Life (as it) Happens

In undergrad, I spent one semester at the University of Missoula, MT. I took the usual classwork for an English Lit major, including a creative writing poetry course, but had also decided to take a criminology class on a whim. (Why not, right?) The criminology class turned out to be one of my favorite classes. It was interesting to learn about the “why” behind the crimes, and the coursework inspired the poem I titled The Criminality of Love. I had gotten the prompt “love” from our professor and didn’t know what to write, but the night before the love poem was due, I got the idea for The Criminality of Love. It was a middle-of-the-night, words-pouring-out-like-water kind of idea that happened in 30 minutes, chock full of all the criminality jargon I learned in class. (I also accidentally knocked over a can of soda when I showed the poem to one of my roommates. Oops.) I really loved how that poem turned out, and since then, I’ve been looking for a good place for it.

The perfect place turned up over six years later.

I’ve followed the Vlogbrothers – Hank and John Green – for years, so when the first ever Nerdfighter Poetry Book was accepting submissions, I knew I had to try for it. Plus, they announced that all the proceeds would go to the Foundation to Decrease World Suck, which was a great cause. (More on that later.) I decided to submit my criminology poem and it got accepted!

*does a little dance*

So here’s where the announcement portion of my blogpost comes into play:

The Nerdfighter Poetry Book, titled Life (as it) Happens, launched just last week! JUST LAST WEEK. Go check it out!

Poetry is a lovely form of expression, and I’m honored my late night, criminality inspired jargon-filled poem is among them. So, do need a cool gift for a poetry lover? Consider Life (as it) Happens and help support other non-profits while you do.

Oh! And here’s some information about the Foundation to Decrease World Suck, according to their website:

“The Foundation to Decrease World Suck, Inc is 100% volunteer operated and exists solely for the purpose of raising funds to be donated to other non-profit organizations. The majority of fundraising is through and during the annual Project for Awesome. The small operating expenses of the Foundation, including tax return preparation, are paid for by donations to the Foundation by the Directors of the Foundation. Money donated to the Foundation to Decrease World Suck will be distributed to non-profits selected by Nerdfighteria and the YouTube Community through the Project for Awesome.”

Okay, that’s it for me right now. Have a lovely Sunday!
Warm regards,
Kellie

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What Readers Bring

Last night I attended my monthly book club meeting. We discussed John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars. I would recommend it to all of my friends. In fact I have. I kind of expected the discussion to be gushing, overflowing with praise and awe at this author’s book. But a few of my book clubbers didn’t like the selection – one flat out hated it, actually – and it steered our discussion onto why. After hearing the answer, I completely understood.

If you didn’t know, TFiOS is a cancer book.

Or rather, it’s a book about kids who have cancer and struggle to deal with it. It’s a rough look on the disease, an honest one about what these kids (and anyone really) would go through if they had it, as well as how it affects their friends and family. But it’s also an examination of the pedestal we put certain figures on, a metafictional take on how words impact our lives and a lovestory of two teenagers.

Personally, I adored every aspect of this book. I loved the struggles Hazel and Gus (the two main characters) go through. I loved how their story evolves and changes. I even loved all the freaking water metaphors that punctuate almost every chapter and how it’s got some Shakespeare elements in it, too. (My friends will tell you I’m not a terribly huge fan of the Man.)

I also cried. Choked up. Thought back to every single person I’ve known who had cancer and beat it, and who’ve had cancer and didn’t. People who I love (and loved) dearly. I had to put TFiOS down a few times just to compose myself. Green captivated the pain so well, I felt it again myself.

And yet, it was in those moments that I realized how much words could impact a person. These characters aren’t real. These are just scratches on paper. Separate the pages and they won’t mean much to anyone. Separate the words and they’d mean even less, the letters and they’d mean nothing at all. And yet, Green managed to compose a story that made me feel (ALL THE FREAKIN’ FEELS, GREEN). There was an undeniable emotional connection to his characters and I liked it. I was amazed and inspired by it. If he could do it, then why couldn’t I?

These were the comments I expected to hear in the book club. It didn’t happen. Most of the clubbers thought it was a sad book and even said, were it not for the club, they’d never pick it up. Why? Because 1) it is a terribly sad book and 2) because they, too, had lost someone to cancer.

This particular reader would never want read the book again. And hated it because it brought up all the past cancer battles, just like it did to me. But, unlike me, it made this reader upset in a bad way… which isn’t what a book is supposed to do at all. Books are (mostly) for enjoyment.

But the conversation got me thinking – what does a reader bring to the story?

Well, differences, obviously. Points of view, opinions, schooling, where they lived, what they loved, what they hated, experiences that shaped who they are today.

And every time a reader picks up a book, they bring all that with them. (Hence, the heated discussions over sex, religion, death and such, in books and in life.) It shapes how they read the text, determines if they like the book or if they’ll never read it again. It decides if they’ll pass that book onto another or shred the pages.

And, honestly, with all the different backgrounds of humankind, I’m surprised there are even bestsellers (or classics, for that matter) in the first place. Books that have, no matter what experiences readers may bring, transcended everything and hold a place of honor in a great many hearts.

There is one thing everyone could agree on though – John Green’s writing was awesome.

Have a lovely weekend!
Warm regards,
Kellie