The Future of Storytelling: A Free, Online Course on (Also: Week One Creative Task.)

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The past two years, I have participated in (and failed – but enjoyed nonetheless) National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. Since I’m also on Facebook for a huge amount of my downtime that I’d rather not disclose the specificity of (seriously, guys, social media is consuming me), I also follow the NaNoWriMo Facebook group.  About a month ago, some user posted a link to this online, free course in storytelling, which started about a week ago (I know, I know – I’m late!). Tonight, someone re-shared the link and I eagerly jumped at the chance to partake. Free classes in creative writing, that I can enjoy from wherever I am? Yes, please!

I’m writing to discuss the awesome that this course delivers, but also to complete my first “assignment,” though not mandatory, and to share it with you all and the whole Internet, if they care to read through it. If this blog and their page on is not enough to pull you in, feel free to check back in another week or two and I’ll review it more, and probably again in 8 weeks when the course ends.  Let me tell you, though – I have high hopes for this project I’m undertaking, and if you like writing and/or storytelling enough to still be reading this post, I believe you’ll enjoy it too.

The assignment is as follows:

Please think about what story you’ve read, seen, played or experienced in your whole life that has impressed you most. Retell the story by giving a short summary of what you can remember of it. What was it that fascinated you the most about it? Its characters, its locations, its plot … ? Share both what this story was about, and what has made you value it.

The story I’m choosing is that of the 1999/2000 video game, The Longest Journey.

Let me begin with the context and circumstance of how I played the game. When I was very young, between kindergarten and third grades, I lived with my dad: the huge computer nerd of my family. He knew everything about them, pretty much. He also spent a great deal of time perusing the many wonderful features of computers, be it functionality, Internet networking (or anything, really), or video games and movies for entertainment. When I lived with him in Arlington, when you’re too young to really make friends and hang out with them often and you’re still learning things for yourself, video games have an amazing capacity to both learn and entertain. He started me off with several JumpStart classics and other related educational games … but I went through them pretty quickly, learning (elementary) math and Spanish and spelling, et cetera, with flying colors. Seeing the value and effect these games had on me, he introduced me to others: The Secret of Monkey Island, the King’s Quest series, and Sam and Max Hit the Road, to name a few. One such game was The Longest Journey, a point-and-click adventure game that is (on the surface) about a girl who is chosen to help keep separate the worlds of magic and science, or of disorder and order.

Now … for what I remember? The site instructs in one tiny place that this be around 400 words, so I’ll go pop this in Word and see what I can do. Let me say here that I highly recommend playing this game, and if the above description interested you in the slightest, I recommend you pick it up from Steam (an online video game store that I can’t recommend highly enough, but that could be an entirely separate blog post) or Good Old Games (another online store which specializes in making older games available to the public) and play it for yourself; but if not, feel free to continue reading. Clocking in at 307 words, all of which were not used to describe the important bits of the game, here you go:

The Longest Journey details the life of current college art student April Ryan, who has recently moved away from her home of her whole life to attend aforementioned college. While she is glad to have the new independence, she is finding herself burned out on life and dissatisfied time after time, despite the fact that she’s been able  to make friends and get a job.

Cue Cortez: the mysteriously quiet older gentleman of Venice, the futuristic city where they live (and yes, they included canals), who visits old movies and lurks about but never really speaks to anyone. He suddenly approaches Ryan, mentioning her nightmares (which she’s told no one about, because they’re pretty uncanny) and that she’s meant to enter the other world (that of magic) to prevent the conjoining of the two. April, though of course resistant at first, is eventually excited although frightened to go.

Cue … some of the best game story I’ve ever seen, ever, period. The name of the magical world is Arcadia (the name of the science, Stark) and you enter in an old church with paintings on the wall that detail the history of the universe, basically, explaining how both worlds are hinged together.  After listening to the story, you roam the village/town and meet its merchants and inhabitants, discovering their fleshed-out personalities and how they interact with each other.  And I’m barely past 200 characters but because I don’t want to spoil the game too much: you enjoy several other locales, world-hopping a few more times, meeting several more complex people and discovering the secrets of the universe you’re playing in. If you’re reading this because you weren’t yet intrigued enough to play the game based on a one-line summary (okay, I don’t blame you),  I beseech you to give it a look. You will not regret it.

And now: Why do I value it so highly? What stood out to me? It’s worth mentioning that after I finished playing those kiddie educational games, The Longest Journey was the first “adult” video game I beat. It had an amazing story, it had intriguing, deeply developed characters; it had captivating locations and a breathtaking art style (though perhaps antiquated now, it was top-notch in its day) and was basically the whole package wrapped in one with a great big bow on it.

There are some of you who may be thinking (don’t be ashamed, I’ve read other people say so) that TLJ is not all that I make it out to be and that I must be suffering from nostalgia while I praise it. But let me tell you, I’m seventeen now, eighteen in December and I’ve made my way around a video game or two and I am (eventually) hoping to make my own way into the game producing industry. I’m a writer, and I’m taking this class in storytelling; and if you are as involved as you must be to direct yourself to my blog to read my response to this creative task of the week, I can promise you that if for no other reason, The Longest Journey is worth a play through for the story.


In A Perfect World

I’d have parents who planned me, who today cared about my ambitions and my activities and the things I do.

I’d have a dad who today, despite the mileage, would make an effort to talk to me; who today, despite the political opinion disparity, discussed something else with me; who wasn’t a lazy fuck and who would want to spend time with me, instead of claiming to want to see me and to play single-player games the entire visit and claim to get their feelings hurt when I want to hang out with Grandma instead.

I’d have a mom who could put away her temporary boyfriend to see the value not only in me but in herself; who could differentiate the person who made her mad and me, and subsequently correctly channel those otherwise normal and natural feelings; who could have a similar temperament day-to-day, and not scare me into walking on glass each day and hoping for luck that I won’t upset her.

I’d be able to learn to drive and not pay $425, while my boyfriend got driver’s ed for free; I’d be able to make friends and not feel alone in Connecticut; I’d be unafraid to talk to people, in groups or individuals; I’d be better at managing my time; I’d not feel like a waste of air for not being anywhere near as high up in the class as some of my peers who treat me horribly; I’d not feel ashamed to ask my mom for lunch money because of the mini financial crisis we’re having; I’d not have to push myself to run the mile every year of high school for gym and feel breathless (not in a good way); I’d be better at comprehending math; I wouldn’t compare myself to everyone and feel like shit all the time; et cetera.

Kingdom Hearts wouldn’t try to ship its game on nine different platforms; the roleplay on World of Warcraft wouldn’t be limited to veterans who have been doing it for 5-7 years and are completely decked out in awesome, and instead be less intimidating for newcomers; Facebook would pick a decent layout and STICK WITH IT ….

The lists could go on. What would your perfect world be like?

Sincere Apologies of Absolute Abandonment

I didn’t finish NaNoWriMo.

Congratulations, however, to everyone who did successfully finish. I am envious and determined to complete NaNo next year as well as both Camp NaNos this summer. I’ve already got ideas for writing and am quite proud of what I’ve already gathered.

However, I really have completely abandoned this lovely blog of mine and didn’t write once during the month of November and I think that might be a large part of the reason why I failed. It turns out that November decided to be a very unlucky month of trouble, trauma and drama and I was very stressed in the second week.

We’re talking about Christmas now and everyone’s shopping or shopped or has ideas or doesn’t … it’s a hustle bustle time of year. But the holiday season is actually my favorite. The holiday season of winter has the best food of the whole year. It also has some of the best, most familiar music everywhere.

I’m writing at half past noon because I’m sick today. I tried to brave school but it just didn’t work out and I came home after Spanish. Psychology was nice although it offered no aid to my growing headache. B days give me huge headaches. In psychology, we’re in psycho-physiology which essentially has to do with consciousness, sleeping, and dreams and what they mean, if they mean anything and how much importance we should hold in them.

I’d love to go into more detail but I’m fairly exhausted because I haven’t had enough sleep lately as well as the fact that I’m not feeling very well. I really, quite seriously apologize to my few and far between loyal readers. Now that November is over I promise to resume updating! I just can’t promise the frequency.

Have a wonderful holiday season, everybody. 🙂

Couldn’t be sorrier if I tried.

I’m doing well. Researching and planning and taking notes and things for Nano. Very sleepy. Catching up on schoolwork too, or keeping myself on top of it. Either way you look at it. Ooh, it’s been such a long day, with such a rollercoaster of emotion that I just.. no. Can’t. I hope you don’t despise this blog for the lack of commentary. I miss you lovely loyal readers forever. Pray that I don’t lose my sanity next month.

What A Fantastic Day!

Seriously, I don’t even know what was up with today but it was just a really wonderful day. I’m very pleased and optimistic about tomorrow as well.

This week at my school is Spirit Week, which is a truly awful job on Student Council’s part considering this is a four-day week courtesy of Columbus Day today. Tomorrow, Tuesday, is college spirit day. So at Champ’s … sporting goods store, or whatever it’s called, I don’t know because I don’t go to these things on a normal basis … ANYWAY I GOT A LONGHORNS SHIRT! 😀 Two of them actually, because a t-shirt was $18 and they had a sale of 2 for $25. So what a no-brainer, eh? 😛 One of ’em’s burnt orange with UT and Longhorns and “Texas Football” on it. That’s the one I’m wearing tomorrow. The other is a black shirt that if I’m not mistaken says “Texas Longhorns” but don’t hold me to that because I bought it many many hours ago.

Wednesday is tie-day day. That one’s fairly obvious. Wear something pretty and colorful. I don’t actually have anything for this, for some reason I have no tie-dye anything. If nothing comes through for this one I may just wear a bunch of randomly colored things or perhaps lots of rainbow. I don’t know, we’ll see how it plays out.

Then Thursday is that whole “Blast from the Past” ordeal where they want you to dress up from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, etc etc etc etc. I’m going to wear flared denim jeans and my mom’s black-and-white  polka-dotted long, flow-y poncho-like shirt and a headband I bought from Claire’s today that’s black and has cute little colorful peace signs on it.

Friday is the day for actual school spirit and to wear our school’s colors of maroon and white. I don’t really have anything for that either. But at least I’m happy about the ones I am decidedly dressing up for. 🙂

Other than that, what else did we do today … oh yeah, I actually did some homework! I completed a three-page double-spaced paper on the novel Of Mice and Men. Not only did I complete the paper but I’m fairly proud of it, feel like I did a rather good job. I hate my English class this year though because I usually have a great connection with my English teachers. Even last year, when I loved my teacher but didn’t feel like she was actually successful as a teacher, she and I still got along on friendly terms. With my teacher this year, she’s super great and friendly when she’s talking to the class but whenever I speak TO HER it feels like she is impatient, waiting to get to something else … always wanting to do anything but talk to me.  I don’t know, it’s really depressing. The one benefit it has is an extra pressure on me to feel like I should work harder in a desperate attempt to make her like me more.

After we left the mall today (totally skipping around anachronistically [is that a word?] here..) Mom and I went to Panera. Mmm, Panera. Bread. I love bread. Bread is so great. I could live a perfectly wonderful life on bread and nothing else. I really wanna bake bread one day. Wouldn’t that be fun? Anyway, I need to stop blabbering about bread.

I’m getting really tired, and a little bit frustrated and the mood’s being tampered with a little bit and my whole thought process is just getting a little bit wacky. So I promise to post tomorrow, and I have this wonderful post that’s all thoughtful and lovely that I started last night but got halted by the same thing that’s affecting me right now – aka, completely random and utterly thorough tiredness … yeah. I’m going to go now before I’m completely unable to solidify a strong sentence.

Blogging for Blogging’s Sake

I’m such a terrible procrastinator, it’s depressing.

The wonderful thing is that I’ve got tomorrow off for Columbus day. This is good because I’ve got a paper due on Tuesday, 2-3 pages, that I haven’t written past the introduction paragraph. Not to mention whatever the hell’s been assigned for Geometry.

Then I have the PSAT testing on Wednesday which is just fabulous because that means I will be missing both Psychology and Spanish. That means I get to go straight from PSATs to Choir, where the teacher is uptight this year and we usually are forced off into sectionals which suck because the people that lead the Soprano section are absolute bitches with sticks up their asses.

I’m not bitter, though.

Mom and I were supposed to make cookies today but I don’t think she’ll hold on to that because she’s on the phone with some dumbass in New York despite the fact he’s married and she’s been on the phone for a long time which is not only creepy but creepy for HER, as she’s one who doesn’t DO things like call random guys that she doesn’t know. Whatever. Very annoying.

Today, I watched a documentary on the history of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell followed by It’s Kind Of A Funny Story which is a wonderful movie and an even better book. I’d read the book awhile back but I’d never seen the movie until today.

I have this really disgusting feeling like I’m tired, except I’m not. It’s kind of a groggy and indifferent-except-pissed-off-at-everything sort of feeling. I don’t know, that’s a terrible description, I’m aware. But that’s how I feel. I want to start going to a counselor and I asked Mom to call but she refuses when I actually ask her to. The only times she’s ever offered to do it on her own are when we’re actually talking peacefully and I’m enjoying it. It’s fucking terrible. But she’ll call a strange man in New York she’s never met.

I have really got to stop bitching about that stupid ordeal.

Here comes the tired part of this awful mood. I’m like physically exhausted, and hot, and gross. But I’ve already showered today and really don’t want to again. So I turn the A/C on except it’s too cold. Fuck, man. What’s with me? Is this some sort of weird bipolar-temperature sickness? I dunno. My mom’s been sick for awhile now but refuses to get anything heavier duty than fucking Aspirin. I suppose it’s not even unlikely that she’s got me sick, but.. huh. I dunno.

I’m making myself write because I’m disgusted with how little I’ve been writing when I SAID I would write every day. It used to come so easily and now the days just evaporate without having any time devoted to writing. And the things I write are so short. This here up until this point is just 484 words. And next month I’m expecting myself to be able to write 1667 words per day? Oh yes, that’ll happen.

Although, I’ve got an alternative idea that may just work out. No details, because I KNOW the one person that really reads this is going to ask -_- But it’s something I know would make the mark and something I might could feel comfortable with writing. We’ll see how it goes up until then.

Yeah I’m sorry but I can’t keep myself writing anymore, this is just depressing. Perhaps I’ll write later dare I tempt Fate that I just might find inspiration, but I don’t think it’ll happen. With less than 600 words … Adieu, WordPress.

NaNoWriMo: The Prep Begins

Today is October 1st, 31 days from the beginning of a nerve-wracking contest that I’m probably a moron for attempting to do. NaNoWriMo, if you have yet to hear about it, consists of people all over the nation attempting to write 50,000 words in the month of November in novel-form. Which essentially means, fiction. Lots of it.

I wanted to begin upon deciding what to write about by searching the NaNoWriMo forums but if you’ve ever taken a peek at them (which you can do here) they are rather long and extensive just in categories and sub-forums and I got freaked out and came back to my blog.

What to write about, hmm..

WordPress has suggested that I try to write one post per day to get me into the habit of obscene amounts of writing that I will need to partake in if I want to achieve the goal of 50,000 words. I think that on the days I have no idea what to write about (as you know is a frequent problem with me) I will look up things online about how to make a good piece of writing. I know there are lots of tips and tricks out there, and that’ll help me keep up the ideology of writing fifty thousand words in thirty days. It will also help my craft of writing as it is.

By the way, you guys may have noticed this by the way I write in blogging alone but I’m a stickler for things being spelled correctly, correct punctuation, etcetera. I can ‘t do that for NaNoWriMo. They repeat this over and over throughout the website. There is no editing your novella. It is all about the word count. All the time you spend wanting to edit or revise or reword or rephrase… No. That time should all be spent expanding.

I will be making a separate blog for the NaNoWriMo novella itself. I will keep it private because of .. well, obvious reasons. Be aware, my normal blogging will probably decrease quite a bit. I will try to QuickPress every now and again to make y’all aware of my sanity and some interesting things of my life or perhaps every now and then I’ll post an excerpt of whatever it is I’m writing.

This is truly a cheating post, and I know it is. Perhaps later if there’s much to talk about, I’ll post something similar to yesterday about thinking and recollecting memories. An interesting activity, isn’t it? Even if the random seven I picked have little to no relevance to the present, it’s still an interesting way to spend time. Simply thinking.