depressed young man sitting on the bench

The funny thing about depression is that it doesn’t make sense, and you know it doesn’t make sense, but you believe it anyway. Lately, I’ve been going through a big wave of depression, and sometimes it can get quite challenging to cope with, so I figured I’d talk about it tonight.

When many people hear the word depression, they equate it with being sad, or feeling down, but there’s a world of difference between depression and feeling down.

It Comes Out of Nowhere

The thing that is so distressing and frankly upsetting to normal living is that it is unpredictable. It appears so abruptly sometimes and without any apparent cause, and very few people can really understand that. If something was going wrong they would perhaps have a better grasp of why you are depressed, but it’s those days when you wake up in the morning and just can’t get out of bed that are the hardest.

It Makes Sense, But It Doesn’t

Very often depression creates pseudo-logical arguments for why life and the world in general are terrible. These arguments are often easy enough to disprove, but even having disproven them, your brain refuses to accept the truth. And this is another big misconception that people have.

When someone is depressed, friends and family will try to “reason” them out of it, making arguments for why life is good and why there is no problem to worry about. But the problem is that they don’t realize that depression isn’t logical. It can sound some times like the depressed person is trying to make a logical argument for the way they feel, but they always know the argument is flawed, and pointing out its flaws doesn’t make it any better.

Just Because I’m Smiling Doesn’t Mean I’m Happy

Another big misconception about depression is that it’s easy to notice. While peaks in a depressive episode may be easy to detect, very often, the majority of it flies under the radar. One of depression’s favorite forms is a never-ceasing pressure, which is easy enough to ignore, at first. But when day after day after day that pressure closes in, it becomes very exhausting.

Through all of this, the depressed person can continue to live a normal, healthy life, and none would be the wiser. Then people are all surprised when the slightest adversity comes around and the person falls over like a reed snapped by a hurricane. The problem is that by that point, the foundation has already been eroded thin, and just a gentle breeze can send everything toppling down.

I Haven’t “Forgotten” the Bible

Some people think that a person suffering from depression just isn’t a strong enough Christian or that they don’t know that God tells us to, “be joyful in all things.” Stop. Just stop. Depression is not a memory wipe. I don’t forget everything I’ve personally read and learnt just because I am depressed.

I know what the Bible tells us to do, and I’m not sinning by being depressed. Just as God does not expect jokes and laughter at a funeral, don’t expect a depressed person to dance for joy when their third attempt at something fails. What you can do to help a person going through an episode of depression is to support them. And by this I mean pray for them, offer them encouragement. Try to understand how much of an effort they make just to get out of bed in the morning, how difficult it is for them to eat their food and move on through life.

I think I’ve carried on about depression enough. I’m sure those of you who’ve read to this part of the post all get my point now. The truth of the matter is that this entire semester, and even further back into the middle of this summer, I’ve been suffering from a long period of depression. It’s mostly been just that kind of pressure I’ve been talking about, which isn’t so bad, but there have been waves, and they’ve hit pretty hard.

One of the biggest waves was all of my friends leaving for college, and I literally mean all of them. I’m not a very social person, and my friend group was pitifully small before school started, but now it consists of only two people, and they are people I met in class this semester. Beyond that, I have no friends.

Recently, my cousins from Singapore (whom I’ve always been close to), came over to visit, and we had a grand time. However, ever since they’ve left, I have been feeling more and more lonely. This, of course, has compounded in the way that anybody who suffers from depression can understand. All the small incidents add up and they suddenly feel like an overwhelming burden.

My point in writing this post is not to evoke pity or sympathy though. There are a lot of people out there who are worse off than me, and I don’t consider myself “disabled” or “handicapped” in any way. I wrote this post to bring awareness to a subject that I am personally involved in, and I hope that if any of you know of someone who suffers from depression that this will help you understand them better.

That’s all.

Tours yruly


Breakdown of “The Rape of the Lock”

I dunno if this picture is an accurate representation or not =P

I dunno if this picture is an accurate representation or not =P

“The Rape of the Lock” is a poem by Alexander Pope. It is a mock-heroic narrative poem that satirizes an event in which a lord cuts off a lock of a lady’s hair. If you’re curious about the poem, you can read it here. It’s actually pretty good. I read it in practice for breaking down and analyzing rhetorical pieces for the AP English Language & Composition exam. What follows is my first breakdown, so pardon any errors and such. I hope to get better at it. I don’t know if you guys actually read the nonfiction that I post on my blog, but if you do, enjoy. 🙂

The main point of the poem is to satirize an event in which a lord cut off a lady’s (Belinda) lock of hair. It comically enhances its effect by calling upon the gods and goddesses in the form of an army of sylphs who play different roles in the guardianship and affecting of Belinda. To exaggerate the travesty, Pope initially describes the key importance of beauty, then later talks about how the cutting of the lock of hair mars said beauty. The title also adds to the feeling of comic hyperbole. Using the strong word rape inside the title with something as innocuous as lock creates a sharp oxymoronic contrast. Overall, the mild, airy style of the poem with its contradistinguishing dramatic language, both makes light of the incident and places humorous weight on it.

The genre of the piece is a narrative poem. It uses flowery, lighthearted voice, and has a tone of Horatian ridicule. The mood feels very aether-like throughout, and even in its dramatization of events stays inside its happy bubble of lampooning. Pope uses a syntax that is at once deep and shallow. The way he wrote the poem allows a reader to either scan through it and come out with a sense of what he was portraying, or dive into its depths and fully appreciate the detail and mastery with which he uses the language.

Pope mainly used satire in his piece, expounding on it with hyperbole, but, as with all good writing, he did not limit himself to one rhetorical strategy. Throughout the poem he paints a colorful image in the reader’s mind with vivd description, and makes a point of using a comical version of the supernatural as a recurrent motif. The perspective is third-person omniscient, but circles around Belinda, slipping between the real world and the world of sylphs and daemons without missing a beat. In his frequent invocations of the muses, Pope demonstrates a clear understanding of apostrophe. However, he ties up the satirical style with the final blow of irony, when the climax of the poem turns out to be the removal of Belinda’s lock of hair.

Parallelism has interspersed itself through Pope’s poem. From the first two lines to the ending verses, the construction of Pope’s lines flows smoothly and elegantly. While the lines all are of similar length to maintain the congruity of the poem, occasionally dashes, commas, and semi-colons come charging in to break them up. This creates an aesthetic, colorful variety. Dancing between lengthy, involved sentences broken up over multiple lines, and short statements which extend no further than the line break, Pope demonstrates mastery of dynamic syntax.

In his excellent syntax, Pope did not forget diction. The impeccability with which each couplet rhymes lends only to his knowledge of wording and understanding of writing. Using soft, elegant words like timorous, downy, sylph, nymph, and fair in the beginning of the poem, Pope crafts a web of gentle beauty. This feeling contrasts sharply with the hard, sharp words, screams, affrighted, skies, shrieks, and cast, used when Belinda loses her lock of hair. Throughout the poem, Pope scatters ethereal beings. Sylphs, daemons, muses, nymphs, and sprites all dance through the air and weave their mischief.

Pope’s use of literary devices is no less impressive. Alliteration is frequent and well executed. His excellent personification and figurative speech exemplifies the ability with which he writes, and his frequent allusions to the muses and gods create a style of both humor and dramatization. Simile is interspersed as well, though tastefully so, such that it does not feel forced or burdensome. Throwing in the occasional inversion, Pope keeps things colorful and interesting to read. The entire tone of the piece is one of mock tragedy, and Pope manipulates this device into a powerful piece of satire with multiple overstatements and hyperboles.

This piece of literary artwork and accomplishment takes a trite event and turns it into a magniloquence of mockery. Appreciators of high-quality literature and well-executed poetry will find humorous, lighthearted delight in this piece like no other. A true classic of satirical poetry, “The Rape of the Lock,” in its epic foolishness remains a brilliant instance of its kind. With it, Pope shows that something as ridiculous as the mere loss of a lock of hair can, in the hands of a true virtuoso with the pen, metamorphose into a poetic masterpiece.

Tours yruly

Writer’s Instincts

Why is it always those yellow pencils that you see everywhere?

Why is it always those yellow pencils that you see everywhere?

So, this is a post I am writing based on what happened to me when I was penning the latest chapter of Unseen: Right Behind You. I was writing that and I came to a point where I started writing a paragraph, failed, because the sentences just wouldn’t flow, and had to take a break. I started cooking lunch, all the while dwelling on that one part that just would not work. Finally, when I was done with lunch I sat down again, got rid of the paragraph, rewrote it into something else entirely, something completely different from what I had first imagined, and it turned out to lead into the perfect opportunity for me to use flashbacks. I call what happened there writer’s instincts. Enjoy. 🙂

As writers/authors (every author is a writer, not every writer is an author, so I guess I could’ve said every writer) we all have instincts. It’s where the mysterious thing known as inspiration comes from. These instincts, these gut feelings, are what allow us as writers to guide the story rather than follow some formula for writing a good piece. They tell us what to put down on the paper, how we should do it, and what makes it good. But, while sometimes they are very helpful (like in my case), they are also the source of the dreaded writer’s block, and sometimes they’re just plain wrong. So how do we tame these instincts?

Well, some of you might hate me for this, though considering you’re all probably writers, maybe not. Reading. Reading is the answer. But you can’t just read any old junk. You could read the labels off milk cartons for ten years and not get anywhere. No, what is important is that you read high-quality writing. As cliché or repetitive as this might sound, read good literature, both old and new. For me, some of my favorites would be Shakespeare, Baldacci, Henty, Horn, and Ballantyne. There are others of course, but those are just some of my personal favorites. (I haven’t actually read that much Shakespeare. I know right? Shame on me. XP)

What is the point of this reading? Well, we’re talking about instincts here, gut feelings. These cannot be “taught” traditionally by rote. Rather you need to allow your subconscious to subtly pick up on what makes a story good. This will allow your writers instincts to grow and nurture, preparing them for you to write with excellence. It is very important that you don’t read bad literature, however. Because if all you read are trashy adventure novels and sappy love stories, all you’ll be able to write are trashy love stories and sappy adventure novels. Yes, I did swap those around. That’s because unless we’re plagiarizing, we always mix around what we read, and so that’s what would happen.

Ok, so say you take my advice and read good literature, and your writers instincts are nourished and flourishing vibrantly. What then? Here is where you take the leap of faith and trust your instincts. Let your story lead the way while you guide it. Sure, you might have an outline and everything planned out, but don’t lock it to that. Allow your instincts to write for you. If you’ve read enough and read properly, you should find that the only kind of writer’s block you’ll get will be your instincts telling you to take a break, rethink things, and then rewrite what you just wrote down. Your stories will sound a lot more natural, and you will be more pleased with them yourself.

Note that this does not replace technical knowledge. People still will not appreciate your writing if you mis, punctuate- every. sentence: and forget howe two spel. Make sure you have a good grounding in vocabulary and grammar. Guess what the nice thing is. Well, reading helps with that too. Mhm. Reading helps with all kinds of things. Not only does it improve your writer’s instincts, but it will also improve your grammar and spelling and vocabulary too, all without much conscious effort at all. Now head out, and find, nurture, and use those instincts. Good writing to you all! 🙂

Tours yruly

Strong as Death, Fierce as the Grave – Flame of the Lord

Underexposed. Confoundit photography class

Underexposed. Confoundit photography class

This is a short little piece I wrote for Advanced Composition on love. (I seem obsessed with love don’t I?) Anyway, I like it, and I thought you guys might too. Also, if you’re curious, the title comes from Song of Solomon. I thought it was fitting. Enjoy. 🙂

No two things oppose each other quite like a man and woman. Of opposite gender, differing roles, separate strengths and weaknesses, yet drawn impossibly close by the strange thing called love. No relationship quite matches the intimacy a husband and wife share. Two people so truly intertwined that despite their individual existences, the Bible calls them one. No power can hold two people with separate experiences, disparate upbringings and lives, and contrasting methods of thought together with a temerity the tidal waves of life cannot overwhelm. Save one. Love has a power incomprehensible by any person. Able to span even distance, breaking the barrier of never having met, love can join two people even if they live thousands of miles apart. It does the impossible. None can explain this part of human nature, so much more than a feeling, dwelling in everyone. Designed specifically to create connections between the caverns which divide the creatures of Mars and Venus, love crosses boundaries nothing else can.

Tours yruly