For my independent project this semester, I’m looking at how artistic vision translates between media. My goal is to tell a story through the media of writing, music, dance, and visual art, and see what is lost and gained in each rendition. Continue reading
For my last blog post, I’m just going to give you guys another excerpt from my work. This isn’t the most recent writing that I have completed, but it begins where I left off in my second to last blog post. It’s been an interesting journey this year. Here it is:
Racial Autoethnography (Part 3 of 3)
This is the third and final part of my racial autoethnography for T. Mauricio’s class. It is not the whole part of the last 5 pages, because some of it was too personal to share online, but it most of it! Hope you enjoy!
Right away when I came to Westtown’s campus, I noticed a difference in the way race was discussed. Not only was it addressed in all settings–my Peace and Justice class, in assemblies, in clubs, in Meeting for Worship–but it seemed like many people actually wanted to talk about it. There were also black students who were more vocal about their experiences at the school and outside of it in terms of race. Many of the stories and experiences that I heard were very similar to my own: not knowing what to do when a white classmate says the n-word, how to deal with or respond to ignorant comments about black hair, journeys of navigating a predominantly-white institution in general, etc. I was moved hearing them share stories so similar to my own, and by second semester, I joined SUMAA (Students United for Multicultural Action and Awareness) with a Latina friend. I desired a space where I, too, could speak freely about how I felt about my race and learn new things about myself and the experiences as I shared. Continue reading
I wrote a couple of pages. An excerpt from them is below. I also talked to my editor more about the direction of my story and some of the characters. We decided to make my main antagonist more nefarious and cruel, while making my protagonist more idealistic and brave in contrast. Anywho, here’s a brief sampling of last week’s work:
“Alright, time for some chow! Cooks got it back at the meeting place,” I called to them.
They both turned and looked at me confusedly.
“You heard me! Go get it! I’m here to watch the position for you while you eat.” I nudged my pack into the shadows behind me and walked forward. The two warriors looked at each other, shrugged, and began to make their way to the meeting place where Warriors converged at the start and end of the day. I walked over to the ditch in which they had been standing and pretended to be on guard. I waited a minute until I knew they were well on their way and then I darted back and grabbed my pack. I clipped my rifle into a pouch on the side of my pack and swung it onto my back. I ran forward, bounded over the ditch, and hurried through an opening in the wooden barricade Fara had pieced together around the perimeter. I kept on running through the woods, not stopping until I knew I could no longer see or hear the camp. When I had finally put enough distance between the camp and myself, I knelt and took off my pack.
I reached deep into my bag and pulled out my compass. I knew that Thane’s mission had headed southwest from the camp and that their path would be a roughly straight line. I turned and oriented myself to the southwest and tucked my compass in my back pocket. I continued forward at a light jog down the decline, knowing full well that the others would soon know that I was missing. I doubted that the Alphas would send anyone after me due to the risk of it, but I wanted to put more distance between me and them just to be safe. The trees and underbrush thankfully weren’t too thick, elsewise I’d be traveling a whole lot slower. I knew that the terrain would open up as I got closer to Thane’s objective, but until then, the woods were what I had to deal with. It was no problem. The woods are home for me. A place to run, hide, get lost, and be found. Despite the trees and ravines, I never lost sight of the path I had set out on. I knew where I was headed, and the trees weren’t so thick as to limit my view of the stars when I needed direction.
The Pack had been encamped on a small plateau. The mountainside I traveled down as I ventured away from the Pack wasn’t terribly steep, but it was long. At the bottom, the terrain switched to some gently rolling muddy hills. It was there that I picked up the tracks in the dark. Six sets of them. I had been trudging through the mud and almost immediately recognized the other depressions in it. I trained my eyes in on their shapes, their patterns, the echo of the rhythm of the steps of Thane, Garrett, Jon, Shane, Summer, and Cooper. I burned the shapes of their prints into my mind and followed them forward. I’d find them. I wouldn’t lose them now.
Following tracks at night, however, is no small task. It requires immense focus. You not only have to keep your eyes trained on the ground in front of you and the tracks you’re following, but you have to stay wary of what’s happening around you. You have to heighten your awareness of all things. Breaking branches, falling leaves, tumbling twigs, you have to know where they are and what caused them. Us warriors had done this kind of night tracking countless times on hunts and in combat, and though we excelled at it, it was slow, tedious work, especially alone. I got lucky that night, as there were few clouds and a bright moon, but I was still in a wooded area when I first began following the tracks, and the moonlight was often smothered by the brush. As I followed the tracks through those hills, I could hear the animals scamper away at my approach. I caught sight of small herds of deer in the dark, my first instinct always telling me to swing my rifle off my back, raise it to my shoulder, get some sustenance. But I never did. Of course I had food in my pack, but I sure as shit didn’t want to give away my position to anyone else out there that night, members of the Pack or others. I kept my eyes on the tracks. They were my lifeline. I’d follow them back to the camp if need be when I found them. Not if I found them, when.
Thanks for reading and here’s a book I just started: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
This week, I mostly wrote new content, some of which is below in it’s raw, unedited form. Aside from that, I planned and mapped out a slightly different story arc than what I had originally created. This was because in my last conference with my editor, we figured out that some of the plot points and their relationships to specific characters just didn’t really mesh. So, I created a different chain of events and even deleted a character or two and created a new, and hopefully better, storyline. More on that another time though. Instead, here’s some of this past week’s work: Continue reading
This week has mainly been about getting back into the swing of things after my record-long, 25 day, spring break. However, I did get a little writing and a good bit of editing done. Here’s a short excerpt of my work from this week:++ Continue reading
This past week was a mixture of editing and writing new content, so I thought I’d share some of the new content here. This is an excerpt taken from a scene where my narrator is conferencing with the other lieutenants of his group and the group’s leaders. For my narrator, this is an especially stressful time as some of the warriors he’s responsible for are missing.
“If there are no other problems with this plan,” Bazgal looked around the room, “We’ll move forward. Shane, you go back to Johnson as fast as you can and tell him we need him here with all of the Scouts immediately. Thank you for bringing back Thane.”
“Of course,” Shane said, before strapping on a light pack and hurrying out of the tent.
“Aside from that, we need to be prepared for the worst. Fara, how long would it take us to pack up camp?”
“Couple of hours at most, if everyone was told about it now.”
“Good, I think we need to be prepared to move as fast as possible out of here.”
“Hold on a minute,” I said. “We can’t just, just… run away now! How will my warriors know where we are? Even more so now that the Scouts are returning soon. They’ll be completely alone!”
“He does have a point, Bazgal,” Said Sharpe, nodding in my direction. “If they’re still alive we need to be here when they return. Besides, it might be a little dangerous to move Thane now. It could kill him”
“That’s right,” said Junger. “He’s in far too bad of a position to risk that now. The risks are far greater than the rewards here.”
“Alright, so we’re staying,” conceded Bazgal. “Can we all agree that we will not stay any longer than two to three days?”
All of the heads around the table nodded except for mine. I said, “I agree as long as I can take out a search party early morning tomorrow if my warriors aren’t back.”
Sharpe and Bazgal looked to each other for a long moment and both shook their head. Bazgal turned to me and said, “No, we can’t risk it. We’re specifically calling the Scout’s Vanguard back so that we can have a reinforced position. We’re not going to lose some of our strength now.”
“WHAT? YOU HAVE–”
“One more word, Carter, and you’re done as our lieutenant. Do. Not. Test. Me.”
I was fuming. Did they not care about the lives of my warriors? Time and again during this meeting, I had been treated as a fool for wanting to save their lives. Was I really the fool? Truly? Perhaps, but it was them who were heartless. Their brothers and sisters, my warriors, were out there, and I was fighting for them in here. And I was the fool. But I knew that Bazgal was serious. Her threat carried weight. If I offered another word of protest, I didn’t doubt that I’d be demoted into irrelevance.
I nodded to Bazgal and said, “I’m sorry. Please, continue.”
“Right, well, Fara, I need you and your builder working hard to build a defensive perimeter. We hopefully won’t need it at all, and even if we do, we won’t need it for long, but it’s better to have it now. Could you get that done?”
“It’s as good as finished,” said Fara and strode out of the tent.
“Alfred, Junger, and Gormly, return to your to your brothers and sisters and make sure no one ventures outside the perimeter. All necessary supplies are to be pulled from the Cache. And Junger, see that Thane lives.”
The three men stated their compliance and walked from the tent.
“Carter, we want all of the warriors on perimeter watch. If someone must go beyond the perimeter, they will do so only under the guard of a handful of your warriors and they must not go more than a half mile out. Help Fara set up the perimeter if need be as well. Understand?”
“Got it,” I said, and turned to make my exit.
“Don’t leave,” Said Sharpe. “We’re not done with you yet.”
I sighed and turned back to face the Alphas, ready for what was to follow.
I hope you enjoyed that excerpt and I just started a new book: A Star Called Henry. If I can learn from the authors lyrical and poetic brilliance, I might stand a chance of improving my writing.
This week was mostly comprised of editing once again so I’d like to write about something I read for my New York City Literature class. We read James Baldwin’s Sonny’s Blues, a short story centering on an African-American teacher in Harlem and his relationship not only with his brother, Sonny, but with the world of institutionalized racism that surrounds him. Of course, this very real world is entirely different than the very fictional world of my novel. Despite the difference though, Baldwin’s masterful storytelling was extremely inspiring. Sonny’s Blues is a tale of suffering, regret, redemption, and occasionally happiness and Baldwin’s depiction of these themes is nothing if not artful. Though the story was so well written and interesting, I, at times, found it hard to keep on reading due to the overall bleak nature of the world of the narrator.
“He stood up and walked to the window and I remained silent for a long time. Then he sighed. ‘Me,’ he said. Then: ‘While I was downstairs before, on my way here, listening to that woman sing, it struck me all of a sudden how much suffering she must have had to go through—to sing like that. It’s repulsive to think you have to suffer that much.’
I said: ‘But there’s no way not to suffer—is there. Sonny?’
‘I believe not,” he said and smiled, ‘but that’s never stopped anyone from trying.’ He looked at me. ‘Has it?’ I realized, with this mocking look, that there stood between us, forever, beyond the power of time or forgiveness, the fact that I had held silence—so long!— when he had needed human speech to help him. He turned back to the window. ‘No, there’s no way not to suffer. But you try all kinds of ways to keep from drowning in it, to keep on top of it, and to make it seem—well, like you. Like you did something, all right, and now you’re suffering for it. You know?’ I said nothing. ‘Well you know,’ he said, impatiently, ‘why do people suffer? Maybe it’s better to do something to give it a reason, any reason’ (Baldwin 17).
Yet, I believe that this misery is precisely what Baldwin wanted the reader to feel, as he was communicating something very real about the world in which he lived. And perhaps suffering, for him, flowed into what he wrote and helped him deal with the suffering. Truthfully, I can’t really identify with any sort of visceral suffering, such as the narrator and Sonny had to go through, but Baldwin makes me feel as though I can understand that suffering. I’ve said before that any good writer strives to create empathy and understanding in the reader, and I’ve seen very few writers who have done that as masterfully as Baldwin. I do apologize that I don’t have more to share, but this past week was a hectic week of edits, so I thought that sharing something that was provocative to me would be a nice change of pace.
This past week has consisted mostly of editing with some small spurts of writing new content here and there. Since my edits aren’t terribly interesting and I have no shocking ideas or concepts to share with all of you, I’ve decided to include an excerpt of my writing. This excerpt is mostly all dialogue and takes place during a meeting of my group’s leaders. Here it is:
I was still smarting from Gormly’s words. I stared down at the table. How could a cook tell me, a warrior, how the mission should have been handled? Sure, he had some years on me, but age couldn’t teach him what we warriors had learned firsthand. The rest of Thane’s team, brothers and sisters I sent with him, were still out there, and Gormly would dare second-guess my decisions? I didn’t know where they were. I had to know where they were. But I couldn’t do that while arguing with Gormly.
I looked up. “Yeah, I’m good. Sorry,” I said. My apology was noted by a dismissive wave of Bazgal’s hand.
Sharpe looked around and said, “Anybody have any more thoughts?”
Silence abounded for a couple of moments, then Alfred spoke up, “Do we know when we’ll be able to question Thane?”
Bazgal and Sharpe both looked to Junger, representing the healers. Junger was a middle-aged, bald, and grey bearded man whose body abounded with sinewy muscle. He seldom spoke when not amongst healers. He looked around, then to Bazgal and Sharpe, and said, “Well, he’s not in good shape. That much we all know. We’re doing the best we can, but the damage from the blood loss alone is huge, not to mention the fact that he lost an eye and will lose a hand. I’d say it’ll be a couple of days at the very least until we’ve finished up our work. After that, I’d give him a couple more days before we can question him. He’ll be very weak.”
Bazgal and Sharpe both nodded solemnly.
“A couple of days? If my warriors aren’t already dead, then they’ll be dead by then! We need to talk to him before that!” I couldn’t believe Junger’s lack of concern for his brothers and sisters.
“Or maybe your warriors will find their way back to us by the time Thane is ready,” Fara said.
“And if we try anything with Thane earlier, we run the risk of making him far worse and not getting any answers anyway,” Said Junger.
I was having none of it. “If it’s his life against the lives of my warriors, I’ll take that risk! Since when were we afraid to—“
“This is the last time I warn you, Carter,” said Bazgal. “You aren’t an Alpha and you won’t tell others of the same rank as you what needs to be done. Hold your peace or leave us and we’ll find a different warrior to advise us.”
“Alright, alright, fine. Let’s just figure this out.” I didn’t want to risk being left out of any decision that was to be made. Those were my warriors out there, and I needed to know how the Alphas planned on finding them.
“Let’s get back to it,” said Bazgal, looking around the table. “We know Thane’s in no position to give us any answers right now. We know that there’s a threat out there, and we don’t know what it is.”
“The Scout’s Vanguard is also extremely vulnerable right now,” said Shane.
“I’d say we call the Scout’s Vanguard back to our position,” Sharpe said.
Gormly looked around confusedly and asked, “And why would we do that?”
“Until we can really understand what did that to Thane and made Carter’s warriors disappear, we need to regroup and be on the defensive. If Carter’s warriors don’t come in anytime soon and Thane isn’t ready to talk by the day after tomorrow, then we’ll gather our things and head out.”
“I think that sounds like the best option at the moment. There’s still a lot we don’t know,” Said Bazgal.
“But why not use the Scout’s Vanguard to find out what the threat is? They’re already out there. They should do what they’re made for,” Said Gormly.
I hope you enjoyed my most recent work at least a little bit! I just started reading a new book, In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson. Larson is a masterful storyteller who makes nonfiction material seem like a good thriller. I try to emulate his storytelling capability in my own writing.
I’ve been thinking about group dynamics recently. How are groups kept together? What makes them stronger and, more importantly, what breaks them apart? Attempting to answer these questions has been important to me due to the nature of my novel. For those of you who don’t know, my novel is centered around a group of nomads in North America a couple of hundred years after modern society has collapsed. Continue reading