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).
With the amount of writing that I’ve been doing over the past year, I probably would’ve murdered a whole forest with the amount of paper I would have used, and that would be a shame. Fortunately, we live in a digital age, and so my projects live on in Scrivener files and Evernote notes, and I can continue looking out my bedroom window at trees.
I don’t say that to sound all proud or anything. Yeah, I did write a lot this year, but if we’re being honest, a lot of that writing was experimental, nothing that actually went anywhere. A lot of it was also writing for this blog, so I’ll leave you to judge the quality of that (don’t tell me, I’d like to live in my ignorance on this one). Oh, and there was a lot of academic writing too, which… well, again, I guess it’s more for my professor to decide whether it was good or not.
All this to say, looking back over the past year, I think my writing and I have had a pretty great 2019! I can see the ways that I’ve grown as a writer, honing my voice and experimenting with new genres. I’ve expanded my influences too by discovering new favorite books, shows, and other stories in a lot of different mediums. In light of it being the end of the year, I wanted to look back through what I’ve done as a writer this year, and look ahead to what 2020 might have in store for me!
If you see a scattered pile of computer paper and hear muffled noises coming from underneath it, I promise it’s not haunted. It’s just one of us senior writing students, buried underneath our overwhelming major projects.
Truth be told, my senior seminar project is actually going pretty well. I’m on track in terms of my word count, and it seems like the story is moving along at a nice pace. I covered what my major project is about in my last Writer’s Life post, but here’s a quick recap: I’m writing an “alternate history” novel set in 1968. It features two young women (a college student and a journalist) as they investigate several U.S. soldiers who have mysteriously disappeared in their home country.
As of this writing, I’m at 26,783 words just over halfway to my word count goal 50,000. I’m also a little more than halfway to my deadline of November 30 (remember, I started mid-October). In other words, things are right on track and as long as nothing wild happens (knock on wood), I should reach my goal no problem.
Big-picture-wise, it looks like things have been smooth sailing, but this project has been more complicated than that. I’ve fallen behind a few times, though I always manage to recover within a few days. Fortunately, I’ve had a lot of great help – I have a writing program that keeps me organize, fellow writer who encourage me, and music that keeps me motivated.
It was a dark and stormy night. A young woman sat at her desk, a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The light from her laptop reflected off of her glasses as she frantically typed away at her keyboard, desperate to meet her word goal. Her workshop is counting on her, she reminded herself. And so is her grade point average.
If that’s not a glimpse of my past, then it’s definitely a prophecy about my future.
This semester, I’m taking a “senior writing seminar” course and our big assignment is to plan and complete some type of writing project. For me, I’m plotting out and writing 50,000 words of a novel. In addition to fiction, I know there are also students writing literary non-fiction and graphic novels.
So yeah. Lots of pretty neat stuff is happening in Writing Seminar.
I’m sure you’re thinking by now, “Maggie, what is YOUR project about? We’re all dying to know!” Or maybe you’re not thinking that, which I understand. But if you actually are dying to know about my project, keep reading!
Happy October! It’s supposed to be autumn here but we had two days that were 90 degrees Fahrenheit (about 32 Celsius) which is definitely not normal for central Pennsylvania. Please give me colder weather and apple cider (which is the SUPERIOR fall beverage). I want to wear my sweatshirt.
School started this month (more on that in a minute) and it was a bit of a struggle to get into the swing of things this year. Because of that, I wrote a grand total of one blog post this month. But it’s a good one! It’s about books: Making the Most of Required Reading
On a related note: I’ve decided to revisit how and when I post things on my blog, and you can find all the details here: Blogkeeping: New Schedule!
And finally, you can check out my 1 Second Everyday Compilation for September!
Most people don’t like required reading. Not even English majors. There’s nothing that kills my motivation more than someone handing me a paperback and then telling me I will be graded on my ability to read, comprehend, and analyze the words inside. I love reading. I wish I could do it more often than I do. It’s just that I have the kind of personality where the instant someone tells me something’s required, even if I will probably enjoy that something, I’m determined to dread it.
Actually, I’m not all that sorry, because in sprite of my bad attitude, I have enjoyed a lot of my required reading. At the very least, I’ve only hated one or two books (and generally with good reason, so I don’t feel all that bad). Since school recently started for a lot of us Americans, I thought I’d take some time to talk about the books that make me love being an English major.
Every school year, when I get to the end of the spring semester, I think, “there’s no way it could get any tougher than this,” and then somehow, it does.
That’s not meant to be a complaint – my years in college have been some of the most challenging, but also the most rewarding years of my life. Still, the rewards are easy to forget when you’re drowning in multiple 10-15 page papers and group projects while working two jobs and a maintaining some excuse for a social life. A lot of times, I find myself listening to music for encouragement, motivation, or just comfort.
As is my tradition every year, today I’m sharing a short playlist of the songs I listened to this past school year that encouraged and inspired me. As is NOT tradition, this post comes halfway through the summer. Even though it’s been a few months since the semester wrapped up, I still think this is worth sharing (and I’ll never let myself live it down if I let this school year go by without a playlist.
I enjoy an academic challenge. If I hate an assignment, it’s usually not because it’s too hard, but because it’s boring or feels meaningless.
The one type of assignment I just can’t bring myself to like, however, are group projects.
If you’ve never had to survive a group project, I envy you. The name is pretty self-explanatory: it’s an assignment that involves collaborating with other students in order to achieve a (usually shared) grade.
On paper, it’s a great idea. After all, knowing how to collaborate with others is a good skill to have – whether or not it’s as important as people say is something I still debate, but that’s besides the point. Knowing how to work with others and bring people with different skill sets together can allow for more productivity in a project. At least, that’s how it should be.
The problem that I’ve encountered is that in my experience, group projects have been more frustrating than educational. I always come away from a group assignment feeling like the final result would have been better if I had done it myself. Part of this is certainly a character flaw of mine, but I think it goes beyond that.
On the other hand, I’ve had many experiences with collaborative projects that have gone very well. I can think back to some group assignments in college that I enjoyed and learned from, as well as from activities outside of an academic setting, like video games and writing. Based on that, I don’t think the problem is so much with group assignments themselves – as I said, they do have their benefits – but rather with how they’re presented.
So, what makes a group project enjoyable and beneficial? (Or, if not enjoyable, at least not terribly frustrating.)
I was going to make some kind of remark like “wow, the month went by really fast!” before I remembered that February is in fact the shortest month of the year so of course it went by fast. Anyway, even though it was short, February was a good month with a lot of cool stuff happening.
Before I get into that though, if you missed any of my blog posts this month, I blogged about…