Hi 7th hour!

Today at Writers Week, we saw Nickolas Butler.  Looking back on his presentation, think of at least TWO things he said that really stuck out to you or that really got your attention.  What are those two things and why do you think you remember them the most?  ALSO, how can you apply these ideas to your own writing?  Give examples to clearly illustrate what you mean here.

Again, read what people ahead of you have already written about and see if you can come up with something new.  Obviously, the part about applying this to your own writing should be uniquely suited to you and your writing!

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1. One thing that stuck out for me the most was the short story about the grandfather and grandson. This one really got me to pay attention because it made me think about people I know whose grandparents have to take care of them. Their situation isn't the same as the boy's in the book, but it really made me think about all people who have had this problem. When Mr. Butler brought up the fact that the grandparent wanted to be in the boy's life but not really his father really stuck with me. It reached out to me and made me think how when I grow up I'm not gonna want to take care of two generations. That's a lot of work for time that should be spent on yourself enjoying time with your family not working with them.

2. The other thing that stuck out with me was his pickle story. I haven't read his novel but I found it really cool that not only the writers that we talk about include real things in their works of fiction. The next time I write a shareable draft I want to try to include this technique. Something that really stuck with me is when he said " every work of fiction has a bit of truth". Sometime when I write my shareable drafts I don't feel they are that interesting. Maybe if I include this technique my writing will be even better then it is now.

Butler's piece Rainwater had a great impact on me. The piece started off somewhat typical and evolved into one with complicated emotion and powerful tugging at my memories with my own grandparents. What IF my parents left me at my grandparents' house and never came back? What if today was the last day I saw my parents? What if tomorrow, my life under my parents is gone forever? The piece was especially powerful at pulling at my own emotions and memories, and was expertly tied intimately to every member of the audience, calling forward faces of grandparents and the sinking feeling of being alone. The actual short story was simply written and retained a light, airy feel throughout, but the darker elements under it made it all the better to listen to. This two-toned writing was intensely interesting and applying this to my own pieces would exponentially improve my writing!

The second point is unrelated to his writing, but I thought his background compared to his position now was shocking. He described himself as a minimum-wage earning liquor store worker, struggling through monthly payments to keep a house that was half-decent to begin with, his wife being unemployed essentially because of the situation he was in. I thought it was so amazing that he was able to build this empire of himself, to become an international bestseller and selling the rights for a movie adaptation of his book! The contrast between his two lives is so extraordinary and it inspires me that I can become whatever I want, even if at times I feel down. No matter what life throws at you, if you believe in yourself, you can overcome!

One thing that stuck out to me was Nickolas Butler's use of imagery. He used a lot of imagery in his work that made the audience visualize the content of what he was saying. Even though I had a hard time understanding his material from his facial expressions, it was easier for me to close my eyes and envision what he was saying. Even though his stories were hard to understand and pretty depressing, visualizing the story made it easier for me to understand and connect it with my similar experiences.
Another thing that stood out to me was the short story "rainwater". He used numerous amounts of imagery in that writing as well, but I was able to make plenty of connections to it, and enjoy the content. It really stuck out to me, because I could relate to it with my personal experiences in a lot of different ways. I could also compare the characters with my relatives. I was able to enjoy it because my grandfather, just like the boy's grandfather in the story, would also give me simple, unnecessary work to break the boredom.
I would apply these techniques to my writing to make it more personal and realistic. I would add more imagery to keep my audience more engaged.

1. A mechanical rather than creative aspect of writing that Nickolas Butler touched on was sentence structure. During his years in graduate school, he had a professor that always told him his sentences were too long, so he wrote a short story using very short sentences. Through sharing this, he made me think about my own patterns of writing, and I think that sometimes I write unnecessarily long sentences as well. I think that if I also took this professor's advice and cut down my sentence lengths, adding variety to my writing, it could turn out much better and be more interesting for someone to read. Even if Nickolas Butler did not intend for me to think about my own writing, I am glad that he shared this story with us because I learned a lesson that I can use to better myself and my writing.

2.His story about the man who got shot after he drunkenly threw pickles at a car grabbed my attention the most, and I found it interesting that he incorporated what he knew and experienced into his story. Throughout the year, we have read novels by authors who also write about stories or events they're familiar with, such as Willa Cather in My Antonia or Loung Ung in First They Killed My Father, and so I was intrigued when Nickolas Butler revealed that he does this as well. I can apply this idea to my own writing by thinking about the things I am most familiar with and how I can turn them into a story. Writing about stories or information I already know can make ideas and inspiration come much more easily than writing about what I do not know or what I'm not familiar with. 

One thing that really stuck out to me during Nickolas Butler's performance was when he was reading a chapter from his book called "Shotgun Lovesongs". He had so many parts in that short chapter that were very descriptive and it created a great image in my head. I remembered this part of his reading because it was something that really inspired me. His long sentences with great descriptive words caught my attention. I think I can really learn from this and apply it to my own writing because it can really draw the readers in. It also helps create an image of the setting of the story which is very important. Another thing about Butler's presentation that stood out to me was the story about the man throwing pickles. I thought it was a very bizarre yet funny story that stood out to me. He explained that he used this story and put it his book "Shotgun Lovesongs" because he wanted other people to hear this story too. I think this is a good idea to take real life experiences and put it in your writing. It can make writing easier but it can also create make the story seem more realistic.

During Nickolas Butler’s presentation, his short story, “Rainwater,” was able to really catch my attention. Personally, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother who would watch over my sister and I during the day, while my parents were working hard at their jobs. Initially, it was somewhat difficult for me to understand why a grandparent wouldn’t want to spend time with his/her grandchildren. However, later I realized that the concept of raising a child and spending time with one are two extremely different actions. After pondering the idea, it seemed logical how some grandparents would decide that raising their grandchild is past their limit of comfort. The fact that his short story was created based off of his grandfather’s actions, was inspiring to see how literature can be conceived on the detailed questions of the people in our own lives. Next time I have the chance to write a creative writing piece, I’ll try to think of different characters based off of my own experiences with friends and strangers. Maybe I’ll write a short story about first generation struggles for a child, or possibly from an adult perspective. Or I could experiment with a character who has just recently moved and is now feeling uncomfortable and alone.


Another story I enjoyed was his almost unrealistic story about the unfortunate events of a pickle-thrower. Besides the humor, I thought the idea of a drunken man throwing pickles at a car, and consequently being shot, was almost too unbelievable to be true. But then I remembered the stupidity of mankind, and found validity in his tale. Although I have not read his novel yet, I was impressed by his writing because it consists of events from personal experience. Thinking about the other novels I have read in the past, it made me wonder which authors hid some truth behind some events  in their fictional storyline. Especially with his backstory about  an average man who pursued his passion out of desperation, and yet found success in what he enjoys in is inspiring to say the least. In the future, I will attempt to use my own experiences and passions as the foundation for  my next piece of literature. I will try not to force an idea into writing, but be patient and find a topic I myself am interested in in order to further develop my voice as a writer and my passion for writing.

Nickolas Butler's story about the man throwing the pickles grabbed my attention. It was a funny story that seemed kind of far fetched, but still believable. He brought this story up because he has a similar scene in his book, and asked a student in the audience if she had found is believable.  He then went on to say that something along the lines of having his stories have a little bit of truth in them to make them believable. This is applicable to my writing, as we often say that we should write off of past experiences. Also, he wrote his whole book because of this one story, and that I should find something I want to write about.

Another thing he talked about was keeping his sentences short. He said that his teacher wanted him to have shorter sentences that had more of an impact, and I believe that long sentences sometimes overwhelm the reader. Keeping sentences short and to the point is sometimes better than overloading them with large amounts of details. 

The argument between Nikolas Butler and his teacher really stuck with me when he told us why he wrote it the way he did. This is only because I have the same problem unless I pay attention. I never know when one thought ends and another one begins. I could try to do the very same thing in my writing but I don’t know if i'm ready for that big of a challenge. Even with restricted sentence length he didn't lack any detail and I couldn’t even tell half the time.

The other thing that stood out was when he told us about his past just because I think someone's past says a lot about them now. He was very humble when he talked he didn’t brag about how he came from nothing just because he was that good. Also, he didn’t act like he did everything on his own he gave credit to his wife for always being there for him. He seemed to have this personality that even though he's a pretty big author he is just like any normal person. This reminds me how powerful backstory can be in characterization of my own writing.

1) One thing that really stuck out to me was the way he wrote. He used a lot of details to help create the story in the audiences head, and he wrote almost stream-of-consciousness style. There was a lot of inner thoughts and jumping from one idea to the next. This was cool, because it showed how thoroughly he developed each character to have such real, continuous thoughts. I felt like I was listening to a memoir, but it was all details that the author had created.

2) I also enjoyed the story he told about his real life, and how he came to be a successful author. It was cool to learn about where he started, seeing where he was now. It gave me a little hope for the future, because if Nikolas Butler could achieve his dream after having a rough start, then anyone can.
1. His short story, "Raindrops", really stuck out for me because he gave context into what gave him inspiration for the story, and the way he explained it I thought was interesting. He said that his college professor kept telling him that he needed to write shorter sentences and less long, formal sentences in his pieces. He didn't believe his professor and wrote "Raindrops" with mostly short sentences, 5-6 words each, with only a few really long sentences every so often, to show that his professor was wrong. But the piece was very good and it turned out he did exactly what his professor wanted him to do. I can use this idea of listening to my teachers and people who give me advice and actually doing what they think I should do, because if I don't try to do something new with my writing, I won't see how I can improve it.
2. Another story that he shared, the story of the drunk man throwing pickles, stuck out for me because the way he set it up, it sounded like it would be more weird and crazy than it turned out to be. He started out explaining how this story was how he got the idea for the part in one of his books where there is shooting. A drunk man was throwing stolen pickles at cars when one man stopped and shot him, but he couldn't go to the hospital because he stole the pickles, so he left the bullet alone and it healed. But later, he lost a lot of weight and asked his girlfriend to help him get it out, but they couldn't. So they went to the emergency room but the doctors didn't believe him when he said he was shot, but they took an X-Ray and discovered he was right and they took the bullet out. I felt that the way the story ended, he had hyped it up too much and made a bigger deal about the craziness of it, but ended up coming short of the expectation I had, but the weirdness of the actual story made it stick with me. An idea that this gave me to try out in my writing is to take unbelievable events and use them to make the basis of my story, but I would probably have a more interesting ending to not leave the reader hanging and waiting for an end to the story that may never come.
1. One thing that really stuck out to me was his main character in his book Shotgun Lovesongs. In the beginning his character started out as a kid that could never really connect to certain things that his friends did and that really bothered him. I specifically remember a line in the book saying "no matter how hard I try I can't see or feel the colors that they would all see on the top of that building while watching the sunset". I found this interesting because it made me curious as to what quality the main character was missing or what differed about him from his friends that made him unable to experience what they can.

2. Another thing that stuck out to me is how he incorporated a funny story in his life and turned it into a more tragic and serious even in his short story rainwater. When he turned the pickle story into the shooting, I thought "how did he take this stupid story and turn it into something as serious and scary as a situation like that?"

Though his booked seemed really good either of these things would be something I would necessarily want to apply to my writing because especially with the second thought, I feel it's kind of rude mocking a serious situation and belittling it by having it inspired by a drunk man throwing pickles at a car. If anything I would add the first aspect to my stories so add a little ambiguous touch to my characters because when he was reading the first chapter, I couldn't help myself from wondering what about the main character made him have these difficulties.
I really admired hie far he had come from the beginning of her career to where he is now. His story is that of the rags to riches story you never really hear to be true. He accomplished the American Dream and is actually lving it. He saw that he didn't want to be where he was with a child coming along, and then made a change. These characters you hear about in books and movies and other stories, but he's living it and that was really inspiring to know that the American Dream in general is attainable. I also really liked that he had a mostly ficticious novel but incorporated some truth from his own life, similar to Mary Shelly and Willa Cather. This can be applied to my own writing as many stories are inspired by true events, he took his own life and turned it into this amazing story which went on to sell thousands of copies. Another part I enjoyed was his pickle throwing story, he encaptured the audience and it was clear to tell that he was a great writer. Though that specific story cannot be applied to my own writing, it is easy to see that a good idea would be to incorporate a funny story of my own into my writing because that can be very entertaining as well.


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