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John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

5 LIFE LESSONS YOU’LL LEARN FROM WRITING


The more you write, the more familiar these will sound.

 By Danielle Keating, Concordia University

Sometimes, when you read a book, it can change your life. And for as much soul as it takes an author to write a great piece of fiction, or even just tell a true story in a clear, authentic way, it should come as no surprise that that process of writing can have a profound impact on the person penning the story, too. Writing, whether an essay or an autobiography, teaches you about yourself; it allows you to plumb the depths of your own mind, picking at and teasing out emotions that you wouldn’t have otherwise known you had before you sat down to write.
In addition to the psychological, emotional benefits of writing, both the process and the world that surrounds it will teach you other skills, many of which are more tangible than the spiritual growth that can come along with putting fingers to keyboard. Writing helps teach its practitioners discipline, for example, in that all seasoned writers know that a schedule is a far more helpful tool than a lucky pencil. As a writer, I have been witness to the many ways in which being involved with the literary world has made me a more complete person, so below are some of the benefits that I have experienced, and that I think anyone who writes seriously, for any substantial amount of time, will begin to see in themselves as well.

1. You Learn to Critique Criticism
No job, school program or relationship is free from criticism. More often than not, criticism is given to help you succeed, not to make you self-conscious. It may not feel good at the time, but it’s for your own good and will help you grow. However, there are exceptions.
Some people may give writing advice that might not be bad, but is not right for the story, while others may just give straight-up terrible advice. Other times, you’ll meet in the middle. It is up to the writer to use their common sense and knowledge of the story that they’ve written to choose which criticisms will, might and won’t improve their work. Something to keep in mind is if a publisher gives your submission a critique, there is a 99 percent chance that following their instructions will up your chances of getting your work accepted elsewhere.
As for life, the world is full of seemingly useful guidance. Just as people give suggestions for stories they don’t understand, they offer suggestions for people whom they do not know very well. Although the advice is usually given with good intentions, it may not always be right for you. Just like writing, make sure you know what advisors are talking about before applying their wisdom to your life.

2. You Learn to Accept Help
You’re not a bad writer if you take advice from other people or include their ideas into your writing, with their permission, of course. It just means you’re human. Writers are just people, so they make mistakes, which is why this article has an editor, why creative writing classes have workshops and why those classes exist in the first place.
Having assistance in other areas is fine as well. If you have a question about how to do something at work, ask it! It’s better to ask one hundred questions than to make one hundred mistakes; the same thought process applies to classes. If your professors are good at what they do, they would rather have you bombard them with questions on assignments than see you fail. Writing is a craft, and just like every other craft, the more experience you have, the likelier it is that you’re good at what you do. When you’re in school, surrounded by professors who are so talented at writing that they teach it at a college level, you need to jump at every opportunity you can get to pick their brains. Once you graduate, the resources you have at your disposal vastly decrease; you no longer have professors giving you several hours a week to guide your writing, as instead, you have an employer who has deadlines and bottom lines to worry about. Being a writer means recognizing when you have something to learn from someone, and taking that opportunity to improve yourself, rather than swallowing it because of your pride.

3. You Become One with Rejection
Rejection is an inherent part of writing and everyday life. It doesn’t always reflect the quality of your work; it could just mean that your work is great, but not right for the magazine or website where you submitted it, not that you suck. If J.K. Rowling can get rejected, so can everyone else. But she didn’t quit, and neither should you. Persevering despite constant failure leads to both success and thicker skin. Real talk, having publishers say no to me has made it easier to deal with employers denying my applications. In turn, those letdowns led me to discover this internship here at “Study Breaks,” along with a few freelancing opportunities.
Also, writing has helped my love life. Recently, I gave a guy in my communications class my number; he was beautiful and had biceps the size of Jupiter, so I pretty much had to. We texted for a bit, then he ghosted me, but because of my frequent writing rejections, it didn’t hurt too much. When I told my friends and family about this, they offered condolences. I gave the response, “I’m a writer, I’m used to getting turned down.”
To this day, I have no hard feelings toward him. Just as the literary world has many other publishers, the real world has many other men.

4. You Become Persistent
Optimism is a requirement for writing. Very rarely will you get something published by the first company that reads your work, but there is nothing wrong with your piece being accepted somewhere else, even if it is not your first choice. There is also nothing wrong with working somewhere else before getting your dream job.
You’re young. You’re inexperienced. It’s fine, get experience! Even if you’re older, it’s not too late to start. People’s dream jobs (ex. lawyer, doctor, starting a brand-new business., etc.) typically require lots of experience and work, and maybe even money. Just keep pursuing your education, keep saving money to fund your passions and keep working to get ahead in your field, and you’ll be that much closer to fulfilling your goals. You may even establish new goals while in the process.

5. You Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
If you want to succeed, sometimes you need to get pimp slapped out of your comfort zone. Trust me, this helps. Before my sophomore year, I had never written a nonfiction essay outside of my required schoolwork. Now I have an internship where that’s all I do.
Maybe try a new form of writing. If you like writing short stories, try writing a book-length one, or if you like rhyming poetry, then try writing a poem with no rhymes. Who knows, you might be great at it and, even better, you might like it. If what you write is crappy, so what? You just wrote a crappy poem, essay or whatever. At least you got more experience in writing. Plus you don’t have to submit it anywhere, so no one has to see it.

The real life application of this lesson is pretty simple. If you live in a comfort zone, you don’t grow as a person and challenges become harder when all you do is stick to a routine. Granted, you don’t always have to take huge steps away from your conventions; try little changes that eventually build up to bigger goals. If talking to people is not your strength, then start small, like go to the store and have a cashier ring you up instead of the self-checkout machine. After all, if you’re never challenged, you’ll never improve.

Liu Xiaobo, Chinese Nobel Laureate, Leaves Prison for Cancer Care


By CHRIS BUCKLEY and AUSTIN RAMZYJUNE 26, 2017

BEIJING — Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Chinese dissident who received the Nobel Peace Prize for his writings promoting democracy, has been given medical parole to be treated for late-stage cancer, his lawyers and the prison authorities said on Monday.
Mr. Liu, who had been imprisoned in northeast China, was found in late May to have advanced liver cancer and was hospitalized soon after, said one of the lawyers, Shang Baojun, citing Mr. Liu’s relatives. Mr. Shang said the outlook for Mr. Liu appeared grim.
“It seems to be very serious, very serious,” he said. “If it was an early stage of cancer, then that would be easier to treat. But at this late stage, the treatment seems much more difficult.”
In a video released by Radio Free Asia, Mr. Liu’s distraught wife, Liu Xia, told a friend that his doctors “can’t do surgery, can’t do radiation therapy, can’t do chemotherapy,” apparently referring to his advanced cancer.
Mr. Liu, 61, was hospitalized in Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning Province, Mr. Shang said, as did his other lawyer, Mo Shaoping. The Liaoning Prison Administrative Bureau confirmed on its website that Mr. Liu had cancer and recently received medical parole.
“Liu Xiaobo is receiving treatment according to a medical plan,” the prison bureau said. It said a team of eight cancer specialists had advised on his treatment. The English-language website of Global Times, a Chinese state-run newspaper, also reported the administration’s statement.
News of Mr. Liu’s apparently terminal illness drew immediate and passionate calls from supporters and human rights groups for him to be freed.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it was “delighted” to learn that Mr. Liu was out of prison but “strongly regrets” that it took serious illness for that to happen. It called on the Chinese authorities to release him without conditions, saying he had a standing offer to travel to Oslo to receive his prize.
“The Chinese government’s culpability for wrongfully imprisoning Liu Xiaobo is deepened by the fact that they released him only when he became gravely ill,” Sophie Richardson, the China director at Human Rights Watch, said in an emailed statement. “The government should immediately allow Liu Xiaobo and his wife, Liu Xia, to seek proper treatment wherever they wish.”
Patrick Poon, a China researcher at Amnesty International, said the government should ensure that Mr. Liu received adequate medical care and access to relatives. “The authorities must also stop their shameful and illegal house arrest of Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia,” Mr. Poon said, “and ensure that she is able to receive visitors, travel freely and reunite with Liu Xiaobo.”
The American State Department also urged the Chinese authorities to give Mr. Liu “freedom of movement and access to medical care of his choosing.”
Friends of Ms. Liu, a poet and artist who is being held at her Beijing apartment, say that the extreme isolation has worn on her and that she has depression and heart disease.
Mr. Mo, the lawyer, said that “in principle,” Mr. Liu could receive visits from family members, but he added that he was uncertain whether his wife was with him.
The news of Mr. Liu’s condition could create an additional worry for President Xi Jinping, who is focused on a congress in the autumn that is all but sure to appoint him for a second term as Communist Party leader and to promote a new generation of senior officials.
In his first five years in power, Mr. Xi has pursued an intense crackdown on dissent. But even in hospital confinement, Mr. Liu could serve as a new rallying point for China’s beleaguered rights activists, angered that his cancer was not detected until it was seemingly too late to save him.
“I wish this was fake news. Liu Xiaobo is the pride of the Chinese people,” said Bao Tong, a former senior aide to Zhao Ziyang, the Communist Party leader who was ousted during the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations centered on Tiananmen Square.
Mr. Bao said he wanted to know whether Mr. Liu’s cancer had been diagnosed in an earlier stage, when it might have been more treatable.
Repeated calls to the No. 1 Hospital of the China Medical University in Shenyang, where the lawyers said Mr. Liu was receiving treatment, went unanswered or encountered a busy signal.
Mr. Liu, a lecturer at Beijing Normal University, was a prominent figure during the student-led protests that swept Beijing and other Chinese cities in 1989. He was famous for fiery speeches and helped start a hunger strike days before the protest in Tiananmen Square was crushed by the military. He negotiated a peaceful retreat from the square and is credited with saving many lives.
After the crackdown, Mr. Liu was jailed for 21 months, the first of several prison terms he served for his pro-democracy organizing.
In 2008, he helped write a petition calling for widespread political liberalization in China. That document, Charter 08, was initially signed by hundreds of scholars and activists. The police arrested Mr. Liu, and a year later, he was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” and sentenced to 11 years in prison.
In 2010, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for what the committee called “his long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.”
Mr. Liu was represented at the Nobel ceremony in Oslo by an empty chair. He was the first Nobel Peace Prize recipient to not attend the ceremony or be represented by family since the 1935 prize, when Hitler barred the German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who was being held in a concentration camp, and his supporters from accepting the award. Mr. von Ossietzky, whose health had degraded after years of abuse, died in 1938 of tuberculosis.
In Mr. Liu’s absence, his statement from his 2009 trial, titled “I Have No Enemies: My Final Statement,” was read as his Nobel lecture.
“Hatred can rot away at a person’s intelligence and conscience,” he wrote. “Enemy mentality will poison the spirit of a nation, incite cruel mortal struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity, and hinder a nation’s progress toward freedom and democracy. That is why I hope to be able to transcend my personal experiences as I look upon our nation’s development and social change, to counter the regime’s hostility with utmost good will, and to dispel hatred with love.”
Chinese prisons are allowed to grant medical parole to inmates who are seriously ill or near death. Mr. Shang, the lawyer, said last year that Mr. Liu’s failing health could have qualified him for medical parole even then. But Mr. Liu refused to admit guilt as a condition for release, Mr. Shang said.
Mr. Liu’s father, Liu Ling, died in 2011 after developing liver cancer, Hong Kong newspapers reported at the time, citing a relative. The United States National Cancer Institute says that patients with advanced and end-stage liver cancer can receive treatment to ease the symptoms, but that “treatments are not likely to cure the cancer.”
The Chinese government will probably censor information about Mr. Liu’s illness to ensure that it does not cause wider political ripples, said Liang Xiaojun, a human rights lawyer in Beijing. No reports about his cancer and hospitalization appeared in the Chinese-language state-run news media, and many Chinese, especially younger people, have little or no understanding of Mr. Liu and his role in the 1989 protests.
“I think there will be a big reaction in the democracy movement,” Mr. Liang said. “But the government will probably shut down news about this, or dilute it, so it won’t have too much impact domestically.”
Chris Buckley reported from Beijing, and Austin Ramzy from Hong Kong.


Good words to have




Arraign (uh-RAYN) 1. To call or bring a defendant before a court to hear and answer a criminal charge. 2. To criticize, accuse, or censure. From Old French araisnier, from Latin rationare (to talk, to reason), from ratio (reason, calculation). Ultimately from the Indo-European root ar- (to fit together), which also gave us army, harmony, article, order, read, adorn, arithmetic, rhyme, and ratiocinate.

The earliest known use of threshold in the English language is from Alfred the Great's Old English translation of the Roman philosopher Boethius's De consolatione philosophiae. In this translation, which was written around 888, threshold appears as ├żeorscwold (that first letter is called a thorn and it was used in Old English and Middle English to indicate the sounds produced by th in thin and this). The origins of this Old English word are not known, though it is believed to be related to Old English threscan, from which we get the words thresh, meaning "to separate seed from (a harvested plant) using a machine or tool" and thrash, meaning, among other things, "to beat soundly with or as if with a stick or whip."

Bilious is one of several words whose origins trace to the old belief that four bodily humors (black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood) control temperament. Just like phlegmatic ("of a slow and stolid phlegm-driven character"), melancholy ("experiencing dejection associated with black bile"), and sanguine ("of a cheerful, blood-based disposition"), bilious suggests a personality associated with an excess of one of the humors—in this case, yellow bile. Bilious, which first appeared in English in the mid-1500s, derives from the Middle French bilieux, which in turn traces to bilis, Latin for "bile." In the past, bile was also called choler, which gives us choleric, a synonym of bilious.


Chagrin (shuh-GRIN) Distress caused by disappointment or humiliation. From French chagrin (sad, sorry, shagreen: rough skin). 

Latin roots

Schola: school

Scribere: to write

Copia: abundance

Perspicuous   per-SPIK-yuh-wus. Plain to the understanding especially because of clarity and precision of presentation. Based on Latin perspicere, meaning "to see through," so that which is perspicuous is clear and understandable. Perspicuous has a close cousin, perspicacious, which is used of a person with astute insight. Both words come directly from Latin adjectives that mean the same thing they do: perspicuous from perspicuus, and perspicacious from perspicax. Needless to say, it's possible to confuse the two. One easy way to keep out of trouble is to think of perspicUous as the "U" word, and remember that it means "Understandable"—in contrast to the "A" word, perspicAcious, which means "Astute."


Life has no meaning




Life has no meaning a priori. (Reasoning from self-evident propositions)  It is up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing but the meaning that you choose. -Jean-Paul Sartre, writer and philosopher