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Bucket List!

I was listening to a podcast when I first came across the poem The Buried Life… it describes a feeling that I’ve been struggling with for years and was never fully able to articulate. I didn’t think this was something that other people felt, and I truly think that since I’ve been more open to connecting with others recently, I was able to find this conversation that resonated so strongly with me.

This poem inspired not only me, but it also inspired a whole movement and organization called The Buried Life. It’s led by a young guy named Ben Nemtin who, after struggling with depression, surrounded himself with people that inspire him. He soon realized that he and his friends were all feeling this same disconnect that he felt from their true selves, and they equally felt disconnected from their true heart and soul’s desires. With The Buried Life poem articulating this feeling to them, they decided to do something about it and created a Bucket List that allowed them to connect to each other and to their hopes and dreams. Together, they set out to fulfill the Bucket List, no matter how crazy or grand the ideas listed on it. For every item they could check off their list, they’d help someone else fulfill something on their own, and thus The Buried Life organization was born.

The name of the organization comes from the poem The Buried Life by Matthew Arnold, born 1822 and died 1888. His poem is quite long, but it essentially speaks about a man who can’t seem to connect with anyone… he feels like he can’t share his true self with the world and it’s eating him up inside. He feels as if his desires are buried under the tasks and responsibilities of everyday life. And no matter how much he wants to connect with someone, he doesn’t know if life will allow that of him. I think it’s a beautiful poem and it really speaks to me right now, because I’ve realized (through lots of self-introspection and meditation) that I have trouble connecting with people on a deeper level. A lot of what we endure on a daily basis is very “face value,” and I feel this strange disconnect from most people I come into contact with.

To try to work on this, and to follow in Ben’s footsteps, I decided to put together a Bucket List that would help me achieve my daily and lifelong dreams. Just writing it down is the first step towards realizing and succeeding in your dreams, because you never know who out there might be able to help you achieve them.

I decided to make two Bucket Lists: one is a dream big, pretend you can do ANYTHING, kind of bucket list. One where I didn’t hold back in the slightest and poured all my hopes onto paper.

My second is more of a lifestyle-change Bucket List. It’s what I can focus on daily to live the life that I desire and to fulfill my soul’s purpose.

But, I will keep these both close so I make sure never to lose sight of my heart and souls desires.

I’ll list them here, but what I’d truly love is for you to share with me some of your Bucket List items. For every big-dreamer item I can cross off my list, I want to help others succeed in one of theirs, as well.

I think these Bucket Lists will help me get closer to the true self that is inside of me and that wants to be expressed. Becoming more aware of our purpose and our soul’s desires will set us free, just as Arnold says in these five lines:

The eye sinks inward, and the heart lies plain, 

And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know, 

A man becomes aware of his life’s flow, 

And hears its winding murmur, and he sees 

The meadows where it glides, the sun, the breeze.

So let’s get to some self-introspection 🙂 Because it is this way that we can connect and help each other live the life we were born to live.

 

Bucket List

  1. Take a full backpacking/train tour of Scandinavia and see where my ancestors lived.
  2. See the pyramids and the sphinx in Egypt.
  3. Win a Michael L. Printz Award.
  4. Fly in a fighter jet. 
  5. Write a book that gets turned into a movie. 
  6. Write a book that gets turned into a video game. 
  7. Become a certified yoga instructor
  8. Go to France and follow the path my grandfather’s unit took in WWII.
  9. Brew/mix my own bottle of wine.
  10. Learn to surf.
  11. Volunteer to save animals.
  12. Win a Pulitzer Prize. 
  13. Meet people and surround myself with people that inspire.
  14. Go to a bat cave.
  15. Co-write a book.
  16. Go into a deep-sea diving bell under water.
  17. Live on a boat.
  18. Mentor a writer who becomes a New York Times Bestseller.
  19. Live in the jungle to connect with and deepen my spirituality.
  20. Hike to a mountaintop and watch the sun rise.

 

Lifestyle Bucket List

  1. Meditate daily.
  2. Do yoga daily.
  3. Eat whole, real foods grown either locally or by me!
  4. Recycle more than I throw away.
  5. Surround myself with people that inspire, love, and support me.
  6. Make time for the people I love.
  7. Give as much as I take, and do it from a place of love, not obligation.
  8. Always write.
  9. Give back to and take care of animals to the best of my ability.
  10. Put self-care and personal goals first- I am my biggest cheerleader and I will be the one to support my goals more than anyone else

So these are really really big dreams, and it helps having them to look at so I can remain inspired. They’re just something to work towards, and the first step is putting it out there. Who knows what we can achieve! Please share your own big bucket list dreams below!!!

Current Reads | February 2018

Hi guys 🙂

It’s February and I managed to finish all my January books in January (shush- I know I only had two in my January reads…). But, I finished them! And I actually finished all my December books, too. I didn’t realize The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman was going to take so long… I think I may do a Book Chat video on that. What do you think? A Book Chat video would probably be most fun because I’m dying to know what you guys thought about the book… lol I need to get some discussion going here.

 

Anywhoooo I got a little more courageous and picked more than two books to finish this month 🙂 First off, I went to the library and picked up Grace of Kings by Ken Liu and Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor. I’ve started both and they’re very good, and they couldn’t be more different from eachother. Grace of Kings reminds me of Tales of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin for whatever reason. Maybe because it starts off describing the childhood of one of the main characters? You know, come to think of it, the book Deerskin was like that, too, and so was Taylor’s book Strange the Dreamer. It seems to be a very “classic literature” way of opening a story. Honestly, I like it!

Starlight is the second in Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and I’m eating it up. It’s getting super dark and sad and just so angsty, I love it. Taylor’s writing is out of this world, guys. You gotta tell me if you’ve read any of her other books because I need someone that understands my adoration of her writing. It’s unreal.

 

I also went to the library and got City of Brass by SA Chakraborty and Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier. I was trying to find Wildwood Dancing by Marillier, because apparently it’s similar in style to Uprooted by Naomi Novik (I’ve been dying for a similar kind of read recently). Forest isn’t exactly like that yet, but it’s really good- it reminds me of growing up with my group of guy friends who pretty much were my brothers. And the girl in this book has six brothers… it’s just really refreshing and seems to be a take on the whole “seven sons” story. It’s also really classically written like Grace of Kings.

 

City of Brass is definitely more modern and I picked it up because DAMN THAT COVER. It’s sooo thrilling because the story is actually good, too. I’m a sucker for djinn/Egyptian mythology… which explains why I’m spending so much time playing Assassin’s Creed: Origins, too.

Speaking of video games… help me. I’m sucked into the PS4 and it’s killing my productivity. Monster Hunter World? Assassin’s Creed? Stardew Valley? Why do I choose all the games that literally take over your life?

Halp.

Lol no, I like to think of playing video games as inspiration. That’s what I tell myself at least!

Keep your eyes out for a new Youtube video this Monday on an actual book review. I’m still deciding which one because I have so many I want to recommend to you guys! If you have any requests, please let me know in the comments!

WIPs- Novel, Editing Checklist, Interactive Game?!

Hey guys!

I just wanted to pop in and give you guys an update on my current works-in-progress (WIPs). Not only do I feel like sharing mine, but I’d love it if you commented and mentioned what you’re working on right now and how you think it’s going. It’ll give me a much-needed break from looking at my own words lol if you even have a link to your work, I’d love to check it out!

So, for my “little” fantasy novel, I’m trucking along. I use the quotations because it’s expanded a lot more than I had expected, but I anticipate cutting down a few of the chapters that I’ve written… I also anticipate throwing in some exposition that I just don’t know where/how to put it in yet. Soooo we’ll see. I’m about 50,000 words in (yikes) and I’m maybe 1/3 of the way through (honestly, who am I kidding, it’s about ¼ of the way in and I’ve just bloated my beginning Act… uuuuuugh)… my main character, Ylva Thorne, is pretty incredible though and I love how I’ve been able to capture her voice. She has a strong personality which just makes it that much more fun to write.

In addition to this, I’m writing up an editing checklist to share with you guys to go along with my Favorite Editing Resources video and my How to Make Your Writing Stronger post. It’ll help those of you who need a little extra guidance when it comes to editing. I hope you all like it! I’ll make another post when it goes live, and it’ll be a free, downloadable PDF for your printing/viewing/altering pleasure.

I’ve also stalled BEAUTIFULLY on the whole interactive game/story I was going to make. I finished the outline, which is helpful, but I still have to actually begin the whole writing part.

Blame Assassin’s Creed: Origins, guys. I know I do.

That’s where I am right now- I put up #writingsprints on Twitter whenever I write (which is as close to every day as I can get) so please join me if you see it! I would love some company 🙂

I’ll talk to you guys soon!

5 Tips on How to Make Your Writing Stronger

Hi friends,

I have quite a special post here for you today because it tackles one of the most interesting technical sides of writing and how to conquer it: how to become a stronger writer.

I’m HUGE on technique, style, voice, and the mechanics of writing, because a strong writer can make any story shine through his or her ability to tell stories, but a weak writer can have the most amazing idea in the world and it still won’t translate onto the page in the way he/she imagined it would.

I am still a fledgling writer, too, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve made a list of things that I look for when I myself am writing so I can make sure I don’t get stuck making the same mistakes over and over. This way, I can grow into a strong storyteller and it’ll hopefully one day come more naturally to me… and you!

So here are just a few tips I’ve compiled from personal experience, and I hope they help you become a stronger writer as well.

 

 

1. Write in Active Voice, not Passive Voice

 

Okay, we’re starting off with the elephant in the room. Active Voice is often said to be the strongest form of communication, no matter what medium you’re writing- journalism, creative writing, academic research… this applies to it all.

Identify Passive Voice (that which you want to destroy!) by picking out sentences with a plethora of phrases that contain: “to be + past participle” (AH GRAMMAR!) I know… but basically, you can break it down further and just recognize when the subject of the sentence has been turned into the noun. For example:

The wooden chest had been locked by Ella.

    Turn that into:

Ella locked the wooden chest.

The easiest way to remember how Active Voice is structured is by keeping the sentence in the most natural grammatical form that English can take: Noun, verb, subject.

When a subject goes at the beginning of the sentence instead of at the end, it is  transformed into a noun by the “to be + past participle” structure. The subject has to be doing the thing in the sentence, and that grammatically takes more of a roundabout way to convey your thoughts. Just keep it straight and to the point if you can, because readers like that 🙂

2. Be Concise

 

 

I learned something new this week, and it’s that adjectives are just as frowned upon as adverbs… yeah, soon we won’t have much of a vocabulary available to us, will we?

But there’s a point to that concept that I totally understand, because the point of it is to actually build your vocabulary and explain your point as succinctly as possible. I think you learn this more in poetry than in fiction or nonfiction writing, but it’s a point that’s still worth stashing in your “Greatest Writer” toolkit.

Merge wordy adjectives and adverbs into dynamic nouns and verbs. For example:

Fog sat heavily over the town.

Turn that into:

Fog settled over the town.

I feel like this kind of wording is especially strong because it’s more visual, and verbs are more active (duh Morgan… verbs are action words) than adjectives or adverbs, so they serve two purposes: they tell the story and they make the story move forward.

3. When it comes to description, write logically and cinematically

 

 

When you walk into a room, what do you notice? Usually, your eyes don’t jump around from the molding near the ceiling to the rug near the bay window to the colors of the walls. Think logically and cinematically when you are describing something, because that’s how your readers are going to imagine in, too. They’ll be able to fill in the small details like what color the plants in the corner are or how high the ceilings are, but an easy way to keep immersion is to write cinematically.

4. Quit it with the gerund phrases

 

 

I can hear you asking: what is a gerund phrase and why not use it? A gerund phrase is when you start a sentence with an –ing word. This is very similar to the present participle phrase that ALSO begins an –ing word, but in a gerund sentence the –ing word is the subject/object of the verb in the sentence, whereas in the present participle sentence the –ing word is the descriptor of the noun in the sentence.

I personally dislike them both, but gerund phrases are worse BECAUSE it’s passive voice given a whole new lease on life.

I get it, it makes sentence structure interesting, but the WORST part is that these phrases tend to get wordy and confusing- and modifiers in these sentences are often used incorrectly. It’s like the Pandora’s Box of incorrect grammar and poor writing. There’s nothing inherently wrong with using these types of sentences, but MAKE SURE you’re structuring your sentences correctly if you chose to start your sentences with a gerund. For example:

Gerund Phrase: Closing your eyes will make the ghosts leave you alone.

Wouldn’t this sound better as:

The ghosts will leave you alone if you close your eyes.

In this example, “closing your eyes” is the subject of the verb phrase “will make.” And the way you logically read it, you’re focusing on “closing your eyes,” which is way less interesting (and therefore break immersion) than the noun, “the ghosts.”

But here’s another example of not just a voice or stylistic choice, but evidence that gerund phrases sometimes lead writers down the path of incorrect grammar:

Present Participle Phrase: Looming against the horizon, the lone rider spotted the city.

See, this is a bit of trick example because Looming, as an adjective, applies to the noun… which, in this case, is the lone rider. But, you KNOW logically that it’s the city that is looming against the horizon, not the rider. It’s instances like these where you can read it and think, “That makes sense.” But it doesn’t- not logically and not grammatically.

5. Modifiers are EVERYWHERE… so use them well.

 

 

Just don’t let them get out of hand because they love to be in places they don’t belong. Like dangling modifiers, misplaced modifiers, and ambiguous modifiers.

Modifiers are fun because they add taste to our sentences, but sometimes they can take on a mind of their own. For example:

Ambiguous: Townspeople who see fairy lights occasionally have nightmares.

So… is it… that the townspeople who occasionally see the lights have nightmares? Or is it that the townspeople who see the lights occasionally have nightmares? Make it clear!

Or

Misplaced: The girl who was laughing suggestively winked across the room.

You can’t laugh suggestively (if you can, I’ve certainly never heard it), and modifiers usually go after the word they’re modifying, so suggestively should be moved after winked.

Well, I hope this helped you guys a bit! I have a few more tips up my sleeve that I think I may put into a writing/editing checklist PDF. Would that be something you’d be interested in? Let me know below!

 

I’ve used this resource a lot in the past for how to make your writing stronger, too:
http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/follow-these-rules-for-stronger-writing