Film Strip


In my house there’s a cardboard box filled to the brim with old photographs. Most don’t mean much – mostly pictures of old pets and landscape. The more I dig through the more I find and the older the photo, the more character it tends to have. When I find a picture of me riding a bike at 7, I can see that blur that comes with old film. I can’t tell if I love that blur because it cries out vintage or because it cries out nostalgia. Either way, the flaw of a 90’s camera creates unintentional charm.

Left over film strips are littered across the bottom of the box. If I hold them up to the light, I can just scarcely make out the photos that were meant to be developed. Pieces of life trapped in a root beer colored rectangle.

That’s what inspired me to edit the image above. On the surface, those three sunsets are nothing more than the trial and error of grabbing the perfect photograph (which unfortunately, didn’t happen). I was just about to hit delete, but as I looked at the different coloring of a quickly fading scene, I was brought back in time. There’s too much shadow, the edges are blurred, the color is off, but there’s character to it. Each one looked like it belonged in the box.

Three images holding a different point in the sun’s time before it vanished for the night. Something that may not be beautiful at first, but over time allows rose tinted memories.



Creative Ways of Dealing with Writer’s Block: Part 2


A few weeks ago, I made this post talking about a unique way to beat writer’s block. For this week, I have a different method that might help. If you’re stuck on what to write next, maybe the best thing to do would be to write something else. Take a step back from the story your working on and try creating a flash fiction piece instead.

That advice might sound odd. Why throw yourself into another project when you can’t get past the one you’re on? It could be you’re stuck because these characters aren’t grabbing you, the plot isn’t interesting you, or the pacing is too slow at this point. The story just isn’t moving along, but you want to write. Why not put that energy into a different piece of work?

The nice thing about flash fiction is that it’s short. It takes less time to reread it and revise it than it would a 200 page novel, which is nice when all you want to do is be at that finishing point. I get writer’s block for a number of reasons, but sometimes it’s not because I have a lack of ideas, but because I have too many ideas. There’s an abundance of plots and characters that I want to put on paper, but I don’t know how to make those notes coherent. When I do, it becomes a mess that I have to gradually sort through until the story appears and sometimes that feels like an impossible task. It can be incredibly refreshing to turn your attention towards a project that deals with one character and one setting. It’s like stepping out of a crowded hall and into an empty room with open windows. There’s fresh air and you can finally breathe.

Turning over to a flash fiction piece (even if you’re having writer’s block on a flash fiction piece) can be a less time committed way to exercise your writing and give your thoughts a chance to spread out. When I use flash fiction this way, I normally write whatever comes to me. I don’t try to create anything complex or even entertaining. I’ll pick a particular setting, drop a random character into it, and see what happens. Sometimes, the piece ends up being awful, but I can keep revising until I get better ideas. Those ideas can spark my motivation and before long,  I’ll be ready to dive back into the story I’m avoiding.

It may also help to use a character from your main story on and work solely on developing their personality or drive through flash fiction. Only need to expand the setting?Use it as a backdrop for this piece to better understand the layout. Eventually the ideas will come and you’ll be able to continue working with a clear mind.

No matter what, you’re being productive and not banging your head against the keyboard.

Pulteney Bridge – Bath, England

Considering the freezing temperature here in IL and the lack of lakes, rivers, and ocean, I decided to search my folders for better scenery.

These were all taken at the Pulteney Bridge in Bath, England. It’s a beautiful location and (something I got overexcited about) was used in the film adaption of Les Miserables.

I hope I’ll get the chance to go back soon with a better camera.

My Favorite Spider-Man Film


One of my top 10 favorite films of all time is Spider-Man 2 directed by Sam Raimi which made its cinematic debut in 2004. I’ve been a fan for about a decade now and because of that, I’ve heard every possible complaint for the movie.

And yet, I still love it more than I can say.

I think what makes the Sam Raimi trilogy special for me is that these are movies I grew with. I remember my dad renting them and I’d come into the living room and watch pieces of it here and there. When I was 12/13 I thought I’d outgrown superheroes until I spent the night at a friend’s and she put on the first Spider-Man. It was late and I remember the other girls falling asleep half-way through, but I was up until the DVD looped back to the title screen. I was blown away by this story of a nerdy Toby Maguire acquiring spider powers.

The next weekend I rented the sequel and at the tail end of my freshmen year I went to see Spider-Man 3 in theaters and walked away as happy as could be (I honestly can’t find it in me to hate the third one.) sm2

Apart from the nostalgia factor, I see these films as having their own unique charm. I think that’s what helped draw me in. There’s a silly comic book vibe to them, but they still maintain a basis of reality.

For example, Uncle’s Ben’s death scene. Some poke fun at Maguire’s acting there because he isn’t the most graceful crier, but who is? His reaction felt normal to me and it still does. It doesn’t appear as a perfectly executed cinematic weeping, it appears raw and uncontrolled. It’s ugly. He comes across the most important figure in his life lying on the cement with a bullet hole in his chest. I would be crying like that too. It’s shocking and painful and Maguire delivers that.

What made Spider-Man 2  land in my top 10 was that it worked off these two aspects – it kept the fun comic book theme while still creating quiet and serious moments that didn’t feel forced or rushed. My favorite line is something Aunt May tells Peter:

Everybody loves a hero. People line up for them, cheer them, scream their names. And years later, they’ll tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who taught them how to hold on a second longer. I believe there’s a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to die with pride, even though sometimes we have to be steady, and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams.

I find this line incredibly sweet and it explains the whole trilogy for me. Each movie slid directly into the next and each deals with the same idea – that Peter is seeking out balance. He’s learning to be a hero or even if he wants to be a hero. Even though he gets a big head over his fame, in the end it’s all about supporting those around him. Learning to take sacrifices, to not give up, to forgive, to help and make a difference. Not to say the other movies didn’t touch on this, but the lessons and growth shown in this particular trilogy was achieved at a natural pace.

Viewers see so much of these character’s lives that suddenly it becomes less of a superhero movie and more of a movie about people growing into better people – realizing that what they think they deserve may not be what they need and taking mistakes from the past to mold themselves into something heroic for the future.

sm2 aunt may

Spider-Man 2 especially shows this with Peter believing he doesn’t need to be Spider-Man anymore. The city’s issues are not his issues. When he sees a man being mugged in the alley he turns away because he doesn’t see a crime as his business anymore. Yet he ends up rushing into a burning building later on because try as me might, he can’t turn a blind eye.

The costume is a way of projecting that message out. Peter can act as a reminder to the public to help each other out. He encourages them to be a  “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.”

Apart from that the movie has great one-liners, a perfect Jonah Jameson, some great action sequences (even if a little outdated now), cliffhangers, and, above all else – heart.

Spider-Man 2 is charming. I can’t help, but smile when I watch it. I get teary eyed during the bus scene. I love the “Harry finds out who Peter really is” bit. I like the inclusion of the song “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head.” This movie is flawed, yes, but there is nothing else like it. I even love the cheesy moments because that’s all part of the film’s atmosphere. It allows itself to be goofy, but it also allows itself to be serious. It can become melodramatic at times, but those high emotions fit perfectly into the comic book vibe I mentioned earlier

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Am I ready for another reboot? No. I enjoyed the Amazing Spider-Man and I honestly didn’t hate the sequel. I wish we could have gotten a proper conclusion and while it’s best that Spider-Man return to Marvel, it still feels too soon for a cinematic return.

All I can say is that Toby Maguire will forever be my Spider-Man. No matter how many years pass, this trilogy will have a special place in my heart because it’s impossible for me not to be charmed by this film.

Creative Ways to Deal with Writer’s Block

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Sometimes I think I get writer’s block more than the average person should. I’m constantly writing one line, closing my Word tab, and then opening it up again ten minutes later only stare blankly at the screen or write another sentence before repeating. All in all, I still manage to get my words on paper, but having issues with writer’s block for so long has allowed me to get creative.

One thing I’ve recently started doing is using a Pinterest board. I know that once I wrote Pinterest, some of you rolled your eyes, but hear me out. I’m a visual learner and sometimes that trait carries into how I handle general tasks. I need to be able to see a picture of what I’m doing or what I should be doing. Even with writing, I often need to be staring at an image of a tree to describe a tree. My mind can’t always come up solutions without clear imagery. It’s been this way since I was a kid.

I got a Pinterest after having my mom nudge me towards it. I wasn’t sure what to pin and left my page relatively blank for months. Then I got the idea to start finding images that fit the stories I was trying to write. So far it’s helped tremendously in grasping the aesthetic I’m looking for. If I have a character who wears a baseball cap, I type in baseball cap and place it in the *insert story title here* board. From then on out the hat stands for the character who wears it and I can build the personality or motives around that one image. Same goes for the town I want to create or even just a building.

It’s a nice way to break away from writing while still doing something that involves your current project. Then there’s always the chance you’ll come across a pin that might inspire you for your next story that you can keep archived until needed. You can also keep the boards locked so that only you can view them if you feel the need for privacy.

Pinterest may not be your thing or it might be exactly what you’ve been looking for. The choice is up to you, but I know for me using it as a loose story board has been incredibly helpful and kept me on track. I love being able to open up a board, look at what I’ve found, and be reminded of where I want my story to go and get inspired to continue writing.