Ella Rose and The Outline!

 

She huffed in frustration as she sat at her desk behind the smartest kid in her class. He seemed to be able to do everything that their teacher assigned them to do. Today was all about outlining one’s thoughts before writing. Outlines, she thought, the worst thing to ever happen to a story. They had been going over different forms of outlines the week before and were expected to pick a specific one before they began writing their short stories for their ELA class. But Ella didn’t see the point in outlines.

It frustrated her as Mr. Cross instructed them to pick an outline and share it with the class so there wouldn’t be too many students doing the same one. But Ella didn’t want to pick an outline. She knew she was supposed to, but she just couldn’t. It’s not that she didn’t want to write the story. In fact, she adored the assignment and couldn’t wait to get started.

But she had a problem, she didn’t think in outlines. When she wrote, whether that be essays or stories, she didn’t think about who, what, when, and where. She just wrote. She knew that sounded silly. She knew if she said it out loud she would be laughed at by the other students. She’d probably get into trouble with Mr. Cross. But she didn’t think like that. She couldn’t think ahead and outline the entire story. She couldn’t write down the main plot points. Those wouldn’t come to her until she began to write. It was incredible really, the way she could write. Her pen touched the paper and before her eyes would appear words. Beautiful and perfect words. They would flow together in harmony.

But she couldn’t do outlines. They never made sense. They never actually helped. So when Mr. Cross called her name she simply looked at him and swallowed her nerves away.

“I don’t know. Spider web, I guess.” She mumbled as her classmates all turned to her and smirked or laughed.

This wasn’t the first time she had given such an answer. In fact, it seemed to be her favorite answer in her ELA class. Mr. Cross simply nodded although he asked if he could see her after class. The twelve year old sighed. She knew she was in trouble. She knew that she would get a letter sent home for, what felt like, the millionth time that year.

But unknown to her. Mr. Cross had begun to piece together what the issue was. He had begun to realize what was going on in Ella Rose’s mind. And it wasn’t a lack of caring or knowledge. He had been talking with her other teachers and they had all agreed that the child was simply a creative mind. And creative minds couldn’t be forced to think inside the box. They were special creatures. And so they needed special attention.

The rest of the class was filled with the scratching sound of pens on paper, the grunts of frustration, and the giggles of success. Ella simply stared at the outline in front of her and grimaced. She couldn’t do it. She couldn’t force her mind to make the outline. To pre-plan a story. It just wouldn’t come and her frustration didn’t help her clear her mind. She couldn’t focus as she glanced at the other students. She could see the grins of success as the others filled out their outlines. She saw some rather goofy faces as the other students concentrated.

But Ella Rose just couldn’t do it. It didn’t matter how many goofy faces she made, how many times bit her lip to concentrate, or how many times she scribbled on the spider web in front of her, she just couldn’t do the outline.

After class was dismissed with the bell to their next block Ella went up to her teacher’s desk. She stood in front of him nervously. Shifting from foot to foot she waited for the reprimand. She knew that she was in trouble. She knew, from past experiences, that next came a possible detention or a letter home or, if he felt she was insubordinate enough, a failing grade on the assignment. She had average grades to begin with, a failed ELA score could plummet her already average grades. She couldn’t have that. She knew her parents would be furious with her. She would be grounded for life, well for a week or so.

But she was surprised as Me. Cross gave her a smile. “Ella, do you know why I wanted to see you?” he asked her.

Ella nodded and looked at him as bravely as she could. She gathered all of her courage for what she was sure would happen next. “Yes sir. It’s about the outline.” She said.

Mr. Cross nodded. “Yes Ella, the outline.” He responded.

Ella looked at him with panic in her eyes. “I can’t help it! I just can’t do it! I’m too stupid to make an outline!” she exclaimed as she became upset and her frustration over the assignment caught up with her.

Mr. Cross gave her a reassuring smile. “I know that Ella. First of all, you are not stupid. You are a very bright young girl. You are one of my best students. Now about that outline, explain to me why you can’t do the outline. The truth please.” He said.

He wanted to hear in her own words what the problem was.

Ella frowned as it hadn’t been the response she had expected. Not even close. But she nodded and thanked her lucky stars that he didn’t seem angry or frustrated with her. “It’s just. I’m not really sure, I can’t do outlines. I can’t force myself to think ahead when I write, not matter what it is! I can’t tell you, let alone put it on paper, what will happen in the beginning, middle, and end. When I write I simply put my pen to my paper and write. I know that doesn’t make sense. But it’s true.” She explained.

She then paused for a moment before she continued. “It’s like in math, there are several ways to do one problem and no matter how it’s done you get the same result. Writing is like that for me. Outlining is just one way to do it and it doesn’t make sense to me. I can’t do that. When I write I just do.” She said in best way she could.

She really didn’t know how to explain it but by the look on her teacher’s face he understood. Ella grinned on the inside as it seemed for the first time someone understood what she meant. Understood that she simply had another way of looking at it.

Mr. Cross couldn’t help but smile at the child’s explanation. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense but that wasn’t the point. It was the way she did it. And she was right, she did always get the same product as everyone else.

He could recall professors in college talk about creative children. How their minds worked and how they didn’t always seem to fit in. They couldn’t be molded to fit the norm. And Ella was the perfect example of that. Her shyness around her classmates, reluctance in class to answer questions, and her seemingly rebellious behavior. She wasn’t rebelling in any way. She simply had a creative mind.

And as he looked at her he refused to break that mind. He refused to stop the creativeness of the child before him.

“And that’s not a bad thing.” He said in reply. “It doesn’t make you slower or unable. It makes you special. So let’s make a deal.” He said to the visibly shocked 7th grader. “Unfortunately you have to know the different ways to outline your work. You’ll be outlining things for years to come and on our next test you’ll have to outline a short paragraph already written on the paper. But why don’t we do this? Why don’t you write your story then you can outline it.” He suggested.

Ella grinned and nodded excitedly. “That would be great!” she responded gladly. Mr. Cross chuckled inwardly at her enthusiasm.

“You’ll have to complete the story before everyone else as the outlines are due first and I’m not giving you extra time. Does that work for you?” he asked.

Ella grinned. “It’s perfect!” she exclaimed. “Thank you Mr. Cross.” She said before she left the classroom to get to her next class.

Mr. Cross smiled as he watched her leave. He couldn’t wait to see what she would come up with as she now had no barriers. She could now think outside the box as creative people were bound to do.

By: Megan Lawrence

(Please, please, please let me know what you think! I thought I would start putting some actual writing pieces up here. Thank you!)

Pain and Writing

​Have you ever written something that made you hurt? Have you ever written something that made you angry? I know I have. In fact, I’m doing that now. The story I’m working on right now has subject matter that is painful to write. More than once I have put it down and turned to studying for my classes as the content became overpowering. But why then do I continue? Why would I spend my time writing something so emotional? 

The answer is simple yet complicated. Power. I strongly believe in the power of words. Words carry so much power in them that they can change the world. Or they can tear it down. 

My story has the power to change a child’s life of written properly. My story contains content that many people go through everyday. The main character goes through such pain. But that pain matches many children’s today. 

But my story has one important element. Hope. There is hope in my story. There is hope for those children.

 So I will continue to write my story, even as I pray for comfort and wisdom, as my story has the power to change a child’s life. 

So when writing something that makes you so upset or angry just ask yourself if that story, if those words will change someone’s life for the better or worse.

A Change in Directon

​I’m the past few weeks something has been happening with my writing that I never did expect. At first I tried my hardest to reject those changes. I wanted them to disappear and to never return. But after some epic fights between myself and my pen, which is as insane as it sounds, I have embraced those changes. 

You see, for a while now I have been focused on picture books and some early readers. I wrote for the little ones where I’d imagine bright and colorful pictures adorning each page. I could even feel the glassy pages by manuscripts would one day become. 

And while I am still writing those stories, they have been pushed into the back burner by something completely different. Something completely new. Middle grade fiction. Novels for middle schoolers. I never thought I would wrote such a thing, but I am. 

I’m going to school to become an elementary school teacher and so writing for that age group sounded perfect. The perfect combination. But to be honest with you all, I’m enjoying the novel so much more. I don’t know what it is but I am loving the way the story is unfolding and practically writing itself. The way my lovely characters are fleshing themselves out and becoming their own people. It’s incredible. 

So yes I have changed directions, but I’m glad I have. Although my picture books won’t be on the back burner forever.

I’m Sorry!!!

​I have to apologize for my ridiculously long absence. I don’t think I had completely realized just how much work it would be to be a full time student, part time worker, and a blogger. And so when school began I let this blog slide, which was a silly thing to do. 

I don’t actually have an excuse except that time management was not my friend. But for now on I am planning on posting at least once a week. Of you find I am slacking please message me! I really wouldn’t be upset or offended if you sent me a message with all caps telling me to post something. 

Audience…Is It Really That Important?

All through high school and now through college one of the most common things I hear my English teachers and professors say is to write to think about your audience while writing. It seems they love to repeat that line over and over again. It’s practically embedded in their very souls. And when writing an essay audience is very important. When writing an essay on the importance of peanut butter with your jelly you wouldn’t want to address that to scientists that couldn’t care less. They won’t read it. But is your audience important when writing a fictional story?

Of course it is! When I’m writing a story I always keep in mind who I’m writing to, that way it will make sense and appeal to my intended demographic. And for me that would be children. I mostly write stories for kids, usually the ones younger than 10 years old. And so I have to be very careful about my stories and what I put in them. For one thing little kids have a short attention span, so writing a 12 page single space story about why whales are big with no pictures would be ridiculous. Another thing is that some things are simply not appropriate for my demographic. For example, if I were to write a story with a binge drinking rabbit that likes to get around I would then be met with furious parents and confused children.

But sometimes it’s hard to think about your audience while writing because how would you know what they like and what is appropriate for them. If you aren’t a 50 year old man how would you know how to write a story that would appeal to them? And chances are if you’re writing a story for little ones you probably aren’t a little one, so how do you know? Well what I do is think about those people in my life that are in that demographic. I have triplet siblings that are just going into kindergarten this year so when I write a story I ask myself if I would want them reading my story, if they would sit and listen. If not, then I pitch it. I’ll think about my younger cousins. I have one that’s in the fourth grade and one that will be a year old, so when I write for that age group or around it I ask myself if they would like it or understand it. Or I ask myself if I’d want them to read it as they got older.

But not everyone has people in their life that are in their intended demographic and so what can they do? Well they can either do their research or get more hands on. For example if you were writing a story about an elderly woman in a nursing home then you could go and volunteer in one for a bit to get a feel of their day to day lives. And trust me, nursing homes love volunteers. Or maybe volunteer in a hospital. It doesn’t matter how it’s done, but experience with your intended audience will do wonders for your work.

And so I digress, all of our lovely English teachers were correct, the audience is important!

 

 

To Be Inspired

 

A part of being a writer is being inspired. Naturally there is always someone or something that catches one’s heart and inspiration is born. It could be anything really. A blue bird out on a sunny spring day or even a teacher that pushed and pushed until success was found. Usually though a writer’s inspiration comes from many sources. Maybe family and friends, a book they once read, or maybe a complete stranger they met in the market while getting some milk and eggs. Whatever and whoever the inspiration is, is important to the writer and to their work. It’s no different for me.

My inspirations are many but there is a handful that inspired me in the very beginning. When I was learning to read, or really simply getting better at it as it wasn’t my finest skill as a little kid. One of those inspirations is my grandmother. She is incredible! For as long as I can remember she would read out loud to us kids. And while my parents did the same thing, there’s something about her voice that drew my attention. Maybe it’s her English accent. Or maybe the way she reads out loud with such animation. But whatever the reason I loved, and still love, to hear her read out loud. And why wouldn’t I want to get better at reading when my grandmother, a woman I’ve always admired, is so great at it. And now when I read out loud I try to take after her. I try to be just as animated and alive when I read. Although I don’t normally speak with an English accent like her unless the character is calling for it.

Another inspiration of mine was really a series of books. A series that so many children were reading and then watching as I was growing up. A series I wasn’t ready for. But I wanted to read it so much and so I did everything I could to get better at reading. And one day I succeeded and found this incredible world inside of books. Oh and the series was ‘Harry Potter’ by JK Rowling of course. Her series lit a passion in me that I had no idea even existed. A passion for books and storytelling.

All of my inspirations are important to me, even the countless teachers I’ve had throughout the years and the people I’ve met in passing. They are the reason I write as I do. They are a part of the reason that I don’t let a rejection get me down. As a writer inspiration is important, and it doesn’t matter where it’s from. Really, as long as they speak to your heart in some way then they are an inspiration and a reason to write.

I’ll never be an exact copy of my inspirations as I’m me, and quite happy about that, but they will always hold a special place in my heart as well as my writing. And as a writer where else would I keep them all?

A Purpose

As a writer I don’t simply write stories because I can. Instead I write for a reason, I have a purpose to my craft. There’s been times I’ll be reading something and I have to put it down because there was no feeling to it, there was no soul. When reading something so lifeless I can’t help but put it down in horror or even disgust. For there is no heart but into it. And for the most part when reading something like that it usually points to something very key that was missing from the writing process, a purpose. There has to be a purpose to writing to make it great and to make your readers come back for more, especially seeing as passion and purpose usually come hand in hand.

For me, it took time to find my purpose. I didn’t automatically sit down and start writing with a purpose in mind. In fact when I began writing I simply did it for fun, not that there is anything wrong with that, but there was no reason for it. Then I decided my purpose was to get published, which as you can imagine really didn’t work well for me seeing as there really wasn’t anything driving me to my goal. Again there was no reason. But I found my purpose, and while I’m no JK Rowling or Eric Carl I know my work is a million times better than it used to be. You should see the piles of stories and poems and even plays in my folder buried deep inside because they are just horrifying to read or even look at. But now, I can have pride for my pieces as there is a purpose and a passion shining through each and every one of them.

And my purpose is actually quite simple. I want to be a gateway for children. My purpose for writing is to give children a gateway in which they can learn to love reading and become great readers and maybe one day become incredible writers. I’ve learned so much from books that I can’t even list all that I have learned. I’ve even been humbled and brought down several pegs from the literature I’ve immersed myself in. I’ve been encouraged and raised up through the books, stories, and poetry that I’ve read. And I was that for other kids. I want my work to do that for children as, to me, books open up an incredible new world and everyone deserves to go there.

Rejections…Good or Bad?

           As an aspiring writer it seems that one of the most common things I’ve experienced is rejections. For every agent, I’ve sent a manuscript to, has rejected my work and almost all the publishers. Even the New Yorker rejected my work. And while I’d love to rant and rave at how unfair it is I’ve come to realize that each and every one of those rejections is increasingly important.

And the reason is incredibly simple. They give me the opportunity to try again, to work harder, and to learn. It’s like they say in school: you learn from your mistakes. And that’s what I’m able to do with my rejections.

Although, don’t get me wrong, it sucks. When I get one of those emails or the wait period is over I want to curl up into a ball and cry. I want to hide under a rock or scream into the heavens. And seeing as each and every single thing I wrote a piece of my heart, my soul really, goes into it.

My stories and poetry are my babies. My darling little creations. And for someone to say no to them hurts, as in a way their saying no to me as a writer. But even though it sucks to be told no or not told in some instances I learn from each and every rejection. As in the end they make me a better writer. 

And so, in answer of the question above, rejections are in fact good.rejected