Friday, May 19, 2017

PERSONAL ESSAY


May Your Ink Never Run Dry

by Camille Jatho


One of the most common phrases you’ll hear in Mr. Antos's first period honors band class is “give the phrases a shape.” In musical terms, that means to change the way the phrase is played dynamically or sing out the parts that should be prominent and shy away from the softer, more lyrical parts. Of course when he says this he’s thinking about getting his students to play like real musicians, but it can really mean so much more. In writing, it’s giving the sentences pinnacles and depressions that can affect the tone of a piece. Emotions evoked or even effectively used statistics or facts can give an effective tone to the writing that may flavor it up. Periodic sentences are a personal favorite of mine. They tend to leave the subject or the main clause of the sentence until the end, almost like a hidden surprise. For example, in “The Death of a Moth” by Annie Dillard, she opens her essay with “I live on Northern Puget Street, in Washington State, alone.” Leaving the word “alone” until the end creates an extra sense of seclusion and emphasizes how it affects her. She gives shape to the sentence by saving the loudest dynamic marking for the end. The simple structure of the sentence allows for a more expressive way to get the message across.

In the time I’ve spent in my AP Language and Composition class, I’ve learned quite a few techniques about writing, but I found that the most important tools needed to write have very little to do with the words and more so with the ideas. While there is no specific structure and formal formatting to everyday writing, it's always beneficial to have those ideas organized. Being able to understand how writing works and what techniques there are allow the ability to utilize them to make the ideas work, because knowing how to write based on the subject is an advantage that can create a connection with the reader.

The structure of an essay, or any type of writing for that matter isn’t necessarily formal in its presentation. In creating a novel, an author won’t create a series of theses and choose the best; rather, they think of what ideas, plots, or events they’d like incorporate them to enhance the story. Structure is informal. Words cannot be plugged into a formula like in math and produce a “perfect” piece of literature. By choosing to think of my ideas before I make a sentence, I could create the order in which I want them to be perceived and how effective the manipulated structure and words can be. Not everything should be monotone, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everything should be sporadic either. Create a pinnacle to the subject to give the work a full dynamic range with contrasts of softness and intensity.

Another important step in the writing process begins before you ever even think of a subject. One cannot become a writer if they are illiterate, right? So the first step is to learn how to write. In order to give those phrases shape, you need to be able to utilize techniques and strategies. Musicians cannot play Mozart if they don’t know how to play their instrument. Basic understanding of language gives knowledge of simple structure, while simply reading more can help teach new vocabulary in an unforced way that will enhance the tone of your passage. Who better to read than a favorite author? Readers can learn plenty of tricks from the masters, without a textbook, while also enjoying themselves.

One of the better parts of reading more books will also be the experience and the emotions that remain after you finish it. The emotional connection or analysis of reason most often leads to creating a memorable experience. The same strategy can be applied to writing. Leaving a subject a little room for interpretation allows the reader to connect with the piece in their own way, making it more memorable to them. I find that the easiest way to do that is by keeping my ideas and words simplistic. In “The Figure a Poem Makes” Robert Frost said, “The possibilities for tunes from the dramatic tones of meaning struck across the rigidity of a limited metre are endless.” The more simplistic the words are, the more room there is for the reader to change and perceive the tone.

One way to make certain that the work is kept simple is to not over analyze it. In a term paper it might be important to make sure that there are no mistakes, but in a free written essay, the more analyzed, the more detailed it becomes. Subjects can become clouded by unnecessary adjectives, over complicating the message and confusing the reader. Allow some “wiggle room” for interpretation. Allow the reader to find their own interesting version of the words.

Up until junior year, the school system teaches their students to create a conformed version of writing. The treacherous five paragraph essay is praised and tweaked until it creates a box so square and cramped around the writer that it chokes any voice and changes the vibrant style to a prison gray. It is assumed that a five paragraph essay is a set outline that gives structure to the looseness of oral language, when in reality it only confines the writer and dulls the subject. I always thought I was decent writer; Never perfect, but well enough to make it through middle school and freshman year with plenty of ease. All thanks to the unchanging walls of the five paragraph essay. My teachers always told me I was an excellent writer, but in all honesty, I wasn’t. I had no creativity and simply followed the prompt because I’m a fairly straight forward person. The realization of its extent only occurred to me once I entered sophomore year in Honors English II with a teacher who saw right through my writing act.

Never in my entire life had I ever received a “B” on any paper. So it came as much of a surprise to me when I actually did. I repeatedly struggled through that class trying to write the perfect five paragraph essay; writing, rewriting and then revising again until I came to the epiphany that I just wasn’t a writer. English would never be my subject.

So, imagine my face the first day of Junior year in AP Lang when our teacher told us everything we’ve learned about perfecting the five paragraph essay was irrelevant. I was ecstatic! Never again would I be forced to rewrite my thesis a thousand times or to make sure that every connection was done with the intentional and precise purpose. Never again would I be confined into the most formal structure of writing.

Up until that moment, I had never known exactly how to free write with a purpose. In my mind there were two different ways to write: creative writing without punctuation and with no end and then the treacherous five paragraph essay. AP Lang began to introduce me to a world of free but structured writing. We often read books on how to write or the effective ways to write. Nonfiction books quickly became some of my favorite reads because I could recognize the similarities that I wrote with. It wasn’t long before my passion for words rekindled and I could write freely again.

The greatest instruction for any writer is to write on a subject that they have a passion for. No matter how well of a writer someone is, if they are not passionate about their subject, it will show. Increased drive will help words flow onto the page and especially by writing about something you care about, others will begin to see it's value and they will read. A writer should never doubt themselves.
I’ve discovered the artistic side of writing that’s sparked me back into the inspiration of words. Interpretation means everything to a reader, so it shouldn’t be over complicated trying to make the message as specific as possible. The beauty of writing is that everyone gets a different experience from it. Above all else, passion is required. If you write on what you love and how special something is, your work will be interesting and people will listen. The techniques and personality play dual roles in writing.

AP Lang has developed me in so many ways. As a writer, I am strong and independent. I feel more confident as I let my pen flow to my paper with a loosely organized plan, taking me where ever I wish to go.

 As long as there is passion for a subject, your ink will never run dry.

WRITER'S SPOTLIGHT: Britany Robinson


Untitled

by Britany Robinson


July morning sun
Gravel crunches under my car’s tire
The sun creates a glare on my window

This was my first rock concert
I was excited beyond compare
With my friend by my side

Small bands walking the line
Trying to sell CD’s and T-Shirts
Everything seemed so new and wonderful

I left my car
And got in line
The heat makes my temperature rise

I decide I needed water
As soon as I take out my money
I heard footsteps coming up behind me

A band asked me to buy a CD
So they could keep making music
I felt I couldn’t say no

Then band after band came
By the time the event began
I was out of money

So my mom had to bring me more

Unintended Target (Slam Poem)

by Britany Robinson


Her name was Takiya.
She was eleven years-old .
She was not the intended target.
But what does that change?
She will never grow up
She will never fulfill her dreams
And she cannot be brought back

That girl could have been president
That girl could have cured cancer
That girl could have changed the world

But now she’s gone

All because she was not the intended target

So what did he intend to do?

Did he intend to destroy a family?
Did he intend to ruin lives?
Did he intend to shoot her father or brother?

If he did Takiya would be here
But she would still be dead

They say no pain no gain
But what if the pain you cause is greater than what you receive?

What did he gain?

Yet I know all my questions will go unanswered
Because violence spreads like a cancer
It moves through society in clusters and infects
Hundreds and thousands and millions
Until it destroys a nation

So I ask you this:
When did the light turn into darkness?
What happened to the light that gave us hope?
Why is the night now a time for violence?
When will we stop sitting in silence?
Why is the world filled with so much sorrow?
Will we ever see a better tomorrow?

Because tomorrow looks a lot like yesterday
Filled with pain and stained
By the blood of a country in chains.

Strictly Business

by Britany Robinson

Did you think arranged marriages still happened in 21st century America? Because I sure didn’t. 

I just found out that I will be marrying the oh so charming billionaire, Damon Pierce. Never in a million years did I think something like this would ever happen to me. 

Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me introduce myself. My name is Stephanie Blake and this is the story of my unnatural life.

I woke up, looked outside my bedroom window, and took note of the beautiful, sunny, and cloudless sky. 

“Perfect weather for a perfect day,” I muttered sarcastically to myself. 

Today was the day I will meet The Devil himself: Damon Pierce. I think I prefer my little nickname for him better than his real name, it’s a more accurate indication of his personality. I let out an audible sigh at the thought. I know it may seem like I’m being unfair to judge him so quickly but seriously what do you expect from me?  My father and Damon Pierce have ruined my life as I know it. I never wanted to be forced into a relationship of any kind. Why should I suffer for my father’s mistakes? He’s the one who gambled all his money away and now I’m paying the price. Apparently since Dad didn’t have the money he owed the devil, they concluded that offering my hand in marriage without my consent was the only tolerable option. I’m 19 years old for crying out loud I should be able to make my own decisions. 

The Devil has no use for me anyway: I’m a very simple looking girl with a simple life. I have long sandy brown hair with dull, green eyes and I’m 5’3. I’m not like those models he’s used to having with blonde hair, blue eyes, and long legs. There is absolutely nothing special about me.

I decide to wear a royal blue cocktail dress with gold embroidery around the edges and gold flats. I am too lazy and didn’t care enough to do an up do so I decided to leave my hair down and curl it and used minimal makeup. The only reason I dressed up at all is because my dad promised to let me pick the wedding venue if I did. If I’m going to have to get married, I at least want to choose where. 

We walk into some fancy French restaurant and got seated. As I peek over the top of my menu I see a tall man with medium length, raven black hair, electric blue eyes, and he is wearing a very well-tailored suit. I, of course, know exactly who he is but although he is attractive, my feelings towards him have not changed. He saw my reaction towards his presence and gave me smug looking smirk. I scoffed in annoyance at his ego and turned back to my menu. 

“So, Mr. Pierce, how are you tonight?” my mother said nervously. 

He flatly replied, “No need for small talk Mrs. Blake, I am here to collect what is mine and that is all. This meeting is strictly business.” 

How dare he refer to me as if I am his property? 

“Excuse me Mr. Pierce,” I replied in a venomous tone, “but I am not your property and I will not let you treat me as if I am.” 

My father whispered lowly to him about something I could not quite make out.

 “Well my beloved fiancĂ©, you will be shocked to know that your father signed a binding contract and you are legally bound to me until I can no longer stand to see your pathetic face every day,” his tone made it clear he was mocking me. 

That comment made me do a double take. After a few seconds of silence, I gained the confidence to reply, “If I’m so pathetic to you then why in the world are you forcing me into this marriage?” 

He seemed a bit stunned that I had the nerve to talk to him in that matter but that did not concern me at this point. His reply was quite short but it took me by surprise, “Business is business. Now we are leaving, I assume your bags are packed and you are prepared to move into my mansion. The wedding is in two days so we will spend all of tomorrow finalizing preparations.” 

I almost choked on my food, no one told me this wedding would be so soon.

It’s now morning and I am not looking forward to all the wedding preparations I’m being made to take care of all alone. The Devil told me that he is too busy to bother with these details. I suppose there is some good in the fact that I get to choose how I want the wedding to be without him trying to change my ideas. While I spent the day listening to event planners drone on and on about the decorations and such, I focused on trying to find a way out of this. Unfortunately for me, there doesn’t seem to be any loopholes in the contract. I’m trying to find some sort of comfort in the situation but it’s very difficult. I will never get the chance to fall in love or be an independent woman. The contract states that I will not be able to work after the wedding, I am to be a perfect, quiet wife in public but at home I am to act as though I do not even know Damon, and I cannot have any type of contact with another man who is not family or I will be fined $500,000. At least not having to spend time with Damon inside the house is one thing I can look forward too. All this wedding nonsense is making my head spin.

Once the wedding planners finally leave and I can have a minute of peace, I get myself ready for bed. I step in my bathroom and take a very scrutinizing look at myself in the mirror. My eyes look dull as if someone reached in snuffed out the light. Why did fate decide that I was deserving of this cruel and unusual punishment? Ugh, I don’t know how much longer I can put up with this. I never thought I’d say this but I can’t wait until morning so we can get this wedding done with. Nothing will be the same in my life again and after tomorrow I will be able to figure out a way to live with that fact. Nothing about any of this feels right but it’s not something I have control over. There is no point in continuing this pity party so I may as well go to bed.

In the morning, I immediately got up to get ready. My mother comes over to help me get ready but I’m not as happy to see her as she is to see me. Can you blame me? She let my father sell my soul.

“Hello mother,” I snapped.

“Don’t you snap at me I’m your mother, have some respect,” she replied in a tone that can only be described as shocked.

“I do not have respect for those who don’t respect me,” I said.

“What did you expect me to do? He would have thrown your father in jail if this arrangement wasn’t made?” she whimpered.

“So instead you decide to ruin my life because Dad messed up?”

“I won’t discuss this anymore. Stop whining and lets get you ready.”

Before walking onto the aisle, I take one last peek at myself in the mirror. My hair is an array of flowy curls with a large braid around the crown of my head keeping them all in place; the makeup I have on is a bit overdone for my taste but I suppose it makes sense for the event; and my dress is a princess style chiffon with a sweetheart neckline and rhinestones scattered around the skirt. I swallow my nerves, step onto the sparkling white aisle runner, and plaster a smile on my face. 

Damon is staring at me with surprise but quickly masks it with an arrogant smirk when he notices I was watching him. We proceed with the ceremony and the reception then eventually we get into a limo to go home. I sit as far away from him as physically possible. After a few minutes of uncomfortable silence, Damon turns to me and says, “When we get home you go inside and don’t think about going out anywhere. I won’t be home until tomorrow so don’t wait up.” 

I cocked my head to the side in confusion and asked, “Not that I care but where are you going?” 

“I have a date,” he smirked. This angered me to a point where I thought my head would explode. 

“So you can date but I can’t? How is that fair in any sense?” I basically screeched. 

“This relationship is strictly business sweetheart. You are to be a perfect wife and make me look good to the press. We can’t have you running the streets now can we?” he replied in an amused tone. 

This is all just fabulous. I’m going to be stuck living with a cheating, lying, heartless husband for the rest of my life. One day I will find a way out of this, I don’t know how but I swear I’ll do it. No one deserves to be treated this way and he’s crazy if he thinks I’ll stand for it. Let’s test these rules of his. If he can go on a date then so can I. I pull out my cellphone and call my ex-boyfriend, Tyler. We ended on good terms and I know he still has feelings for me so I figure he’s a good candidate for this date.

“Steph? Is that you?” he answered.

“Hey Ty, yes it’s me,” I replied trying to sound happy.

“It’s great to hear from you! How are you?” Tyler said.

“I’m good, are you busy right now?” I said almost too quickly.

“Umm no, why?”

“Well would you want to go out for old times sake? I’ve missed hanging out with you.”

“Of course! I’ll come pick you up from your house in an hour and we can find something to do.”

“Sound perfect, I’ll text you my new address and see you when you get here.”

After hanging up I couldn’t keep the smug smile off my face. I’ll show him what happens when you try to control me. Damon Pierce has no idea who he’s messing with but he’s about to find out.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

POETRY


Expectations

by Andrea Aguirre


So many expectations put amongst me
You wanted me to be a perfect girl
Never asked me what I wanted to be
My life went in circles like in a whirl

You said I’d get pregnant at the age of sixteen
A family stereotype that I never understood
Look at me now, just another teen
And all I ever wanted was to be good

You expected me to not be like the other ladies
Your excuse was because you didn’t want me to be hurt
You didn’t realize these aren’t the eighties
And everything I’d do would be curt

For years I tried to be what you wanted
I’d stay home instead of partying
But you took all my effort for granted
All that time I just felt like I was dying

Basketball was the sport I loved
And I changed it to soccer to make you proud
I chose to get shoved
To simply continue to feel lost in the crowd

I chose family over friends
Don’t get me wrong I love my family
It’s just a story that never ends
This might just be another case of insanity

All I want is to be the perfect daughter
As hard as that is to be
For years you’ve been my father
Cause all you’ve done is take care of me

You’re more than just a father you’re my best friend
You’re the reason this poem came to be
But it all just hit me.. I’m a “disappointment”
A disappointment to you.. Not me...

PERSONAL ESSAY

On Writing

Viviana Salas


When I look back on old diaries and journals and even school essays, I cringe. My face contorts into itself with every sentence I read.

Why?

Well, think of it this way. It’s like when you look back at pictures of yourself from middle school and get a feeling of humiliation and shame.

Why did I do that?

Was that actually me?

I can’t believe that’s what I looked like.

It brings back memories of who you were and what you did in your first awkward teen years. We tend to reflect on our past selves and compare to who we are now, thus bringing about that stomach churning feeling of embarrassment and regret.

Of course, this is not about middle school pictures. This is about writing. In this case, my middle school to freshman year writing. Even more specifically, my diary. And there it is, that feeling of shame. I can’t believe that I actually had a diary. And it wasn’t even composed of daily entries. I only ever wrote in it whenever I had an encounter with a boy I liked at the time.
(I hope that you are cringing with me because this is not pleasant to write. I can only imagine how much more unpleasant it is to read. So let me take this moment to apologize for any further discomfort I may cause you to feel on my behalf, so I say now: I am sorry.)

In this “diary,” I would write unpredictably. There could be months before I’d have another entry. But every single one was filled with that tone of girlish hope and infatuation. They would be happenings that I look back on now and know that they meant nothing near what I thought they did. A simple brushing of hands that I thought was “like a spark” was actually just friction from the bus seats. The way we worked together for a game of swim class water polo was actually just team-work tactics.

(Oh I swear that with all this cringing, I’m going to have heavy wrinkles at an early age.)

Over time, I got bored with keeping that diary; I stopped writing. Well, I’m lying. I wasn’t bored exactly. I more so had nothing to write as I no longer had any contact with him after my freshman year of high school. I stopped making entries but kept the diary. In fact, I still have it to date, hidden in a drawer beneath layers of clothes.

You may be wondering why I still have that diary if it causes me so much shame. The reason is because I want to be able to look back at it one day and laugh. Laugh at my past self and the things I did and thought. I used to think that I was keeping it for a sense of nostalgia, but I realized that was not the case when I read Joan Didion’s “On Keeping a Notebook.”

Didion referred to a notebook of her own, not a diary (she actually emphasizes her distaste for diaries), but I felt that it still applied. She says, “See enough and write it down, I tell myself, and then some morning when the world seems drained of wonder, what I am supposed to do, which is write-on that bankrupt morning I will simply open my notebook and there it will all be, a forgotten account with accumulated interest, paid passage back to the world out there…”
“...when the world seems drained of wonder…”

That’s bad times to come. It is for those bad times that I still have my diary. I know that there will be a time in my life, not now but possibly later on, when I will need a laugh. I feel that my diary will get me that laugh that I will so badly need, even if it is a laugh of self-embarrassment.
What causes me to be humiliated by the journal? I am not completely sure myself. I suppose it could be because I wrote about a boy I had an annoyingly obsessed crush on. It could just be because I sounded like I had an annoyingly obsessed crush. It could be a combination of both. Needless to say, I have learned from that whole diary-keeping experience to not write like that ever again.

That diary experience taught me the importance of tone and word choice. It taught me that certain words will give off a vibe, and vibes affect people. But with that particularly infatuated vibe, it would not have affected readers how it affected me at the time. At the time that I wrote it, I thought that it sounded like true love. Now that I look back at what I remember writing, I know that if anyone had read it, they would have contorted their face in the way that we do when we smell something bad, as I am now.

Why did I write it in such a naive way?

Why did I have to sound so childlike and unknowing?

Just why?

Any other time I’d felt like writing anything remotely romantic after that I decided to base it off of books I’d read before, as a guide. And this didn’t just apply to romance; it applied to anything I wanted to be felt in my writing. This is why I’m always trying to look for the right words.

Infatuation, not love.
Humiliation, not embarrassment.

Happenings, not events.

It’s all about saying exactly what you mean, as Kurt Vonnegut advises. And by saying what you mean, the reader knows exactly how you feel and in turn, they feel it too.







Wednesday, May 17, 2017

WRITER'S SPOTLIGHT: Dinah Clottey

A Desolate Place

A Personal Essay by Dinah Clottey

Writer’s block is so easy to get into yet so hard to get out of. As a writer, I found myself sinking deeper and deeper into a dark place. Caught up in the blackout inside my head, I’d lost sight of what it was I wanted to write about. So I built up gigantic walls around me and continued to surge towards the darkness. When I was inside, it became normal, and so I lost myself. There was nothing to inspire me inside the cave so I could do nothing more than follow the same patterns and stare at the same blank page. By isolating myself I was only feeding my writer’s block, stuffing it with more empty ideas and prolonging my stay. The cave was a deserted island: bare, dismal, bleak, and empty. The cave was my prison.

I spent a lot of my time underneath these cavernous walls. The encompassing stone was jagged and pieces of thoughts laid littered on the ground. The walls arched unevenly high above the surface, con-caving upwards into a lopsided bowl. The air was frigid and cold, void of any heat or light. The only sound was the drip drip drip that came from my only source of cognizance. It sat in the deepest part of the cave, trickling and oozing far back in my consciousness. On the surface, the cave was nothing but dirt and stone. However, beneath the surface, I knew there was life.

It became routine for me to spend my days engulfed in this chilling darkness, hibernating. Sometimes when I slept in the cave, I imagined seeing light. All I had to do was close my eyes and I’d be surrounded by the ambient glow of colors, thrown into a wheel and jumbled all together. I tried to decipher the colors by doing my best to tug and separate them. But my efforts were often fruitless because no matter how much force I used, the colors just swarmed back together, entangling into another impenetrable puzzle. I was in a dream within a dream and I just couldn’t wake up. That light, those colors, were my escape and my way out of the darkness. My way out of writer’s block. And every time I got close, the image would just move further away and I’d tumble back into the dark, waking up and being shrouded in blackness once again.

In this cave I didn’t know how it felt like to have the wind caress my skin and the sun flood my pores. But it seemed dangerous out there. In this cave it was familiar, satisfactory, safe.

This cave was my writing habitat. Dark and dry and so predictable, that’s how I learned to write. I’ve had to conform to standards for so long that at some point in my life I just locked myself up and decided to keep doing the same old thing. I was no longer of my own body. I was void, a hollow shell used to fill up the space I walked in. I knew this; I knew what I was doing to myself by staying in that cave. But I wouldn’t let myself leave and that was my problem.

One day, when I was in the middle of my writing routine, something unpredictable happened. I was sitting on the rocks per usual with a pen and paper in hand, staring at a blank page and caged in by the same cavernous walls. Then something washed over me. Inspiration? That’s what I wanted to instinctively call it, but whether it was the draft that seeped through the air or the ambiguous liquid of my consciousness finally getting to me, it felt unfamiliar. In that same instant a voice appeared in my head and said, “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.” I identified the voice as Stephen King from his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. I wanted to dismiss it, but sitting at the same place with the same pen and the same blank piece of paper, the saying appeared inside my head again. Why was I here? Why was I so scared?

It’s so lonely inside this cave. I realized in that moment exactly what King was trying to say. Being in the cave, surrounded by cavity and nothingness, was cowardly of me. I was a coward. I also realized that the only thing I’ve been doing was waiting, waiting for some idea to cross my head and make a story out of. How stupid I’d been, acting like a sitting duck in a dark cave, thinking that nothing could get to me. I was scared about how others would view my writing, of putting myself out there and being faced with countless notices of rejection. I was scared to leave the cave because I didn’t know what to expect. Everything would be so new and foreign and different to me. The very thought made me tremble. I remember dismissing my cup, made out of molded stone and rock, and walking over to the water area. I caught the liquid of my consciousness that spat out from the walls with my bare hands and chugged down the soothing liquid. And I thought, I don’t want to be here.

I went to sleep and the ambient colors appeared in my dream again. I decided to do something different. Instead of trying to separate them, I tangled them more into a disheveled mess. The colors mixed and mingled, becoming darker greens and lighter browns compared to its bright yellows and oranges from before. It wasn’t pretty, but it was mine. I’d finally created something of my own.

When I woke up that morning, instead of being greeted by the darkness, I am greeted by the light. The rockiness of the ground is replaced by the luxuriant surface of luminous greenery. The jagged walls and ceiling are now a seemingly endless sky, clear and blue. I got out. I am finally on the outside. I am no longer under the abundant mass of darkness or the void that kept me in and kept everything else out. The blockage is gone. In this moment, I am free.

The blockage only disappeared once I decided to diverge from my routine and try different things. I was no longer feeding my writer’s block, nor was I forcing myself to get rid of it. By digging into the back of my consciousness with my own hands, I naturally, and peacefully, escaped by allowing the idea of freedom to enter my head in the first place.

Being inside the cave was the most boring time of my life, but it taught me something; I never want to be inside that cave again. So whenever I feel myself sinking into the dark cave of my hollow ideas, I drop everything and let myself be inspired. The most effective way is to go out there and explore. Instead of being scared of the outside world I embrace. I snatch it by the collar and scream, “Are you ready world? Because I’m comin’ for ya!” Then I grab a pen and paper and embark on the advent of my next story.


Adam's Rejection (Excerpt from The Day Girls Started Chasing Me)

A fiction selection by Dinah Clottey


"Open it! Open it!" my mother yells right up against my ear.

Right now we're at the kitchen table and I have a laptop in front of me that will reveal the results on whether I got accepted into Stanford or not. I'm extremely nervous. My palms and neck are caked in sweat and I can feel my heart beating a thousand beats per minute. I felt as if though it could burst right out of my frail chest at any moment.

"Hold on, mom. Just give me a second!" I reply.  I'm opening up the common app. As the page emerges on my screen, I see it.

Standford Results

God, I'm so scared! Take deep breaths Adam, it's all going to be alright.

In and out . . . in and out.

As I release another breath, I let the mouse hover over the link before clicking it.

To Mr. More,

After careful consideration of your application, I am sorry to inform you that we are unable to offer you a place in the Stanford class of 2018.


I feel my heart stop. My throat begins to constrict as I try to hold back tears. I can't believe it.
I got rejected.

"What does it say?" my mother asks excitedly from my side as she bends down to peer closer at the screen.

"I didn't get in," I tell her quietly. 

I still sit frozen in my seat. I felt as if the first 18 years of my life just compressed itself into a bat and hit me in the face. All those AP classes, all my hard work, all that stress . . . for nothing.

"Oh honey, I'm so sorry," my mother pouts as she wraps me up in a cuddly hug. "You've still got Colorado State."

That didn't make me feel any better. Anybody could get accepted there. But Stanford . . . Stanford was my dream school.

"I'm gonna go to bed," I tell my mom as I robotically remove myself from her grasp and walk out of the kitchen. 



That night, I pictured things going differently when I opened that letter in my dream. I got accepted and I spent the next four years happy, successful. In that moment, I wished that I'd never wake up.