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   [ 5 posts ] Average score:  
Author Message
 I Am [part 1]
frequent_contributor

Joined: Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:47 am
Posts: 7216
Sun Jun 06, 2010 9:20 pm
I just spent three hours writing this after seeing the Notebook for the first time... it made me cry really hard and reminded me of everyone I've lost in the past year and a half or so; both of my grandparents on my dad's side, my guinea pig who had been with me through thick and thin for five years, and then my great grandmother this past March. This memoir is really personal to me and really close my heart, but if anyone's interested in critiquing (I'm yet to edit it AT ALL), I wouldn't get at all upset. I know it needs work, and I'd love to get it into really good shape. At the moment, it feels too rough to share with my family, but I DO want to share it with them.
 
So yeah. Critiques are appreciated. A HUGE thanks goes to anyone who actually makes it through the entire piece... I know it's long and tedious.
 
OH! And I wrote it while listening to OneRepublic's song Secrets over and over and over again. It's a truly amazing song and you should all go listen to it. Right now. (Well, you know, once you're done reading. ;) )
 
Okay, so anyway, here it is! I Am:
 
*Note: All names are changed.
 

People talk about all kinds of life-changing moments all the time… I mean, we’re human. That’s what we do. Talk. But one moment in my life that really affected me is one that I’ve never shared with anyone, because it was too personal.

            For years, the path that I was on was tangled with thorns and branches, overgrown and uncharted. I didn’t know why I was there; I didn’t know if it was the right way or not, because I’d lost my compass; and I just didn’t care. It’s weird – it’s when you care the most that you realize that you understand the least. Like, I cared so much about finding myself that I stopped caring and trying to understand what it truly meant to be found.

            This moment occurred at one of my lowest points in life so far.

I’ve lost a lot lately, and I’ve been using that as an excuse for my actions and decisions. I kept telling myself that I wasn’t responsible for my actions in grief, and no one else was either, which is entirely true, but it was when I became aware of what I was doing, how I was changing and hurting those who I loved, that I did become responsible… that I started lying to myself, that I refused to take responsibility for my actions in the aftermath, that I lost who I was.

This moment is nestled into some cloudy day in March that was wet with tears, but not with rain. It started with the first moment I met my great grandmother, back before I can remember. She was a Laura Ingles Wilder type of person: always proud to be herself, with a lot of backbone and spitfire, and able to deliver a good dose of humor whenever things started getting at all serious.

That day in March, she was two months away from her one hundred and fourth birthday. Ten months before that, on her one hundred and third, she told us she didn’t care if she made it to that next birthday. That Thanksgiving and Christmas, she said the same thing. She said that she had lived a wonderful life and it had been plenty long enough for her… she was ready to go, whenever God was ready to take her. We kept telling her we weren’t ready for her to leave. Something in her eyes promised us that she wouldn’t leave until we were ready. Something promised that she would say goodbye first, so that we would be prepared.

That day in March, I was sitting in my seventh period Geometry class, taking a test I was not at all prepared for, when the teacher’s phone rang. I knew – that way you always do – what it was about. I put down my pencil, turned off my calculator, and did everything short of taking my test up to Mrs. Hugh’s desk while I waited for her to finish talking to the attendance office. When she looked up, I met her eyes immediately. “Diana Guinea,” She said slowly. “You need to go down to attendance. Take your things with you. You can make up your test on Monday.”

Tears filled my eyes. I had been right. I’ve always hated that feeling, when you know what’s about to happen, so you think you’re ready for it, but when it finally does happen you feel like it’s a complete shock.

It feels like stepping onto the diving board and looking down, knowing that the water’s freezing cold, and then the actual feel of it against your skin when you take the leap. Or when you’re creeping up the first hill on a rollercoaster and you know you’re going to hate the feeling in your stomach when the cart plunges, but it’s ten times worse and more real when you actually begin to go down the other side… the worst part about that feeling is that there’s no going back once you’ve jumped or started falling. You can’t go back on those – no matter what, you’re going to get wet or keep going down that hill at a million miles per hour. You can’t go back in time to before.

I met my cousin at the door to the attendance office. He shuffled his feet and wouldn’t meet my eye. Neither of us spoke while we waited for someone to tell us what to do. A few minutes later, my mother arrived to drive us to the nursing home.


 

 

~Cavy

"Today is everything."




 Re: I Am [part 1]
frequent_vsitor

Joined: Sun Jul 12, 2009 1:23 pm
Posts: 315
Thu Jun 10, 2010 11:36 pm
That seriously almost brought tears to my eyes
I only saw one thing that I would change. When you said, This moment is nestled into some cloudy day in March that was wet with tears, but not with rain, I would say This moment is nestled into some cloudy day in march that was wet. Not with rain, but with tears.
 
That's just my suggestion.
 
~A
 
Dance like no one is watching! 



 Re: I Am [part 1]
N/A

Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2009 5:22 pm
Posts: 3690
Mon Jun 14, 2010 7:38 am
  I listened to the song, it's really good! :smileyhappy:
  Aww...cavy...this is so sad....
     I'm still looking for who I am inside as well. I mean, I don't even know who I am anymore! All I see when I look in the mirror is an outline of a girl, maybe a girl that isn't me! I have to look in the mirror often, try and remind myself of who I am inside...Stupid puberty is coming along and changing everything...my emotions are out of control and I just feel like I can't do anything anymore....
             Everyone deserves to cry. (even cavy)
              2 days of school left.
              NO FINALS.
    
-Teresa



 Re: I Am [part 1]
contributor

Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:33 am
Posts: 636
Fri Jun 25, 2010 8:12 am

People talk about all kinds of life-changing moments all the time… I mean, we’re human. That’s what we do. Talk. But one moment in my life that really affected me is one that I’ve never shared with anyone, because it was too personal.

            For years, the path that I was on was tangled with thorns and branches, overgrown and uncharted. I didn’t know why I was there; I didn’t know if it was the right way or not, because I’d lost my compass; and I just didn’t care. It’s weird – it’s when you care the most that you realize that you understand the least. Like, I cared so much about finding myself that I stopped caring and trying to understand what it truly meant to be found.

            This moment occurred at one of my lowest points in life so far.

I’ve lost a lot lately, and I’ve been using that as an excuse for my actions and decisions. I kept telling myself that I wasn’t responsible for my actions in grief, and no one else was either, which is entirely true, but it was when I became aware of what I was doing, how I was changing and hurting those who I loved, that I did become responsible… that I started lying to myself, that I refused to take responsibility for my actions in the aftermath, that I lost who I was.

This moment is nestled into some cloudy day in March that was wet with tears, but not with rain. It started with the first moment I met my great grandmother, back before I can remember. She was a Laura Ingles Wilder type of person: always proud to be herself, with a lot of backbone and spitfire, and able to deliver a good dose of humor whenever things started getting at all serious.

That day in March, she was two months away from her one hundred and fourth birthday. Ten months before that, on her one hundred and third, she told us she didn’t care if she made it to that next birthday. That Thanksgiving and Christmas, she said the same thing. She said that she had lived a wonderful life and it had been plenty long enough for her… she was ready to go, whenever God was ready to take her. We kept telling her we weren’t ready for her to leave. Something in her eyes promised us that she wouldn’t leave until we were ready. Something promised that she would say goodbye first, so that we would be prepared.

That day in March, I was sitting in my seventh period Geometry class, taking a test I was not at all prepared for, when the teacher’s phone rang. I knew – that way you always do – what it was about. I put down my pencil, turned off my calculator, and did everything short of taking my test up to Mrs. Hugh’s desk while I waited for her to finish talking to the attendance office. When she looked up, I met her eyes immediately. “Diana Guinea,” She said slowly. “You need to go down to attendance. Take your things with you. You can make up your test on Monday.”

Tears filled my eyes. I had been right. I’ve always hated that feeling, when you know what’s about to happen, so you think you’re ready for it, but when it finally does happen you feel like it’s a complete shock.

It feels like stepping onto the diving board and looking down, knowing that the water’s freezing cold, and then the actual feel of it against your skin when you take the leap. Or when you’re creeping up the first hill on a rollercoaster and you know you’re going to hate the feeling in your stomach when the cart plunges, but it’s ten times worse and more real when you actually begin to go down the other side… the worst part about that feeling is that there’s no going back once you’ve jumped or started falling. You can’t go back on those – no matter what, you’re going to get wet or keep going down that hill at a million miles per hour. You can’t go back in time to before.

I met my cousin at the door to the attendance office. He shuffled his feet and wouldn’t meet my eye. Neither of us spoke while we waited for someone to tell us what to do. A few minutes later, my mother arrived to drive us to the nursing home.


aww thats so sad!! the overall writing piece didnt really have anything wrong with it as far as i could see.

 

~Cavy

"Today is everything."







 Re: I Am [part 1]
special_guest

Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2006 7:42 pm
Posts: 478
Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:09 pm
Hey, thanks for sharing this. You do a really good job of recreating the emotions of this experience - I not only never had to wonder what you were feeling, I could feel it myself.

Your opening is good in that the conversational tone puts the speaker and reader on intimate terms from the beginning. I think you can probably find a stronger way to express the same concept in the same voice, though. Try starting by saying how normal and human it is to casually talk about everything. Then contrast this with your memory, emphasizing that it's seemed too painful and precious to lay bare in common conversation. That way there's a progression, and while you can still be conversational and general, you lead into your narrative more intentionally.

I don't think you need the semicolon after "compass." You could either just use a comma there or have "I just didn't care" be its own sentence. It's best not to use the semicolon unless you really need it.

That whole second paragraph is a little overgrown and uncharted. The image of the path works at first, but you stay so abstract and general that it's hard to follow exactly what you mean about caring and understanding. If this is going to become clear as you tell your story, maybe you could share this thought at the end, as a conclusion drawn from particulars rather than an abstract principle at the beginning.

You really get into a stride once the narrative gets underway. Watch the ellipses, though (...) - every once in a while, they can be the perfect punctuation to use, but if you have too many they lose their "oomph". The sentence that starts "I kept telling myself" gets to be quite the run-on after a while. You might want to make the series of phrases beginning with "that I started lying to myself" into its own sentence, or find another way to make that long sentence less cumbersome.

I agree with the other comment about the sentence talking about the moment being nestled into a cloudy day, but I think it's more than just the end that could stand to be tweaked. "Nestled" might not be the best verb - it's tending towards a mixed metaphor, with the moment as a bird and the day as a nest and the nest is wet but not with rain... I know it's never fun scrapping a good image, but maybe you try to make this one a bit simpler. If something feels too "flowery" it's usually distracting to the reader and gets in the way of what you really want to sense.

I like the way you link being prepared for your great-grandmother's death to not being prepared for your test - the ironic word repetition made me smile.

You do a good job throughout of keeping the reader close with your conversational tone, but be careful of falling back on phrases like "that way you always do" (about the feeling you had as the phone rings) instead of giving us a sharp image or revealing introspection. Don't tell me I should know how you feel, show me - like you do so well in the series of images like diving or riding a coaster. That is, you definitely get there by the end, but until I got to your vivid images, I was still wondering, "Ok, so what is that way I always know things are going to happen?"

You're at your best when you communicate how you were feeling by describing something else, maybe seemingly little, like how your cousin wouldn't meet your eye and you just waited for your mom in silence.

Vivid, well-narrated memoir - can't wait to get to the others.

Jessica



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