Tag Archives: science-fiction

Increasing My Web Presence

Hi, y’all.

I’m writing the obligatory update post, since it’s been a little more than a week since the last. Not too much has happened since, although I was accepted to Bennington College. That’s pretty exciting, considering they’re only three hours from home, and I have my fingers crossed for good financial aid. We’ll see. If everything works out, I hope to be attending there in the fall. It’s such a nice little school with super cool programs and a small but interesting campus.

I also recently spoke to a couple of local publishers who run a business helping writers self-publish, especially specializing in the marketing realm. This was an interesting visit and it taught me a few things, but I also realized that I must try to increase my web presence. I suppose I don’t know what that means, exactly, but I do know it must include more twitter posts and…stuff? Right? Whatever, I’ve also decided I must gain a bit of a readership, so that we can gauge interest in my stories. I’m still deciding how I’d like to share exactly, but I’m thinking I may upload the writing in pieces in PDFs–which will include posting them here, on Tumblr, on Twitter, and even Facebook. I’m still ruminating, and a lot of stuff needs revision before I’ve reached that point, but it’ll happen. I hope a few of my WordPress followers will be interested in reading my stories when they come out in the not-too-distant future. They’re science fiction, and each is around 50 pages, some less, some more. I think some people here might really enjoy them.

I really want to expand my following online, I think that’ll be very important when I near publication–which is suddenly a far more foreseeable goal. Something I might actually be able to attain! How exciting (and frightening).

I’ll discuss all that in more detail in a later post. For now, I suppose I’m just saying hello! I know I have quite a small following on WordPress, but to all of you who may read this, I hope you’re doing well, and I thank you very much for giving me a few minutes of time. Even the smallest crowd is a crowd nonetheless.

I hope you have a wonderful Saturday! I’m gonna sit back with something hot and read some Bradbury, I think.

Till next time!

J

4:13 p.m.

PS. For your listening pleasure, try out “Hello, Dolly!” by Louis Armstrong. And if you’re not into that sort of thing, try “Creep in a T-Shirt” by Portugal. The Man.

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Personal Update / Save the Earth

Ahhh! I’m an awful human. It’s not that I have any moral obligation to write new blog posts all the time, but I feel like if you’ve got the followers, you should appease them…right?

I apologize. Here’s a little about what’s been goin’ down for me.

I’m well into senior year, the second semester, now. I successfully presented a Capstone project on science-fiction and creative writing, starred as Captain Hook in Peter Pan, and am now directing a one-act called The Real Inspector Hound by Tom Stoppard. I was deferred from my first-choice school, Kenyon, and accepted to the University of Vermont. I’ll hear from some other schools, so the future is in the air.

Another event of special note is something that happened very recently. Two nights ago, I presented at the local library, along with three other authors. I was the only student of the bunch, which was quite an honor. The four of us talked for 7 minutes about the stories we were writing, and then were asked questions and given feedback by the panelist judges and the audience (the judges included my Creative Writing and English teacher, who has always been an enormous help to me). I received a lot of amazing advice and feedback, and from it all, I’ve begun to see my dream of becoming a published author as a real, tangible goal that I can grasp in my hands. It’s unnerving, to say the least, that people can really be interested in my writing, in my stories–but at the same time, it’s awe-inspiring, and really quite wonderful.

From here, I’ll continue to work on writing my stories and continue revising and editing them. I’d like to talk about another project too, though.

I have recently become very interested in the medium of radio plays. The writing of a story that can be carried only by what the audience hears is intriguing to me, so I’m pursuing an independent project. I’ve written some of the script already, and I have a cast of talented friends (most of whom are relatively experienced dramatists), as well as the support of a teacher with access to recording equipment and sound effects, and two friends with superb musical talent who have agreed to help as well. The script will be reviewed by fellow teachers and my heroic girlfriend. All in all, it’s dazzling to imagine actually directing this script into reality, and I’m so excited to actually produce the play. It’s sure to be a wonderful learning experience. I’ll post it here when it’s in its full completion, likely sometime not too long after April Break (the projected recording time, as of now). I’ll encourage everyone to listen to what is probably going to be a forty-minute show, and I’ll make sure it’s free for download. It’s all about exposure and experience, both of which I’m always looking for.

In the meantime, I’m continuing my science-fiction series, writing short stories and novellas for The Chronicles of Troy. I’m also enduring my final semester of high school, from which I’ve taken a personal day, today, to recuperate from the long week I’ve had–even though it was only three days. I feel drained, honestly.

Sometime soon I want to write something about climate change, but I’ll leave this post with one message: do something. I’m eighteen years old, and if I’m frightened of anything, it’s the future of the world that I and my fellow millennials are soon to inherit. The “Doomsday Clock” has been moved two minutes closer to midnight because of climate change (as of January 23), and if that doesn’t throw everything into the limelight of severity, I don’t know what will. Turn off your dormant electric devices. Take short showers. Walk, don’t drive, when you can. Unplug machines you’re not using. Recycle. Do something. Please, help this planet. Those before us have done a mighty fine job of ruining our world, and for now, it’s the only one we’ve got. We need to preserve it, and better yet, we need to improve it. If politicians are too stubborn to cooperate and help the planet, maybe the people can make a difference…even if it’s a small one. Encourage climate activism or at least climate awareness. Inform yourselves and your friends. Leave this world better than we found it, please.

Everyone will be grateful in the end.

Thanks as always to my little conglomerate of followers. It means the world that you follow and read me. I’ll try to repay the favor. Have a great day, live well, and love one another.

J

10:39 a.m.

For your listening pleasure, check out “Once Was One” by Portugal. the Man.

The First Day of Autumn?

My life has taken a tremendous turn in the past couple of months, which would explain my lack of blog posts. Heading into senior year was enough in itself to give me a bit of a slap in the face, but on the top of that I had a break-up a few weeks ago, and I’ve been a wee-bit depressed since. I’m also dealing with college crap; i.e., deciding where to apply, arranging the propers for the Common App…these are the musings of a grudging high school student who just wants to be done with all of it, for God’s sake. But if you’re an adult reading this, you’ve been there and done that, and none of this is a shock to you. If you’re my age, I’m happy we can be in the same club together. And if you’re younger…just you wait.

Today was one of those days where I simply did not want to be near or around anyone. I feel hate for certain people, dull disdain for others, and indifference for the rest. Yet, there was a glimmer of optimism to my day, and it’s something that’s helped me get through Friday without tearing my hair out.

I have to do a senior Capstone project, and mine concerns the history of science-fiction: basically, I’m researching the genre as a whole and reading as much as I can. For the end product, I’ll have some stories that demonstrate how I’ve grown as a writer and what I’ve learned from my research. It’s a beautifully free project with few constrictions. I had to present a preliminary pitch to a teacher of my choosing, and I chose Jolliffe, a former two-time English teacher of mine. To be clear, I’ve loved having this man as a teacher. I had him Freshman year and then again last year, and he’s been the most understanding and interesting teacher to have: big tall guy with shaggy hair and a beard, and a love for Steinbeck.

I went to Jolliffe’s room first thing this morning, A block, to present. He was reading The Grapes of Wrath for his Junior AP English class, which is what he teaches to juniors every year. He quoted “Danny wants a cup of water” to me for a while, and then when I asked if he’d like me to present, he initially said yes. Then his wife, also a teacher at the school, came in and asked if he’d like to get coffee. He said he would.

So, I found myself walking with Jolliffe to Gatto Nero, a new-ish cafe/art studio near the school. The morning was chilly yet crisp, the way the first autumn mornings seem to. The sun was shining brightly and all of the colors in the Vermont trees were just thriving, it was almost like they were burning. And as we walked, he told me to give my pitch. Obviously I was a bit taken aback, but I launched into it. I had expected to stand before him and talk for five minutes, answer a few questions, and be done. But this guy never ceases to amaze me, and it became more of a discussion than a pitch. Not thirty seconds into my pitch he started asking questions, interrupting when he wanted more clarification or when he wanted to give advice or recommend a change to something. We talked about books, about authors, about the writing process, about relevant science-fiction and bare-bones science-fiction.

Something else happened, and for some reason, I won’t soon forget it. As we walked, a man in a suit passed us. He said, “Good morning, Steve.” Jolliffe said good morning to him and the man said, “Nice day, isn’t it?”

Jolliffe said, “Oh, it’s a beautiful day.”

I thought, Holy shit. It is a beautiful day. How had I not realized? Was I so focused on my internal issues? Was I too distracted by business-like matters to notice the fiery leaves or the refreshingly chilly air? The fact that Jolliffe so easily appreciated the morning spoke volumes to me, and I think I realized I hadn’t been myself for a while. I needed to get back to the point where I could walk alone and be content, not upset. Where I could just look up and appreciate the sky and the clouds, or the smell of burning wood from a chimney. I did just that later in the day, this afternoon, when I took another solo walk after school.

At Gatto Nero, Jolliffe bought me an espresso as well as coffee for a few other teachers (including his wife). Then we walked back to the school and continued talking, carrying coffee and drinking espresso. My pitch, written in scribbles on a piece of notebook paper, had long since been folded and tucked in my back pocket. Somehow I didn’t need it anymore, yet he knew more than anyone about my capstone.

This is what teachers are supposed to do. They aren’t meant to sit and just listen and tell students what they want to hear. They’re meant to surprise you, make you think, make you question yourself. And then when you’ve hit the right target, they’re supposed to congratulate you and help you further along. Jolliffe did that, and it’s another reason I’m grateful to have had him as a teacher.

Back in his classroom, we spent the rest of the block talking about my college and other life plans. Where I wanted to go, where I was applying, how my family was doing, how was doing. He knew about my break-up, and had seen me go through this kind of thing twice before. I think he saw that I had finally matured or grown up in some significant manner, because he said something to the effect of, “You’re all grown up, kid.” I think he said that, actually, when he heard how my process of writing stories had changed. It’s funny how I could give a comprehensive autobiography for hours on end, but someone will know me best by the way I write and the way I talk about writing. So much of my soul is within such a seemingly innocuous activity.

I walked away from A block with a better understanding of where I was going in the coming months, and of where I wanted to be in the coming years. I don’t know how it happened, but my English teacher helped me there.