Miss Musings

A modern miss provides commentary on sociological and psychological issues concerning politics, the media, literature, and everyday observances.

My Tumultuous, Blood-Stained Battle with the Omnipresent Cliché

" 09 - ITALY - Verona - Muro di giulietta - lettere a Giulietta - Dino Quinzani

By Dino Quinzani (Flickr: Muro di giulietta) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Leave it to my parents to tell me that I am a good writer; I know my ability. Yet, growing up with a prolific older sister, I did not believe writing was or ever could be my territory. It seemed like an unknown world; it was akin to a sensuous piano of untapped keys that stared at me with white eyes, black pupils…

That is precisely how I wrote. I kid you not. I personified random instruments the same way a lonely romance writer would, but I, a mere 17-year-old lady, never cracked open one of those shirtless male-clad books.

This begs the question: why was my writing so cliché?

I want to blame my more immature pieces on my love of reading. Books make my brain hurt but my senses tingle, so I read a lot of stories when I was younger. This may have been a double-edged sword: I learned how to write well by reading the works of published authors, but I also learned how to copy them down to the sentence structure. I was not a writer; I was an indoctrinated soul.

But as time went on, my diction grew more unique. No longer did I try to sound like Jane Austen. I told myself – hey, Samantha, don’t be Jane. Be you. Be inspired by Jane. Do it. Just WRITE.

When I stopped trying to imitate authors, I found a whole new way to write: by being myself. It is horrible to read the same thing twice, so it is only my hope that people will read my writing and feel enlightened simply because I said something differently than the author they read stories from in their AP Literature class. Through a bit of introspection and practicing completely self-generated writing, I learned the art of being a writer instead of a cliché machine.

It took time. I have edited my writing meticulously, wrote actively, stayed aware of my cliché trap, and attempted to be myself through-and-through while writing, even if I was a bit scared of how a piece would turn out. Then I would remember that there is always editing. But writing? It’s boundless. I would tell myself fine then, be cliché, and then change your words at your will. I fought my inner editor for countless pieces, only to unleash her on some of the most cliché articles and poems I have written. I told myself that writing from every corner of my mind, whether it turned out cliché or otherwise, was okay, because it was the only way my writing would improve. Inner editor (I call her Edna) will spice it up after the words go in my Word document. After a while, she came to visit me less, because I finally grew comfortable with writing as me; I wasn’t so cliché after all.

Quiet the inner editor. Don’t worry about being cliché. If you are cliché, fix the problem after you write something. But the chances are, if you write as yourself, you may create the most original pieces of us all.

How do you fight being cliché? Tweet Miss Musings with your tips!

3 slam poetry performances that I can’t stop thinking about

Some slam poems have made me feel so deeply that I could not ponder on anything other than their meanings, and how certain phrases convey these meanings so acutely.

Here is a selection of a few slam poems that made me think, as well as some commentary and specific parts to look out for. However, these lines and meanings should stand out by themselves.

 

1. “Nearest Exit” by Alex Dang, Brenna Twohy, and Eirean Bradley

 

“You can only tread water for so long… when the plane starts going down you will not want to keep breathing… you were just fooling yourself into thinking you were above gravity.”

I do not dare to state what this poem is about – or any of these poems really – but “Nearest Exit” appears to deal with misconceptions regarding coping with grief. The vocal dynamic created by the trio of speakers, similar to a group reading from Greek and Roman times, brings the morbid nuances and helpless calls for realization of this poem to life.

 

2. “Shrinking Women” by Lily Myers

 

“[She was] deciding how much space she deserves to occupy… I asked five questions in genetics class today and all of them started with the word “sorry”… a circular obsession I never wanted, but inheritance is accidental.”

This poem is one of Button Poetry’s most viral videos, at approximately 4 million views. Myers employs the metaphor of food and size to represent the role of women in, what she has experienced, a man’s world, and expresses her anger through helpless observances, whether through apologizing for no reason or observing the oppressive scenario she never asked for. A brilliant social commentary, “Shrinking Women” is bound to be known as a 4th wave feminism literature trademark, albeit digital. Let the number of views speak for itself in this regard.

 

3. “21” by Patrick Roche

 “6 – I wanna be… Spiderman. Or my dad, they’re kind of the same…” 

Since this poem has been featured on Upworthy its views have skyrocketed to over 2 million views in one week. Roche is one of my favorite spoken word poets because he writes such unorthodox poems. The poem has been met with some confused comments due to its complexity, but it brilliantly details the life a boy with an alcoholic father (and presumably mother) by recalling memories from years 21 to 0. Ironically, 21 is the legal drinking age in America, and this age and his father’s death start off the poem.

Other recommendations include OCD, Audio Book, Pine City, and Siri: A Coping Mechanism. These poems contain colorful language, so please view with discretion.

My secret novel-in-verse

secret

Source: http://www.thecoast.ca/RealityBites/archives/2011/09/29/right-to-know-week-day-3secret-government-meetings

 

I don’t let anyone read poems written by my twelve-year-old self, period. But outside of this minor restriction, I have made a great effort to becoming more open with my writing. I frequently write for a creative writing blog, posting everything from serials to poetry; although I kiss each piece goodbye like a mother would: very reluctantly. Certainly I write prolifically for various publications, and I have even created this blog in order to inspire others and publicly spread some light to those who are trapped in perpetual night.

Let me tell you: I have discovered that sharing words, combined into well-phrased sentences, is vastly liberating. Nonetheless, I still hold certain pieces of writing closer than others; yet here I am, healthily outing one of my creative projects: my unpublished novel-in-verse.

To be candid, some writers physically have to write when they are inspired, lest they internalize a shallow viewpoint. When I witnessed a piece of art, the film The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, I shocked myself by not crying. Instead a new feeling of anger, power, and desire to end worldwide hatred helped me discover a new point of interest: researching the holocaust, and in particular, how it is portrayed through myriad art forms.

 

Still from the movie The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

Still from the movie The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Source: http://theboyinthestripedpajamasproject.weebly.com/friendship.html

 

I read countless novels, memoirs, poems, articles, and scholastic papers on genocide. I watched The Pianist and listened to Chopin for hours afterwards. But none of these creative activities, however interesting, satisfied me as much as writing, so I decided to generate my own way of coping with a situation I would hopefully never have to endure.

So I wrote lines of poetry as I thought of them. There was no general framework for the piece or any planning. I did not know who would survive the wreckage. Truthfully, I was not even fully set on the names of the characters. I had soaked in so many emotions from the victims, families and portrayers of the holocaust that my only catharsis resulted from writing my own reaction to such a tragic moment in history.

Writing my secret novel-in-verse means I have the power to cope with anything; it means I have the ability to create – to procure instead of destroy feelings. It means I have strength in my mind that allows me to summarize indescribable emotions.

 

How I feel when I write poetry

How I feel when I write poetry. Source: http://www.sodahead.com/entertainment/clap-along-and-post-your-favorite-songs-about-being-happy/question-4221899/

 

Yet, regardless of this skill that I may possess; I have trouble letting anyone read poetry written from a vulnerable place. Perhaps all writers do.

How these fictional stories should have ended

Forget history – I wish I could rewrite storybook endings. There are so many books, plays and movies that I feel ended inadequately or incorrectly. Without further ado, here is how I wanted certain plots to play out.

 

Photo courtesy of broadway.tv

Photo courtesy of broadway.tv

Phantom of the Opera: Let’s be honest; it would have been much more edgy if Christine had ended up with the Phantom instead of Raoul. Sure, their highly disturbing romance mixed with Phantom’s controlling personality isn’t what fantasies are made of, but the story would have taken an even better, darker turn: the angelic Christine would have made the easy choice for her fate and proven that she was powerless in making it, therefore opening a door to exploring unhealthy relationships and the importance of recognizing them.

 

Photo courtesy of fanpop.com

Photo courtesy of fanpop.com

Harry Potter: I would be happy to rewrite the entire epilogue to the HP series, but for time’s sake I will focus on only one aspect of the story I would change: I would make Snape Harry’s father. Yes. I said it. I know, Harry is supposed to resemble James but with Lily’s eyes, but if Harry had actually been Snape’s offspring Rowling would have had an excuse to give more clues regarding Snape’s over protectiveness of Harry. Because, trust me, there were not enough.

 

Photo courtesy of fanpop.com

Photo courtesy of fanpop.com

Pride and Prejudice: P&P is rather sacred ground for me, but I would still love to read an alternate version (no, not one with zombies, mind you). Instead of Mr. Collins lusting after Elizabeth, I would have Bingley secretly in love with Elizabeth. While Bingley would have liked Jane well enough, deep inside he would have been attracted to Elizabeth’s fiery temperament, and the story could have followed his manner of repressing his feelings for Elizabeth for Darcy’s sake as well as Jane’s.

 

Photo courtesy of wikimedia.org

Photo courtesy of wikimedia.org

The Fault in Our Stars: This entire book left me feeling really unsatisfied… no, not with my love life, but with how incomplete the ending was. If I could change this book’s ending, I would have Hazel Grace leave Gus’ funeral to fake her death, akin to Juliet. Shortly after, she would take the first flight out to Amsterdam and continue living her life as a novelist, eternally unsatisfied.

 

Photo courtesy of wikimedia.org

Photo courtesy of wikimedia.org

Hamlet: Ophelia may have drowned in Hamlet… but what if she hadn’t? In my version, Ophelia would run away from Denmark and live in the forest. There she would join leagues with Puck – the fairy from A Midsummer Night’s Dream – and become a philosopher and adviser to Oberon, finally finding her niche as an indoctrinated fanciful creature.

What stories do you want to rewrite endings for?