My Thoughts on the Orlando Shooting

Hey, all. I know I normally try to keep things light on this website, but today for a few minutes, I wanted to talk about the shooting that took place last night at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

For anyone who isn’t aware, last night at around 2 AM local time, the United States experienced the most deadly mass shooting of its history and what has been deemed the “worst terror attack since 9/11.”

Some of you may know this already. But what you may not have been told yet is that the nightclub in question was an LGBT space.

I submit to the possibility that this was pure coincidence; after all, the shooter in question specifically pledged allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call before the attack. I also recognize it could be coincidence that this fell not only within pride month, not only within pride week, but on the very same day as the Capitol Pride celebration. It’s possible by the tiniest of margins that homophobia wasn’t a factor when a target was selected for the attack.

As a member of the LGBT community, forgive me if this possibility doesn’t bring me enormous waves of warm fuzzies.

Yeah, yeah, I’m bisexual. I’ve never formally come out on this blog before, and I certainly meant to do it in a different way, but we can chat later about my personal life. This isn’t the time for me to recount my coming out story. This also isn’t intended to be a news article, so if you’re looking for detailed information about the attack, I’d kindly direct you to Google, where a plethora of much more reputable resources awaits.

No, this blog has always been me plastering the internet with my own feelings. However small or uninvolved my voice is compared to the hundreds of people actually present in Florida, I would like to add to the mix my own reaction to this event.

Something important you should know about me: I don’t get offended or angered very easily. I’m always up for people throwing a gay-bashing joke at me, and I’m so used to being called a faggot (maliciously or otherwise) that it rolls off my shoulders. I hold no grudge against people who disagree with my values. I believe in speaking out against discrimination without being angered or wound up about it.

But I think for the first time, it’s really hitting me that I’m a part of a world that simply doesn’t treat people like me the same as others.

I want to be extra careful with the lectures, because I also don’t believe in complaining. I’ve been through some pretty awful experiences because of who I’ve fallen in love with, but generally my reaction to this is to shrug and say “Welp, life’s not fair. Whining won’t fix it. Let’s press on.” To me, being LGBT has simply meant I’ll have a tougher time of things than others, and that’s my battle to face.

But this feels different. I think that’s because this had nothing to do with me; it had to do with an innocent group of people singled out because of a trait I share with them. I sure don’t live in Florida, but I did almost go to the Capitol Pride celebration this weekend. What if the shooting had taken place there?

I learned a lot of tough lessons growing up. I learned that it’s going to be difficult for me to be accepted by my more conservative friends and family. I learned that some people are going to treat me worse because I seem like some outsider. I learned that, no matter how supportive everyone around me has and will always be, the reason they feel the need to be supportive in the first place is because—for better or worse—I’m different. I’m cool with all of that.

But I never learned to look over my shoulder.

I never learned that this sort of thing could potentially happen to me. Emotional attacks? Lay them on me. I’m tough enough to handle heartbreak or isolation. But no amount of personal resolve is going to stop a bullet if someone sends one my way because of who I love.

After the Aurora shooting in 2012, my parents kept me home from movie theaters for a few weeks. To this day, that remains the most ridiculous instance of overprotection I’ve ever experienced.

That attack—which, incidentally, is second only to this in being the largest mass shooting in the USA—resulted in 82 people being shot, with 12 fatalities. The Orlando attack totaled in 103 people being shot, with 50 fatalities. In case you don’t feel like running the calculations, that’s over four times more fatalities and an increase of 25% in people who were shot.

Let’s get mathematical! Extrapolating my parents’ fears, this would mean I could be straight as an arrow and still need to be roughly 400% more cautious now than after the Aurora shooting. The mathematical factor which incorporates my queerness—and the statistical probability of me being shot dead because of it—is something we’ll just have to leave to the imagination.

That part shouldn’t be too tough; after all, it doesn’t take a forensics team to get to the bottom of why LGBT folks were and are targeted. Some people hate what they don’t understand. That isn’t complicated.

In my humble opinion, there exists only one way to battle this kind of discrimination: through a cultural shift, which I hope and suspect will happen over the next few decades. As the newer generations grow up, hopefully we can all recognize that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender literally makes no difference towards a person’s character. If someone is a kind, funny person, them being LGBT doesn’t make them any less kind or funny. Conversely, if someone is an obnoxious jerk, them being queer as a three dollar bill won’t make their company any less deplorable.

See what I’m getting at? People are people. Love is love. At the end of the day, we’re all human.

For fuck’s sake, let’s start acting like it.

Life Goes On (2014-2015: Year in Review)

“It is never too late to be who you might have been.”

–  George Eliot

 

I hope that what is left of my blogosphere fanbase will be relieved to hear I’m not dead! Though it’s been four long months since my last blog entry—which is by far the most extensive hiatus I’ve taken on this site—I most certainly haven’t given up on my entries here.

That’s how it usually goes, right? Overly ambitious writer kid tries his hand at a blog, cranks out posts for a few months, then burns out and the site fizzles into woeful obscurity. I don’t intend this to be me or the work I’ve built here, but I certainly don’t promise to increase my posting frequency…it has been a busy few months.

Speaking of which! Let’s get to the good stuff.

It’s been two years since I graduated high school. TWO. I’d like to think that the speed with which time passes will become easier to contemplate now that I’m in my twenties, but it hasn’t so far.

For me, this school year has been the most transformative one yet. I didn’t begin it on the most upbeat note…in fact, August of 2014 was perhaps the gloomiest era of my life. This had to do with a lot of things, most of which I’d prefer not to get into here. But I couldn’t wait to get back to college.

Once I did, my friends lifted me up exactly as I thought they would. I launched into a new semester of great memories, challenging-but-exciting new courses, and—most of all—an indescribable feeling of being where I belonged.

The second year of college is an intriguing one. Much like the second year of high school, it’s accompanied by a newfound surge of confidence. The ‘same routine, new year’ type of thing. In my case, that was especially true: I had the same awesome suitemates, in the same dorm room as freshman year, with the same friend group.

But of course, each year has its own challenges. School got, like, hard. (Imagine that!) And my best friend and I started having problems.

You’ve probably read about my best friend from high school. This was the person who was by my side through my entire senior year of high school, that amazing summer after, and even freshman year of college. But of course, going to different schools takes its toll. We started arguing a lot. And we had awesome times to make up for it. And then more arguing. And life went on.

Then something happened in February which I will never forget: I met a super cool dude in my math class. Quiet kid, but I got some feeling (no one can really explain these things) that we’d get along. So I obnoxiously persisted in trying to make conversation until we finally started talking. Then hanging out. Then deciding to be roommates next year.

Having to let my former best friend go was one of the most difficult things I’ve done. And making a new one was one of the most awesome experiences of my life. And now, even as I type, we’re chilling watching TV, trying to wrap our heads around how this school year is at its end.

Don’t get me wrong. My life hasn’t been all full of sweets and roses. Several weeks ago, I was hurt by several friends in a more sharply devastating way than I’d ever experienced in my life. And one of the people involved was said new best friend. For a while, all the people involved hated one another. And we all reconsidered why we’re here. What ‘friendship’ really means. How much someone can apologize for how much they hurt you, and how far forgiveness can reach.

And life goes on.

And now we’re all okay. Certainly we’re more grown up, and stronger, and perhaps a little less wide-eyed than before. (Because yes, it is possible to be naïve even at twenty years old.) Because growing up doesn’t end once you become an adult. We all grow, all the time. We find friends and love them and hurt them and make up and love them again. You make a best friend who becomes your brother, then one day you find yourselves to be strangers, but perhaps even then your story isn’t finished. It’s just on pause for a little bit.

Life goes on. It simply does. No matter how much you’re hurting, or loving, or living. Whether you’re at your worst or on top of the world. People keep going, life moves forward, and in every pain there is a lesson. In every person, there is both good and bad; dark and light; hate and immense love.

That, I think, is what it’s really all about. What growing up means. You become nuanced and discover how everyone else is, too. You get knocked down, dust yourself off and get back up. You lose friends and gain new ones. You hold onto the memories of the previous year and the previous summer and previous people. And life—

Well, you know the rest.

To everyone who has been there for me in this past school year, thank you. And for anyone wondering if life gets better or worse: well, I can’t answer that. But I can tell you that it stays interesting.

Here’s to another interesting, amazing year.

Thoughts from an Introvert

“Telling an introvert to go to a party is like telling a saint to go to Hell.”

–  Criss Jami

Well, I vowed to do at least one post per month this school year, and here we are. Ten minutes until a new month and new year. Nothing like posting at the literal eleventh hour, eh?

I was originally going to make this post a “2014 in Review” type deal, but other than listing many things that happened this year—most of which wouldn’t particularly interest my readers—that wouldn’t be much of a post. Instead, I’d like to take this time to discuss an important topic which I don’t think gets spoken about nearly enough: introversion.

Introversion is officially defined as “the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life.” In other words, someone keeps to themselves. But many people assume this definition stops there. Usually, if we see a person who doesn’t like to socialize quite as much as the next guy, we say something like, “they’re such an introvert.”

I’ve been labeled as this for most of my life, and it’s technically correct. However, I never like telling people, “I’m an introvert” (though I referred to this in the title of this post, for the sake of clarity). I prefer to say, “I have introversion.” Why?

Because saying that someone is an introvert makes it sound as though this is nothing more than a description of their personality. I would have to disagree with this. Introversion isn’t just an adjective to define a social preference; it’s an entire way of thinking and perceiving the world. As someone who has introversion, I’d like to talk a bit about what it’s like.

To debunk the common misconception, no, being an introvert does not equate to being antisocial. I have quite a few friends, love them dearly, and get painfully bored if I go too long without seeing them. But the difference is more how I prefer to hang out with them.

I’m a college kid. Many college kids love turning up or being in a large group setting to meet new people. However, I detest large crowds, or any group of people greater than 10-15. I love hanging with my friends, but in quieter settings. Watching a movie together in our dorm. Going out to dinner somewhere. Taking a walk through the neighborhood. I love blasting music and dancing, but only if I’m by myself and can jam in my own private, embarrassing way.

In short, I’m particular about how and when I see my friends. I love social events, if they’re planned out well in advance, in a controlled setting. And after a social event, I generally have to “recharge” for a brief time before I’m comfortable going out again.

When I’m home from college, I’m usually in my room awake until at least two in the morning. Why? Because this is the only chunk of time I have where I can be alone and relax, or do some writing, without anyone bothering me for anything. This is also why I love having the house or dorm room to myself.

This attitude doesn’t equate to me hating people. I love people. Erm, most of them. Usually. Some of the time.

In all seriousness, I do love people, but after too much interaction with others, I start to get this little voice in the back of my head: “I wish everyone would go away. Shoo, pesky humans. Take me to a land where no one else exists to bother me, kind of like Will Smith’s setup in I Am Legend.”

That little voice is a bit of an asshole, huh?

There’s another misconception: all introverts are jerks. Not so. More like, we simply have a lower tolerance for interacting with others.

This goes hand in hand with the discomfort of interacting with strangers. When my home phone rings, I don’t answer unless I know the person. If someone is at the door and no one else is around to get it, I dread having to do so myself. And if I’m alone with someone I don’t know very well, I feel obligated to whistle, or shake my leg, or make small talk, just to keep them from feeling awkward.

Additionally, I work best on my own, which is why I love writing—no one else there telling me how to do it. This extends to my complete and absolute hatred of group projects.

But most of all, what defines introversion for me is other teenagers not really understanding my social drive. There have been countless times that my friends have lightly teased me about having no life, or never going out, or being boring. They’re like, “you’re in college, how can you not live it up?” And as fantastic as my friends are, there are only a handful of them who really understand that “being boring” is exactly what I’d prefer to do.

And now here we are tonight, on New Year’s Eve, and I’m alone in my room blogging. This is a poor example because I actually REALLY wanted to hang out with all of my friends tonight, but unfortunately almost all of my college friends live up near my college two hours away, and the rest are traveling. But, being by myself isn’t the worst thing, either.

For anyone else out there with introversion, I hope that reading this might help reassure you that your social preferences are perfectly acceptable and not at all abnormal. And for everyone else, I hope that reading this might help you better understand that introverts aren’t antisocial assholes…we just have a lower tolerance for humans.

Happy New year, everyone!

On Writing: Procrastination

“If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If it isn’t, you’ll find an excuse.”

–  Unknown

 

Hi, everyone! No, I haven’t died or been killed by my schoolwork (yet).

I’m sure some of my veteran readers could’ve guessed that my posting would be spotty at best when the school year kicked off. I told myself, “No, Caleb, this year it’ll be different! With a year of college under my belt, I can now manage my time infinitely better, and I’ll post so often that the WordPress servers will poop their pants!”

Then the other day I logged back into my account for the first time in two months, like:

shrekoops

Sorry about that, readers.

One thing I am pleasantly surprised to see, however, is that my reader stats haven’t even been dented. I appreciate everyone’s support during my sparse posting, and am glad you all enjoy reading old posts even when I’m not around to create new ones.

Today, however, I am! Which is a nice segue into the meat of this article: procrastination.

I think any person with internet access has fallen victim to procrastination at some point. The internet is a fluid place; one minute I’m watching a YouTube tutorial about the difference between Enantiomers and Diastereomers, then I blink and suddenly I’m watching a video called “News Anchor Laughs During Murder Report.”

So, how does this factor into the lives of writers?

The thing about writing—in my experience, at least—is that it isn’t a process that can be divided into tiny chunks.

Here’s what I mean: think of doing homework. Any high schooler knows this is a verb for watching TV and having an open textbook nearby. But perhaps, during commercials, you can knock out a math problem or two.

Writing isn’t like this. Sure, you can set goals for yourself (“tonight I’ll finish chapters two and three!”) but it’s difficult to write a handful of sentences every ten minutes or so. Writing takes intense focus, which is why authors are often found doing their work in a private study or an area of similar seclusion. I don’t have an office, but when it’s writing time, I lock myself in my room and put on ambient music. No one is to disturb me.

And then the internet comes in.

Maybe you’ve heard it before: several times, when published authors have been asked how they get their work done, they’ve said step one is turn off the Wi-Fi. Or unplug the Ethernet cord.

Easier said than done, my quasi-Amish friends.

Sure, yeah, turn off the internet! But hey, what if you need to decide on a name for that new character? Where are you going to look up name etymologies?

How about if, mid-sentence, you know the word you want to use, but can’t think of it? A physical thesaurus would be a good tool, certainly, but the online thesaurus would take a tenth of the time.

And don’t you dare look at that smartphone.

Get my point? This generation of authors has grown up with the internet, and we—dare I say—depend on it. I’m an active person; when I’m in the writing zone, my thoughts are spilling onto the paper like rapid-fire pellets of creativity, and if I need to look up a word mid-sentence, I want to do so now. Immediately. Not put the whole process on hold while I rummage around my books for a thesaurus.

This is a perfectly acceptable reason to go on the internet, in my opinion. But as soon as I open that browser, it’s only a matter of time before I find myself watching “Dumbest Answers on Wheel of Fortune- Part 1” or something.

Stop whining, you helpless blogger, the masses sneer. You’re perfectly capable of avoiding distractions if you choose so. Blaming the internet for being able to distract you is like blaming alcohol for being able to intoxicate you.

To which I say, I agree in full! This is most certainly not an anti-internet post. I love the internet. I think it’s fantastic that, in several simple clicks, I have the ability to open and watch a video titled “Crackhead Does Backflip off House for a Dollar.” But I also think that as a culture, we’ve become less productive as a whole because of these time-wasters.

Several weeks ago, I sat down at my desk to do some work. The plan was to check Facebook, pull up a Pandora station, then do my material balance problems for Chemical Engineering.

So I pull up Facebook, scroll through it, then close it out without thinking. I open a new browser tab…and somehow, I’m back at Facebook. It takes me a minute to realize that I, by complete reflex, decided that the first thing to do after closing Facebook was to re-open Facebook.

I thought for sure that this was the sign of unhealthy internet use, until I mentioned it to my roommates. All three of them had done the exact same thing before. It was common.

Perhaps that’s a college thing, but even so, the fact that these time-wasting videos exist proves that they have an audience.

So, what can writers do about it?

Well, killing off internet access is good in theory, if you’re willing to do your research and fact-checking the old-school way. I’m also a fan of checking all of my social media right before I start writing, so I can put it out of my mind and focus on the current task. In the end, however, I think the best solution is the simplest one: avoid internet use if you can, but if you must, get what you came for and go back to writing.

And if the piece you’re currently writing is enticing enough to keep you away from those cat videos, then I think you have a real winner.

On Writing: How Are Teen Authors Perceived?

“Some people break all the rules and get published. You could cross a road blind-folded and not get run over. That doesn’t mean that crossing the road blind-folded is a good way to live a long life.”

–  Nicola Morgan

 

This post hits home, because I’m a teen author myself. I have been since I turned thirteen, though I’m not exactly one of those types who scores a major book deal by the time they hit puberty. I fit into the much larger category of teens who write books but haven’t broken into the industry yet. I have, however, gotten four full requests from literary agents, including the woman who represented The Hunger Games…so, hopefully that bumps me slightly towards the “publication” clan.

It seems like teen authors are everywhere these days, doesn’t it? When I started high school, NO ONE knew that I was a writer, not even my close friends and family. Why? Because I felt like zero other teenagers were interested in that sort of thing, and of course when you’re fourteen, the last thing you feel like being is different.

Now? 180 flip. Not only do I enjoy being weird and breaking social norms, but teens who like to write are becoming more and more common. Okay, maybe teens who like to write full length novels are still a bit rare, but even that movement is blossoming thanks to NaNoWriMo (which, incidentally, I’ve never done. Hmm…)

But how are these teen authors perceived by adults?

We teens would love to believe that everyone sees us and immediately starts rooting for us. “Oh, you’re only FIFTEEN and you’re trying to get a book published? Bless your precociousness! May you lead the charge against a society that believes kids can’t change the world.”

Let me be clear, I’m all for the “kids change the world” movement and even hope to be a part of it. But unfortunately, I think most adults take the pessimistic approach: they see a teen writer and think “good hobby, but you’re probably way too young to succeed at something like this.”

Want to hear the best part?

I agree with them.

Hypocrite! you guffaw at your screen. Caleb, you’re saying teens shouldn’t be authors, yet here you are doing the THING.

Not quite. First and foremost, I absolutely do think teens should write. I think all teens should test to see if they like expressing themselves that way, and if they find they do, then write and write and never stop. Whether it’s for yourself or the blog world or whomever, if writing (or ANYTHING!) is your passion, I believe it’s not only healthy, but important, to embrace and pursue it.

No, no, when I say most teenagers probably aren’t a good match for the publishing business, I mean just that: the publishing business. The get-a-literary-agent-and-sell-to-a-publisher business. I don’t think the majority of teens are cut out for it.

Do I still sound bitter? Alright, nitpickers, check this: most PEOPLE aren’t cut out for the publishing business, whether they’re fifteen or ninety-seven or forty-three or twenty-eight. But beyond that, I’ll build my case.

Hey, teenagers. Yes, you people. I want you to picture yourself, who you were, one year ago. And I’m willing to bet that you would literally throw that person down a flight of stairs if you met them today.

There are worlds of psychological findings—not to mention common sense—that show how prone teenagers are to dramatic development as they approach adulthood. What high school senior dresses or acts how they did coming into high school? We grow up, yo.

It's Reality!

But here’s the thing! Let’s say an ambitious teen author slapped together a novel by the age of fifteen and started querying agents. Now, what do you think the twelfth grade version of that author would think of their book, if they glanced over it three years later?

Sounds like a horrifying situation, doesn’t it? It is, my dear readers.

I would know. I lived it.

I tried to be one of those hotshot teen authors. No, correction…I wanted to be the first hotshot teen author. (Yes, teens have gotten books published occasionally, but how many of those books have done that well? And don’t you dare cite Eragon; I’ll fry that fish later.)

I wanted to be the breakout kid, the one who actually becomes a bestselling teen author and actually turns a profit and actually makes it before finishing high school.

Then I grew up and realized that maybe, that was a tad unrealistic.

Is it good to have goals? Of course. Is it good to pursue them? Yes! But the thing is, when I first started trying for publication, I hadn’t grown up yet. I followed all the querying rules and I knew what I was up against, but sadly and quite simply, I just wasn’t good enough yet.

I’m not trying to discourage anyone with a similar dream. Maybe you HAVE grown up by age fifteen and are ready to go! But I’m just saying, I wasn’t, and while I wasn’t necessarily a terrible author, I was no where near ready to be published.

Which of course begs the question I know some people are thinking.

How do you know you’re ready NOW, you nincompoop?

Well, I don’t. Maybe I’ll never be published. But that’s exactly why I have only ever tried for publication through the traditional querying method. No self-publishing, no teen writing contests, nothing. I play the big game, same as every other prospective adult author out there. This novel of mine is going to sink or swim completely on its own, damn it, and it’s very slowly starting to swim amongst interested agents.

That’s why I think I might be ready.

I used to think that when/if I ever became published, it would have something to do with my age. I even hoped it would. Now, I don’t even consider it as a factor. For one thing, I’m now in college, and I legally am an adult, even if I have a little bit of teenage time left. But more importantly, this thing is working, highly respected agents are interested, and it has zero to do with any marketability related to being a teenager who writes books for teenagers. For all they know, I could be some English professor trying their hand at the YA genre.

ntrnt

Would that angle help me, maybe, if I put my age in my query letter? May…be. Would agents—subconsciously or otherwise—read my novel through a skeptical lens, knowing I’m barely out of high school?

Yeah, I’m pretty sure they would.

My point is, I don’t want my age to influence any success I may have (if any) as a writer. I don’t want to be some wunderkind who breaks convention.

I just want to be a plain old, regular, boring, published author.

On Writing: When Have You “Made It”?

“There are two ways to get enough: one is to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.”

–  G.K. Chesterton

 

Success is perhaps the most basic of things that all writers ponder. From the minute you start hammering out that first draft of your novel, you picture sitting at a table in a little bookshop signing copy after copy for eager readers.

Well at least, that’s my fantasy. Those imagined by other people might include being a NYT bestseller, rolling in rich royalties, and having an internet fan base so large that the Twitter servers poop their pants.

The point is, no matter the specifics of your grand visions, one thing is common: every writer wants to “make it” as an author.

But what does this really mean?

To some people, it’s the moment they finally land an agent. Once I started getting full requests from agents, a lot of my friends and family were all, “Maybe you’ll get an agent! Then you’ll have finally made it!”

I disagree. Let’s go on a hypothetical journey and say you get a literary agent. For sure, that’s a rare and noteworthy accomplishment. Pop open the champagne! (Or in my case, sparkling grape juice). But have you made it yet? Is this where you’re ready to call it quits? I’d sure hope not.

Most people, I imagine, wouldn’t settle being happy with having an agent. They would want to try for a publishing deal. And surely, when that happens, then they’ll have made it!

So let’s say that person does get a publishing deal. And it even comes with a nice advance. Well now, you’ve truly made it, yes? You’ve jumped the final hurdle?

Except, out of every ten books published, only one of them turns a profit. So, I would imagine, the next challenge is to be that one that actually succeeds.

But let’s be optimistic! Let’s say you are that ONE, and not only is it successful, it’s wildly successful. People everywhere are reading your book and telling you how good you are. You get a plethora of requests to speak to students or do signings. And you might even have a shot at being on the New York Times bestseller list!

Have you made it yet? Or do you want to get on that list?

Well, of course you do.

And it happens! You get on the NYT bestseller list. You even crush the long-running reigns of the likes of Rick Riordan and John Green. Everyone knows your name. You make enough money to quit your day job. NOW, now you’ve made it, right?

But then there’s talk of movie deals.

You wouldn’t be interested in those, now would you?

I hope I’m not beating a dead horse here. What I’m trying to express in this drawn-out example is the fact that—sorry as I am to say it—there is no definitive point in the world of writing where you can dust your hands off, lean back and say, “I’ve done everything I wanted to.”

Why is this? Well, it’s because when one door opens, you want to move forward and open the next. That’s the natural, human desire for progress. As a first-time writer, your only goal may be to get a literary agent. But if this happens, your aspirations grow.

Many people imagine that once they get published, BAM! They’ve made it. They think their desires won’t expand.

Perhaps all those people are right. I wouldn’t know myself; I’m not a published author. But I have thought about it plenty, and I’ve asked myself that magical question: if I get a call saying my book is going to be published, will I be satisfied with my career as a writer?

Of course I won’t. I’m much too selfish for that. I want to be the best. I want to be remembered. I want to change the world.

Sure, these are good goals, and if I do accomplish them, great. But I need to stay grounded, too. And I need to accept the fact that, much as I’d like to say “I made it,” I probably won’t ever be satisfied with where I am.

I hope no one mistakes this for ungratefulness. Just because I’m unsatisfied with where I am does NOT mean I am unhappy. I accept that even getting to the “agent” stage is difficult, and I’m grateful to have made it that far. I’m thankful for all of the helpful feedback and all the time people have taken to assist me on my journey. But my desire for progress is driven by my desire to show all those people they didn’t waste their time. I want their faith in me to be rewarded.

If I go the rest of my life without making it ANY further in the publishing game, fine. What’s meant to happen will happen, and I don’t need a publishing deal to be happy in life. But that desire for progress will always be there, no matter how far I go.

All that being said, if I ever do get a publishing deal, I’m totally going to say, “hey everyone, look, I made it.”

Why, you ask?

I’m not sure myself. I think it has something to do with the fact that a publishing deal would mean I could hold my writing in my own hands, as a tangible stack of paper with a professional cover. Printed books have something beautiful about them, and perhaps if I ever have my own, then that’ll be enough for me.

Right now, I just hope I get the chance to find out.

What about you? When will you have “made it,” if ever?

My Identity

“The way we choose to see the world creates the world we see.”

–  Barry Neil Kaufman

 

Considering how spotty I’ve been with the posting this past year, I’m not sure how many of my veteran followers I still have on board. But for those of you who are out there, a) thank you, and b) I think you in particular will find this post most interesting. Because, after almost two years of blogging, I think it’s time I share a bit of my identity.

About time, right? Here I’ve been, hunching over my laptop, spewing opinions about movies, growing up and—of course—writing, yet you don’t have a face or even a name to put to me.

You’ve gotta cut me a little slack on that front. I’m nineteen. It’s scary out there, guys. I have plenty of friends who run blogs with their pictures and full names attached. Yeah, that seems like a brilliant idea: hey world, here’s what I look like, and all the information you need to find me, and my house! Key is under the brick!

Don’t get me wrong, for some people, blogging is all about establishing a writing persona to build their author creds. And perhaps if the day comes that my book is in fact published, and I want to reveal the man behind the curtain here, I’ll do that.

However, for the time being, this blog is nothing more than a template for some writing practice. And thus, I’ll stick to using a writing persona when identifying myself. All that being said, you can call me Caleb.

Of course, that isn’t my real name, but it is one of my favorites, as far as names go. It’s Hebrew for “whole hearted” or “faithful.” I prefer to ignore the fact that its other translations include “dog,” “crow,” and “basket.”

So, hi, everyone. My name is Caleb, and I run the blog SuperOpinion8ted.

(Hi, Caleb).

Some more about me, taken from one of my early posts, my writing persona:

As I haven’t told you much about myself, I don’t know what you picture when (if) you think of the person behind this blog when they’re creating its content. Perhaps you imagine a teenager with six friends on Facebook, glasses worthy of Professor Trelawney, and a laptop on which he plays minesweeper for twenty hours of the day.

Or, maybe you picture a sketchy dude in sketchy clothes, sitting in the darkest corner of his basement, typing furiously on a laptop and staring at the WordPress stats pages waiting for views to trickle in.

In both cases you’re incorrect. Believe it or not, I do have a life outside of writing. The depth of that life is questionable, but it exists nonetheless.

Seriously. I don’t do this all the time.

I’d like to think of myself as quirky rather than downright weird. I’m a somewhat average teenager who happens to be a huge writer nerd at heart. I love printed books infinitely more than electronic ones. I’m picky about which pens I use.

And I. Correct. Everyone’s. Grammar.

Oh, do I correct grammar. I correct grammar like we’re in the Hunger Games and one misuse of “who” vs. “whom” will get everyone blown up immediately. When I’m hanging out with my friends, after two or three corrections, said friends want to rip off my writing arm and shove it down my throat to make me shut up. I don’t care; I keep correcting. It’s an involuntary reaction from me. I can’t help it. Someone will say “Me and my friend—” or “I went to lay down—”

And I’m all:

english

My best friend has hit me in the face exactly once, and it was over a “who” vs. “whom” correction.

Uh, where was I? That’s right; a bit about myself.

Probably the most prominent thing about me is my nostalgia. This is boosted by the fact that I can accurately recall almost every day of my life. Memories don’t fade with me like they do with others…well, eventually they fade, but it takes a long time. I can still give you a breakdown of my ninth birthday party, including who attended, what date it was on (April 4, 2004) and a list of the gifts I received. You can only imagine how well I remember Senior Prom, or Graduation, or the summer between high school and college.

Memories affect me a lot more than they do most people, and that’s why you’ll catch me blogging about growing up. Because change is something I’m (I dare say) much more aware of than most people. In fact, change is the main theme of my novel, which is centered around a group of friends’ senior year of high school.

So that’s a little about the kid behind the blog. No one extraordinary, just your everyday book-writing, grammar-correcting, sarcastic, quirky teenager. And oh yeah, I’m also hell-bent on doing whatever it takes to get my novel in print.

But, that’s another story.