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My Dream’s a Nightmare: Aspiration and Ambition

I have a confession to make: I am a terrible artist. No, I don’t think the quality of my work is garbage (though there’s of course always room for improvement), rather, I am terrible with being consistent with whatever I create and I have fallen into boasting my works to others prematurely.

From my early teenage years, I was practically starving for some sort of online presence. Content creators such as Chuggaaconroy (https://www.youtube.com/user/chuggaaconroy) and the Completionist (https://www.youtube.com/user/ThatOneVideoGamer) were like gods to me (and still are an incredible inspiration to me), and I remember wanting to be just like them. I must have sunk upwards of five hundred dollars into recording equipment for my small HP laptop between the years of thirteen and fifteen. I was convinced that I, too, could be a star Let’s Player and eventually inspire my own audience the same way I had been inspired. I attempted a handful of recording sessions and found myself frustrated that my first video wasn’t going to be some magnum opus. My recording equipment has been sitting in the drawer of my TV cabinet ever since (though I occasionally am tempted to take it out again).

Of course, YouTube wasn’t the only thing my middle school self envisioned for the near future. I wanted to be an entertainment virtuoso, also creating web comics and video games. Fueled by the bizarre humor of Adventure Time and Regular Show (which had just begun airing) and the “Brawl in the Family” web comic (http://brawlinthefamily.keenspot.com/), I started brainstorming a project called “The Epic Adventures of Cody Winn”. The lead was a Mary Sue of sorts, naturally based off of me in appearance and in personality (that’s the greatest Commandment in making a middle-schooler’s comic). In Regular Show fashion, he worked an average job while being constantly swept up into bizarre circumstances with his friends and coworkers. No, none of it was original, but I was incredibly proud of the idea alone. I began drawing one-page comics at school, showing off my work at lunchtime every day. My classmates liked what I made, and the teachers that saw it were very affirming (which I am still incredibly grateful for). Things were good. That is, until one day when I happened to get bored while drawing the daily update. I had “stories” (titles and single-sentence descriptions more than anything) lined up for a month. That didn’t stop me from slacking off, and the comics soon vanished.

Fast-forward to 2017. I’m a freshman in college, majoring in Computer Sciences and minoring in Art because, guess what? I’m still trying to make something out of Cody Winn. The concept has naturally changed a lot, going from a modern sitcom of sorts to a fantasy adventure. “So, instead of Regular Show, it’s Adventure Time?” … well, dang. Whatever the case may be, I still have a desire to produce content online, though I’m falling into the hole of “self-hype” once more. I think it’s safe to say that everyone I know has heard me say “Cody and Jenny” or “Motley Crew” on some occasion, and anyone who follows my social media accounts can see sketches and concept art I’ve drawn most every weekday for about two months now. I can’t help but be angry with myself, though, for failing to actually put the dang story to paper. Well, I actually managed to draft up a first chapter (insert self-plug here: http://jackthehatguy.deviantart.com/), but “official” progress has been halted since that upload. My – dare I use the word – hiatus should be justified (what, with me starting college), but I can’t help but regret that I’ve been pushing a product on people that isn’t finished (and has barely even started).

I was recently watching JelloApocalypse on YouTube, when I found this video on making web comics: https://youtu.be/aOLzS2MmkzQ (language warning for the youngins and/or the pious). The guy had nailed me, right down to the hat I wear! I wouldn’t say that this is what brought me to realization, but it certainly helped in cementing my concerns. I’ve come to be very aware of the dangers of being “too inspired”, looking at my work, writings online, and even successful web series like RWBY (team behind it obviously adores Final Fantasy).

Recent reflection brought me back to a video from last year by Satchel Drakes, which, as I remembered, both convicted me of my ways and gave me hope for my work’s future: https://youtu.be/POFXGhA0AoY. I and other content creators like me should recognize and need to remind ourselves that Rome wasn’t built in a day (pardon the cliché). It wasn’t built effortlessly, either. Creative outlets typically don’t yield immediate results, so we have to be prepared for an incredible uphill battle. I’ve chosen to believe in my dream despite the difficulties that lie ahead, though, because I know that this has been the case since Creation. I’ve seen countless works that resulted from frustration, hunger, and tears, and I’m come to see beauty in the struggle. The idea that I’m not the only one pushing Sisyphus’ boulder gives me courage and determination in my craft. Whatever people may think of the finished result (which I pray does come), I know that I will be most satisfied with my work when I have finished.

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Finding Time Amidst the Chaos

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Hello beautiful people! This is Rachael. I will be posting every second week of the month. I love anything that is purple and sparkly but I am not afraid to get my hands dirty, literally and figuratively. I am an INFJ and used to nobody understanding my train of thought. I think I might be a mermaid as I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.  

While trying to decide on what to write on I realized I see a lot of people who kind of ask the general questions of “How do you find time to read or write when ______” You fill in the blank. Busy family life. College. Moving. Computer broke. Have no money (not sure if this hinders reading or writing but it sure sucks).

Well, I have said above busy life. I attend college out of my home state nine months out of the year. I have a part time job. Oh, and did I mention I am in my senior year? If anyone is busy, it’s me. Since I like to pass my classes (weird fetish, I know), I spend an obscene amount of hours working on stuff for class. This leaves very little time left over for reading or writing. Which makes me sad. Very sad.

But there is hope, my friends! Because I am proud to say, that despite college and my job, I still found time to read and write this past year. We will start with the reading.

The first thing that will help you read more is to set a goal. I set a goal at the beginning of 2016 to read 50 books. I managed to read 52. Now to be fair, about 20 of those books were for class. I am an English major and reading literature is quite common for class. However, I could have chosen not to stay up to all hours of the night reading and finishing those books (as many of my classmates chose to do) but I did.

How did I get the other 32 books read? Breaks. Fall break, Christmas break, spring break. And anytime during school when I wasn’t working on homework. Instead of floating around on Facebook and Pinterest, I read. I stole moments alone and I found a book and read. Even if it was just for ten minutes. This kept me grounded and connected to the literature world I would love to enter someday. Setting a goal that others can see, such as on a site like GoodReads, can really help motivate you to read more.

Side note– if you love reading and/or writing, you should get a GoodReads account. I love it. Its like Pinterest for readers. You will find books you never knew existed and fandoms when you thought you were all alone with your feelings.

Now about writing. I must admit I wasn’t as good at this. But it helped me a LOT to belong to a writing group on campus. We got together twice a month and workshopped each others writings. Talking with others who loved writing like I did really helped keep me connected to my own passion and thinking about what I wanted to do with my writing. I also used breaks to work on my WIP and other ideas that came my way.

Groups like Legion W are great, don’t get me wrong, but having actual people to write with and talk to about writing really boosted my creativity. It forced me to be honest and take feedback for my creations. I found out I was actually good a some forms of poetry, the one type of writing I despised the most. But I never would have tried it if it wasn’t a group activity. Find your tribe and work together to help each other.

Here are my top eight books (in no particular order) from those I read this past year in case you guys are interested. (You can see my complete list on GoodReads):

Winter by Marissa Meyer

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austend82ff801b05b020ee9ca295b357cdd71

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Tangerine by Edward Bloor

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Feel free to comment below on ways you keep reading and writing in busy times or comment with your favorite book you read last year.

Until next time, drink tea, read books, and fly on brave wings.

Rachael

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Cheers, Love: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Blizzard’s Storytelling

Hey, everybody! Name’s Jack, though I also go by HatGuy. I’m an INFP with a love for video games, movies, animation, et cetera. So, of course, I’m making my debut here with a post that could not only involve politics, but religion as well. I’m a lot of fun at parties!

With the release of Overwatch’s “Winter Wonderland” event, Blizzard Entertainment also released a lore-based comic, named “Reflections”, in which the team revealed the franchise’s flagship character, Tracer, to be LGBT. In the comic, Tracer is on a mission to retrieve a last-minute gift for a dear friend on the streets of London. Due to unfortunate circumstances, from stores closing to having to stop a robbery, it seems that she won’t be able to buy the gift, but is rewarded for her previous heroism with a gift to take home. She is seen in a flat, recuperating and talking with her friend, Emily. Her friend mistakes Tracer’s present for one addressed to her, and opening it, is overjoyed with a lovely scarf. Emily and Tracer share a kiss, and with this image, the Internet exploded. The rest of the comic gives audiences insight to the whereabouts of the game’s various characters, so whatever you think of this, if you’re a fan, I’d highly recommend it.

The controversy surrounding this revelation was possibly the greatest exposure the game has ever gotten, right next to the “Tracer’s booty” incident (Tracer seems to have a track record online). Many are obviously (although reasonably) divided over Blizzard’s decision. Despite what my introduction may have implied, I’m going to try and avoid shoehorning in politics and/or religion into this discussion. I’d like to discuss this storytelling element or, rather, its announcement and reception, simply as that.

There’s no denying that LGBT culture is emerging in the current day, so it really came to no surprise to me a few months ago when Blizzard revealed a LGBT character already present in the cast of Overwatch. However, my first response could be described as, “Meh. I knew they’d do that.” This response, I feel, is the greatest mistake Blizzard has made regarding Tracer’s story. With this announcement alone, excluding the actual reveal, the team made LGBT representation nothing more than part of some quota. With a premature announcement such as this, it feels as if Blizzard was simply trying to keep a demographic pleased, rather than incorporate a unique storytelling element.

On the other hand, with the reveal, Blizzard did make quite the step by making Tracer, their flagship member, a representative of the LGBT community. Tracer’s sexuality in the comic doesn’t come off as pandering to the community, and it isn’t shoved into audience’s face in-game or even have any impact on gameplay. Her sexuality doesn’t define her; it’s another dimension to her character, whether we politically agree with it or spiritually accept it.

As a Christian gamer, I often consider how my faith and hobbies are supposed to be integrated. Overwatch brings an interesting and difficult question of what and how much of the world we allow to influence us, as does much modern media and secular thinking. Rather than solely looking for bullet-points of disagreement that we may more easily write off another’s thoughts or works, however, we must look for writings and creations that show integrity, those that do not rely on some demographic or gimmick to engage its audience. I feel that despite the marketing shortcoming, Overwatch’s integrity remains intact, but that is, of course, open to discussion.

Thanks for reading this spiel of mine, all. This has been a ginger-ale-fueled Jack the HatGuy, writing to you from 1 A.M. See you, Space Cowboys.

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The Lunar Chronicles

Welcome to the blog of L.E.G.I.O.N!  I guess I’ll introduce myself. My name is Kylie Gregory, and I’m fifteen-years-old. My hobbies include reading, writing, collecting rocks (but like, cool ones. And despite what my sisters say, there is such a thing.) and rearranging my books shelves. Let’s see, I’m homeschooled.  I know more than anyone wants to hear about sci-fi books and movies. Fantasy too, but mostly sci-fi. Like I said before and as you can probably tell since you’re reading it now, I love to write and hope to be a sci-fi author myself one day.

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I was thinking I’d talk about one of my favorite book series today. You may have heard of it, it’s called The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. It’s a cyberpunk, dystopia, sci-fi with fairytale elements. Basically, it’s super awesome.

The premise is that Cinder, a mechanic with a hard past lives in the bustling city of New Beijing far in the future. Around her, the world is struggling against a dreaded plague and the devious Queen Levana of Luna, the former moon colony. I can’t say too much more without giving a bunch of spoilers. But there’s Prince Kai of the Eastern Commonwealth, a sassy android named Iko, and all of your favorite Cinderella elements. What’s excellent about this story is that while it does have elements of Cinderella, it doesn’t swallow the story. While there are so many other things going on, it doesn’t become confusing.

starsabove

I warn you though, if you decide to read this book be sure to have book two, Scarlet, on hand. You will be thankful. After Cinder comes the awesome installments of Scarlet, Cress, and Winter. Cinder was great, earning a place as one of my favorite books, yet somehow the next books kept getting better and better. When you’re done with those, don’t miss Stars Above, a collection of short stories and a final epilogue for the story.

(Also, a graphic novel is coming out in a couple of weeks called Wires and Nerve.)

 

To further convince you, I’ll just throw out that there are space pirates, spaceships, all sorts of cool tech, amazing writing and characters, political intrigue, and the list goes on. So if you’re into sci-fi, dystopia, or fairytale retellings, you should definitely give this series a try.

Until next time!

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How to Write a First Post

how-to-write-a-first-postSo first thing you should always do in a first blog post is introduce yourself. Something simple like,  “Hullo humanoids, I’m Killer,” is an excellent way to do it. You follow that up by stating some facts about yourself. Things like “I’m a teenage writer” or “I like the orange sour patch kids” work well for this.

Once you finish with a simple introduction you go on to tell more of what the blog is about. Try to make it sound interesting though. “This blog is about nerd stuff” just sounds dull. Yes it says what the blog is about but it doesn’t sound exciting. Try something like, “This blog shall open your mind to the galaxy far far away or show that one can simply walk to Mordor.” It sounds much more exciting and catches the eye. If you have other topics whether they’re writing or whatever topic you might choose remember to mention those too. In this section of the post you should also say what your planned schedule will be, like whether or not you will be posting every Monday or whatever day or days you decide. That way the reader knows what days to look forward to reading your blog.

If you are blogging with other people make sure to mention them too. Something like “Jack, Adri, Kylie, Tree, and Rachael will also be posting here.” should work for this. You could go into more detail if you wish. It’s your decision, you are the blogger anyway.

Now once you finish giving the reader all the information they need you have to end  your post. I suggest coming up with some clever farewell or just use something boring like “peace out” or whatever. It’s your blog. You make the decisions.

And that is how you write a first post. So farewell humanoids and have a fantastic day.