Monthly Archives: December 2015

Update: December 2015

The the last few weeks have been a lot of overhaul on the book’s opening. I have done a lot of reworking on the first three chapters, which I really wanted to get to a point where it grabbed the reader with the pace, intensity, and intrigue.

So here are a few of the concepts and changes that have occurred as of late:
1. Omit immediate flashbacks from the “narrative” of the book. So this is not to say that there will not be backstory in the book. In fact, I hope to have a lot of it in my series. Personally I love backstory. My favorite book of the Harry Potter series might be The Half-Blood Prince because of all the backstory on Tom Riddle. However, I think starting with a flashback of Gabriel’s recruitment isn’t the right fit for a children’s book. That scene hasn’t been removed but is now in the prologue spot, which may or may not make it into the completed work.
2. Increased pace and intensity. So as a means of trying to get the young reader immediately interested, I worked to add more of a quick pace early on. Gabriel starts off the book rushing around his room and packing. Also, I have added some parts early on to give the reader some “wow” moments.
3. Add dimension to the characters. This is a big one. I went through each character and added some aspect to them. Whether that be a verbal tag or a character trait that makes them more unique. Each of the main characters was given specific characteristics from the beginning, but I have more intentionally gone through to list their characteristics visually, verbally, and in personality.
4. Increase the scope of the world. For a story to be really engrossing, the setting has to be rich with history and culture. So I’ve been adding small details to the narrative that will intrigue the reader in small doses. This is some of the stuff that was in the original prologue, which I moved and reworked. I felt the prologue that I had at first kind of gave too much away. No one wants a history lesson at the beginning of the story. It just isn’t fitting for a children’s book. So I redid it and put it in the orientation scene.

Staying Positive in a Negative World

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So this morning I was in an car accident. The other driver hit my and caused me to hit the guard rail. So, I am currently in that no-man’s- land where I am waiting to hear from the mechanic whether or not my car will be totaled or not. However, I am doing my best to be positive in the midst of a physically and emotionally stressful situation.

I am not one of those overly positive people, however, I definitely am someone who does his best to see the bright side. I think it is important to keep our focus not on the small, stressful situations, but I try to learn from hard life lessons.

Even though this whole situation: the timing, the physical pain my body is in now, the financial pressure, and the uncertainty all can be part of something important. I just need to do my best to acknowledge that this all has a purpose and that I will learn and grow from it.

As a person, I am sometimes plagued with stress over things I cannot control. A student that fights me on every issue, a car wreck that wasn’t my fault, etc. Things like this would eat me up, if I let them. But if I try to maintain a positive outlook, I can cope with the never ending stress that our world offers. I have to choose to remain positive. If I want to stay positive, I need to be intentional with my thoughts, emotions, and desires.

Now let’s look at this in a practical way.

  1. It’s about perspective. Considering my car accident. I can look at all the negatives (and there are plenty) that this will bring. Money, time, energy, and the unknown. Or I can look at the positives from this situation. I’m not gravely injured or worse, I had insurance, the other driver wasn’t hurt, and it happened before a long holiday which will hopefully offer me time to get the car fixed or find a new one in time for next semester.
  2. You have to choose positivity. Every situation in life could be looked at in two ways. You can either see it as an obstacle, or you can see it as a chance to learn something. If you choose to look at them as obstacles, every task is going to be daunting. But if you choose to see it as a chance to learn or grow, then you have a goal and a challenge to achieve.
  3. It takes practice. Like most things in life, what you practice is what will become part of who you are. Negativity is a bad habit. We fall into it like we fall into a bad posture. We have to be intentional and practice a good, positive posture which will foster a better way of life.

So what are you choosing today? Will you allow the stress of work, life, school get you down? Or will you choose to be positive and keep your outlook right?

 

What is Failure?

So I have had the idea of failure on my mind for awhile. I recall a student I had who suffered from this mentality that he could not accomplish the things before him. Even before we started an activity (even one that was done together) he would say things like “I can’t do this” or “this is too hard.”

I tried to build up his confidence and remind him that he can do things. I often wondered if this was a real mentality or some sort of crutch he would use as a way of getting out of working hard. I wish I could get into his head and figure out why he thinks that. However, I don’t have that “Gift”. Maybe one day.

But this brings me to my initial question: what is failure? Now the easy answer is when you mess something up or don’t get it right. However, I would disagree. We have so many chances in our country. My dad came from a foreign country, worked hard, and became a self made man because he never gave up.

He wasn’t instantly successful, and he made plenty of mistakes that could have ended his career. Like that coffee business. That was interesting. Let’s just say he will never need to pick up coffee again. However, my dad continued to work and do his best.

So, now for my perspective on what failure is. I hope you care, otherwise this would be weird. I personally think failure only really happens when we completely give up. If we continue to try, even in the midst of falling short of our goal, then we won’t fail in the end. One of the most common quotes I use with my students about this topic is from Edison. He tried over 10,000 experiments to create a lightbulb that didn’t work. But what did he say? “I have not failed. I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

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I think this is so sobering. Even if we fall on our faces 10,000 times. If we get up, we just learned another way that doesn’t work. 

These are some of the things I share with my students:

  1. Sometimes you actually have to work hard. Not everything in life is going to come easy. It is always surprising to me when a student is surprised that they have to put forth more than the simplest of effort into something. Sometimes you will have to try a problem over and over again before you get it right.
  2. Developing thick skin is really important. I posted awhile ago about taking correction. Sometimes we need advise on how to continue. Sometimes that correction doesn’t sit well with it. But, you know what? That correction might be exactly what we needed to hear.
  3. Try, try again. Never stop until you meet the success you want. Whatever you goal is. Keep working at the task at hand until you achieve you dream. I know you can do it.