Tuesday, January 3, 2012

In Which Sam Gets Deep

I started this blog when I was in sophomore year of high school. At that point in time, writing was my life -- and don't worry, it still is. I live, breathe, and sometimes dream of words. (When I'm not dreaming of Prince Charming, from Once Upon A Time.)

Seriously. How hot.
Anyway. Words. (That aren't -yummmm-)
I collect them, not just on my sagging bookshelf, but in a binder on my desk that drips my favorite quotes, and pasted on my bed room door, and even one that's framed in my bathroom. No matter what happens to me in the next year, or in the next five years, as long as I'm breathing, I'll be hunting for words, strung together in sentences, or sometimes just alone -- the cynical kind, the beautiful kind, the kind that make you think, or just the kind that make my twisted sense of humor happy.
For instance, this word. One of my favorites. 
But since sophomore year, a lot about my life has changed.
In March of 2010, I won inkpop.com with a story called Altered. I got an interview from editors that changed my life. Now, at 17, I can honestly say that. (Yeah, guys, I'm old and wise and junk. Yeppppp.) I wrote the essay for the Common App about Inkpop, and the validation that it gave me. Altered was and is my baby. I queried too fast after finishing it; by the time I figured out the patterns of plot and such, I'd already done too much. And so, I closed Altered off, and went about life -- still collecting words, still writing, still anxiously eyeing my sagging bookshelf and wondering how long it would be before it totally collapsed.
Then last year came, and something shifted. I ended up dating my best guy friend, and it ended in a catastrophic way that will someday be immortalized in a novel. I went through the typical signs of teenage drama, but somehow a little bit escalated; for instance, for reasons that I'd rather not go into, the entire grade-- or at least my entire English class, plus the entire debate team, and for that matter, the choir -- felt the need to get involved, or at least have a very, very vocal opinion. Suddenly, words were more than just pretty things I collected. They were my refuge.
This actually has very little to do with the post. I typed in refuge, and this came up, and I find it incredibly cool.
Writing took a hit, though, last year, for two reasons. The first was The Messy Mess of Boydom; all my writing was cathartic, therapeutic collections of memories that I refused to forget, or even let fade. (I'm weird that way.) The second was debate. November of my Junior year, something happened. I started winning. I started winning a lot, and as cocky I feel saying that (Like, OH LOOK AT MEEEEE, I GET THE SHINIES) it is actually true. I've always loved debate, but when I switched to varsity sophomore year, I got my butt kicked; winning, however, took more time and more work to keep up, and so writing went away as my collected words came from political philosophy and the New York Times. But, by the end of March, I had this:
and by the end of June, I was ranked as a National Semi-Finalist in Parliamentary debate. For that, I can blame my addictions to words. Reading and writing so much has taught me to speak well, even on the spot, and Parliament is fast -- you need to be able to think quickly and then be able to convey those thoughts in the span of two minutes. 
By July, writing came back, though. In July, I went to Alpha. It's a selective speculative writing camp held in Pittsburgh; I wanted to go because Tamora Pierce taught there, and Tamora Pierce is one of my idols. Alpha didn't just introduce to me to incredibly cool people -- such as Lale  or Gretchen -- but it reminded me of why I loved writing, and how much fun it can be to just sit and play around with stories. 
(I mentioned this to my mother the other day: my preferred way of spending time, when not with friends or working on debate, is to sit in the dark and mess with make-believe characters. This puts into a strange, strange perspective.) (But generally I'm burning nice smelling candles ... So it's okay, right?)
They're still the happy smells!
But anyway. Coming to the end of this heinously long post:
It's now my senior year of high school. Since Altered, I've started half a dozen stories, gotten about 30k in, and switched to something else. I'm finally playing with something new that I think will last longer, but at the same time, I'm learning to balance. I've applied to colleges -- several very selective, and one that already has offered scholarship and sent a Christmas card hand signed by the Dean of Admissions.(He has a pretty signature.) I've won five first place trophies this semester, and a couple of slightly less impressive ones -- but ones that would have thrilled me two years ago. I'll probably apply for Alpha again this year; I hold the title of Debate Mom on my team, even though the team is huge, as well as 'The scary redhead' from other schools that I compete against. (It's an oddly flattering nickname. Granted, others are not so nice.) (They're jealous of the Gingers.) (It started a long, long time ago.) (See?)
An original scary redhead. Mwahaha.

Life is balanced and happy, and I'm looking forward to 2012. I've read three books so far within this year -- if rereading Scorpio Races counts -- and still am managing everything else. Two years ago, when I started this blog, I don't know that I could have expected my life right now. It's a lot more full than it used to be -- but it's also a lot more fun. And someday, maybe even someday soon? The words I've collected will change into words that I've made.
I mean, that is assuming that the world doesn't end and everything next December.
But until then, high school is speeding up as it comes to an end. It isn't as scary as it used to be, either.
More later, guys. Promise, it won't be so much pontificating! 
Until then:

Go watch Once Upon A Time. Seriously. Get past the first episode of cheesiness. It's worth it. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

And here comes the New Year

So, today is the first day of the New Year. In 2012, I graduate high school, and the world is supposed to end. I'm not sure which one scares me more. Currently, probably high school, because I've yet to settle on a college. BUT.
Let's evaluate 2011 first.
It was a year of books, man, and good books at that. For me, the tie for the favorite comes down to these three:
Divergent was fast, and beautifully written, and had a really, really cute guy -- minus a love triangle. I push this book on my friends at all cost; after I got an advanced copy from my lovely librarian and returned it, I asked for it as an early birthday present from my mother so that I could have my own copy to pet and whisper sweet things to tote around. It's that good.
Okay, so Myra McEntire is, without question, one of my favorite authors -- and she's only written one book. Why do I love her, then? She is funny. She is sweet, and she is nice, even to the creepy teenage kid aspiring author with a blog who accosted her for an interview. When Hourglass came out, I was wary -- I didn't want to dislike it, but I wanted to like it on the terms of the writing and not the person who wrote it. 
It didn't disappoint. It mixes A Wrinkle In Time with the best of modern paranormal, and it does it in a way that embraces the culture of the south and the mentality of modern teenagers -- which, ultimately, turned a good book into a great one.
and finally:
Holy monkeys, guys. This book is so different than anything else. It's eerie and creepy, and I love it so much. The characters are so real that they could step out of the pages. (Then they would stare in horror at Missouri and our lack of ocean, and promptly turn back around.) Parts of the book are so well written than I'm overwhelmed with an odd and overemotional desire to cry at the prettiness of it all. I love this book for so many reasons, and if I continue to gush anymore, you will run away and never come back, so I'm cutting it short there.
It also occurs to me that this was the last year of Harry Potter.

I'm not quite sure how to respond to that, except for lots and lots of movie marathons, and possibly sleeping with the final book next to my pillow.
For now, this is it, however. Happy New Year!