Little White Life – Update

Hello and good morning everyone,

I understand it’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything. I have been spending the time writing my new book, “Little White Life”. I posted the rough draft of the first two chapters on this blog for you to read:

Chapter 1: Little White Chairs

Chapter 2: Little White Seashells

But the polished versions, along with the rest of the book of course, will be available in the next few weeks! Right now I am planning 11 chapters total for this book, five of which are already written. This is obviously subject to change. The chapters are named the following:

Chp 1: Little White Chairs – written

Chp 2: Little White Seashells – written

Chp 3: Little White Rabbits – written

Chp 4: Little White Shoes – written

Chp 5: Little White Airplane – written

Chp 6: Little White Cottage

Chp 7: Little White Life Vest

Chp 8: Little White Tie

Chp 9: Little White Cubicle

Chp 10: Big Red Armchair

Chp 11: Conclusion

 

Thank you, as always, for your patience and I hope you’re as excited as I am for the release of this new book! Stay tuned!

Follow #littlewhitelife for more updates!

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Snow Plow

holier than thou

snow plow

breaking through the

common crowds

set an example

and do it right

preach to the masses

prompt some fights

because you’re a holier than thou

snow plow

sharing with the peasants

your know how

you know you’re right

and everyone else is wrong

so wave your flag

and sing your song

cross everyone’s lines

and hop along

the toes of those

who say you can do wrong

because you’re a holier than thou

snow plow

crashing through

the common crowds

you can do no wrong

and speak only right

but three rights make a left

then you’re lost at night

no light of snub

to guide your way

no approving nods

to make you stay

because you’re a holier than thou

snow plow

running on the fuel

of corrected crowds

under your waves

on your rightful ship

sailing by

they’ll never see you slip

but fuel runs out

and fires burn down

and once you’ve crashed

through the whole damn town

you’ll find you’re alone

with your stuck up nose

smelling the manure

of your own compose

because you’re a holier than thou

snow plow

no hammers or wrenches

no know how

no attempt to help

others out now

just opinions aimed

left and right

like righteous bullets

to a knife fight

so holier than thou

snow plow

we think its time

you break down

keep down

your own head now

and be humbled again

brought back to Earth now

you have your own past

just like everyone

so put down your nose

put down your guns

you’ve done a good job healing

now run along

and leave others to write

their own damn songs

you’re a holier than thou

snow plow

but it’s summertime

 

#AlexisEAbbottPoems #poem #poet #poetry #stuckup #snob #righteous #summertime #snow #winter #cold #unhelpful #common #haughty

Little White Life – Announcement

Hello and good morning everyone! Happy Monday!

I have unwittingly began a new series with a short story I named Little White Chairs . I wrote a second excerpt called Little White Seashells and now have ideas just pouring into my brain about where I can take this funky little character.

A little bit about the character:

  • He is unnamed.
  • He speaks very rarely.
  • He loves the color white.
  • He tends to do things exactly four times sometimes (turning a doorknob, patting a surface, amount of steps taken etc.)
  • He loves his life of routine and certainty.

But now he has been thrust into a world of uncertainty and survival. The more steps he takes away from his quiet little life, the closer he comes to actually getting back home.

I plan to release the rest of the stories (including the first two) into a book of serialized short stories called “Little White Life”. I may or may not release excerpts early for readers to purchase for $1 on Kindle, it depends on the readers (YOU) 🙂

 

Thank you for reading this update and have a wonderful day

 

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Little White Seashells

This is PART 2 of Little White Chairs. Click the link to read PART 1.

He had been adrift at sea for three days. He was so thirsty it felt like his body had turned to sand. He was heavily sunburnt with peeling skin that was oozing and felt like fire. He tried to stay in the shade as much as possible but there wasn’t much he could do on his little piece of plank. The fear of sharks, jellyfish, and other such scary creatures kept him awake. There was no calling for help, their party ship had been destroyed in the storm. They don’t make them like the used to and that was a good thing.

He was certain he was about to die but he had made peace with it. How he would miss his little white cubicle and his little white chair. How he would miss his little white apartment and his little white door. But most of all he would miss his little nice life carved out in routine certainty. If this experience told him anything, it was that deviation from routine had deadly consequences. But that mattered little now that he was adrift the endless sea. He closed his eyes and did not expect to open them again.

He woke up a few hours later to his piece of plank upturning. He plunged into the ice cold sea, the salt hurt his severely sunburned skin, he flailed for all he was worth, but it was useless. The sea tossed him like a ragdoll over and over and over again until he lay flat face first in the sand, calm wave after calm wave lapping up and blocking his breath.

He laid there for a second or two before realizing he was very much alive. He sat up sputtering for breath and stared hard at the sea. The moonlight bounced off the beach into his eyes and when he looked around, he realized he was on a large island. He began to rack his brain for any known islands off the coast of New York but could think of nothing significant. His knowledge of geography had declined rapidly since graduating high school. All he knew now was that he was alive, he was stranded on an island, and he was in the most pain he had ever felt in his life.

He slowly climbed to his feet, his skin scraping against his sandy clothes. He looked at the beach and then at a dense patch of forest just behind the beach. He sighed and thought the worst that could happen was he could be eaten, but that wouldn’t add much more pain to what he was already feeling. In fact, being eaten might offer some kind of peace in death. He had already conceded to dying anyways so might as well make it fast. Best case scenario he could find water. He nodded to himself then marched defiantly into the forest. It was the boldest move he had ever made in his life.

The forest was loud. Why had no one told him nature was so loud? On TV they only show people laughing next to a campfire. They never mention how loud the bugs are, the screech of mating calls filled his ears as did the buzz of mosquitos. It started with one annoying high pitched buzz that ended in a painful prick…then another, and another, and another. They were relentless. They focused on his body heat, heightened even more by literally being roasted in the sun for three days. He swatted at them as best he could but honestly, he was a dead man walking. He had no strength left and didn’t even know how he was able to think or walk at all. Eventually he gave up and trudged on, adding the mosquito bites to his list of pains.

He stumbled a few times and added cuts and scrapes to his injuries. He crawled when there was a hill and stumbled when there was a stick, and swiped blindly away at mosquitos, branches, leaves, and visions. A noise began to fill his head. Quiet at first but then slowly building to a loud roar. He didn’t notice it until it was so loud that he began to feel even more disoriented. He rubbed his eyes and looked around trying to find some sense of relief. He was unsure if this was the sound of his body finally breaking down or a real sound that was coming from somewhere. He looked wildly around, unseeing, until he literally fell into the river.

The shock of the cold water sharpened his senses and brought him out of his stupor for just a few seconds. It was long enough to realize that this was water he could drink, and drink he did. He stayed there in the river on his hands and knees feeling the current push past him drinking as much as he could stomach. He felt a little nauseous from finally having some form of drink inside him in three days, but he relished it compared to how thirsty he had been. He laid down on his back in the river, the part he had fallen into had luckily been shallow…he had no way of knowing that he would have drowned had he fallen into a deeper part of the river.

The cool water washed away the burning salt and offered some relief to the pain of his sunburn. His body quickly went to work on using the water he had drank and he was thirsty again before long. When this happened, he simply flipped over onto his stomach and greedily drank what he could. He was suddenly aware of how tired he was, and he looked up to the bank at a pile of leaves. The thought of bugs didn’t even cross his mind as he crawled on top of the bank and pull them on top of himself for warmth. He fell asleep as soon as his head hit the dirt and experienced a heavy dreamless sleep for an unknown length of time.

Perhaps during this sleep he had waved at death as he passed by, his body gaining strength after the intake of water. If he had been the slightest bit weaker, he would have joined death as a friend and pranced along his way into the afterlife…but the truth is he was not. He passed by without knowledge or understanding and came back up to the surface of his body sputtering and spewing out some sea water that had decided to become fully dislodged from his lungs rather than cause him to dry drown.

He sat up coughing hard and heavy, throwing up a little bit all over his bed of leaves. He wiped his mouth and crawled back into the river to wash off ants, dirt, and the terrible feeling of throwing up and coughing up salt water. He laid in the river for a bit longer and drank his fill once more. He had no way to tell how long he had been asleep, but the sun was out and the forest was awake. He heard birds singing off in the distance and the roar of the river that now surrounded him. His skin was still on fire but the cool shade of the trees provided a chance for it to begin the healing process. Newly hydrated, his body was in full gear.

He was so hungry. He began racking his brain for something, anything about survival that might help him. He had never planned to go camping if he could help it much less be in the situation he was in now. Bugs had protein, didn’t they? He grabbed up some beetles and mashed them between his molars, grimacing at the taste and action, but he had unknowingly bought himself another day of life. With each new action that brought him further from the civilization he knew and loved, the more alive he literally became. In order to survive, he would have to leave his little white house behind and focus on the brown dirt and trees that currently surrounded him.

Never had he experienced so much color! He looked around him in sudden dazed awe as his body sharpened his senses to try to survive. Everything around him was so vibrant, so wonderfully colorful with various blues, greens, and browns…greys, blacks…reds, oranges…every shade you could imagine was held in some type of plant, rock, or creature flying by. He reached his arms up and let out an elated yell as he splashed in the water and laughed. He grabbed up a worm this time and chewed. He washed it down with some river water. He tried to keep it down. He would have to build himself a type of shelter.

Further into the forest he went. He decided he wanted to stay by the river, so he cleared an area of debris and put it into a pile. He then grabbed some large branches and made a sort of boundary with them. He found as many leaves as he could and put them into a pile for a bed…it was very flat. He didn’t know how he could go about making walls, but he figured he could figure it out later. He went out to the beach to see what he could find.

A crab was digging in the sand and he about jumped for joy. He knew for a fact that he could eat crab. He grabbed a rock and smashed it into the crab, killing the little creature instantly. He now stared at the remains with a sudden realization. How would he cook it? He marched back to his little house holding his crushed crab and stared at the pile of debris. He threw the crab down and started to arrange what he thought a fire should look like. Suddenly, he remembered his boy scout training as a child that his parents forced him to go to. He went around and grabbed as many soft and flammable materials as he could and formed a nest for the fire he hoped to have. He then stared at it. How would he light it without a match?

He remembered movies where they depicted twirling a stick over and over to create heat…so he tried. His hands hurt and three hours later he was no closer, the plank of wood he had split off by slamming a branch against a tree wasn’t even warm. He reached up and scratched his head. Then he had an idea!! He started pulling fist fulls of hair out of his scalp, ignoring his now watering eyes. He rubbed them together until they formed a little mat of dry hair then placed it on top of the plank and twirled, twirled, twirled that stick. Five hours later, he saw a spark. Oh how he coveted that spark. He very gently blew on the hair to make the spark catch, then when the hair went up in a flame he almost got too excited. He remembered the one bit of training he had ever had with fires and began, one by one, placing twigs, leaves, and other things on top. He let the flame take its time. There was no use in trying to rush it.

Twenty minutes later he had a roaring fire and it was starting to get dark. He grabbed a flat rock from the river and placed it near the fire. He placed the crab on top and picked through the cooked shell to eat what meat he could manage from the tiny body. He went back to the beach hoping to find more but what he saw instead was a very bright glint of light in the sand. He made his way over and saw that it wasn’t a piece of light at all but a collection of little white seashells. They were so brilliantly stark white that he was taken by them immediately.

They reminded him of his little white life back at home. He gathered them up and placed them along the little border next to his bed for decoration. He covered the fire in a small layer of dirt and hoped beyond hope it would still be hot in the morning.

His eyes closed and he dreamt of little white beetles, little white crabs, and little white seashells.

  • #AlexisEAbbottPoems

#shortstory #novella #story #writer #amwriting #writing #survival #fire #seashell #live #die #death #woods #forest

Little White Chairs

He was going on an adventure he didn’t want in a place he never dreamed he would be.

As he boarded the plane, he took one last longing glance at the airport through the loading tunnel’s window. Did he have to go? He had never gone more than a town away from home and he had never planned to. He was happy at his 9-5 job. He was happy with his weekend routine. He was happy to find a wife somewhere, settle down in his nice little house, and quietly raise a family all while going to work 9-5 every single day.

He was not ready. He knew he wasn’t ready. But he was being sent away anyway. He worked as a humble number pusher at a large firm in his town. They never asked much of him except to help plan the occasional birthday party. Now, because he was the most consistent employee in the whole company, he was being sent away to a conference to speak on his company’s behalf and try to gain some interest. Recently their employee numbers had dropped drastically with people quitting for newer and more exciting jobs. He was just happy to be in his little white cubicle, typing on his little white computer, in his little white chair, in the large white room with fifty other little white cubicles with little white computers and employees in little white chairs just typing away.

He boarded the plane. His head filled with bitter thoughts. He stared out the window the whole three hour flight to New York. When they arrived, he got up stiffly and robotically grabbed his carry on luggage then went to pick up his larger suitcase from the baggage area. He then rolled his suitcase out to the curb and hailed a taxi. Or at least he tried to.

Yellow metal vehicles zoomed by him. One ran through a puddle and splashed the bottom of his pants. He frowned in disdain, his automatic mind already calculating how to best clean the new stain before the speech time tonight. He stood there on the curb looking nothing out of the absolute ordinary with his unassuming hand in the air and he waited. He waited more. He waited even more. After about three hours he finally had enough. He took a deep breath and stepped off the curb to stand in front of an oncoming taxi with his hand in the air. The taxi came to a screeching halt and the taxi driver peeked out at him from the window.

 

“Where to?”

 

He showed the small chubby man his hotel information and the man nodded.

 

“Get in.”

 

He got in and sat perfectly still the whole way. He did not try to talk to the driver and the driver did not try to talk to him. He got to his destination, handed the driver the money needed plus the customary tip and then walked mechanically inside the hotel. He was immediately greeted by people of all shapes and sizes who tried to shake his hand, welcome him, take his bags, and help him to his room. He immediately felt overwhelmed and held onto his bags for dear life. Eventually a kind eyed woman stepped up and gently took the bags from his hands. She reassured him they would be to his room in fifteen minutes or less and then directed him where to go to find his room, handing him the key.

He took one more longing glance at his bags then relinquished his quiet control and headed to the room like he was instructed. When he got there, he breathed a sigh of relief that the room was white with a white bed, white couch, white bathroom, and a white little desk with a white little lamp.

He sat on the bed and patted it exactly four times for good measure then laid down and stared at the ceiling. He glanced to his wrist watch then back to the ceiling. He had ten minutes before the fifteen minute mark and he dearly hoped she would not be late. His attention focused back to his pant legs and he went into the bathroom, took his pants off, then stood in his underwear meticulously scrubbing away the stain with sink water and hand soap.

A few minutes later there was a knock at the door, and he went to answer it. When he opened the door the woman gasped and looked away from him, thrusting his carry-on bag at him and holding it there for him to take. He looked at her in confusion, then looked down and blushed a crimson red color that disrupted the stark white of his skin. He quickly took the bag and his larger one from her, thanked her, and shut the door without bothering with an explanation. He took exactly four steps into the room before uttering a small gasp, turning on his heel, and sliding a tip underneath the door. He thanked her for being on time through the door and wished her a good day before he went to finish washing and drying his pants.

Later, he sat in the cold auditorium room with his hair combed perfectly neat, his tie a perfect length, and his shoes double shined for this event. If he was going to be forced to come here, he was going to do it with quiet dignity and with as much regular routine as he could muster in the new environment. When it was his turn to talk, he walked slowly up to the mic and coughed to check it before he began his speech. He talked about what a wonderful company his was to work for. He talked about his love for punching in numbers. He talked about his love for his routine and his 9-5 schedule. At the end of the speech a man raised his hand and he nodded to him.

“That doesn’t sound very exciting.” It was a statement rather than a question.

“I’m sorry you feel that way.” Came the calculated response.

“What would we gain from working at a boring job?” The man pressed for a detailed retort.

“You would have the benefit of security knowing where your next paycheck was coming from. Exactly what was expected of you. You would have the opportunity to advance if you wanted within the company, though I am happy where I am at. You would have the safety of only 10 days’ vacation time a year that you did not have to take.” He answered as best he could.

He could not see what the issue might be with staying where you are at and diligently working a job that one could count on. Meanwhile, the man who had asked the question blinked in dumbfounded confusion.

“What is so exciting about that?” Came a second question and the third sentence from the man’s ddddddouth.

He stood there and blinked with the microphone raised to his mouth. He wasn’t sure what to say or how to reply to such an odd request. It didn’t compute in his calculated and mechanical brain. He felt as if smoke was coming from out his ears. He was fried. After a few moments of pregnant silence he swallowed a dry lump that had suddenly occupied his mouth, shifted exactly four times in place, raised the microphone to his lips and simply stated,

“Everything.”

Then after a few moments silence.

“No more questions.”

He walked down from the stage to a chorus of confused and disjointed applause and straight to the elevator to go to his room. His head was reeling from the response he got. Who in their right mind would want anything less than what his job offered him? Complete and total security. A nice paycheck. A place to go to every week day. It was crazy that they did not feel the same.

He laid on his white bed staring at the white ceiling, but sleep did not come for him. Instead his mind reeled for the first time in his perfect little life. The next morning he groggily answered a knock at his white hotel door.

“Good morning!! Ready to go on your excursion?” A happy slim woman asked him. She was dressed for a boat.

He blinked in confusion and just stared at her. She waited for a few seconds before explaining further, “Your company booked you an excursion on a genuine ship! We leave in five minutes and will be gone all day. Weather permitting, we will spend the night on the sea and come back in the morning!” She chirped happily.

It didn’t compute. He didn’t want to go. He wasn’t told of this. He explained all of this to her and she shoved a piece of paper in his face with his name and his company as the one who paid the bill. He slowly gathered his things hoping that she would leave without him. When he went downstairs fifteen minutes later, he found that they had happily waited for him. He sighed in malcontent before boarding the bus to take them to the docks. The ride was pretty enough, but he could not get over the fact that he had planned to get some work done today on his little white laptop at the little white desk in his room. He hadn’t understood why he was staying for three days when the speech was only one night. Now he knew. He sighed heavily and stared unmoving out of the window.

When they got to the dock he looked up at the biggest ship he had ever seen. It was a traditional build, not a modern ship, with a mast, sails, and an old fashioned wheel to steer. He could not help but get a little excited. He loved nautical things. He felt a quickened pace in his step as he got closer to the boat.

“Now we want you all to enjoy yourselves but there are a few rules…” the lady was droning on.

He found himself peering around people in the crowd of his group to stare at the giant sails on the ship. They were white! He hurried onto the boat and set his things down in the crew cabin under deck. They would be sleeping in hammocks instead of on beds. He stared curiously before simply throwing his luggage in a hammock at the very back of the room that looked the closest to the color white he could find. He was a little downtrodden they didn’t match the brilliant white of the sails.

They milled around below deck until it was time to leave and then he stood in a crowd of strangers watching the coastline slowly disappear. He hadn’t felt this exhilarated in years and he worried a little bit for his health. The night was passed with mind boggling ship trivia and lovely discussions among the crew. He, on the other hand, spent the night sitting within perfect view of those white sails and the horizon of the sea. He even let his hair blow about in the wind without trying to comb it. This was heavenly.

 

He was the first to see the storm.

 

On the horizon what looked like nightfall was really heavy rain coming from a thick dark cloud looming overhead. He stood up in rapt attention and alerted the nice woman who had been taking care of them and she excused herself before walking a few steps away and rapidly whispering into a walkie-talkie. He hadn’t missed her shocked and worried expression. As he watched the storm, he saw it slowly start to rotate. Then faster and faster. They were headed for a cyclone! He ran down the steps and warned the rest of the crew before running back up and simply staring at it. He could not turn his eyes away from chaos. He could not lose sight of the most massively destructive thing he had ever encountered.

A few minutes later it was upon them. The rain tore at the sails, the wind tugged on the mast, the waves rocked the boat as if they had been uninvited and wanted to crash the party. One by one the planks began to splinter. The frightened screams of his crewmates filled his ears as he held onto the mast with one thought crossing his mind: the storm was the farthest from the color white you could imagine.

In the morning he woke up adrift on a piece of the ship. Floating all around him were pieces of the boat and he didn’t see another soul in sight. He looked around him to take inventory and noticed he was on a rather large piece with some sticking up that he could scrunch into for shade. He grabbed out of the water a little white piece of net, and a little white piece of the sail. He structured himself to begin the modes of survival he had seen in every movie he had forced his calculated brain to watch. He knew there was no calling for help. He was alone at sea.

He was going on an adventure he didn’t want in a place he never dreamed he would be.

  • #AlexisEAbbottPoems

#story #shortstory #novella #writer #writing #white #routine #boring #exciting #storm #company #speech #amwriting #author

Good Morning All You Writers

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Good morning writers!

Wake up to the morning sun

and brew your special coffee

to keep your mind on the run.

Good morning writers

your Work In Progress calls.

It’s still sitting on your computer

and its story does drawl

onward through the mists of time;

or should you go cliché and call them sands?

And, oh darn, what was the name

of that symbol again?

Good morning to all you writers!

Let the words flow smooth as ink.

Make sure not to spill yourself

or your creativity will cease to link.

Good morning all you writers!

How do you handle your writers block?

Do you toss it out a window

when it begins to piss you off?

Good morning all you writers!

I hope your self esteem soars

and that imposter syndrome will be left behind

your internal, elven-scribed, heavy oak doors.

Good morning all you writers,

from one writer to all the rest:

may your books stand the test of time

and may your demons surely jest.

Good morning all you writers,

it’s time to type and shine!

 

  • #AlexisEAbbottPoems

#goodmorning #morning #writers #demons #coffee #write #writer #writing #internal #impostersyndrome #imposter #books #author #test #time #creativity #writersblock #encouragement #poetry #poet #poem #writerslife

She Was

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she was an old lady who lived in the woods

she grew corn and flowers and fruits

she lived with her dogs and with some old toads

who helped her collect herbs for her bubbling stews

she laughed away pain and sang away fright

she collected firewood for large bonfires at night

she chirped to the birds and listened to the worms

and could tell by the smell when the weather would turn

she was an old lady who lived in the woods

like she had always planned to be

she had a tumultuous past

but she knew nothing would last

no sorrow, no fright, no glee

she had learned to let go

of those things she would know

were not meant for her in this life today

but she also learned to love

deep and whole

those who came into her life and would stay

she was an old lady who lived in the woods

and she had learned to never forget

what made her happy

and what made her herself

and what made her the old lady that she was today

 

  • #AlexisEAbbottPoems

#writing #poetry #poem #poet #amwriting #writer #hippie #woods #forest #live #smile #laugh #garden #weather #heart #soul #happiness #feel #free #freedom #old #lady #woman

 

Image source: Pinterest.com

Writing Tutor Services!

Good morning everyone,

Writing Tutor:

Today I wanted to put a notice out to those who view my blog, I am an experienced writing tutor with four semesters of college experience as a Writing Center tutor and two semesters college experience as a Writing Fellow tutor.

I recommend getting set up now before the school semester gets into full swing as not only will session slots fill up fast but the student should start strong with good support and the tools to succeed. They should not wait until they’re struggling to then seek support later when they’re already behind.

 

Reviews

Above image: Reviews that I have gotten from students I tutored at the University of North Georgia (UNG).

 

My experience: 

Though my experience is with students ages 18-50+, I have the ability and skills to work with students of all grade-levels. I tailor each session around the student and both what they want to work on as well as what they need to work on (these are not generally the same thing). I employ a mixture of the Socratic method and colorful metaphors to help students both learn writing concepts at a new angle as well as learn to question and think for themselves when it comes to writing.

My tutoring style aims to help the student grow not only as a writer but as a critical thinker as well so that they will not need a tutor in the future and will be confident within themselves of their own ability to tackle assignments.

 

My rate:

I charge $25/half hour session and I can meet weekly, bi-weekly, or on an as-needed basis.

Contact:

You can contact me by e-mailing any questions, wants, or concerns to elexiabbott@gmail.com with the subject line reading: Tutoring – [student grade and name]. If you would like my phone number please e-mail asking for it and I will gladly provide it.

Sessions:

For those in and around Forsyth County:

I will meet the student either in their home, my home, or somewhere local.

 

For those of you who are not:

I can work in video chat via Skype or we can set something up over the phone. How this would work is the student would send me their paper/prompt/outline via e-mail along with any initial questions and then I would call or videochat with the student to then discuss their initial concerns and work from there.

 

Whatever works best for you! Meeting times and dates can be discussed via e-mail or phone. 😀

Thank you for reading and have a great day!

 

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Cracks

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the light gets in

through the cracks

so don’t complain

about perfection you lack

a perfect sphere

is dark inside

no matter the light

that tries to slide

into the thing

that is whole in itself

decided long ago

it was for itself

no one else

for a perfect sphere

that’s never been broken

can never know

the truth in the token

of being lent a hand

or rising back up

how lonely perfection must be

to have never given up

sure you can hold water

in a perfect bowl or cup

but what use is it then

than an object to be used up?

the light gets in

through the cracks

that’s how you learn

to go on though you lack

a talent here and a social grace there

hanging onto your sanity

by a single thin hair

to be perfect is to be alone

a statue of marble stone

beautiful in its case

only meant to be shown

wasting away the day

never to run or to play

for if you were to fall

then lost would be all

if your perfect marble wall

was cracked

then perfection you’d lack

another dull trinket

on the clearance rack

but the light gets in

through the line so thin

and you learn what it’s like

to feel light within

may your soul shed the guilt

from your deepest sin

may you be full of light

one or two more cracks

will be alright

anything to break

the endless night

perfection is not all it’s cracked up to be

 

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Essay Writing Made Easy (1-4)

For those of you who have enjoyed my previous series of “Essay Writing Made Easy” and for those of you who have not read them before, I decided to place installations 1-4 into one easy to read post. Enjoy and I hope you find this information helpful for the upcoming school semester!

So, you need to write an essay.

You were assigned it in your syllabus and you’re nervously watching the days count down as the semester starts to get into full swing. It always takes so much time and effort and it’s your worst subject. Never fear! It’s not as hard as you’re making it out to be!

 

A lot of people put unneeded stress and tribulation into writing an essay. They overthink, over worry, and procrastinate way too long and leave themselves too little time to actually finish their assignment. Rinse and repeat. No wonder writing an essay is thought to be a trying time.

Below are tips, tricks, and pointers for all you out there that dread writing essays:

 

1) Make an outline.
– Seriously. Make an outline. A lot of students don’t realize how important an outline is, or how to create an effective one. Creating an effective outline is easy, use the following format to help you in the future:
Intro – (write your thesis sentence here)
Body Paragraph 1 – (The first point you want to make in your paper)
BP2
BP3
BP4…..etc
Conclusion – (make your final statements and finish strong)
DONE. That’s it. It’s that easy.

Note: A paper can have as many paragraphs as it needs. You do NOT have to stick to the typical 5 paragraph essay that you learned in highschool. A paragraph is as long as it needs to be to make it’s point, then a new one starts when you begin making a new point. It’s that easy.

You can have a 2 page paper with 8 paragraphs or a 20 page paper with 4, it really is up to the content of your essay and how many points it takes to make your argument.

2) Don’t write about something you’re not interested in at least a little bit.
– This one may sound a little far fetched, I know a lot of students are not interested in what they are going over in their classes. If you have a class in which the material does not interest you, pick your favorite topic/story out of the ones provided or allowed.

If you don’t have a favorite, pick the one that comes to mind when you read the word “favorite”. There is a reason that particular topic or story came to mind first. Explore this more. What about it is different from the rest of the stories/topics you had to choose from? What about it most lines up with your personal interests? What questions might you have about the text?

Explore the answers you come up with to those questions and you’ve got yourself the beginning of a brainstorming session or possible outline for your paper.

3) Make sure you understand what the essay is asking of you. 
– The reason many students have trouble starting a paper is because, whether or not they realize it, they do not understand what the assignment/prompt is asking of them. The assignment might be a long-winded explanation of what is expected or it might be asking you to do a lot of things simultaneously.

If you are faced with this challenge, find yourself a few trusty highlighters in different colors. Highlight each additional point the assignment is asking you to touch on within your paper with a different color. When you go to write your paper, highlight each point in your outline/rough draft with the corresponding color. This way you know for SURE that you have covered all that was asked of you.

4) First, choose the quotes you’re going to use.
– After you have your outline prepared and you know what the subject of your paper will be, you may be tempted to jump in and just start writing. Do not do this. Instead, pick out the quotes that support your overall claim from your class material. I’d recommend 2-3 quotes per talking point (or body paragraph).

Type up your chosen quotes underneath the correct area in your outline, being sure to cite it correctly the first time you type it down. For MLA format, you have the authors last name and page number in parenthesis with no comma between, like this: (author page#). For APA format, you will write the authors last name and the year the source was published with a comma between, like this: (author, year)

[Side note: If you have other formatting questions, please reference Purdue Owl for any style of writing including MLA, APA, and Chicago.]

5) Write your introduction and conclusion before writing your body paragraphs.
– You’ve chosen your quotes, you’ve cited them according to the paper’s required format. Now you can jump in and begin writing, right?! Not recommended. The next thing you should do after choosing your quotes is write a quick introduction and conclusion to get your paper started.

For your introduction: Introduce your topic, the texts you’ll be referencing, and make sure to write your thesis statement in there as well.

For your conclusion: Restating the points you believe you will have made throughout your paper (the talking points you created for your outline) is a great way to get something quickly down for a conclusion.

The reason you will want to jot these down is so you can have clear parameters to get you started with the meat of your paper. You know what you said to begin and end with, and you will be less likely to have writer’s block as a result. The paper will flow smoother from your fingertips to the computer screen/pencil and paper than if you didn’t jot down a quick introduction and conclusion.

Note 1: Do not put too much time into this step.
– You will most likely be changing your introduction and conclusion later to match what you actually end up writing within your body paragraphs. This is just to give you a clear beginning and end to your paper!

Note 2: There are two types of conclusions I have found over my personal year and a half of tutoring.
-The first type is what I call a “sum it all up” conclusion where you simply remind your reader what you have stated in the past. While this first type of conclusion works just fine, I do not personally recommend it.

-The second type of conclusion is what I call a “so what?”conclusion. This second type of conclusion is when you explain to your reader what they should do with the information you have just spent the past however many pages telling them. Your words are important, you are adding your knowledge and argument to an already large plethora of information on the subject matter. Even if no one but your teacher reads your essay, you have still contributed to this ongoing discussion. This second type of conclusion is when you have a call to action or otherwise explain why this information was important to your reader, it’s explaining the next step your reader should take regarding this information. I definitely recommend this type of conclusion over the other one.

6) Begin writing your body paragraphs.
– Finally, it is time to write your body paragraphs! Now that you have successfully set up your paper, it’s time to get cracking. Write whatever has been rolling around in your mind that you wanted to say and be sure to incorporate your quotations within your essay. That’s right, those sentences from other books that seem a little ridiculous to have to put into your essay. Write up to them, weave them into your paper, then continue on. Use them as building blocks to help steer your points to become clearer and stronger with each added piece of evidence from an outside source.

How do you best incorporate quotations?: Do not…I repeat…DO NOT just put a quotation in as it’s own sentence. When you have a quote stand on it’s own it’s like that awkward kid at a party that obviously doesn’t want to be there, there is no explanation as to it’s purpose in your paper and it does nothing to help make your point. This is called a drop quote and is technically a sentence fragment.

Instead use it as part of your sentence, completing the sentence you are writing with the quote itself, or introduce the quote then explain what it means and why it is there.

Example 1: In Walker’s poem “Crooked Afro”, the father “don’t smile/ when you ask ’bout / uncle jay” because he feels pain at watching his brother struggle with alcoholism (1-3.)

Example 2: In Walker’s poem “Rock Star”, the narrators sister is shown to struggle with addiction to the point of not remembering her own brother:
my sistahz a mountain
when I call up to her
my I love you’s
get lost
in the valleys(10-14).

[Note: Both of these poems are found in Frank X Walker’s poetry book “Affrilachia” and they’re very very good poems. I just recently had to use them in a paper I wrote for my class and used those two poems in my own paper.]

 

Back to the basics

 

Throughout my time as a tutor, I have worked with several students (both traditional and non-traditional) that did not have good basic skills for essay writing and were trying to make heads or tails of what their English/Comp 1101 and 1102 classes were trying to teach.

I have noticed that several teachers try to give students the same basic tips for writing their essays when the students are trying to unlearn what Highschool poorly taught them and are trying to re-build their essay writing foundations.

These tips include telling students:
– Always have a hook
– Steps on how to write a strong thesis statement
– Make sure to include quotations from scholarly sources

…yeah yeah yeah…these are great and all, but to a student that is starting basically from scratch, this is absolute gibberish!

First of all, they don’t know what a hook is. Not only do they have no idea what this concept is and what is being asked of them, but now they’re going to completely overthink it.

Second, several students don’t actually understand what a thesis statement is. They’ve been told the word over and over but it’s never been defined for or explained to them. Throughout my tutoring experience, I’ve had way more than a few students think that a thesis statement was their entire introductory paragraph simply because a thesis was never explained to them in the first place.

Third, yes, direct quotations are amazing to have within your paper. But most of the time, students just throw in a quote and are not being taught the actual use of having direct quotes from scholarly sources in the first place.

If you’re one of these students I am referencing throughout these examples…here’s a tip…set it to the side for now

Seriously…forget every single tip that is on that packet you were handed for the time being. You have to start with the bare bones basics before you can dress it up. It’s like handing a toddler some lipstick and expecting them to put it in the correct place on their face. Or like going to a baseball game for the first time and being put in as the first batter without ever being told the rules or the function of the game.

If you don’t know/have never been exposed to the basic rules/ideations…then you’re not going to know what to do with more creative pointers. And that’s okay! Not knowing the rules yet doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. It’s a learning curve and it takes time. You’ve got more in you than you realize, you’ve got this!

Alright, Alexis, so what SHOULD I know?

Well thank you for asking.

The simplest and most effective way I’ve been able to put it is this: remember when you were a child and begging/asking your parents for/to keep a pet? How did you go about doing that?

Did you slowly work up to the final point and jump them with it at the end? NO!

Did you provide them some context information and then tell them your overall goal before launching into the various reasons you should have a pet? YES!

Writing an essay is no different than a natural discussion…except it is wearing a tuxedo and flows MUCH more smoothly than a conversation because you’re actually able to put thorough thought into crafting it. AND you’re able to find others words, people that have more credibility than you, to weave into your own discussion to make yourself more credible (direct quotes).

 

Let me create an outline for you of this asking for a pet scenario:
1) Context/background information (that’s your introduction)
2) Stating your purpose is to ask for a dog and that you deserve one (that’s your thesis. It’s arguable, and gets to the point of your paper)
3) Launching into the reasons you deserve a dog (those are your body paragraphs. Each reason can be further backed up with quotes from credible sources to make your argument look even stronger.)
4)Explaining to your parents how much you, they, and the whole world would benefit from having a dog and what it could lead to in the future. (that is your conclusion. Specifically, a So Whatconclusion as I’ve defined in the past).

 

It’s really that simple. Take your time and try your best to not overthink things

 

Basics final notes:
What is a hook?
A hook is just a fancy first sentence that is immediately engaging to the reader. Something that, if someone was skimming through a magazine, would catch their eye and make them stop to read YOUR piece of writing. I will go into more detail on writing effective hooks and how to best go about practicing/learning what works for you and your type of papers in a later writing of Essay Writing Made Easy.

What is a thesis statement?
A thesis statement is the trailer to the movie that is your paper. It is calling a bush a bush (aka putting your overall point right up front) and it a statement that someone can look at and easily say they do not agree with it/they could argue your claim to be false.

The biggest hang-up that students have is trying to wrap their head around the fact that not everyone will agree with their ideas, which makes writing a strong thesis statement hard. Everyone wants to be agreed with and told they’re right, so students tend to stay with thesis statements that are more facts or popular opinion than what would be arguable and make an interesting paper.

How SHOULD one use quotes within their essay?
Think of your essay as a face and think of direct quotes as make-up. They enhance your argument, they do not make it for you. If you put a quote somewhere it doesn’t belong (like swiping mascara across your cheek) it’s going to look terrible and it’s going to be ineffective for your paper.

Here are some quick tips for quotes:
1) Always introduce your quote, and then explain how the quote pertains to your essay and why it is important after: Doctor person said, “quote quote quote” how this pertains to my argument and why it is important is x.
2) When explaining why the quote matters, always pretend the quote is blank and then restate what the quote said in your own words and then explain why this matters to your essay.

Please remember: An essay is not a surprise party. It is NOT effective to slowly work up to your overall point and reveal it for the second time (the first being your thesis statement) in the conclusion of the essay. You are trying to persuade your audience, not surprise them with what it was all leading up to all along.

 

MLA vs APA

This section of Essay Writing Made Easy will talk about MLA and APA format. Below I will discuss the intended use for each, the differences, and the best sources to use to help you master them both!

APA
APA stands for American Psychological Association and is normally used in classes such as psychology, sociology, and other social science classes (EasyBib What is APA). APA was first developed in 1929 by a group of unnamed anthropologists, sociologists, and business managers met to create a list of guidelines to help streamline academic writing in their respective fields (APAstyle.organd APA style – what is APA style)

The main identifiers of this style is the use of source publication dates over page numbers. How current a source is is deemed much more important than exactly where the reference was found within the source, and it is most desirable that sources for any academic paper be within 10 years of the current date. Any older than 10 years is thought to be outdated information and claims that are backed up by this older information will not hold as strong as claims backed up with more recent sources of information.

Another identifier that is more easily found in longer papers is the use of footnotes throughout the paper. Papers of APA format are typically more research heavy than papers conducted in MLA format and, therefore, there may be the heavy use of subject specific jargon throughout the paper. Footnotes are used primarily to alert the reader of where they can gain further context on phrases or information not regarded as common knowledge (APA FootnotesEndnotes pdf).

 

MLA

MLA stands for Modern Language Association and is normally employed in classes such as literature, language arts, composition, and other classes of the liberal arts and humanities (OWL Purdue – MLA Abbreviations). The Modern Language Association was first founded in 1883 by Aaron Marshall Elliot, an American novelist and professor at the John Hopkins University (MLA.org and Aaron Marshall Elliot). The Modern Language Association of America even holds an annual convention to discuss MLA format and, as a result of meeting often, MLA format tends to change every couple of years in order to achieve the associations academic goal as well as possible (MLA.org About Us).

The main identifier of this style is the use of page numbers rather than the year of source publication, like in APA. There is a Works Cited instead of a References page and the use of footnotes or endnotes is very rare. The authors name is normally emphasized, allowing for the full first and last name in the Works Cited entries. Very different from APA as the last name is full but the first and middle names are only a letter.

Basics

The basics of APA are as follows:
– In-text citations are to follow an (author last name, year of publication) format.
– The list of sources at the end of an APA paper is labeled “References”
– When listing a source in the References page, you will typically follow this format:
Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Location: Publisher.
along with minor changes if the source is not a book (OWL Purdue – Reference List: Books).

The basics of MLA are as follows:
– In-text citations are to follow an (author last name page number) format with NO comma between the information.
– The list of sources at the end of an MLA paper is labeled “Works Cited”
– When listing a source in the Works Cited, you will typically follow this format: Last, First. Title of source (will be in quotation marks if the source is a shorter work such as an article). Title of container. Publisher, Publication date, Location.
There will be more or less information based on what you can find and you will present different information for other types of sources. This is the basic format for a book (OWL Purdue – MLA Formatting and Style Guide).

Sources to use

Purdue OWL
EasyBib MLA
EasyBib APA
BibMe MLA
BibMe APA
APAStyle

Thank you for reading and I hope this was helpful! Happy writing!

If you’d like more pointers and information, stay tuned for future posts!

 

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