Music and the Effect it has on My Writing

Music is a powerful thing. It’s long been used in movies to add suspense or to evoke emotions within us viewers. Personally speaking, it can drastically alter my mood and is usually a reflection of my current state of mind. I look to music much like writing to distract me from whatever is going on in my life at that moment. It’s always there to comfort me and, when needed, amplify a rotten mood I may be in. Nothing feels better that listening to a depressing song when I’m having a bad day. It makes it feel as if there’s someone who understands what I’m feeling, even though they’re not physically in the room.

As of late, I’ve noticed that I write better when I have music in my ears as opposed to complete silence (not that there’s EVER silence in my home). If the music is playing through the speakers, I get distracted. I cannot focus and my mind wanders off. But, if the music is coming through headphones, I can actually get out what I’m trying to say. I’m not sure if this is because all of the extraneous noise is blocked out or because of something else. I just know that the music calms me down. This isn’t true for all songs, however. It mainly applies to songs with slow to mid tempos. I cannot listen to Beyonce’s Single Ladies and write anything worth reading. I’m too busy dancing(awkwardly) in my seat. The same applies to most up tempo songs. They trigger the part of my  brain that tells me it’s time to put the pen down or move away from the computer and act silly. I do enough of that on my own, so I try to steer clear of those types of songs when I’m trying to be productive.

Today, I’ve done a good amount of writing. It’s Labor day, so I didn’t have any classes. I just got my new laptop, and I’ve been breaking it in the last couple of days. I’ve been writing and listening to music most of the day – mainly one song. It’s called After the Hurricane by Jazmine Sullivan. I’ve always loved this song but hadn’t listened to it in awhile. It popped up in my Youtube suggestions so I played it. I’ve listened to it at least twenty times today. It’s something about it that has a calming effect on me. Her voice is very crisp and soulful and the melody is soothing to my ears. The lyrics also resonate with me on a personal level and apply to several areas of my life. I feel like I’m in the middle of a hurricane psychologically. I’m stressed out to the point that it’s almost laughable. Still, I’m here and have a chance to create a better life for myself and find the happiness that always seems out of reach.

I’m actually listening to it as I type this and it’s honestly keeping me from sitting in the corner rocking back and forth. (I kid, of course; it’s not THAT bad). I’ve decided to use it as the inspiration for my next piece of flash fiction and hope to have it posted soon. 

Ahem, Where’s the Suggestion Box? (Personal Messenger, Perhaps?)

My blog is still in the early stages and I’ve been enjoying this experience. I’ve gained about 40 followers in eight weeks. That’s 40 more than I ever thought I’d have. I’m very excited to know that people are interested in something I have to say.  I initially started this blog in order to get my ideas out into the world. They weren’t doing me any good inside my head, so I thought I’d try a different approach. (Although, I haven’t actually posted my stories yet. So far, it’s mainly been tidbits about my life.) I like to think of everything until now as an extra long introduction. In the coming weeks, I plan on posting random chapters of my novel in order to receive some feedback from fellow writers.

I have nothing but good things to say about WordPress. I love posting and hearing people’s opinions about something I’ve written. It’s been an extremely positive experience and I’ve received some valued encouragement. I love reading other’s blogs and hearing about their life. I’ve come across phenomenal authors and love reading their stories.

I love reading comments and commenting on other’s blogs. This is one of the only blogging platforms that allows for such interaction between users. I can easily access content that suits my interests. I just have one teeny tiny suggestion! I think a personal messenger should be added. Sometimes, I want to ask questions or offer encouragement that I may not want to be public. Some topics are sensitive and at times I wish I could contact someone privately.

Hmm, just thought I’d throw that out there.

Does anyone else feel this way?

Back To School ( Less Time To Write)

Well, Summer’s officially over. I return to my classes Monday, August 18, 2014. I’m entering my second year in college and I’m excited,despite my nervousness. I didn’t have an unpleasant experience last year; it just wasn’t what I expected it to be. This year, I hope I’m able to open up more to people and feel more comfortable being myself. I’m always so guarded and have a hard time allowing people to get close to me.

 My summer was both horribly enlightening and a pain in the butt.  I wasn’t successful in finding a summer job and getting pneumonia in June halted my healthy living journey I am on. I was surrounded by several members of my family and still felt alone. Chaos ran rampant and if I craved a quiet moment, I would have to wait until 3 A.M when everyone was asleep.

 Dealing with negativity out in the world is expected. There are just some mean spirited people out there. But, to feel ostracized in my home is something I’ll never get used to or accept.  There were many days where I just checked out mentally in order to cope. I would focus only on my writing and the imaginary world my mind had created. I found solitude and peace within the pages of my little pink notebook. I would stay there as long as I could and only come up for air. This allowed me to not only deal with all of the negativity but also make great progress on my novel. I wrote all summer, but in the last month I wrote every single day. Some days it may have been a short story or free writing. Other days, it was journal entries and most days I was working on my novel. The story that I started with isn’t anything like the direction it’s going in now. I’m elated! I realized that my characters weren’t as developed as I wanted them to be. When I went to edit and provide more back story, I realized that I had major plot holes and there was a vagueness to it if that makes sense. I knew what I was trying to say, but it may have been unclear to the reader had they read it. I revamped it and it’s almost a completely different story.  I still have a long way to go, but I’m feeling positive about the changes I’ve made and the direction it’s heading towards.

Sadly and Gladly, I’m about to head back to school. That means less time for leisurely writing and more time writing college essays. (I could write an entire book on how much I HATE writing essays, but I digress.) I’m happy to finally get back into a routine that mirrors normalcy and have something to stimulate my mind. Still, I’m a little sad the summer came and went so quickly. [I know, there’s just NO pleasing me! Right?  :)

 Hope you all had Great Summers!

The Purge: What Goes Around ( Fan Fiction) Ch. 1

I hit a road block in the novel I’m writing and decided to try my hand at Fan Fiction. I recently saw the first Purge movie and was disturbed to no end. I am not the horror movie type, but the plot seemed interesting enough. So, I gave it a shot. It wasn’t a scary as I thought it would be. It was actually pretty tame considering the premise. If the senseless murders portrayed in the movie are any indication for America’s future, I’m moving away. No, seriously.

I usually stick to tragedies, romance, or mysteries as a writer. I’m intrigued by science fiction and thrillers, but have never tried to write one myself. I wrote this in between writing my novel today. Please tell me what you think! (Cause I’m way out of my element!)

Also Posted on Fanfiction.net

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10590726/1/The-Purge-What-Goes-Around

And Wattpad.com/KBanksWrites

http://www.wattpad.com/63686377-the-purge-what-goes-around-ch-1-fanfiction

 

It was almost time. In less than thirty minutes, the annual purge would commence. I was fidgeting to load my guns and pack my backpack in case my family and and I had to get out of Dodge. In previous years, this would be the time where I gathered my weapons of choice, dress myself in black sweats, boots and my bulletproof vest for anyone who had the guts to challenge me. I’d pin back my signature auburn locks from my face and alter the color with temporary hair dye I got from the party store. In the unlikely event that my prey would escape, I didn’t need them identifying me. That would make for very uncomfortable block parties in the years to come. To top it all off, would be a black baseball cap with red letters that read: HOTHEAD. I’d retrieved from my very first victim 6 purges ago. I liked to think of it as one my good lock charms.

Back then, I was new to purging. A convert, you might say. I’d heard about it for years and all the good it did for America. I was 17 years old the first time I participated. In the years prior, I’d snuggle up with my mom, dad and sister and watch the live feed of purgers on the news. My dad was a retired Army vet who had designed and built our house from the ground up. No one could penetrate our security system. No one ever tried.

I never had any interest in purging myself, however. The entire premise of it was to relieve our pent up aggression on this day in order to live in peace the rest of the year. I was a 16 year old girl with a great family and awesome friends. I had no pent up aggression. My father was murdered the day before my 17th birthday. It was a senseless killing all because he rear-ended a car. The man whose car he hit shot my father before he could even get a word out. That was the day that everything changed for me. I didn’t know how to process my feelings. What started out as denial transistioned into soul shattering acceptance. Grief soon followed and I wallowed in my own self pity for what seemed like months. I almost allowed it consume me entirely. Soon after, it was anger’s turn to take over me; no, vengeance is a better word. I wanted revenge but I couldn’t take it out on my dad’s killer. He fled the scene and hadn’t been caught. But,I knew just where I may get it.

The annual Purge was coming soon. It would be exactly three months after my father’s murder. In the weeks leading up to it, I did extensive reasearch. I searched the databases of all of the victims of past purges and the methods in which each were killed. I found the best weapons to use and the best places to hunt. The desire to kill anything- anyone welled up inside of me more and more each day. I reviewed countless hours of footage from past purges and religiously started following an anonymous blog ran by professional purgers. I learned that the purge would be more rewarding if I took souvenirs from my victims. I found out the optimal attire to wear ito increase speed in case an extended pursuit was neccesary. Some just couldn’t come to grips with what must occur. It didn’t bother me though. The chase was part of the fun. I was 5”11 even without heels on and could run a mile in under three minutes. Sometimes, I’d slow up so they’d think they had gotten away and disappear into the shadows. Then, when they stopped to catch their breath, I’d creep up behind them in the darkened ally and attack. However, nothing was more satisfying than my very first purge as a participant.

It was four in the afternoon and my mom was in a presciption drug induced high and didn’t even notice that I had been preparing to leave. For about a year after my dad’s death, I had neither a father or mother. His untimely passing completely sucked the life out of her. As her depression set in, it became debilitating. She became hooked on anti-depressants and was fired from her job. Luckily, our family was able to live off of the benefits we recieved from my father’s service in the army. Looking at the hollow shell of a person my mom had become added even more fuel to my need to purge. I made sure my younger sisters knew how to operate the security system and locate the guns if by chance our house was attacked. “Lauren, where are you goin?” Lena asked innocently.

“I’m gonna spend the purge with a friend.” I lied. The look in her eyes told me that she was aware but couldn’t bare to say the words out loud. She had noticed the change in me. The past couple months, I had quit the track team at school and was home late every night.We no longer had our weekly sleepovers in my room where she told me all the things a fourteen year old couldn’t tell their mom. One night, I found her in my room with my laptop looking through my browser history. I’m certain that she came across my multiple visits to the Purger’s blog but she never mentioned it. I kissed her on her forehead and grabbed my phone. “Take care of mom Lena. Stay here in the Security room and as soon as I leave, lock down the house. You don’t open up the house for ANYONE until morning. Do you understand?”

“Not even for you?” She said as she looked down at the floor, her long brown hair covering her eyes from my view.

I knew the implications of what she had just said. What she really meant was, “not even if you’re out there running for your life?”

“Not even for me.” I replied.

I didn’t wait for her reaction because I knew it might make me change my mind. I turned to exit the room and as I made it to the front door, I only heard, “I love you Lauren.”

“Lock down the house now.” I replied coldly.

I was almost to my destination fifteen minutes till the Purge’s official start and it was getting dark. I didn’t have any experience as of yet. All I had to rely on was my research and my dad’s genes that were passed on to me. I was quick on my feet and good under pressure. I had mapped out the route from my house and location I planned to stake out waiting for my chance to strike. I had traveled it several times in days leading up to the purge. Three times during the day, and three times in the black of night. It was incredibly hard to see even ten feet in front of me at night attributable to lack of street lights. I estimated that I had traveled about fifteen miles using an abandoned liquor store as my halfway point and possible shelter if things when left. That was the “bad” side of town that my mom had warned me to stay away from. It ran rampant with rapists and drug dealers. The police presence in this part of town was nearly non existant. There were many abandoned houses along the path. Other than the occasional homeless person, there didn’t seem to be any activity within them. There were, however, many people usually outside standing on the street corners.That all changed on the evening of the purge, just as the anonymous blogger had warned about. There wasn’t a soul in sight. But, that’s when I was at my most vurnerable. If there were other purgers nearby, I would be the only target. I checked my phone as I reached my destination of a back alley behind the town’s community center. 6:59. The smell was abosolutelyrepuslsive. I was sure to conceal the light from the phone just in case someone had trailed me behind the large dumster. In less than one minute, I could legally murder anyone of my choosing. I hadn’t realized I was sweating profusely until my eyes began to burn from the sweat invading them. I had to cover my ears as the sirens blared. They were louder than I ever remembered from the confines of my home. There was no going back now. All I had to do was wait.

An hour passed and the daylight had been nearly extinguished by the darkness. In the distance, I heard the faint screams of what sounded like a teen girl who had been caught out too late. “No Please Don’t!” were the last words I heard from her before I heard the gunshot.”

That could’ve easily been Lena.” The thought made me sick to my stomach and I immediately began to vomit. It was strange because the Purge had been long established before I was born. They started us out at a young age reviewing footage of gruesome killings so that we could buildup our tolerance. Experiencing it a hundred yards away, however, was a different story. As I wiped any residuals from my mouth, I thought I saw a dark figure quickly approaching me from the street. Whoever it was wasn’t running exactly, more like power walking. I crouched down and drew my gun. My heart began to pound within my chest and my hands were shaking. I had never killed anyone before. .But, I had come too far to chicken out now. I peeked out from behind the dumpster and the shadow quickly morphed into the silhouette of an elderly homeless woman. The look of terror on her face was enough to make me drop my gun. The sound of metal hitting the concrete must have startled her because she stopped dead in her tracks. Thankfully, I hadn’t taken the safety off.

“She went this way!” A husky voice called out from the street.

Whoever was chasing her, must have been more terrifying than what could’ve possibly been behind the dumpster because the sound of his voice got her moving again. As she was about to come face to face with me, her assailants spotted her and began to run towards the back of the alley where we were. There were two large men, presumably caucausian. I couldn’t quite make out facial features but they appeared to be middle aged. One was holding a baseball bat and the other a crowbar.

“Quick! Over Here!” I said as I stepped in front of the old woman gun drawn and fully loaded. She didn’t hesitate to do as I’d said. I don’t know if she thought I was helping her or just didn’t wanna be shot.

Apparently, they didn’t see my gun because all I heard was, “Gene, there’s two of them. Come on!” I didn’t hesitate to shoot. The force of the gun almost knocked me over. Man number one down. Next, was Gene’s turn. Seeing his partner shot down caused him to turn and run. This was when my love of watching my victims run began. The sight of that low life ,willing to kill an old lady, barreling down the ally was a sight to see. Just moments before, he was asserting his perceived dominance on two women whom he assumed were defenseless. I suddenly remembered why I was here – to avenge my fathers death. But, now my purpose had become clearer. I wasn’t a monster who could prey on the old and feeble. That wasn’t who I was and certainly not who I wanted to become. My prey of choice would be the predators, my fellow purgers.

“Stay here out of sight,” I said to the elderly woman who was too stunned to speak. She nodded her head in aggreement.”I’ll be back for you.” As I made sure she was concealed from any possible danger, I took off down the alley. Gene’s size and age had significantly took a toll on his speed. I was right on him within a few strides. He must have heard me approaching, because he sped up slighlty. He must have topped two miles an hour. “Good grief,” I thought.

As much as I was enjoying the view, Gene cut our little race short by trying cause a scene.

“HELP! SOMEBODY HE-!” He hit the ground before could finish his sentence. This time the gun didn’t overpower me because I was prepared. I dropped the gun, completely ignoring the the rules of the Purgers’s blog. I walked over to Gene who had been shot through the chest. He was gasping for air and flailing his arms as if that were gonna help. I kneeled down beside him and patted his beer belly. “Having fun?” I chuckled. He looked up at me unable to speak still trying to breath. Blood was gushing from his gunshot wound and he would be dead within minutes but I had to get back to the elderly woman and didn’t need him there drawing attention to us. I took my pocket knife from my bra and plunged it deep into his neck. The adrenaline flowing through my body made me feel like I could fly if I needed to. As I stood to leave, I noticed he had been wearing a baseball cap with bright read letters that read: HOTHEAD. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate souvenirs for the occasion. I definitely wasn’t interested in his raggedy tennis shows or his blood soaked button down. As I put it on and turned to leave, I was face to face with an unfamiliar man.

“My, what do we have hear?” The strange man asked condescendingly.”Did I just watch a beautiful young girl kill a man without any hesitaton?”

He had my gun that I had thrown on the ground pointed at me. “Shoot,” I thought. “I’m screwed.”
“He tried to kill me first” I asserted. All I had in my defense was my pocket knife.

“Ahh well, there does seem to be a lot of that on the menu tonight. Killings, arson, and rape of course.” he said with a sly grin.

He inched towards me while still pointing the gun. I could then see that he was only slightly older than myself, 20 maybe 21. He was overdressed for the occasion wearing dress pants and a white button down shirt. He was what most girls would consider attactive, but considering the events, he was just another man I knew I’d have to kill.

“Yeah,” I said as I took a step backwards almost stumbling. My legs were unstable and I had to really concentrate to stay upright.

“Can I ask you a question?” He asked flatly

“You’re the one with gun.” I answered

“Ahh, you’re fiesty,” he laughed, “I think I’ll enjoy this”

“Enjoy what?”

“As I said before, tonight has an abundance arsons, home invasions and murders. Many people forget that ALL crime is legal tonight.”

“So what, you’re gonna rape me?” I was contemplating lunging for the gun, but wasn’t sure what the outcome would be. He must have seen that my eyes hadn’t left the gun in an entire minute.

“You’ll be dead before you can take a step if that’s what you’re thinking.” He barked, his voice considerably lower than before.

Bang! The sound of a gun startled me to no end. Had I been shot? No sooner than the thought crossed my mind was the gunman on the ground. I let out a sigh of relief and then soon realized that the danger may not be over. Whose to say whoever killed him wouldn’t come for me next? As I prepared to run, a dark figure emerged from the shadows. It was the elderly woman whose life I had saved. She had just returned the favor. He hands were still shaking by the time I had reached her.

“Thank you so much! Where did you get the gun?” I asked as I slowly took the loaded gun from her frail hands.

“It was in your backpack you left behind the dumpster. When you didn’t come back, I figured you must have been in trouble. I looked for a weapon and found this gun in your backpack.”

I palmed my forehead in disbelief. “ I completely forgot about my backpack. Thanks again.”

“It was my duty. After you saved me, it was the least I could do. I didn’t catch your name. “

“Lauren, “ I replied with an outstretched hand.”

“I’m Alice,” she replied as she shook my hand.

“Lets get back down the alley just in case there are others in the area.”

I looked at my phone and it was almost 8 P.M. In less than oun hour, I had killed two men and watched as another man was shot to death. My life has been changed forever. Alice and I decided that it would be safer to spend the rest of the night behind the dumpster. We kept talking to a minimum just in case there were any lurkers about to hear us, but she did manage to ask me why a young girl like me was out during the purge. I told her about how my dad’s murder pushed me over the edge and how I needed to purge. She shared with me the tragic events that led to her homelessness. She used to live in my neighborhood until the bank foreclosed her house. When she became ill, her medical bills took all of her savings and she could no longer pay her mortgage.With each word she spoke, I felt lower and lower.“Were you going to kill me?” she asked in a hushed tone.

“Honestly, I don’t know. Initially,.I was waiting for someone to show up that I could attack. But, when I saw the terrified look on your face I knew that you weren’t my target.” I looked down as I admitted this grim truth, tears beginning to burn my eyes.

“Honey, don’t cry. People deal with grief in different ways. Its natural to need to release your aggression and with the government giving us a free pass, it was only logical that you made the choice that you did. What matters most though is that once you were presented with the opportunity, your heart overtook your emotions.” She said as she rubbed my back. “You’re a good girl Lauren. A good girl who made a mistake. It’s over now.”

I flashed her a smile, but remained silent. She was partially right. I was good in the sense that I couldn’t murder innocent people. But, it wasn’t over. I had just had my first taste of purging and didn’t think I could give it up so soon. Even though the guys I killed were monsters, the effect was the same. I felt a heck of a lot better. For the next 11 hours, Alice and I alternated between sleeping and keeping lookout. When I was awake, I heard many screams in the distance and what sounded like bombs going off around dawn. At seven A.M, the alarms sounded waking me from my sleep.

“I was just about to wake you honey! We’re free now!” Alice Beamed as she embraced me with a warm hug.

I gave her my contact information and asked her would she be okay out in the streets. She assured me that she was staying in a shelter and that’s where she was about to return to after the purge.

“Why didn’t you stay overnight?” I asked already knowing the answer.

“Homeless shelters are the first place purgers look Lauren. I had to get out of there. Many of my friends stayed there awaiting slaughter, but not me. I decided to take my chances in the streets.”

I cringed at her verbal portrayal of my thoughts. I knew what she was saying was true.

She left out the gory details of having to wait outside as the police and ambulances retrieved all of the dead bodies and sanitized the building but it was understood. We promised to keep in contact and in the years following my first Purge, she spent The Purge with my mom and sisters in our secure house. I told my mom I met her when I was volunteering at a homeless shelter. Everything was good for six years. My mom recovered from her depression and my sister and I began to repair our broken relationship. I still participated in the purge, but only went after the bad guys. In those six years, I murdered between 50-60 men and women. My mom, although sober, was still oblivious. Alice knew, however, but she never ratted me out.

Six months ago, everything changed. When my mom was going through her depression, she threw away all of dad’s savings on prescription drugs and as a result we had to downsize – drastically. We ended up moving a few streets over to the very neighborhood that I experienced my first purge. Our house was one level and barely had a working plumbing system, much less a impenetrable security system. I was now 23 and had to resort to sharing a room with my younger sister. This would be the first time in six years, I wouldn’t be able to participate in the purge. I would have to stay home, and protect my family and Alice, because we were now the prey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WordPress Not Giving Notifications?

This isn’t an official post. It’s a question. I’m new to WordPress, and haven’t exactly mastered how to use it yet. However, I’ve noticed that the past week or so I haven’t been getting notifications if I have a new follower. But, if I check my email, it’s there.

Also, I don’t get all of the posts of the blogs i follow in my reader. For example, I had twelve new posts to read today. I went to a certain blogger’s site and saw that they had posted three articles in the last week that didn’t show up in my feed. I went to check if this was an isolated event, and it’s not. There are several blogs that I follow who have been updating, but they don’t show up in my live feed.

Is anyone else having this problem?

My Story to Tell

I’m excited to say that I am in the process of writing my first novel. It’s about a girl on the verge of adulthood who has to learn to cope with life after the death of her best friend. I’ve written countless short stories and poems, but I had never tried my hand at completing a novel. I guess, at a glance, the task intimidated me. I have a hard time committing to well – anything. So, to commit to 50,000 words seemed like it would be an uphill battle. It’s not the amount of work that frightens me. It doesn’t feel like work actually. I’ve always had an overactive imagination and am prone to daydreaming. The only difference now is that I’m weaving together my wandering thoughts into something that will hopefully make sense when it’s done. It’s the uncertainty on my part. I’m not naive, so I’m not anticipating fame and fortune from my first book. What frightens me is that at the end of this 50,000 word journey, I may still feel unfulfilled.

Nevertheless, I am making progress. I’m really enjoying exploring these characters and finding the motivation behind their actions.  As I write, it helps to distract me from the chaos that is my life(temporarily). There’s something about writing that makes me feel powerful. I feel like I have little to no control over my life at the moment. Its not exactly spiraling out of control, but it keeps veering off course. I feel like the people I’m surrounded by are trying to silence me and halt my growth as a person. I’m nowhere near perfect, but I try to improve everyday.  When I write, I feel in control. These are my thoughts and my perception on life. No on can silence me and no one can tell my story but me.

 

 

 

 

Friday Submission: Speedy Checkout By Kendi Banks

KendiBanks:

A little Flash Fiction I wrote out of mere boredom :)(I’m not a mom btw) …… that acain180.wordpress.com revised for me….

Originally posted on A Spark in the Dark:

Thank you very much for the submission Kendi. Also, I have to say this was a very interesting slice of life, since my day job for the past two years has been as a Cashier at a grocery store. So here’s what we have to shop this week.

Speedy Checkout Flash Fiction # 4 7/9/14
As I stood in the speedy checkout line in Wal-Mart, I was hoping the cashier didn’t notice that I had nearly forty items in my buggy. Twenty of them alone must have been jarred baby food. My two kids, both under fourteen months, had been completely unbearable in the store today and I didn’t have it in me to walk down to the general check out area. “Hey how are you today,” she asked happily as she began to retrieve my groceries from the conveyor belt. “Good, and you?” I replied with a smile never…

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