Writing, writing, writing

Well, my Saturday started early. Like, 4:45 a.m. early.

And then I tried to go back to sleep, but gave up after an hour and half of social media-ing on my phone, no matter that I was lying tucked warmly in my bed. My eyes just didn’t want to close and my mind just didn’t want to go back to sleep mode.

So, I decided I’d work on my homework to get a head of the game. I have no pressing assignments and I’m almost through with the weekly reading, but I thought since I wasn’t going back to sleep I may as well get some homework done.

Only, after getting out of bed, grabbing my computer, and heading over to my school website, I just didn’t want to do homework. I know?! Procrastinating much? I should have just done it. But then my thoughts drifted to … “Well, I’m all caught up and it’s a Saturday …”

So, that is how I found myself writing. And not writing a novel or anything like that, although that would be an interesting thing explore, but more so writing to my friends and sending postcards around the world through Postcrossing. It’s been a while since I had so much fun! I forgot how much fun I have sending letters. It’s been a while. Truth be told I just didn’t feel like writing much these past few months.

I’m not going to lie. I had to kind of force myself to focus on writing, but once I got started that was it. Three hours later, I was still going. In addition to writing letters, I organized a list of family and friends I could write to last, gave some thought to holiday cards I want to send, and prepared a small list of letters I want to write through out the coming week.

It was an amazing feeling. And whether it’s because of recent events, the Paris attacks, Beirut, the refugee situation, or not, whether it’s because it’s National Writers Month (even though it’s meant to push writers to write novels), or not, I feel as if I finally got my writing groove back.

And I hope it sticks around for longer this time because it. Is. Awesome!

Letter-Writing Escapades: The Art of Sorting

Wow! What I thought would take an hour to sort through actually took me 3 1/2!

Granted my focus wasn’t dedicated to my task, but it was still unexpected.

What were you doing?

Well, I was organizing my postcards and letters.

For those of you who are just tuning in, I joined Postcrossing in January 2014. Postcrossing is a post card exchange program that has just under 500,000 members in 216 countries. Everything is done through the website. You start off requesting to send 5 postcards. Each sender receives an ID number that you place on the post card you’re sending so the person receiving the post card can register it. You need to send these 5 postcards before you receive any. After that, depending on the amount of postcards you send out, you can send out more, which is what you want because you’ll receive just as much. It’s a fun program with no personal information revealed unless you choose to. Your mailing address is only revealed to the person who will be sending you a postcard.

In addition to the postcard exchange, you can choose to do direct swaps. What this means is that you’re inviting others across the global to message you for direct post card exchange in which you reveal your addresses to each other, no registration number. Some members choose not to participate, others do. I’m one who’s open to direct swaps … of course.

Anyway, I have to catch up on some letters and I decided to hunt down my stationary. Well, that turned into “Hm, why doesn’t this postcard have a receive date?” and “why doesn’t this letter have a number?” Next thing you know, I’m going through my postcards to see if there were any more postcards I didn’t put a receive date on and going through my pen pal letters to see if there were any more letters I didn’t put a number on.  Thankfully they were newly received, within the past month or two, so I could backtrack easy enough. But then since they were new, I had to reorganize them because they weren’t in their respective places.

Oh yes, I have system for organizing my letters, postcards, and stationary. It’s not a complex system and it’s nothing more than dating and number items, but still, it’s a system that helps me track my pen pals from my Postcrossing mail, my direct swaps from my registered, and everything in between.

So …

what started off as a hunt for my stationary turned into a cleaning and auditing of my entire letter-writing station.

And turned a 15 minute task into a 3 1/2 hour project.

And now, time to write!

Writing Junkie 411: The Postcard Project

Deltiologist unite!

Postcrossing posted this project to their Facebook page and being the deltiologist I am, I just had to check it out. What a wonderful article by Amy Alipio.

Go read the full article here. Go now and come back (if you don’t get sucked into cyberspace and can’t find your way back here. In which case that’s why I make all my links open to another page so … you know, you shouldn’t get lost. Just saying)!

As a fellow deltiologist (because, you know, now that I can remember that word I need to use it as much as I possible can, even if it annoys you) , she discusses some troubling facts about the decline of postcards and then rallies back by a call-to-action. She also describes her visit to Sackler Gallery in Washington and their “The Traveler’s Eye” exhibit.

I’ve been collecting postcards from a young age as well. Sometimes I mailed them to myself, most times I bought them off the selves as postcards. I love sending them though because you get the cancellation stamp (geeky, I know, but I never denied it). But the best ones are the ones I received recently, in the past year, as a member of Postcrossing. I can’t tell you how much I adore this hobby, more so now that I’m receiving postcards from places like Brazil and Amsterdam. I’ve gotten a couple from Turkey and China. I get to see the glimpses of the world that’s delivered to my post office box.

It’s as Amy Alipio says in her article:

It may be easier to upload a pic on Facebook. But, as Nancy Pope, a senior curator at the National Postal Museum who still sends postcards to friends and family with enthusiasm, notes: “It’s not the thing that you pull out of your mailbox and pin to the wall.”

So, I hope to see a revival of postcards and if not, I hope it’s not completely phased out because it’s the coolest thing to check my mailbox and see three postcards from places I’ll probably never get a chance to actually visit.

Long live the postcard!

Photo credits: dreamstime.com (in post) and donnellycolt.com (feature)

Writing 411: The thesis statement

The thesis statement is the most challenging for me to write. Every. Time.

And Im not sure why! I mean, I think I do fairly well when it comes to writing. My essay papers tend to stay within the A to A- range. I did have a paper or two that’s gotten a B+ but that’s usually due to formatting issues and I did have a paper that got a low B because I didn’t use the required amount of sources.  And I’m not saying this to brag or anything, but the one issue that usually stops me from getting an A+ is because while I had a strong intro, my thesis lacked structure or my thesis was weak. And that would be very accurate because when I write my papers, I never start off with a thesis. I just jump into it.

Well, if you know what’s wrong why don’t you fix it? It’s simple enough.

No it’s not! *says in a whiney voice*. It’s not simple for me. The one time I actually put thought into my paper, I got a B. I actually thought it through and got it done early enough for me to proofread it twice and I got a B! Serves me right for not procrastinating. But I’m serious. If I start too early or think about it too much, I don’t do so well. And it’s because of this that I just jump right into and start writing. I read through the material, come up with a basic outline–more or less, and then just start writing. And actually, I don’t study the material every day until I’m ready to write, I usually just read it through a time or two when I first get the assignment and then I think on it. I let it sit in my mind until I’m ready to write and then I review the materials again.

You’re avoiding the question. You know you’re weak on thesis statements, so why don’t you fix it?

I suppose I am making excuses to avoid the question. Truth is, I don’t know. I don’t know why I can’t fix it. Which is why I’m writing this post so I can think things through seriously enough to sit down and think about it.

General outline of a thesis, according to Purdue OWL (and I’m using Purdue because my course syllabi loves to reference Purdue OWL a lot. Everyone of them):

  • The thesis statement must be debatable – For the most part, I think I get this.
  • The thesis needs to be narrow – Fail. I fail miserably on this is. I mean, I have a hard time narrowing things down and I think it’s because I don’t know what direction I want to take until I’m already on that road.
  • Figure out the type of claim that fits you’re argument
    1. Claims of fact or definition
    2. Claims of cause and effect
    3. Claims about value
    4. Claims about solutions and policies

If I can follow these three simple rules I should be able to reach that A+, right?

Sighs. One could hope. I could only hope. Anyway, another thing to keep in mind is that thesis statements are like road maps to your paper. And this I understand. I do my best to make sure my intro covers a basic outline of what my paper will be on, which is why I usually get high marks for organization. Just that darned thesis statement.

Hopefully writing this out in a post will help seal it in my brain. I can do this. I got this … right?

Challenge 411: Month of Letters 2015

For those of you who aren’t aware, a Month of Letters is a challenge to write a letter every day for the month of February. Feel free to read more about it here.

I first read about this challenge last February and by the time I did, we were already 8 days in. While I failed to write a letter every day, I did write more letters than I usually did. As mentioned in a few of my posts, I’m a huge fan of letter writing and decided that I needed to participate the following year … which is this year.

Fast forward to February 2015.

I missed yesterday so there goes my perfect record, but I have sent out 5 postcards to 5 different people so … depending on how you look at it, I’m ahead 😉 . Regardless of failing the task of writing daily, I do enjoy the fact that we have a month where we can actually honor letter writing. And you know what? I have more pen pals this year than I’ve ever had before. I have a list of about 12 people to write letters to and needless to say I’m ecstatic! I just hope I can keep up. Not to mention my usual mailing list of Chinese New Years cards I love to send yearly. I love sending Chinese New Year cards more than I do Christmas/Holiday cards!

So, a Month of Letters. If you wish to participate and don’t mind receiving a few cards, feel free to message me. And if not, stay tuned for an update 😉 . It’s going to be an interesting month.

Writing Junkie 411: We write because …

So, a few months ago I did a post on why I blog (feel to read that here: Blogging 411: To write or not to write, is it even a question). And I realize blogging is very similar to writing so why should I even think to do a post about writing. Well, let me see if I can break down my train of thought.

Blog essentially means web log. Other definitions say it’s like an online journal and I find Urban Dictionary’s definition very amusing: “A meandering, blatantly uninteresting online diary that gives the author the illusion that people are interested in their stupid, pathetic life. Consists of such riveting entries as “homework sucks” and “I slept until noon today.”

But writing is different. Writing is defined by Wikipedia as “the activity or skill of marking coherent words on paper and composing text.”

On that note, I write because …

1) It frees my mind – I once expressed in a journal entry that journaling is like my version of Dumbledore’s pensive. For those who aren’t readers, or movie watchers, and therefore have no idea what I’m talking about, in one of the Harry Potter books Dumbledore places his wand tip to his forehead, pulls out a memory, and puts it in a pensive so they don’t crowd his mind but he can access them later. Writing does that for me. It frees my mind to move on to other things.

2) It helps me gather my thoughts – Because who hasn’t had an experience that they don’t really know they’ve experienced until they’ve thought about it for a bit? I mean, when we got through an event that’s emotionally charged there’s a point where instinct takes over and you don’t get to stop and think about it until it’s done. Call it adrenaline or whatever, but sometimes, you just need a moment to think. And writing helps me do that. And more so it provides a record so you can go back, review what you wrote, and think about things semi-subjectively.

3) It’s fun! – I know, it’s not dramatic or earth-shattering. But it is fun. At least to me. I enjoy writing down what I thought about a play or my first day managing a library. I find fun writing about a book or a movie I can’t shake or made me have one of those “aha!” moments. And I have a blast reading through my thoughts a year later. Even though it’s embarrassing and I plan to burn all my journals when I die or something because, gosh! It’s still fun.

Those are the main reasons I write. I could go on with a list of 10 or even 20 reasons why I write, but I think Ralph Fletcher sums it up nicely (I found it! I found the quote I referenced in Writing 411: That pesky little problem that plagues even the best writers) :

“Writers are pretty ordinary people. They have favorite songs, favorite movies, favorite TV shows. Writers have evil big sisters (and, occasionally, sweet ones). They get good or not so good grades, take vacations, paint their houses.

Writers are like other people, except for at least one important difference. Other people have daily thoughts, and feelings, notice this sky or that smell, but they don’t do much about it. All those thoughts, feelings, sensations, and opinions pass through them like the air they breathe.

Not writers. Writers react. And writers need a place to record those reactions.” (Ralph Fletcher, A Writer’s Notebook, p 3-4)

Writers react. I react. I react to life and I need to record my reactions because it’s an instinct I have. Call it a habit, but really, it’s second nature.

I write because I observe. I write because I feel. I write because it’s comforting. I write because it’s something I need to do.

I write because it’s who I am.