A Dark Chest of Wonders

Welcome to the House of the Kennedy

Month: April, 2014

Just a Quick Update!

Hey guys, 

So this is just a quick update because i haven’t posted anything in a while! I’ve been very busy editing The Place Beyond the Courtyard, and of course school so I haven’t had a lot of time to just blog. Anyhow, here is the weekend publishing schedule that I hope to meet:

Saturday and Sunday will include a new Divergent post, likely a discussion between a friend on Goodreads and I concerning YA (VERY, VERY LONG, JUST SAYING; like it might be a two or three parter), a new Drafts 101 (this one will be on World Building), and a review of Cassandra Clare’s The Shadowhunter’s Codex and a possible review on Divergent, though I’m not so sure on that one yet, and I may post an analysis of YA literature, of course, that may take some time and I might do it as a very special post series in May. 

So there’s just a little juice for you to suck on for the time being, in the meanwhile: why are you reading this post! You should be writing, or reading, or doing something else important, you’re being bad! I know you have something you’re working on, you’re just stuck, you get one free cat video and then it’s back to work young man or lady!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKkejo2dMV4
(I didn’t say it was going to be a short cat video),

Cheers!

Motivation, or the lack of it

Today I took an Algebra End of Course exam benchmark in place of the horrible, ritualistic procedure of the state of Texas’s attempt at categorizing it’s students between those who can cheat and those who cannot. Or something of the like. Still, yesterday I felt nothing, and today I feel nothing of this examination. When I entered the room, took my assigned seat at the back of the room, I still felt nothing; wear others were battling worms, butterflies, and moths in their stomachs, I felt hollow, a tree stripped of all it’s insides, yet still content, and not in pain, but simply in something like a suspended feeling of awe. The test was administered to us, and I set my water bottle and three books on the floor next to me (Poe’s Complete Works, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and A Storm of Swords), eagerly awaiting the moment in which I would be able to crack each of them open and read. Of course, it was not that easy. 

The test was a conglomeration of graphs, words, and numbers, tables and formulas, and my mind was blank, for I had not studied, stupidly, for I had been obsessed with Bryan Cranston and his incredible performance on Breaking Bad. O what a fool I am! Still, when we were given our formula charts, my mind was at ease, and what was more, I was diagonal from a good friend of mine who happened to be incredibly smart (there are many incredibly smart people at my school, unfortunately and somewhat mournfully, I am not one of them, I assure you, or maybe you have already come to note as much about me) and so I found myself on the side of the fence that knew how to cheat, of course, this good friends habits to lean in over his paper overcame him, and only ever so often was I able to catch a glimpse at his scan-tron, and what I fond was that I was either an idiot or I was just looking at it wrong, though I believe the former is more true than the latter. Still, I proceeded to test, but again and again my mind wandered from my paper to come story stemmed form a superfluous situation, and my head was filled with thoughts of how utterly useless the endeavor was, for we were originally supposed to spend the day in the gym doing as we pleased. So I did what would only calm me, which was to write, and on several problems (even the front page!) I wrote small snippets of stories, one was about a sailor, another was about a king’s return to his garden, only be murdered by a nyaid who marries his son, a description of cupcakes at a party or a ball. 

But something that has never happened to me before happened as I went about that test, and I am very much afraid and somewhat pleased to say that, I did not care. Quadratic Functions and Linear Equations were the furthest thing from my head, for I was thinking about how I was going to edit a story I was working on, or another story I had started this morning about an insomniac, not of math. Yes, this is a terrible thing, I know, and I knew when I entered in random numerals for a gridable problem that my Algebra teacher would be furious with me, for it was obvious that I thought the test a jest instead of a determining factor of how many tutorial sessions I would be having in the future, and that I thought it not as a true benchmark, but busy work because our authorities believed we would be too rambunctious (huh! A class full of people who read, kept to themselves, and were far more fascinated in the talking of higher mathematics and things of the like; a class of people who were most soft spoken, and people who were only there because the course before Algebra was already done and they did not want to repeat it. Yes, what a great ruckus we would have caused!). And I suddenly knew then what my Algebra teacher saw in me, or the lack thereof, that had caused her to sigh and finally give up on me (I cannot deduce when she gave up, it is just obvious as she comes to me with a slight drag in her voice) which was motivation. 

But this could be no further from the truth! Why, I had plenty of motivation! I was motivated each and every day to sit down and put off most all other things and writer and write stories that were of little importance to the world besides that which was written upon the page, and I was so motivated that I would deliberately spend time afters school, one on one with my English teacher to secure my work a place in publishing records, when there were obviously ‘more important’ things to be done. Yet, I lacked motivation. But…but did I lack motivation only in this area? Yes, yes I did. Sometime between this week and last, I came to a realization that most of all the things that I was learning here had no purpose, application, or concept. Before you scoff and write me off as some horrible Holden Caulfield, I do not mean these things too literally. Algebra had no purpose to me as, in what reality is it absolutely necessary for me to know the Quadratic Formula or the slope of a line? It is almost laughable the examples that my Algebra teacher gives of Algebra in real life, for they are not everyday things, rather, things that you only think about if you think too hard! Rockets taking off, dolphins shooting out of the water, the arches of a churches windows, or the St. Luis arc! Hah! What absolute bullshit! Excuse my french, I am only digressing and ranting further, but still. What application did the things I learn bring to my life? There was a time when there were people who needed to know this, they wrote down their equations because they believed that the world would always be as it had been, and yes, there are men and women who still use these equations, but it is not the goal of the general populous to build some great architectural structure, a catapult, or some other contraption that requires such formulas and equations. Tush! believe I want it or need it, wasted space and paper, how I see it most often. 

Sigh. I step down from my soap box though, for no longer is my voice of shouting tone, croaking and deflated, I am in need of water. What my goal has been today is to show that, motivation is key in all things, but specifically, you must know yourself and know what you are willing to be motivated for. If you are like me, or in some way like me, know what you will be motivated for, because you will find that you are able to procure the best path for your future if you know what you need to get there, and you know what you believe in, and by knowing what you believe in, truly knowing what it takes to get there, not the predetermined knowledge of a society that aspires to predetermine your life. For lack of a better reference, be Divergent. 

Note: I wrote this simultaneously as I began to read a Forbes article about student motivation, which I think is on the tip of what I believe I was trying to get across in this post, so if you would like to see more where I was coming from, if it was not obvious in this post, then feel free to take a look at this article, I think it’s great and really gets in to the problem that I have with school. 

Cheers, 
JZK

Margins: A Slight Rant

Hey guys, so I don’t have anything necessarily ‘new’ for you to read, but I think that the idea is still fairly relevant in my mind. This is a short ‘rant’ that I wrote a couple of months ago after I got a bad comment from a friend of mind about careers, because though I am only just transgressing into High School as a freshman, it needs to be said that just as many other great writers, who I dearly admire, have said: “I cannot imagine doing anything for the rest of my days as often as I do write,” that is a generalized statement of what many have said, and I believe it wholly. I do not have a backup plan, I cannot imagine spending my days as an elder doing anything but waking in the morning making reading something, running errands, living, and more importantly, writing. If someone were to tell me that I was not allowed to write, I would sooner kill myself than try and sustain myself on only the human necessities such as food, water, and oxygen, for writing has become a great and vital need, and without it, I would not be able to sustain myself, I would be like a machine with fuel or a dying car without the gift of oil; a horse just out of reach from his bale of hay. And yet–and yet, society proceeds to trample upon my, what is this? My destiny. Yes, society and life proceeds to tell me that I cannot and I shall not do this thing that is so vital to me, but what can I do? What do I do? Do I allow life to continue to run over me and tell me that I cannot do what my heart most cries out for when I am away from it? Do I allow society to tell me that this thing that I have so come to love and become ‘well’ at (writing is to subjective a sport for the writer himself to call his own work good, for when he does call his work good he is sealing his fate, writing his epitaph, and tucking himself into the deathbed of his career) is not appropriate, it is not a foreseeable career? No! No, we do not let society trample upon us, for we are writers, we are a legion, and we stand as might as the mightiest Roman, a tall as the Empire State of New York, and as tough as the toughest skin of some dragon scale. 

But I digress. Allow me to fix my tie and straighten my jacket as I finish up this introduction to this ‘rant’ I have written. I have told you that I am transgressing into High School, and I don’t think that I have mentioned it before, but I have been writing for some eight years now, and still I have no recognition as a writer, which is not ‘bad’, but it is not good either. It seems that since I have no backup plan and I cannot imagine myself doing anything other than this brave art, that it is imperative that I begin my career now, that I gain some kind of recognition, that my name is sought in the future, for if I cannot find an audience to speak my voice too, then where do I lie a midst the shattered glass? I do not tell you these things in order to persuade you, but to make you realize that we as writer (if you are a writer) have a tough, and perilous journey before us, and forever it will be perilous, even when we read a destination that is of the most favorable location, we shall be challenged by the natives and the wildlife that resides there, and there will of course be visitors who come about our door and ask us, “How do you do,” on one strong knee, leaning over and smiling before we even have answer. My journey has only just began, yours as well, and we cannot allow society or those around us to tell us that we should not peruse or love, to allow them to scoff at us, we must procure our star in the margins and make sure that the world knows that writers are not some lowly creatures who are not even on the paper, for we are at the top! 

And so, I now urge you to proceed into ‘Margins’:

Where is my Star in the Margins?

            One day, I was on the bus riding home from school. My friends and I were talking, having a good roundabout time, and we were suddenly on the subject of future careers as I brought up that I was considering possibly becoming an astrophysicist thanks to one of my favorite shows The Big Bang Theory, and the many things that astrophysicists have achieved over the years. Of course, one of my friends—I am not sure if he was my friend, I believe we were nothing but acquaintances really, acquaintances who happened to live next door (literally) to each other—scoffed. “Why? It’s such a boring job. Why don’t you go into a career of programming or engineering?” One of the classic things about him was that, he was able to tell you about something if he knew about it, without thinking you might know something on the subject. 
            I’d understood that there were hundreds upon hundreds of fields of engineering, one of my previous school district was turning its head to become a STEM district, in addition to this, I spent a lengthy summer at an Engineering Program at a community college—at which, I had my first summer love, and upon finishing the program, we both knew that it was only destined to be that; but that is beside the point—so, I knew a thing or two about engineering. The only difference between now and then is that, I wasn’t as sure that I wanted to be an author, I was considering the route of becoming an Engineer, but writing was my passion—whenever I sat down at my laptop after a long day at school, and I got to typing a story, I felt like I was doing real magic, I felt like I was really happy, and on most days, I’m not happy: but writing, it made me the most happy I could ever be. 
            After nearly 7 years—now 8—of having been writing, I found that it was the only thing that I really wanted to do: in school, whoever we were told to write an essay, I was filled with glee and happiness, for I would finally be able to use my talents to my advantage. I would often times be the only one in the class to write a 10,00 word paper, I would often times do more than I had to, but only because it was fun and not because I was solely focused on the grade. I rejoiced learning about deeper meanings of metaphors and how words work in different ways, while others saw no light in the subject. I often times felt, and I still do feel, that I was an outlier, the only one who would ever find a need to know these things, the only one who would ever be happy doing such a thing, a thing that many find tedious and a waste of time. 
            Still, the friend went on to tell me how he planned on being a chemical engineer, and incredulousness struck his eyes when I remarked on his comment about how he was only in it for the money—maybe he wasn’t, but for the most part he was. It was already deeply rooted in me from my own experience that, money should not be the sole purpose of your work, and money was a terrible thing that in my opinion, shouldn’t have become one of the only driving factors in your work. I had also learned that as a writer, you would often times be strapped for cash, you wouldn’t always be getting money in such bundles, and when you are told all the time, “Keep your day job.”, you learn not to make money your priority—you learn to make your passion your priority. He and my other friends gave me strange looks, seeming to ask, ‘How could you do anything but think of money in the world we live in?’ They didn’t understand my mind, no one can understand another man’s mind, but they didn’t seem to grasp it at all. Earlier in the day, I told them that I one day planned on being the next great American novelist, and they only told me, ‘You overestimate yourself’ as though I was some talentless heathen, and it made me feel small where I already was small. Surrounded by people who wanted to become engineers and scientists, I was the lonely writer—that one guy who just kind of stares at his food at lunch. I was in a place where very few people agreed with me on many subjects, and I came to believe that most all the time, I would be wrong on everything that didn’t have to do with writing, even when we talked about writing, the subject died as quickly as a baby bird tries to fly and it falls, snapping it’s neck. 
            One of the most profound of all the things was that, all of them seemed to agree that English was the subject they needed least, maybe even behind History—which already had its own value. Mathematics and science were the winners in their eyes, and for a guy who could not obtain a 70 in Algebra, it made me feel worse. Constantly, it seemed that everyone was forced to believe that if you didn’t know math—on some advanced level might I add, as my ex-girlfriend argued with me because I did not specify—you would ultimately fail in life, and being a writer, it was already a precedent that we were to fail in succeeding with our dreams—life as a writer was hard stuff, and you had to develop a tough skin. But even those with the toughest of skin still know and feel the world they’re living in. They’re a dying species, and natural selection is going to weed them out soon enough. 
            The fact that no one seemed to find value in the metaphors found it books, the beauty in words, and the abstractness of imagination was disheartening and belittling to me. What would the future generation of readers think? What would happen if my books were ever accepted on the reading list? Would students skip it? Who would buy it? These things cluttered, and still clutter, my mind often—how will a lone paper plane survive in a world of machines? A writer begins to ask himself—‘where’s my star in the margins?’ 
            I am plagued with insecurities, and I am being crushed under the weight of an imaginary world, as I have found—my mother and many others told me that I held myself too high. That, I was the only one who was really afraid of me failing or not doing exemplary. I was the only one afraid of collapsing under the weight of his delusions, and I was the only one afraid to miss a step and fall. For I did not understand the concept of getting up, and often times when I tripped and fell, I would be so perplexed and horrified by the prospect of being so close to the ground, that I did not look to others for help, rather I looked for their sympathies, and sympathy would not stop the blood from draining out of my knee. It is one of my fatal flaws—I believe that I cannot fall, and if I do, I am done, there is nothing that can be done. Here and now I find myself facing the weight that holds me down—confronting it with the truth. I’m too much of an overachiever, too independent, and too stubborn to ask, “Will you help me up?”—I have also denied to call the number for that button; you know the one, ‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up! 
            So, here and today, as I look out at all you writers and doubters, I am here to say that I am relinquishing the weight, I am no longer fit with belittlement, I am no longer fine with being the outlier who can’t break the circle. That is no more, that has ended, and it’s time to find a pen—I’m going to put our star in the margin next to our name, and I’m going to show everyone who has doubted me and told me that I shouldn’t do it that it’s been done and I succeeded. It’s time to shrug off the weight of fear that says, ‘You’ll never be as important as them; you’ll never be able to contribute to the world like them; you’ll never make it’—the weight has to begin if we wish to write and make our presence known on the incredible notebook paper of life. 
            Relinquish the weight! Break from your bindings of madness and delusion and pick yourself up—and when you fall, don’t be afraid to ask someone to help you up, even if it’s your antagonist, whether he be the doubter or the laughter, let them help you, and when they fall, you’ll be helping them up.

 

So, there you have it! Please leave comments or simply like this post, for you too can be apart of this journey, or rather you can join me as I go down my path through this valley of unrest, along this journey of the most treacherous kind.

Cheers!