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It is, it is

Happy April 1st, NaPoWriMoers! Haven’t yet started on mine. But I will. In a little bit. After I go pick up the bedroom.

***

As this day winds to a close, I thought I should close this blog entry by saying, yes, I wrote a poem (Shakespearean sonnet), and, yes, it pretty much stunk, but hey, I’m taking this time for practice, not seriousness. I figure, if I use it for free-writing and implementing new elements into my style, rather than stick to the usual blase routine, my writing will be better for it.

To all of you who wrote something: good job. To all of you who spent the day desiring the desire to write something: tomorrow’s a new day.

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Every Day

3. You Need to Write Every Day.

I’m sure you’ve got this wired, and I’ll note that for teenagers today, it’s easier to write every day, because there’s an entire social structure revolving around writing that didn’t used to exist: Blogs and blog-like things like MySpace, or whatever thing has replaced MySpace by the time you read this. Writing isn’t the isolating experience it (mostly) was before.

Now, be aware that writing in your blog or journal isn’t the same as writing stories or songs or whatever your writing aspirations might be. Blogging very often takes the form of what writers call “cat vacuuming,” which is to say it’s an activity you do to avoid actual writing. You want to avoid doing too much of that (yes, there’s some irony in me writing this in a blog entry — particularly a blog entry being written when I could be writing part of a book I have due to a publisher).

“Cat vacuuming” though writing in a blog may be, any sort of daily writing will help build the mental muscle memory of sitting down to put your thoughts into words, and that’s not a bad thing. So write something today. Now is good.

This guy’s great. Above is a quote from his blog. And he’s right (as most experienced writers are): most teenagers don’t set aside the time every day to write something coherent. Including myself, unfortunately.

Last year I spent every day (or nearly every day; the days I was lucid enough) writing poetry, novels, short stories, journal entries. When I wasn’t writing, I was reading about writing, or reading a novel, or reading a series of the best short stories of the twentieth century. The product being: my writing was bettered for it. But, due to certain incidents in recent months, my stamina first waned, and then completely diminished. Why? Because I didn’t set aside the time to write down what I was thinking and feeling. What I wanted to say, devoid of clichés. I now have troubled dabbling in my old notebooks – even fathoming HOW to dabble and how I once dabbled in those old notebooks.

The moral of this story? If you’re a teenage writer and you’re serious about the craft, write. I mean it. Turn off the TV, iPod, cell phone – whatever stops you from setting your hand on a pen and paper or fresh Wordpad page. Do it. Now. Don’t procrastinate.

Unfortunately, I have also found that it’s better to set oneself up at a computer without Internet. If there’s a chance you’ll be distracted by something insignificant as surfing the web, your mind probably isn’t as focused as it should be on the task at hand. Shut out every distraction. Put on a sign on your door, for goodness sake. Anything to keep away the outer realm. The people around you must understand that you need this time. Don’t feel obligated to explain yourself; say, simply: “I’m going to have quiet time every day at (insert hour(s)), and I need everyone to leave me alone.” 

How do I not take my own advice?

*****

In other news, I found an article online today discussing the two sides of the brain and their functions. It left me wondering how I could train both the left and right side of in all equality.

First, some science.We’ll keep this light and uncomplicated. Our brain, like the rest of our anatomy, is made up of two halves, a left brain a right brain. There’s a big fold that goes from front to back in our brain, essentially dividing it into two distinct and separate parts. Well, almost separate. They are connected to each other by a thick cable of nerves at the base of each brain. This sole link between the two giant processors is called the corpus collosum. Think of it as an Ethernet cable or network connection between two incredibly fast and immensely powerful computer processors, each running different programs from the same input.
The left side of our body is “wired” to the right side of our brain, and vice versa. For whatever reason nature did this cross-over, it applies even to our eyes, which process a majority of their sensory data on opposite sides of the brain.

We can thank Nobel Prize Winner (1981) Roger Sperry for this next contribution. Sperry conducted what are sometimes called the “split-brain” experiments. Here’s how it went: A patient suffering from uncontrolled seizures had an area of his brain removed by surgery in an attempt to control his illness. This area just happened to be the corpus collosum, which was suspected of having developed lesions (short circuits).  Following his surgery, Sperry’s patient seemed completely normal — almost. A series of tests were conducted where each “half” of the patient was isolated from the other. Different visual and tactile information could then be presented to the patient’s left or right side, without the other side knowing. The results were astounding.With their communications link severed, each side of the patient’s brain was functioning independently. Although this did not prevent his ability to walk, talk and eat, some unexpected findings were encountered in some of the higher brain functions when each side was examined independently of the other.The right hand and eye could name an object, such as a pencil, but the patient could not explain what it was used for. When shown to the left hand and eye, the patient could explain and demonstrate its use, but could not name it. Further studies showed that various functions of thought are physically separated and localized to a specific area on either the left or right side of the human brain. This functional map is consistent for an estimated 70 to 95 percent of us. The main theme to emerge… is that there appear to be two modes of thinking, verbal and nonverbal, represented rather separately in left and right hemispheres respectively and that our education system, as well as science in general, tends to neglect the nonverbal form of intellect. What it comes down to is that modern society discriminates against the right hemisphere.-Roger Sperry (1973)

Upon completing the map, it was becoming clear to researchers that each side of the brain had a characteristic way that it both interpreted the world and reacted to it. The chart below will help illustrate the characteristics which are known to reside on each side of our brains.

LEFT BRAIN FUNCTIONSuses logic
detail oriented
facts rule
words and language
present and past
math and science
can comprehend
knowing
acknowledges
order/pattern perception
knows object name
reality based
forms strategies
practical
safe 
RIGHT BRAIN FUNCTIONSuses feeling
“big picture” oriented
imagination rules
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can “get it” (i.e. meaning)
believes
appreciates
spatial perception
knows object function
fantasy based
presents possibilities
impetuous
risk taking 

 

Our personality can be thought of as a result of the degree to which these left and right brains interact, or, in some cases, do not interact. It is a simplification to identify “left brain” types who are very analytical and orderly. We likewise certainly know of the artistic, unpredictability and creativity of “right brain” types. But each of us draws upon specific sides of our brain for a variety of daily functions, depending on such things as our age, education and life experiences. The choices of which brain is in control of which situations is what forges our personalities and determines our character.  Experiments show that most children rank highly creative (right brain) before entering school. Because our educational systems place a higher value on left brain skills such as mathematics, logic and language than it does on drawing or using our imagination, only ten percent of these same children will rank highly creative by age 7. By the time we are adults, high creativity remains in only 2 percent of the population.

 The Brain and Intelligence  

There is a known correlation between brain size and intellectual ability. Homo Erectus, our distant ancestor, had a brain size of about 1200 cc. Modern Homo Sapiens have an average brain of about 1400 cc. Oddly, the Neanderthal people who failed to evolve into humans already had a brain size of 1500 cc — larger than modern man. Obviously then, its not only how big the brain is as much as how it is configured. This is further evidenced by the fact that we have known genius brains measuring as small as 1000 cc. and as large as 2000 cc.Increasing brain size was a risky endeavor for human evolution. The brain requires a highly stable temperature and a supply of high protein and energy. One quarter of our caloric intake is used for brain energy consumption.

 The War of the Brains  

The two brains not only see the world in vastly different ways but, in our current society, the left side just “doesn’t get” what the right side is all about. It tends to dismiss anything significant coming into consciousness from its “flaky” cranial twin. Sometimes two sides can actually disagree, resulting in our perception of emotional turmoil from the expressive protests of right brain.Our conscious mind can only focus on data from one brain at a time. We can switch from one side to the other very quickly (with our corpus collosum intact) but that’s not always the most efficient way to act and eventually ultimate authority to enter consciousness is delegated to one brain or the other. In our modern world, this battle is almost always won by the left brain.It appears that most people will never reach their maximum potential because of compromises that have been made between these two governing bodies. Sometimes skills which the right brain can perform better are routinely handled, with less skill, by the left brain. Ideally, both brains work together in people with optimum mental ability. This coordinating ability may be the key to superior intellectual abilities. In most people, however, the left brain takes control, choosing logic, reasoning and details over imagination, holistic thinking and artistic talent.Methods have been devised to “shut off” the left brain, allowing the right side to have its say. Creative writing courses often use this method to combat “writer’s block.” The logical left side is easily bored by lack of input and tends to “doze off” during such activities as meditation (repeating a mantra or word over and over) or in sensory deprivation environments. The right brain is then able to “sneak” into our consciousness, filling our minds with emotional and visual vignettes and freely associated images. All too quickly, though, the left brain will assert itself and dispense with these irrational images, asserting its Spock-like logical dominance and the right brain will have to be content to find expression in dreams. 

(Warning: some features above are missing.)

The original link

*****

On another note: I found out that many Schizophrenic patients, because they and their families are more than likely ignorant of the signs and symptoms, are misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. This made me want to do something, as I believe I suffer from Schizophrenia. There are places on the Internet for looking up symptoms (hence, symptom checkers), but if you aren’t sure of the specifics, you will have no clue how to access these. And, just maybe, you aren’t looking up symptoms, but answers.

A great majority of the people suffering from mental illness do not come forward with their sufferings. (And yes, you CAN have schizophrenia and note the symptoms, so long as you have access to a symptoms list. The disease isn’t what hinders a person from knowing.) If someone is suicidal, there’s an even slimmer chance they’ll come forward with it. So, as a kind of helpful guide to whoever stumbles upon it, here is what I consider a decent, detailed description of schizophrenic onset:  

 

 

the original can be found at: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/schizophrenia_symptom.htm

  • Social withdrawal
  • Hostility or suspiciousness
  • Deterioration of personal hygiene
  • Flat, expressionless gaze
  • Inability to cry or express joy
  • Inappropriate laughter or crying
  • Depression
  • Oversleeping or insomnia
  • Odd or irrational statements
  • Forgetful; unable to concentrate
  • Extreme reaction to criticism
  • Strange use of words or way of speaking

There are the “positive” symptoms, in which something is added to the person’s personality. Not meaning that the result is positive, of course. The “negative” symptoms simply mean something has been taken away from their personality.

A delusion is a firmly-held idea that a person has despite clear and obvious evidence that it isn’t true. Delusions are extremely common in schizophrenia, occurring in more than 90% of patients. Often, these delusions involve illogical or bizarre ideas or fantasies. Common schizophrenic delusions include: 

  • Delusions of persecution — Belief that others, often a vague “they,” are out to get him or her. These persecutory delusions often involve bizarre ideas and plots (e.g. “Martians are trying to poison me with radioactive particles delivered through my tap water”). 
  • Delusions of reference — A neutral environmental event is believed to have a special and personal meaning. For example, a person with schizophrenia might believe a billboard or a person on TV is sending a message meant specifically for them.
  • Delusions of grandeur — Belief that one is a famous or important figure, such as Jesus Christ or Napolean. Alternately, delusions of grandeur may involve the belief that one has unusual powers that no one else has (e.g. the ability to fly).
  • Delusions of control — Belief that one’s thoughts or actions are being controlled by outside, alien forces. Common delusions of control include thought broadcasting (“My private thoughts are being transmitted to others”), thought insertion (“Someone is planting thoughts in my head”), and thought withdrawal (“The CIA is robbing me of my thoughts.”).

Hallucinations are sounds or other sensations experienced as real when they exist only in the person’s mind. While hallucinations can involve any of the five senses, auditory hallucinations (e.g. hearing voices or some other sound) are most common in schizophrenia. Visual hallucinations are also relatively common. Research suggests that auditory hallucinations occur when people misinterpret their own inner self-talk as coming from an outside source.

Schizophrenic hallucinations are usually meaningful to the person experiencing them. Many times, the voices are those of someone they know. Most commonly, the voices are critical, vulgar, or abusive. Hallucinations also tend to be worse when the person is alone.

Fragmented thinking is characteristic of schizophrenia. Externally, it can be observed in the way a person speaks. People with schizophrenia tend to have trouble concentrating and maintaining a train of thought. They may respond to queries with an unrelated answer, start sentences with one topic and end somewhere completely different, speak incoherently, or say illogical things.

Common signs of disorganized speech in schizophrenia include:

  • Loose associations — Rapidly shifting from topic to topic, with no connection between one thought and the next.
  • Neologisms — Made-up words or phrases that only have meaning to the patient.
  • Perseveration — Repetition of words and statements; saying the same thing over and over.
  • Clang — Meaningless use of rhyming words (“I said the bread and read the shed and fed Ned at the head.”).

Schizophrenia disrupts goal-directed activity, causing impairments in a person’s ability to take care of him or herself, work, and interact with others. Disorganized behavior appears as:

  • A decline in overall daily functioning
  • Unpredictable or inappropriate emotional responses
  • Behaviors that appear bizarre and have no purpose
  • Lack of inhibition and impulse control.

The disease has three branches:

  • Disorganized
  • Paranoid
  • And, of course, the noncommittal, in which the person meets the criteria for schizophrenia, though neither paranoid or disorganized.

There are also an array of symptoms, depending on the person. Belive it or not, most people still function well enough while dealing with the disease. As it progresses it becomes an issue. Keep in mind the above are for persons over the age of fourteen. Anything beneath this would be “childhood onset” schizophrenia, and, when dealing with children, the symptoms differ significantly. 

Though I haven’t read through these yet, here are the links:

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/04/schizoillusion/

 
 

“Denial to Acceptance” (a helpful chronology of the average patient’s denial and acceptance of their mental illness (it says “bipolar” but I figure it can work for any illness))can be found at: http://www.bipolarworld.net/Bipolar%20Disorder/Articles/art2.htm

 
 
 
 

 

My interesting post today, though it may not warrant much interest, concerns what I believe to be a mental illness. I was just reading a blog by a woman with Schizoaffective Disorder, and was rather inspired. Her obstacles were (and are) many, but those obstacles were overcome. Now: my point for bringing this up. Beginning when I was a three or four, I had “strange” ideas and fears – and while all children have odd fears and ideas, mine didn’t cease after childhood. Then I was thirteen and sleeping in the same bed as my mother, because of the “things” that might crawl out from beneath the bed or appear in the closet doorway (which I kept closed). Or fourteen and with a phobia of demonic possession. After my ninth birthday, I quit eating for ten days.

I remember hanging over the toilet bowl and throwing up what little I had in my stomach. I remember standing before a mirror, shirt drawn up over my chest, and seeing how discolored my skin had become. By saying this I’m not asking for sympathy. I don’t want anyone to reconcile with my situation; I just need love and understanding, not drama and consequence.

I’ll stop there. Basically, I see myself as mentally ill. And not because it’s “cool” or “romantic” to be mentally off-balance and a writer. Because it is the reality I must endure, and have endured. My family, however, likes to think I’m just fine and “going through a phase”. I forget they can’t read my mind. I forget that, when I forget to voice my thoughts, they don’t know what’s happening in that noggin of mine. I forget and don’t want to remember. It’s better not to dwell on what causes one so much anguish.

Because my stresses are many (writing, familial relationships, delusions, lack of funds, out-of-school, auto-immune diseases, etc. etc.), whatever this is hinders my creative ability. In fact, I’m having trouble squeezing these words out now. It’s not that I’ve run dry; the words don’t come, or if they come, it’s incorrectly. My fingers struggle to straddle the keys and make sense of my emotions.

OK, I’m done. Off. Can’t do anymore. Later.

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Hm…

Interestingly enough, my biological father attempted to get in contact with me today. I’ll be suprised if I actually call him before my mother forces it on me.

In other news, not sure how to approach the publishing realm. It seems I’ve so long festered in my not-published-poetic mind, I now fear writing for a purpose, because what if the purpose I have for writing isn’t widely accepted, and thus I’m left with, not publications, but a profound lack of success, mental, physical, emotional, intellectual? Or, what if it’s the opposite, and my reasons change due to the requirements for certain magazines? What if I begin writing like the rest of the world because I feel my style and way of life/writing aren’t going to be accepted? Others have fallen victim to conformity. I mustn’t, I won’t.

No matter what, I plan to write, not for the world, but for myself. How else can one be entirely sure of one’s success, unless one is glad in one’s success? Comfortable, at the least. Many have gone out before me. It was only a matter of time before I found myself there, too. How many other eight-year-olds interest themselves in books and the Unknown, and say they want to write, then go so far as to consider themselves a serious artist and writer, and end up following those dreams through? How many twleve-years-olds are intellectually inclined and can discuss the patterns of storms and delight in skimming through the selection at the local library? (Don’t mistake what I say for grandiosity; it’s more like self-encouragement.)

But: must send off work. You want this, so do it. It’s simple as that.

****

Also, I read an essay today (and am finishing it), “Mind Over Myth?: the Divided Self in the Poetry of Sylvia Plath”. An interesting piece of literature, to be sure. I hadn’t – or had, I suppose – heard of the theories mentioned in one form or another, though hadn’t given them much consideration. Now that I do, I see she and I share mythological interests. The “divided self”, in which the external body is separate from the internal body, or soul. The internal body, the True Self, must (a) reconcile with the shell it inhabits, or (b) shed the shell altogether.

I don’t believe it. But that doesn’t stop me from taking interest.

Six Days!

It’s slightly demeaning reading other’s blogs, especially the ones that hit hard. Since I’ve been apt to neglect blogging (even now), I suppose I need to kick my butt into gear and learn the art of non-procrastination. Hooray!

From now on, I swear to have something (a slight something, at the very least) to say every day, or every other day – however it works out – and I swear to make it interesting. This is an account of my life, yes, for future reference, but it’s also a place for me to rant and rave. Life has become a hectic maelstrom prepared to suck me in any moment; I need this space, this the white, verdant page, and I need my mind to return to me.

So. Signed up for NaPo today. It’s about time. I somehow don’t find difficulty in writing poetry. I mean, I do – but I don’t. There’s a point where you pass into a state of poetic-awesomeness, and you have the ability to write a poem without asking yourself “How do I make this sound and look like a poem?” Some days I have a twinge in my gut, and I might ask myself what I plan to write about. However, the “how” is taken care of during the determining “study” time. The more you read, the more you write, the better you are and will be.

Hm…Need to update the links…and my “novel” section… 

And so I leave you with:

Van Gogh

O What a Heavy Load!

Today I spent organizing what was left of my “copyrighting” poetry file. I imagine the world’s wondering where in the world is Lynsey. Consequently, holing oneself up against distractions can deplete any social life one might’ve had. But it means my poetry doesn’t suffer, which should, for the most part, make me happy, sate my ego, take care of any self-esteem issues, etc. etc. And when I wasn’t rushing madly through old computer files, I was looking around the Interweb. Found some good articles on metaphysics in poetry. Added some books to my Amazon list. The usual not-so-productive Monday routine. I finally cracked down around noon, gave myself a good talking-to, and worked for six hours dredging up pieces from my past to connect with present pieces.

(Nevermind I haven’t been on school for six months. Nevermind I’ve yet to check out colleges, whilst most of the population has school plotted out for them while they’re too young to understand or care!)

It was interesting to see how far I’ve come in the last year: over 450 poems, totalling around 60,000 words. Have written 130 since last November. Hm. With every move my production level increases, whether slightly or colossally. As Jeremy said: Wonder what phase I’ll wander into next…

I’m Baaack

Somehow I feel as though I’ve grown since beginning this blog months ago. How far can a once-fifteen-year-old girl come in, say, seven months? A long way.

So I dedicated myself to the craft (of poetry), took the time to read book after book after book, wrote like a madwoman from noon to six every day for five or months, edited, made my style concise (or more so than it was), set my sights on several goals, moved from Las Vegas to North Carolina to Florida, met two or three people who changed my life, reconnected with long-lost friends, restarted my novel, finished two poetry books (going on three, actually), updated my MySpace playlist, etc. etc. Now here I am again.

Consequently, next month is NaPoWriMo. It would seem I missed last year’s, though I’m baffled as to how I can start this year’s, I’m so internet-illiterate about these things. If I don’t sign up, I’ll end up here, at this dining table, on my mom’s laptop or mine, spinning out poem after poem. One poem per day doesn’t sound too difficult. It’s what I’ve done for the last five months, I can do it one month more.

But when July rolls around I’ll be back on my novel. Gotta get the ball rolling again.

Water (Robert Lowell)

It was a Maine lobster town—
each morning boatloads of hands
pushed off for granite
quarries on the islands,

and left dozens of bleak
white frame houses stuck
like oyster shells
on a hill of rock,

and below us, the sea lapped
the raw little match-stick
mazes of a weir,
where the fish for bait were trapped.

Remember? We sat on a slab of rock.
>From this distance in time
it seems the color
of iris, rotting and turning purpler,

but it was only
the usual gray rock
turning the usual green
when drenched by the sea.

The sea drenched the rock
at our feet all day,
and kept tearing away
flake after flake.

One night you dreamed
you were a mermaid clinging to a wharf-pile,
and trying to pull
off the barnacles with your hands.

We wished our two souls
might return like gulls
to the rock. In the end,
the water was too cold for us.

I touch you in the night, whose gift was you,
My careless sprawler,
And I touch you cold, unstirring, star-bemused,
That have become the land of your self-strangeness.
What long seduction of the bone has led you
Down the imploring roads I cannot take
Into the arms of ghosts I never knew,
Leaving my manhood on a rumpled field
To guard you where you lie so deep
In absent-mindedness,
Caught in the calcium snows of sleep?

And even should I track you to your birth
Through all the cities of your mortal trial,
As in my jealous thought I try to do,
You would escape me–from the brink of earth
Take off to where the lawless auroras run,
You with your wild and metaphysic heart.
My touch is on you, who are light-years gone.
We are not souls but systems, and we move
In clouds of our unknowing
like great nebulae.
Our very motives swirl and have their start
With father lion and with mother crab.
Dreamer, my own lost rib,
Whose planetary dust is blowing
Past archipelagoes of myth and light
What far Magellans are you mistress of
To whom you speed the pleasure of your art?
As through a glass that magnifies my loss
I see the lines of your spectrum shifting red,
The universe expanding, thinning out,
Our worlds flying, oh flying, fast apart.

From hooded powers and from abstract flight
I summon you, your person and your pride.
Fall to me now from outer space,
Still fastened desperately to my side;
Through gulfs of streaming air
Bring me the mornings of the milky ways
Down to my threshold in your drowsy eyes;
And by the virtue of your honeyed word
Restore the liquid language of the moon,
That in gold mines of secrecy you delve.
Awake!
My whirling hands stay at the noon,
Each cell within my body holds a heart
And all my hearts in unison strike twelve.