Tag Archives: writing

Voice Of The Forest

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Once more I find myself too surrounded and overwhelmed by assignments to write anything new. Luckily, I was digging through old files again and found this essay I wrote in high school for Green Week. Enjoy!


It is such a beautiful day. The bright crimson sun is shining its light down on the cascading forest below, glazing hills and valley with tinges of white and basking the population of lush greenery with a comforting, warm glow. Today is one of those better days; it is not often that such beauty is preserved for my being to witness. Beneath the shade I cast on the ground, flowers are beginning to open, as excited as I am to start the day. I have a lot to do today; I must absorb as much sunlight as I can before the clouds begin to circle, and I must work on bearing fruit.

Oh, how silly of me! I have forgotten to introduce myself to you. I am a tree. Yes, that’s right, a tree! I have leaves and shoots and a rough bark and tough roots, and I’m brightly coloured with scarlet fruit. As you can tell, I am quite proud of my appearance. My friends always chide and reprimand me for being so vain, but I am a creation of God. How can I not find myself wonderful?

I am not all just looks, you know. I am useful, too, and I have brains to go with my brawn. I am home to a family of little sparrows, and my trunk houses a pair of squirrels. The birds and squirrels always argue, but I think they secretly enjoy being neighbours. I must not forget to tell you that Mr and Mrs Sparrow’s eggs hatched yesterday. I am so excited to house them on my branches.

Hang on a moment. I can hear someone coming, a human. It is not unusual for people to take relaxing walked in the forest, and I am always especially ecstatic when they stop to rest beneath me, using my trunk as a backrest. There is a group of children that comes here on the weekends and they always play hide-and-seek, often scurrying to find sanctuary behind me or clambering up my branches to hide. I hope it’s them, as they are always so fun to watch.

However, I soon find that this is not the case. It is, in fact, around ten adult males. They are dressed oddly in faded blue jeans, long-sleeved shirts, strange orange vests and bright yellow hats that look hard and sturdy, and each one is carrying a can of some sort. I have never had problems with humans before, but for some reason, I feel a little wary, as if I sense something bad is going to happen.

The men shake the cans in their grips then begin to spray symbols onto my brothers and sisters. It takes me a moment to see what they are writing, but when I do, I notice that my siblings all have bright red “X”s plastered onto their barks. I am afraid that they will spray me, too, but they do not. Instead, after half an hour, they walk away and disappear through the pathway. Neither my family nor my friends know what the “X” means, but we can only hope it is not anything bad.

The morning slowly fades away, passing into noon. I am about to doze off when I hear a loud rumbling emitting from the pathway. The ground shakes beneath me as I turn my attention towards it. Before long, I see an entire row of trucks moving up the driveway, followed by a few vehicles that I think are called bulldozers. They have huge wheels and a big shovel-like mechanisms attached to their front. I wonder what they are doing here, and then I recognise the men driving them as the same ones from this morning. The trucks are noisy, and I sense the sparrows and squirrels become frightened. I wish the humans would turn their machines off.

Suddenly, the bulldozer moves forward speedily, and its shovel slams into the lower trunk of one of my brothers. I watch in horror as my brother attempts to remain rooted, but the automation is too strong and he falls over, crashing thunderously to the ground. Meanwhile, some more people have arrived, carrying long, sharp weapons with rotating blades. My sister tells me that it is a chainsaw, but I barely hear her as a man strikes his weapon into my best friend’s bark, breaking him open, and he falls to the forest floor in a crumpled heap, his leaves tangling together messily, branches splintering and falling apart dramatically.

I feel myself tremble in fear. I want to scream, but how can I? I have no voice, and the humans regard me lowly. I can do nothing but look on and grieve as all my relatives are cut cleanly across their centre, each one tumbling in slow motion to the forest floor, and are carried to rest in the trucks. Animals scurry across the floor in frantic panic, but few manage to escape as they are crushed beneath fallen trunks and perish. Even if they escape, where are they to go? This forest had been their home for years.

The destruction rages on until the sun begins to set, and dark, ominous clouds begin to gather in the sky. I hear one of the men shout something, but I am too numbed by pain and sadness to pay attention. Then one of the men starts to spray red paint onto the remaining trees. This time, he does not leave me out. The paint feels cold on my trunk, alien and unwelcome. The men gather their belongings and leave, just as the first splashes of rain begin to drizzle onto me. The paint does not wash off, even as the thunder cracks across the sky and droplets hit the ground at increasing speed.

I guess this is my fate, then. I have often heard stories of killed trees and what becomes of them. I am told that they are made into paper and furniture, which are both useful objects for humans. I suppose that would be alright, as long as I am still useful, but I would really rather not work for heartless, cruel humans who can murder and kill, taking away lives without a single thought, leaving destruction in their wake.

I hope one day, I get made into paper; for a school magazine, perhaps. Then maybe, just maybe, I will be able to tell someone my story, and that someone will care about it, but I doubt it. I have seen many humans today, but I have seen no humanity. Hopefully, there is still some love left in the world, but I cannot know for sure. I guess I will just have to wait and see.

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Nightmare

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Once again, I found myself digging through old files in search of an important document. In the process, I found this short little thing I came up with in high school. Thought I might as well share it.


I coax you in, deeper and deeper into an endless slumber, and slowly you emerge, out of thin air, into the space in front of me. I tense in anticipation at the confused and slightly frightened look in your eyes. I watch the bewilderment in your gaze freeze with horror at the sight of me.

You are terrified. You begin to run away, in a flurry of panic. But this is my territory, and this is my land. I can shift the ground beneath your feet, make you stumble, make you fall. This is my world, and you play by my rules.

I hear you screaming. I hear you crying. You are afraid, and that is understandable, but I could not care less. I do not need to chase after you, but if you dash, I will. Just the sight of me makes you faint, and that is good enough for me.

So you decide to run. A noble choice, but you simply cannot outsmart me. I can match your pace with one stride. You have a head start, and you run ahead, but I will catch up.

I am gaining on you. I am catching up to you. I play one last trick – I make something sprout from the ground. You trip. You come crashing to the ground. Luckily you cannot feel pain in my world.

I advance on you, and I see my reflection in your wide eyes – it is different now, than it was with the last person. Perhaps I was once a banshee, and before that I was a murderer, and the first time I was a ghost. But now I watch my reflection with fascination – it is something new and different each time.

I decide to quit wasting my time, and I pounce.

I land on the ground, crunching sickeningly against the world I created. You have slipped through my fingers again. You have escaped my grasp, you have escaped sleep. One day I really must learn what I am doing wrong, why I never catch you.

I am a figment of your imagination. I am not real. I am the most horrifying thing your brain could conceive.

I am your worst nightmare.

Strength

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I was digging through some old files in search of a document and I discovered this poem I wrote back in high school as an entry in the school magazine. I thought I’d share it because I probably won’t have time to write anything decent this week, and also because…well, why not?


Strength

I have the strength

to move mountains

to climb hills

and to cross rivers.

 

I have the strength

to stand up on my own

to get up after a fall

and to escape the deepest of trenches.

 

I have the strength

to claw to the surface

to find the light at the end of the tunnel

and to make it out of the dark.

 

I have the strength

to do whatever I set my mind to.

 

I have the strength.

It just took some time for me

to find it.


And don’t forget, you have that strength, too. 

The Confounded Writer’s Block

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And… this has got to be a record. No new blog posts for nearly a month… Wow.

An old childhood favourite... Calvin and Hobbes

You see, I’d love to blog about something. Anything. Unfortunately my mind fails to allow me to think of an interesting topic that hasn’t been done before. It’s too busy focusing on my sinking History marks. And I haven’t written much in my book either. Gotta keep working on that one.

A sad scene that would likely take place at my desk.

I can’t stand writer’s block, honestly. But I honestly don’t consider it until I open my book to write in.

Oh dear me, I can’t seem to think of how this plot could go. Maybe if he kills the evil assistant… No, it’s too soon. Maybe he should make a new friend?

Then I realize that I have been having trouble with other things too, namely my blog.

Oh, it’s been a week since I’ve updated my blog! I must start a new post. Let’s see…

I then have to come to terms with the fact that I have no idea what to blog about, so I spend ages wracking my brain for a suitable topic.

Environmental issues? No, I’ve done that one before… Singing? Did that too. Oh what about this awesome book… Oh wait that’s been done on Freshly Pressed.

And in the end I’m just like:

A typical reaction of mine upon discovering that I have yet again been infected by writer's block.

Soon, a couple of hours pass and I have to get off the computer. I decide that if I stop thinking about it, I’ll come up with a good idea.

I’ll just take a break and see if something pops up. Sooner or later, it always does.

And before I know it, nearly an entire month has flown by and I’ve forgotten about the fact that I am suffering from the dreaded and highly fatal writer’s block. Until…

What’s *insert random name of friend here* doing over there on that computer? Oh, she’s blogging. Oh no I haven’t blogged in ages! How long has it been? AH!

So I go and check my blog for the first time in ages.

I’ve been subscribed to…! Oh. By someone who’s already deleted their account. Oh, look at all these comments. Well… 34 spam comments actually. I really must get a blog post going.

And that is how I came to be sitting here today, typing away.

It never fails, you know, no matter how often I follow online writer’s block solving tips. I got this list off the internet.

1. Implement a Writing Schedule.

Yes, I have gone back to the same place at the same time every day and still nothing springs to my head. Sometimes I just let my hand free-write on the paper and all that comes out is… garbage.

2. Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself.

How can I not be? I’ve been trying for three weeks and still nothing comes out of my pen.

3. Think of Writing as a Regular Job, and Less as an Art.

4. Take Time Off If You’ve Just Finished a Project.

5. Set Deadlines and Keep Them.

(This is the only thing that really works for me… Except for the fact that the finished product is a little on the… well… awful side.)

6. Examine Deep-Seated Issues Behind Your Writer’s Block.

7. Work on More Than One Project at a Time.

(Three projects going on and I’m still getting nowhere…)

8. Try Writing Exercises.

(I do this in English class in school everyday.)

9. Re-Consider Your Writing Space.

(It’s actually a cosy little nook.)

10. Remember Why You Started to Write in the First Place.

(I need a LOT of help with this one.)

I do this... A lot.

Actually, I’ve discovered a really awesome way to beat writer’s block when it comes to blogging: If you can’t think about anything to blog about… Blog about the fact that you can’t think of anything to blog about.

Anyhow, I’ll just head off now… I just found a good plot for my book… I think.

Thoughts into Music, Lyric onto Paper – My Outlet

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So, everyone needs an outlet, right? A way to express themselves. A way to tell someone or something what’s on their mind, or a way to calm down, or a way to be oneself, especially after a long day. How one can (corniness alert) express what’s on your mind in a way words can never explain. A magic remedy. I know people who draw, or play an instrument, or something like that, and that’s their magical potion.

And me?

I may dance when angry, write when flustered and sing when sad, but none of them beat this:

I love writing songs. I’ve been doing it since I was 2. At that point, of course, it was just a bunch of gibberish where the only audible words were “riding in a playground”, but hey. The tune was catchy… ish. Just enough to sound presentable to other gobbledygook-speaking babies.

The second song, with real words this time, was written when I was seven. Something about the Sun rising in the east and setting in the west. Despite being ridiculous, it did help me to better envision the rotation of the Sun when I had to. It saved my Science test once. So, even though it’s the worst song in the history of songs, it’s my favourite, not only because it rescued my marks, but also because it began the stream of self-written songs that were in tangible language.

Next came the song with a ridiculous line. I myself have no idea what on earth could have possessed me to write “And I’ve heard that home is where the heart is, but right now the only place my heart is in is in my chest”. I know. Epically awful.

Soon it was more songs with senseless words and repetitive tunes where the chorus only appeared once. After that it was crazy songs that went out of time and key in random places. The words were always fine, but the melody always sounded like every other song out there. Typical lame tunes.

Then I got a guitar, and finally my rhythm shaped up. All emo songs of course, full of funny emotions that seemed too old for me. What I began to notice was that all my songs were sad songs. The only happy song I had at the time was my first nice song, that ran along the lines of love.

This is paradise

I’m in paradise

Whenever I see you smile at me

It’s paradise

I tell you, I didn’t even understand what I was writing about!

A while after that, my songs took a turn for the more negative. I had the most depressing songs anyone could’ve imagined! And still no sign of a happy song anywhere, by the way. At least they made sense (to other strange people).

And finally, last year… Bingo! A happy song! Yipee!

Since last year, actually, my songs began to sound more original. They were more balanced; not too sad, not too sappy.

What do I use to write songs? In the beginning (not the heavens or the earth), it was just vocals and a good memory. When I learned the piano, I still couldn’t play a tune I liked on it. And then (choir of angels, please) I got a guitar! I could then play my own songs and compose them properly. And soon I began writing with the piano (cue round of applause) too. Unfortunately my memory got a tad bad and I started forgetting my tune. My phone didn’t (and still doesn’t) have a recorder, so I use my mom’s phone to record whatever awesome tune I come up with.

I write songs because I love to. It’s my favourite way to express myself. When I’m too frustrated to write in my diary, I take it all out on a music score. I pour my heart out onto paper (it’s more patient than people). Every time something bad happens, I close my eyes and whisper to myself, “I’ll write a song about this later”. After a rough and long day, you can see me scribbling away at a piece of paper. Writing songs helps me to sort through my emotions and discover what I’m really feeling when I’m confused. It releases my stress and makes me feel a whole lot better in the end.

So what about you? What’s your outlet?

Chapters

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I view my life in chapters.

When I was 11, I wrote a song called “The New Chapter”, signifying a time for me when I had to start anew. Last year, I wrote “The New Chapter 2”, also representing a time when I started again.

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Each time something big happens – starting school, discovering a talent, starting a new activity, solving problems, facing new, more challenging trials – I start a new chapter. Like all writers, I try to start a new chapter only when everything’s perfect in the previous one, or when I’m ready to go on. I’ve got my storyline planned out most of the time… I want it to be perfect. For example, starting high school at 13 years old and staying in the school till I’m 17.

But sometimes it can’t be helped – for example, if there is a flaw in the storyline, and all writers hate that, but it happens, and one must give up plans and begin a new phase. You could have planned your character to fall for this person in the end, but you have chapters and chapters more to go. Maybe by then your story would have plunged off its line and into some river somewhere and those two characters don’t work anymore. Maybe you wanted to end this chapter after the guy gets shot but you find it sounds better if you end it here rather than there. And so you finalize your chapter.

When I’m not ready to do something (in other words, to end a chapter), I feel as though I have paragraphs and paragraphs to finish before the chapter ends. I would think to myself, “There’s so much more I want to do before beginning this!” And when one feels that way, it isn’t time yet.

But you don’t always have a choice in where your chapters end, and in that way, life is unlike writing a book. Sometimes something happens – the death of a loved one, a natural disaster. Something that us mortal beings have no control over. And when that happens, there is nothing one can do about it. One has to take it as a tiny little flaw in the tale and decide to drop plans of pages, to start over anew.

New chapters don’t always start easily. They don’t always begin because it’s expected (like starting school). Most of the time, they don’t happen because we want them to. There will be those dramatic chapters, the ones where the main character is in a dark place and can’t get out. But that chapter will end when the character has healed. And a character doesn’t just heal. They have to decide to heal. They have to want to heal. Sometimes, it isn’t about healing, it’s about believing and trying something new and frightening. Something they’ve never done before.

And that’s the beauty of it all.

Time to start a new chapter.

Grammar Woes

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Seriously, I’ve been born and raised in this country and everyone has used the phrase at least once.

Let me illustrate a situation…

An English teacher has just given the class a lecture about bad English. She then gives the class assignments, saying to them, “Please pass them up by tomorrow!”

Eeek!!!

Let me provide a translation.

Pass Up

vb (tr, adverb)

  1. Informal to let go by; ignore; decline: I won’t pass up this opportunity
  2. to take no notice of (someone)

Now how is it possible that you can ignore your homework by tomorrow?

Another not-as-common (but still as tragic) mistake is saying “pass on”:

Pass On
vb (tr, adverb)
  1. Place into the hands or custody of
    – pass, hand, reach, turn over, give
  2. Transmit (knowledge or skills)
    “pass on a new skill to the students”;
    – impart, leave, give
  3. Move forward, also in the metaphorical sense
    “Time passes on”;
    – advance, progress, move on, march on, go on
  4. Give to or transfer possession of
  5. Refer to another person for decision or judgment
    “She likes to pass on difficult questions to her colleagues”;
    – relegate, submit
  6. Cause to be distributed
    – circulate, pass around, distribute
  7. Transmit information
    “Please pass on this message to all employees”;
    – communicate, pass, pass along, put across

It can also refer to someone dying… so, can homework die by tomorrow?

The correct term is submit or simply pass.

Just Tell The Truth

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I love to sing. I love to dance. I love to write. Consequently, I’ve joined many groups that cater to all those passionate about music and the arts. It’s always been a fun experience for me.

Once, I was watching some performances by one of the clubs I decided to become a part of. The performances done were no-strings-attached shows – if you want to get up on the stage, you can, and it isn’t a competition, so you can just have fun! A particular girl stepped up to the stage and sang one of my favourite songs – completely off-key! It was no big deal, though. None of us were pros anyway. We were just there to have a good time.

When she got off the podium, I watched her rush to her friend’s side, fretting about her singing and asking whether she did alright. To my horror, her friend replied with a smile, “Don’t worry! You did great!”

Over the years, I’ve discovered that instances like that happen frequently – in fact, on a daily basis! Everyone is praising their friend’s singing, dancing, painting… and it’s all a lie. Some people would quote Bambi, “If you can’t say something nice… Don’t say nothing at all.”

But you see, that’s the point! Thumper didn’t say “If you can’t say something nice, tell a lie instead”. He said not to say anything! Of course, if you barely know a person, really, you shouldn’t say anything at all. But what if it’s your friend, asking you for your opinion? How can you not answer? Well, being a friend, you have to be honest with them and tell them what you really think, in a gentle way. Because in the end, if you tell them they did good when they didn’t, you’re just making them believe that they can do something when they really can’t. And if they get mad at you for not praising them, they obviously don’t care what you think, and are just fishing for approval and praises.

Putting it simply… Just tell the truth.

The Funny Thing About Music

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I love writing.

It’s not a secret, really. I’ve told stories that I make up as I go along in my younger years, and I’ve written many a tale since then; just weaving the words together gives me a satisfaction of some sort.

When I got my first guitar, I discovered a new way to express myself – through songs. I began to compose my own songs. The first few were pretty meaningless and now when I look back on them I laugh out loud. The next ones were where I experimented, trying to create the same types of songs I heard on the radio. Strange, writing about love when I didn’t even understand it yet.

Then I discovered the real beauty of songwriting. You know, expressing your deepest thoughts onto a page and putting a melody to it. Music (sorry for the corny, cheesy line) is what feelings sound like.

It’s funny. When we’re upset, whether we like music or not, we tend to listen to songs hat describe how we feel right at that point of time. Rarely have I found someone who, when feeling sad, puts on a happy song. Nope, they’ll sing their hearts out to one equally depressing. And no one in their right mind puts on “Hurt” by Johnny Cash when they’re up on top of the world. I mean, I know I definitely wouldn’t listen to “All By Myself” when I’ve just scored straight A’s on an exam. Not intentionally anyway.

That’s the strangeness of music, the way it can sort of comfort you in a way no one else can. When you’re pissed at life we’d listen to someone like Eminem. When you’ve been dumped you’d listen to a Taylor Swift song… which you might also listen to when you’re lovestruck.  And if you’re in need of some encouragement, you might listen to “Not Afraid”. But okay, enough with the examples. Now I’m just gonna put on my fave song and turn up the volume, and leave you with this thought…

Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought.

~ E. Y. Harburg

Ciao!