Monday, November 26, 2012

It Takes Courage be different. (And I'm not talking about something like, "Dude, bet you've never seen this before. Check it out, toenail ring!") I'm talking a lifestyle or set of morals that the world may label as "lame", or "outdated". Who are they to judge? And while we're talking about this mysterious "they", who is that anyway?

One of my favorite WIP's (Work In Progress) is about a teen who's grown up in the "projects", or slums of New York City. While living in the city, I was astonished by the culture of government dependence and generational poverty. It was almost impossible for these people to see beyond their Section 8 housing and Foodstamps, to realize there was a better world out there--one where they didn't have to live in cockroach infested/frequently-flooding apartments, one where they could obtain gainful employment, one where the value of life wasn't dictated by power companies who would turn off your power in the middle of a heatwave, but by your own determination to excel. The problem was, most people got stuck in the city because it was too expensive to get out. My heart ached for them. Didn't they understand there was a better world out there?

There were, however, a handful of individuals who caught a glimpse. These were the hope of the future, the ones who would break the cycle of poverty against formidable odds, the ones who would become something.

My main character, Alaska (aka Ally), is one such individual who has lived through the grime. She's a fighter whose sights are set on a better life--not just for herself, but for her mom and little brother. She lives a strict moral code that her friends don't understand, one she created because of the people around her--to avoid some of the pitfalls they succumbed to, things that would keep her from her ultimate goal. She's different, weird, and sticks out. I adore Ally because of her courage. She's my hero.

For years we've been home schooling. Some people understand our reasons, but others turn their noses up and scoff. How dare we flout societal expectation and do our own thing? Don't we realize we're handicapping our children by keeping them out of the "cookie-cutter" school system? Don't we realize how socially damaged our kids will be from learning in a loving environment with educators who's most important goal is their success? Don't we know that sheltering our children from damaging influences will ultimately make for morally-different and confident people? Don't we know that no kid should be mature enough or educated well enough to graduate High School by the age of 14? I mean, how dare we!

My point is this:

People will tell you your work isn't good enough. They'll say you're going about it the wrong way. They'll insist that you have to follow a formula and do things by a predetermined method. If you don't do things their way, they'll tell you you're strange, or stupid, or wrong. The truth is, as long as you get the result you want, does it matter how you got there?

Courage, friends. Don't be discouraged by the voices out there. Do your best, and don't be afraid to go against the "norm".


  1. I love that Mormon ad. I have it in my daughter's room. :)

    I think people are judgmental. We should be more loving to each other. That's the only way to bridge the gaps (differences) between us!

  2. And love who you are! Good words :) I am naturally rebellious toward peer pressure. I don't know why, it's not even something I try to do, it's just me. Sometimes it gets me in trouble, and people don't like me as much, but I can't be anything else. I can't do something unless I want to. I can't be pressured into it. It just won't work with me.

    Good luck with your story. Stick to what YOU want to write. The greatest part about that today is, you cannot lose. If you query and don't get any bites, you self-publish. It won't be simple or easy, but I refuse to be told my stories have to be something just to sell copies. A sad reality, so I'm told, in this post-fifty-shades-of-grey world. As long as readers love the story, who cares what publishers think.

  3. Awesome post. In general, people fear what they don't understand. Sad part is they often won't take the time to understand. Maybe, they're too afraid they may be proven wrong...

  4. Go, Crystal, go!

    Great post, and I applaud you for homeschooling. How wonderful. The kids will get a better education from you than schools whose only concern is getting better test grades anyways.

    I might have to steal that picture. How inspirational!

  5. "Be yourself, everyone else is taken". Oscar Wilde.

    Home-schooling has its merits, as does the public school system.
    Human beings have a tendency to resist change, or anything that they don't understand. Change is inevitable. A part of growth. A part of life. We need to learn to embrace change...

  6. When you are trapped in poverty, no matter what your location, it is hard to see anything else. If you are lucky someone will see you and notice your potential and show you what life can be like. Then you have hope and hope allows you to set goals and move towards them.


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