It took me a few years to come to accept fan fiction as a tool that I could use to improve my writing. In doing so, I was able to change my perception of fan fiction, that I could accept that about 99% of it was terrible and oftentimes used as a medium for allowing writers to insert themselves into their favorite worlds to experience adventures with their favorite characters for their own enjoyment. And, that’s perfectly fine to me.

But, what I found jarring was that someone around me would cringe (both physically and in vocalized meme form) whenever I said that I was working on a piece of fan fiction, only for this same person to do what is, in essence, another form of fan fiction–rather, it is a visual form, called “fan art.”

Fan art pretty much uses the same concept as fan fiction, where the artist has the freedom to draw their favorite characters doing whatever they please. The only difference between the two forms of enjoyment that I can see are the mediums employed.

As I was saying before, this person couldn’t seem to grasp (or accept, I suppose) that what s/he was doing was merely the visual version of fan fiction. It’s quite frustrating, trying to explain the similarities to someone who refuses to even consider my argument, but perhaps I was merely wasting my breath.

Why are some forms of art imitation more acceptable than others? What makes a piece of art great? And why do we allow labels such as “fan fiction” be synonymous with “garbage” while “fan art” might be more readily accepted as art? Perhaps, despite the similarities, there are differences that I have yet to see for myself.

When I was still fairly new to being serious about writing, one of the more frustrating lessons that I’ve learned was that sometimes you can’t rely on your muse to get you writing.

It’s not enough to only write when inspiration strikes, especially when there are daily interruptions to cut you off before you can set pen to paper. I have had many times when this happened, and I know as well as anyone just how painful it can be to lose that intriguing idea that you know (at least at that moment) is one that will shake the world and change humanity and cause heaven and earth to collide.

But, what happens if you never get out of your slump? Or if inspiration refuses to come? Or if all the times you get interrupted keep you from ever jotting down that thought? Is that even writing still, or am I only talented when the mood strikes?

I’ve learned over the years to anticipate interruptions. I scribble little notes for myself to remember what I wanted to write, and then, while I’m out doing other things, I mull the idea over in my head until I can put it into writing. And even then, if I only have the most basic idea and forget how I molded it before, I just go along with it and see where my new thoughts take it.

One of the best pieces of advice my teachers, peers, mentors, and even people online have ever said to me was to write every. Single. Day. At least write something, even if it’s just a little bit. When I was in my slump, I kept going, even when I didn’t feel the story or the scene. If I gave up during that slump and waited for my muse, I know it would never come. I had to work at inspiring myself.

I know it’s hard, pressing on without that inspiration. But, sometimes you just have to do it. Write that scene. Paint that picture. Create. Whatever it is, it is up to us to make the decision to keep doing what we do, even when we just aren’t feeling it.

A muse can be a starting point, but personally, I think that we are the ones who keep it going.

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder. That was what the university doctor told me I had when I described my unusual sleep pattern. Basically, he said that I’m much more active at night, which is why I have problems functioning in the morning (when I sleep). I realized that I’ve had this problem for far longer than I used to think.

The reason why I spoke with the doctor at all was simply to get a note saying that I needed to take my graduation exam at a later time. Eight in the morning was only two hours after I usually get to bed, so I knew that there was no way I could make that time. The doctor did say that it was treatable, but it could take months and lots of different treatments just to fix it. No, thanks.

It was kind of a relief to know that it has an actual name, and that I’m not just some sort of non-sparkly vampire who’s too lazy to function during the morning. Even more amazing to me was that I have classmates who also seem to have the same sleep disorder, and even the graduate coordinator empathized with me because she has friends who have the same thing (she was very accommodating when it came to me needing to take the exam at a later time).

Well, that explains why I was able to stay awake past midnight when I was ten years old, just to watch old 1950s reruns of Disney’s “Zorro” and “The Mickey Mouse Club” (and on weekends, “Spin and Marty”!). It also explains why almost every morning class I took I would pass out minutes after the lectures began. Graduate courses were always in the evening, and I never fell asleep in those classes (except for one, and that was only because it was after I had turned in all my essays for my examination and burned myself out).

Personally, I think this sleep “issue” works well for me. I sleep better and longer, and I can’t even remember the last time I had to lay awake for hours trying to fall asleep. Before, when I tried sleeping at night, I would toss and turn, feel restless, and sleep wouldn’t come until after usually an hour or two. My teacher did express concern, even when I explained that I’m much more energetic and happier with this new schedule, but she had seen the effects it has on people, and I can’t help but get a little concerned.

The hardest part about having it isn’t even with myself, but from the teasing and being told that I’m just too lazy to get up early in the morning. It gets pretty annoying, but it’s not something I can fix just by doing it. All my high school and college life, I would try to sleep at a reasonable hour and just never got a good night’s rest, so that’s more than a decade of me trying to be normal. It took me only a few months of grad school to develop my new sleep pattern.

Despite everything that people say, I’m pretty happy with this unusual sleep cycle of mine. It’s quieter, more peaceful, and I have far less interruptions while writing than if I wrote during the day. I used to be afraid of this disorder because I felt like I was a little too weird, but I’ve grown to embrace it and work with what I’ve got. It’s really not a problem for me, and if anything, I’m much happier now that I know what it is and how to use it to my advantage.



I used to think that I was not allowed to have an opinion of my own, due to always feeling as though everyone would tell me “No” on everything I said. It was just easier to keep my opinions to myself, where I couldn’t be told I was wrong.

Ironically, I am here to say that I was very wrong about that.

The thing is, I know I have my own opinions. What I was upset over was the fact that whenever I try to explain my thoughts to others, they cut me off, tell me “No,” and then proceed to make an argument or tell me something that I was not even going for in the first place.

Whenever this happens, I just feel ready to give up, like I’m wasting my time and energy trying to tell someone something who obviously does not want to listen, but just talk. This is something I’ve complained about before, this lack of listening, but lately, it’s been grating me more than ever.

I guess that’s why I write (complain, rather) on this blog. I have nowhere else to go if I wanna be heard, so I had to find someplace where I could get my thoughts out of my head without interruption.¬†Sometimes, I just don’t even want to deal with people whenever they plow right through me while I’m talking. I’ve noticed that I spend a lot more time listening to other people than I do talking, though I do notice that even I have my moments where I do talk excessively, though not often.

It’s no wonder I’ve gotten so used to just keeping my thoughts to myself (except when I write on here). I know that everyone is free to disagree, and that disagreements are inevitable, but I would prefer to at least be heard first before being disagreed with. I told a classmate just last week that I never felt like I was able to have an opinion, and guess what? This classmate proceeded to pretty much tell me I’m wrong. Of course, s/he was right, since I do have opinions. What I should have said was, “I never felt like anyone would actually consider my opinions before discussing their thoughts on it.”

How can anyone know what others are saying if they don’t shut up long enough to hear anything? It’s things like these that make me feel like it’s best to just keep quiet and let everyone keep yelling at each other.

A professor of mine asked me to send him a chapter from the story I’m working on, so I did (after numerous panicked revisions). Generally, he appeared to enjoy it and offered me some suggestions, one of them being that actions scenes tended to drag. I took it as a good sign, initially, as I would always be afraid that a scene was too choppy, that I was speeding through scenes too quickly. Now, I wonder what happened to the fight scene skills I used to have.

I know for sure that I let myself get too bogged down with making sure there were enough details for a scene to make sense to the reader. I may have gotten too specific with how fight scenes flow, completely forgetting that fights are supposed to be fast, where even the characters might not always know when a fist is going to fly at them.

And so, of course, I now have to figure out a way to keep the visual aspect while parsing it down to maintain the pacing of the fight. My professor did say that I could try ending sentences “on a beat,” like I did in one instance, so that’s one suggestion that I am definitely keeping in mind.

I am going to have to practice writing more fight scenes. Honestly, I’ve written so many of them in the past year that I wonder if I got tired of it, which might have attributed the draggy-ness of my style.

If you have any suggestions for improvement, I’m happy to hear them!

About a year ago, I wrote a post to vent about a girl in my class who just seemed to have a negative attitude about everything, to the point where it felt like she was putting me down at every which way. I learned that I have this girl in one of my classes this quarter, and she hasn’t changed one bit.

I was speaking to a friend about her, and this friend told me “It’s just how she is.” At least, that’s what this friend speculated about her. It seems that the girl is naturally inclined to have a negative attitude about everything, unless it pertains to herself. I’m fine with that, except I wish she wouldn’t be so open about her negativity.¬†I don’t know why, but I was the one she gravitated to when we chose seats for our class.

A few years ago, I had another classmate who tended to say that everything I did or liked was “lame,” and yet she kept wanting to hang out with me, too. I haven’t spoken to her in years, and I still don’t know why these girls have such an inclination to be so negative about everything. They are almost exactly alike, except the girl from a few years ago was a bit more commanding, shall we say?

I do have one positive thing going for me: Earlier this year, I complained about another classmate who had changed the way he spoke to me, where he would always be trying to “one-up” me or demand my attention. I am happy to report that he has since mellowed out, and we now have pleasant conversations once again. I hope it lasts.

In my first quarter of attending university, I got into a discussion with my teacher about whether or not writing is considered work–Writing, in our particular discussion, as in writing stories, or poetry, so writing viewed more for pleasure than anything. At the time, I was convinced that writing stories or poetry or anything pleasurable was all fun and not work at all. Work, as I was taught growing up, was physical, not at all pleasurable, and oftentimes miserable.

My teacher, however, argued the case that writing stories and poetry do require some level of work. He taught me that mental work was indeed work, that we take time to research, to create, to formulate the right wordings, to trying to imagine what we’re trying to translate into words. It might not require any physical heavy lifting, nor running, nor dealing with customers, but work comes in all different forms. Even the kind of work that requires physical exertion has some degree of mentality to it.

That conversation was five years ago and it’s stuck with me all that time. I used to be ashamed of telling people what I wanted to do for a living because there was no running, no heavy lifting, no clocking in, no waking up early–I just wanted to write. I would even tell people I wanted to go into teaching, or publishing, and do writing on the side, but even that wasn’t true. I was just ashamed of being seen as lazy.

But, I realize that writing is a constant kind of work. My mind is constantly on writing, even when I’m supposed to be doing something else. I’m always thinking about what the next scene should be like, or if I want to redo another chapter, and it happens all day, every single day. I actually needed to take a night off from writing because it was becoming a bit strenuous on my mind.

I suppose the definition of work I grew up learning was unpleasant, physically demanding exertion for pay. The way I was taught, I suppose work can also be defined as observable labor. I would hope that I will be able to get a job (writing, cough) that is enjoyable to me.

This question has haunted me all throughout grad school whenever I took a rhetoric class: What is truth? Well, what kind of truth? How do you define truth? In what terms is truth considered truth? Why is one truth more true than another truth?

I don’t recall ever getting an answer for what truth is, but this “truth” was constantly part of my classmates’ answers whenever discussion came up. “Truth” started to lose meaning for me the more it was passed around their lips. In our discussions, we have reached one conclusion where truth is solely dependent on each individual person. Everyone has their own idea of truth, their truth or truths, and yet, we are all quick to point out that another person’s truth that doesn’t align with our own makes them idiots.

Why, though? Difference in truths does not necessarily mean one is an idiot. It simply disagrees or does not quite meet with one’s thoughts, beliefs, and expectations. There are different truths in cultures, families, friends, individuals, yet if we find that someone thinks differently from us, we are quick to label them as incompetent, idiotic, and the like.

So, why are we so bent on forcing others to see our truth when we won’t even try to understand theirs? Everyone is so sure that their truth is the right one, and some are so aggressive with spreading their perceived truth that oftentimes, it just creates discord between them and those they are attempting to persuade. I’m not talking truth being 2 + 2 = 4, but rather things that are more abstract and possibly even seemingly arbitrary, such as legalizing the use of recreational drugs or banning the possession of guns. Logic functions differently in different cultures, different communities, and of course, different people. Some believe in faith, or needing no seemingly logical reason to believe in something. Others need a reason behind everything that happens.

Since this is an election year, I’m seeing more and more people quick to throw around their disdain for those who disagree with the candidate they are voting for. And yet, when I look at their arguments, it all mostly boils down to “Because you guys are idiots.” I think that, rather than squabble over who’s an idiot and who isn’t, we should try to understand one another–circumstances, experiences, thoughts, beliefs, struggles–and try to find a place to compromise on issues at hand, so that it’s not about winners and losers, or idiots and intellectuals.

It’s perfectly acceptable to have your own truth. It’s perfectly acceptable for others to have their own truths, as well. I personally think that our perceptions of our truths are constantly changing, even if we can’t sense it. For me, I think the most foolish thing we can do is be quick to call others idiots before even considering another person’s truth.

This past school year, for two rhetoric classes, we had to take speeches or texts and rhetorically analyze them to better understand what the speaker or writer was saying. For both classes, I chose two speeches by North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, as I was fascinated by how seemingly bogus and almost insane his advice and narrative to his people sounded.

In my research for the first essay, I determined that the only way all his bogus information to work was if he constructed an alternative reality for them to believe in. My second essay was used to delve deeper into that theory, where I wanted to better understand how and why totalitarian rhetoric worked beyond just coercion. What I discovered was that the people of the DPRK literally are raised without any knowledge of the world beyond their borders, besides what they are taught by their government.

The language Kim Jong Un uses, the narrative he tells of the “Imperialists” trying to steal their surplus of crops, build up countries like the United States or Japan as war-crazed nations, where everyone is bent on violence and greed. To add to this image, the people are told that they are blessed with abundant harvests, despite everyone always being hungry and severely underweight. Yet, they believe that what they have truly is more than what the “Imperialists” have, where they have no idea that obesity is a problem in some nations.

My research led me to wonder this: Are we also surrounded by similar lies?

Maybe the lies we’re told aren’t as clear and bogus as what the DPRK are told, but we determined in a class discussion that even facts can be manipulated. For example, if I say “Sally is a diligent student,” it illustrates the image that she does work hard, implicating that she gets good grades. However, diligence might not always equate to high grades, but the implication allows others to make the unsaid connection.

What about the news we watch on TV, or read in articles? What is being said? What isn’t being said? I’m afraid to say that I find it difficult to trust anything I read or hear about in the news, due to me always questioning the context of events. So-and-so was shot and killed? Was it in self-defense or with malicious intent? Which narrative is this story trying to fit?

It’s too easy for anyone to manipulate words to fit a certain narrative. I’ve learned not to trust anything I read, see, or hear about, but to consider it, question it, find out more about it, before coming to a conclusion. Considering that this is an election year, I’ve been seeing a lot of political posts from many sides, questioning everything that comes across me.

And still, I wonder: Which are lies, which are truth, and what is the context of it all?


I’m sure that I speak for many writers–hopefuls and successful–when I say that one of the most difficult parts of writing has to do with the emotional agony that goes on in our stories.

As someone who struggles with empathizing too much with others, this connection with characters, big and small, can put an immense strain on me emotionally to the point where I have to take a moment to breathe. Usually, that helps me calm down enough to tell myself “This is a damn good idea,” even if it might not be, but just that tremendous sensation of despair (I’m using a negative set of emotions for the moment) can make me a bit ill for a short while.

So, how do I handle this connection for extended periods of time? Personally, as I said before, I take a step back and breathe. If a single step isn’t enough, then I let it sit for a day or two. Sometimes I try to rewrite it in my head, or other times I have to distract myself with happy things. After a few times going back and forth, I start to feel somewhat okay, where I’m a little less connected and emotionally invested.

Truthfully, just a few minutes ago, I had one such epiphany of what I want to happen in the story I’m working on, and it hurt like getting impaled by an ice spear. But, as the minutes pass, I start thinking that the idea is too crucial to pass up, but as I keep rewriting and rewriting in my head how it should be, I will eventually detach myself enough emotionally from it that I can get through writing it when the time comes.

How do you deal with emotionally agonizing scenes? Do you have any techniques or aversions in writing that you do?