Thoughts on not dating until I was 21

I’m one of those weirdos who never dated until they were an adult. At this point, I’m starting to think that was better for me.

A little background first. I was homeschooled, and although I went to a small co-op all through high school, my dating pool was somewhat… shall we say, limited. There were a few cute guys around, but either they weren’t interested in me, or I was far too focused on school to notice any interest. So I ended up not dating in high school.

Honestly, looking back at the person that I was then, I’m really glad. I was busy figuring out who I was and learning to make friends again after getting bullied heavily in middle school. I didn’t know what kind of guy I needed or what kind of relationship I wanted. I firmly believe that if I’d dated back then, one of us would have ended up with our heart broken.

Speaking of broken hearts, getting one seems to be a general expectation for life as a young person. I’m not sure why, but our society seems to expect young people to go through break-ups and get their hearts broken. My guess is that it probably has something to do with the fact that a lot of teens and even younger kids do date.

Kids and teens are dumb. That’s just a fact of life. I was dumb then too. If you stick two young and dumb people together that early in life, it seems inevitable that someone’s going to get hurt. Thankfully, I avoided that.

Now, I’m not saying it was all sunshine and roses. I was lonely a lot of the time and after I was single for, oh you know, all my life, I started really wanting someone to love. But after all that, finally finding that person is all the more sweeter for the waiting.

It’s wonderful getting to be with someone as mature as I am. Sure, we can be goofy and playful at times, but at the same time, we can avoid the petty, immature, angsty teen stuff that we’d have been going through if we had been dating in high school. High school is an scary time, and adding dating someone just as young and inexperienced as you on top of everything else you are going through can put a lot of pressure on a person.

I want to say that there’s nothing inherently wrong with dating when you’re younger. For some people, it can work out. But for many more the pressure of life as a teen ends up being more than enough to force a break-up.

So if there are any younger people out there reading this blog and you’re feeling bad because you’ve never dated anyone, stop. There’s nothing wrong with waiting until you are older. One day, you will understand more about yourself, your beliefs, and what you need in a significant other.

And trust me, when you do find that special person, it will be all the more amazing for having waited.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A tale of two songs: “How to Save a Life” and “Oh My Dear”

*Obligatory “Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. My bad; I have a life now. Yes, I think it’s weird, too.” statement*

I’m not sure how many people are going to know these two bands or songs, so I’ll post the videos for them just in case. I’ll be analyzing Tenth Avenue North’s “Oh My Dear”…

 

 

…and The Fray’s “How to Save a Life.”

 

I happen to have both songs on my Spotify list, and the other day, they came up one after the other. I realized how similar they were to each other. Or rather, that they were about the same situation, but taken in opposite directions with different results.

Both songs start out with the protagonist of the song having a friend who has some secret sin and needs to repent. But the protagonist of each song deals with confronting this person in completely different ways.

First, I’ll look at The Fray’s song. The song begins by the protagonist inviting the friend to talk about his issues. It’s obvious from the beginning of the song that neither party wants to be there. The protagonist feels an obligation to confront his friend. He’s not doing it out of love.

As the song continues, the protagonist starts to wonder why he came. The friend isn’t listening and even worse, the protagonist isn’t listening.

The protagonist tries to “slip past” his friend’s defenses, but he isn’t interesting in listening to any reasons that he may have for doing what he did. All the protagonist seems interested in is telling his friend again what’s he’s been doing wrong. Which he apparently already knows.

The song ends with the protagonist telling his friend that he can either “drive until you lose the road” or ditch all of his other friends (personally, neither of those sound like good alternatives to me). As the chorus plays one more time, the protagonist wonders where he went wrong and realizes that maybe he might have kept his friend if he had taken the time to listen.

The song is beautiful and sad and paints a completely different picture from the one in “Oh My Dear.” Even with just the names of the songs, you can start to understand what makes these two songs so different, despite similar subjects.

The first song refers to the friend as “a life.” The term is cold and clinical, which is basically the approach that the protagonist takes to dealing with his friend’s secret sin. But in the second song, the friend is called “my dear.” This person is someone special to the protagonist, and he talks about loving his friend no matter what. This, I think, is what makes the difference in the scenario that follows.

From the beginning, the protagonist is more patient and caring with his friend. Instead of calling up the friend to confront her, he calls up just to talk. In this case, it’s the approachability of the protagonist that makes the friend want to reveal her secrets.

The protagonist of “Oh My Dear” goes to extraordinary lengths, walking for miles in the snow to personally talk to his distraught friend. And when he gets there, he doesn’t try to run down the list of things the friend is doing wrong. He listens, patiently.

He holds his friend as she shakes and reassures her that nothing she has done will stop him from still loving her. He tells her that he isn’t going anywhere until she gets everything off her chest.

And she does. She tells him the secrets that have been eating her up inside, and instead of offering judgment, he offers compassion. He stays up with her all night, because he knows that that’s how you save a friend’s life.

It’s a lesson that the protagonist of the first song learned too late (and if you read between the lines of the music video, tragically too late).

I love these two songs because I think we can learn a lot from both of them. The truth is that life can be messy. Sometimes, patiently waiting won’t be how you save a life. Sometimes, people need tough love.

But more often than not, I think, learning to listen is the better option. In our loud, judgmental culture, offering to quietly listen might just be what a friend needs to be able to confront what they already know they’re doing wrong.

Your Guide to Hiking the Devil’s Marbleyard (plus some misadventures)

Hey guys, here’s the first post for the new blog. Enjoy!


Welcome to the very first adventure post of this blog. Or, as the case may be, misadventure post.

This week, I got to explore Devil’s Marbleyard about 50 minutes outside of Lynchburg. It’s a gorgeous location, and one heck of a hike. I don’t want you to get the idea from the title that this hike was a total washout, now. It was actually mostly a ton of fun, but with a few, um, hurdles, along the way…


To read the rest head over to the Exploring the Seven Hill blog now.

There shall be your introduction to the man I’m calling “The Boyfriend.” He’ll show up here a lot, I’m sure.

And while you’re there, check out the cool new interactive map under the Hiking tab. It’s going to be a lot cooler once I have a few more pins on it.

My hands hurt

Hello lovely readers. I am happy to report that I am finally done with my classes and projects for this semester. I’m officially a senior in college, but sheesh it was a long haul.

Looking back, it doesn’t look like there actually wasn’t that much to do in my last two weeks of classes. I didn’t have any major video or audio projects to finish. I only had 3 final exams, two of which I could take on my own and open book, and two that I could flunk almost completely and still get an A. So what was it that inspired today’s title?*

The writing.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I had 140 pages of screenwriting to do in the last two weeks. That’s about 10 pages a day. I had two 25-page sitcom episodes (one of which ended up being 30 pages) and two 45-page dramatic TV show episodes to write. Considering how long the one sitcom episode ended up being, I suppose it’s more accurate to say I had 145 pages of screenwriting.

Either way, far too much writing to do in such a short amount of time.

Now understand, screenwriting isn’t like regular writing. The words are more spread out on the page, so it doesn’t take as long to do a full page. Still, 145 pages is a ton. The average feature film is 120 pages.

Honestly, as much as I like screenwriting, I’m a little sick of it right now. In screenwriting, you can’t get into the head of the character. You can only describe what the audience will see and hear, not what the characters are thinking or feeling. And I’m tired of describing things.

I’m going to take a little break from screenwriting for a while, I think. I want to do some storytelling that lets me get deep into the thoughts and emotions of my characters. That’s good news for any of you following my fantasy story, Erya, on Wattpad. You’ll probably be getting some new chapters in the next few weeks.

If you’re interested in seeing some of my writing in action, check out this show pilot that my friends and I made over spring break. It’s called Flicker, and I wrote the screenplay.

I’ll probably do a separate post on Flicker by itself, and I’m planning to have our director appear on my podcast.**

*The other cause of the sore hands is a combination of playing with my new fidget spinner (so addictive) too much, and hiking up some boulders and scuffing my palms up.

**Yes, I know I forgot to upload this past Sunday’s episode. You’ll get a double episode next week in penance. One on Sunday, and one on Wednesday. Stop throwing tomatoes already.

Songs I’m obsessed with right now

I’ve been listening to a lot of music lately. Partly because I just went on a long car trip and I needed it to stay awake. I usually have some song stuck in my head, but right now, I feel like I’m stuffed full.

Which means now you get to hear what I’m thinking.

1. The DreamWorks Bible movie soundtracks

When I was a kid (okay, I was two), DreamWorks struck gold with The Prince of Egypt, which is, in my opinion, the best Moses movie ever made (yes, better than The Ten Commandments). It also has probably the most majestic sounding soundtrack of any animated movie ever. I posted my favorite below. Just try to listen to that without getting chills. Hans Zimmer is a genius. You really should just listen to the whole sound track.

The second movie that DreamWorks made in the same vein was Joseph: King of Dreams. The songs aren’t probably as incredible as the ones in Prince of Egypt, but then Zimmer didn’t do this one. Still, the songs are pretty good, especially since it was the composer, Danny Pelfrey’s, first musical score. Better than I was the song that popped up on my Spotify list that prompted this nostalgic musical journey.

2. Heathens by Twenty One Pilots

I heard this on the radio at some point recently and it’s been stuck in my head. This song is ungodly catchy. The beginning is catchy. The chorus is painfully catchy. The ending is catchy. Worse, it’s still a popular song, so I can’t make it more than a few days before I hear someone else singing it and getting it stuck in my head again.

The last song that was stuck in my head this thoroughly was How Many Kings by Downhere, and that was stuck in my head for literally months.

3 & 4. Money and Fame and Happiness by Needtobreathe

These two kept popping up on the radio, so I added them to my Spotify list. Which was a mistake. Now, they are never out of my head. Money and Fame, in particular is just SO catchy. I don’t even know the whole song, just the chorus. Happiness is the opposite. I know the whole thing, and it’s still stuck in my head.

Most of the time, when I get something stuck in my head, it’s because I don’t know all the words and my brain is trying to figure it out. Obviously, that’s not the case with the DreamWorks soundtracks. For those, I think my brain is just longing for something awe-inspiring and majestic. But maybe I’ll be lucky enough to get at least Heathens and Money and Fame out of my head sometime soon.

I hope so. It’s getting crowded in here.

Sorry, no podcast

I’m sorry about the lack of podcast episode yesterday. My schedule is insanely tight right now, and I still have 45 pages of screenwriting to do by Friday. I was up till 3am last night finishing the last script.

Thankfully, after Friday, I’m basically home free. Oh sure, I have a few finals to study for, but I’m less than worried about any of them. I’m not missing a lot of points in any of the classes I have actual exams in, so could basically flunk most of my finals and still get a A in the classes.

All this to say that I promise you WILL have a podcast episode this weekend.

It’s going to be a fun one about firefighting, so it’s worth the wait.

You will also be getting a regular post on Wednesday. I pre-scheduled it. 🙂

Interview with author Shannon A. Thompson about blogging

I interviewed Shannon A. Thompson, an author, poet, and blogger who writes about writing and publishing. She is the author of the YA series The Timely Death Trilogy. She helped me out with a journalism class project, and I thought her answers and advice were so good that I decided to post them here. Enjoy!

1. What prompted you to start blogging? Why blog on that topic? 

I began blogging in 2012 when I decided I wanted to get re-involved with the publishing community. I’d been involved before—back in 2007—but that was a different time. There were no eBooks, for instance. The first thing I noticed was how much bigger (and better) things had become after everyone (writers, cover artists, editors, readers, etc.) found one another, mainly through blogging. So, I started my own blog. Granted, I had no idea what I would blog about. At first, I started blogging about books, music, and movies, but I quickly noticed that my followers responded to my writing tips the most, so I continued to focus on that.

2. What are the goals and intent of the blog? What types of subjects are featured in the blog?

I didn’t necessarily have any goals when it came to blogging. I simply wanted to find my people, and I loved writing anyway, so blogging was a way to combine those two aspects of my life. The topics changed over time, but I mainly focus on what my followers want me to discuss the most.

3. How do you communicate with your followers? What types of responses have followers  given to postings?

I respond to every comment on every article. I often read other blogs, too. Communicating goes both ways; so does blogging. Thankfully, I mainly receive positive responses. I have received a few negative ones in the past, but as long as they are constructive (and not trolling), I don’t mind. We can all debate a topic. But trolls aren’t allowed. I delete anything that doesn’t add to the conversation in a mindful way, because I want my website to be a fun and safe place for readers and writers alike. It creates extra work, but I believe it’s worth it.

4. How do you promote the blog? What works best and worst?

I don’t really promote my blog, to be honest. In fact, I’ve had to slow down over the years. When I first started, I blogged every other day for two years straight. It was a lot of work, and I eventually realized that my time could be better spent elsewhere. Also, followers tend to enjoy less updates than more, so I cut down overtime. I’m currently blogging once a week now, and I love it just as much. In fact, I think it’s more productive with fewer postings. But I share my weekly posts across my author platform, mainly Facebook and Twitter.

5. What new things have you learned about the world and your field of interest because of the blog? What would you do differently if starting a blog today?

As stated above, I’d probably blog less than I originally blogged, because that time can be spent working on your craft. (Then again, maybe that’s why it grew so fast. It’s hard to say.) In my case, once I had an audience, I was able to spend more time writing books by cutting down on blogging. But I will always have a blog. My blog has connected me with some amazing people, and those amazing people changed my life. In fact, my current publisher and I shared a connection through my blog, and I think that helped when we decided to work together. Blogging can open amazing doors. (Even if those doors are invisible and on the Internet.)

6. What suggestions do you have for students and others who want to blog?

Start! The best part of blogging is that it is easy, simple, and free. You don’t have to own a URL or get a custom-made website right up front. Just start, and see where it goes. You’ll find your way.