On Having a Blog

BY JOHN S. OSLER III

Writing can get lonely. Oftentimes, if it’s not lonely, you’re doing it wrong. A mistake I made when I was just starting out (in a relative sense, hopefully in the grand scheme of things I’m still just starting out) was that I spent too much time talking about writing and showing people my writing and thinking about writing and hardly any time at all actually writing. It’s temptingly easy to make being a writer into your identity. It’s got a sort of prestige to it, an area of creativity and self-expression where the only barrier to entry is literacy. Spending enough time alone in a room to actually write something of a decent length (never mind value), that’s harder.

But, like with most things, there’s a danger at each end of the spectrum. At first I was someone who talked up my stories without ever doing anything with them, then at some point I became someone who would write and write and write with no real end goal in sight. That’s not a bad way to learn, exactly, and I sure as hell had fun. But like I said, it gets lonely. And depressing too, building up a tower of pages only to realize that odds are no one but you will ever read most of it.

I started to get out of my shell a little bit, at first by going to the Iowa Young Writer’s Studio, then the New York Writers Institute two years later. A little at IYWS, but more so at NYWI, I realized the power writing has to connect people. It was a unique experience to get to know someone as a person and then read what they wrote. It’s like how you need two eyes set a little ways apart to get depth perception: you know how someone acts, you know how someone writes, and you feel like you know them inside and out. It helped that everyone I met at those events were excellent writers and people, but still, I wanted to get that more often. I wanted writing to be something more than what I did for an hour every night alone in my dorm, building up a stockpile of stories that might not ever exist anywhere but in my desk drawer.. That lonely dedication is necessary to build up the skills you need, but it’s still lonely.

I actually realized the solution a long time ago, but it took a year for me to have the surge

of commitment just to go ahead and do it. My blog is relatively young, just two months old at this point, and while I’m scared I’m running through ideas at an unsustainable rate, it’s still given me more or less what I wanted. It’s nice to have a platform to articulate the ideas that bounce around in my mind in lazy moments, and it’s given me a real opportunity to connect with people. I’m not a natural extravert, my voice doesn’t carry and even if it did I’m usually not good enough at coming up with something to say in the moment for it to be worth it most of the time. But I hope putting out my writing gives people the two-eyed perspective on me that I enjoyed with others, while I search out other peoples’ writing best I can so I can get the same perspective on them.

Of course, there’s a lot of navel-gazing involved, and I always wind up wondering if I’m really that interesting. But if that ever does become a problem, I’ll just have to think about other people for a little while. That doesn’t seem so bad.


12003007_1001022556622760_6551224101653223437_n-2jj JOHN S. OSLER III is a sophomore at Grinnell College. He attended both the Iowa Young Writer’s Studio and the New York Writer’s Institute. In middle school and high school he wrote over two hundred satirical articles for The Southern View. His short stories have been published in Sprout Magazine, The Phosphene Journal, Random Sample Review, Zephyrus, and The Grinnell Underground Magazine.

Revision And How To Make It Not Suck

BY LAURELANN HEATHER EASTON

No matter where you are in your writing process, revision will always come around. It creeps into your thoughts and makes you question if your writing is good enough, or if you should even keep going if the pages behind you are trash.

You can’t let the fear of the pages being polished enough stop you from finishing the draft, though. I have a friend who has been obsessing over the first two chapters of his novel. He’s been going back and revising those same pages, nitpicking at commas a conjunctions and descriptions, for over a year. I’ve been fighting with him to get him to just keep writing. At fifty pages, he was hardly moving forward. I encouraged him to push past that because there’s always time to revise. You can’t revise what you haven’t written, either (obviously), so it makes more sense to ride out the writing process across the finish line.

It might be okay to go back and revise before finishing your draft if the plot needs fixing earlier on, though, especially if it affects how you’d write anything subsequent. If you feel that something is structurally wrong, as in the house will topple if you don’t backtrack, then go forth and backtrack! It will keep you from any potential writing blocks to work out these kinks sooner rather than later. In my personal experience with a novel I started a few months ago, I received recommendations from my mentor to really get the world-building in it solidified, whatever that would look like, because the larger mechanics of the world weren’t really in place yet because I hadn’t made the hard decisions. These revisions of adding in world-building throughout the first thirty pages made it necessary to put off writing the next set of pages to instead edit and add in new details. I also ended up changing the timing of a key event in my narrator’s life, which would have also severely affected the following pages, so this is one of those types of adjustments to put off future writing for. It would suck to write more new pages and then delete most of it because you changed something earlier in the story.

It’s possible that the revision process will still lead to a lot of deletion. Don’t be afraid of that either. Some parts that you loved in the story may have to go because they don’t fit in with the rest of the plot the way you had wanted them too, but in the end that’s a good thing. It keeps your novel focused and clear!

So, some of you might be thinking, “Great ideas, but how do I stay in love with this story while tearing it apart?”

The thing is, you have to not view it as tearing it apart—unless you’re the type of person who hardcore gets a kick out of that sort of thing (like me). Consider it more like nurturing the piece to its best potential. The best comparison I’ve ever heard about what a piece of writing is like, is that it’s like a deformed baby. You love it, in all its ugliness, yet somehow you’re compelled to keep taking care of it. Your short story, poem or novel is your baby. It might not be the prettiest, but like the ugliest duckling, it has a lot of potential to be something amazing. Keep the love alive!

To help that, try to approach your work at a new angle that still keeps you excited and maybe digs deeper into things. The most interesting suggestion my mentor have me was to consider how much my narrator remembers of her traumatic experience. Playing with knowledge, and who knows what information, can be a lot of fun—challenging, but definitely fun. My mentor pushed me to delve further into her psyche and explore the darkness there. Remember, too, that your characters are fascinating people. You wouldn’t have chosen to write about them if that wasn’t the case. So see what’s there inside of them that you can pull out to keep you excited about their story!

Here’s a link to one of my favorite lists. It provides so many ways to revise and reconsider your writing! There are also a lot of exercises here that may just be helpful to get you out of a writing block! 


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LAURELANN EASTON  grew up in Oswego, New York, but now lives in and attends collegein New Hampshire for a degree in Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. Her work has appeared in the last two annual publications of SNHU’s literary journal, the Manatee. Outside of writing and reading for fun, she enjoys hiking the peaks of New Hampshire and dabbling in the fine arts of painting and jewelry making.

Editor’s Note

A couple of weeks ago, I found a child’s painting on the pavement and decided to bring it home. It isn’t signed. It has holes punched all along the border, some uneven cutouts of stars and flowers, crayon scribbles in the background and a piece of string hanging loosely from a hole on the top right corner. I am not sure what made me pick it up, what it reminded me of. Perhaps it seemed to have a story. Perhaps I simply could not be indifferent to it.

When I think of magic, I think of that painting which now hangs on my wall. Magic lies in a child’s vision, in its unobstructed innocence and joy.  I am amazed when I think of how someone can find a resemblance between flowers and stars and fit them in the same frame. I am young ; my childhood is not that distant a memory. But I still wonder if I have the ability to see the world in such a way. A writer-friend once told me that writing is all about seeing the world through a child’s eye. I wonder if that might be true. Now, more than ever.

The themed submissions we received for this issue looked at magic from all angles– the private, the creative, the extraordinary in the guise of the mundane. And some of the unthemed submissions, too, seemed to be reflecting on magic in some ways. We are always left surprised by the number of submissions we receive and the relationships we get to build with our submitters over time. At times, I hardly believe we’re only six issues old.

I would like to express the greatest gratitude to our submitters who continue to trust us with their work. We are privileged and honored indeed. A huge thanks to the editors for everything that they do. Each Inklette issue is only made possible because of their astonishing passion, dedication and commitment. I would also love to thank Dan Rosenberg and Cema D’Souza for agreeing to be our featured writers for the issue.

We hope you like reading Issue 6! Do feel free to leave your comments and feedback or email us at club.ink13@gmail.com.

-Devanshi Khetarpal

Editor-in-Chief

Interview with Cema D’Souza

Read Cema D’Souza’s story here. 


 Inklette: How did your story, “Unseen,” come into being? What was your inspiration?

Cema: Trying to overcome a writer’s block was my inspiration, honestly!

Inklette: What is your relationship to writing? When did you first begin and what do you prefer writing?

Cema: I’ve been writing ever since I began reading at the age of ten. The process of story-writing always fascinated me. I would wonder how an author concocts brilliant plots and characters to bring out stories. So, I tried writing my own. I prefer writing short fiction.

Inklette: Are there any works or authors who have significantly influenced you? 

Cema: Harnidh Kaur’s poetry, definitely.

Inklette: Do you have a writing community around you? What is the writing scene like where you live? 

Cema: I currently reside in Bangalore, India and there is quite a wonderful writing community here. I’m lucky to call some of the best writers I know friends.

Inklette: What is the kind of writing you want to see more of?

Cema: Since it is so hard to find representation in mainstream literature, I would say Indian Writing in English.


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CEMA D’SOUZA, 19, is currently studying in Christ University, Bangalore. She’s happiest when surrounded by books and dogs.

Interview with Dan Rosenberg

“It is a rare privilege to know Dan both as a poet and as a teacher. Nearly three years ago, I was placed in his poetry workshop at the Iowa Young Writers Studio. Our first assignment was to read Brigit Pegeen Kelly’s surprising poem, “Song.” And I still remember how reading it made me wonder if it had been written for me.  But that was the joy of being in Dan’s workshop. He brought us closer to poetry from all over. He introduced us to poems with a remarkable kindness, love and friendship. And every morning, as we would meditate on language and poetry, Dan made us see how poetry can, in fact, be the greatest love and joy. Dan helped me realize that language can be the light and poetry, its sustenance.”

-Devanshi Khetarpal, Editor-in-Chief


Inklette: How does writing poetry affect your life? Has it made you a better person?

Dan: I fear the long history of poetry doesn’t offer much evidence that writing it makes you a better person. I’ve never thought of it as an external force that can affect my life, really; it’s bred in the bones of my life. What I am. After Auden famously says that “poetry makes nothing happen,” he less famously says it is “A way of happening, a mouth.” That sounds right to me. When I was a child, I wrote for myself, mostly thinly-veiled autobiographical poems. Now that I’m an adult, I write autobiographical poems with veils of various thickness. But everyone does that. I think my poems that are not straightforwardly responding to some aspect of my life remain autobiographical because I have an expansive view of the self – politics are part of my life, faith and the lack thereof, strangers. Which is a way of saying that writing poetry can be a way of articulating empathy.

Inklette: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in the process of poetic composition? How do your other interests converge or diverge with your literary ones?

Dan: The boring answer here is time: Having a small child means that I no longer have the same huge swaths of time I once had to stare at the wall and argue with myself over line-breaks. But this happened to me recently: I had brought my son over to his friend’s house for a playdate, and I was talking with the friend’s dad. We’d apparently exhausted all natural conversation topics, because he asked me what I like to do besides work. And I froze. Do I not have hobbies? I spend my time being a father, a husband, a professor, a poet. I like watching TV and movies, but that’s not a hobby. I read all the time, but that’s technically part of my work. I laughed off my lack of response to him, and worried about it quietly for a week until I was going for a walk with a different friend. I told her I wanted to pick up a hobby because I didn’t have an answer to this guy’s question. She asked me if he was an artist, knowing that the answer was no. She reminded me that artists don’t have hobbies; we live our work, and everything we do is part of our work. I don’t know if that’s true, but it made me feel better. Also, I’m excited to get deep into gardening this spring. (“Verse” comes from Latin for a turn of the plow, a row or line.)

Inkette: Can you pinpoint a moment when you fell in love with poetry and writing? How has career impacted your conception of what you do throughout your life?

Dan: I’ve always been in love with reading and writing, and poetry has always been a part of that. It wasn’t until college, though, when I started studying poetry with Peter Richards, that it became something I considered having as part of my professional, public life, as opposed to just a thing I would always do on my own. He was the first person to read my poems critically, to tear them apart, really, and I thrived in his honesty. I had always been a grade-A nerd, and had never received much besides affirmation from my teachers. So there was something shocking and enlivening to bring five poems to Peter and watch him throw four of them into the recycle bin after a quick glance, and then dive deeply into what was working well in just three lines of the one remaining poem. I don’t think this approach would have been successful with everyone, and I’ve rarely felt comfortable approaching my own students’ work in this way, but it helped me immeasurably. That first class with Peter was a turning point, for me. At the same time, I had the chance to work as a TA in some other classes, to study pedagogy a bit, and those early tastes of teaching helped send me down the path I’m on now.

Inklette: How has your experience co-translating Miklavž Komelj’s Hippodrome changed your relationship to language both as a tool for communication and an artistic medium?

Dan: There is something tremendously liberating about translating, the way writing in a form, under strict constraints, is liberating. But unlike any other kind of constraint, working as a translator drives home the contingency of your language, the sense that your language is just one of many ways of construing and constructing the world.

For example, the very title of the collection posed a translation problem: In Slovene, hipodrom refers to a racetrack—where you could go and bet on the horses today—but also to the historical stadiums built by the Greeks and the Romans, the ruins that dot the modern landscape of the ancient world. There is no division in Slovene between the ancient thing and the modern thing. As an American, this notion of a continuous history is in some sense inconceivable. Trying to articulate the inconceivable: is that a definition of translation, or of poetry?


DanRosenbergDAN ROSENBERG is the author of cadabra (Carnegie Mellon UP, 2015) and The Crushing Organ (Dream Horse Press, 2012). He has also written two chapbooks, A Thread of Hands (Tilt Press, 2010) and Thigh’s Hollow (Omnidawn, 2015), and he co-translated Miklavž Komelj’s Hippodrome (Zephyr Press, 2016).

Rosenberg’s honors include a Presidential Fellowship from the University of Georgia, the 2011 American Poetry Journal Book Prize and the 2014 Omnidawn Chapbook Contest. His poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in such magazines as Ploughshares, Colorado Review, Boston Review, Poetry International, and Conjunctions. 

Rosenberg is an Assistant Professor of English at Wells College, where he also coordinates the Visiting Writers Series and the annual Chapbook Contest. He also co-edits Transom, an independent online journal of poetry and translation.

In Defense of Fiction

BY JOHN S. OSLER III

It’s been bugging me for a long time that whenever I want to compare something I’ve written to another story, it’s almost invariably a movie or TV show. Ever since I read Stephen King’s On Writing and made a lot of oathes of dedication to the craft of fiction (which were, ironically, pretty poorly worded) I’ve been careful to spend more time reading than watching. But still, even when I’m conceiving a scene for something I’m writing, it’s usually in the language of film, working out the lightning, color palette, scenery layout, and audio. It’s usually a struggle to incorporate senses like smell, touch, or taste, senses you can’t see on the screen. And I can’t help but ask myself why.

Of course, there are plenty of innocuous explanations. You can watch seven or eight movies in the time it takes you to read a book, so of course more characters on film come to mind than those in print. And then there’s the fact that people talk more about movies and TV than about books, so they get reinforced mentally. But I think it’s important to know about your format when you’re telling a story or making art; knowing what it can do well, what it can’t do well, and what it simply can’t do. For too long I thought that I would be a writer because of a series of negatives and only one positive: I can’t draw, I can’t find a decent camera or boss people around to much effect, I can’t tell stressed from unstressed syllables upon pain of failing an English assignment, I want to tell stories, so that really only leaves one option open. There needs to be more to it than that, I know there does, and in this piece I’m going to try and find out what.

My knee jerk response to the prose-versus-film debate is that they’re just two different forms of communication: words and images. That sounds like a pleasant, if evasive, answer, but it doesn’t really work even on a superficial level. Because isn’t poetry more a format of words than prose? Poetry is meant to be read aloud, the sounds of the words matter more than they do in prose. The words themselves became the smallest unit of communication, rather than the sentences. There’s the argument that prose is more efficient for constructing a narrative, but narrative poetry is an ancient and ongoing tradition. From this perspective, prose is something of a neutral husk in a spectrum with the immersive images of film on one end and the musical language of poetry on the other. People turn still frames of movies into posters (I have quite a few hanging in my dorm), and even in our increasingly illiterate society people quote poetry. Cinematic book covers or quoting prose with the rhythm of poetry always makes it seem like it’s trying to fit it into a format that it’s not, to say that it would have been better off incarnated some other way.

I’m simplifying things. Movies have scripts, of course, and poetry is much more complicated than I’m making it out to be. The spectrum of art isn’t two dimensional, it has more axes than the human mind can comprehend. Still, I can’t help but ask, what does fiction prose have to offer?

I have a few answers. One is imagination. In both of the formats I described, what you see is essentially what you get. There is no imaginative work to watching a movie, what happens in each frame is an indisputable fact of the story (unless there’s some artsy twist) and there’s nothing past the edges of the frame but a studio lot. And even if a line from poetry brings to mind an evocative image, that image is inextricably linked to the words that spawned it. But written fiction is different. There are too many words to memorize or even remember fully when you move on to the next paragraph. The words work as a sort of outline, then, a framework from which you build a scene in your mind. Imaginary scenes aren’t as memorable as cinematic ones, but they have their advantages. One is that the reader gets a sort of ownership of them, and often that interpretation lets the text be a window into the reader as much as the writer. In the novel We Need to Talk About Kevin, the reader is inevitably posed the question of whether Kevin or his mother is responsible for his violence, a question that each reader has to answer alone (and many disagree on). This question is still there in the movie, but it’s not as strong or as poignant.

Another strength is that it can be more immersive. I haven’t actually seen any first person movies, but from what I’ve read they’re invariably disorienting and ineffective. Voice over monologues can achieve a similar effect, but that’s essentially a tactic from fiction appropriated by another genre. Poems from perspectives are common, but let’s be honest, no one talks in rhyme or meter or line breaks. No one thinks like that either, and that’s one of the real triumph of fiction: not just to put you in someone else’s position, but to insert you into their very brain. More than any other art form, fiction is about empathy, and its power is to force you to realize the humanity in anyone dreamt up by some scribbler.

Which kind of blends into my final point. Say your parents are picking you up from college. You haven’t seen them for months and don’t know how to start to explain everything that happened in that time. What do you do? You don’t show them a video record of your life, you don’t spend hours laboring over the syllabic construction of every word. You don’t sing, you don’t dance, you don’t paint, you don’t do whatever verb goes with a multi-media experimental abstract expression campaign about the feelings of disillusion that come with growing up. You don’t write either, I guess, but you do tell a story. Maybe it’s character study searching for the impetus of your roommate’s violent radical political views, maybe it’s a tragic four-hour epic about your crippling anxiety, maybe it’s nothing more than a dirty joke you heard in the dining hall that you realize is probably out of bounds for family talk when the rest of the car ride home passes in silence. No matter what, it’s essentially prose. It’s the oldest type of storytelling, it’s the most basic to our nature and, damnit, I’ll come right out and say it: it’s the best.


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JOHN S. OSLER III is a sophomore at Grinnell College. He has written over two hundred satirical articles for his underground newspaper The Southern View, and a few for his high school’s legitimate newspaper, Zephyrus, on the side. He has published short stories in the Grinnell Underground Magazine, Sprout Magazine, The Phosphene Journal, Moledro Magazine, and Random Sample Review.

826 LA

Inklette’s blog shall be featuring organisations, groups and individuals from all across the world that work to promote creativity among children and underrepresented communities. 

We would like to thank 826LA for being a part of this initiative. Special thanks to Art and Photography Editor, William Higgins. 


 

From the Crazy World Down Here                      

Deisy Garcia

 

Dear grandma,

 

I miss you a lot and I wish we could be together right now. People from el rancho would tell my family, “Oh! She looks just like her grandma!” And I only saw you when I was eleven months old, basically a baby. I don’t have many memories of you.

I have a short, faint memory of you, grandpa, and your son—my dad—when I was running around in the summer where there were crops and dirt. You were all running around, you were giggling and laughing, and so was I. But I still love you a lot. Cancer dragged you out of this world and God knows why. And a couple of months later my dearly loved grandpa took flight and went to the wonderful paradise with you. I just miss you a lot, and I hope to see you one day and be with you forever and ever, and laugh and play with you and grandpa.

I wish that we were together, with grandpa too, and never ever be separated.

 

From the crazy world down here,                                   

Deisy ❤


Just One Day

Samuel Luis

 

All I know is that I used to be a nice kid that would do his work and was focused on his future. With time, that vision I had about myself faded away. Now it seems like I don’t care, but really, inside me I feel bad about myself. When I try to refocus and try to get back on track, it seems like it runs away from me and I go back to not caring. The teachers’ words come through one ear and come out from the other. My mom tries to talk to me but sometimes I just don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t know what it is. I want to get back on that track of success. I argue with my mom a lot now and I feel bad for my mom because she has to deal with me. I feel sad and worried about my mom’s health, she works hard to support us since my dad left to Mexico, not caring about us. That’s why I just wish  I could go back in time and try to change stuff I did. Change something. Change what I did wrong. At least just change one little small thing that would change my future, my present, my past, change something in time. Then I think about it, maybe this is how my life is supposed to be. Maybe God decided to make my life take this path. On times when I’m sad I tend to believe maybe God doesn’t exist, maybe he is just fake. I have asked myself that question and can’t come to the conclusion of whether he exists or not. Why does my life have to be like this? Did I choose for my life to be like this? Maybe I’m looking at my life from the wrong perspective, maybe I need to think deeper. Just maybe I need to think better about my life. All I know is that I will one day change and will get back on that track of success that I seek, and will become that kid that I once was. Not the same but similar. Just one day I will seek what I’m seeking: peace between my thoughts and my feelings. Just one day all the arguing with my mom will stop and there will be peace. Just one day I will have peace. Just one day.


Blue Nail Polish

Nadia Villegas

 

Blue nail polish has a big meaning for me

To others it is just a color

To others it is just nail polish

Blue is my favorite color

After all, blue is the most popular color in the world

Yet that is not why I like blue nail polish

I believe that blue nail polish transcends gender and sexuality

I am surrounded by people wearing blue nail polish, whether they are a boy or girl

 

This is amazing because blue nail polish allows you to express yourself

No matter who you are

 

Yet there are ignorant people that think it’s not right for men to wear blue nail polish

How can such a small little jar of the color blue bring such discrimination?

There is no law or rule anywhere that says men can’t wear blue nail polish

Yet people find it a problem

Why do stupid people start opening their big mouths by calling them gay?

Blue nail polish is freedom

Blue nail polish is expression

Blue nail polish is defiance

Blue nail polish is ignoring what other people think and staying true to yourself


Who Is “Pretty”?

Michael Rodriguez

 

To be “Pretty” takes responsibility,

Cute is Ugly’s best friend,

But Is Ugly really a thing?

You can not call another “Ugly” if you

Can not look at yourself as “Pretty”

Pretty is Perfection,

The real you, it is the best version of you.

Pretty is Reflection,

Reflection on any major events that make you unique.

Pretty is Effort,

The more effort you put to think you are “pretty.”

 

Pretty is Thoughtful,

Thinking of others can affect you more than another.

Pretty is Time,

It takes time to call yourself reliable.

Pretty is Youthful,

Unite with any generation showing purity and youth.


It Has No Meaning

Daniela Martinez

 

Have you ever had someone tell you, “You’re ugly!’’ or, “You are NOT pretty!’’?

Lies, LIES!!!

 

I mean no one, NO ONE, was born good looking or perfect.

“Pretty,” that word can make you feel better or sometimes worse. To me, the word “Pretty” really doesn’t mean a lot.

All the time, ALL THE TIME, I used to get bullied, and all because of that word.

People tell me that I am ugly, that no one will ever go out with me. I mean, some girls say, “Who needs guys anyways?!’’ I totally agree. Dating can wait.

But times change and people change. Time changes when you don’t expect it and people change when they hurt you verbally or physically.

 

I was too scared to go to school because I knew that once I stepped into class, I was going to get bullied. I always heard that they called me names behind my back. When I was at school the only thing I could think about was getting home. By the time I got home, I cried like a baby. And ‘til this day I feel that I am dead on the inside. Thanks to those people, I am shy around people, I am not social, and I am quiet. People that know me don’t know that. Now they know. I am just dead on the inside.

 

I can love my family and friends, but the people that hurt me—NOT EVEN ONE BIT!!! Every time I see them I feel like I want to torture them for every moment they made me suffer. I don’t want anyone suffering like I did. I just heard that my friend got beaten up by a tenth grader. I heard how they called him names. People that go through that: SPEAK UP!!! Don’t stay quiet the same way that I did. It is NEVER too late to say, “STOP!!!”


Who has the rough face now?

Lily Rodriguez

 

I was bullied when I was little for a lot of reasons. I hit puberty at a young age, especially acne. I never had the ability to control how my body was working. I never wanted all the other kids at school to make fun of me because my face was not as smooth as theirs. All the other kids would tell me, “You need some Proactive.”  I did in fact use Proactive, but it only made my face breakout even more. I tried all the acne products, like Proactive, Neutrogena, and even used a lemon. My mother told me to stop touching my face continuously. My mother eventually ran out of money to buy all these products and gave up for a while. It seemed like everywhere I would go I was never safe from these judgments. I began to think that it was not natural for a second grader to be taller than other children in the class, and to have a face that was rougher than all of the other children’s smooth faces. I even began to take birth control pills in the fourth grade! I had to follow so many rules, like not eating certain things at certain times. For example, not eating two hours before taking the pill and waiting thirty minutes after I took the pill to eat. I hated my skin. It was not natural. As I got older, my acne started to fade away; however, the scars still make an appearance.


Barbie

Ciro Benitez

 

I remember a time when I truly missed someone. It’s usually not a good feeling when your pet dies. There are times when you have bad days and all that cheers you up is your pet. My family had a guinea pig, our second one. We adopted her from Petco, four months after our first guinea pig died.

 

She was really cute. I loved her so much that at times it was torture for her. It felt amazing every time I held her, fed her, and overall being with her. When she was dying I felt as if my heart was torn out of my body and thrown into a chest, never to be opened ever again. I felt sad but my eyes didn’t even water. She was struggling to walk in her cage, she couldn’t keep her balance and her whole body would tilt over when she tried. I attempted to feed her but she couldn’t chew. My mom was by my side and maybe that’s why I didn’t shed at least one tear. I don’t like crying in front of others, not even my family. At some point, Barbie––that was her name––just stayed in one spot. She was still breathing but I knew she wouldn’t be moving from that spot. My mom put a big towel over the cage and I went to sleep that night in the same room where my guinea pig was. I will forever remember Barbie and of course every other pet companion I have had or will ever have.


My Thoughts on Prison

Nasim Zarenejad

 

Prison is a place with a lot of personalities. At first you only see delinquents and rebels roaming around the hallways trying to act tough and brave. But if you took a second glance and understood each and every person carefully, you can see that most of them don’t have a simple life but a complicated one. Each and every person has their own story, which brought them to that bad place known as prison. They all had a reason to come to that nightmare and they need help. They committed a crime because of a mistake they wish they had never done, or because of an urge for a pleasure because they couldn’t control themselves.  Regardless of whether they regret what they did or not, they all need help emotionally and mentally. I believe that prison should not be a punishment for their crimes or mistakes but a somewhat “school” where they all could learn to understand and fix their problems.


 

Top places I want to go to

Milanka Patterson

 

The top places I want to go to are Paris, Hawaii, New York, Florida, London, and Guatemala. There are probably many other places, but I want to go to those for now.

 

Paris:

 

Paris is such an amazing place and I want to got here because of all their amazing food and of course, to see the Eiffel Tower. I also know there’s lots of things about modeling in Paris, so that’s another reason to go!

 

Florida:

 

I want to go to to Florida because it’s very beachy and summery like Hawaii. I mostly want to go there because of Disney World and to go to Miami and see an alligator in somebody’s pool.

 

Guatemala:

 

I want to to go Guatemala because there are lot of volcanoes there and I really want to see a volcano! Plus, I have family there and I heard they have beaches with black sand––I want to see that! It also seems very adventurous and I love adventures!

 

Hawaii:

 

I want to go there SOOO BADLY! I will one day. It’s super beautiful––all the animals, the beaches, and all of the different activities. I can’t even explain how many things I would do, all the pictures I would take.

 

New York:

 

I also want to go to New York because all the headquarters for acting and modeling are there. Plus, all the lights! The fashion shows! Everything!!!

 

London:

 

I don’t really know why I want to go to London, but I do and I guess it’s because of the queens and kings. I think that’s cool.

 

How would I get there?

 

Whenever I travel, I go with my family. But as I get older maybe my family won’t want to be traveling all the time. So instead, I would want to go with my best friends! Imagine going on plane rides, staying in hotels, going on adventures in a city you’ve never explored before with the people you love! That is my ideal life and how I would want to spend it!


Mexico

Luz R.

 

Mexico is important to me and my family because Mexico is the place where my mom, dad, uncles, aunts, and cousins were born. My mom and dad were born in San Sebastian Tutla. They left when they got married, and haven’t seen their moms and dads in a long time. Whenever I go there they take the trip seriously because instead of them going to Mexico, they send us to visit the family. Whenever we go to Mexico they get sad because they would like to see their families.


The Lake

By Xavyer Fletes

 

There is a myth that people tell of the forest in Pikoro Village. They say in the heart of the forest is a big lake that is full of life, animals, and plants. The lake is said to have a magical essence of a celestial spirit who was once a king. He was the king of the Fiore region. He was the greatest king ever, he made sure the citizens were never in poverty. He made sure everyone was healthy. The kingdom was at the highest point of its renaissance, but the prince was jealous that everyone loved the king and had never paid attention to the prince. The prince took the king’s life, poisoning him with a box of vipers. He put it in the king’s bed and in the morning the king was dead. When the king died the spirits had given him a second chance, but in another form; he would be a lake and control what happens around it. The king wanted the people who drink from it to have some kind of power, so they can carry on his legacy and capture the people who are ill-hearted. To get there is a treacherous journey. Only people who pass are pure of heart, but the people who are tainted are usually not able to come back in one piece, mentally or physically. The king is able to tell who is pure of heart by making a series of challenges they have to pass. He can sense the essence of good-hearted and tainted-hearted people. The king makes sure if they are good-hearted by the test he lays out. The ones who do get through in one piece (which are tainted) would run at the chance of power and destroy everything at sight. The lake has one more defense of action. The sirens would drag the tainted-hearted to the deepest part of the lake and never let them go. The good-hearted people who drink from the lake are granted any power their heart desires.


Venice Beach, California

Ashla Chavez Razzano

 

The salty sea air of Venice Beach, California drifts through the beach town’s streets and past my window. The sun is covered in gloomy marine-layer this morning, like every morning, until the warmth of the afternoon burns through the grey. I spend my time on my roof, balancing above the incline. Balancing above the longtime-locals that roam the streets, artists and surfer and skaters alike. On my roof, I gaze at the streets’ movement and distant buildings, trees, and mountains. At different times of day, the scene changes, reflecting the change in mood of the community. My favorite time to be here is dawn, when the fresh scent of day is soft and cold, and the dim blue sky is slightly illuminated by the oncoming sun (5:35 AM). Soon the morning becomes noon and the warmth of the day reaches its peak. Summer, and weekends, the crowds of locals and currents of tourists run through the neighborhood, holding skateboards and backpacks full of towels with sand stuck to their flip flops. This is when chatter fills the air, with my neighbor’s “oldies-radio” playing loud from their front yard. The day is anything but still (3:17 PM).

 

By the evening, my neighbor’s radio has been turned off, and behind my home I see other locals chain smoking on outside tables, holding conversation as the sky darkens and their windows’ lights create shadows under their tapping feet. With the dozen or so restaurants and bars and cafes on my street, there’s still a distant chatter. It’s calm and soft, but surrounded by movement (6:53 PM).


 

Did you know…

Estefania Flores

 

You grab

the ball, you dribble

and you shoot. You throw

the ball after you aim, and

eagerly watch the round sphere, hoping

it will go through the net. You can’t

travel or kick the ball. You

cannot even dribble with

two hands. Yes, I play basketball.    

I don’t look like the kind of

girl that plays a sport. But… I’m #14

on the court, don’t judge.


MISSION STATEMENT:  826LA is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Our services are structured around our understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. With this in mind, we provide after-school tutoring, evening and weekend workshops, in-school tutoring, help for English language learners, and assistance with student publications. All of our programs are challenging and enjoyable, and ultimately strengthen each student’s power to express ideas effectively, creatively, confidently, and in his or her individual voice.