Why I Read

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I’ve always been a big reader, and even as my life as gotten busier over the years, I still make time to read. What is it about simple letters on paper that makes me want to come back over and over to discover new stories?

I think it’s because when I read, I get lost in another world and get to know about other characters and their struggles. I forget about this world and my struggles for just a little bit. And when the characters are well-written, it makes me feel as if I’ve made a new friend.

I could talk about how reading is great for your mind and stimulates your brain. Which are true facts, but I don’t think that’s the reason why anyone reads (okay, maybe for super smart people). But for the average Joe like me, reading is more than an intellectual pleasure.

It’s even more than a pastime.

It’s a lifestyle.

I never get up in the morning  and have to force myself to read. Maybe if you’re participating in a read-a-thon, you might have to push yourself to read more. But I don’t read because I have to; I read because I want to.

I want to find out what happens next. I want to learn more about the characters. I want to get lost in the story. Even when I’m exhausted from work, I’ll read for a few minutes before I go to bed because I have to have my “daily fix.”

Especially in school when I have a lot of required reading, I like to read my “fun” book, even if it’s just a few pages. And my weekends are definitely full of reading.

But just like I said in my post Why I Write, reading should never be a chore. If you have a headache, whether from events of the day or reading too much, put your book down and walk outside. Whenever I stay inside too long, I get headaches, and usually going outside helps. Or if you just don’t feel like reading, then you don’t have to.  Sometimes when I watch wrap-up videos, and I see that someone has read 8 books that month, I get kinda jealous. I wish I could have read that much. But reading shouldn’t be a competition. Read at your own pace and in your own time. If you try to make reading about who can read the most, you won’t enjoy the books you’re reading. And you’re missing the point of reading. Do it for your own enjoyment. Not to say you read the most.

Even when I can’t physically read a book, I still listen to an audiobook. I have an hour commute to work each day, and during this time, I choose to listen to an audiobook. I started doing this when the Christmas music was on the radio (because I’m not the biggest fan), and I wonder why I haven’t done this more. I’m able to read so many more books by taking this time to read when otherwise I wouldn’t be able to. And I know the pronunciations to all the fantasy books I read.

There’s several different places you can access audiobooks, the most popular one being Audible. I choose to get audiobooks at my local library because they have a large selection and I don’t feel like paying for Audible. You can also find audiobooks on YouTube. I have listened to them this way before. I’ve found a lot of classics on YouTube, but I have also found some YA, like Throne of Glass, Six of Crows, and Passenger. With YouTube, it’s kinda a hit and miss, but it’s worth a shot.

I will never stop reading because without it, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go to World War II or Hogwarts or Camp Half-Blood. I may have never done much physical traveling, but I have been dozens of places thanks to reading. And I wouldn’t give that up for the world.

I’m thankful that I have the ability and desire to read. It’s been a great blessing in my life, and I’m so glad that I’ve continued reading through the different seasons in my life.

Stay tuned on Friday when I talk about the different types of villains and how these types of characters can improve your novel.

Until next time, may you get closer to finding your Narnia and don’t forget to help others find theirs.

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Why I Write

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Writing is hard.

If you’re an aspiring writer, let me tell you this right now. It might be easy to come up with ideas, but actually putting words on paper or on screen is harder than you might think.

If writing is this long and hard of a process, then why are there so books on library shelves and hundreds being released every year?

Because writing is more than a process; it’s an art.

Although I would love to get a book deal one day, that’s not the reason I started writing in the first place. I started writing because I have a story  that I want to tell, and writing is the best way I know how to do it.

And I wouldn’t keep writing if I didn’t enjoy it.

There’s days that the inspiration is flowing and my fingers are flying across the keys. On those days, it’s easy to love writing.

But there are days that I don’t feel like writing and would rather watch Netflix instead. On those days when I try to write, I stare at a blank screen and my fingers stay stationary. When this happens, it’s easy for me to want to give up on writing.

But I push on because I know that I can’t give up on my dream. If I want to get good at something, I have to keep practicing even when I feel like I can’t do it any more.

Because I know that one day all my dreams will come to fruition, whether that means a book deal or just the thought of knowing that my book is finally good enough for my own standards.

But what should you do when you don’t feel like writing? Take a break! As I was telling a friend yesterday, writing should never be a chore. If there is a day that you feel like reading or watching Netflix more than writing, then do it! Some days you need to recharge your creative battery. I wrote a blog post for my friend about taking in story that you can read here.

If you are finding that your creativity is lacking, examine how much story you are taking in versus how much you are pouring out. If you are trying to write so much and you find that you can’t write anymore, it might be time to read a book or watch some TV (or both). If you do this, you might find inspiration for a scene that you are stuck on. So then when you go back to your book, things might be a little easier. There’s no guarantee that this will work, but it’s worth giving it a try.

If you are an aspiring writer, here’s my piece of advice: never give up. If you’ve decided that writing is passion and calling, that’s great! I love writing, and I love it when I hear that other people have discovered writing. As you are writing your novel or poems or short stories, know that hard days will come. I can promise you that.

But there will come a day when you finish your WIP, and all the pain will be worth it. All those cups of coffees, all those long nights, even all the tears.

And as the British would say, keep calm and carry on.

It’ll be worth it.

On Tuesday, I’ll be talking about why I love to read so much.

Until next time, may you get closer to finding your Narnia and don’t forget to help others find theirs.

 

The Struggles of being a Social Introvert

I’m a big fan of the Myers Briggs Personality test. I think I’ve talked about it on my blog before, and if you want to find out what personality type you are, you can take the test here. I’ve done this test for myself a couple times as well as my characters.

According to the test there are two main groups of people: introverts and extraverts. But I believe that there’s a third group: the social introvert.

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By definition, an introvert is someone who shies away from social activity, and an extravert is someone who is drawn to social activity. It seems very black and white, so how can there be this middle ground?

I believe a social introvert is someone who both needs social interaction and alone time.

Someone like me.

I identify as an ISFJ (Introvert, Sensing, Feeling, Judging), which means that I should avoid social interaction. Which I do sometimes. Large rooms of people scare me and make me want to stay in the corner. I tend to not introduce myself to strangers, and I need alone time to recharge.

But I also need human interaction.

I like to hang out with my friends, and when I don’t do that enough, I start feeling alone. So how do I balance wanting to both be social and stay in my room and read all day?

I have no clue.

And this is what I think is the struggle of the social introvert. How can you have that desire to  be around people and yet not at the same time. How do you deal with the social interactions that you choose to attend?

I don’t have a solid answer; I can relate my own experiences.

For me, I think it depends on who I am hanging out with. If I am with my close friends or my writing group, I am able to socialize for longer. But if I am with people who I am not as close friends with, I find myself wanting to leave quickly.

I think an important part of whether I want to stay or not is how much I’m able to contribute to the conversation. Sometimes I’m content to sit there and listen to what others have to say, but other times I want to say things. And I’ve noticed with certain groups of friends that I never seem to be able to talk. But with others, I am able to both talk and listen.  That way, if I’m not feeling very social that day, I can sit and listen, but if I want to talk, I know that those people will let me talk and listen to what I have to say.

One of the hardest things for me is when I’m with people I enjoy hanging out with, and I start wanting to retreat into my introvert shell. Most of the time this is when I’m tired, but it makes me feel guilty. I want to enjoy the time I have with my friends, not feel socially drained.

I think the best thing for anyone to do for a social introvert is to invite them to hang out, but if they say no, that doesn’t mean they’re going to say no the next time. Maybe they’re not feeling social that day or already had plans for a day in. But at some point, they are going to want to hang out, and if you never ask them to, that will only create a bigger sense of loneliness. Sometimes a social introvert needs space and sometimes they need inclusion.

And I understand that this can be frustrating for those who are trying to include this type of person. After someone says no so many times, it’s easy not to ask them anymore. As a social introvert, I know that I need to come out of my shell more, and invite others to hang out. If I never make an effort to make friends, then I will never have any. I can’t always leave it up to others to make the first move.

So here’s my call to myself and all of the other social introverts out there: get out there, but also know your limitations. If you really don’t want to go anywhere, you don’t have to. Socialization shouldn’t always be forced; if it is, you are more likely not to enjoy it. But if you are sitting in your room alone, wishing that you had someone to hang out with, text that person. They might be busy, but there’s always a chance that they’re not.

One last thing. Know that it’s never wrong to want to be alone. Sometimes I feel like there’s something wrong with me if I want to stay inside all weekend and binge read a series. I need to realize that balance is key. If I stay inside on Saturday, I need to go out on Sunday. Even if it’s just for a couple hours, it’s good to get out of my apartment and soak in the sun.

I hope this blog post has enlightened you to the fact that there are those people out there who fall in the middle of introvert and extravert. I think it’s important to learn about people different from ourselves, and I hope this post has accomplished this.

Stay tuned on Friday when I talk about why I choose to keep writing even when I don’t feel like it.

Until next time, may you get closer to finding your Narnia and don’t forget to help others find theirs.

20 Goals for My 20th Year

Yesterday, I finally graduated from being a teenager. I can’t say that I feel any different, though. I’ve seen a lot of changes both in myself and the world over the past two decades, and I’m excited to see where the next 20 years will take me. 
As I go into this new year of my life, I have 20 goals that I would like to accomplish. Some of these are spiritual and some are physical. I might not achieve all of them, but if I change my life in just one way over the next year, I think that’s a good thing. 

  • 1) I want to deepen my relationship with God

I’ve been a Christian for many years, and although I have a better relationship with Him than when I first became a Christian, there is always room for improvement. I want to get to know God better this year and truly discover His will for my life.

  • 2) I want to be an encouragement to others.

I’m a very sarcastic person, and sometimes my sarcasm manifests itself as meanness. And I don’t want any words I say to bring someone down or hurt their feelings. I want the words I say to lift others up and show them the love of Jesus. 

  • 3) I want to take my writing more seriously 

I already write a good amount, but I know that there’s times when I procatiante because I don’t feel like writing. Writing is my passion and the only way to get better at it is to keep practicing.

  • 4) I want to get a literary agent 

I’m actively working on editing my book, and the next step is to get an agent to represent it. And it would be awesome if I could get a book deal within the next year, but my goal is at least an agent.

  • 5) I want to critique more

One day I would like to be an editor for a publishing house. The best way to help me reach this goal is to practice editing other people’s writing. I’ve done some of this off and on, but I haven’t done as much as I would like.

  • 6) I want to invest in my YouTube channel more

I’ve been making YouTube videos since February, and I have been enjoying the process of it. Over the next year, I would like to produce higher quality videos and resume posting on a more regular basis.

  • 7) I want to read more diversely 

I tend to only read fantasy and historical fiction. I want to start reading different genres like science fiction and contemporary. I also want to read more books with characters who are of different races and cultures than I am. Like I mentioned in my last post, sometimes I forget that there’s a whole other world out there, and reading can connect me with the world more.

  • 8) I want to read more 

I do read more than most people, but there are so many books that I want to read, and if I never read, my TBR pile will never dwindle. 

  • 9) I want to be more self-disciplined

I tend to make plans/ goals for myself (like getting up early so I can get things done). But then I always snooze my alarm or choose to do something else. This year I want to push myself to do things I actually want to do. Not only will this make me more productive, it will encourage me to continue this action in the future. 

  • 11) I want to live healthier 

I cannot lie: I love chocolate. There’s not too many desserts I don’t like (I can’t say the same thing about vegetables). I’ll still eat chocolate and things like that, but hopefully not as much. I also want to start exercising more. I do go to the gym at school,  but I want to focus on my fitness more. 

  • 12) I want to be more vocal 

I’m very much of an introvert, and I like to keep to myself. Especially when I’m working. But I want to work on making my voice heard. I will most likely never be an extrovert, but I can work on not being so close-mouthed. 

    • 13) I want to connect with new people 

    Along with my introverted nature, I tend not to introduce myself to new people. I know that if I want to make friends and be an impact to others, I have to put myself out there and introduce myself to others. That sounds really scary to me, but change requires doing things that are uncomfortable. 

    • 14) I want to learn new things 

    I have so many interests, and I can’t explore them all at school. So it’s my goal this year to learn about things that I don’t know much about and that I haven’t had an opportunity to learn about before. 

    • 15) I want to push myself to be better at my job 

    I’ve worked at my job for 2 1/2 years, and while I am good at many things there, I can still work on my speed. This will not only make me a better employee, but it will be beneficial as I am training to be a manager. 

             (Why do I have to be so old?)

    • 16) I want to get into graduate school 

    I will be a senior in my undergraduate program this Fall, and my plan is to attend graduate school for Library Science. I will be applying to schools soon, and while it was easy to get into undergrad, I’m not sure if the same will be true for graduate school. 

    • 17) I want to love more deeply

    Something that I’ve been learning recently is that since God loves everyone, then I should do the same. So this year, I want to work on judging people less and loving them more. 

    • 18) I want to worry less 

    I have a habit of worrying about trivial things or things that are far in the future. Not only is this bad for my mental health, the Bible says in Matthew 6:25-27: 

    Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

    Worrying less will also help me achieve my next goal.

    • 19) I want to live life to the fullest 

    When I stop worrying, I can live in the moment, and enjoy the life that God has given me at this time. The future will come eventually; worrying about it will not make it come any sooner. 

    • 20) I want to impact the world for God’s glory 

    God has put me on this earth for a reason, and I believe that is to bring Him glory and to tell other people about Him. I only have a few years on the earth, and I need to make the most of those years.

    Well, that’s a super long list! Like I said in the beginning, I don’t expect myself to accomplish all of them, but hopefully I can make a little progress in each area. 

    I’m looking forward to this year and everything that is in store. 

    Stay tuned as I talk about the struggles of being a social introvert on Tuesday. 

    Until next time, may you get closer to finding your Narnia and don’t forget to help others find theirs.

    What the BBC has taught me

    Welcome to the first post of my resurrected blog! I hope this to be the first post of many, so let’s get into it!

     

    If memory serves right, I’ve been watching the BBC since at least 2013, maybe even longer than that. Over the years, I have watched countless shows, from period dramas to crime shows to science fiction. For a while, it was the only TV channel I watched (American shows were inferior in my mind). And even if I haven’t watched a show I’ve probably heard of it.

    The two shows I want to discuss mostly today are Sherlock and Doctor Who, and I’ll leave a list of all the other shows I’ve seen at the end of this post if you want to check those out too.

    Sherlock (2010-2017?)

    Sherlock is the BBC’s version of the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. It is set in modern times and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as John Watson.

    Sherlock is one of those shows that hooks you from the first episode. The acting is superb, the plot gripping, and the characters have so much development throughout the seasons. There are only 13 episodes, but each one is 1 1/2 long (so it’s like there’s 26. But it’s been going for 7 years).

    The thing that Sherlock has taught me the most is the power of friendship. At the beginning of the show, John is mentally scarred from his years in the war and trying to find purpose in life. Sherlock is living an isolated life due to his lack of empathy and dislike of “ordinary” people.

    But over the course of the show, and even in just the first episode, both parties learn to overcome their struggles and views of the world. And these two unlikely people become the best of friends. So close that they continually risk their lives for each other. It’s amazing to see how in episode 1, Sherlock can be cold and distant, and over the episodes, he can actually be moved to care about people.

    In my own life, I find myself being cynical of the world and the people in it. I’m quick to judge others for the way they act or speak or dress. And Sherlock  has taught me that someone might be acting that way for a reason I don’t understand. I shouldn’t be so quick to judge others (but I don’t need a show to teach me that).

    One note of warning: if you are uncomfortable by sexual material, I would recommend skipping Season 2 episode 1. A dominatrix is one of the main characters in this episode and she is seen in lingerie and briefly naked (from the waist up). If you do choose to skip this episode, watch the first few minutes to see the resolution of the previous episode, which ends on a cliffhanger.

    All four seasons and the Christmas special are on Netflix, DVD, and Amazon Video. It is my opinion that season 4 is the last one due to several things that occurred in the last episode. Hopefully, I’m wrong and there will be more episodes (in two years to stick to the trend).  But even if there are no more, I will continually watch the 13 I have and be amazed by them. If you are looking for a good detective show that will make you laugh, cry, and grow to love both heroes and villains, I would give Sherlock a chance.

     

    Doctor Who (2005-)

    Doctor Who is a science fiction show that features the Doctor and his companion as they travel throughout time and space, fighting aliens and saving the world. This show was started in 1963, but was revived after two decades of hiatus.

    If you watch my YouTube channel, you know that I don’t enjoy science fiction, and I tend to shy away from it. But there’s something about Doctor Who that will make me tune in every week. And I honestly believe that it’s because of the people. I could honestly care less about the aliens, although some of them are cool (Adipose, am I right?). But it’s the relationship between the Doctor and his companion and others that make me tolerate the weird science fiction stuff.

    The Doctor is not perfect, as no character should be. He is easily angered, doesn’t think about consequences, and is a bit of a jerk at times. But he surrounds himself with humans who encourage him to make the right choice. The companions are there to bring him back to reality and just be a friend.

    The lesson that Doctor Who has taught me is that there are literally billions of stories out there. I don’t believe that there is life on other planets, but every person on earth has a story. They have their own joys, struggles, cultures, and beliefs. I think it’s easy for me to get caught up in my own life, in the happenings of my community. Even when I watch the news, I still find it hard to wrap my head around the fact that there’s a whole other world out there.

    The other thing this show has taught me is to find joy in the simple things. After 2,000+ years of seeing amazing things and meeting incredible people, the Doctor can still find joy in seeing a supernova or discovering a species he never knew about before. To see his face light up as he examines something new inspires me to do the same.

    My life follows a pattern of activities whether I’m at school or home. I go to class,  I do homework, I shower, I go to work.  There are times that I do fun things, but I often feel like I’m in a rut. Even if my life is never as exciting as the Doctor’s, there are still ways that I can find joy in life. I’m surrounded by God’s creation so how can I not be amazed by that?

    If you decide to watch Doctor Who, I will warn you that the first episode is very cheesy, even cringe worthy. You just have to get past it, knowing that it will get better. If you are looking for a good episode to start on, I would recommend “Blink” from season 3 or “Midnight” from season 4. Those are both excellent.

    Unfortunately, Doctor Who isn’t on Netflix any more, but I am fairly sure that it is on the BBC and BBC America websites. You might have to have a cable subscription to watch the episodes, but I’m not 100% sure.

     

    Below is a list of other BBC shows I have seen:

    Merlin (fantasy)

    Robin Hood (fantasy)

    Broadchurch (crime drama)

    Class (science fiction; Doctor Who spinoff)

    North and South (period drama)

    Poldark (period drama)

    Downton Abbey (period drama)

    Little Dorrit (period drama)

    Bleak House (period drama)

    Cranford and Return to Cranford (period dramas)

    The Paradise (period drama)

    Call the Midwife (period drama)

    And the great thing is that BBC recycles their actors so a lot of actors are in several of these shows.

     

    I think that BBC makes great television, and I enjoy many of the shows they come out with. There is something for everyone, so I would recommend trying out at least one show. And from my list, it seems like there’s a lot of period dramas, but the majority of those shows are old, but still great.

    I’m grateful for all the lessons that BBC has taught me, and I look forward to seeing other shows that come out with in the future.

     

    On Friday, I’ll be reflecting on the past 20 years of life, so stay tuned for that post.

     

    Until next time, may you get closer to finding your Narnia and don’t forget to help others find theirs.

     

    Resurrecting this Blog

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    Can you believe it’s already the middle of July? I certainly can’t. This summer has seemed to flown by, and the time to go back to school is slowly approaching.

    As with all my summers, I am very busy working, and my creative side has fallen to the wayside more than I would like. It’s been several months since I posted on here, and I haven’t been able to post weekly on my YouTube channel. I’m still writing and reading a little, but not nearly enough.

    But I want that to change.

    I love being creative, and I miss that part of my life. Writing and creating videos are the ways that I express myself, and I don’t want that to die.

    As I was watching the Doctor Who season finale last week, I realized that there things I want to talk about that I can’t really do on my YouTube channel. And then I remembered that I have this blog which is a perfect place to do that.

    So it’s my goal this summer (and beyond that) to resurrect this blog. I’m going to write about things I’m learning in my life, book reviews, and whatever else I’m inspired with. There’s no set theme; I just want to write.

    And sometimes I think that’s the best thing to do.

    There’s more to someone’s life than just one or two passions, and that’s true with me too. Of course, I love to read and write, and that is what I actively pursue in life. But I (sometimes) have thoughts on life. And I can’t express them if I limit myself to writing about a certain thing.

    My desired upload schedule is Tuesday and Friday (watch out, Starbucks. I’m coming for you!). This summer project will also give me self-discipline to actually upload twice a week. If I start slipping up, feel free to remind me of my goal.

    I hope you will join me this summer as I hope to learn more about myself and develop my creativity even more. I’m excited for this new endeavor, and I hope you are too. It’s going to be a wild ride!

    Book Review: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

    I feel like I say this every time I write a new post, but it has been so long since I’ve been able to sit down and write a review! I’ve been so busy with school (my teachers think it’s cool to assign 100 pages of reading that is due within two days) and working on my YouTube channel. But I have several reviews lined up, and they will be posted in the coming weeks. So let’s get into the review!

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    On my car ride to Chicago over Spring Break, I read Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. This fulfilled the Newberry award winner category for my TBR challenge (this book won in 1987). I read this book in one day, but that was mainly because it was short and I had a lot of time to read. I ended up giving this book a 3/5 stars; it wasn’t the best Newberry book I’ve ever read, but it also wasn’t the worse.

    Hatchet follows the story of Brian, who is going to visit his father in Canada. But before he can get there, the pilot of the plane he is riding in has a heart attack, and Brian must land the plane even though he has no experience with flying planes. Brian crash lands in the middle of the Canadian wilderness with no way to contact the outside world or let his dad know where he is or what happened. For the next couple months, Brian must learn how to survive in the wilderness on his own and face the dangers of being cut off from civilization.

    While I did not love this book, there were some good elements to it (it did win a Newberry after all, so it does have to be at least half way decent). I liked seeing Brian’s determination to survive on his own and his will to succeed. I know that if I was put into this situation, I would probably die pretty soon because I have no survival skills. And in the beginning, Brian struggles. He comes from the city, and he has no idea how to make a fire or gather food for himself. But as his need to survive kicks in, he learns how to adapt to his elements and make a life for himself. And I like how even after he is rescued, he still remembers his time in the wilderness and never really returns to his pre-experience, city-boy mindset on life. I think this book shows readers that they are stronger than they think, and with determination and grit, they too can survive on their own.

    But I did have some problems with this book. Brian’s transition from city boy to wilderness survivor seemed too quick. There isn’t much on Brian’s life before the story starts, but it is clear that he likes being a city boy, and he has no inkling of how to survive on his own in the elements. And it seemed like in no time at all, Brian was learning how to make fires, catch food, and build shelters. Yes, I do understand that presented with these circumstances, people’s survival mode would kick in and they would probably adapt quickly. But Brian is thirteen years old who definitely was not a Boy Scout. And I will acknowledge that Brian did struggle in the beginning. I would have just liked to see a little more development before Brian turned into one of the Alaskan Bush people.

    My other problem with the book is that the scary situations that Brian finds himself in are not scary to me. At one point, Brian is confronted by a bear, and the scene ends very quickly with no real tension. And this might be because this is a middle-grade book, and I am nineteen years old. Paulsen may not have wanted to include violence because of the average age of his audience. But even in middle-grade books (I’m thinking of Percy Jackson and Harry Potter), there is still scary stuff that happens and there is enough conflict and tension in the scene to make it feel scary. Maybe if I had read this book when I was younger, I would not have had the same thoughts, but reading it now, I do think that the action filled moments could have been developed more.

    Overall, this was a good coming of age story about becoming your own person and finding your inner strength. I would definitely recommend it to young boys who like Daniel Boone and other stories like that. And this is a five book series, so if you like Brian’s story in Hatchet, there is plenty of material to keep you occupied. I don’t think I will be reading the rest of the series, but I am glad that I read Hatchet. It was a nice break from the heavier YA books that I normally read.

     

    Like I said at the beginning, I have several more reviews coming soon, so be looking out for those. And if you like Hamilton, be sure to check out my vlog of seeing the play in Chicago and my review of Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz coming on my YouTube channel soon!

    Until next time, happy reading!