Poem 10 – Brooklyn Bridge

Yellow taxi cab

Endless time

No destination, only forward —

I climb on top

of the car,

the world.

Under the Brooklyn Bridge I see only

light;

love;

snow;

heat;

ice;

fish;

Gods;

order;

hail;

chaos.

The buildings greet me like an old friend,

and we reminisce together

slowly, softly

in the moonlight.

Cold, bitter, windy light

penetrates my very being —

Do I swim with or against the current,

that everlasting tide of traffic?

Envisioning

glowing embers of a forgotten fireplace,

and nothing is as it seems

Truth or fiction?

The night swirls on.

-writersblock55

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Writing Tip 4 – The Most Overused Words of 2012

Hi everyone! Happy New Year — wow, I can’t believe it’s 2013 already!!! One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to post on this blog more, especially since I didn’t even post at all in December.

To ring in the new year, here’s a writing tip: don’t overuse these words — they were already overused in 2012.

And without further ado, THE MOST OVERUSED WORDS OF 2012:

From the Business blog Quartz: 

-Disrupt

-Pivot

-Innovation

From the social networking for professionals website LinkedIn:

-Creative

-Organizational

-Effective

-Motivated

-Innovative

-Responsible

-Analytical

From the Shift Communications PR Agency:

-Forward

-Leading

-International

-Growth

From Lake Superior Universitiy’s “Banished Words List”:

-Blowback

-Ginormous

From Atlantic Wire: 

-Curate

-Ecosystem

-Epic

-Fall

 

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Book Review 7 – The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I started this novel in the summer but it wasn’t until October that I finally decided to finish this book — and boy, was it worth it!

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is truly a marvelous work. When I first started the novel, however, you wouldn’t have heard me saying that — it’s one of those novels that grows on you as you continue to read it. The story itself  is a love story that follows Henry, a librarian who finds himself involuntarily displaced in time, and Claire, an artist who does not time travel. It begins with Henry and Claire’s first date (for Henry), progresses to an older Henry meeting Claire as a young girl, and culminates with Henry meeting Claire when Claire is an old woman (if you’re wondering how that’s possible, I’m not going to give anything more away!) Although some parts of the novel could have been cut out, Niffenegger writes with such presicion and attention to detail that you don’t even mind reading some of the paragraphs that read as lists.

However, what struck a resounding impact with me was Niffenegger’s message that love truly can withstand the test of time, and I recommend The Time Traveler’s Wife to anyone who believes in the power of that statement.

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Essay 2 – No Pain, No Gain?

Please comment with either your thoughts about my writing style or the content of my writing, it would be much appreciated!

It’s completely true that you can’t accomplish anything without going through some sort of pain. That’s why I agree with the statement, “No pain, no gain.” One example of this is getting your body into shape – it is painful, but you gain something out of it in the end. Another example is Nelson Mandela, who, even after many years in prison, re-emerged stronger than ever to fight against racism.

I’m sure that everyone wants to be fit. Unfortunately, it doesn’t just come with the snap of a finger. You have to work out regularly and improve your stamina. If you are quite unfit at the beginning, it will take a lot of pain on your part to improve your physical fitness – if running the extra few meters will make you fit, go for it! Also, if you’re inflexible for your age and you want to be more flexible, the best way to do that is to stretch. Yes, it might hurt at first and yes, it’s painful, but you will be able to do a lot more sports and improve your physical fitness by being flexible. You might be asking: What’s the gain? The gain is that sports make you happier throughout the day, improving your look, inside and out, helping you concentrate better, making you sleep longer as well as drastically improving your health, reducing the risk of getting diseases such as cancer, and making you live longer. Wow, that’s a lot of gain! That’s why pain is worth it – for imagine if you never exercised at all, never ran that extra few metres, and never stretched? You would be overweight, moody, and at the risk of getting major diseases (among many other reasons). I’d much rather be the first group of things listed above rather than the second – wouldn’t you? That’s why this is a good example of “No pain, no gain.”

Even though the things that happened to Nelson Mandela for most of his life were unfair, (namely being sent to jail for many years) he still fought on throughout the rest of his life. He didn’t give up, even though he was in jail for so many years – living on rations of food and wearing the jail outfit, he would get his friend to sometimes sneak in a copy of the local newspaper to him so he could find out what was going on in the world. In jail, he would be planning ideas for what he would do once he was released. Because he went through pain, it actually made him a more patient person. When he was released at last, he fought against racism and eventually became president of South Africa. Later on in life, he earned at least fifty awards – which is a great gain from the pain that he went through for most of his life in jail. If he hadn’t fought his way out of jail, he wouldn’t have become president of South Africa and definitely wouldn’t have won any awards. Even though most of his life was pain, the remainder of his life resulted in great gains that would make him famous forever. He might have been able to accomplish all of this without going to prison, but I actually think that it made him a better person.

In conclusion, nothing good can happen to a person without some pain. Some people might think that pain only happens to bad people, but in truth, it happens to every person who wants to make a difference in this world. That’s why you have to realize that nothing is going to hand itself to you – you have to work for it. And if that means going through some pain, it doesn’t matter, for if you work hard enough, you’ll definitely get some gain out of it.

-writersblock55

Poem 9 – Gray Skies

Please comment! I haven’t posted in a bit so I thought I would post twice today (no, you’re not seeing double).

Vancouver, Canada

A huge bear dwells in my backyard

Lush green trees

sway in the distance to the grey music

The clear blue inlet

is beckoning me;

yet I do not get swallowed up

by what I see.

Salmon reside between

pop can wrappers and seaweed,

Rocks and dirt

litter the sea floor,

Choking the sand

in its grasp.

What is there to admire

about the endless,

rusty grey skies?

Snow-capped mountains embedded in reality,

Granville Island yearns for Ambleside Park.

The waves are melodic;

rising and falling in the dark.

-writersblock55

Writing Tip 3 – Weighing the Pros and Cons of Accidental Alliteration, Puns & Rhyming

Alliteration, puns and rhyming are three of the best techniques to draw a reader into your work, and you can use them to your advantage.  However, when used ineffectively, your work can turn into a disaster. Here’s the pros and cons of these three literary techniques.

Alliteration

Pros: 

– Alliteration can entertain as well as inform the reader at the same time when used in moderation.

– It’s fun to write. Notice the title of this post – “accidental alliteration.” That was an accident, I can assure you. Let’s not pretend here, you find this hilarious.

Cons: 

Alliteration can backfire if it’s overused, since readers will focus on the alliteration itself and not the message you’re trying to convey.

Puns

Pros: 

– Puns can be used to fool a reader, and they are smart literary devices to use when trying to convey meaning.

– You feel on top of the world when you find a pun.

Cons:

– Unintended punning. It may come out wrong because it was unintended.

Rhyming

Pros:

– It’s melodic.

– Especially in poems, rhyming usually works in favor of a literary work.

Cons: 

– Too much rhyming is a pain, unless having a perfect rhyme scheme helps develop the theme of your poem.

– Rhyming prose. Just don’t do it.

-writersblock55

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/3-types-of-accidental-writing-to-avoid/

Story 6 – Evolution

This is a story that I wrote for a contest a while ago (around 5 years or so ago) that I dug out from the depths of my computer. I didn’t win the contest, but I still admire this work to this very day. As you can see, I’m in the mood of posting stories… Please comment!

The night was moonless, pitch-black. I could not even see my own hand in front of my face. But my instinct told me that I should venture off into the cave anyway.

‘The cave’ is a cave with surprisingly magical powers that a person could not tell by the rough, black rock, wet by the rain of the previous day. It could transform a person into anything they would like, anything at all. The hard part is what you have to do in order to become anything you would like. No, there are no ‘magic words’ that you have to recite in order to transform yourself. Instead, you have to have ‘received’ a quantity of liquid in your stomach (without drinking it- you can feel it only if you need it) called elava. Only the people chosen (I don’t know by whom) can do this, and the chosen persons have a special type of cave, that looks exactly like mine: rough, black rock, with slight tinges of gray, with a size of about eight metres tall, and only six metres wide.

My parents died, long ago when I was just five. How they died was very odd, really, especially considering the fact that I don’t remember much, since I was only five when the tragedy occurred. I just seem to remember blurs: trees smashing down like they were pulled by an ultimate gravity force, smoke, yes, lots of thick, black smoke, the smoke piercing the air, shouts and screams, the sound of rushing water and millions of people thundering down, down, into the murky depths of the water.

That’s all I remember, really. But, for me it’s enough to tell me that my parents died in a disastrous fire. For years afterwards our community had to work on rebuilding our precious city, the city of Elavanor. No one will ever find out (and they never will, only the chosen people will know forevermore) but the city was renamed after elava, the mysterious liquid.

My name is Sophia, and I am sixteen years old. I have a brother Jerry, who is two years younger than me, at age fourteen. Before, it used to be a giant age difference, but now that we’re (well, at least, I am) in our late teens, it doesn’t matter anymore. We are close friends, very close friends, not just brother and sister.

My parents were rich. Of course, I don’t mean to brag, but they were quite rich and most times they wore expensive clothes from well-known designers. In their will, they left us this house and most of its contents: money, (we rarely use it much) passports, pictures- to put it shortly, basically anything that you can imagine, from rusty bed springs to millions and millions of dollars.

And since they died, Jerry and I have become close friends. We sometimes fight like cats and dogs, but mostly we agree, or at least, try to agree with each other. I never knew that soon, our bond would be closely tightened.

Where was my sister? It was already 1:00 in the afternoon, and the sun was high in the sky, with no clouds in sight, promising a good, warm day.

                  She’s still in that cave, and it’s lunch time, I thought miserably. Sometimes I think that she’s more attached to it than I am.

                  Suddenly, the door burst open with an excruciatingly loud BANG. Two men stood in the doorway, their eyes alert. I quickly pushed back my short locks of golden-brown hair, and stood taller, as if trying to show them that I wasn’t really fourteen, wasn’t really ‘just a child’ anymore. At least, that’s what all the adults say. They always talk about us in their odd way, as if they weren’t a kid once in their painful I-wish-that-I-had-more-time-in-the-day lives.

The men in the doorway were different from any I had seen in my life. Their faces were as black as night, and their eyes were gleaming with unspoken triumph, as if they had just made a giant accomplishment. The one to the left had giant, ugly muscles, and looked like he hadn’t exercised recently, on account that he was quite stocky. The other one to the right, the peculiar one, had thin, crisp lips and an extraordinary smirk, as if he were sneering at me because I was ‘just a child.’ He also had a thin exterior, looking almost like a leg of a chair

“Give.” The man to the left spoke in a low, monotonous voice, almost like a broken record.

“G-give what? And wh-what are y-you doing here? Y-ou have n-n-n-no, no right to trespass into my house!” I tried my best to make my voice sound assertive, but I knew that my voice had more than just a slight quaver in it.
“Oh, yes, we do,” the man to the left said impatiently. “I want to get ’em outta here- run, partner!” Now the man eyed his partner, the feeble man to the left. In one quick jerk, the man, showing outstanding running skills, sprinted upstairs, to where the attic and the key to the box with the money was.

I could not do anything but run, and the other man outwitted me.

A series of shouts that turned to screams of “SOPHIA! HELP!” brought me out of my  long sleep. I had slept all night, and my instinct told me that something was wrong.

Was it Jerry? I wondered impatiently, kicking off a soft wad of dirt on the ground. If he was in trouble, I had no time to waste.

I leaped to my feet, hastily shaking off access excess dirt from my jeans. Who was screaming in that ultimately I’m-in-trouble-and-I-need-help-fast voice? I strained my ears once more, hoping to catch even a murmer of that strangely familiar voice.

One minute passed. Nothing.

Two minutes.

Three minutes. Still nothing.

Ten minutes.

Eleven minutes approached, and I was starting to get quite irritated. When twenty minutes dawned on the clocks, I was so hasty that I almost started to run into the house, no matter who I would meet. Then…there.

“THE CAVE! SOPHIA, THE LIQUID!” a muffled voice, coming from Jerry’s bedroom exclaimed. I recognized it instantly as Jerry’s. He was in trouble, and he wanted me to transform. And so I did.

The elava gushed into my stomach. I was ready to transform, when I wanted to.

I had a plan already worked into my head: I would gather the liquid, and not transform until I had appeared to whoever was in that house (it was obviously someone terrible, resulting in Jerry’s muffled screams) that I was just a meager girl. They would instantly de-size me, obviously thinking that two strong and powerful men against one meager girl would win (common sense.)

I summoned up all my courage and strength, and with that, I ran like never before, racing against the wind and limited time to rescue my brother, towards our manor.

“Alright, partner, we’re going in,” came the muscular man’s voice from the attic.

I tried desperately to free myself from the cuffs they had so hurriedly put on my hands and feet, but it was no use. All I could do now was utterly hope that Sophia had heard my message, and that she was coming with the elava ready in her stomach.

Right then, a very odd thing happened. The thinner man opened a piece of paper, written in curly and messy handwriting and forcefully thrust it in front of my face, saying nothing except, “read.”

So I read, and this is what it announced:

Holy song to be performed by Noir tribe.

         Holy song? Noir tribe? I don’t understand what this is all about! It’s crazy, I decided at last.

Just then, something extremely strange happened. The two terrible men, as if on cue, started to chant an out-of-this-world song:

                  Noir-i,

                  Noir-i,

                  We are the holy people,

                  We do not worship anything,

                  Except-o,

                  Except-0,

                  Elaaaava.

 

With the odd chant complete, the men stared at me, as if expecting me to speak. When I didn’t, (I was shocked and overcome by fear at the same time) the bulky one declared, as if he had memorized what he was about to say:

“There are four tribes. The other three always call us ‘bad,’ but we are the good tribe, the excellent tribe. We kill. We unleash our swords and tear and rip flesh until we see blood.”

I froze like a statue, purposely trying to look extremely terrified to the bulky man, who referred to himself as Noiri, and the thinner one Noiro. I was frightened, but inside I was also creating a plan and considering my options: I either had to try and flee or call for help, call for Sophia and the elava.

Just when I decided to shout at the top of my voice for Sophia, she came bursting into the room at top speed.

Yes, I thought in relief. She’s here, and coming to rescue me!

I dashed into the room at top speed, instantly locating Jerry. There were two strange men in the room, looking at Jerry as though he were a piece of dust.

They hadn’t noticed me yet. Just my luck, I thought happily.

The man that I had seen pop his head out of the attic door vanished again, only to step out of it holding a silver sword, which glistened in the sunlight even though it was 2:00 in the afternoon.

It frightened me out of my wits, but I forced myself to stand still. I was on a mission to rescue Jerry; and I needed to hear every little sentence that either one of the horrible men declared.

The man with the sword held up the blade and thundered, in a voice that seemed to echo amongst the rolling hills, “I will kill you! Money for the Noir tribe! Money coming to me, Noiri!”

With that, Noiri’s blade sliced the air once, twice. Now was my chance to transform. Just as I was about to, Noiri noticed me- terrible luck- and boomed:

“A revolting GIRL is here, kill her at once!” Noiri turned to Noiro, and grinned in triumph.

Noiro sprinted after me, his agile steps bouncing quickly on the wooden floor. But I outran him in one leap, and thought about transforming into a tiger.

One second passed, but that was enough time for me to transform. My body and head came first, giving me an orange head and tail, with black stripes. Next came my legs, and lastly, my tail. I felt odd, but powerful and strong, as if I could climb Mount Everest in one second.

At the sight of me, Noiro fainted instantly, with a loud THUMP. I could tell that Noiri was trying to compose his face to not look frightened, but it wasn’t working.

I traced his steps towards the door, softly so he wouldn’t hear me bunching my muscles, ready to pounce. In one swift movement, I pounced and leapt directly onto Noiri’s lungs, onto his heart.

“AARRGGGGHHH!”  He screamed desperately, but it was no use. My teeth bit into his flesh, tasting blood.

If I were human, my face would have glowed in triumph. Instead, I grinned at Jerry and he glowed, as if for me.

“You did it!” Jerry exclaimed triumphantly, as if I had won a gold medal.

I beamed- he was right. I had saved the day!

-writersblock55

Story 5 – The Shell

This is a short story that I wrote a while ago. Enjoy, and please comment!

I opened my eyes. In front of me was a great long stretch of beach with pure white sand. It stretched out endlessly before me, showing me the way but not telling me what lies at the end. Just like when you open a book and get a general idea of the plot but don’t know how it will end.

The sun was slowly sinking into the grasps of the deep blue ocean filled with unknown creatures and plants. Now, the agents of the night were asserting their control over the chirping birds and bright blue sky of the day. Everything was black. I could not see except for the light of the moon. It glowed, showing me the way as I walked along the beach.

I was in Koh Samui, Thailand, a popular tourist destination. So there were still some peddlers wandering aimlessly around the beach, trying to get other people to change their life.

“Box of shells – two dalla!” One called out in broken English.

With nothing better to do, I approached the peddler.

He grinned when he saw me, his brown eyes bulging. “Hello, miss! Box of shells only two dalla!”

My hands reached out to grasp the box. I peered inside. Brown and pink shells filled the box only halfway.

“Where’s the other half?”

The peddler didn’t understand me. As if his other half had disappeared in another lifetime.

I reexamined the shells. None of them were a pure white color, like the color of the sand. All of them had, in one way or another, been touched, tainted, grasped. Somehow the sand was still pure, even after everyone had walked all over it during the day.

At night there was a serene quality blanketing the beach. A glowing white sheet covering up what had been tainted.

“No,” I heard myself say out loud.

The peddler instantly became desperate. “Miss, this very good deal! Whole box only two dalla!”

I smiled and walked away, following my own footsteps down the shoreline.

Suddenly, my toe closed on a small object. I raised it up to the moonlight. It glowed and radiated light across the whole expanse of the beach.

It was a shell.

White.

Pure.

Mine.

-writersblock55

Story 4 – Glistening Tails

This is an extremely short story that I wrote this summer. Some people have told me that it was incomprehensible to them, and that was partly my intention. Please leave a comment whether you liked it or not (I enjoy constructive criticism and am always looking for ways to improve my writing). Thank you!

A school of fish swam by her, their tails glistening amid the muddy water, not stopping for anything or anyone.

Why am I here? And how did I get here? She thought, idly lifting up a rock next to her that moved under her gentle touch.

The rock began to walk. Slowly at first, and then it picked up its pace with each languid step. She noticed that it had legs, and that it wasn’t the color of a normal rock – it was a shade of deep purple.

Well, that’s strange, the girl thought, gazing at the rock as it disappeared into the distance, digging her feet into the cold sand of the lake.

A small voice at the back of her head told her that the rock had another name, and just a few hours ago, she would have been able to remember it. She would have been able to do more than just remember the common name for the rock – she would have remembered her own name and her life before this moment.

But in one moment of impact, the course of her life changed forever. Perhaps in another universe, her parents were searching endlessly for her, screaming her name with increasing urgency. And even if they were looking for her, she didn’t know who they were, and wouldn’t believe them if they told her. So she simply stared at another school of fish, wondering what her identity was. As the motions of life carried on, hers seemed to freeze like in a stop-motion film.

Something squirmed under her grip. She thought it was the rock at first – the rock that isn’t commonly called a rock – but it had eyes that she thought resembled her own.

How did I end up with a baby? She asked the fish. When she received no reply, she yelled at the fish to respond, and when she had no success with that, she turned her head down and quietly wept into her worn, mangled shirt.

When the baby heard her crying, she suddenly burst out in tears, bursting with what seemed to be the same amount of tears as the water in the lake. Inwardly, she knew that she should try to do something, anything, to calm the baby, but she couldn’t think of being in any other place but right next to the lake, because all she remembered was waking up right in the same spot that she was currently sitting in.

She enjoyed looking at the fish. They were the only beings alive that seemed to have a purpose in life, and they were always on the move.

Maybe that’s what I need to do, she thought to no one in particular. The baby, as if comprehending what she was saying, ceased crying.

So she rose up, off the sandy beach, and walked along the shoreline of the lake. She saw another passerby on the beach and asked, “Where am I?”

If there was a response, she didn’t hear it because she was too busy gazing at her own reflection, which gazed back at her with an otherworldly glimmer.

Suddenly her entire past came flashing back to her, as if it had never left, and she finally felt complete again. She knew what she needed to do, and carrying her baby in her arms, she set off.

-writersblock55

Book Review 6 – A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

This is a bit of a late review, seeing as I actually read this book in early August, but better late than never 🙂

Although I’ve said mostly positive things about the other books that I’ve reviewed, this book was not my favorite. I had high hopes and expectations for it that mostly got let down (with a few exceptions).

A Visit From the Goon Squad focuses on the lives of Bennie Salzar, and aging former punk rocker and his record label business, and Sasha, his young assistant. The two are different from each other in multiple respects and I did enjoy how Egan alternated between their perspectives. The reader got to know both character’s backstories, even though the Sasha and Bennie never truly got to know each other’s backstories.

The one aspect of the book that is causing me to give it a slightly negative review (with a positive flair, of course, see above) is that the characters confused me. I’m not going to get into all the details, but the characters that surrounded the lives of Sasha and Bennie were unclear, as their relationship to the two main characters was unclear. Instead of narrating the story from Sasha’s and Bennie’s perspectives throughout the entire novel, Egan chose to narrate it through other characters who encountered Sasha and Bennie — which would have been fine, but since I had no idea who they were, this just made the novel more confusing to read.

I did enjoy the chapter written entirely in powerpoint format – it was a refreshing change.

All in all, this book was alright, not terrible, but it did have its flaws in respect to characters and plot.

-writersblock55