After Posting On Odyssey For A Year, I'm Still Following My Passion

After Posting On Odyssey For A Year, I'm Still Following My Passion

Happy one year anniversary to me!

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I have a deep passion for writing. I always have. Since the fourth grade when I won a school writing contest and wrote a poem for the inauguration of my elementary school, I had my heart on writing for the rest of my life. At the time, I didn't know where on Earth it would lead me to career-wise, whether I would be an author, a journalist, an English teacher or any of the million possibilities. But I knew something for sure, I was going to write for the rest of my life.

A year ago I decided to apply to be a content contributor for the Baylor Odyssey. After scrolling through Facebook on a whim decision, I sent in a writing sample to the editor-in-chief, 700 words spilled out of my heart and onto a Word document. I sent it in, worried about what they would think of my writing style or what I write about.

A day later, I got a text saying that I was the newest writer for the team, and I couldn't contain my excitement. I exclaimed to my mom that I was a new writer for this online platform where I could express myself freely.

Week after week, I learned more and more about myself and my writing style. I have a story-telling writing style that is very descriptive that takes you exactly wherever I transport you to, whether it was across the world or a moment in time. But I had a bad tendency to not look over my writing and check for simple mistakes. I would post my article shortly after it would be published and within 10 minutes, my dad would text me comments about how I was missing a word here or I should have entered a comma there.

But in the end, a missing word or comma didn't matter to me. My voice was being heard for once.

There was a point I have to admit though, where I felt that writing was taking away from my time. I was running out of ideas after so several months, losing the motivation to write each week.

At the end of the day, however, I was following my passion of twelve years. I knew it in the fourth grade and know it now. Writing is something that I am meant to do.

There are several things I learned about myself. I can work extremely well against a deadline (maybe it's the journalist in me), I know how to tell a story, and I definitely have mastered the art of headline writing. But more importantly, I have found an outlet to express myself that no other social media platform or student publication would allow me to.

It is so easy to pour your heart and soul into a document rather than spilling it out in a conversation. Although no one may respond to my thoughts, opinions, and feelings, I have a deep satisfaction knowing that my voice is being heard. Whenever I hear that someone has read my article, I feel a gush of pride. I feel a sudden rush of endorphins knowing that people actually read my writing.

After one year of posting on Odyssey, I am still following my passion every day as I write these articles.

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10 Things You'll Recognize If You Grew Up In A Small Town

Those stop signs were more like suggestions.
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Whether you're from the Northwest or Southeast, all small towns share basically the same characteristics.

From hanging out at car washes to eating endless meals at that Mexican restaurant, if you're from a small town, you'll probably relate to one (if not all) of these things:

1. Yes, that Mexican restaurant.

Whether you came here to eat after ball games or simply came because there was nothing better to do, you probably spent way to much money on burritos and cheese dip. (For real though, cheese dip was so worth that extra $3).

2. Churches. Churches everywhere.

There seemed to be more churches than people, and everywhere you went one of them was staring you in the face. At least you knew that the whole town was covered on seats when it came to Sunday services.

3. Yep, you hung out at the car wash.

For some odd reason, teenagers like to hang out at the car wash. We don't know why we did, we just did. No car every got cleaned. We just sat on our hoods or tailgates and talked or listened the music. What a wild night.

4. Quick stops.

Gas stations were called quick stops and thank God for those quick stops. You could fill up your tank and get a snack without having to drive 30 minutes to the nearest city. Plus their boiled peanuts were always the bomb. #blessed

5. "Stop" signs.

Those stop signs were more like suggestions. No cop, no stop, right? Same thing with speed limits - merely suggestions.

6. The football field.

Fall Friday nights were made for football games, and there was no getting out of it. Do any of you small town girls really remember going on a Friday night date? Yeah, me neither. Football games were the closest you were going to get to a date on Fridays. You either waited for Saturday or the end of the season. Honestly though, those Friday nights hold some of you and your friends' favorite memories.

7. The good ole grocery store.

Sorry bud, Walmart, Costo, and Kroger were 30 minutes away, and driving to the city was not about to happen. You either went to Shop and Save or Piggly Wiggly for your groceries.

8. "The park."

You either played as a kid, coached a peewee team, refereed as a teenager, or simply watched your siblings play here. No matter the case, you've been to the park, and you're lying if you say you haven't.

9. Those white welcome signs.

Literal *cringe* just looking at it. Passing this sign after coming home from the city meant you were once again stuck in this little town with nothing to do, but you honestly kind of love having nothing to do sometimes.

10. This view.

Sure, there's not a whole lot going on in your small town, but with views like this you can't complain. #NatureIsCool #SoAreSmallTowns

Cover Image Credit: Myself

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Fanfiction IS A Legitimate Form Of Creative Writing

There's more to fanfiction than bad grammar and Mary-Sues.

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If you've heard of fanfiction, you're probably aware of the negative connotations that come with it. Fanfiction, or fiction written by fans of a TV show, book, or any other original creation, is often associated with unpolished writing and out-of-character shenanigans. It's not uncommon to hear people laugh about how all fanfic writers are prepubescent kids too wrapped up in fake ships (relationships in the fandom) and unrealistic fantasies. Some people even characterize fanfiction as a form of plagiarism, since the writers essentially use a fandom's pre-existing characters in a different plot.

While many stories are, indeed, in need of serious editing, a lot of fanfic is highly sophisticated. Some writers are able to capture the characters in their chosen fandom so completely that the story seems authentic to the universe it's written in. It's hard for me to dismiss these writers as uninspired copycats because their writing clearly shows that they have a firm grip on characterization and plot. My own attempts at writing fanfic have convinced me that proper characterization in fanfic is often harder than creating original characters. Fanfic writers don't have as much freedom to make characters perform certain actions, as they must constantly think about whether the characters are authentic to the original work.

On the flip side, some writers diverge so much from the original work that they essentially create a plot and characters of their own. Many famous authors got their start in fanfiction, including Cassandra Clare (best known for "The Mortal Instruments" series), Meg Cabot (best known for "The Princess Diaries" series), and S.E. Hinton (best known for "The Outsiders"). But when readers hear that these authors have written fanfiction, many of them assume that their stories are unoriginal or retrospectively look at their writing more critically. Suddenly, every questionable plot device or flawed characterization is reflective of the authors' origins in fanfiction, despite the fact that accomplished authors who haven't written fanfiction make those same mistakes.

The assumption that fanfiction writers can only create derivative work, even in their original stories, is especially true for the creation of characters. When I tell people that a certain author has written fanfiction, they'll often start looking for similarities between the author's original characters and characters in the author's fandom. While this author's characters may have begun in fanfiction, they've diverged so much that they're not the same characters anymore. If most people can accept that original characters change drastically from their inception, why are characters born from fanfiction seen as unoriginal when they've changed just as dramatically?

Just like in any creative form, there are good and bad sides to fanfiction. A lot of fanfiction is flawed, whether the story has bad grammar, Mary-Sues (unrealistic characters that lack flaws), or gaping plot holes. But at the end of the day, it's important to remember to push past the prevailing narrative that certain art forms are more legitimate than others, simply because they're more mainstream.

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