Posts made in April, 2015

Six Ways Journaling Helps

Six Ways Journaling Helps

The more I write in my journal, the more I learn about the world and myself. The more I share my writing with my classes, the more open I become to my students, the more open they become to me, and the better all of our writing becomes. Becoming Unstuck Often, I hear students refer to their feelings of isolation from family, friends, and other students. I sense they are stranded on a metaphorical, desert island waiting for a passing steamer to rescue them. Sitting alone under a palm tree, sunburned, and tired of eating coconuts, their lives are blocked. Writing in a journal – one that takes on a personality of its own, one that becomes an extension of the author, one that holds the truth like notes placed in a bottle thrown into the Gulf Stream as a means of salvation – will help create that puff of smoke on the distant horizon indicating help is on the way. Celebrate Your Unique Self Many times, students need to see themselves as unique individuals. Being different is the price we pay for being better. Following the herd creates a boring sameness, a death-like monotony, and keeps us from achieving our potential. Writing in a journal reflects back to us how truly original we are. Inspire to Action Wait no more. Writing in a journal encourages me to translate my ideas into actions. If I can write about my ideas, I can see them as real possibilities. If I can capture them in a journal, I refer to them later when I act on them. John Hancock Field said, “All worthwhile people have good thoughts, good ideas, and good inventions, but precious few of them ever translate those into actions.”   Get Through the Darkness Many students dwell on their negative life experiences, and most of us go through periods like this, sometimes. When I have no one to listen to me, my journal becomes my best friend, my voice in the night, the big brother or sister I never had, my guiding light. Often, simply writing my feeling onto a blank page helps me get through the darkness. Looking for Meaning The seventh century Chinese Philosopher, Hui-neng said, “The meaning of life is to see.” Looking at something is not the same as seeing it. In our complicated world, we have so much to look at, but we see so little. Looking at things demeans life. Seeing things, clearly, gives life meaning. Writing in a journal forces me to see things, not look at them. I can’t count how many students have told me that by simply writing devotedly in their journals they found a meaning in their...

Read More

Simplicity, Synthesis, Synchronicity

Simplicity, Synthesis, Synchronicity

“We must be true inside, true to ourselves, before we can know a truth that is outside us” (Thomas Merton). I am responsible for my actions and my thoughts, and I want to learn much more than I now know. I sense the knowledge inside of me is much more important than the external knowledge I could acquire. No one else can teach me what I need to know. My insight comes from life experiences. I must each myself how to see. Every year, I teach The Scarlet Letter to my eleventh grade high school students and renew my interest in the Puritans who settled New England. My mother traces her family name (Steele) to Abigail Adams in the United States and to Charles II in England. The Puritan religion plays havoc with her family tree. On my father’s side, Charles Martin was, in fact, the treasurer on board the Mayflower when it docked at Plymouth Rock. We can’t say for certain if he was one of our family, but it is possible. The Puritan custom of labeling people into two groups was one of their interesting habits. If these people believed in the need to reform the Church of England and tell citizens the “pure” interpretation of the Bible, they were “saints.” If some expressed any doubt in the strict Puritan philosophy, obviously, those people were “sinners.” Life was so black and white, so simple. “Saints” and “Sinners,” that is all there were. King James I threatened the Puritans when they asked him to change ceremonies, carried into the Anglican Church from the Roman Catholic Church. He said, “I will make them conform, or I will harry them out of the land.” He demanded a simple life, too. Subjects had to follow his way, or else they had to go to jail or leave the country. These Puritan farmers, merchants, professionals, and scholars, especially from the University of Cambridge, came to be regarded as gloomy fanatics. For example, “They objected to bear baiting, not because of the pain to the bear, but because of the pleasure to the spectators.” Some teachers try to “harry . . . out of the land” students who feel a need for new ways of thinking about old problems. These teachers feel they are on the front line of ethical values, and to alter their nineteenth century views is the same as succumbing to modernism. Many of their students feel no sense of unity and no sense of inner awareness. These conservative teachers take so much pride in being orthodox, like King James, that they retard many learning processes. Rush Limbaugh sends his newsletter to interested subscribers for $20/year, but he “charges $10...

Read More

5 Tips Your Written Work is “Done”

5 Tips Your Written Work is “Done”

Today’s Guest Blogger: Abigail Hills Am I done? A lot of us writers are perfectionists. We want to make sure every single letter; every comma is flawless. When do you know you’re done working on a piece? When do you distinguish the time to put down the pen, or stop clicking away at that keyboard? “I’m finished.” Are you able to say that? Many writers are not. One published novelist told me she only knows she’s done when her editor tells her she has written enough. Most writers believe they are never done. Even after something is published, a lot of writers still feel their work is unfinished, and that’s okay! Here are some helpful tips from me, another writer, to get you to a place where you can say “I’m done.”   When you’re sick of working on a particular piece, you’re done. You started out with something you really loved, but now you dread going back and editing. That piece has reached its finale. Send it to someone else to edit. You’re done. Remember that you may never feel your piece is “done.” You might always think you could have done better. We all feel that way sometimes. That doesn’t mean you aren’t finished. As you mature as a writer, your tastes will also change. Spending too much time on one piece can often do you more harm than good. You could spend the rest of your life on one single piece of writing, and never feel it’s finished. This is sometimes called the “Black Hole of Revision.” If it’s been a long period of time, too long for the amount of pages you have, you’re done.  Ask yourself these four questions: Did I complete all the necessary story points? Have I taken out parts of the writing that I simply don’t like? Does everything make sense? Are my characters believable? If the answer is yes to all four of these questions, it’s likely you are done. Ask a friend. Ask someone whose opinion you trust to read your work. If they have some major things you need to change, you have work to do. If they only have small comments, it’s time to submit!   Remember, you don’t have to be 100% confident in your piece to submit it to an editor. Sometimes the pieces writers are the least sure about are the first ones to get published. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t revise. Revision can be your best friend! However, at some point, enough is enough. Carry on writers… but not for too long. How do you decide you’re work is done?   Bio: Abigail Hills is a published writer and editor for Fine Lines....

Read More

Signup for the latest news and events at Finelines!

Current Issue

2017SummerCover