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Be the future

Be the future

It’s that time of year again. School is right around the corner, and while we may want to cling to our blissful time in the summer sun, the classroom is calling. 

Many people dread going back to school. I admit, I had my fair share of complaints about getting up earlier and doing homework, and I still do. Yet, looking back, I can promise you that my education and yours is not a waste of time. 

Today, I would like to focus on three quotes about the power and importance of education.

  1. “Educating yourself does not mean that you were stupid in the first place; it means that you are intelligent enough to know that there is plenty left to learn.” -Melanie Joy

Education is not easy. It comes with hours of sitting in a classroom and at home studying. This can be exhausting, mentally and physically. However, these exhausting hours have a purpose. Education is not about separating people into groups based on how smart they are. It is about the opportunities students have to learn as much as they can.

  1. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” -Nelson Mandala

People always want to change the world. Sadly, we still live in a world of poverty and violence. But we also live in a world of great technological inventions and artistic expression. The world has problems, yes, but we can change that. You can change that. The first step to changing the world is knowing what problems exist. Only then are solutions possible. So, when you feel like slacking off on your homework or skipping school, remember this: you can change the world. All you have to do is learn how. 

  1. “The future of the world is in my classroom today.” -Ivan Welton Fitzwater

As children, we often look up to our parents, teachers and other adults as the people who shape our lives. However, they are the present not the future. You—the kids and teens and young adults in the classroom—are the future. Take pride in knowing you can impact the world, or at least the lives of a few, by learning and finding your passions. 

So, despite the desire for summer to linger, be proud to receive an education that may help you change the lives of others. Try to dive into the school year with a desire to be the future. You may be a student now, but in years ahead, you can change the world. 

 

Grow

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Book Recommendation

Balderdash

 

    While on vacation a few years ago, my family discovered a game called Balderdash. Not only is it a funny word, it’s a very humorous game. When defined, balderdash literally means ‘nonsense.’ And while many may see it as a game of nonsense, I see it as a great opportunity for creativity. 

    So, here are the basic rules of the game. One person chooses a card from the deck, and from that card he/she chooses a word. Then, everyone else has to think of a definition for that word. Once all the definitions are submitted (including the correct one), the group votes on which definition is the true meaning of the word. Now, you may think you have a large vocabulary, and that may be true. But, I’m pretty sure that you have never heard these words before: saltimbanco, yarwhelp, dealbation, biggah, and fusain. Yes, those are real words. Still, these words are so unknown that even spell check thought four out of the five were spelled incorrect. 

    Now, you may think I like this game because it should expand your vocabulary. While this is true, I believe it helps adults to recapture the creativity they may not have used since childhood. Kids are always thinking of new things: stories, places, different uses for objects, and even words. In fact, when I was little, my brother created the word ‘hubajabum.’ For him, it meant a pile of stuff, such as clothes. However, if someone else heard this word, a different definition might pop into their mind. 

    Creativity is endless if we only give ourselves opportunities to harness it, and this game is a great way to do just that. Even if you don’t own this game, you can look up obscure words and play it the same way. The best part of the game is seeing the creativity of others. Only my family could have defined gundalow as the phrase you say when sailing down a quick flowing river. 

    However, there are other ways to use this game. For writers who are searching for writing prompts, any of these words could spur a story. For example, a saltimbanco is a clown or street performer. Immediately, you have a character. Or take the word fusain, which is a charcoal sketch. Now you have a prop for your story. You could even use one of created definitions as a prompt for dialogue between two characters. 

The opportunities are endless with this game. Whether you spend a night with friends or family laughing because of this game or using it for writing prompts, Balderdash is more than just nonsense. It is creative nonsense.

The book that changed my life

 

"You are now entering Ruby Holler, the one and only Ruby Holler! Your lives are never going to be the same—"

One of my favorite quotes is “People change people.” Yet, this is not only true with the relationships we have with the people around use. In fact, the characters in books can also make a change in our lives. 

When I was in third grade, my teacher read the book Ruby Holler out loud to our class. To many, it was a normal book. For me, it was a life changer. Written by Sharon Creek (one of my favorite authors), the story follows two sets of characters: the young orphans, Dallas and Florida, and the older married couple, Tiller and Sairy. Not only is it a heartwarming story filled with comedy and unique characters, but it also taught me that there are two ways to look at life: optimistically and pessimistically. 

Without giving too much away, both sets of characters went through hardships that left wounds on their hearts. Whether it was rejection throughout childhood or the separation of time, the characters have reason to mistrust one another and expect heartbreak to follow once again. Some let their pessimism drive them, doubting everyone’s intentions and expecting things to suddenly change for the worse. Yet others try to live optimistically, looking for the good in others and giving each opportunity a chance to succeed. 

In our lives, we experience hardships. As people, we have reason to doubt and prepare in case things take a turn for the worse. However, Ruby Holler taught me that is not a way to live. Living is allowing adventure to enter your life. Living is taking a risk by opening your heart to people. Living is looking on the bright side and giving life a chance to surprise you. 

Growing up, I became more like Dallas and Sairy by choosing to look on the bright side and give life a chance. When things or people got me down, I always saw hope. Yet, I know many people who live like Florida and Tiller, always expecting people to disappoint them and preparing for the worst. I see these characters in the people I know, and I now see these characters in myself. 

I attribute this hopeful mindset to Creech’s characters. Without them, I may not have become the person I am today. As Sairy said in the quote above, once you enter Ruby Holler, your life will forever be changed. And so, my point stands. People change people. Characters change people. Books change people. 

As author Helen Exley said, “Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled ‘This could change your life.’” So, pick up a book and let it change your life. You never know how characters will change you unless you step into their world and let them. 

    

What to write?

 

As a creative writing major, my final project in college will be my creative writing thesis. This means I have to write a 20 page (or longer) story of my choice before I graduate. Before school starts, my classmates and I are required to have started our thesis, because once the semester starts we can’t go back and choose another idea. So, how do I choose what story I am going to work on for the next nine months of my life?

On a broader scale, how does anyone choose what to write? Many people (myself included) struggle choosing a topic. From the variety of genres to the countless writing styles, how do you know which one to choose? Maybe you already have a billion ideas swarming in your head that are just bursting to make it onto the page, but you don’t know which one to start with. Or maybe you think you have no ideas to start with. Both are perfectly okay. Here are some tips for writers to get started. 

  1. What do you love to read? 

Many times, authors like to write what they love to read. If you like mysteries, try to write a mystery. If you like stories about real people’s lives, dig into your past and write a story that happened to you. If the first idea doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to, don’t give up! Think of something else you love to read and try your hand at that topic. 

  1. What inspires you? What are you passionate about?    

The things that we are passionate about often inspire us too. If you love sports, write a story about sports. If you have danced since you were three, write a story about dance. Most likely if you enjoy doing that activity, you will enjoy creating a story centered around it. 

  1. Borrow ideas from other people.

Now, I don’t mean copy people’s ideas. Instead, if there is a certain idea, image, or phrase another story uses, feel free to use it as a prompt for your story. I have borrowed single lines from stories and song lyrics and turned them into different stories about a completely different idea. Images are another great form of inspiration. Find a picture that moves you in any way (intrigue, confusion, happiness, etc.) and fill in the blanks. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so write those words in the way you see the picture. 

  1. Try writing about the world around you.

The world is an infinite list of story ideas. Whether it is a place you visit, a conversation you overhear, an impressive fact you learn, or simply a smell or other sense, ideas are endless. You may think that authors have already written about these ideas, and they probably have. However, they wrote from their perspective, not yours. This means that your story would probably be completely different anyway. So, go for it!

  1. Look up prompts to get you started.

If you are still having a hard time coming up with ideas, there are books and websites with lists of writing prompts to inspire writers. Go to your local library or search online for ‘writing prompts,’ and I’m sure you will find something. 

Mostly importantly, remember one thing: write something you enjoy writing about. Don’t worry about what others might think. If you enjoy writing that story, then it is worth every moment you spend writing it. Have fun, and start writing! 

 

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