Writing Advice and Samples

A compilation of essay tips, general writing advice, poems, and thoughts.

Month: January, 2019

Lucid.

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She doesn’t care where she is. The world feels the same everywhere, constantly unstable like the dreams that move inside her. Stories hide behind every movement. Unfulfilled potential haunts her while she sleeps.

There’s an illusion of control between erratic scenes of stairs and playgrounds. A new planet emerges in the distance and she thinks herself to the surface. The atmosphere grows eerie behind subconscious fears.

She settles into nightmare as shadows console her. She is the consistent presence here. Meanwhile, daylight lurks under the horizon and creeps slowly into reality. She clings to the world she built inside her mind. Five more minutes. Somewhere with you.

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I Feel.

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Sometimes I feel so very small. I am a speck of a person on a speck of a planet floating in an endless universe. The possibilities are not mine to ponder. I’m microscopic, limited, temporary. My insignificance speaks for itself so I keep my mouth shut while the nonsense shifts around me. If I know anything, I know my place.

Sometimes I feel so very large. My thighs squish out too far when I sit down. There’s enough skin to smother a city, a winding road of faded stretch marks. I’m inflated into view. My hair extends for miles and gets caught up in unexpected circumstances. When I look toward my feet, they seem far from my eyes. Parts of me are unreachable. I wiggle my toes to fake a connection, a deceptive sense of control.

Green.

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I have nothing to say
So I’ll say it again
I’ll whisper into potted plants
And scream toward my friends

I’ll listen while the skies reply
An overrated dance
Notice me, forget me
Accept me as I am

I have so much to prove
And no words to take me home
The echoes sigh within my head
Inside I’m all alone

Move on through erasure
Pass the memories back
To be alive is to be confused
A broken presence laughs

The pain of recollection
Incredulous relief
Expectation I release you
Finally at peace

Empty.

Solitude

CC image courtesy of jessicahtam on Flickr.

My mind is blank but full of noise. I find tranquility in the mess you left, calm between the wrinkled jeans and tattered flannel draped on the floor. Perfectly placed and haphazardly abandoned.

An empty coat hanger longs to be held by one more of your cotton shirts. A lonely sock rests on the floor and agonizes over the loss of its one true match. I feel your mindless intention to follow me and guide me back in your direction. I cannot go.

Intrusive footsteps stomp on lonely solitude. They echo across the floor, through the walls, up the stairs. An accidental invasion interrupts my quiet thoughts. I am exactly where you want me to be.

Training Wheels.

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I am five years old, grown and prepared to let go of the guaranteed stability of my training wheels. I seek independence. There must be something I don’t know, a form of knowledge the world is hiding to protect my innocence. I ask my brother to share the secret to riding a bike. I am frustrated by his halfhearted answer: there is no secret, you just do it.

I later watch my best friend ride freely, and she’s four months younger than I am. Her bike is sleek and bare. I am left behind in a slow and steady pace with helping hands. Why does she have the secret, but nobody will share it with me?

I ask her how she learned to ride on two wheels and she gives me a chance to prove myself. She hops off her bike and I get on. If I’m going to do this, I’ve got to try right now.

I start to pedal slowly, but I need momentum to stay upright. Faster, she yells, as I turn to flow down the steep hill of her driveway. The wind pierces my pores and I am finally enlightened. I hold the secret to freedom inside my tight grip on the handlebars. But I soon realize there are no brakes to squeeze.  I cannot stop.

The wall at the back of the garage gets closer to my eyes. Time speeds up and cement hits my body. I am left injured by ignorance.

My best friend comes to assess the damage. Denaya, she yells, all you had to do was pedal backward! In my desperation to move forward, I guess I forgot to think about stopping. I’m not yet ready to master the art of riding a bike, but I now understand the importance of patience and preparation.

Goodbye.

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I lost a goodbye on the road to self-discovery and forgot to tell you I wasn’t coming back. I inadvertently avoided the sudden pain of one last hug, one last smile, one last word. Unrecognized finality within the endless string of see you soons. There was no soon, and I’d never see you again.

Tomorrow’s expectations lend false permanence to an unreliable world. We couldn’t know back then that sometimes final moments live in average days. I left, and the missing pieces crept slowly into existence as you got further away. You kept moving forward while the emptiness grew within me.

It’s hard to say if closure would bring relief. I was never prepared for the journey that would take me so far from home. I never said goodbye to home and I’ve been trying to find belonging ever since. A missed farewell ends in missing you.

Incomplete.

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I chase perfection in circles around this quarter acre yard. Sun to skin, barefoot against grass, I run. Fatigue overcomes me as I creep closer to my unobtainable vision. It hides behind the evergreens and burrows underground, tumbling forward into ash. The harder I search, the better it escapes me. I hear laughter from behind the trees. A momentary silence, then bellowing from beyond the mountains. The dirt weeps under my feet. I am left here, unfulfilled, mistaken in the tendency to search for serenity outside of my own skin. Every flawless surface, haunted by doubt.

Disclaimer.

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I started sharing my thoughts on this blog about a month ago. I initially only wanted to post writing advice for college essays, but when I shared a few creative pieces for practice, I realized how much I’ve missed writing for myself. It’s beautiful. It’s cathartic. I’m still experimenting with my voice and purpose, but I enjoy interacting with other writers here.

I haven’t posted anything conversational yet, so I guess this is my first (and perhaps my last) truly bloggy post. I’d like to share a few thoughts with you and explain what goes through my mind when I’m writing:

  1. I’m always prepared to be misunderstood. I think it’s cool that we can interpret the same words in different ways. Feel free to misjudge my writing. I’m just happy to have your attention at all.
  2. Sometimes I write to myself in second person. It doesn’t mean I’m trying to tell you what to do. It means I’m trying to make sense of my own thoughts. But if you can relate to me or feel something based on my internal dialogue, that’s great too.
  3. Don’t take all my words for truth. Sometimes I am honest. Sometimes I like to pretend my audience is an abstract concept like the past or time. Sometimes I write from the perspective of somebody I know or somebody I made up. Maybe I’ll have a specific memory in mind but I’ll choose to dance around it.
  4. I have a pretty solid understanding of spelling and grammar, but sometimes it’s fun to break the rules.
  5. I generally prefer writing short pieces. Enough said.
  6. I’m still trying to come up with a good name for this blog. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!
  7. I thought I’d be screaming into silence. Thank you for listening.

Steps.

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One day you’ll find yourself breaking in a new pair of shoes. “It’s worth it,” you’ll say between winces of pain. Blisters will emerge from the depth of your persistence. Prepare yourself for better days.

One day you’ll look back on aching footsteps. The pain will subside so slowly that your progress will feel insignificant. You’ll watch the world pause in a cloud of unrefined beauty. Celebrate your gradual growth. Keep walking.

One day you’ll throw the shoes away. They will be tearing at the seams after carrying the weight of your unplanned journey. All of your memories will fade into this moment, folding into infinite interpretations of life’s senseless adventures. Abandon your tendency to fake coherence. Don’t forget how far you’ve come.

Unknown.

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My words are clunky and imperfect, flawed in their innocuous attempt to capture a glimpse of the ineffable presence behind my eyes. Indecisive. Inconsistent. Insignificant.

Do you know me? If I am unknown, then I deserve the luxury of anonymity. Do not watch me as I eat a bagel in this café. Do not sit close to me in the library when there are a hundred other empty chairs. Do not ponder my existence or convince yourself that you own any part of me. You might have a copy of a forgotten shadow hidden in a dusty corner in the back of your mind, but she’s not real. She’s nothing but a vivid replica created for the sake of stability. Set her free.

I am recycled. I live the same day twice, then thrice, then a hundred times or more. I am not the first to arrive at any thought. Originality is a comforting illusion. Forgive me for my repetition. Forgive me for this observation. Let me go.