The Drawing Journey

Everyone loves art, but most people think they can’t do it. My studio art roommate and I complain about how many time we hear people boast that they “can’t even draw a stick figure.” Besides this being the most cliché excuse in the book that leaves us artists wondering why you think it’s so important that everyone know that about you–it’s simply untrue.

People that can draw haven’t gotten there because of raw talent (well, with the exception of Dave Ham). Most of the time, they need to practice just like any other hobby or skill. And even the ones with all that raw talent still get better through practice.

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Book Review: Deadfall by Robert Liparulo

51QXF8KQDCL.SX316.SY316John Hutchinson (aka Hutch) and his buddies want nothing more than to escape their less-than-successful lives by going camping in the middle of nowhere up North. After all, angry ex-wives, the unemployment statistic, and an overall depressing atmosphere can’t reach them out in the woods, where even phones are hard to come by. But when Hutch is nearly vaporized by a group of madmen with a powerful toy, it’s clear this wasn’t the vacation they bargained for. When Hutch becomes the protector of a nine-year-old boy, he realizes it’s up to him to save an entire town from sudden death.

This book exceeded expectations. When I received word that the Hutch series would collide with Liparulo’s other adult novels, the Immortal Files, I realized I was going to have to educate myself before his next installment.

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The Dyslexic Superpower: Why Our Uncanny Abilities Aren’t Weaknesses

Third-grade me sat in the back of the class, staring at the scrawled penmanship on wide-ruled paper. More specifically, I was staring at the large, unforgiving red F at the top. Ironically the failing letter grade was the easiest letter to read on the entire page.

My failing spelling grades weren’t just for lack of diligence. Oh, I tried to write legibly, tried to read without stumbling, and tried to pass a spelling class with an acceptable grade—but I struggled with something other kids didn’t: I was dyslexic.

But here’s the thing. Although I struggled with spelling in school, Mom wouldn’t let me believe I was disadvantaged. She determined to share with me the secret of dyslexia: it isn’t so much a disability as it is a superpower.

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Book Review: Peace Like A River by Leif Enger

711WBU9Yz1LReuben Land is an eleven-year-old asthmatic boy with a loving family. His younger sister, Swede, is an aspiring writer, his older brother Davy a passionate man and an accomplished game hunter, his dad…a man of miracles. But when the town bullies begin a feud between themselves and the Land family, the war is taken too far and Davy sentences himself to the life of an outlaw. With Davy gone, the Land family must find a way to recover, and Reuben and Swede are determined to find their older brother, who’s escaped to the Dakota Badlands.

This book was required reading for my Advanced Creative Writing class because of its masterful use of description and word choice. I had my doubts before picking up this book, but before I knew it, the humorous and literary writing style of Leif Enger had kidnapped me into his world of outlaws, road trips, and of course the Dakota Badlands. Its setting I particularly enjoyed because of a family road trip we took ourselves through the Badlands a couple years ago, so that’s always a plus.

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How to Meet Your Characters Without Doing Tons of Character Worksheets

If you’ve been writing for any length of time, you’ve probably come across that one blog that suggests character interviews is the solution to every writer’s writing block. Then they’ll give you a long fill-in-the-blank worksheet that has questions entirely irrelevant to your character’s interests. Why do you want to know about their love life? Who cares if they have a theme song? And they don’t have time for sports — the world is at stake, for Pete’s sake!

I will say that Charahub is a pretty legit place for these kinds of questions, but I personally think interviews are mostly useless unless you’ve already got a pretty good grasp on the character’s main interests that pertain specifically to the plot of your story. Only after you figure out their most immediate concerns (saving the world), can you focus on love lives and sports.

That being said, over the years I’ve discovered different ways to learn your character’s psyche — and some of these ways I’ve never heard recommended anywhere else.

Know Your Characters

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My Review of the Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders’ Program

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As I’ve occasionally mentioned in the past few months (admittedly, quite sporadically), I’ve had the tremendous opportunity to work at the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C. as a video editing intern. Going into the program, I had little knowledge about what I was going to be doing, who the people were, how I was going to like them, and frankly, how I was going to cope with losing the majority of my summer to a 9-5:30 job.

But for anyone who might be thinking about the intern program, or have already submitted the application and been approved, I decided to do a full review of the goods, bads, and uglies (but trust me, they’re mostly goods) of Heritage’s program.

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Mastering Internships: Time Management

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Fellow Heritage interns pay their respects to the Washingtons at an intern field trip to Mt. Vernon.

Whenever a friend of someone at church would ask me how I was enjoying my summer, most of the time I would let a dreamy smile wash over my face and assure them that the summer was absolutely wonderful, relaxing, and all-around lazy.

Well, not this summer!

This summer has been the busiest I’ve ever had. Mornings start at 7:15 with a Pop-Tart and a ride into Washington via the slug line, and I have successfully mastered the art of the Metro station.

Before applying for the Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders’ Program, a paid summer internship practically on the steps of our nation’s Capitol, I couldn’t really picture what I would be doing. I knew I wanted to apply for something related to graphic design or video editing, but I simply couldn’t see myself working a 9-5:30 weekday office job.

Now the fogginess has cleared and I’m sucking up knowledge and information as fast as I can. Yes, I’m learning valuable skill sets that will help me in my future career, but that’s just the beginning of it.

During the summer, I’ve discovered that time management is everything.

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