Hey guys! It’s the last day of March today, and day 14 of this quarantine. Can’t believe it’s been an entire fortnight since we began the shelter-in-place policy. Only 4 more weeks to go! Urg. Just saying those words got me frustrated.
Of course, I miss interacting with the outside world, although yesterday my friends and I did a group video call through Instagram, which was nice. I must say, though, these past few days at home have been super productive! Once I got back on my meds and the cloud of depression lifted, I immediately got back on track in the pursuit of my goals. In addition to studying for the GRE (math section is going horribly, but I will get there!), I signed up for a creative writing course on Coursera, an online platform where people can take online classes in basically any subject, taught by actual professors from prestigious universities. The creative writing class I’m taking is taught by a novelist and professor from Wesleyan University, a top liberal arts college.
Thus far, I’ve learned about Freytag’s Pyramid, a 5-step procedure of formulating a plot; how to create a character; and the 5-act structure of a story (action, background, development, climax, and ending). Our first assignment was to create a short story that utilized a list of given words. I found the task to be surprisingly difficult! Creative writing is essentially creating something from nothing. It’s about translating your ideas into words– but it’s more than simply informing the reader of what’s happening. You must transport the reader into the world you envision by practicing showing, not telling. Upon peer-reviewing some of my classmates’ stories, I noticed that the really good writers used descriptive imagery to paint a scene in the readers’ minds, rather than simply telling the reader what was going on.
My own story was about a 10-year-old girl who got kidnapped and was looking for a way to escape. Comparing my story to those of more experienced creative writers, I saw that my depth of description was drastically lacking. At first, I was demoralized at how far behind my peers I seemed. But then again, I’ve never done creative writing before! The kind of writing I’m doing now, on this blog, is more narrative and expressive writing. So I do have some experience with using poetic language and showing you guys what happens in my life. But writing about my life is easy, since I know myself the best. When you’re creating a fictitious character from scratch, it’s much, much more difficult. But then again, most writers aren’t creating completely from nothing. They oftentimes draw inspiration for characters and events from their own lives and experiences! For example, Veronica Roth, the author of the best-selling “Divergent” series, said in an interview that one aspect of her story was inspired by a freshman psychology course she took at Northwestern University, where they discussed exposure therapy. By the way, she finished the first book of the trilogy before she even graduated college! So inspiring!
Anyway, the fun thing about being a beginner is that you have so much to learn and so much room for improvement. There’s really no pressure to prove anything to anyone, or to try to impress others with your writing. My first novel is not really creative writing. It’s a compilation of some of my best blog posts from the past 5 years; essentially, a coming-of-age narrative of my life. Stay tuned for more updates on how my first novel is going– it’s on the longer side, currently standing at 306 pages. I’m thinking of dividing the book into two books, with the first book documenting my life from 2014-2016 (junior year of high school to college), and the second book being from 2016-2019 (start of college to graduation).
Another thing I’ve been working on is my website, The Athlete’s Corner. I had an informational interview with one of my UCLA classmates and good friend, who is an young entrepreneur, having started his own company in his home country of Malta, at the age of 17. He recently advertised his new website on Facebook, and upon checking it out, I was thoroughly impressed with the formatting, aesthetic appeal, accessibility, and interactive features. It made my own website look like complete sh**. Lol! So I gave him call and asked for some advice on how to make my website more sophisticated, and how to market it in such a way that many people will want to read its content.
What I learned was this: art and business are no longer mutually exclusive. Gone are the days of creating good art, and expecting people to be drawn to your craft solely because of its high quality. The sad truth is, it doesn’t matter how great your content may be. In this day and age, where there’s so much competition and so much information being circulated, it’s very easy for your work to be lost in the sea of thousands of others. To be a successful artist, you have to have the right connections and the right marketing strategies. Of course, content comes first. No one’s gonna want to read your writing if it’s low quality. No one’s gonna want to watch you dance if you aren’t a good dancer. But the funny thing is, sometimes, even the highest-caliber artist with pristine technique and a true gift for their craft, remain out of the spotlight, forever related to the wings of the stage– simply because they don’t put enough effort into making themselves known to the world. I’m kind of at that stage of my writing right now, sitting in the wings, awaiting my “big break”. But if there’s anything I believe in, it’s the strength and substance of my work. I know people want to read my writing, simply because people have told me so! Yet, I’ve been blogging for over 5 years now, and I still only have a handful of steady followers. Why? Because I put little to no effort into marketing! If you look at my blog, it has virtually no pictures– just long walls of text. Who’s gonna want to read that? Especially because humans these days have the attention span of a flea.
Anyway, enough of today’s ramblings. I think I’m gonna start adding more visuals to my blog so people will feel less overwhelmed reading it. Talk to you guys tomorrow!