Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Writers and Writing

I just read John Green’s Printz Award speech from a few years ago.

He got it for Looking for Alaska.

Alaska is the reason for the flowerpot tattoo on my leg.

John Green has impacted my life and my writing and the way I think about the world so much.

I am grateful that he exists and chooses to share his thoughts with the rest of us.

He is a main reason I want to write books.

I try not to talk about wanting to write books too much.

In part because I don’t think I can because oh-my-gosh-what-if-i-don’t-have-anything-to-say.

And in part because I don’t want to be a person who always says things but never does them.

And of course because I’m afraid of committing to the life of a writer, of the road it will take me down.

But John, his writing makes me believe in myself, and it makes me want to do the hard work, long hours, and stress it takes to be a writer.

I found TWLOHA three years ago.

It was a beautiful story of hope and redemption that met me in a time when I desperately needed both.

Over these past three years, I have read countless blogs.

Sometimes when I saw a new blog was posted, I would tell myself if I did everything on my to-do list, then I could read it.

Sometimes, the blogs picked me up off the floor.

Other times, the words sat with me as I rocked back and forth, trying to soothe my pain.

Always, they made me feel less alone.

I remember writing in my journal once that I wanted to touch people’s lives like that with words.

Last week, I wrote a blog for TWLOHA (posted below).

It was only supposed to be for the road blog, but Jamie (the founder) read it and said it should be posted everywhere we post blogs (and that’s like 4 different places).

First of all, I was floored.

I mean, I worked hard on it, but mostly it was something that just flowed out after reflecting on the day with the team.

Suddenly, I had done something I wanted to do but never knew would be possible.

There are more than 100 comments on that blog full of praises about the words I wrote.

This is obviously encouraging.

It made me think maybe I can do this writing thing.

I’ve done so much over the past few years I never believed I could do before I decided to go after it with all I have.

For example, I am an English major (also, I realize some people may think that I am no longer an English major since I graduated, but that just isn’t true—I will be an English major for life).

I sucked in English all through school.

Like, I got my first D in Phonics in second grade.

And I hated being bad at English because I loved reading so much.

I made it into all the honors and AP classes in high school because I knew how to work the system, not because I was really smart in the subject.

I remember sitting in senior English reading Shakespeare and wishing so hard that I could understand his crazy 400 year old drama speak.

I also remember my first assignment for Shakespeare in college and how after Act I, I actually knew what the story was about.

I ended up chasing English as my focus for my college career because of Ms. Britt.

She believed in me.

She said, “a writer is someone who writes.”

That statement gave me so much hope.

I respect her, and whenever she gives me a compliment, I know it is the truth.

Ms. Britt doesn’t tell a lie when it comes to giving an opinion about writing.

She made me believe I could have a different story, and I am grateful for her all the time.

So, I guess what I’m really trying to say is I’m hopeful.

I know that Jesus believes in me more than myself most of the time.

He will take me places bigger than my dreams if I ask.

Now for a few updates:

  1. It cooled off for a few days!!!!!! I actually wore long sleeves and shivered. It was glorious. :) Sadly, it will be in the 80s again this week, but the staff says it will get colder soon.
  2. I really enjoy The Proposal (the movie with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds). We watched it last night on the projector (because we don’t have a tv), and it was just as awesome as when I saw it in the theater.
  3. I finished Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. It was good. I think the challenge he places on himself and presents to the reader will stay with me for years to come. He dares us to live a better story, to realize each person is “a tree in a story about a forest.” And he has really great stories, short real-life vignettes to unpack all of his points.
  4. I really miss my apartment bed. It was a full size bed that I could sleep on one side with clothes and books and pillows on the other side. I also miss my nightstand. Not that it was fantastic, it just existed. I sleep on a top bunk here with no nightstand. It is quite unfortunate.
  5. Where the Wild Things Are is one of my favorite movies of all time. Dave Eggers and Spike Jonze executed the story beautifully on screen. The emotion is real and deep and is not explained away with too many words. I cried. A few times. I can’t wait to make it a part of my collection. Please read Libba Bray’s post for more of about the movie. I agree with her.

I hope this post finds you well and smiling. May your week be filled with good reading and lots of laughs.

so much love.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Follow the Link

for pictures. :)

so much love.

A Little Bit of What I'm Up To

This is a little something I'm working on for TWLOHA to post on the Tumblr blog. It's about a walk we participated in on Saturday. I hope you are well and still enjoying your fall. :)

Side by Side, We Walked

When we woke up to go the park in Cocoa Beach for the Out of the Darkness Walk, it was still dark outside. We loaded up in the van to go to the park. The walk was part of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. We checked in and met Angela, the woman who organized the walk for our area. She wore a button on her shirt with a smiling young woman with long auburn hair on it. It’s her sister Carla. She died by suicide two years ago. Today, her family walked for her. We did, too.

Memory boards covered one picnic table. It was a place for attendees to write special messages to friends and family lost to suicide. This year we received donations at TWLOHA from friends and families in memory of loved ones lost to suicide. We hold them and their families close to our hearts. We walked in their honor and on behalf of their loved ones.

Before beginning the walk, Angela gathered us around. She shared the story of her sister’s long battle against depression. She talked about how important it is that we reach out to others, to make it real when we say “you are not alone.” She stressed the importance of medication and therapy. She said her family wanted to do this walk in an effort to help people like their sister. With a group of no more than thirty-five people, together, we set out to walk three miles, half on the sidewalk along the road, half on the beach. The sun had been rising in the sky, and the light was erasing the darkness.

We walked for the memories.

We walked for the families.

We walked for the names on our banner posted to the memory board.

We walked for the woman on the beach we met who lost her brother to suicide.

We walked with the family who lost their father two months ago.

We walked with the women who lost her father thirteen years ago to suicide, who attempted to take her own life seven years ago.

We walked so that we don’t forget.

We walked because we are all connected.

We walked to let our stories come together, to tell a greater story of hope.

Yes, we walked for HOPE.

It was an honor to be a part of such an intimate setting, walking with such a freshness of healing. We are grateful to have been there, to literally walk through this with people in our community. We entered the walk among strangers, and left with friends, left with people who truly cared for one another, left with encouragement that we are doing the right thing. We left in the light.

so much love.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Updates, Books, and Home

I hate the way that time seems to run away from you before you even realize it. I’m not so good at updating this blog more than once a week. The sad part is that I have so much to blog about, but there doesn’t seem to be enough time to get all of the thoughts down. I will be better about this.


1. So, I watched Whip It! Ellen Page is phenomenal, and the story is good. But for me, it was hollow. I read half of the book. If you know me, you know that rarely do I only read half of a book. But the story wasn’t captivating enough. And the author is the same person who wrote the screenplay, so I think it’s more that I don’t like her writing. I mean, I love the idea of a young and quirky woman with a lot of spunk decides to challenge herself with roller derby. But I kept waiting for something deep to happen, for there to be some amazing and profound line. It never did. Unfortunate.

2. I saw Rob Bell on Tuesday in Tampa. He released a new book in August called Drops Like Stars. It’s about creativity and suffering and love and Jesus. The book was amesome as was his talk. But his talk simply added an interactive element to the book. I expected it to be somewhat like a lecture because I’m forever a student. :) It was good, and I still took away pockets full of wisdom even though I had read a lot of what he said already.

3. Zach Williams is amazing. He is a musician who lives in Brooklyn. His music is raw and honest. Sometimes he wails so much passion that I get chill bumps. Normally, that only happens with live music. His music is inspiring me lately. I haven’t felt inspired by music in a long time, so it is beautiful to be in that once again. You should check him out:

4. Have I mentioned that Florida did not get the memo that it is fall? Because it didn’t. And it is HOT. I am a North Carolinian who enjoys ALL of the seasons. Want to know my least favorite? You guessed it: summer. Oh the sacrifices we make to do the things we love. Haha. jk. I listened to Christmas music on today just to feel cold. Haha. It didn’t work, but it was nice.


I started Donald Miller’s new book the other day. It’s called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. It’s a spiritual memoir and kind of a sequel-ish thing to Blue Like Jazz. I read that one at a pivotal time in my life in college and got me thinking about Jesus in new ways. This one is doing the same thing.

The book focuses on the journey Don was on when two guys asked if they could make his book (BLJ) into a movie. Of course, the story had to be edited. So, Don learned a lot about story and that in good stories a character goes on a search for something. Don says that to have a meaningful life, we need to live a meaningful story. And I wonder if I am living a meaningful story. I think I am. I will let you know how the rest of the book goes.

I miss home. I mean, almost everyone who leaves home misses it at some point. I am no different in that regard.

I miss the kids,

and the way Meredith looks in the fall,

and my conversations with Luke about movies,

and listening to Noah while he reads,

and playing barbies with Isabel,

and drinking wine and talking with my mom,

and watching LOST and hanging out with my sister,

and my apartment and the four of us who made it a home,

and the living room that was “my room” for a month and a half before I left,

and walking the halls of Joyner on the way to class,

and helping students in the Registrar’s office,

and my wonderful professors and their wealth of knowledge,

and Shakespeare,

and reading Chaucer in Middle English,

(not so much Jane Austen, haha),

and Raleigh with roads I know and the random late night drives they took me on,

and my snobby Barnes and Noble in Cary where all the booksellers know me.


I’m not sad; I just miss it. Remember what I said in the last blog about learning how part of loving someone means that there is a part of you that aches when they are not around. Well, I ache for home. I don’t want pity. I simply wanted to share.

That’s all I have for now. But I promise to write another blog before 7 days pass.

so much love.