On What’s to Come

1392390538DouglasAndersonThe first semester of my senior year has just finished. I will never have another first day of high school, I will never be scared of my school’s mascot -a hideous puffin- at orientation, or be forced to take another Douglas Anderson-style mid-term again. I will also never have another poetry class with Mrs. Melanson, never hear “So, my children…” with a flourish of her hand as she explains just how synesthesia reflects on life as a whole. It’s bittersweet.

I’ve just started Senior Fiction, it is day three and I’m already waiting to see my prose grow the way my poetry did in the semester prior. Writing story starts, reading flash fiction- it feels weird. So far, what I’ve realized is that the most interesting part to every beginning, is the ending it leaves behind.

I first realized just how true this was when I began “Casual Vacancy,” by J.K. Rowling. The story starts when a man dies, and the entire town learns about his death. They feel things about it, their lives are changed by it and new things happen to them through it. The end of a man’s life became the beginning for so many other things. After this realization, I started thinking about other stories I’d read, other myths and parables I’d been taught. Adam and Eve begin life on Earth after their lives as angels end; monarchies are squished to bring forth republics, if Hester Prynne is going to raise her child, her good reputation and even her infatuation with the baby’s father has to be over. Sometimes good endings lead to bad beginnings, and sometimes it takes a little tragedy to bring the dawn in.

I’ve often thought about being a history teacher after school, and with that idea in mind, it’s really hard for me to “leave the past in the past.” We, of course, shouldn’t hold onto the past, we should grow from where we’ve come. But at the same time, as we start a new year, a new semester or job or relationship or short story, I think it’s important to reflect on where we -or the character’s we’re writing about- have come from. It’s important to know how all of the things that are constantly ending, relate with what’s to come.

-Savannah Thanscheidt, Web Editor  

I Go To Music

Rey BP pic 1In the beginning was the word. And that word was very heavy, full of life and anguish. The word was existence but also the end of being. The word carried nations and dropped kings with the same move. The word embodied imagination, making us gods over the realms that we produce. So, in the beginning of my creating process, of becoming the god to a world that may exist solely by my observation, I listen to music. It starts from a random rhythm. Either it pumps my pulse up, to meet its tempo, or it drags my heart beat down, to drown me in what it wants to convey. Either way, I go to music before placing finger to keyboard (because there’s no pen to paper nowadays).

I really can’t get into my writing without this overlaying, outside shroud that the harmonies become. I find the right song or playlist that carries the emotion that I need for the piece- whether it’s a raging rock album or soft, liquid dubstep mix. Then I follow the strongest feeling back to its home inside of me (usually in the gut area) and try to pull it out onto the page. I imagine the scenario and everything that is happening in order to mold the experience for everyone to feel. Either that or I know what emotional experience I want to convey already and I use the music as an enhancer to help myself become caught up in that emotion enough to find some kind of words to describe it. I never go in anticipating a masterpiece or a message to the world. I just go in wanting to say what I’m thinking or feeling. This allows me, for the most part, to get out whatever it is. After that, well that’s not the beginning. That’s the rising action and it varies by how I feel. For the most part though, I’m satisfied with myself for bringing this thing into existence.

-Rey Mullennix, Fiction Editor

On Writing Beginnings

window-flower-plant-notebook-diary-notepad-pen-reflection-light-dayAs a writer, a new year can mean finally writing that idea that has been swirling around in your head for a while or taking a closer look at the conventions you put into your pieces. Since January is the first month of the year, why not start working at the beginning on beginnings?

The beginning of a story or a poem needs to hook the reader- but not like the hooks taught in elementary school English class. How you start a piece conveys everything about where the piece will or can go. In my work, I strive to make my openings memorable, and looking at what other writers have started with can be the most helpful thing. In Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen the prologue opens with the image of three people standing under a greasy awning. This image sets the tone for the lifestyle and events that are to come for the main character. It is probably one of the most common ways I and other writers start but it’s a strikingly simple mix of images. But some stories call for a more drastic opening. Albert Camus opens his novel the Stranger with the simple sentence “Maman died today.” This immediately grabs the readers’ attention. Who doesn’t want to suck a reader in with only three words? Sometimes the beginning of a piece of writing makes you stop and process a new outlook. My favorite poet, Jack Gilbert, starts his poem Falling and Flying with the line “Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.” It makes you look at the age old story of Icarus in a new light and before shipping you off into his insightful poem.

With 2015 just beginning, why not stop and think about the beginning and maybe even put a more interesting spin to it.

-Chrissy Thelemann, Submissions Editor