What would you tell yourself if you could go back in time? How far back would you go? Personally, there are a lot of things I would do, including going back about four years and telling myself not to create a music playlist for my first year of college.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed throwing together my annual playlists to summarize each year of my college experience. But it’s hard.
First of all, I have the memory of a goldfish and can hardly remember what I did yesterday, let alone what music I listened to several months ago. Second, I usually get about five songs in before I start struggling. There are always a few that jump out at me, but the second half takes some extra thought.
In spite of those challenges, I felt it would be wrong not to finish out this tradition with one last playlist. So without further ado, I present the soundtrack for my senior year.
It seems like everyone and their weird uncle has started a new hobby lately. Some people are baking bread, making soap or candles, or learning a new language.
Well, I’ve also started a new “quarantine hobby.” It was a terrible idea, not because I hate it, but because I’ve become practically obsessed with it over the past few weeks and I can’t make myself stop.
Here’s your hot take for the week: We don’t understand The Hunger Games.
“But Maggie,” I hear you say, “How could we not understand The Hunger Games? It was the biggest teen movie franchise since Twilight! Don’t you remember reading about how well the movies performed commercially? Didn’t you give a presentation on the cultural impact of dystopian fiction on young adults?”
I did indeed give such a presentation, but that doesn’t debunk my claim right off the bat. There are plenty of readers and viewers of The Hunger Games who looked beyond the hype and saw the message of the story – we wouldn’t still be talking about it otherwise. But in general, our society has missed the point.
Let’s get one other thing out of the way: The Hunger Games is not my favorite book or film series, not by a long shot. If you asked me to name my top ten books of all time, I doubt it would make the list. That’s not to say it’s a bad book though! I think it’s an excellent read and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to better understand young adult literature. Personally though, I’m more interested in how The Hunger Games is (or maybe was) a cultural phenomenon.
For those reading this who missed out on The Hunger Games or just did not care, here’s the premise: a futuristic and dystopian nation known as Panem holds an annual “Hunger Games” in which 24 “tributes” between the ages of 12-18 are selected to participate in a televised fight to the death. The heroine, Katniss, volunteers for the Games to take the place of her younger sister Prim. Fair warning, there will be plenty of spoilers as we keep going!
I wrote this entire blog post and then realized I needed to go back and write an introduction and… I can’t think of anything. I guess I’d start by saying, congrats to everyone for making it this far in the year! 2020 hasn’t been kind to most of us, but I’m proud of you for pushing on. That’s no small accomplishment!
Speaking of accomplishments, I finally got back into my blogging routine this month. I wrote about:
A mental image for your consideration: It is 11:36 at night. The room is dim, with the only light coming from out-of-season Christmas lights strung around the perimeter of the ceiling. On the desk is a half-empty bowl of Goldfish crackers and a bottle of strawberry-kiwi flavored water. Someone is sitting at the desk, shoulders hunched over the keyboard in front of her. She types for a few minutes, then snatches a handful of Goldfish crackers absently and stuffs them into her mouth. The typing resumes.
If you could picture that, you probably have a pretty good idea of how I’ve spent several of my nights over the past few weeks. But before I go into the details of what I’ve been working on lately, let’s do a quick recap of everything that’s led up to this point.
I don’t remember there ever being a point in my life where someone sat me down and told me, “This is how you write a story.” Sure, I learned about basic plot structure in my middle school literature class, but that wasn’t really meant to teach us how to be better writers. Besides, by that time I had already written stories of my own. They weren’t any good, but they were still something.
Now don’t get me wrong, if you take writing seriously, you probably should study the craft of it. That doesn’t mean you need to go earn your MFA in Creative Writing, but it’s worth your time to pick up a book on writing or read a few articles here and there. I know it’s hard to take advice from others (especially – gasp – when their writing methods differ from yours), but you’ll be thankful for it.
But aside from reading about writing (and reading good writing – all writers should be readers, after all), there are other, less obvious “writing teachers” out there. I’m sure you could come up with some if you thought about it. Today, I wanted to share some of the more surprising ways I’ve learned about writing and storytelling.
A few years ago, I was just beginning my foray into video game soundtracks. I had just finished my first year of college, and during that time I discovered that while my usual playlist made it difficult for me to focus on my work, instrumental soundtracks had the opposite effect. So I wrote a blog post ranking my favorite songs at the time.
Since then, I’ve expanded my horizons and listened to music from movies, TV series, and even some video games I never played before. Even though I’m not a musician, I find myself picking up on different themes in the soundtracks of my favorite games. I pay attention to the music, and it enhances my experience.
In light of that, I figured it was about time to revisit my list of favorites. I gave myself a few rules this time around:
No music with lyrics. So even though “Paper Boats” from Transistor is one of my favorites, it won’t make the cut. You should still listen to it though.
Only one song per game/franchise/composer. My playlist is much more varied now, and I want that to show through on this list.
On a side note, I did try to list composers in addition to the game’s title! If I didn’t know who composed the exact song, I just listed whoever was credited on Wikipedia.
Without further ado, here are some of my favorite soundtrack songs that keep me going!
You may be asking yourself, what happened to Maggie? She wrote one (1) thing about the apocalypse and then dropped off the face of the earth, what gives?
Life. Life is what gives.
It should come as no surprise that the last few months have been full of… happenings that required me to make some temporary adjustments to my life. One of those adjustments was going on an “unplanned indefinite hiatus,” as a band I liked once put it. The quick explanation is that combining work, school, senioritis, and a magnified lack of motivation due to the happenings made things pretty challenging!
But things are different now! I’m graduated (!) and unemployed (?!) which means two obstacles are out of the way for the time being. One of the first things I wanted to do was fall back into my blogging routine, and fall into it I shall.
And what better way to do so than to give a major life update? I promise it won’t all be boring stuff, because I read a lot of books these past few months, played some new video games, and even wrote some words if you can believe it. So onward!
Every cloud has a silver lining, as the saying goes. It’s supposed to mean that even the worst circumstances have some aspect of good about them. It’s just that though; an aspect. Yes, every cloud has a silver lining, but that doesn’t negate the fact that there’s still a big cloud looming overhead.
Maybe that’s cynical of me. It’s just that when I’ve often heard this idiom used, the speaker is trying to ignore the presence of the “cloud.” That doesn’t help anyone. Pretending everything is okay when it clearly is not doesn’t solve any problems.
All this to say, I’m in a rather cloudy season right now. (I usually hate when people talk about “seasons” of life but since I’m already using weather metaphors I’ll let it slide.) I am trying to find the silver linings, but the fact is that I am still sad, angry, and discouraged.
I’ve been going back and forth about writing this post for almost two weeks now. I don’t want to just be another voice on the internet throwing a pity party because life is terrible right now, but at the same time, I’ve always found writing to be one of the things that brings comfort. As for publishing it for all the world to see – well, I don’t know. Perhaps we’ll learn something along the way (but I make no promises).
My life, like those of many others, has been rather chaotic this March, so blogging has taken a backseat to things like passing my classes and staying mentally coherent.
But hey, I’m back, at least for right now! And while it’s not on schedule by any means, I still want to share my February in review (thank goodness I took notes for it earlier this month). In some ways, it might be rather nice to look back on when things were sort of normal.
But first, blog posts! In February, I wrote about: