Answers

fa9b0ebc349855a9a24993414570521bFor one of my last assignments of high school, I was commissioned to write a short story based on a work of literature this year. I chose to base my work of fiction on the theme and premise of St. Augustine’s Confessions (my favorite Christian treatise, by the way!)

Answers: by Rebecca W.

He hurried down the street, swerving this way and that to weave through the evening crowd along the sidewalks. A glance at his phone told him the time, and just as he raised his eyes to the church tower, the church bells tolled, their rings echoing deeply throughout the city. When he heard them he did stop, and pushed his cold-chafed hands into his pockets. The steeple rose above the building tops, it stood out, an old red brick cathedral in the metropolis. The sight of it held him and with a tightness in his chest and throat he stood, staring up at it through the bare branches of the trees, over the cold surfaces of these buildings.

His phone vibrated, shattering his focus. He held up the device and saw that he had received a text message from his mother, his gentle mother, waiting at home for his return. She doesn’t need to always wait, he thought, almost bitterly.

“Augustus, I look forward to hearing about the first day of the semester. I’ll be waiting up. J

He replaced the phone in his pocket and started walking again, pressing against the frigid winds weaving like ghouls throughout this grey city. In all honesty, he began to believe he had chosen the wrong college plan. The wrong focus. The classes…they served to affix his mind with the philosophical questions, ponderings, and insights he had known and wrestled with forever, it seemed. His enthusiasm for investing time and energy in reading the meditations of classical ages…his enthusiasm seemed leaden within him, encrusted by icy indifference. And that feeling dismantled everything about his future, his present, and his past. Augustus’s stride quickened and at last, after an empty hour of pushing past people and ignoring the cold biting his face, he turned onto his street. The apartment he and his mother shared was at the opposite end, but he hurried, his drained mind hardly comprehending the space of time.

“I’m home, mom,” he called, slinging his coat on the rack as he slid the door chain in place. His mother suddenly appeared at the end of the hall in the kitchen doorway, surrounded by the golden glow from within that room.

“Augustus! How was it? How did you like your classes?”

He shrugged and slipped past her to set his backpack down on the window seat.

“Fine,” he said briskly.

She gave a small laugh but then as she watched him her smile became a slight frown. “Just fine?”

“I mean, not much happens on the first day,” Augustus sank into the chair to pull off his leather boots.

“Which class do you like best?” his mom prodded.

“Oh…astronomy, I guess.”

“What about the philosophy one…the Philosophy in Literature class that you signed up for?”

“Fine,” Augustus repeated, even more tersely. He pulled his backpack into his lap and unzipped it, shuffling around for his homework assignment notebook.

His mom sat down across from him, watching him with a thoughtful purse at her mouth. Her eyes, gray-green like his, gazed at him with a steadiness he suddenly found discomfiting.

He felt driven to answer her look, offer at least some explanation for his attitude of disinterest. “Things have changed, I guess. None of it clicks for me. I want to understand too many things, and I just can’t find a way to…relax. I don’t know…” he bit his lip and studied a pen he’d pulled out of the bag. “Maybe I just lost interest.”

His mother sat down at the table, resting her hands on the table. She leaned a bit towards him, and watched how his shoulder slackened, his head bent with weariness.

“Augustus, you were…so ready to begin last year. So full of enthusiasm to jump in, start studying, start working towards your goals…”

“It’s not the teachers, or the classes, or anything. It’s me. Just me.” He sighed, rubbing his jaw slowly. “Maybe it’s time I go a different direction. None of it feels…right…anymore.”

His mother sat back, biting her lip.

“Everything feels so indefinite. What we learn about. What we read. The professors don’t help. I want answers, but I can’t find any. No matter how much I try.”

“Answers to…” his mother prompted.

“Answers to why. How. I mean, it’s just so pointless. Why do I need to study what the Apostles wrote, what the saints of Byzantium wrote, the speculations of Greek philosophers? Maybe I’d be better off concentrating on one of the sciences. Biology. Physics. Those make more sense. I just…got so tired of it all today. I feel like I took the wrong turn in my education.”

As he spoke he sensed the rise of frantic dismay that had chased him on his way home. It caught up now, and he pushed back from the table, stepped out onto the apartment’s balcony, where he could hear the sirens and city sounds reverberating throughout the night. The stars were invisible against the glow of the metropolis. For one swaying, empty moment Augustus longed to see them. He didn’t care how many number of ancient writers, poets, and bards had written of the stars. At the moment, they were out of reach but real. The dizzying thought occurred to him that answers were the same as stars. Desirable answers that never appeared in the reading assignments or in the library books he’d borrowed for research. What did he need answers for? He knew his mother had wanted to ask, but didn’t, out of consideration. He folded his arms, causing his jacket to tighten along his shoulders, warming him in the chill.

Why did he want answers? Why did the disappoint strike him so hard when he lost a train of truth? Why did he open nearly every door available except for one? That one door…it stayed closed. It was the leather-bound book his mother had given to him at age 13. It was the book he ignored. Why didn’t he want to look for answers there? Maybe he feared the truth that existed, for real, within those pages. Like the stars, hidden from his view by the city lights. Always hidden and wanted. But never sought out. He still lived in the city. He still studied the answerless books.

To be a lover of the vintage, the classic, the archaic

01eff7382ad07aaaa14f2edc9664004e (1) It means to relish in reading of the past: History. It is definitely not surprising to you that I am a major fan of anything historical. My favorite books are from the Classic Lit. genre. The artists I look up to most are the masters, the stars of the Renaissance, and a lot of the music I listen to on spotify is historically themed. I wildly enjoy writing and reading historical fiction. Genealogy fascinates me (and lately I am excited by the investigations of my older sister who is interviewing my Grandma about our family history, my grandmother’s life through the past decades of the 20th century . . .)

History comes alive for me. Maybe that’s why I choose to write about it, because it is not merely accounts to read about for school history assignments. It goes far, far beyond that. History to me is a massive tapestry, woven beautifully, a story to read and memorize and understand and analyze. People to know, to remember. I prefer history to fantasy any day. But I the fantasy that I do love is time-travel stories. Those really make my heart race, because time travel is my wish upon a star. I frequently think about what I would do if I could pass through the “universe of time” and somehow push aside this thin veil to some year long, long ago.

If you feel this same passion about history that I do, I hope you’re saying an amen by now. I mean, who wouldn’t want a time machine. Sure, time travel stories always come with the age-old caveat about “you can’t change the past” . . . but the idealist in me yearns to step back across the centuries and meet and walk through the history that I can only now read about. Change wouldn’t be my objective, but Experience would. A glimpse at another world, so to speak. That would matter. A chance to meet the people I admire and respect. To look one of the Founding Fathers in the eye and thank the soldiers of the D-Day mission . . . to even see Robert E. Lee or Lewis and Clark from across the room. I don’t know. That would be magical and enchanting to me. I know they are people like you and me. But deep down they have earned a place in the annals of the past. Because they lived–they accomplished things with the time they had. It should be a message to all of us, to live our lives to the fullest, to appreciate every moment and person in our lives, every opportunity we have to make a difference for our family, our country (America!), for our Faith. Deep down, there is a purpose, a flying standard by which to live. Even if we want to turn away from it, there is a grander meaning to it all. There is His Story, that has gone down across the thousands of years, since Eden.

That’s the Divine beauty of it all, I guess. I am rambling now, but I just had to make this statement about History. Because History teaches, it inspires, it reminds us of what it means to fight for what is right and good and just. Sure, history is rife with error and darkness. But Light will always prevail. And that is the best thing that History can possibly teach us.

God bless,

Rebecca

“I’ll be the artist . . .”

A recent questionnaire caught my attention, and I decided to just go for it, albeit the fact that I have been scarce, and sometimes I wonder if when I’ll ever get back to writing regularly, with a passion. I think the desire to create stories lies dormant within me, waiting to rouse and spin a shelf of stories. But right now, I think this tag will remind me of why I love to write, who I am as a writer, et cetera. Feel free to join in. I want to read your responses. Comment if you decide to do it! 🙂

  1. How many years have you been writing? When did you officially consider yourself a ‘writer’? I have been writing since I was about four, but my earliest stories were more like visual storyboards–I remember way back then I would scribble on page after page in my sketchbooks, “fan-fiction/art” of my favorite Founding Fathers and Moses and Disney characters. My favorite book characters took a huge part of these early comics. I think I officially began to write when I was about seven, starting with some stories based on the American Girl Kaya, the Nez Perce girl . . . (obviously I’ve always had a strong preference for historical fiction). My best friend Kayla and I wrote about the eponymous Kaya and her own character “Rayla”, both native American girls whose adventures we scrawled on stacks of notebook paper. I kept on writing, and became an avid fan of mystery stories, like Nancy Drew, Detectives and Togas and Mystery of the Roman Ransom (both by Henry Winterfeld), and the Mandie series. It was during this time, from around age 9-11, that I realized that writing meant something to me and it was something I wanted to do forever.
  2. How/why did you start writing? I really wanted to relive all of my favorite books, because the characters became so real to me. I couldn’t just close them up and put them back on the shelf. I went back to them, dwelt on them and their stories, and I tried to keep them alive in my own writings, usually “fan-fiction” of these works. I loved history. George Washington, Paul Revere, Lafayette, the Ancient Romans and Greeks . . . all the books I read began to filter into a creative drive, and I started to write, typing in Word 2000 on my parents’ old computer, until another family member kicked me off if I overstayed my computer time. 🙂
  3. What’s your favorite part of writing? The intimacy of it. I absolutely love to envision the expressions and speech and mannerisms of the people I write about–I feel like I’m really there, seeing all of it, knowing these people. Reading has the same effect, which is probably why I decided to create stories to read. I love the fact that when I write historical fiction, I am sort of time-travelling to a different era, knowing people I would never meet otherwise.
  4. What’s your biggest writing struggle? Ahem, the finishing part is ALWAYS a challenge. I usually lose momentum after the early chapters, but I intend to force myself to finish some older projects soon.
  5. Do you write best at night or day? Definitely at night. Less distractions, less noise and obligations to fulfill when everyone is asleep and I’m supposed to be asleep as well. 😉
  6. What does your writing space look like? (Feel free to show us pictures!) I try to write at my desk as often as possible (or else work on school and art), but most of the time I write in my bed before I go to sleep.10568932_557268047751032_6987686810130708086_n
  7. 1173836_308419322635907_302420527_nHow long does it typically take you to write a complete draft? Six months to a year, sometimes 2. The only two books I’ve completed are a novella, Intertwined Destinies, and a novel, The Wish. I’m pretty sure the first one took about half-a-year and the other one around a year.
  8. How many projects do you work on at once? Umm, three? Sometimes more. It depends. I have been working on the same things the past year.
  9. Do you prefer writing happy endings, sad ones, or somewhere in between? Bittersweet ones are a fair in-between, and definitely the most satisfying for me. I like to be both melancholy and happy . . . how very complicated of me!
  10. List a few authors who’ve influenced your writing journey. L.M. Montgomery-inspired me to change my style and overall story-lines, and her subtlety of writing permeates her tales in impressive ways. C.S. Lewis, David Nevin, Dostoevsky, Harper Lee, and Margaret Mitchell, and lots of history books . . . all of these have played a major part in my development as a writer
  11. Do you let people read your writing? Why or why not? Sometimes. Lately, no, because I have been highly unproductive and the little that I do write is a historical fantasy alternate-universe fiction which I would prefer to keep under wraps. 🙂
  12. What’s your ultimate writing goal or dream? Definitely to become published, and to direct/write/script movies, specifically movies associated with American history (or any other favorite historical people/times) and possibly be a writer and producer for animated films.
  13. If you didn’t write, what would you want to do? Simply be the best artist I can possibly be, explore the animation field, work as a political activist (I mean, get hands-on, not simply write impassioned articles).
  14. Do you have a book you’d like to write one day but don’t feel you’re ready to attempt it yet? Several, actually. :’)
  15. Which story has your heart and won’t let go? Definitely Fortis Corde (Strong Hearts) . . . this one is very dear to me, perhaps since I’ve invested so much emotional energy into it. And besides that, I absolutely love the time period in American history where it is set. It is a very Washington Irving-esque story and something so haunting and rustic about it that i don’t want to give it up. I’m not sure if I’m ready to write it, but I definitely want to finish it someday soon.

What of Heaven and Men?

Partially inspired by adventures in the highly illuminating Omnibus series, I find myself drifting back towards writing fiction. Like I said, yes, I am doing The Writing Month thingy this year. Finally. But still, I procrastinate and write about OTHER things BESIDES this imminent project that shall be here in like . . . gosh . . . 12 days. There is a blog thing going around in regards to the endeavors of National Novel Writing Month. One of my favorite blogs called Further up and Further In is hosting Beautiful Books, a project designed to provoke thoughts and questions concerning the novels. My answers to their questions should be here soon. In the meantime, have a short story meant to be expanded on in my WIP, Heaven’s Sight. 

The corners of Father O’Connor’s mouth curled slightly as he peered down at the paper in Anton’s hands. “Well,” he murmured, bending down a bit more. “What a work is this! What a work indeed.”

“My sketch,” Anton said tremulously. He forced himself to look straight up into the priest’s face. His eyes revealed that skittish anxiety which one could notice almost immediately when looking at him.

“Yes, my lad. That is quite a sketch. It is a wonder!”

Anton’s stricken features suddenly relaxed—an infinitesimal bit.

“You needn’t look as if I’m ‘bout to rap you o’er your knuckles, lad,” Father O’Connor sighed, and then laughed. He ruffled the boy’s dark curls, with a full-fledged grin spreading out his mouth. “I was in a good mind to when I called you to stay here, but I don’t believe Michelangelo’s teacher would have done that, if Michelangelo was working those marvelous hands o’ his.”

Anton sat in twitching silence, clasping and unclasping his own damp hands.

Father O’Connor laughed again. “Aye, lad! I will send you on your way now. You’re lookin’ a wee peaked now, and I believe you’ve been punished enough, by your own doing. And I’d be mighty pleased to see if you have a book of these sketches hidden away somewhere.”

“Oh, Father!” Anton burst out at last, terror etched sharply in his features. “I won’t ever draw in class again! I won’t! I won’t!”

“Hush, now. None of this. If you fear that I will seize your sketchbook, you have me quite wrong. Nothing of that sort shall come about, I am only desperately curious to have a look at your pictures.”

Anton, pleadings burning on his tongue, sat in heavy silence. A flicker of worry sent a faint chill through the priest. He laid his hand gently on Anton’s fist. “There, there, my lad,” he said softly, “you mustn’t be afraid of me. Or of anyone else here. What a blessing it is that you should be here now, reading books, learning, safe and warm with everything a lad could need! ‘Tis a fine blessing, Mother Mary’s benediction for you.”

Anton did not stir or speak. So Father O’Connor continued. “And I only asked to see your pictures, for I find you do a splendid job of it, a real dandy hand you have. You must have many a reason to thank heaven—”

His words might have been sparks to a bed of straw. Anton’s eyes took on an uncanny frigid brilliance. “Heaven hasn’t given me anything,” he said simply.

Father O’Connor’s eyebrows leapt up his forehead, and his mouth tightened at once. “Crikey, lad! What do you mean by that?”

“I mean,” said Anton still in that frank, slow tone, “That I haven’t ever heard or seen anything from Heaven good. Nothing will.”

“One does not see or hear a divine thing, my son. It is something beyond that. Beyond the tangible and the reasonable. And indeed, nothing is ever wholly good on this earth—that is only material. What is in it—that is the beautiful substance of life.”

But Anton had stood, his limber young figure akin to a healthy sapling. Father O’Connor let his tongue rest, even as he clasped his hands. He watched Anton silently gather his things, noting the masked expression—not even an expression, but some new hardness.

Ready or Not

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The game has been much afoot since August, I must say. There are many sides to that statement. I regret that I fall behind on the blogging thing, but anyways . . . as to the “game afoot”. ‘Tis more like, there are senior year responsibilites/tasks/to-dos afoot which hover round the head and chirp at me like so many obnoxious bird (whaaat? I’m a bit tired right now. Excuse my stupid similes)

Let’s go through the photos up there. The first one is of a blue and white striped backpack I found at Khols. To be clear, I get most excited about buying accessories like backpacks, purses, bags, aaand shoes, but other than that I get insufficient satisfaction out of a sartorial shopping trip. So I found this beautiful “Benrus” military backpack which is just awesome, with its leather accents and blue and white stripes. You’ll find out why I love blue and white so much now . . . but just to hold that question up in the air, I’ll say that between August and lovable October, life has seemed like this thrilling albeit stressful roller coaster. I have been very much in a state of Writer’s Block. BUT, I am finally resolving to put my foot down and take a shot at National Novel Writing Month this November (NEXT MONTH! :O) I have found the story to write, but now it comes down to planning it out, outlining, compiling an inspo-notebook (plus a Spotify playlist). ANYWAYS BACK TO THE BACKPACK. YES.

It is beautiful. It is perfect. I can see myself wearing it as a uni-student, and I’ll have on a preppy plaid red skirt, a dark scarf, a blue shirt beneath a jean jacket. And BOOTS, yeah. I love, love boots. And now that it’s October I feel it fitting to bring them out.

Next pic is of a cup with Plum tea that I sipped in my favorite local coffee shop. It is such a deliciously rustic, hippie-like place. It reminds me of Austin and long conversations about books, history, random stuff with special people (because we had those conversations at this little place). It reminds me of a chill in the air and then stepping inside and feeling a surge of warmth and my heart begin to race when I glimpse a certain somebody in the corner on a mac computer . . . ♥ but it’s not like coffee shops aren’t for fantasies, sitting alone and wishing something could happen, like a meeting in the coffee shop. Ohh my goodness, wow. Sorry, what a tangent. Excuse my totally chaotic, disorganized mind.

So the picture of the tea is capturing a moment. when I drove myself to the coffee shop to celebrate . . . celebrate becoming an official almost-uni student, as in . . . I was accepted to the university of my dreams and this means that next October I’ll be at My University delving into their beautiful Classical curriculum, reading Plato or Dante probably, walking around the mall with glowing autumn leaves scattering around . . . and I screamed, my family celebrated with me when I opened that letter.  So yeah. I know what I will major in: English. And I have decided to concentrate or minor in Studio art. Thus, the last picture is of my University’s seal.

Veritatem, Justitiam, Diligite.

(Truth, Justice, Diligence), the school motto in Latin. Beautiful.

Blue and white are the colors. I already have a lanyard from the Uni, with their name on it, so I can make it clear where I belong. I am totally, beyond belief, ineffably excited for next year to arrive. And it is only 45 minutes away from home so that takes the edge off of leaving home. Truly, I cannot imagine a better place–their Core Curriculum delves into Theology, Philosophy, Classic Literature, History, all taught with a foundation in classical education. Can I just say that I love all things classical (music, edu., art, literature, languages, architecture, sculpture, cities . . .)? Well, this is obvious of course, given the blog’s name.

More on this in a bit, because I want to discuss the fundamental aspects of the literature, theology, philosophy, and art that will be rigorously taught (BRING IT ON YEAH). OK. I must tone down.

I am definitely set on doing NaNo. I have no idea how it will turn out, but I already have everything I need barring the oh-so-valuable outline that I know would be invaluable. My next post will be a tag, sort of fun, just cause I wanted to. I also have some more writings I hope to post soon, and blog posts of my thoughts lately. Adieu for now,

Soli Deo Gloria,

Reb