Monthly Archives: May 2010

CPR from Other Artists to Get Your Creative Flow Going

At a recent gathering of friends, my best friend’s fiance made a statement at breakfast that made me think about how I get my inspiration.  He said:

“Writers never read in their own genre for fear of contaminating their writing.  It’s a fact.”

Um.  Is it a fact?  Because I don’t see any statistics posted on this topic.  Let me just make a few points from my OWN experience.

1.  I’ve never met a writer who has only written in one genre.

2.  I’ve met at least a handful of writers who get irritated that their writing has to be classified as a genre.  (Mostly because certain bits of fiction are hard to categorize, not so much for a hatred of labels. Labels aid in marketing after all.)

3.  As far as I’ve experienced, it’s essential for a writer to read within and outside of the genre s/he is currently writing, if only just to see what’s been done to death.  Combining and twisting genre barriers is a great way to get a fresh spin on something that has been done to death, and how can you do that if you don’t get a wide sampling of what’s out there?

Books are not the be all and end all of inspiration, either!

Movies, music, art, and life are all massive contributors to my plot soup!  And why shouldn’t they be?

For instance, I’m watching Inkheart right now because I loved the book, and I have a ridiculous crush on Paul Bettany — the movie gives me the best of both worlds.  It inspires me, not to plagiarize the story or the bare idea, but to breathe that kind of believability, conviction, and life into my characters!  Sometimes I watch a movie or read a book, and think, “This is the feel I’m going for–if I strike out this, this, and this, and add a little this, that, and the other thing.”

Crushes on Paul Bettany are inspiring, too, right?

Artists, writers, musicians… they create to inspire. I see no reason to deny them that because I’m too afraid I’m not capable of creating something of my own mind and heart.

After all:

“I’d rather be caught holding up a bank than stealing so much as a two-word phrase from another writer.”

~Jack Smith

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Filed under Life, Uncategorized, Writing

I hate self-evaluation

“Once the Queen is dead, the king is useless.”

“… What’s that about?”

“I dunno… Maybe he’s too depressed to fight.  He really loved her, you know.”

Mm… chess references and movie quotes.

So, I’ve been flying through lessons at TFA.  I’m about to start Wicca 1, lesson 4.  I’m on Scrying 1, lesson 2 (I don’t put much into divination, but I figured it would round me out a little bit).  And I’m about to start Tools 1, lesson 2 (Which is easy, since I’ve been through it three times in other classes).

Lesson 3 of Wicca 1 was a little difficult for me to face, honestly.  It was a lesson in the elements and the Four Rooms.

Here’s a quick lesson in The Four Rooms:

You separate yourself into four parts, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.  Each part has a ‘room’ associated with it (which seems a little unnecessary to me).

“Our existence is divided up into four areas, or four rooms, if you will. Imagine that you live in a big house with four rooms. Your house includes: 1) a large, green kitchen with a small garden off of the side; 2) a bright yellow living room with a large, private balcony, 3) a luxurious, blue bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub; and 4) a cozy, red bedroom with a fireplace (do not forget the king-sized bed). Each of the four elements corresponds with one of these rooms, and each of these rooms corresponds with a part of you.”

~ Firefly: Wiccan Advancement by Iris Firemoon

The kitchen is the physical and associated with Earth, the living room is the mental and associated with Air, the bathroom is emotional and associated with Water, and the bedroom is spiritual and associated with Fire.

The exercise was to divide yourself into these four “rooms” and give a brief evaluation of the state of yourself in each.

Physically, I’m out of shape, I eat like crap, and I sleep more than I should.

Mentally, my writing is getting done, so I guess that’s an upside.

Emotionally, I’m 25, single, and watching all of my friends get married and start families.  I feel like crap.  Blah.

Spiritually, I’m connecting with my religion again, my writing is getting done, but I’m still stuck in the ‘love myself before I can appropriately love others’ conundrum.

So… I really don’t know if this exercise was made to make the student feel like crap enough to recognize that change is necessary, or to just understand the material, but holy fucking downer, Batman.

But.  This is nothing an over-consumption of caffeine won’t temporarily fix.

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Now, Without Further Ado ~ King Rue!

This character came to me during a play-by-post RP with a friend, and really, I think he’s my favorite ever.  And he solves a HUGE problem for that weekly-installment project I’ve been working on.  The go-between for Shia and the Otherealm has been ridiculously hazy– until my brain met King Rue.

Let me give you a preview of just how King Rue behaves:

My friend’s character James compared Rue to Loki upon first meeting, after Emil introduced him as “King Rue of the What the fuck is it now, Rue?”

Rue grinned at James.  “I like your friend, Emi-Emi.  Trickster God of the Northmen is too much work for Shiny King of Green Things.”  He puffed his chest out.  “Gods of men are slaves to men, and King Rue is slave to no one.”  He ruffled James’ hair as if he was a little kid saying cute things.

I love him.  Thank you 30 seconds of confusion for exploding Rue into that IM box.  Would you like to hear him explain an age-old treaty?

“Treaty for living with the wood folk.  You make new homes, new clans, new lives, all you want, as long as the clans are respectable.”  Rue stated and tilted his head, his feet still swinging over the edge of the roof, oddly childlike for what appeared to be a grown man.  “Your mama and papa, they teach you things, yes?  They teach you to conduct yourself with trees and wood folk, yes?  You don’t burn us or hurt us, and you give back what you take when you can.  The green ones protect the wood and plant the trees and the red ones protect the waters.  The Silents are like the air and they give us rain.  The three are like the island heartbeat, and the wood folk live with them in peace.  The Dark Ones came against our will, and we fight them always.  A Dark One makes the clan of others now, trying to cause the houses to break.  But you CAN’T break.  If you break, and things fall apart, King Rue and the Fay will have to cleanse the island.  King Rue likes Emi-Emi and his friends here, and doesn’t want that to happen, understand?  King Rue will take the ruined ones away, and give back the ones who are still loyal to the three houses.”

Maybe it’s the fact he talks like he’s five, and in the third person, while still being completely serious…. I dunno.  He makes me squee though!  Yay for Fay!

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My Brain’s Been Stewing – Writing Groups

I pulled an all-nighter last night and it’s made me a little irritable, I think.  Right now, I think I look a little like this:

It's oddly difficult to find a picture of Oscar looking grouchy, you know.

Normally, I get this way and I start thinking about things I’ve come across that have honestly bothered me.  This is going to be a big one.

The Writer’s Spot made a post recently that detailed how to create your own writing club. I thought it was a great post, considering I had just started working with my local library director to put together my own writing group.  Very convenient!

However, a man named Richard, with no link to a blog that I can provide for you, leaves this comment:

“Sorry to rain on your parade, but I think writing clubs are only good if you are going to “play” at writing.

If you want to get serious about writing there’s only one way to do it and that’s to sit down each and every day and WRITE! That’s all there is to it. There’s no easy path. You simply write and write and write. EVERY DAY!

And the feedback and criticism you’re going to get from other amateur writers is, well, amateur in that regards, too.

Want real feedback and criticism? Tailor your writing to a specific market, put it in an envelope with a SASE (self addresses stamped envelope) and send it to a publisher. If it comes back without comment then it either stinks or didn’t fit the market you were aiming for. Read it with your own critical eye and send it off again. And again and again.

If your writing has some merit then the rejection slip might actually have a hand scribbled note of encouragement.

Now, here’s the great part…if what you’ve written is actually good the people you sent it to will send you MONEY. That’s the best feedback of all.

How do I know this to be true? Because I paid the rent, electricity and put food on the table for years doing just what I said above. Eventually I realized writing wasn’t paying enough to buy that boat I wanted and sail off into the sunset on, so I got myself a job as a deckhand on a boat and after putting in the requisite time the Coast Guard requires I got my license and had someone pay me to sail off into the sunset in THEIR boats. And let me tell you, the sunset looks pretty good in Antibes, France, and Marbella, Spain, to mention only a couple of places I’ve been paid to be.”

I understand the opinion, to some degree.  But how fucking rude, right!?  Maybe he fails to see the benefits of hearing the opinions of peers “amateur” or not.  Writers are readers.  No exceptions.  Have you ever met a writer that didn’t read avidly?  No, right?  Because how do you get a grasp on how to write a story if you’ve never read one?  And in a writing group, you aren’t there to listen to the opinions of writers AS writers, you’re there to hear their opinions as readers.  You don’t need a degree in creative writing to be able to tell someone “Your story isn’t popping off the page for me,” or “I’m not connecting with the main character and the sentence structure in the middle of chapter three isn’t flowing very well.  Stop tipping back the margaritas while you’re writing,”  or something, right?

What works for one writer doesn’t always work for another.  A friend of mine is a list-maker.  He makes list upon list upon list until he can piece together his plot.

I’m like… what the hell are the lists for?  I don’t even think that organized.  I throw my ideas on a cluster sheet, and I write freely until I find points that I like.  Then I put them into a summary.  And the post it notes?  Omg, everywhere.

I dunno, man, then this guy goes on some rant about boats and getting paid to sail which has nothing to do with his comment, really.  Aside from “I’ve gotten paid for writing AND I’ve gotten paid for sailing!”  Um.  Woo, man, good for you.  What does that have to do with anything?  o.O  Anyway.  There is my rant.  Maybe I’m over reacting, but it BOTHERED me, and it’s been on my mind.

This is the part where I make up for it by hugging people.  But I’m prickly.  I’ll send you all “I’m sorry for being a whine-ass” flowers instead.

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Filed under Life, Uncategorized, Writer's Group, Writing

Nostalgia and a Spiritual Refresher

It was 93 degrees Fahrenheit today, and I thought my SKIN was going to melt off.  So, I plopped myself in front of my computer, which happens to be adjacent to my window fan, and decided to undertake my first course at The Firefly Academy, an online pagan classroom, to weather the heat.  I’ve been a self-dedicated eclectic pagan since I was nineteen, I’ve taken three levels of Wicca classes in person, and studied independently for the last six years.

It started raining just now, as an aside.  I shut my fan off, since the breeze is doing a damn good job of coming through my window on its own, and let me tell you…. it feels amazing.  My favorite smell, out of every other smell, is the earthy, clean smell of a hard, cool rain after an unbearably hot summer day.

Anyway, back to what I was saying.  Independent study and practice wasn’t fulfilling me the way it used to, and I thought that a trip back to the beginning was just what I needed.  It took me months of searching for an online pagan classroom that was reasonably priced before I finally gave up.  It was disheartening, but I kept doing what I was doing, because it was better than nothing at all.  The problem with paganism is that it’s hard to find someone willing to teach you for free.  It’s free to go to a Christian church, minus the voluntary donation, because the man or woman teaching you is getting paid to do so…. probably not very much, but religion is a labor of love.  Unfortunately, to learn enough to teach respectably in paganism (as in other religions), it’s customary to practice and learn for quite some time, and with so much time invested it’s only reasonable that the teacher want a little compensation for their efforts.  Most teachers only charge for materials, but others charge an arm and a leg just for the time.  In any case, I’m poor and I was disappointed.

Then, one day, I’m screwing around on YouTube, looking at other people’s altars, tools, dedications, spells, rituals, etc (too private for me to be posting, but I apparently don’t mind being a hypocrite and spying on other people’s random broadcasts), and I ran across videos from The Firefly Academy, narrated by Iris Firemoon.  It led me to their Facebook page, and subsequently, their website, and, as luck would have it, they are an online classroom and community who offers courses for FREE.

Now, I’ve never really cared for the quote “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear” because, frankly, I don’t like waiting.  When I want to do something, I generally kick butt in making it happen as soon as possible… but stumbling on TFA really gave me a new respect for that proverb.

So, today I started back at Wicca I and Paganism I, a place I haven’t been in years, and I have to admit… I feel both refreshed and nostalgic.  Sometimes all you need to renew your love in what you do or how you feel, is revisit what gave you that love in the first place.

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I can has award!

I have a few blogs that I’m addicted to, and my list is slowly growing.  So I came back from my weekend away to read that short list of blogs, and I find that Emily (whose name I learned because every blog I read seems to be connected to another blog I read!  XD And everyone knows everyone else, it’s fantastic) at SlightlyIgnorant has given me a happiness award!

I immediately told my best friend in the world.  Who is my dog.  And she looked at me like this:

She's like "Who cares? Where's my snack?" It's sad.

Sometimes I wonder if she loves me when I’m not feeding her.  Probably not, though.  >_>;  I’ll consider spit-roasting her next time she looks at me like that.

Anyway.  Thank you, Emily.  ^_^  Now, I have to do something.  I don’t know if it’s one or the other, so I’ll do both. XD

First, seven things you don’t know about me:

1.  When I was learning to read and write, I could only write words backward.  Mirror image style.  No idea why.

2.  I have a secret love for show tunes.

3.  I talk to my dog like she’s a person, and I base her responses off of the way she looks at me.

4.  I associate Final Fantasy VIII with the taste of Danish butter cookies.

5.  I spent six years in French classes, collectively.  I could have passed a fluency test seven years ago… now I’d be damn lucky to remember how to ask where the bathroom is if I’m about to pee myself.  “Uh, uh… Ou est la toilettes!?  S’IL VOUS PLAIT!?”  >_>;

6.  Contacts make me nervous.  If I’m going to be blind, I’ll stick with my glasses.

7.  Sometimes I feel the compulsion to use hand sanitizer for no apparent reason.

Now ten things that make me happy!

1.  X-Men comics.

2.  Making beaded jewelry.

3.  When I look at my dog, and she’s giving me that “I have no idea what you’re talking about” look… it makes her look like a deer.

4.  Dressing like a sky pirate!

5.  Dressing like a sky pirate and going to a Ren faire!

6.  Going to a Ren faire and flirting lewdly with the blacksmith!

7.  Recognizing that caffeine is bad for me, but defiantly drinking double shot lattes anyway.

8.  My friends.  They should be number one, but I know it will piss them off to be so far down on the list.  It was a gesture of affection. <3

9.  Brand.  New.  Pens.

10.  My very nice leather journal cover.  <3  I love that it’s refillable and has ties and two pen slots.  It pleases me.  <3

My leather journal...

... it pleases me.

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Insomnia & Good Times

It has been a very busy weekend, but so worth it.  Friday night, Jess and I made a late night drive to her fiance’s place, and ended up crashing around 2am.  Well.. THEY ended up crashing around 2am.  My brain exploded, and every time I almost fell asleep, it was like “HEY!  Hey, write this down, it’s important.”

So I did.

Every 20 minutes until 6am when I finally passed out cold.

Upside: I made amazing progress with my new WiP.

Downside: I wanted to die until caffeine finally entered my veins around 10am.

Insomnia is one of those things that make me cry and want to kill myself, but the after effects, the writing and plotting and awesome ideas that my Muse pukes out, almost make the mental tantrums worth it.

Moving along.  After breakfast, we went to Dustin’s for a fun-filled day of physical activity, video games (I’m terrible at L4D), and alcohol (which makes me more terrible at L4D, but a bit more fun about dying repeatedly).   It was a blast, but given the current state of my body, the soreness that followed made me question my judgment.  Keep in mind, kids, I flunked gym in high school.  I’m a freakin’ winner.

Anyway, best day ever was followed by a heated argument between my best friend’s fiance and myself at 2 in the morning, and that was followed by a very upset best friend.  My temper is a beast.  Apologies all around.  Bed time.

Then there was breakfast and everyone got along.  It was crazy.

Point of the story:  I haven’t had time to post, and that’s why.  I’m still title-hunting for my new project, so hopefully that’ll be taken care of by Thursday. <3

Woo!  Nap time.

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New Projects and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

So, I mentioned in my FFT post that I was planning a new on-going project, just to kill time and keep my brain from exploding.  I love my WiP, and writing Z, Gage, and Periss is hilarious and amazing, but I’ve been getting the itch for something new.  I do that so often, it’s retarded.  I have fiction ADD.  I think I need a support group.

Anyway, I’ve decided on a fantasy theme, a blend of modern America and kind of an Alexander the Great-era Middle East.  I don’t know quite how I’m going to pull it off yet, but I’m working on it.

And names.  I used to love naming characters, now I friggin’ hate it.  It was my favorite part, and somehow it’s gotten to be a part of the process that makes me beat my head against my desk.  I have three characters that need names, and I’m dreading it.

I do have a basic plot outline, though.  I’ll flesh it out a little more tomorrow, and I’ll steal a little freedom from my main WiP for awhile.

On a weird side note… everyone in my state is a jerk.  I read things about other people, and their experiences on their blogs or Facebook accounts, or… you know, whatever… and I’m like “WOW, that would not fly in Massachusetts!”  People are such raging douche bags here.  I mean, I’m an asshole to the core.  No joke.  But I SMILE at people in public, because it’s a courteous thing to do.  I hold doors for people, because I know I feel all “Kit SMASH!” when I’m inches behind someone and a door shuts in my face.

Common.  Courtesy.  Seriously.  Who raised these people?

There’s a time and a place to be an asshole.  It’s usually with my friends… who are equally brutal, sarcastic, and all-around-dicks.  We mesh well.  But I can conduct myself in public!  Why can’t the rest of the people in this Hell-washed state?

Pft.  Rant over.  Had to get that out of my system.  Thanks.  <3

***Also, to clarify, I don’t think I’m better than anyone.  The opposite is actually true.  I can genuinely behave like a bad person, and I know that most people are NOT bad people.  Why do they act like they are?  That’s all I’m getting at.***

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Flash Fiction Thursday: Axel

As a quick aside, I think this may be my last independent Flash Fiction Thursday piece.  I’m starting a second, internet-published WiP that’s going to be written in weekly installments.  Like episodes to a TV show or something.  It’ll be on-going until I get bored of it.  Not really Flash Fiction, strictly speaking, I know, but each installment will continue from, as well as be independent of, the last.  You’ll see installment one next week.

Also, for people who are interested in the self-publishing game (I’m not, but email likes to notify me of crazy things): Barnes & Noble is jumping into e-publishing…. er… e-self-publishing…. to promote sales of the Nook.  Check out Pubit! if it catches your fancy.

NOW!

Meet Axel: an accidental A.I. explosion from my brain that erupted last Friday. <3

The lights dimmed in the secluded moon-based compound as Michael threw the switch for the second generator, before the violent whirring had all the lights at full capacity again.

“Are you still with me, Axel?” asked the scientist, practically waddling over to his stool to plop down, mopping his forehead with a handkerchief.

“I am, Michael,” the automated voice returned, and the robot came rolling over, his lower half spinning, as it always did, to propel him forward.  A.I. they called him.  Artificial intelligence, programmed to interact with humanity on a profoundly different level than the robots of the past.  Axel could answer any question within the limits of his knowledge–but he couldn’t move beyond that.  He couldn’t understand the human condition.

“I’ve backed up all your systems, Ax.  This is going to be an adventure.”

Axel’s monitor flicked on and a clip of Errol Flynn as Captain Blood played for a moment, before Michael burst out laughing.  “Not quite an adventure of that magnitude, I’m afraid, but I think you get the idea.”

Michael’s brilliance as a scientist had been listed in far too many journals and publications to make note of, but the man never seemed to come out of his isolated living out here in the darkness of the moon.  It didn’t stop him from being recognized, however.  Tathis Morgan stood behind the tinted glass, arms folded over his chest and a look of mild impatience in his eyes.  There was something dark about him, both in body and presence, and Michael was very wise not to refuse his request for his little experiment.  Though… it had been Michael’s idea.  Funding was everything.  It took two years to prepare, and Tathis had been most impatient.

“Well.  Here we go, Ax.  No turning back now.”

“Of course not, Michael.  Time is linear.  I have prepared my host.  Is there anything I can do for you before I go offline?”

Michael gave a small grin.  He would miss Axel… but three-million credits was more than he’d seen in his life.  Maybe he was being under paid, but hell if that wouldn’t pay the bills for a long while.  “I’m fine, Ax.  Thanks, though.  Let’s get this done.”  He wheeled his stool over to an examination table, and pulled back a sheet on what looked to be a corpse; a man in his late teens, possibly early twenties, with perfectly combed red-brown hair.  He was pale, but not sickly so, and Axel flicked an image of The Thinker onto his screen.

“Don’t think too hard on it, Ax.  It’ll work out just fine.  And if it doesn’t, you’ll be back in your hard drive in no time,” Michael assured, and drew a cord from one of the little compartments on Axel’s unit, and plugged it into a USB port on the back of his monitor unit.  “Ready for the upload, pal?”

“I am ready, Michael.”  A smiley face appeared on his monitor then, and Michael lifted the head of the body on the table, plugging a pin into a port at the base of his skull.

“Upload beginning…. Now.”  Michael started the process, looking on with quite anticipation.

Tathis stood behind the glass, one hand pressed to the darkened barrier, waiting with his breath hitched, his mouth slightly slack.

Two hours passed, and it didn’t appear that anyone had moved a muscle, though expressions had grown tired and Michael hunched a bit on his stool– until Axel’s unit powered down.

Michael jumped a mile, and his eyes widened, flicking from the body on the table to Axel’s monitor, and back again.  “Ax?”

The body’s eyes flicked open as if a switch was turned on, and an arm instinctively flew up to shield his eyes from the fluorescent lighting.  Michael jumped up off of his stool and let out a whoop of triumph, hands in the air.

“Unbelievable!  Ax!  Axel, can you speak?”  He asked, and leaned over the newly-awakened man on the bed.

Dark blue eyes fell to pin pricks as the arm slid down awkwardly, and plopped back on the table.  “Michael?”  The name was hoarse and uncertain as Axel tested his new vocal cords.

Tathis came around the corner, clapping slowly.  “Well done, Michael.  You’ve transferred a PC into an organic, human body.”

Michael laughed and motioned at Axel excitedly.  “Ax!  Ax, this is Tathis.  Can you see us, Axel?”

Axel tried to croak out a yes, but only nodded.

“Listen, he needs time to get used to the body. We need to make sure he doesn’t malfunction.  He’s still… for all intents and purposes, a computer.”

“As far as you know,” Tathis countered, “but that’s the heart of this little adventure, isn’t it?  I’ll be here daily for a report.  I want to know when he begins to feel.”

“Ah.  Yes, sir.  But… if the computer in him doesn’t take well to the hormones and chemical processes of a human body, don’t count it as a loss.  We made a massive step today–“

“Just make it happen.  Otherwise, what am I paying you for?”  Tathis strode off with a single wave behind himself.

Michael looked to Axel, and heaved a sigh, tugging the sheet up to the computer’s new shoulders and patting him on the head, while Axel’s eyes rolled about, learning his familiar atmosphere with human eyes.

“Well, pal… Pinocchio would be jealous.”

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Filed under Flash Fiction Thursday, Writing

Reassurance!

This guy here makes me feel better about not having gone to college.  And so I congratulate him on being Freshly Pressed.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying college is a bad thing, and I’m not putting anyone down for having gone to college, because seriously, if you got through it, or are currently getting through it, great job.  I admire you.  That’s a shit ton of work.  (Mind you, I love studying when I want to, it’s when I have to or someone’s going to flush my money and my future down the toilet that makes me whine like a five year old.)

In any case, my point is that, fresh out of high school, I had no idea what I wanted to seriously pursue.  I only knew that I felt like shit for having to stay home and get a job while I watched all my friends go off to further their educations.

Then… one by one they dropped out, flunked out, or spent an extra year (or two) because it was more struggle than they expected.  That could have been me, and I’ll tell you right now that, if I had gone to college at 18, it definitely would have been.  I didn’t have the drive.  Hell, I was damn lucky I graduated high school in the middle of my class.  I was lucky I graduated.  I never went to school, and when I did I really didn’t do much.  My teachers loved me.  Which I exploited to the best of my ability.

I also flunked 10th grade gym.  Not because I didn’t participate, but because I refused to write papers for it.  That’s what health class was for, and I’d be damned if I was going to write a five to ten page paper for gym class.

I got a little off track there, but I think it illustrates the point of my high school attitude.

At 25, I think I’m more equipped to handle college, though because I was a high school douche, I didn’t bother taking my SAT test or my ACT… in fact, the only test I took was the ASVAB and did AMAZING.  Not that it helped me, because my attempts at joining the Army were foiled. XD  I’m also grateful for that at this point in my life.  It was a “I have no direction, my friends are in college, what the fuck am I going to do with my life?” decision. Also, my JROTC sergeant wanted me to give it a go.

So, in short, I agree, and think that 18 is too young for most people to decide what they want long term… and to bet that much cash on it… yeah, I’m all set there.

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