Burroway

November 24, 2009

I attended Janet Burroway’s reading last Tuesday night and found it to be very interesting. When I initially went, I wasn’t sure what I would get out of it, if anything, or if it would keep my interest. I actually got quite a bit out of it and was interested throughout.

It started out with about a five minute–or so–introduction from one of the professors from the creative writing program. She also mentioned you, Steve, at one point. I forget exactly when it was, but she was talking about how at the question and answer session earlier in the day, somebody had said something about getting in the habit of writing at least once a day. She was trying to figure out who said it and four or five people in the 30 or so person crowd was like “it was probably Steve!” She laughed and said, “Oh yes, it was Steve.” Just thought I’d let you know she remembered you.

After the introduction, Janet came up and preluded her readings a little bit with a background of how her book came to be. I think the book is called “Bridge of Sand.” Anyways, she talked about how her readings were going to be threefold and in reverse order and she discussed how for four years, she would wake up and head downstairs to write this book everyday for four years. And for four years, she hated every minute of it. She talked about how she dreaded it and how just the thought of writing it depressed her. She never explained why and I was really tempted to ask, but I didn’t want to interrupt her to ask. She said that she just wanted to keep going with it because she was really hellbent on finishing her first novel. She said that she was worried that if she didn’t finish this novel, she would never finish another novel in her life. I don’t know if this is her first novel or not, since I don’t know much about her, but I could kind of understand that. It makes sense, but I also figure that if she hated it, she shouldn’t have kept going with it. It obviously turned out good. I don’t know how successful it was, but it was made into the novel, so like I said, it worked out in the end.

She then read three different passages. The first was about how the main character was playing with the little girl of the maid who worked at the narrator’s house and just the racial dynamics of living in a time where the narrator’s grandmother was a bigot and the mother was a racist and she was open.

The second passage was  from earlier in the book when the narrator, who is older in this excerpt, stops at a gas station/motel to get some gas and stay for a little while and it was just talking about how her husband had died not too long before and she was just trying to get away for a little while. She had really good description in this part, talking about how the gas station attendant was endearing, but a little creepy.

The third passage was at the very beginning of the book, I think. It was talking about how the narrator was sitting in the back of her limo or car service or something at her husband’s funeral and discussing a little backstory about how her marriage was and how she hated it and was planning on leaving before she found out that he had some sort of cancer. Colon cancer, I think.

This all related to my own writing because it just got me thinking about how I would handle the same situation she did when writing this book. If I hated and dreaded writing something like that everyday for four years, I couldn’t see myself continuing to write the book. I also got to thinking about the discipline it must take her for her to continue to write something she hates, as well. That’s the kind of discipline that helps people write novels, the kind of discipline I’m not sure I have.

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More on my first Fantasy Baseball Article

November 10, 2009

AL Rookie of the Year—Andrew Bailey

Question: what ML closer had a better WHIP (Walks + Hits / Innings Pitched) (.88) than Mariano Rivera (.90)? I’d give you a hint, but I think it’s pretty obvious given the subhead. Bailey was near-unstoppable all season as the Athletics’ closer, saving 26 games in 30 chances while striking out 91 in 83.1 innings. He also sported a 1.84 ERA and six wins. It’s hard to be a rookie pitcher, let alone in the AL. It’s even harder to be a rookie closer in the AL. Instead, Bailey went all season long like he’d been doing it as long as Mariano Rivera. And for a young closer, it’s never bad to emulate Mo, either in real life or in the fantasy world.

NL Rookie of the Year—Tommy Hanson
Honorable Mention—Andrew McCutchen

This was also a tough choice as McCutchen (.286 AVG, 74 R, 12 HR, 54 RBIs, 22 SB) was a five-category producer, but Hanson was money from the day he got the call to become a part of the Atlanta Braves’ rotation. His 11-4 record, 1.18 WHIP and 2.89 ERA were indicitive of his all-world talent and his 116 Ks in 127.2 IP weren’t too shabby, either.

AL Silver Sluggers

Catcher—Joe Mauer

Is anybody really surprised here? I don’t know if he suddenly tapped into the power behind his sideburns, but whatever he did differently this season, it worked like a charm. Mauer, the best hitting catcher in the game today, maybe ever, again won an AL Batting Crown (.365), but this time added incredible power numbers to his already gaudy statistics. His 94 runs, 28 homers and 96 RBIs easily ranks him as the most valuable catcher in all of baseball even if you don’t take into account the fact that he missed the first month of the season with back issues. This guy is a man among boys and fantasy gold. He was so good that I couldn’t even give Victor Martinez honorable mention despite a superb offensive season (.303, 88, 23, 108).

First Baseman—Mark Teixeira
Honorable Mention—Kendry Morales

George Steinbrenner and the Yankees’ front office spent a lot of money securing Teixeira in the offseason and Big Tex paid off big time. The 29-year-old first baseman put up some of the best numbers of his career (.292, 103, 39, 122) while batting in front of the game’s second-best player (A-Rod). He started off slow with just three homers, 10 RBIs and a .200 AVG in April, but once A-Rod returned from his hip injury, Tex went off, hitting 36 homers and driving in 112 runs the rest of the way.
Morales, the 26-year-old Cuban defector, was the rightful replacement to the first base job for the Angels after Teixeira left and he almost matched Big Tex in numbers. His line of .306, 86, 34, 108 was a welcome surprise to fantasy owners everywhere.

New Job

November 5, 2009

So I realize I haven’t been on here in a while, I just can’t seem to find my groove in remembering to post on the blog. It’s all new to me.

I also know that most people use this as an outlet to portray and showcase their creative writing. A lot of the writing I do is more journalistic, so I am going to post that.

This piece is an article for my friend’s website that he just started called bringingheat.com. I will be a lead writer for them. This is the beginning of my first article:

 

1st Annual End of the Year Report: Fantasy Baseball

 

Tony Andracki

 

                As summer has turned to fall and leaves have turned to shades of orange and brown, the coming of fall means two things in the baseball world: the beginning of playoffs and the end of the fantasy baseball season.

                It’s been a trying year for some in both worlds, namely for Cubs fans (I weep with the rest of you all) and fantasy owners who are coming off almost a decade straight of top-three finishes and somehow found themselves in fifth place all the way back in May and expected A-Rod to come back from his hip injury to save their team, but instead they remained in fifth place at season’s end much to their own bewilderment and awe (I may be speaking from personal experience here).

                As the saying goes, “hindsight is always 20-20.” In an effort to prove the validity of this statement and to play some solid Monday Morning Quarterback, I’ve compiled an awards ceremony for the 2009 fantasy season complete with Silver Sluggers for each position in each league (the most valuable fantasy player from each position) and Rookie of the Year nods.

 

MVP—Albert Pujols

 

This isn’t even a question. Pujols was the man all season long, ranking near the top in just about every offensive category. In my points league, he had an almost-unheard of 796 points (nobody has reached the 800 plateau since A-Rod’s 2007 season and before that, you’d have to go back to Barry Bonds’ steroid-driven 73-homer, 2001 season). He was the toast of Rotisserie leagues with a .327 AVG, 124 runs, 47 homers, 135 RBIs and even mustered up 16 stolen bases. The main knock on Pujols the past couple of years is his lack of production in the stolen-base department, but you can’t argue with 16 swipes ever, let alone from a guy who is an absolute BEAST in every other 5×5 category. For those of you that play head-to-head leagues, he even helped you out in walks (115) and strikeouts (only 64?!!!). He sets the standard for which all other fantasy players strive to become.

 

Cy Young—Justin Verlander

 

This was a tough choice, maybe the toughest of all the awards. With names like Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, CC Sabathia and Zack Grienke bouncing around my head, I decided to go with the Tigers’ ace. Verlander led the Majors in Innings Pitched, Strikeouts and wins in addition to sporting a 3.45 ERA while pitching to the Designated Hitters in the American League.

Been A While

September 22, 2009

It’s been a little bit since I’ve blogged. Over a week now. I just always plan on blogging and never get around to it because I forget to do it when I finally have time.

Anyways, I meant to blog about “New Sudden Fiction” and the story “In Reference to Your Recent Communications.” I thought this was a very interesting shorty story for several reasons. One, what an interesting idea to take voicemails about a very controversial and emotional topic–a breakup–and turn it into a story where the writer argues against these points. It was just a very creative story in a form that I have not seen before. I liked the idea a lot, mostly because it was such a novel approach to writing. It got me thinking: what would it be like if I responded to emails that I have received from people?

Upon thinking about this, I immediately went to my voicemail in hopes that there would be an interesting email that I could respond to on here in the same format that Tessa Brown did, but there was just one email–a brief message from somebody for club baseball asking me to call them back. Nothing that I could creatively respond back to. That would have been really interesting had I had a voicemail that would suffice, however. So, I plan on waiting until I get a voicemail from somebody where I would be able to break it down and respond just like Brown did and I will post it up here. It probably won’t be very funny, and I hope to hell that I am nowhere near as crazy as the character is in Brown’s story, but it should be interesting nonetheless.

I also found Brown’s story appealing because it was intriguing to see how she made herself (or the character) as crazy as she did. I mean, I’ve heard of guys talking about their girlfriends acting crazy and I’ve heard about girls acting crazy like this, and even experience some of it myself, and this was just funny and ironic to see a woman write about how women act in relationships. This is not meant to attack women in relationships, I am merely stating that Brown’s character is intriguing because she is a stereotype and seems to be fully aware that she is crazy, yet doesn’t seem to care. I could just picture her in real life, writing this story down as a letter to Randolph and actually expecting him to take her back because of it.

I also found it interesting that Brown’s character was trying to force this Randolph charcter to be with her. She didn’t come right out and say it, but it was good writing to the point where we clearly understood that Brown wanted Randolph to take her back (or, rather, he would allow her to allow herself to take him back, if that makes sense) based on these responses to the voicemails, as is the primary objective of these responses. I just found that to be interesting because people do that all the time in real life–try to force their significant other to stay with them because they dont’ want to break up or be alone or whatever the reason is.

Brown did a great job of writing as a crazy woman if she has not really felt these feelings that she wrote about. If this isn’t her real personality, she nailed it right on the head. If this is how she really thinks and feels, I would say this was actually a more sad and pathetic piece and as such, should not have been published. I’m guessing it’s the former, which is why I liked the story.

This weekend

September 11, 2009

I’m going to U of I this weekend to cover the ISU-U of I football game Saturday night. It should be pretty packed considering we’re just 40 minutes or so away from Champaign and it’s the Illini’s homeopener.

It should be really exciting. Throughout my year plus as a sports writer, I’ve gotten to cover some pretty cool sports events, but this may be the coolest. A Division-I football game, sitting in the press box singlehandedly representing our entire school as far as the press goes, taking notes as 60,000+ people look on. It’s going to be a really great experience.

I am writing the recap for it, so pretty much anybody on the campus that cares about football will read it, so there’s a lot of pressure on that aspect of it. However, when I write articles, I don’t feel pressure. I don’t worry about what people will think. I act like I’m the only person that is going to read it because I’m very confident in my abilities to generate a well-written, concise, factual and interesting sports article.

With creative writing, it’s a lot different. As I write this here, almost all I can think about is that everybody can read it. It’s public knowledge now, and it’s my personal thoughts. They aren’t exactly private thoughts, but it still feels different. When I write a column, that’s all opinionated and all of my thoughts, yet I don’t even bat an eye then. I just find it interesting that there is a discrepancy between the two.

When I wrote my piece for the workshop, I was very cognizant that 18-19 people would read it. I was almost embarrassed when I read it aloud to the class and people commented on it. I was worried about what people would think, and I just think that’s so interesting that it’s two different types of writing and two different reactions to it on my part.

Either way, go Redbirds. I hope you guys can cover the 45-point spread so we don’t get embarrassed too badly.

Well Then

September 9, 2009

I have been wanting to write my first blog for quite some time, but I just couldn’t ever remember for some reason, until now that is. It’s weird to me to try to remember to write a blog for homework.

I’ve been writing on some level for just about my whole life. As a kid, I used to write alllll of the time. I would carry a notebook everywhere and come up with a new short story a day. But, I never seemed to finish any of them. When I reached Junior High and High School, I stopped writing in my free time, but used whatever electives I had in my schedule to take courses where I could write more–an English class where I would just write papers, a Creative Writing class, something so I could have another outlet to write, since I had stopped in my free time. My junior year of high school, I took a Journalism class as just another outlet to write and loved it, so much so that I decided to get my degree in it here at ISU. So, between my Communication classes and working for the paper, I’ve found many outlets to write.

However, for the past few years, journalism is the only form of writing I have done. So, I wanted to get back into the creative writing aspect, thus my rationale for taking this course.

As part of this course, though, I have found it awfully difficult to get into the swing of writing creatively outside of class. I haven’t journaled much and I obviously haven’t blogged much, seeing as how this is my first post in the four weeks or so that I have had it.

I love to write and I really want to get back into the swing of things, like writing short stories, but it’s a process I guess. That process hopefully starts tonight with my first blog.

Funny thing, though, even as I sit here to write this blog, it has taken me almost an hour to finish it. I don’t know if I have ADD or not (obviously, I don’t, but it’s funny that any time somebody can’t focus for five minutes, people assume they have ADD and prescribe them Ritalin), but I just couldn’t focus solely on this. So, my first blog went well, but it is going to take a lot of work. I’m just glad I finally remembered and popped my blogging cherry.

Hello world!

August 25, 2009

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