The Ebony Quill

Thoughts, reflections, and whimsies as I experience life

Archive for the month “September, 2012”


Everyone has their personal quirk–the one thing that they refuse to do because it goes against their character, against “who they are.”  My personal quirk is asking for help.  It’s an issue and I know it, and I am actively trying to change it.  Nevertheless, I always feel that I can do everything by myself.  What are teams for, anyways?  Other people only serve to disappoint, not follow directions, or do lackadaisical work.  The only person I can count on is myself… right?

Because I’m a business major, I hear the word “networking” thrown around a lot.  It’s gotten to a point where I cringe every time I hear the dreaded word, because networking involves interaction, and interaction involves giving another your time and trust, which may eventually lead to you (or them) asking for help.  That’s your network’s purpose: to serve as a pool of resources that you can call on when you need assistance starting a business, finding a job, or when you need the special skills and expertise of a more experienced person.  Which sounds great, but as my wonderful friend and roommate pointed out, dependency is weakness.

And then I thought about how this connects to writing.  If a writer simply wrote a draft by his/herself, revised it without getting any feedback from critique partners, then polished it without sending it to beta readers, and finally queried it with a letter that no one else has seen, he/she is sure to face rejection, simply because it’s impossible to catch mistakes, inconsistencies, and creative lapses without the help of others.  And then, the agent, the editor, the publicist… all of these people allow the author to succeed.  In short, there are certain things that simply cannot be done without a team.

I’m a member of SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise), and last week we did a group activity where five or six of us had to come up with a service project idea.  It was amazing how each group came up with such original, inventive ideas simply due to the combined efforts and brainpower of all its constituents.

A couple of days ago, I attended a business council meeting where the a major figure in the School of Business spoke about “leaders leading leaders.”  He spoke about how the dean often conferred with him and his team about new ideas, some of which were rejected.  And the dean accepted the critiques.  It was then that I realized the real importance of teamwork, of asking for help when needed, and welcoming others’ advice.  The willingness to do so has to originate internally.

Thus, I’m coming to terms with the idea of perceiving asking for help or needing help not as dependency or weakness, but as building a supportive team which mutually benefits each of its members.

What is/are your quirk(s)?


The Importance of Setting

This month, I’m participating in the Teens Can Write, Too Blog Chain for the first time.

The blog topic is: “How much does setting affect your novels and stories? What are some of your favorite ways to portray setting?”

I’ve always considered a novel’s setting to be one of it’s most important characteristics because it provides an environment in which the reader can immerse his or herself.  Although characters are, of course, the most significant aspect of a story, their surroundings can mold their actions, reveal their strengths and flaws, and serve as an obstacle or a blessing.

Since my novel is a fantasy, the setting is imaginary and is still under construction.  However, it’s based on real locations and terrain.  I’ve always been fascinated by the Middle East and Egypt: the tantalizing mystery, the depth, the vivid color, the customs, the traditions.  Thus, the city my main character lives in is located on the edge of a desert.  This, of course, affects the way people dress and how they look.  The women (and some of the men as well) wear kohl eyeliner and they dress in light, colorful, and comfortable clothing (I researched ancient Persian clothing to get a good visual).  Sometimes, they also cover the bottom half of their faces with a scarf to avoid breathing in sand and dust.  They have tan skin and dark hair.  You can get a bit of a feel for the setting by reading an old excerpt from the first draft of my novel (please be forewarned that most of the excerpt has undergone major changes).

I plan on drawing a map to help me clarify where everything is located (which I will definitely post here).  I also want to incorporate different types of terrain, so that each of the three kingdoms have their specific set of advantages and disadvantages.  I hope to find a way to incorporate mountains, rivers, hills, forests to make the world richer and more exciting.

Additionally, I’ve learned it’s important to avoid “info-dumping,” which is difficult, especially in fantasy and science fiction novels.  I’m currently trying to fit in bits and pieces about the setting, history, and traditions of the land where it would naturally make sense to mention them instead of going into long-winded explanations about the political and social system of the kingdoms.  Basically, I aim to illustrate the setting the way my characters see it and reveal details as my characters think them.


Here are the other blog chain participants:

Want to follow our blog chain? Here are the participating parties, day by day

September 5––Musings From Neville’s Navel

September 6––Olivia’s Opinions

September 7––Miriam Joy Writes

September 8––Kirsten Writes!

September 9––Beyond the Moon

September 10––Crazy Red Pen

September 11––The Ebony Quill

September 12––Reality Is Imaginary

September 13––This Page Intentionally Left Blank

September 14––The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

September 15––All I Need Is A Keyboard

September 16––Teens Can Write, Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)

A Writer’s Support System

First of all, I apologize for not posting in a while.  College has been busy… and I couldn’t think of any good ideas for posts.

As I scroll through my manuscript, I sometimes cringe at my words.  I doubt myself, and I wonder if I’ll ever finish my work in progress.  I go through highs and lows in motivation–on some days, some hours, I feel like I can write forever; in others, I feel like I’ll never write again.

Until I find critique partners or a critique group, I am depending on a number of writers’ blogs to give me advice and encourage me to keep writing.  I will be participating in a challenge to write 100 words for 100 days, which will ensure that I have 10,000 additional words on my manuscript by Christmastime.  And, hopefully, I’ll have the willpower to participate in National Novel Writing Month this November.  I attended my first WriteOnCon last month and learned so, so much.  I believe that challenges and opportunities such as these will push me to add words to my manuscript.

Here are some of the blogs I visit regularly:

1. Go Teen Writers

2. Teens Can Write, Too

3. Miss Snark’s First Victim

4. The Lucky 13s

Ultimately, I’ve decided I want to write a novel as a personal challenge and although the going may be slow, I will strive to achieve this goal before I graduate from college.

What comprises your support system?  Any suggestions for additions to mine?

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