The Ebony Quill

Thoughts, reflections, and whimsies as I experience life

NaNoWriMo… and why I’m not participating

November is National Novel Writing Month, my birthday month, and two-week-holiday-from-college month, which makes it three times as fantastic.  I actually found out about NaNoWriMo over the summer, and (naively) was looking forward to participating in it this month.

However, I forgot that I am in college.  Taking 18 credits.  With three exams in November.  Plus essays.  And failing at effectively scheduling writing time.  So I decided to forgo participating in NaNoWriMo this year, and am already regretting it.  Couldn’t I have made time?  Everyone else who participates obviously has other commitments as well.  Yeah, I’m not a fast writer by any stretch of the imagination, but I could have done something, right?

Maybe.  But I also realized that if I tried to start a new story, I would feel guilty about putting my current WIP on hold for the month, especially because I really wanted to finish it by the end of December.  To achieve this goal, I’ve decided to come up with my own deadlines for the next 1.5 months.  This way, I’ll feel like I’m participating in NaNoWriMo even if I’m not technically participating.  At the end of the day, I’ll be writing, and that’s the most important thing.  So here goes:

Goal: 60,000 words by January 1 (Yay for New Years!)

Current word count: 18,751 words

Words per week: roughly 5893 words a week, which is around 842 words a day

This is going to be rough.  I’m not even sure I can achieve this goal, but giving myself a concrete deadline will force me to write.  Plus, the holidays should give me plenty of free time to catch up.

*Deep breath*  Let’s do this.

I’ll update you all on my (hopefully weekly) progress!


For the Love of Halloween

Ah, autumn.  Leaves in hues of red, orange, yellow, and brown crinkle under my feet, acorns crunch as my bicycle tires roll over them, the sweet smell of intermittent rain fills my nose.  Slightly reminiscent of “To Autumn” by John Keats?  Yes, autumn, “thou hast thy music too!”

My birthday month (November, arguably the best month of the year) approaches, and with it a deluge of fantasy and adventure movies (but no more Harry Potter–*wipes tear*).  Nineteen isn’t the most exciting age, not only because it’s one step closer to twenty–which is frightening–but because it’s just a strange number, like fourteen.  I didn’t like turning fourteen.

And Halloween is this coming Wednesday (which, I believe it kind of pathetic; Halloween should always be on a weekend.  How many parents are going to let their kids wander around dark streets on a weekday?)  I remember trick-or-treating with my brother as a kid.  I usually dressed up as a witch or a princess, and, later, as a ghoul/dementor/creepy person in a long cloak with a hood and the weird, feigned raspy voice.  Hey, it was fun.  My brother also opted for the scary costumes, and thus we frequently had to remove our masks to assure younger kids that we were really human (or were we?).

I miss those days.  I could feel the excitement and joy in the air.  I loved decorating the house in the days leading up to Halloween.  I loved scaring the throngs of kids that came to our driveway by using our candy bowl with a motion-sensor hand that clamped down on whoever reached inside.  I loved eating hot pizza outside in the chilly air.

Now that I’m in college, I remember those days with a deep sense of nostalgia.  My brother’s “too old” to trick-or-treat now, and I’m not even going to be home for Halloween.  So if you have a younger sibling or if you’re a parent, cherish these days with that child and make it as special as you can.  Believe me, they’ll remember.

Why I enjoy studying International Relations

I recently decided to double-major in International Studies at my university because I figured I may as well take my interest in learning about different cultures and countries and turn it into a degree.

I’ve been interested in international studies for since high school, where I was severely disappointed with the lack of globally-focused classes I took as part of the International Baccalaureate Program (it’s International, ya’ll).  My World History class was a joke.  My American History class focused on World War I, World War II, and the Cold War from the perspective of only… guess who?  America.

There was a world out there, and I wanted to learn about it.  About the many different cultures, languages, and traditions of its people.  Of the way international organizations like the UN, NATO, and the World Bank operated.  And what I could do to get involved and make a lasting impact.

Can I help construct foreign policy?  Respond to international crises?  Promote cross-cultural connections and understanding between peoples with different religions, governments, and values?  I don’t know, but I’d sure like to.  With a major in International Studies, I take classes about the politics of the global economy, U.S. and world affairs, international institutions, and even the correlation between gender and international relations.  Reading the works of great IR thinkers, writing thoughtful papers that apply theoretical and abstract concepts to real-world events, and discussing all of this in class with experienced teachers and other passionate students?  Just thinking about it makes me tingle with pleasure.

But what can I do with this love of all things international?  Surely, all you can be is an academic or a professor?  Well, my friends, I have researched this as well.  Not only are there amazing graduate programs in International Relations/Foreign Affairs/Public Policy, what have you, but there are fellowships that will pay for me to go study what I already love!  And then, I can apply for a job in the U.S. Department of State, primarily as a Foreign Service Officer, traveling around the world to different embassies and promoting U.S. policies abroad.

Nevertheless, no matter where this degree takes me, I’ll know that I’m doing what I love to do most: learn, learn, learn.

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