How to “Do Good Work”

Almost two weeks back home now and I’ve been catching up on my reading lists little by little. By now, I’ve read at least 2,500 pages between about 5 books, added far too many quotes to my quote wall, and found one book that I am discovering so much in that I just had to share it with you all.morgan-harper-nichols-157838.jpg

In 1999, Stephen King wrote a book called On Writing, a memoir on the craft of writing itself. Though I like it for its specificity to what I want to do for the rest of my life, I have found that a lot of it applies to anything else in this world too. There are a few quotes I could pull from it that really stand out to me, but there is one that I think I like just a little more than the others— you’ll see why in a second.

Keep in mind that mind that we live in a world where the work never stops, people are always moving, multitasking (no, not orange) is the new black, and the sky isn’t quite the limit anymore. The limit seems to be wherever we decide to put it; we’re the only one’s who have that power when it comes to our own work. Take my writing for example, I’m only as good as I put in the work to be— if I don’t have time to read then I will never have time to write. That’s the limit. For other people, it could be a mental block, holding themselves back when they could do more and be more if that was something they truly wanted. It’s not always about the time, but the work we put in towards whatever goal we are trying to reach.

Like Stephen King said, “Sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”

Ever felt like that?

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I know we’ve all been there, almost like trying to make yourself go to the gym but all you can seem to do take a short walk on your lunch break  instead. Or every time you try to create something new and better than the last thing you did, it turns out to be so much less than you had hoped it would be…

It’s called trying. The key phrase in King’s quote is that still, you’re doing good work.

Have you ever taken a video and then watched it, only to cringe at the sound of your own voice in the background? I know I really don’t like hearing myself on video, most people don’t. But if you ask anyone else if it sounds as annoying as you think, they’ll probably say no. It’s all in your head.

Now take this idea and extend it to the work you do or the effort you put into different aspects of your life— just because it doesn’t quite turn out the way you want it to or falls short of your expectation doesn’t mean it isn’t just as important as all of your successes., even if you can’t see that. The big idea behind it all is perseverance, I don’t know where any of us would be without it.

I am nineteen years old, the last time I can still claim the title of teenager, and quite possibly the final year I can keep my grip on the chunk of adolescence I know I’m going to lose hold of within the next year. My friends are all growing up, getting engaged, moving away, tanner-larson-297481and pursuing a future for themselves. My parents and my friends parents are all gearing up to finish what they started with us, sending the last of us to college, taking vacations without us, and finding their way to the hopeful retirement that seems to keep upping the age every year.

Yet it seems that no matter where we’re at in this moment or where we’re headed in the near future, we’re probably going to hit a few roadblocks and end up “shoveling shit” in the process. That doesn’t mean we should quit, and that definitely doesn’t mean we’re not good at what we do. I think it just means we’re human.  And as humans, whether we know it or not, we will always find our way back to doing good work when we’re ready to.

 

The Indefinite Emotion: Love

“Tell me whom you love, and I’ll tell you who you are.” – Creole Proverb

As we come closer to the month of June being over and head towards that of Independence, I wanted to take a moment (and a blog post) to appreciate what is known as the past of LGBT poetry.

kc-luk-188412.jpgPoetry, like any other art form, is one of many histories and expressions. Though there truly is no telling who our greatest poets of the past are, I would like to celebrate just one for this month’s topic who was said to be a part of the community: Walt Whitman.

This poem is just one of many he wrote, however it is part of a group that came from his Leaves of Grass collection, also known as the “Calamus” cluster. This selection of poems is one of the main reasons Whitman was considered to be homosexual, so today I share with you the best known of the cluster.

I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing holds within it solidarity, loneliness, and the love of men— considered at the time to be quite taboo. For he saw himself in the symbol the poem holds, from the Oak tree itself to the branch he broke off and took home as a token, one of self-expression even without companionship in its own abundance. So in the celebration of poetry of the times and what is now considered Pride month around the world, here is Walt Whitman:alvaro-serrano-133360 (1).jpg

I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing

I saw in Louisiana a live-oak growing,

All alone stood it and the moss hung down from the branches,

Without any companion it grew there uttering joyous leaves of dark green,

And its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think of myself,

But I wonder’d how it could utter joyous leaves standing alone there without its friend near, for I knew I could not,

And I broke off a twig with a certain number of leaves upon it, and twined around it a little moss,

And brought it away, and I have placed it in sight in my room,

It is not needed to remind me as of my own dear friends,

(For I believe lately I think of little else than of them,)

adam-kool-11868.jpgYet it remains to me a curious token, it makes me think of manly love;

For all that, and though the live-oak glistens there in Louisiana solitary in a wide flat space,

Uttering joyous leaves all its life without a friend a lover near,

I know very well I could not.

Farewell to Freshman Year

They say that time flies when you’re having fun, and this year… Well if nothing else, it has been an absolute whirlwind of classes, new people, far too many names, and of course, countless nights of fun to collide into what I now hold dear as the memories of my freshman year.

Just like that, it’s over.murray-campbell-29990 (1).jpg

These three quarters here were an entirely new experience, before I knew it independence came with a whole new name— college. Suddenly, we were expected to go to class every day (I only missed one), keep track of all the dates, pay attention to what books we need and what that fine print syllabus said about participation points, not to mention trying to stay healthy, keep grades up, and make new friends. All at the same time. It was like starting over, except we already had everything we needed to thrive. All that was left was to go out there and take a page from Nike’s book: Just do it.

So we did.

Every quarter brought new struggles and new experiences here, but I am blessed to say that my main group of friends stuck around since the beginning. It’s funny how some things work out— you meet someone one day and within a blur of new faces and names, they just seem to keep popping up until somehow, they’re all you’ve got. If you’re lucky, they’re all you need.

It’s safe to say, I got lucky.

Here at Cal Poly, that happened with a lot of things. Getting into this school in the first place was quite a chance to take, one that I can officially say I’m glad I did. After a year in linda-xu-216043.jpgSLO, I guess I’m kind of starting to like it here. To be honest, at first I couldn’t help but feel like I made a mistake— nothing could stop me from thinking that I didn’t belong here if I couldn’t even get in without asking them personally, this school was out of my league, this year was going to be a disaster… If I have learned anything this year, it’s that no matter what, we deserve to be in a place that can change your life for the better, despite what it might take to get there.

As far as I can see, my life is already changing.

I was worried about a lot of things coming in to this school year, but looking back at it, that’s how it was supposed to be. Like most first-years, I wasn’t sure I would make any friends, I could keep my grades or my health up, my roommates wouldn’t like me, and I wouldn’t fit in. In the end, I’m not sure I ever truly fit into the school, but I can say that I found some people to fit in with that feel like home to me. It just took a little time, and quite a bit of coincidence that my closest friend ended up in all my orientation/major groups too. As for the roommates thing, it was pretty weird to be thrown into living with two girls I had never met from an entirely different state, for the past 9 months. But I can tell you, those girls became two of my favorite people here, and it was kind of sad to watch them both pack up and leave this morning. If I have anything to say about it though, even if we don’t talk for a while, they’re at least coming to my wedding. Trust me, they promised.

As for the grades and the health thing… Well, let’s just say it’s an adjustment. As someone coming from a block-scheduled high school, I thought I was ahead of the game and I was about to show quarter system who was boss. I was wrong; but that’s okay. Because you would be surprised at how quickly adjusting happens, somehow you take things in stride, learn your limits, and absolutely start utilizing office hours. arkady-lifshits-117993.jpgThose times are a lifesaver. And for next-year’s class and beyond, just remember this: When it comes to getting extra help, with anything in college from grades/tutoring to an ear to talk to, all I can say is do what you’ve got to do. It’s your life, you’ve got to find a way to not just live it, but thrive in it. No matter what, this is your time.

This quarter, I took thriving to a whole new level— I got my grades up (as long as my finals went as well as I hope they did, fingers crossed), I got out there and socialized a bit more, and best of all, for the past 11 weeks I have gone to the gym Monday-Friday at 8 AM, only missing 5 days total. If you can’t tell, I’m pretty proud of myself. Because sometimes, you’ve just got to do it. Even if waking up that early was as rough as I thought it was going to be, I know that I owed it to myself to become my own priority.

Now, I’m here thinking, I guess this is what growing up feels like.

When I left home in September, I was not quite ready to start over in a new place with new classes and new people. Yet here we are looking back and I have come to realize, you are never ready. It’s like asking my parents if they were ready for an empty nest— of course they weren’t. But we adjust anyway. This is what we do; we take on new burdens, new challenges, and push the boundaries of our own existence until you truly feel like you’re getting somewhere. If you think you’re stuck, try another direction. Because college this year, it was something different.

oscar-dejean-14868And as for my career path, well that is definitely another direction that I didn’t quite see coming. I’ll keep you updated on that one.

All I can say is, I wasn’t ready for my freshman year. But it was ready for me. So I took it in stride and did the best that I could. As my mom always makes sure to remind me, that’s all anyone could ever really ask for.

And now… Now I am just ready to go home.

 

365 Days Later…

This week may have been our final week of classes here at CP and my freshman year may be one week away from being over, but today I wanted to celebrate something very special with you:

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Last Sunday, Kwilliamsbooks turned 1.

A year ago, I graduated high school and decided to get a head start on my future and my upcoming (now almost a year old) book— so I started a blog. Who knew that my most viewed post (231 views) would be my fourth post ever, back in July of last year, or that this would become something so big in my life that I dedicate at least an entire 24 hours total to it every week? Yet here we are, one year and 57 blog posts later, right where I started: writing.

So today, I wanted to say “happy birthday” to my site by sharing more of what got me started in the first place— poetry. It’s been a few weeks since the last Poetry Place, but this is a special week after all. Here are five of my favorites:

 

Number one

Collateral Damage

She held within her heart a love she could could not tame,

monsters in her mind of which she could not name.

And when the two came together, into the same budding rose,

the dark collided with the beauty and she became the collateral damage.

sebastian-molina-fotografia-101308From the thorns in her side and the voices she could no longer hide

screaming out in agony from the wreckage her heart had just left behind

with the broken pieces amongst the thorns that rose grew up to contain;

every bit of love and light it held countered with a little bit of pain.

Yet she kept going anyway, knowing there was light up ahead.

The light she created with everything she had when she finally let herself

Get Lost.

Number two

Out of Place

Does tired even compare to that feeling anymore,

that hopeless, empty, insignificant feeling—

that she’s trapped in a place where she does not belong;

in her life surrounded by all the things she is not?

Her beautiful friends and their beautiful minds

of which she cannot compare to.

Her too smart classes with her too smart classmates

of whom she does not fit in with…evan-kirby-263913

Somehow she’s here, existing between the lines

where people do not look, do not care.

Do not see her here, past the beauty and the brains,

back to where she is stripped down to nothing but a face.

That nobody remembers and nobody needs to,

as she is just another person in this world.

One without the beauty and one without the brains,

one that nobody seems to want to claim.

And that is okay too; she knows that it happens

when she looks in the mirror and sees who she is.

Because in the end it’s her life, something of her own making,

and she is just simply out of place.

Number three

Pretty People

It’s a shame to see such pretty people so sad.

All the beauty in the world cannot fix these broken souls.

And as the time runs out and the days wear thin,

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the night comes on back, leaving only darkness to hold

the beauty of light fading to the sadness of the soul.

As we walk, your hands and mine on this lonely dark road,

together we are here and our thoughts echo off the walls.

While I can feel that you are broken, I can hear it in your heart.

And it’s a shame to see such pretty people fall apart.

 

Number four

Restless

As I lay my head to rest

Instead I rest with

Thoughts of you.

 

Running course through my body

in everything

you do.freestocks-org-206394

 

Like the way I watch you care for others;

you’re the only

one who

 

showed me how to fall in love…

Some days I wish

I never knew.

 

And number five

Skeletons to Burn

There are skeletons in my closet, far too many to count.

For there is another one in a darker corner, the back shelf of my mind.

And honesty has never been enough to truly bring me back, to give me

the oxygen I need to breathe, as it chokes me with charred hands.

Quietly, I am extinguished, the flame of my soul slowly burning out,

as the pain never felt so real, engulfing everything I am and

everything I could be until there was truly nothing left.

annie-spratt-218458Nothing but those skeletons in my closet, taking up space

the way the secrets of our past always do, complicating this life

much like that skeleton left in the back of my mind, silent and holding,

sharp and true, waiting for the moment to come out to play.

They say that bones may dance and sometimes, secrets may catch fire,

but truly there is nothing left of me, not even the burning outline

of everything I used to be and the secrets I used to hold,

for it all went to hell right where I will see it tomorrow as I find my way

downtown through the noose. It is over now, the burning has become a quiet calm,

and for the first time in my life it seems

there are no more skeletons left in my closet.

There is nothing left of me.

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Happy Birthday to my site— I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to everyone who has supported me or looked at my blog in the past year. A writer is nothing without their readers but empty words, and I thank you for giving me some place to fill. Here’s to the end of my first year of classes here at CP, my final exams next week, and another beautiful year of embracing my future.

What it means to have Pride

Welcome to June, the month I finally get to begin my (short) summer, the weather really starts heating up, and the world gets to celebrate something very important.

Welcome to Pride Month.laura-ockel-197421.jpg

If you’ve been on Google today you might have seen the rainbow colors on their doodle for the day, that is something special. Those colors represent the birthday of Gilbert Baker, the man who designed what is now known as the flag that represents LGBTQ+. Though he passed away just this year in March, his activism and his flag, has spread through this world in a way that is very much alive.

That’s what this month is about.

For those of you who do not know, Pride month itself and the celebration of its essence began back in 1969 with the Stonewall Riots: a stand against police harassment towards a group of gay customers in Greenwich Village, New York. At the time, most states had laws passed against the group gathering of LGBTQ+ people, gay bars, and public homosexuality. This riot began in protest of discrimination in the Stonewall Inn, and as people shouted “gay power”, standing up up for their own human rights, they stated something they never saw coming.  

Protests lasted for days with even 1,000 people attending at once. Ultimately, this led to the Gay Liberation Movement and Christopher Street Liberation Day which happened on June 28, 1970; the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots with as well as the first Gay Pride march in U.S. history. It covered an entire 51 blocks through to Central Park.
F3FH5XYZY0Known as the “Mother of Pride” for her help in organizing the march, Brenda Howard originated the celebrations  and festivities held every June and also coined what we now know as the term
Pride.

From there the movement spread, as all movements do, to San Francisco and LA, then Boston and Dallas, and so many more places before the culture behind it had shifted completely into something global. Something stronger. Here in the United States, it took us until our 42nd President, Bill Clinton, to recognize Pride on June 2, 2000. Since then, both Clinton and Obama acknowledged this month, however, President Trump could have been the first Republican President to do so. The future of that possibility is yet to be seen.

Around the world, we celebrate the people who make up the 7.4 billion population we are surrounded by. Among those who have passed away, many of the most incredible people were also a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Have you ever heard of Bessie Smith, Empress of the Blues, and one of the highest paid black entertainers of all time? Maybe you know of, Tennesee Williams, writer of the Glass Menagerie? Or how about Sally Ride, the first woman in space? Each of them were a part of LGBTQ+ history, a part of what this world has now come to celebrate, and major contributors to the music, entertainment, and accomplishments of the United States.

We cannot celebrate our history without recognizing all the pieces of it. Just like Black History Month or Women’s History Month,

sorasak-217807 (1)we celebrate Pride as more than a month, but an appreciation for every person it applies to. Because no matter what a person identifies with or what defines who they are, they just might change the world someday. I know some LGBTQ+ people who have already changed mine.

Before Baker’s flag emerged in 1978, the symbol of gay pride was a pink triangle— Hitler made homosexuals wear them as a tag during World War Two. We have come a long way, legalizing gay marriage two years ago, but there is still a long road ahead as the world around us becomes more accepting of what being an “American” really means. From accepting that racism is still an issue to coming to terms with the status of our Earth’s climate, things have changed a lot since I was born, but not as much as I believe they will in the future.

One way or another, an easy way to bring change is with education— today, I hope you learned a little bit more about what Pride Month really means. Whether you identify with, support, or simply understand the community, know that like any other identity in this world, it deserves to be respected at the very least. If you join in on the celebration this year, at a Pride parade or anywhere else, it’s important to know the boundaries not to cross— how to appreciate without accidentally discriminating. Like Gilbert Baker believed when creating the flag, “We needed something beautiful, something from us. The rainbow is so perfect because it really fits our diversity in terms of race, gender, ages, all of those things.”

Not only did he create a beautiful flag, he created a safe space for more equality, brought people together, and probably changed so many lives in the process. Because thdimitar-belchev-235925at is the beauty change in this world and the ability people have to come together in communities. In a world of 7.4 billion people and 12 months to celebrate each of every one of us, this one is for LGBTQ+. And that is the beauty of Pride.

P.S. If you want to learn any more, click on all those blue words and it’ll take you right to the info!