What Party Needs Preparation Anyway?

Tonight’s post is mainly for my fellow authors, so for anyone else, the situation may be foreign, but I will try to keep the messages as universal as possible.

I’ll begin by stating that just because something is optional doesn’t mean it isn’t beneficial, or even essential to success–It just means that it cannot be forced upon participants. Tonight we had a total of 7 people (14%) show up to the meeting we originally had upwards of 60% planning on attending. Thanks Brent, Derek, Renee, Preethi, Katherine, and Julia. Some I know had good excuses (thanks as well for the notification, Natalie and Barry). I cannot pretend that nothing else in life matters except writing, but we’ve all accepted the challenge of publishing our books and making the publishing party a success. As a result, it is very upsetting when large quantities of teammates (I do not refrain from using that word) choose to skip what they previously agreed to.

I’m sure most of you have been a part of (or at least known of) a time when someone was stood up by a friend or date, and this is very similar in many aspects, but the dependence on each other for success makes it that much deeper. I’m sure that most of you are familiar, as well, with the “I’m disappointed, not mad” speech from parents and teachers. Anyone in a leadership position is familiar with both ends of the situation. It is for this reason that I so often refer back to my favorite quote: “Do not walk behind me, I will not lead; Do not walk before me, I will not follow; Simply walk beside me and be my friend.” In many interactions, Friend may not be a fitting word, however it can easily be replaced by more formal terms such as collaborator. All leaders must be followers and everyone must be willing to listen, but at the same time, no one can be raised so high on a pedestal that everyone else is afraid to approach them and share their own words. Therefore, it is at this point that I must also apologize for any presumption that is apparent in my actions and words, especially today. We have elected our four supervisors, who are in charge of the check-list of items to complete, however we all need to take on responsibility for following as needed and coming up with our own ideas to further our goal when that is needed as well.

To close, I extend an empathetic thanks (that others hopefully take part in) to teachers, mentors, and guides that put up with all the usurpers, rebels, depressives, and clowns that live in each of us.

~Snots

“Vroom, Vroom” Goes the Busy Life

I’ve written about how “writing withdrawal” is a real thing. I’ve also commented on how busy life can get. Now is my time to say that the two go together quite well. I’ve been going non-stop lately and have wanted to write, but have only gotten enough down time to take care of my own needs. Anyway, I suppose a quick update on the weekend is due…

Saturday hosted both this year’s districts cross country meet and our orchestra’s Pops/Halloween concert. As a result, the team went out for a final chance at a pasta party Friday night. We went to Olive Garden and couldn’t get a big enough table so the boys had to eat separately from the girls. At the meet, both Hannah and myself were usurped in our races, losing to the runners generally just behind us on the team–Danielle finished just before Hannah and I was a bit behind Ryan. For the second meet in a row, I was two runners behind the last medal. We did qualify to move on in the season and take the boys’ team plus Hannah and Danielle to Sectionals next weekend at the world’s worst course out in Festus. I got to visit my Grandmother who just recently moved in with my aunt out in Washington after she had a stroke and was kicked out of her nursing home, and spent the three hours following the meet there. After that, I raced around my house gathering materials to craft my Edward Scissor-hands costume for the concert. The costume’s success included shaving my beard for only the third (maybe fourth?) time since Sophomore year began–an element not missed by all my classmates and coworkers. The concert went beautifully, along with a small gathering back at my house after. The weekend closed with Mass and work on Sunday.

Today was a short day at school and brought some progress on the e-book–some updates that need to be addressed here as well…

The party is in line for Tuesday, December 1, from 6-8 at 6 North Café, as previously mentioned. (Everyone is invited!)

I have visited the café to get an idea how to organize myself and my fellow authors, but have yet to be able to talk to the owner as to confirm I can do what I have planned.

There will be a meeting tomorrow, after school, to allow all the party committees to see each other and discuss what needs established.

I will find or put together directions to obtain the book through Amazon via a Kindle or the Kindle app (and share them both here and at the party) soon.

I met my illustrator this afternoon and began collaboration with him–he has already turned around a first draft for the front cover (Thanks John!)

Everything appears to be in place to have the book published by next Monday!

Finally, a BIG THANKS to everyone for sharing (and continuing to share) the journey to publication with me!
~Snots

Why do You Write?

Why do I write?

I write to find understanding

From myself and others
For myself and others
Both now and forever

I write to seek knowledge

Opposite of fear
Teaching myself
Then sharing with peers

I write to show emotion

Life’s common thread
Pour out my own
Help others instead

I write for the peace

Calm my own soul
Share all life’s secrets
Strengthen us all

I write to find understanding

Both within and without
Until eternity ends
Beginning right now

Why do you write?

Qualifications No One Can Give

The Laws of Physics. The Laws of Morality. The Laws of the Nation.

Everyday, people everywhere look to each other for support, for opinions, for the rights to think or do what they want. They look to people they know or to society as a whole to set rules and laws. They look for others to allow them to act certain ways and prevent others from acting differently. They look for others to define what can and cannot happen in the universe. And they, themselves, enforce these codes on those people they come across. When the majority opinion shifts, so do the laws of the universe. Sometimes the shift comes with new knowledge and brings society closer to the truth. Other times, this simply does not hold true. Anything we, as humans, do to quantify or qualify our surroundings can never reach the true truth and will always fall short of true reality. There’s a saying: “If the mind were simple enough to be understood, it could not understand.” The universe is the same way–any new piece of data we receive leads to far more questions than it answers. This is not to say that we cannot try to understand. This is not even to say that we shouldn’t try to come as close to full comprehension as possible. The point is that sometimes acceptance is the solution to a problem. Sometimes words cannot describe a feeling. Sometimes a picture cannot portray the magnificence of an event. We need to learn how to believe and act, even when logic fails.

In class the other day, we were given a list of emotions with obscure names no one recognizes. These ranged from the fatigue caused by senseless violence to various forms of loneliness to some other extreme metaphysical sensations. Everyone feels them, yet no one can describe them without difficulty. Later, while reading a friend’s blog, I came across another example: the need to express thoughts through actions rather than words. Everyone feels far more than they can express, and words (including onomatopoeia) can convey only a small fraction of these transferable impressions.

Yet we continue to sympathize and empathize on very deep levels.

The current topic up at youth group is relationships (both romantic and non) between people. After being asked to list different qualities needed for a strong relationship, the Pope’s words were shared and Forgiveness and Empathy were named the two most important aspects in a relationship. Forgiveness is the ability to move beyond past wrongs committed by both oneself and another person. Everyone has heard of it’s importance and struggles to live in it to some degree. Empathy, however, is addressed much less in society. By drawing from personal experience, we are all capable of trans-locating ourselves into another person’s shoes fairly well. The difficulty is truly making ourselves accept what we see and feel while outside our own beings. The near impossibility then comes when we are given the chance to act on our new findings.

The moment we are called to action is when logic begins to fail. We are all taught that a kind word can heal any wound. What is often left out is the very idea that makes feeling empathy difficult: our inability to use the language we have chosen. Empathy is felt most strongly, and therefore expressed most frequently, with those who have done wrong or have been wronged. As a result, it relates very closely to both forgiveness and sympathy, yet any verbal attempts at its expression usually come across as sympathy, which can do more harm than good in many situations. Despite any eloquence that may be backing a supportive speech, logic leaves the building under grief, stress, euphoria, and other strong emotions. Sympathy places one person in a superior place to another person or group when the “inferior” group is at its lowest–it is perceived as a kick to a man who is down. We are all equal, and just as we cannot qualify life, we are not qualified to place anyone in a superior position to anyone else.

The sole difference between sympathy and empathy is that empathy supports two people fighting together on the same ground. In order to bring ourselves to the same levels as everyone else, however, we must recognize the same faults in ourselves as those we see in everyone around us. At the same time, it is essential to hold onto the hope that we can be as pristine as we originally appeared to ourselves in our jaded mirrors. One more funny drift from logic: hope is one of the most abstract ideas in life, yet it is always regarded as the most universal. And it is our job to spread the most universal theme in life to everyone we meet, regardless what position they’re in.

Give someone a hug and let them feel comforted and secure where they are before you judge them and try to drag them into your “enlightened” lifestyle.

March On (Plus a Party Invitation!)

Wow. It’s been a busy weekend (plus a Monday). I didn’t work, yet the time managed to fill itself more than efficiently enough. I did work some Friday and Saturday, but today and yesterday I’ve been free. Managed to spend time with my longest standing friend after Mass and before youth group–and hopefully got him set up to get hired with me. Noah’s online application had similar difficulties to mine and didn’t upload right the first time, but his didn’t let him complete it a second time so we went in to talk directly to the managers yesterday. I think I may have convinced Patricia to apply as well! Maybe my weekend wasn’t as laid back as I thought it was…

Somewhere in there, I managed to finally get social media accounts up too. Hopefully I can manage to use those effectively for colleges and my books (and I suppose I can’t leave out the outlets’ intents of social integration). For those that are exposed to what I’m sure will be crude attempts at first, please forgive me for making things awkward. It’ll get better. I promise I don’t intentionally stay ignorant on most things.

I don’t think I can leave out the upcoming book release party either. My editors have finally begun their revisions and are going to town on an already finely-sifted work. As they finish, we’ll begin to design the front cover as well–hopefully a decent collaboration between myself and someone a bit more technologically savvy. Yet I’ve managed to drop the information about the party! It will take place…

Tuesday, December 1st

At 6 North Café on Clayton Rd in Ballwin

From 6PM to 8PM (featured authors will change at 7)

All those interested in coming are more than welcome! We will be showcasing our works and be able to talk or answer questions, or even supply knowledge on how to work all the newfangled gadgets so the books may become truly available to everyone.

From a more personal standpoint, I’m really looking forward to any preparations I get to take a part in. The groups were announced today, though our positions were not–I’d love to be a major player in publicity and hospitality/ decorating/ tear-down. If Mr. Durham decides to read, maybe he’ll take this as a bit of a hint? I will have time to actually do stuff after state with cross country because I won’t get 8 hour shifts seven days a week. I will admit, however, that I will really start missing the team very soon now that we’re down to varsity only.

Here’s to the future!
~Snots

Revised Author’s Bio

After peer revision, my official bio to appear on Amazon with any books I publish is as follows:

Stephen Naylor, the world-renowned jack-of-all-trades, experiences the world through his own unique creative license. Both a nationally recognized scholar and athlete, Stephen lives for the challenge and can always be seen attacking the untouchable giants of society. Two of his favorite targets are the outdated educational system and universal refuge of nature. At long last, his interior test-lover and avid artist have come together to produce the anticipated author.

Senseless Senses, Contradictory Connections, and Other Oddities

I should write a book on how to cure two months’ worth of sleep deprivation with a half-hour’s worth of lying in a dark room. The only problem is that I don’t know how it happens. I’m up again and need to write.

My life is full of peculiarities, as I’ve already written about, and a few have been re-inspired today both by classmates and my own newly heightened awareness of certain things.

Senses

As I found my seat at the long lunch table I claim with my friends for 30 minutes around noontime, a sweet scent made its way to my nose. It quickly passed. I sat down and it came back. Then disappeared again. The aroma came and went for ten minutes before I finally pinpointed it and began the search. Apple pie was the culprit–apple pie containing too much nutmeg. I couldn’t find it. I was disappointed. After sniffing around for a few minutes, I decided to stand and survey the surrounding tables. No pie was visible, yet the odor continued to assault my nose. To the chant of my friends begging me to sit back down, I began to pace the commons, inspecting tables, sniffing lunch boxes, and embarrassing the group I returned to. I surrendered to the vast size of the commons in which we ate and accepted that I couldn’t find the original source of the pie flavored air. But it wasn’t over. I went up to french and was greeted with more scents than I care to repeat. I identified most of them and could even find their sources in the smaller setting. The small success in the feat thrilled me, though I admit that some odors were certainly better left outside, drifting on the wind.

As I sat analyzing the experience on paper in my writing class, I recalled the trend in my vision. The eyes that call my body home are far from perfect–I wear glasses with quite a thick lens–but I have grown to pride myself on their abilities lately. Colors are my specialty. I can pick out an eraser and tell whether or not it belongs to a certain set I haven’t yet seen it with because of a difference in coloration. I could always spot the endpoint in a titration far before anyone else in my chem class. And I have learned to apply this effectively to my acrylics as I dye canvases and papers. However… My vision has been fading in the last two weeks. Some might blame it on my dirty glasses, others on changing light, but I’ve experienced both and can usually counter either one. I’m not trying to say I’ll be blind anytime soon, but my eyes are changing once again. Maybe it’s connected to the growing sniffer just below them?

Connections

“There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” While not completely true, this does hit pretty close to home. Any fear is simply a fear of the unknown. We are equally afraid of being either “inadequate” or “powerful beyond measure” (if I may borrow from two separate quotes). We are afraid of being forced to lead just as much as we are afraid of being left behind. And both are just as similar to the fear we feel toward the monster that might be lurking behind us in the shadows as we turn out the lights and race from our dark basements. The adrenaline we receive from a good fright may very well save us some day, but apprehension is something to be understood and utilized, not to be surrendered to in fear of life.

Oddities

Who doesn’t like the occasional pinched nerve or restricted circulation? I’m not going to say that it’s always enjoyable, but I’m sure everyone has had fun waking up a sleeping limb or torturing friends with icicle-hands at least once. My hands and feet are always falling asleep and freezing. During a cold run my hands will turn purple and orange; after three miles on a bike my right foot will fall asleep; and more recently my left foot has developed a stabbing sensation with each step around mile 5 of the occasional run. I got to school today and Lauren’s hands were just as frozen as mine, so of course we compared, then got a few friends to jump as ice was lain gently across their necks. Aren’t friends great?

As always, feel free to add any personal experiences to today’s sampling of observations.

~Snots