Everything, Writing

On Youth

via Daily Prompt: Youth

Youth is a strange topic for me.

I am currently considered to be young, youthful, a “youth.” However, I’m also not young enough anymore.

The other day, I was out with a friend and I realized that the store “Forever 21” no longer applies to me.

For years, as a college student who was much younger than her peers, I struggled with being too young. I waited years in agony, wishing I was eighteen. Then, once I’d turned eighteen, the wait to turn twenty-one was agonizing.

My husband is almost four years older than me, but we match each other intellectually. When he got a job at a 21+ restaurant,  I couldn’t go and support him by eating there.

Sometimes friends would forget my age, and they would invite me out places that I wasn’t able to get into. I would appreciate the invites, but it was always awkward having to remind them I’m so young.

Recently, I was out at that same restaurant when a friend came in with a group. As their group was leaving, we caught up while walking back to my car. He remarked that he frequently forgot how young I was. He’s about seven years older than me.

To counter that, I often forget how “old” he is.

In other areas of my life, I am often the youngest person around. Square dancing has very few members in our area who are under the age of forty. Clogging has more younger members, but we’re still a minority.

In my sorority’s local alumnae chapter, I am one of a few young women who participate.

My hobbies and interests draw me to older folk. Even my profession is full of people who are typically more than ten years my senior.

While working at my university recently, I realized that most of the people there are now younger than me. For years, they were all older than me, and I saw them as way more smart and capable.

Now (for the most part), I see them as younger than me and find myself trying to take on a mentor role for them.

All of that considered, I can’t seem to find my “home.” People my age don’t often have the same interests that I do, but people who are older but who have the same interests seem to not want to include me because I’m so young and inexperienced compared to them.

I have a few close friends (who are close to my age) who I see typically once a week on non-busy weeks. Other than that, I don’t have a “squad.”

I suppose I will be stuck in this stage until my peers catch up to me in interests. I will forever be the awkward, weird one with strange hobbies, but I suppose I will be the master of those by the time the rest catch up 😉

Everything, Grad School

Grad School: Experiences with MUVEs

This is a post for my LIS S401 class: Computer-Based Information Tools.

My husband Daniel and I at the IUPUI Regatta dressed as Harry Potter characters.
Daniel and I

This post has two parts: a description of an experience using a MUVE and ways libraries could use MUVEs.

For this post, I have interviewed my husband, Daniel, who has lots and lots of experience gaming and playing MUVEs.

A MUVE is a “Multi-Universe Virtual Environment,” where you can interact with a virtual world and other people inside of the virtual world.

Fun Fact: Daniel works for a local theatre which is currently running a show called The Nether, in which characters interact in a virtual reality (think The Matrix) MUVE called The Hideaway.”

Daniel’s first experience with a MUVE was with the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, or MMO) Anarchy Online way back between 1999 and 2000, when he was around 9-10 years old. This is long before World of Warcraft came out, which is usually people’s first introduction to MMOs. Anarchy Online came out around when EverQuest was the ultimate MMO.

Daniel’s dad (my father-in-law) had bought a one-month subscription for him and his sons to it because he found the idea of MMOs intriguing and there weren’t many things like it. When the game first released, it was massively buggy and basically unplayable. When Daniel’s dad bought it, most of the bugs had been worked out and it was finally starting to gain its virtual land legs.

This was Daniel’s first time where he actually got to make and design a character in a game. Most games in those days just had standard basic characters (basic wizard, basic warrior, standard military dude, etc.), but in Anarchy, Daniel really had control over the character, and he liked that he had more flexibility with it. He could choose to play a male character, or he could choose to make a female character if he wanted to.Anarchy Screenshot

Anarchy Online is a futuristic game, so Daniel also had the option to play an alien race if he wanted to. He spent a long time flipping through the different options he could play until he finally decided on one: Liadon, a female solitus (human). On the next screen, he also had a large choice as to what profession he wanted his character could be. Each profession had a description, so Daniel spent time reading through each one until he settled on the Adventurer profession, which sounded similar to a Ranger. Daniel figured he could get an animal companion based on the image of the sample Adventurer, but he later found out Adventurers could become animals.

With character creation complete, Liadon (Daniel’s character) was dropped into a futuristic junk yard. There was no quest, there were no windows that popped up and told him what to do, he was just dropped in. He just had to figure out what to do.

He noticed some robots that were walking around, and as he walked around, he found a little green oasis that had a little shop with a shopkeeper. Daniel spent a long time playing with the buttons and options to figure out what he could do. It was really, really, really confusing for him. Eventually, he learned how to attack things, and after he would kill things, he would collect loot to sell to the shopkeeper in return for better gear.

Later on, Daniel came in contact with another player named “Romulan2,” another solitus, who had been playing the game for some time before Daniel joined. He just sat down with Daniel for hours talking about the game, how to do different things, and then he showed him how to get to a big city. If it wasn’t for Romulan2, Daniel thinks he probably would have quit the game because he was so lost.

This was the first time Daniel was ever in an open world that was absolutely gigantic where you can go anywhere, do anything, and it was weird for him not to have a purpose or someone telling him what to do. He had to make his own adventure, and it was the sense of exploration that kept him going.

The game became more enjoyable when he started meeting other people, making connections with them, and started exploring things together.

Daniel became “pretty obsessed” with the game, and he played it almost every day for three years. Even to this day, he still logs on to play (and he has even shown me the ropes).

Daniel and his brothers eventually started fighting over who got to play the game, because back then, they didn’t have a computer and account for everyone.

Daniel has formed really good friendships and connections with the people in the game. Looking back on some of the times that he’s played, he says they’re some of his most fond memories of gaming.

MUVEs are great ways for kids and people who have social issues to communicate and work together in a safe environment. It allows people to step into a world where you can be yourself without really showing who you are.

MUVEs can be a new way to learn for a generation who has grown up with video games.

Libraries could use MUVEs in several different ways.

One way would include either being a game designer or employing them. Libraries could build MUVEs that center around books and the exploration of books. Rather than just reading a book, they could really walk around in and explore the world that the book takes place in.

Another idea could be that libraries could use MUVEs as teaching tools. Whether it’s teaching students to work together or about a specific topic, a MUVE could be built so students can explore those topics and work together.

A third idea is to form a group inside an existing MUVE, such as a book group, or just a group that goes around exploring together. People could either come into the library to play together, or they could play from home. Librarians could make themselves available in the MUVEs to be moderators and also leaders.

There are lots of ways libraries could incorporate MUVEs, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. I’m currently reading book called Video Games and Learning: Teaching and Participatory Culture in the Digital Age by Kurt Squire. I would highly recommend it.

Everything, Grad School

Grad School: Voki Introduction

This is a post for my LIS S401 class: Computer-Based Information Tools.

Hi All!

As part of a class I’m taking this semester, I’ve had to create a Voki introduction to my blog. To view it, please click the link (I’m having issues embedding the video). I hope you enjoy!


Voki Screenshot

Everything, Grad School, Organization

Grad School: Color-Coding

Grad SchoolIn the excitement leading up to starting graduate school, I’ll share a few posts about how I am currently organized / how I plan on being organized during grad school. Expect these posts each Tuesday for several weeks, and they will start off with “Grad School:” and will be categorized under “Grad School” and / or “Organization,” as well as “Everything,” as always.

I have never been one to color-code my notes, planner, study guides, etc. I can see how it works for other people, but it’s never been something I can stick to consistently. Color-coding just seems like a lot of work for something that doesn’t do much for me memory-wise.

The only thing that’s color-coded is my Google Calendar, and that’s mainly because it’s good for a quick overview (aka big blocks of color), and there’s usually no more than two or three types of events on there at a time (one for each job and one for extra activities, see below).

Google Calendar Example

Here’s how I color-code my Google Calendar:

– Job #1 = Dark Green / Default Color Option

– Job #2 = Light Grey

– Square Dance Lessons / Square Dances = Purple

– Big Brothers Big Sisters Meet-ups = Turquoise

– Delta Zeta Events = (what Google Calendar classifies as) Red

That’s about the extent of my color-coding. Everything on physical paper doesn’t get that sort of special treatment because it just doesn’t work for me.

However, what works for me might not work for you. You might LOVE and swear by color-coding everything. And that’s great! Do what works for you because that’s what matters in the end.

Next week, I’ll chat about how I keep my events organized beyond my Google Calendar. Until then, what works for you? Do you think color-coding is useful? If you do, how do you color-code your notes / events?


Past and Present: Year One

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been a year since my capstone class required me to create a website, and I decided that, since I’m an English major, why not do a blog instead?

As a writer, I thought having a static website where the only examples of my writing were from academic essays was kind of pointless. I believe that I should create content that is less formal to go along with the formal essays. This blog keeps me writing, keeps me thinking, and keeps me learning.

After about a month, I've finally got my work space up and running!
After about a month, I’ve finally got my work space up and running!

Deciding to create a blog rather than a website made sense to me. Not only am I able to provide links to my academic work, but I am also able to show that I am continuing to write beyond graduation. Best of all, I am able to write about topics and issues that I care about.

I never took myself to be a person who could blog, and before I started, I had only ever followed one blog… but here I am, a year into it, and I love it.

After 41 posts (42 counting this one), I can’t believe how far that it’s come.

I’m constantly drafting out posts and writing ideas down. Though not all of my ideas get published, I’m happy with the content that now lives here on my WordPress page.

On Sunday, I’ll list out my goals for developing Past and Present further.

Thanks for reading thus far! Is there anything you want me to write about or would like to see on this blog? Let me know in the comments!

Everything, Libraries, NaNoWriMo

My Year in Review: 2014

2014 was quite an interesting and jam-packed year for me.

Here’s some of what I did (in no particular order):

  1. I got married.
  2. 10469373_10204820749021207_3642174395043947195_nI graduated college.10372307_10203783494930503_788805432666866692_n (1)
  3. I started working at a job that will lead me to my future career as a librarian.10559826_10204448443393799_8855281968239146763_n
  4. I joined a sorority.1779709_10203300696580846_1738315318_n
  5. I completed the 100 Happy Days challenge.10438359_10204292761821857_4367586535198569635_n
  6. I completed a Mud Run.10253790_10203810478965087_185805523995482963_n
  7. I went back to England (where I studied abroad in 2012), and visited my best friend, friends from my study abroad experience, London, and Dover.10881695_10205427552070904_1623741020512548941_n
  8. I finished a journal for the first time.60671_10205360847203324_1370337100781811454_n
  9. I became a Big Sister/part of a Big Couple through Big Brothers Big Sisters.10392370_10205357125830292_8343976812616011101_n
  10. I started Square Dancing.1618561_10205160074104122_4574066075674137892_n
  11. I moved into my first “real” apartment with my husband.10885043_10205438670948869_5105261343330654992_n
  12. I completed NaNoWriMo.10521174_10205217335535622_685972538609730621_n
  13. I’ve read 36 books since the start of the summer. UPDATE! I have now read 38 books! The 37th book goes to The House of Hades and the 38th book goes to The Blood of Olympus, both by Rick Riordan.image
  14. I started this blog!

Thanks for reading about my year. How was yours?

Everything, NaNoWriMo

The End of NaNoWriMo 2014

A few weeks ago, I posted that I was beginning my journey through National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the first time, and I am happy to report that I won! Winning means that I wrote 50,000 words towards a novel, and I did it.

The story isn’t complete, and I will probably get rid of half of what I wrote in the revision and editing processes, but I’m glad I did it.

Starting off nine days into the month definitely put me behind, and I will never, ever start late again (if I can help it). However, starting late and the whole month in general taught me some good lessons, and I thought I would share them with you.

Lesson One: Find Support

Hufflepuff won second place, and some tasty (and not so tasty) beans as a result. On the right, you can see how far my word count graph bar jumped as a result of the Harry Potter write-in.
Hufflepuff won second place, and some tasty (and not so tasty) beans as a result. On the right, you can see how far my word count graph bar jumped as a result of the Harry Potter write-in.

I would have never finished NaNoWriMo had it not been for the constant support of my husband. He kept me going to the very end, and his words of encouragement kept me sane.

I also have my local NaNoWriMo writers to thank for my victory. We scheduled regular meet-ups at Starbucks, Panera Bread, and local bookstores. At these write-ins, we would share our struggles and triumphs, discuss plot lines, write together, “compete,” and have a lot of fun. Everyone encouraged one another, and we had a blast.

My favorite write-in was one that was Harry Potter themed. We divided ourselves into houses, and held timed races where each word written counted as house points. (My team, Hufflepuff, came in second place to Slytherin). Besides the scramble to the finish on the last day, I wrote more words that day than any other day during the month.

Also, if you’re looking to publish your novel, write-ins are a great way to network and get advice from other writers, which sort of leads me to…

Lesson Two: Writers are Readers

Many times have I heard the phrase, “Writers are readers,” and never before had I understood that phrase completely until I started NaNoWriMo.

As I wrote, I found myself thinking of what worked best in novels I have read. I found myself thinking of what I found interesting and what I found boring.

I thought about character development and what characters I had read about seemed most genuine and believable.

I thought about the world my characters lived in and what helped me understand the worlds of other characters.

I thought about dialogue and what sounded best.

I thought about what, as a reader, I wanted more of and what, as a reader, I wanted less of.

I thought about the times I was emotionally moved.

I thought about the morals and lessons the stories taught me inadvertently and how they pulled it off.

It’s amazing how much I have learned about writing just from reading, and so my advice to anyone that wants to write is to read lots and lots.

Lesson Three: Silence Your Inner Editor

I cannot tell you enough how freeing it was to tell my inner editor / perfectionist to shut it. At university, I developed this habit of editing as I wrote. Looking back, this was a good habit for me to get papers done in a short amount of time and still have something legible at the end of the day, but it’s not effective when trying to write 50,000 words of fiction in a short amount of time.

Silencing my inner editor was the best thing I did throughout the month. Generally, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words of fiction… not to produce a novel that is ready to be published at the end of the month. It doesn’t matter that I will eventually edit and revise and trash a bunch of what I wrote.

The beauty of NaNoWriMo is that it doesn’t matter how awful the writing you produce is; at least you’ve written more than you had at the start of the month, and at least you’ve started a habit of writing regularly.

Editing can come later; first you have to write, which leads me into…

Lesson Four: Just Start Writing

I ended the first post about NaNoWriMo with:

“I have accepted that I may not finish the novel by the end of the month, but I’ve found that the more I write, the easier it is to develop my ideas further. Maybe the concrete nature of writing helps to develop my ideas, and I’m able to flesh them out more once I write them down. Maybe a J.K. Rowling moment isn’t what I needed. Maybe I just needed to start writing.”

And I was right. I just needed to start writing. Part of the way through the month, I realized that I had formed an idea that could span several novels.

If someone had told me in October that by the end of November, I would have the material to write several novels and have been 50,000 words into the first of them, I would have told them that they were out of their minds.

Now, however, I find that I do have the potential to write several novels. When I let go of trying to form an idea and just started writing (no matter how the quality of the writing was), the ideas began to form and spread.

So, whether you want to write a short story or a novel, the biggest advice I could give you is to just start writing.

Don’t worry about what it sounds like. Just write words on the page until they start writing themselves.

Even though I drank too much Starbucks and stared at a computer screen more than I probably should, I found my first NaNoWriMo to be rewarding in so many ways and almost way too much fun!

The end of NaNoWriMo 2014 isn’t really the end for me; it’s honestly the beginning. I plan on finishing and revising my novel, participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, and doing NaNoWriMo all over again next year.

Now that I’ve started, stopping seems impossible, and that’s a good thing. 😉

Keep Reading and Keep Writing!