don't, and what works best for your story. Plus, it's just entertaining, at least, I find it to be.
But in order to do this exercise, you have to be following your golden rules! So get to reading, and then write!