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Inspiration from Papa

Eman Srouji2By Eman Srouji

Recently I added a new literary challenge to my bucket list: to read all of Hemingway’s work. Ernest Hemingway happens to be my favorite author (and favorite alcoholic writer at that!), and I recently had the pleasure of reading his memoir A Moveable Feast. I was talking to one of my friends about it, and he admitted to me that he has read every single thing Hemingway has written, a challenge I immediately accepted.

I began to think about how easily I fell in love with Hemingway’s writing the first time I read anything he wrote, which happened to be “Hills Like White Elephants.” I was in awe at how he captured emotions through actions, how relatable his writing was, and the dialogue, oh, how I love his use of dialogue. He once said that he wanted “to strip language clear, lay it bare to the bone,” and he did just that. In A Moveable Feast, which I highly recommend, we get an inside look into Hemingway’s time spent in Paris, but more importantly, he gives us advice on writing, words of wisdom that he used for his own, words that have helped my writing immensely and held the dreaded writer’s block at bay. Nonetheless, here are my four favorite pieces of advice Ernest Hemingway gives on writing:

  1. Stop writing before you empty your well. Hemingway writes, “I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day.” With this advice in mind, I began a short story a few weeks ago (one I hope to enter into the Hemingway flash fiction contest), and I always know what is coming next because I, as Hemingway puts it, “had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.” The times I have exhausted my writing always lead to me staring at a blank page as I have a mini crisis of what to write; this brilliant piece of advice has completely eliminated this writer’s block crisis. Leave a sentence unfinished, a conversation at a pause, a character’s description half way complete, a thought off the page and you will always have a jumping off point.
  2. Write one true sentence. If and when Hemingway could not get a new story going, he would think to himself as he looked out at Paris, “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” It could be any kind of true sentence, something you saw, felt, heard. If you’re like me and you love to eaves drop (and keep a list of the best ones), write it down and see where it takes you. I’ve found this helps so much even if it is just to get the creative juices a-flowing.
  3. Stop thinking about it when you’re not writing it. Hemingway treated writing as his work, and like every kind of work, you need a break. In his room in Paris he “learned not to think about anything that [he] was writing from the time [he] stopped writing writing until [he] started again the next day.” Whenever I think constantly about one of my pieces, I find that I sit down to continue it, and all of the sudden, I don’t know what to write about. I’ve taken away my work’s beautiful ability to fuel itself, to have my characters create themselves. It becomes manipulated with no room to be its own. Not thinking about it, preoccupying my time and mind with books, swimming, music is necessary.
  4. Read it over. This is probably the one I struggle to follow the most, but I’ve found that when I read over a piece before continuing to work on it, I can better little pieces like dialogue, character description, word choice, really anything that could be better and help point my piece in the right direction. Hemingway realized he “would not know truly how good until [he] read it over the next day.” Reading it over is so important and can make a good story into a great one.

Ernest Hemingway was a man who distrusted adjectives, a man who realized there is plenty to learn everywhere, a man who was happy with writing one good paragraph a day. Just one! That’s all! He truly is Papa, and his writing wisdom has made a lovely difference for my writing and how I feel about my writing. So stop writing before you empty your well. When in doubt, write one true sentence (which you heard from your professional eaves dropping skills). Stop thinking about your work when you’re not writing. And read it over, every time, read it over.

 

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Angelina DeVincenzo, Editor-in-Chief of Flagler’s Odyssey Online

Drake StevensBy Drake Stevens

The following profile is on Angelina DeVincenzo, Editor-in-Cheif of Odyssey (Flagler). Odyssey defines itself as an, “online social content platform which empowers its thousands of writers to contribute and share what matters to them, and enables content to find its most relevant audience organically. Odyssey is revolutionizing content creation and discovery, enabling compelling, high-quality content to be created and discovered at speed and scale.”

It is important to recognize Odyssey in correlation to FLARE: The Flagler Review, because it is paving the way for how writing will be received, how quickly it will be discovered, and how the style in which it is written is changing. Angelina is a Flagler voice who represents a different form of writing among the community, and could quite possibly represent a new age style of writing for younger audiences to encourage those generations to become involved with the art.

Angelina DeVincenzo, is a sophomore at Flagler College from Tarpon Springs, Florida,  studying religion and philosophy, while also managing Flagler’s branch of Odyssey online as Editor-in-Cheif. DeVincenzo’s academic journey began as she originally applied as a journalism major at the University of Florida, but, through the optimism of her mother, suggested she tour Flagler College, a historical Floridian gem, with which she immediately fell in love.

DeVincenzo has always loved writing and recalls that her first acknowledgment of love for the craft was as early as the fifth grade, although, she knows deeply within her that her love for it precedes the memory. She remembers a field-trip she took to Enterprise Village, an educational program which provides hands-on learning experiences for students, where she chose to work with journalism. After having this experience, DeVincenzo discovered a new love for a new form of writing which she envisions a possibility for her future so that she can travel and write which she explains would be “super ideal”, that is, if she is unable to achieve her primary goal, which is to participate in ministry. With the experience at Enterprise Village, DeVincenzo had the opportunity with interning with the Tampa Bay Times, where she eventually continued the work which was published in the high-school version of the publication called the Tampa Bay Times (II). 

“I love seeing what you can do with words!” DeVincezo said. “It is really cool to be able to tell a story that can appeal to everyone, and also, a place for your voice to be heard.”

DeVincenzo didn’t have a relationship with Odyssey before obtaining her current position. Her involvement with Odyssey was through her inability to have a submitted article published through Odyssey because Flagler didn’t have a team at the time.

“Jake Rosati was the one who reached out to me. He told me that he enjoyed the first article that i wrote and offered me a position at Odyssey to which I accepted. He asked me if I thought that I could hire a team, and I took it on.”

Jake Rosati is the the Managing Editor of Flagler’s branch of Odyssey. He also manages other schools’ within this region and aids those schools in setting up new branches such as the one with which he helped DeVincenzo. DeVincenzo not only navigated Odyssey to Flagler College, but has contributed to the possibility for all future Flagler students, to have their voices heard by using this new platform with which one can witness the evolution of writing by younger audiences.

Though DeVincenzo is a full-time student, she says that the work is worth it because she is doing something that she enjoys.

“It’s all about time management,” she said. “Working on Odyssey obligations is my favorite part of the week!”

DeVincenzo’s main focus for Odyssey right now is expanding the staff. With a bigger staff, the load of editing would decrease, and more voices can be heard. However, it is difficult for larger groups to carve a place within the many busy schedules to make time to meet. However, she believes it will be worth it because “Meeting with other writers is the most beneficial thing for any writer—sharpening ideas, and continually establishing commitment is always a great thing.”

DeVincenzo is also focusing on coaching her Co-Editors on what it takes to eventually become an Editor-in-Cheif of Odyssey. Within the duration of her time with Odyssey, she plans to hire younger Co-Editors who have the same passion for this position that she can trust to further Odyssey’s mission.

As for her future beyond school, DeVincenzo has not yet decided it she will have a future with Odyssey. She has considered internship possibilities, and believes that it is a great opportunity for the moment, but it is not necessarily the type of writing to which she would agree to dedicate the rest of her life. She hopes to become more involved with writing for religion and her religion, and religion among other faiths.

“I think Odyssey is a fantastic program and I would love to see more people taking part in it.” DeVincenzo said. “We don’t always have the opportunity to have our voices heard, and it’s something that we should all take advantage of.”

 

Hairy Ladies

Rhi AlterBy Rhi Alter

I’m sitting on the curb outside UMASS Amherst, eyeing each pair of legs that walk past me. I’m at the Juniper Institute for Young Writers and I’m searching for the girl with hairy legs. It’s the first major gossip I’ve heard since my arrival, listening to the girls behind me whisper not so quietly about one of the female advisors who “doesn’t shave her legs” and is a “feminist”. I’m a Junior in highschool and it’s my first time hearing that word come out of a girl’s mouth. It’s not, however, my first time seeing hairy legs.

I remember back in 8th grade, I saw a girl in one of my classes who didn’t shave her legs. I was grossed out, just like every other girl in my class. I first asked my mom for a razor in 5th grade.

Finally, I spot the pair of feminine but fuzzy legs, pushing away the critical judgment I had at 13. It’s a foreign sight to see a woman with dark hair from thigh to ankle. I stayed out of the seemingly high school gossip.

A few days into the week everyone began sharing their writing during the workshop classes. Most were eager to share, glowing with a confidence I had never seen in myself until that moment. It vanished however, when I heard the poem about rape. It came from the mouth of a small girl. It was vulgar, raw, and all the truth that is the life of the regular, everyday girl. The fear of our bodies we are taught — the fear I felt when I first saw dark hair growing on my legs in 5th grade. I couldn’t help but call my mom afterwards to read her the dark poem. We both cried.

This girl was bold, and bushy, displaying her dark underarms each time she raised her hand. For the first time in my young life, I was not judging the girls around me (the girls I’ve been taught to compete with). I felt a connection to them, recognizing the similar struggles each of us had faced since being born female.

I wrote my first feminist poem during my stay at the program. It was my first time reading at an open mic as well, and I decided to read that poem. I had never felt so empowered.

We grow up with these kinds of challenges, some of them forced on us like your parent letting go of your bike without warning as you learn to ride without training wheels. Writing and sharing it with others is telling your dad to let go of the bike. It is to be brave and take risks. We write to explore ourselves and all we are capable of.

Today, I am a sophomore at Flagler College. I help organize open mics and know myself as an outspoken feminist and poet. I can talk about sexism, the ridiculous standards of femininity, and read my poetry to an audience. Sitting on the curb I stare at my own unruly calves, and I thank those hairy girls for their courage, inspiring me everyday to improve myself as a writer and as a person.

Fresca

By Chad Collins

Avery’s mother was preparing to leave for the evening. She was to attend an ostensibly Black Tie Christmas affair at the local civic center, the proceeds from which were to benefit the county hospital. Festooned in diamonds– the few remaining remnants from her failed marriage two years prior– she stood before the floor-length mirror in awe of herself. “Fifty-seven,” she thought, “and I still look this good.” Ready to go, she meandered through the hall and popped into Avery’s room.

“I’m leaving now.” She said, leaning in toward his left ear.

Still asleep on his side, Avery mustered a muffled “Yeah, sure. Have fun.”

Are you going to get up shortly? Your party is when? Eight?”

Rolling over to face his mother, Avery said, “Yeah, they’re picking me up half-past seven, I think.”

That’s in an hour. You typically take longer than I do to get ready.”

I’ll get up when you leave.”

“Do you need any money?”

“What do I need money for?”

“Good, because I haven’t got any.”

“Bye.”

“I love you.”

“Bye.”

Avery’s mother, the apex of middle-aged glamour, left. Tonight was about her.

She shouted one last parting reminder for Avery, “Set the alarm before you go!”

Avery, still in bed, thought of how he hadn’t left it since late last night. He had hoped for his mother to take note—“Avery dear! Why, you haven’t left the bed all day!

Why don’t you skip the party?”—but with thoughts of her first social event in ages scurrying about her head, his endeavor to draw attention to his sullen, recumbent state proved futile.

He looked at the clock on his nightstand and sighed. Defeated, he rolled out of bed, onto the floor. Swaddled in cheap throws from Target, Avery trundled out of his room, down the hall, and into the bathroom. He left the door open—he did this only when his mother wasn’t home—and used it quickly.

He flushed the toilet, but before leaving, stood to scrutinize himself in the mirror. Avery dropped the throws and was petrified by the gaunt bag of bones before him.

He typically thought of himself as an unknowable, angular ghoul, but he must have lost even more weight without having realized it. His arms resembled bobby pins—long, narrow, and diaphanous—and when he inhaled deeply, his chest formed a cavity similar to that of a half-pipe. He grasped his jaw and examined it in the medicine cabinet. His chin looked as if Edvard Munch had painted it on, and his perfunctory jab at shaving the night before had left thin patches of scratchy, brown hair all over his face, much like how the yard looked when he was told to mow it.

Avery stared at himself for a minute. He had resolved to tackle any issues he had with himself before the New Year. But standing there, in the mirror, he saw that it was just as fruitless as his cursory attempts to connect with anyone, especially his mother.

His nose was too big, his Adam’s apple the size of an actual apple, his neck too long, like a dinosaur’s, his eyes too slim, and his profile disastrously unappealing.– the downcast eyes more prominent from the side than head-on. Scrutinizing his profile, though, led him back to high school. Avery recalled sitting in the back row, where no one could see him, fearful of the many vantage points a high school classroom might offer. “Behind to the left.” he thought, “I don’t know what I look like from that angle.” The notion of a class of students picking apart his unfortunate physiognomy marred his very soul, made him nauseated, and usually concluded in a trip to the bathroom until the bell rang.

Avery hated himself. He hated the skeletal phantasm he saw before him in the mirror, and he hated how routinely he ran into this problem when getting ready.

“I’ll get dressed,” he thought, “and then I’ll feel better.”

Avery did a lot of thinking in times like these. Mental gymnastics just to get out of the house. It was an enervating process, but Avery needed to go out. He hadn’t been out in nearly a year, and he worried what his friends back in Tennessee might think. They’d think he had moved, and upon settling in Maine, failed to procure any semblance of companionship, or friendship, from anyone in the region. On account of his looks, he knew they wouldn’t be surprised.

A boy he had come across online would be there, and Avery was detrimentally attracted to him. He wanted to take pictures with him, and post them online. His friends back home would see just how well he was doing, and they’d see him next to a stud, and they’d know that Avery had transcended his issues. He was all right.
Avery padded back toward his bedroom to find something to wear. The party wasn’t formal, but casual would be unwelcome. He wanted to look nice, like some effort had gone into your outfit, but he couldn’t actually put any effort in. The other guests would know it, the acrid scent of desperation radiating off his shirt.

Discouraged by what he had just seen in the mirror, Avery searched for a larger shirt, something to hide his emaciated physique. His pants, too, needed to be slightly baggier than usual. “Baggy but dressy” was his mantra for the evening. He reached inside a loafer on the closet floor and removed a flask. He took a single swig, then one more, and a third, finally resolving to just finish it off.. His mother would be angry to know he was a closet drinker—amongst other things—and wouldn’t understand why he felt compelled to do so. They’d fight, he’d feel terrible about himself, and he’d be sober. That was the worst part.

Avery cycled through fifteen different outfits, yet he still could not make up his mind. He’d do his hair, he thought, and feel better about himself having done it. With his hair done, he would feel better about picking out his clothes.

He went to his mother’s bathroom to use the flat iron. His friends had jokingly straightened it once, in eighth grade, but with a faint bit of satisfaction for how nice he looked, the joke subsisted until he was nineteen. He plugged it in. The tool usually took a few minutes to heat up, so he paced around the master bath. The lighting in here was a bit more amenable than his bathroom’s, and made the room comfortable, for him.

“Ah,” Avery remembered, “my forehead.”

Avery had an unfortunate habit of not washing his hair for months on end. He hated the way his hair looked wet, and he couldn’t bear to see it. Over time, the buildup of oils and grease—burnished into his hair with every pass of the flat iron—achieved the kind of bedraggled look he was after. It was like a bird’s nest, conceived of spit and sticks. Other young men, the skaters, or the hipsters from Brooklyn, achieved the same look with nominally less effort. They used sprays, and gels, and mousse. Avery couldn’t though– products of the sort needed to be washed out every evening.

It wasn’t all that noticeable. He smoked, so his roost of fibers smelled and his bangs usually covered the most noticeable portions of crust. After not washing for an extended period of time, crusty dead skin begins to accumulate on the scalp. It’s similar to dandruff, only larger, more repellent, and a light shade of green instead of white. He couldn’t combat the buildup atop his head, but the forehead was fair game.

Avery wet a cloth, pulled his hair up in his mother’s headband, yelped at the way he looked, and began to wipe. The crust extended down toward his eyebrows, so he furiously swabbed at his forehead. It bled, but his bangs would cover that. Once he finished, he set the now crimson cloth in the sink and began to straighten his hair.
It was uneven. He cut it himself, since he couldn’t go to a salon with hair that hadn’t been washed in nearly a year. They’d crucify him, and his mother would find out, and she’d crucify him twice over. He removed a pair of cuticle scissors from the drawer and did a few touchups. He trimmed the bangs, attempted to thin out the top, and cut around his ears. He returned them and grabbed his electric razor. He shaved the patches on his face and evened out the back of his neck.

A few more passes in, Avery noticed how stiff– dry– his hair looked. He must have cut too much off from the top. It lacked volume, and it stuck out like a diagonal line from his forehead. It was overtly flat, only it wasn’t flat. He ran the iron through a few more times, and then a few more.

He checked his phone. He only had fifteen minutes to finish getting ready. He ran the iron through again, and again, and again. His eyes began to swell with tears, but he kept running the iron through. Hmph, sizzle, poof. Hmph, sizzle, poof. Once more. Again.

“This is the last pass.” He continued to promise to himself.

It wasn’t, and before long, without having intended to do so, a large swath of bang fell off. It floated, wispily, into the sink. Avery saw billows of smoke rising from the iron and the charred strip of hair, no longer than his forehead. He had burned his hair, and the singed remains sat pitifully in the sink. Avery unplugged the iron, sank to the floor, and remained there.

He must have fallen asleep, because when he woke up, the time was 9:14. He had several missed calls, and texts indicating that his friends were going to “just go without him.” He had missed the party. He had burned his bangs off.

Using the counter as leverage, Avery stood up. He flushed the hair so his mother wouldn’t see, turned off the lights, walked down the hall, and got into bed.

His mother would never know about the party. He’d tell her they left early, that he had a grand time, and that he was very tired. She’d believe him. In the morning, he’d get up before her, and he’d think of a solution to the hair. Would he cut the rest? Shave it? Pretend that it’s an edgy new style that everyone is trying? He wasn’t sure. All he knew was that he wanted to sleep and forget the day. Tomorrow would be exhausting, and he needed all the energy he could get.

Authenticity: A Piece on Writing by Ari Pijuan

As if you’re in a spell, you become entranced in procrastination, aging with each ticking minute, progressing through the roller coaster you may call your writer’s block. It becomes hard to find the next few words, sentences, or paragraphs in a story or poem. Sometimes even the characters are difficult in their stages of development. In these cases as a writer, we strive to find the inspiration to guide us, especially in our very opinionated society, who urges us not as artists but as people to be unique. This begs the question: If we as a society are being pushed to be unique what then is authenticity?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary one way of looking at authenticity is to think of it as, “conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features.” In some ways I think this definition applies to writing but in others not so much. When I think of authenticity, I think of it as the revealing of one’s personality and character within something they do. It shows the uniqueness of the person through their style, voice, and diction. By having authenticity a person is showing the inner workings of their mind through a makeshift process. The person in a sense is slowly revealing their soul and therefore being their most vulnerable. Therefore, a creative thinker is in fact limited by the conformity of society’s idea that one must always strive to be original instead of plainly themselves.

There are always going to be times when things don’t turn out the way we would have expected, especially in a creative sense. Sometimes it’s for the better and others not so much. When we feel as if no one quite understands the frustration. It starts to feel as if you’re slowly climbing into a ditch, full of fears and sorrows and it’s hard to get back up, maybe even impossible. This is what society does to authenticity, but it is also time eating away at the lingering want to be original–new.  So in a sense time, causes us to be actual humans; to feel, react, think, even when society tries to hold us back. Time evolves and we evolve with it, just like our authenticity.

When I begin writing the first thing I think about is my character(s) and their name(s). I then think of a situation or try to have an idea of what I would like to say– an intention for the piece, and then begin to type starting almost every time with a setting focused on the sky or atmosphere. At times this works and I bring forth a wonderful piece, but when it doesn’t work everything is lost in translation. So I think of a way for me to improve my process. I take my time and really think about what I want my piece to say or evolve into. Even talking it out with some and bouncing ideas around helps to clarify a lot of what the piece needs and not what I want.

Letting go of society’s opinions and focusing on the bigger picture and even on yourself as a person, allows for your writing to mature. You stop thinking about the world around you through another’s eyes and realize a new world. A world in which you can only see and live in. This is when the writing itself takes on its own life. The words become easier to write and the sentences flow into paragraphs, into pages and finally into a final piece of work. Whether this piece is a novel, a short story, a memoir, or poem doesn’t matter only what is on the page and how it affects the reader.  When this small, yet significant, occurrence happens then authenticity has sprung into existence and the writer, the artist can feel fulfilled and accomplished, even if they haven’t been published.

In the end society has no hold on you. It is solely up to you the creative thinker, the writer or artist, to recreate the definition of authenticity from societal conformity. It’s up to you to find the time and make it listen to you; don’t let it take over your life through procrastination.