This is a guest post by Ollin Morales. Have you ever read something and then said to yourself afterwards: “That was beautiful–but I have no idea what it means!” Or maybe what you read wasn’t beautiful at all. It was just a huge, jumbled mess. Either way, you might agree with me that one of the biggest problems writers face today is a rather simple one: they have trouble making sense to their readers. The ability to write something that makes sense to a whole lot of people you don’t know is a very underrated skill to have. But the more your work makes sense to your readers, the more you

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This is a guest post by Ollin Morales. Have you ever read something and then said to yourself afterwards: “That was beautiful–but I have no idea what it means!” Or maybe what you read wasn’t beautiful at all. It was just a huge, jumbled mess. Either way, you might agree with me that one of the biggest problems writers face today is a rather simple one: they have trouble making sense to their readers. The ability to write something that makes sense to a whole lot of people you don’t know is a very underrated skill to have. But the more your work makes sense to your readers, the more you

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Posted in Learning, Lessons, Writing

This is an essay by Ruth Kongaika. After raising a family and watching as each of my children graduated from college, I resolved to get a diploma of my own. Straight out of high school, I secured a job that trained me in a skill, and one which I found enjoyable. Being the independent person that I am, I kept on working. My brother was in medical school, and I felt that I could not burden my parents with more expenses. I began taking one or two classes at a time at a nearby vocational school. Thirty years later, I finally got my bachelor’s degree in my fifties. What a jubilant day

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This is an essay by Ruth Kongaika. After raising a family and watching as each of my children graduated from college, I resolved to get a diploma of my own. Straight out of high school, I secured a job that trained me in a skill, and one which I found enjoyable. Being the independent person that I am, I kept on working. My brother was in medical school, and I felt that I could not burden my parents with more expenses. I began taking one or two classes at a time at a nearby vocational school. Thirty years later, I finally got my bachelor’s degree in my fifties. What a jubilant day

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Posted in Lessons

This is an essay by Brandon Monk. Give yourself a chance to use what you learn. Don’t be fooled, books can be consumed in excess. Read to converse with the great minds and absorb what they can teach you, but do not forget that your ultimate responsibility is to create something, not just consume. You can create in a conversation by bringing a particular idea to the discussion. You can write a blog post to share what you learned. You can tweet and share with your friends. Write a book. Draw. Paint. Give a speech. Share a particularly creative reading with a book club. You have a responsibility to remind people

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This is an essay by Brandon Monk. Give yourself a chance to use what you learn. Don’t be fooled, books can be consumed in excess. Read to converse with the great minds and absorb what they can teach you, but do not forget that your ultimate responsibility is to create something, not just consume. You can create in a conversation by bringing a particular idea to the discussion. You can write a blog post to share what you learned. You can tweet and share with your friends. Write a book. Draw. Paint. Give a speech. Share a particularly creative reading with a book club. You have a responsibility to remind people

Read more

Posted in Books, Lessons, Reading

Try

This is an essay by Brandon Monk. It’s an amazing thing to stand before the world and admit you have no excuses to achieving what you want. It is embarrassing to stand before the world and admit the only reason you haven’t achieved what you want is that you refuse to try. If you’re trying to be perfect, stop now. I can promise you will never get there. No one has. The only thing you will accomplish by trying to be perfect is paralysis or madness. One of the greatest writers to ever live, Kurt Vonnegut, said, “When I write, I feel like an armless legless man with a crayon in his

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This is an essay by Brandon Monk. It’s an amazing thing to stand before the world and admit you have no excuses to achieving what you want. It is embarrassing to stand before the world and admit the only reason you haven’t achieved what you want is that you refuse to try. If you’re trying to be perfect, stop now. I can promise you will never get there. No one has. The only thing you will accomplish by trying to be perfect is paralysis or madness. One of the greatest writers to ever live, Kurt Vonnegut, said, “When I write, I feel like an armless legless man with a crayon in his

Read more

Posted in Lessons

This is an essay by Brandon Monk. Inspired by True Grit by Charles Portis, Hatchet: 20th Anniversary Edition by Gary Paulsen, and The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich. When I was around eleven years old my cousins and I started the “Earth Club.” Our goal was to spread the word that recycling was good,easy, and it would save the world.  This was in the early 90s so our ideas were pretty well accepted even though Al Gore had not come around to trumpet the idea with such vigor. We kept this up for an afternoon. When the time came for

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This is an essay by Brandon Monk. Inspired by True Grit by Charles Portis, Hatchet: 20th Anniversary Edition by Gary Paulsen, and The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich. When I was around eleven years old my cousins and I started the “Earth Club.” Our goal was to spread the word that recycling was good,easy, and it would save the world.  This was in the early 90s so our ideas were pretty well accepted even though Al Gore had not come around to trumpet the idea with such vigor. We kept this up for an afternoon. When the time came for

Read more

Posted in Books, Lessons, Reading

This is an essay by Brandon Monk. A post inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright: An Autobiography It is no surprise that Frank Lloyd Wright had teachers in his family. A great teacher impacts generations. My grandmother had that talent while she lived. I have had more than fifty grown adults approach me in my lifetime and describe how she profoundly affected their lives by being their teacher. Uniformly though, the impact came by not only what she taught, but how seriously she took her responsibility to the betterment of her students’ lives. Reading about Frank Lloyd Wright reminds me of her impact. A true teacher leads one to knowledge more than anything,

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This is an essay by Brandon Monk. A post inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright: An Autobiography It is no surprise that Frank Lloyd Wright had teachers in his family. A great teacher impacts generations. My grandmother had that talent while she lived. I have had more than fifty grown adults approach me in my lifetime and describe how she profoundly affected their lives by being their teacher. Uniformly though, the impact came by not only what she taught, but how seriously she took her responsibility to the betterment of her students’ lives. Reading about Frank Lloyd Wright reminds me of her impact. A true teacher leads one to knowledge more than anything,

Read more

Posted in Lessons

This essay was written by Brandon Monk. Inspired by A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments by David Foster Wallace. It was a coincidence that the first book I finished reading using an e-reader was A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.  I got a Nook for Christmas in 2010, and it lead me into a book reading binge. Recognizing how fast I was going through books with the device I made a resolution to write something down about each one so that I could take something from the reading experience. The ability to turn a page with a press of a thumb without adjusting or shifting

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This essay was written by Brandon Monk. Inspired by A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments by David Foster Wallace. It was a coincidence that the first book I finished reading using an e-reader was A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.  I got a Nook for Christmas in 2010, and it lead me into a book reading binge. Recognizing how fast I was going through books with the device I made a resolution to write something down about each one so that I could take something from the reading experience. The ability to turn a page with a press of a thumb without adjusting or shifting

Read more

Posted in Books, Lessons, Reading