NaPoWriMo 2017 is upon us!

Yikes! I can’t believe how the time flies (I’ll probably continue to repeat this for the rest of eternity. March just started yesterday, I swear!)

NaPoWriMo is already almost here–in less than a week!

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National Poetry Writing Month occurs in the month of April every year. The goal is to write one poem a day for all 30 days.

This will be my third year as a participant, but I’m not sure how consistent of a participant I’ll be this year. With three AP exams to study for in April, it’ll be a heck of a lot. But we’ll see. Poetry usually helps calm the nerves. Anyway, allow me to drown you in links before April 1st hits!

NaPo 2015

Read my somewhat cringe-worthy poems of 2015 here.

NaPo 2016

Read my somewhat improved poems of 2016 here.

NaPo Tip Thursdays (2016)

Last year, I wrote a few posts on ways you can prepare for and succeed in NaPo! Read them here, here and here.

Please let me know if you’re participating below in the comment section. I love to keep tabs on my fellow poeting friends to see what they write. Everybody is always so talented. National Poetry Writing Month is a very special event for me. It’s the reason I started this blog! I saw on the site when I first learned of the event that you could submit your own website/blog to count as a ‘participant.’ Well, I wanted to be officially counted as a participant (even though it didn’t matter LOL), so I created this blog!

I am looking forward to the daily prompts the NaPo site provides, and learning new poetry styles and developing my skills. Always love this time of year ❤

Pax in Christo,

Grace

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Do Your Own Thing

(Another short essay I wrote for my Creative Writing club!)

Art is a special talent. It is the intimate expression of emotions, concepts, themes, and messages that connect with the viewer on a certain level. Music, paintings, designs, and writings—all portals to the artist’s mind, all windows to the artist’s soul. Art is also a special craft. This means nobody is perfect at it, that it must be sharpened and built upon, honed and shaped. The artist practices developing their skill so they can control it to produce certain effects. It’s hard to be purely talented at painting or dancing—it involves plenty of hours perfecting the craft. And after all those hours, after many attempts and fails, after finally hitting what you think is the summit, you feel empowered as an artist.

But there’s just one little problem. Somebody else is still doing it better than you.

Have you ever read a fantastic and scholarly article written by someone your age? Or learned that a teenager published a highly-acclaimed novel? Just when you thought you mastered the craft, you see other people even more successful: in the newspapers, in the bookstores, on television. You think: “Why am I not doing that?” I’ve been there. As an artist, you feel personally attached to your craft. It’s part of who you are. You want to be as good as those authors, you want to experience that same success. While it can produce healthy motivation, it could also induce unhealthy competitiveness.

William Zinsser, author of “On Writing Well,” wrote: “Writing is not a competition.”

Writing is not about who is better, whether based on commercial success or pure content. Writing is not meant to be a race (although NaNoWriMo might say otherwise, but that’s not the point). Author Kristy-Anne Still says that writing is meant to be “a passion, a love.” The worth of your writing shouldn’t be based on how often it’s getting published, or if it’s generating monetary income. It shouldn’t be based on the number of fans you’ve accumulated, or the amount of publicity you get. Writing wasn’t meant to be some shiny gold medal. It can be a weapon or peace-offering, a powerful statement or the beginning of a movement, a kind note to someone in need or a fun story for your siblings. Most importantly, it is a tool instilled in you. Those people who become popular authors, most of them didn’t become published for the sake of being published. They had a story to tell, and they wanted to share it with the world.

My message to you who feel this way: do your own thing. Certainly, let yourself be influenced by authors who inspire you. Build on their craft and make it your own. But don’t worry about other writers. Don’t let their successes or failures affect you. Focus on who you are as a writer, and what you want to do with your craft. You are on your own writing path, and if that means taking more time to develop your goals and plans as a writer, then do so. Just like with any art, you are a unique artist. Your progress might be different than somebody else’s, and that’s perfectly okay. I used to be an aspiring fictional novelist, but after many years of practicing and learning, I have now transitioned to poetry and am honing my nonfiction skills.

We are all writers on different levels of progress and skill. Don’t belittle yourself when you read something ten times better than what you could write. Don’t fret if you haven’t written the novel you want to publish yet. I think the way we can measure our success as a writer is this: if our writing sincerely touches someone in some way, then it is worth the fame in the world.

My Writing Identity

(This was a short essay I wrote for my Creative Writing Club.)

When I was younger, all I wanted to be was a famous author. After reading novels like James and the Giant Peach or Harry Potter and learning that younger people could publish too, I focused on writing chapter books that would one day fill libraries everywhere. And because of this, I felt that to be a writer, you should write at least one novel in your career. So, that was my goal and that was what consisted of most of my “writing practice”: to write long chapter books. Every summer since the 2nd grade I’d sit down after consuming dozens of books from my local public library to write the “next great novel.” Needless to say, it never happened. I was a terrible planner; the process took too long and all I wanted to do was jump into the action. But without a plan, the gas eventually ran out somewhere in the pages of chapter five. Even though I was never successful, I continued to think I’d write that best seller novel one day.

One year I attended a creative writing class for a summer studies program, and the scope with which I looked at writing was reshaped drastically. I was exposed to the world of short stories and poetry, and how to elevate one’s writing and make it three dimensional. From it I found that I really enjoyed penning poems. My writing style loosened from the rigid molds of styles I was trying to imitate, and I was beginning to meet myself in my writing. It wasn’t just about trying to be published anymore—it was about writing, too! And even though I began to take greater pride in my poetry, I struggled to call myself a “poet.” I didn’t really fit the model—someone once told me that to be a deep poet, I had to be sad and depressed, emotionally bruised and hurt. I wasn’t really any of those things. So, was I not a poet, then? Watching Spoken Word, I would see people write dark and deeply emotional free style pieces, delivering lines of loneliness, depression and anxiety rapidly, with eruption of “snaps” following. Colorful stories detailed in carefully selected syllables filled my ears. As much as I was awed by their works, I had never endured any of what they endured. I wanted to be a poet, though, so I tried to write dark stuff too. But I never felt or believed in what I was writing, and it began to fall by the wayside.

I bounced back to the effort of writing a novel. I started projects up again, but I always became deterred if I tried to begin one with a plan. For some novels, I would get farther if I had the exposition and the ending in mind, but I’d run out of steam without the knowledge of what to write in the middle. I’d dabble in poetry, too, continuing to write with a darker tone than what I really felt. I was trying too hard to entertain the definition of “deep” in my works. At this point, a few years ago, I didn’t know what I was. Was I writer? A poet? I didn’t feel like I was doing anything right. And there was my problem.

In the process of trying to validate myself as a writer by forcing myself to do something I didn’t really enjoy, I was preventing myself from exploring as a writer. I was drowning in the fear of labels with the belief I could only be something if it had a label. But the thing is, being a writer doesn’t work in one way. Being a poet doesn’t work in one way either. I regained my enjoyment of writing poetry, finding the ability to abandon my worries about what a poet looks like. Poetry doesn’t take one shape, and it’s not driven by just one tone. We forget that just because we don’t perform the exact way another writer does, it doesn’t mean we are not just as a valid. The challenge of identity was one I struggled with. What kind of writer do I want to be? How will I be that writer? I’ve decided to not label myself. I’m not a novelist, a short story writer, or really a poet. I just enjoy writing in those forms, but I don’t concentrate myself in one area.

I’ve decided to just label myself a writer. Because a writer writes, and that is what I do.

Two Year Blogiversary!

Hey guys! I have some exciting news: today is my 2nd blogiversary! (Read my first blogiversary post here).

Time really has flown by to the point where I can’t believe it’s been two whole years since I started this blog, this tiny little blog for NaPoWriMo on March 12, 2015. Now it’s grown by the help of all of you lovely, beautiful, kind readers. I’m always so surprised when I see my follower count. 150?! Insane! And so many amazing and incredible readers from across the globe, too. It makes me so happy to see that my blog is being read all over the world (even if that’s only a few people).

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2017 stats so far. So cool!!

I know I’m not the most exciting blogger, or the most consistent one. So many other bloggers have it all together, with scheduled posts and giveaways and interviews, etc. I’m just kind of posting random stuff, and periodically at that. Unfortunately I can’t be that committed to this blog, but I’m still blessed every time I get a comment on any of my posts from one of you guys 🙂 Even just one comment or one view is really enough, and I thank you guys so much. It really does mean a lot.

Even though my blog was meant to be whatever I want to write about, it truly is special when it allows me to communicate with so many wonderful people. That’s what counts. That’s why I’m asking you guys in this poll to tell me what interests you the most about the blog, what ideas you might have for it, etc. Even though I can’t promise to commit to these ideas, any help would be appreciated.

From the Tip of Grace’s Pen has been an awesome adventure. Two whole years have gone by. It’s amazing.

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These past few years have been fairly difficult ones. I’m facing new challenges, the looming event of college is always in the back of my mind. I’m stressed, I’m disappointed at myself, I’m far from being humble–there are so many reasons to just be a negative person. But then again, there really aren’t any reasons to be a negative person. And this blog has been that kind of outlet for me, a sort of medium that allows me to connect with other people and share things I love. To talk about my faith and learn things from my readers in the comments, to be constantly inspired by the beauty and charm of other bloggers. Often I just read and read and read other people’s blogs (aka absorbing all their incredible knowledge). So I say to all of you who read this, who have your own blogs: never stop sharing. You’re inspiring someone, helping someone, encouraging someone. Let your spirit shine through in your posts. ❤ I hope that I’m doing so on this blog.

Anyway, *shoots off confetti* Here’s to many more fruitful years of this blog!

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Amen.

Pax in Christo,

Grace

Current Artist Obsession-Dawn Landes

Hey everyone!

So I have a new artist obsession. I discovered her from, of course, Spotify and I love her music! Her name is Dawn Landes, and she has several songs that I have been putting on repeat when I do school or writing. A few months ago I was listening to one of Spotify’s acoustic soundtracks (they are all SO good) and one of her songs, Heaven’s Gate, came on and I was hooked.

Here’s my playlist–experience the music for yourself!

Most of her songs are very calming, inspiring pieces that feature the piano, guitar or violin. She has a very folksy element to her music (which I always love), and while her lyrics are fairly short and sometimes repetitive, there are a few songs that have pretty deep lyrics. But the sound is what I really appreciate, and her voice is so soothing.

Another cool thing was her cover of “Young Folks” by Peter Bjorn and John. That’s a very indie song and she turned it completely country. I love it haha.

Probably my favorite songs on this playlist are “Lullaby for Tony,” “Heaven’s Gate,” and “Diamond Rivers.” The ‘bridge’ of “Diamond Rivers” is so striking and absolutely beautifully stunning and I wish it were longer than two lines!

Anyway, that’s just my current artist obsession. Thank you Spotify for introducing me to yet another underrated/not very well known artist who has beautiful music!

Pax in Christo,

Grace

Being a Ball Kid

Hey everyone!

I’m a huge tennis fan. While I don’t play tennis that much anymore, I could sit and watch a match for hours (and I almost did-Andy Murray just played almost a 3 hour match today and I could rant about it but I won’t.) Anyway, I live near a small professional tournament. I volunteer as a ball kid every year, and it’s probably the coolest experience in tennis I’ll ever get!

Most of you probably know who a ball kid is if you’ve ever seen a tennis match, but if you haven’t, it’s probably not too hard to figure out: ball kids handle the tennis balls. I have been a ball kid for a professional men’s tournament for three years. I’ve scurried around on the court, feeding balls down and to the players, running towels up to players, and trying not to pass out in the sweltering heat and glaring sunlight.

Sounds like a lot of work, right? You bet it is.

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Designs

The whispers of your eyelashes,
The dalliance of our eyes,

the brush of your tongue
that paints words in my ears
they were droplets of lies.

The ocean of your hands,
the timber of your arms,

The steady drum of the rain,
in time with your heart,
spoke volumes in the dark.

The milk of your skin,
The strawberries of your hair,

The rocks of your syllables,
smooth on the surface,
sharp in your swears.

You’re next to me,
then you’re not.

You’re here,
then you’re gone.

In the deepest of lows,
I slide my eyelids shut,
and your head is beside mine.

When I turn to see you,
my hands reaching for yours,
no response awakes me with a tine.

For then I remember,
tears gently spilling down my face
you never existed in the first place.

Trusting in Him

How often do I place my trust in God?

Not often enough.

Trusting in Him

All around us, society says things. “Be your own person!” “You don’t need a man.” “You’re beautiful the way you are.” “You have the power to control.” “You can do this.”

It’s pretty empowering stuff, and it’s nice to hear when I’m feeling hopeless or downtrodden. But for the most part, it isn’t true. Yes, I can do things, and I do have the power to control how I react to situations. But these messages put myself before God.

I do need a man. His name is Jesus. I’m not beautiful the way I am sometimes. I’m full of sin and the need to repent. I can’t do everything on my own, and the idea I shouldn’t need someone, that I can do this all on my own, bruises me, because I desperately need someone to help me. I know that for a fact. I can tell myself over and over again “I’m not going to do that anymore,” or “I’m going to change this about myself.” But I never can, because I’m human and I can easily drift back into what I shouldn’t be doing.

In situations were you feel like you’re constantly losing, (as I feel right now), looking to these societal messages to keep up the fight just isn’t sufficient. Only God has the strength and power to endure.

Yesterday in Mass, a visiting priest made the statement: “Keep reaching  for justice, even if you won’t get it.” God is all about justice, and He knows the injustice you are dealing with. But He won’t always grant it to you when you want it, because His plan is not our own. That doesn’t mean give up necessarily–continue to pray for those who are putting you down, who are holding you back, who are acting unfairly. But ask for the grace and humility to accept what you cannot control, and if you remain defeated, remember to trust in God’s plan for you.

You cannot do everything and you weren’t meant to do everything. I look at what’s going on in our country; the noise hurts my head and the constant negativity hurts my heart. I look at what’s going on in my parish, and I continue to feel hopeless.

And I know why I never feel like I’m getting anywhere. It’s because I forget to place my trust in God. I keep telling myself that I can do what I need to do, that I have the ability to change what needs to be changed. But what if this is not God’s plan? If I feel like there is no progress, it means either one of two things: a.) It isn’t meant to be in God’s plan, or b.) It isn’t time yet for this progress to be made.

So what I need to do is to just place my trust in Him. Not in myself, or in another person. As imperfect creatures, there is no guarantee that what has been promised by me or another will be fulfilled. But what is promised by God will be fulfilled. And that is what I need to remember as I face injustice and unfairness in my surroundings. It’s easy to feel hopeless in times where nothing is going your own way, or you see unfair and wrong things happening right where you are. But God will deliver you from it.

I have a hard time believing this, but that is where true faith and trust exists.

I’m basically writing this post for myself, but I extend it to all of you. I encourage all of you to join me in prayer, to pray for me and to pray for others, who are struggling with trusting God and His plan. These are trying times (but aren’t they always?) and what’s important is to remember that God is in control, and that trusting in Him is what will get us through. If God brought you to it, He will bring you through it.

May the Blessed Mother guide us, and may the Spirit of the Lord keep our eyes focused and our hearts full of compassion and understanding. Trust in Him.

Pax in Christo,

Grace

Good Enough

A very important post ❤

Young Ladies For Christ

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We try so hard to fit in.

We give up so much to be accepted. We surrender our purity, our confidence, our joy, our morals, our identity, the very core of who we are. We erase our faces, physical and spiritual, to draw a facade that matches theirs. We force our hearts to beat a certain rhythm, our feet to move a certain way, our lips to spill certain words, and our bodies to fall into the line which they’re all following, a line which leads to a horrible darkness shrouded by fake smiles. We sacrifice all that is good and holy and beautiful in ourselves, all that we have been blessed with, an identity worth more than anything this world can give.

Beautiful, you were not created to blend with the crowd. You were not created to live up to their expectations, to strive to fit the mold they demand…

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