by Ann Caputo
As a writer, I realize the obnoxious phenomenon known as “writer’s block” is part of the craft, a peril of the trade. But why does it settle in at the most inconvenient time, like when I need to begin writing nearly anything? There is nothing so daunting as the blank page and a looming deadline. It took me awhile to realize that my pets hold more power in alleviating this condition then I first believed.
by Rachel Barton
While I was growing up, my mother made all of my Halloween costumes. Since she was a seamstress, she took this opportunity to go all out and produce works of art. For my first Halloween, I was a tiny bride with a complicated wedding dress. Throughout the years, I dressed as a Teletubby with a light up belly, Tom and Jerry in one costume, and a princess turned ninja. Each year, my mom would ask me what I wanted to be. When I was nine, I stumped her.
by Laura Kincaid
I watch cartoons. I’m not talking about Family Guy or Rick and Morty, but cartoons created for and targeted at children. I’m not alone. Shows like Steven Universe, Adventure Time, and Avatar: The Last Airbender have garnered huge audiences from kids to teens to twenty-somethings and older. Countless blogs and video essays propose a pile of reasons why cartoons are suddenly “not just for kids anymore” like how they relieve stress, produce a sense of nostalgia, or provide life lessons useful to everyone. But when people ask me why I watch cartoons, I answer: “For the writing.”
by Mark Krupinski
“Anything and everything can be art!” is, I feel, a deceptively sinister phrase. You could substitute the rather generic “art” in this situation with your medium of choice, be it poetry, film, literature, or what have you, and the situation remains unchanged. It seems innocuous at first, even encouraging. Anything can be art; no matter how lost you may feel, no matter what vision you lack, your expression has merit. You exist and you are valid. As someone who has spent more time than perhaps he’d like to admit pacing fretfully to and fro, hyperventilating into a McDonald’s bag because the words don’t sound the way they’re supposed to, I understand. Writing is a painful, clumsy, often fruitless task, so positive affirmation is as valuable as it is rare. But there’s a danger in creating that sense of comfort, tossing standards by the wayside in favor of blind positivity and confidence. The idea that everything, every single careless, thoughtless, witless, messy, wishy-washy, meandering, pointless thing is art gives me pause.
by Kaitlyn Gaffney
I am an unabashed fantasy nerd. I was raised on Harry Potter, YA vampire novels, Brandon Sanderson, and Dungeons & Dragons. I still play World of Warcraft and I world-build for fun, but my entire life, I have heard fantasy--and genre fiction in general--referred to as a “guilty pleasure.”
With the explosion of YA and genre fiction in the past decade or so, the literary world has seen many arguments for the distinction between genre fiction and literary fiction and, in many cases, for literary fiction’s superiority. Arthur Krystal, in his piece “Easy Writers” for The New Yorker, promotes this hierarchy on the basis of genre fiction’s disproportionate focus on archetypal plot and inherent escapism. He describes genre fiction as “a narrative cocktail that helps us temporarily forget the narratives of our own humdrum lives.” I read this article a few months ago and felt the familiar sting of shame for my love of fantasy fiction.
by Jenna Burke
Recently there has been a face that is making the internet 🔥 with extensive debate behind its actual meaning. No, it is not one of the Kardashians or Clint Eastwood memes, but rather an emoji that is causing controversy. According to USA Today, the new “Woozy Face Emoji” that is supposed to depict someone who is intoxicated has been creating critical debate in the social media universe. While some people 😂 at this and make tweets such as “this is how every one be when they get their pictures at the DMV,” others find the fact that we are having the discussion not only 😕, but also a complete waste of time.
by Dylann Cohn-Emery
A teenager walked up and down the aisles of Barnes and Noble, searching for the perfect book. In her mind that meant something weighty, something she would have to put time into to finish.
“Short books just turn me off,” she told her friend.
It is understandable that readers might want the challenge of reading a lengthy book, something they know will take weeks, if not months. Perhaps they think the subplots and extra detail might make the book better, and that short books can’t have a full, satisfying story. I used to maintain this mindset; I was this girl, who thought that reading bigger books made me smarter and more interesting. I thought they were better because they had more to say.
by Leo Kirschner
There is no such thing as originality! Don’t believe me? Go visit your local cineplex. 2018 brought us A Star Is Born, the fifth - yes fifth! - film adaption of the tragic love story between a celebrity in decline and his younger female protege. Want more proof? Robin Thicke’s hit 2013 “Blurred Lines” sounded very much like Marvin Gaye’s 1977 single “Got To Give It Up.” The courts thought so, too. Even in literature, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight begat E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey. British folklore, mythology, even The Lord of the Rings found themselves interwoven in JK Rowling’s epic Harry Potter-verse.
We are living in a culture where ideas are recycled and creativity is not highly regarded. I’m not the only one who believes this is true. In Mark Twain's Own Autobiography: The Chapters from the North American Review, the famed writer offered up a similar viewpoint: “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope... We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”
by Joe Gramigna
Discipline is hard. I’ve tried many times to reinvent myself via practices that I planned to follow diligently. The first few weeks, everything’s peachy. The 5 a.m. gym sessions get my blood flowing. The kale and green concoctions don’t yet taste like bug spray and depression. The lavender incense lightly laps against my nostrils to center a newfound meditation routine.
Around the end of the month, when I’m about to rise from the ashes of my unenlightened self like a Phoenix emerging from Plato’s cave…
I give up. The distractions of daily living get to me. Then, I get even harder on myself for not living up to my goal and eventually try to replace the failed practice with a new one, fail again, and the cycle of personal crucifixion starts anew.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve taken to a new practice that has proven beneficial and seems like I might be able to implement daily for the long haul. I hope.
It’s called “Morning Pages” and comes from a manifesto on the creative process by writer Julia Cameron. It’s a simple idea with some complex outcomes: as soon as you wake up in the morning, you write three stream of consciousness pages longhand.
I’ve always been a big fan of new age, spiritual, or far-out practices, despite failing at meditation routines countless times. When I first heard Cameron talk in Jungian terms about “meeting your shadow and taking it out for a cup of coffee” or, in meditation terms, to write down “cloud thoughts,” I was intrigued. Writing has always come second-nature to me. Sitting on a floor with my legs crossed and spine erect while trying not to focus on the tortured thoughts that scroll across my mind… not as much. The idea of Morning Pages sounded like a good middle ground.
When writing these three pages each day, it’s important not to attempt to be artful or overthink the prose in anyway. They can be “whiny, petty, grumpy,” according to Cameron, used for putting negativity to the page. Or, they can be joyous. The important thing is to write whatever thoughts are flowing through the mind, taking them from the internal and thrusting them to the external.
Here’s an example from one of my negative passages: “My retainer might actually be messing up my teeth. When I open and close my mouth, my bottom teeth seem out of line, slightly to the right, as compared with my top teeth. I really don’t feel like going to the fucking orthodontist again, though.”
I awoke and felt my retainer askew in my mouth, so that was on my mind as I turned to open my notebook for the morning. It also got me thinking about my slightly crooked jaw, which plunged me headfirst into a morning soliloquy about my physical flaws, not wanting to go to the orthodontist, and other overly critical analyses of my being.
I know this sounds like a slippery slope to suicide by starting each morning like this, but I’ve found it to be mentally freeing. By writing down the swirls of activity, from worry to lust to elation, that echo through my mind each day, I can work towards the maintenance of a level-head and semi-clear mind throughout the rest of my day. Think of it as the writer’s form of meditation or kundalini yoga.
Other Morning Pages passages have been more neutral: “My 7th birthday. In the front living room. It was sunny outside. Some of my classmates were there. A magician performed. He took my grandmother’s ring, wrapped it into a napkin, set the napkin on fire, threw the flaming mass into the air, it poofed into smoke, and then he removed the ring from his inside pocket. Still don’t know how he did that.”
Whether it’s mystical memories or body-image problems, Morning Pages allow me to purge. As Cameron says, putting these thoughts on the page stops them from “eddying through your consciousness throughout the day.” It’s easy to let thoughts become our reality, but putting them down on paper works paradoxically to make them both more and less real. More, in the sense that they’re in a physical form that others can potentially come across. Less, in that they’ve been quantified and explained in intelligible (semi, hopefully) scrawls that are less daunting to confront than the mystifying babble of self-talk.
I think that’s what a lot of my best writing does: it exposes my inner darkness to the page, freeing it from the mine of my mind like the Chilean spelunkers. I can handle handwritten words—challenge their accuracy, continue writing until I uncover their source. I’m a writer. It’s my therapy.
If something as simple as three handwritten pages can ebb the tide and lessen the roar of background noise swirling in the depths of my skull, then count me and my bedside notebook in.
By Mikaela Langdon
Before the internet, fans of books, movies, and television shows had to keep their opinions and ideas about characters and storylines largely to themselves. At most, they might have shared them with friends or relatives. Now we’re in an age where people can share ideas at the push of a button. This has opened up the doors for something known as “fanfiction”: original stories with characters, settings, and sometimes other characteristics borrowed from popular culture. This concept originated, surprisingly, prior to the internet age in Star Trek fanzines such as Spockanalia (1967). This zine contained fanfiction written about the popular science-fiction show and was mailed to super-fans for their enjoyment. With the invention and advancement of the internet, fanfiction has practically become its own industry, allowing fans to become co-creators with the writers they so admire. These works are not intended for publication, at least not in their initial format, and give full credit to the original authors or creators. Fanfiction is not meant to overshadow the original content but rather to celebrate it. But what happens when a fanfiction author takes characters we all know and love and makes them her own, complete with a new backstory and personality? At what point does fanfiction go far enough from the source and just become regular fiction?
thoughts on writing, art, & new media by glassworks editorial staFF