A short piece (as promised!) and challenge update

Update: So far I have sent out a few articles for guest blog pieces this week and have submitted a few pieces for publication. Though I’ll probably fall short of my thirty submission in the month challenge, so far, this has been a really good experience for me.

Anyway with my challenge, I’ve been trying to post more creative works that I have written on my blog. So here is a short piece I wrote a few years ago for a blog contest, where you were suppose to rewrite Pride and Prejudice. I didn’t win the overall prize, but I did place in the top five for internet votes

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Pride and Prejudice High

It is universally acknowledged that high school is a form of medieval torture invented by embittered adults to retaliate against the inconvenience youth has caused them. This was never more true than for an outspoken, sharp-witted junior named Lizzi. Her unconventional dress, and various charity causes, including most recently, “What are Men Compared to Mountains: A Weekend of Womanhood and Nature Retreat,” earned her much notability and scorn among the jocks and cheerleaders that roamed the halls of Pemberley High.

Today was no different, though as Lizzi ran to her locker, and hastily pulled out her science book, she noticed a lack of mockery. Perhaps, they have finally seen the wisdom of my nature.

 Then, she noticed that the halls, normally full of hormonal animals, referred to as students, engaging in mating and social rituals, which Lizzi felt were unnecessary and demeaning to an individual, were empty, save her.

She glanced down at her watch.

“Shoot,” Lizzi said. Late again. It was so easy for her mind to wander during her walk to school, and Lizzi often found herself lost in contemplation over a wayward daisy or rose that lay on her path to school. Sighing, she was about to renounce herself to the dull dribble called Chemistry when a splashof color invaded her vision.

“Hey,“ She said turning.

A boy, well-dressed in a polo and dark jeans, handsome with a brooding stare, stood in front ofher, nervously clutching a piece of paper.

“Are you new…lost?” Lizzi said. “I can show you where your classes are.”

“…I…”

“Let me help.” Lizzi reached for the paper.

The young gentlemen recoiled as her hand brushed against his.

“Don’t pay her any heed.” Caroline said, appearing from the shadows.

She was dressed immaculately, every accessory matching her cheerleader captain outfit which she adorned every day. This monotony made Lizzi’s stomach churn.

“I fear I might be ill.” Lizzi said under her breath.

“I’ll show you around and protect you from the pariahs that infest the hallways, mosquitoes on an otherwise calm June night.”

Caroline batted her eyelashes and interlaced her arm with the stranger.

He smirked at Lizzi, to acknowledge his awareness and acceptance of his and her social standing, and Lizzi suspected to rub her face in that knowledge.

“Arrogant jerk!” Lizzi exclaimed. “See if I ever help him.”

Lizzi had all but forgotten the incident by the time she arrived at Chemistry class and was entirely ready to immerse herself in the world of formulas and equations when an all too familiar face appeared at the door.

“Class,” the teacher said, “we have a new student. Meet Mr. Darcy, I assume you will all reveal your charitable nature to him in time.”

“He’s very easy on the eyes.” A perky blonde chirped.

“If you like the conceited type.” Lizzi’s laugh echoed to the corners of the classroom.

“And I hear his parents bought the mansion that had been left to dust on the corner of Main.”

“One thing in his favor, I suppose,” Lizzi replied. “Though even if he had all the money in the world that would not make up for his lack of manners.”

“What was that Miss Bennet?” Her teacher replied.

“I was just welcoming the fine and honorable Mr. Darcy to Pemberley High.” Lizzi said, standing. “We had the pleasure of meeting earlier today. I sure with his disposition, he’ll have no trouble making friends.”

Though no one else seemed to notice, Lizzi thought she perceived a slight discoloration in the new student’s cheeks.

“How very kind of you,” Her teacher replied. “And since Miss Bennet, you were the first to show the “welcoming spirit” that our school so very cleverly embodies, I’m sure you’ll have no problem honoring Mr. Darcy  by being his lab partner…Kid go take a seat next to our self-appointed welcoming committee. “

“I’d be honored to be his partner.” The blonde said.

The teacher replied that she already had a perfectly good lab partner.

“Sir,” Lizzi retorted, “You and I had an arrangement regarding partnerships—

“Yes. Yes, you’re independent, and don’t need a partner because its “demeaning” to you self- esteem and sense of womanhood ,” the teacher replied. “But Mr. Darcy is in want of a lab partner, and as you are, by your own actions, the only student without a partner, there seems to be only one solution to our problems.”

Lizzi shrunk down into her seat, as the boy sat next to her.

“I..er hi.” He whispered, “this morning, I can explain, you see some of us are not as endowed—“

“Spare me your excuses,” Lizzi hissed. “Let’s just figure out a way to make it through the semester.”

—–

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What a week it is!

Happy National Punctuation Day! Yes, since pretty much everything has a special day designation to them, it seems fair that our friends the period, semi-colon, etc have a day to praise their awesomeness. Even Fox News got in the spirit with punctuation fails; or, if you prefer, you can read about the history of punctuation marks.

And if that wasn’t enough, it’s also banned books week. Do you have a favorite banned book? I have plenty, including 13 Reasons Why which made top ten in 2012.

The benefits of being a writer

Let’s face it. There are many perks to being a writer from the long nights spent typing away at a dimly lit computer screen awaiting the onset of life-long dreams with a side of carpel tunnel syndrome to the flash of fear in your friends eyes when they tell you a juicy personal tale and the clogs of your mind start churning on how to recycle their story into a best-selling novel.

O.K. maybe those aren’t that amazing. But really, a command of the English language and ability to spin a good tale has benefits that extend greatly outside of the artistic world, one such example, magazine contests.

I’m proud to announce (or maybe ashamed) that I won Backpacker Magazine’s Year of the Reader Makeover Contest for Navigation.  Yay for being the best of the worst!

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Honestly, I haven’t ever entered a contest in a magazine before. This one was rather simple, write an essay explaining why you should receive a makeover. It was an easy task, and quickly I was able to pull together the following piece:

I thought I was Pocahontas running through the backwoods of Whisker Lake Wilderness in Wisconsin with my boyfriend and the rest of our party behind me, leading them with my trusty map and using the lake as my guide until I failed to notice the lake turned into marshland.  With the sunlight waning, I found myself leading us to an all-encompassing marsh until we were insufferably lost. Little did I know that we would spend the next three hours wading through the waist-deep sludge in the dark and rain until we managed to find our way back to our campsite, exhausted, smelly and freezing.

I wish this was an isolated incident but if I had more time, I discuss the time my GPS battery failed on a “romantic” midnight hike (we then spent the night trying not to fall off the rocky terrain) or canoeing “simple” waterways (that, surprise, didn’t actually connect and resulted in us carrying a 40lb 1970’s canoe through bush and bramble), or the countless other times that were epic failures. All of which led to many hours of frantic wanderings hoping to stumble upon something that would help me find my bearings.

My friends and I are avid outdoors-people  Hiking, camping, climbing, mountaineering, you name it and we do it. My friends can read topos, nature and sky to help them find their bearings and our way home. This has helped me immensely over the last year and I have to come to rely on it.  However, last summer, as I lay on top of the Tetons mountain range, puking my guts, and the subsequent hike out, where I as sick as a dog, had to completely rely on my friend, all I could think was what if the roles were reversed and I was the one desperately trying to decipher the bit of hell called a topo map with my friend incapacitated by illness? We surely would have found our way out eventually, as the range is frequented with hikers, but if it were more remote the story would be different, and what if the delay in time caused my friend’s hypoxia to worsen?

I have tried, and still continue to hone my navigation skills. I’ve taken orienteering classes, practiced on hiking trips and read magazines and literature on the subject. But for as much I think it’s helping, somehow in “real-life” it never completely translates. I haven’t given up hope. I’m young, intelligent and not always full of blonde moments, I can master this with your help.

I am appealing to you, Backpacker magazine. Can you take this hiker who can’t find her way out of a paper bag and turn her into a navigating champ? Save the world or at least my hiking partners unnecessary trudging through the back woods at all hours of the night, with me desperately trying to figure out a way home, and teach this girl some actual, useful navigation skills!

I have no doubt that the main reason I won (besides my horrible skills) was my writing ability. In October, I’m actually receiving my make-over. I’ll blog about it then in more detail. But here’s my question for you. How has writing helped you outside of just the obvious ways?

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When Edgar Allen Poe owned Katy Perry

I had another blog post prepared for today, but came across this video and had share it instead.

Sometimes two diametrically opposed ideas crash together into greatness. This is one such time. Take a generic (sort of “Eye of the Tiger” rip-off) song and add one comedian impersonating, Edgar Allen Poe, and you come up with a masterful piece.

If only this was playing on my radio instead…..

5 seconds of your time for a good cause

Drive-in theaters as being forced to shut down next year as many can’t cover the cost to convert to digital.  As is the case with a historical theater that I frequented as a child (as did my father). If you could for the next three days take the time to vote for the Earlville theatre , in this contest, I would be much appreciated. The winner will get the funds to convert their theater. It’s such a shame.

Thanks!

Rach

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Well this week has started better for me than last week! I submitted a few pieces yesterday for publication (shall I be rejected?) and am devoting an hour, at least, tonight to work on my collection of plays!   It’s been edited ( an interesting process for me that I’ll blog about later this week) and now I’m just tweaking it before I put it up as an ebook.

I’m under no delusion that this will NOT be a great commercial success, but the plays have all be produced by various theaters and I’m just ready for them to reach a wider audience. So hey, what the heck, right?

Anyway, I meant to post this video last week, but as I previously posted, I had an awful week, so today shall have to do. It’s a very interesting video. I suggest you take a look!

Scars: Why I wasn’t creative this week and further why I don’t care

A flap of flesh. A tiny dotted-line memory, etched skillfully, tucked away in the meandering folds of flesh that drape my collar bone and diligently maintained by a vain 25 year-old. A slumbering tomb, hardly visible to the naked eye unless you know its detail.

I had a blog post ready for last Friday, patting myself on the back for maintaining my challenge both in submitting and maintaining my writing throughout the week. But before I had time to proof it, I ran to the doctor for a semi-routine visit to examine Lumpy, the mass of tissue that has lived in my right breast for the better part of eight years.

“We want to biopsy it. Find out what is in there.”

“Is it cancer?” I blurted out.

A look of surprise rushed over the doctors’ faces, but nothing mattered after what I had spoken. I wasn’t there but body, my mind, flashing back three years….

The moon’s pall flooded the winding cornfields as my friend Nick and I raced down the forgotten road, in his father’s new sports car. I stuck my head out the window, letting the wind entwine my fingertips, wishing I could float off to the heavens. 3 a.m. screamed for random road trips, rages in the dark. Who was I to ignore the—

“Shit!” Nick yelled.

“Huh?”

I pulled my head in as the car hit the gravel, an instant fishtail at eighty miles per hour. The headlights illuminated the ditch, as I waited for time to slow down and my life to flash before my eyes. Nothing.
Nothing but the slow sinking feeling that I was going to die.

But I digress. The story doesn’t lie in twisted metal, flashing red lights, or the rush to the emergency room. That was but a snowflake, the first among the thousands that blocked my view as I wandered along, until at the end of the storm: a call in the wee hours of the morning.

That is where out story begins.

“It’s a cancerous tumor. You’ll have to have it removed.”

A tiny cancerous pea slumbering in my thyroid, Gertrude, who had served me well until this time.

The next three months were a doctoral comedy of errors from the first doctor not being able to read my MRI to the surgeon prescribing me the only drug I couldn’t take for my ablation. I have tried now, for the better part of three years, to write about my experience. But the words twist about the room and no matter which order they arrive in the same hallow casing. No words could describe the mixture of fear and agony that came to pass. It is a fire. One has to touch the flame to completely comprehend.

ImageA bevy of harsh truths surfaced: I can no longer survive the zombie apocalypse without pharmaceutical aide. Being radioactive does not give you super powers, but rather just makes you throw up radioactive vomit.

All of this, I could take. But, the knowledge, facing my mortality, at such a young age, realizing that I was not yet ready to die and the lingering fear left behind, that was another story.

As I left the doctor’s office last Friday, I handled the situation, the very slim chance that I had a cancerous growth in me (the doctors had even told me it was most likely benign) with the grace and dignity befitting of a 28 year old woman. I ran home to my mother and father and cried on their couch for three days straight convinced that, like last time, something would be wrong.

The next four days were a haze of doctor visits, work and curling up on the couch, trying to reassure myself that I was in fact being irrational. I failed until Thursday, when I got the results back.

It was benign.

I would usually berate myself for losing a week of life. However, I am working on acceptance and with that comes the knowledge that we are all a collection of imperfect stitches, carefully but tenuously sutured up and sometimes, we rip at the seams.

Now patched back up, I dust myself up and prepare to start over again.

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The pain of the English major

I’m not going to ruin the joke in this song; but, a friend of mine showed me this yesterday and my mouth was hanging in protest after the first lyric. I was again reminded that I have an all encompassing love affair with the English language.

Also, does anyone have a hatred of certain parts of speech? For example, this song reminded me that while I love the semicolon, I hate colons. I find them pretentious if such an attribute can be assigned to a form of punctuation.

Note: Vulgar language is used in parts of this song.

What can you do with 30 days?

“Never regret thy fall,
O Icarus of the fearless flight
For the greatest tragedy of them all
Is never to feel the burning light”
— Oscar Wilde

What can you do in 30 days? Can you just start a career?

I a shying away from calling the month of September a publishing challenge, as I am awful with challenges. Every October      I swear I am going to write a novel, and a week into it, I find that I am completely behind, eventually relenting to my failure.

But as I have grown in my career and my passion for writing, I have come to realize that sometime we all need a push to take us to the next level.

So here is my personal challenge. 30 days. 30 submissions, and at least one a week, posting a short story or poem on my blog.

I know it is going to be rough. But I also know that it will be worth the sweat and tears. Wish me luck.