A Silent Vlog

…which is kind of like a silent movie…but not.

In honor of Banned Books Week, for my week four video for Wo-Town Writers, I give censors the silent treatment.

I plan to post some blogs right here throughout the course of this week as well, about the banned books that had a particular meaning to me.

See where I write!

This is my week three video from the Wo-Town Writers vlog, but it’s also a fun opportunity for all of YOU guys to see the places where I write. It’s all very exciting.

Catching up on sharing my vlog videos…

Fail. I was going to post them here as I posted them on YouTube and Facebook, but lo and behold, I have yet to do that. Other than Week One. I just recorded my video for Week FOUR. So…fail.

This is the Week Two video, in which I ramble for a long time about my favorite novels through the years. I like books. I have a lot to say when it comes to books. What can I do?

It’s a process

Today I had an interesting conversation with one of my best friends. “Interesting” in that it annoyed me more than usual. And by “conversation” I mean it was only a few lines of exchange and then we both quickly moved on, because my friend isn’t stupid and if I had continued talking I might have slapped her.

Me: My goal in life is to be able to make a living off of just writing.
Friend: How’s that going for you?
*awkward silence*
Friend: *smirk*
Me: It’s a process.
Friend: *smirk*
Me: Stop smirking.
Friend: *smirk*

Okay, first of all, I know very well that this particular conversation was my own fault, because I opened my big mouth. But what you have to understand is that I’ve been having battles along these same lines with this same friend for at least six years. And it’s very draining.

This is my friend who informed me constantly in high school when I was looking at Creative Writing programs, then constantly in college when I was majoring in Creative Writing, all the way to now (read: she still does it) that majoring in English/Creative Writing is “majoring in unemployment.” She shut up about it for a while when she left school, and then again when I pointed out that at least I HAVE a job of some sort (she’s the unemployed one currently), but it’s started up again ever since she went back to college to major in Accounting.

Here’s the deal–majoring in Creative Writing is NOT majoring in unemployment. Nor is majoring in any of the arts. It annoys the living daylights out of me when people tell me things like that, like I was stupid because I chose to study something I’m passionate about instead of studying something only because it would make me a ton of money. I wasn’t going to be one of those people. I wanted to study something I love and I was lucky enough that my parents fully supported that.

What really, really got under my skin during today’s conversation with my friend was the fact that she had the audacity to smirk at me when I said that, as though that dream is completely implausible. Sure, not every writer can make a living only off of their writing. I get that. I’m not saying that it would be an easy choice to make or road to take or anything. I’m saying that, should things work out, should I find myself capable of living only off my novels, then I want to try. No, I haven’t sold a novel yet, but who cares? It’s hard. It takes time. Like I told my friend, it’s a process.

For now, I’m happy with living off my day job and writing on my off-hours. But I’m a dreamer and a writer and I’m not about to let the disbelief of anyone in my life keep me from trying to achieve those dreams. I’m going to keep standing up for what I studied in school. I’m sick of people, particularly this one friend, being holier-than-thou because they’re doing something like accounting and all I want to do is write. I’m going to keep doing what I love. For me, writing makes life worth living.

“Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke

An Open Letter to Dr. Wesley Scroggins

(This is a response to the article that can be found here.)

Dear Dr. Scroggins,

You recently shared a letter on a Missouri news site regarding the reading material of your local school district. And I have one very simple question for you…

Why on earth do you care?

The books that you targeted in your article are books that have been in school libraries and on reading lists for years. High schoolers are much more mature than you give them credit for. They can handle profanity, they can handle the concept of sex, and they can handle reading about the difficult issues. In fact, it’s good for them to read about the difficult issues.

I’ve never read Slaughterhouse Five, but I have read Speak. I honestly wonder if you actually did. Speak is about so much more than you reduce it to in your article. You essentially reduced this beautiful book to a story about a dysfunctional family, an inaccurate view of high school, and rape. First of all, in regards to the family and high school opinions in the story–the whole novel is set as a diary. Tell me, what teenage girl doesn’t see her parents as dysfunctional at one time or another? What high schooler doesn’t see the people around them as losers or very stereotypical?

In regards to the rape, though–the scene itself is hardly prominent enough in the text to be of concern. The story isn’t about the rape. It isn’t centered on the rape. It’s about a scared, lonely high school freshman girl who had a horrific moment during her summer vacation and she copes with it by staying silent. She chooses not speaking over speaking up.

Right now…I’m speaking up against you.

Censorship is wrong. Keeping adolescents from this kind of material shows that you do not have faith in their ability to handle and/or appreciate it. It shows your own insecurities, your own need for control, and your own attempt to silence someone else.

People don’t like to be silenced.

Teenagers don’t like to be told what they can’t do.

I know this because I’m a writer–and I refuse to be silenced. I know this because I went through those teenage years–and I never appreciated being told not to do something, particularly if it involved something I should be able to do freely (like reading a book).

Have a little faith in America’s youth, sir. They’re stronger than you believe them to be. They can grasp difficult concepts, they can appreciate difficult themes, and they like knowing they’re not alone in the world. Somewhere in your school district, there could be a girl who is a rape victim. She could be unsure of how she should cope or what she should feel. If you keep her from Speak, she may never know.

Do you want to have that blame on your shoulders?

Think before you set accusations. And please, Dr. Scroggins…read the book in its entirety before you burn it at the stake.

Vlogging fun!

Exciting news! Four of my wonderful writing friends (Caitlin, Emily, Janet, and Jessi) and I have decided to start our own writing vlog! Random? Perhaps.

Anyway, here’s the first video. I’ll be posting on Mondays. This is my intro video. 🙂

WIP theme song #1

I wanted to share one of the songs that has kind of become one of my current project’s theme songs. I have many, many songs on the playlist for this WIP…but this (along with a few other songs) is one that ALWAYS puts me in the mindset of the story. So, please, enjoy. 🙂

I might be sharing more of the “theme songs” for this WIP down the road.