Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Today, I was thinking about how school and life have influenced me—not only as a writer, but also a person in the world.


School – Books, Ideas, Influences, etc
Outside – Books, Movies, TV Shows, etc

A. School Ideas

a. Knowledge – Must build your knowledge from a diverse base (like a pyramid), rather than the English idea of narrowing your knowledge, from freshman year, to a specific field.

b. Discovery – I learn better through discussion rather than personal study, but I don't necessarily enjoy discussion.

c. Misconceptions – People assume that if you write well and read often, you enjoy school. My high school English teacher also assumed I already knew everything about English Grammar—until senior year when we performed grammar exercises to fill a gap in our class time.

d. Writing – Everyone says that you must write often to start writing well, but I never really understand that saying unless I am writing often. When I don’t write, I forget that I am not improving my writing; I assume my college education is doing that for me without any extra required effort on my part.

B. School Books

a. Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (elementary school)

i. This book was the very first adult level novel I ever read, and I read it to challenge myself in the fourth grade.  At that point in my life, I was becoming exceedingly annoyed with the simplicity of the books ranked as equivalent to the reading skill of a fourth grader.  Jane Eyre expanded my horizons as a reader and writer. My writing sometimes takes on a dark perspective, and that perspective can be directly linked to this novel and my subsequent readings of Edgar Allen Poe’s poems.

b. Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird (college)
i. This book introduced me to a number of new perspectives on writing, and it also pointed out some techniques which I did not realize I was already using. I felt reaffirmed as a writer. I would suggest this book to anyone who would like some ideas on the process of writing. It was introduced to me as a textbook in a composition course, and it is the first textbook I ever kept to read for pleasure.

C. Outside Books

a. David Eddings’ The Belgariad series (elementary/middle school)

i. These books could be said to be the reason I became a writer. I realized, instead of writing about my observations of this world, I could actually create my own world and use the myths to build epic adventures with magic, monsters, and larger-than-life heroes.

b. Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series (middle school/high school/college)

i. Robert Jordan showed me how a seemingly simple story could reveal itself as a really complex narrative throughout the course of a series. I came to this realization because the scope of the novels covered my entire life (as it has taken over two decades to complete the series), and I therefore had to reread the entire series every time a new book came out. This has shown me that we do not always see the writing between the lines; we need to look closer at what we are experiencing to ensure that we don’t miss something extremely important to the story of our life. The very fact that I didn’t come to this conclusion until I started writing about this shows that writing is my route of discovery.

I wonder what it says about me to outsiders that I didn't get past ideas and books before stopping?

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