Guest Post: The Beauty of Stories

{Guest Poster Kendall Driscoll is a fellow writer and poet. Aside from kicking literary ass, she enjoys mastering every single instrument known to man, most notably the violin, flute, and piccolo. But seriously– you should see her play the Pic solo in “You Can Call Me Al.” It’s awesome. She will be attending Furman University in the Fall to study Music Education.

She wrote this post on her own blog not long ago, and I am re-posting it here with different pictures. Enjoy her words and check out her new blog at}

Once upon a time, society valued the skill of storytelling. Mothers and fathers read to their young children every night before bedtime. Friends would boast to one another about who could tell the tale of the day’s road trip better. Writers were seen as the heroes of the era for they brought adventure to our boring afternoons and created an escape from our troubled lives.


Once upon a time, storytelling wasn’t a dying art.

Sometimes, it’s sad to see what society deems as “worth it” these days. Today’s society seems to value technology to the extreme. Every day we’re surrounded by iPhones, kindles, and ever-evolutionizing gaming systems. We love the sleek look of today’s technology, the hours of entertainment obtainable from these devices, and the compact nature of these devices that allow the user to take it wherever he or she wants. But whatever happened to entertainment that didn’t involve plugging yourself into a machine?

Once upon a time, people told stories for entertainment. People read these stories, thought up their own stories, and even wrote them down to create a storybook. Stories take a reader to another world and while that world may be realistic or just pure fantasy, stories have purpose and meaning. As readers, we all can learn something new and even something deeply profound if only we continue to keep these stories alive by reading.

Sure, I enjoy having a kindle that has a library of books I can easily access any time I want, but surely it never will replace the love I have for reading an actual “book book.” I mean, isn’t it a beautiful thing to pull your favorite book from the shelf and just enjoy the aesthetic value of a real book–its dog-earred pages, its papery feel as you turn the page, its bookish smell that’s no longer the “new book smell” but now it has acclimated and acquired the familiar scent of home.

Have you ever missed being read to? You know the time when a teacher would pull out his highlighted and written-in copy of Flannery


O’Connor’s short stories and he would read aloud to the class? It’s a beautiful sight to see a class of wild and crazy high school English students settle down and listen intently to the story being told. The reader of the story is not monotone, but rather he enjoys making every voice in the dialogue different and unique. It’s entertaining and dramatic with every pause, every crescendo and decrescendo in the reader’s voice, and every staccato syllable added in for the effect of a good performance.

Once upon a time, writers were acknowledged by people with utmost respect, not as people without “real jobs.” By no means is writing an easy job. Mark Twain once said that the difference between the right word and the almost right word was “the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” Think of some of the great writers in history: Jane Austen, Homer, Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens…the list can go on forever! Writers influence people’s views of the world by telling a story of some sort.

Stories are everywhere! A story serves as an excuse for the kid who forgot to do his homework the night before. A story serves as the ice breaker for a girl on her very first date as she drives off in a car with the shy boy who sat next to her in English class. A story keeps memories alive and the dead alive in our hearts as we remember with reverence who they were. Stories touch our hearts, our minds, and our souls. They can distract us, inform us, entertain us, liberate us, berate us, comfort us, and save us. Stories make a difference in the world in which we live.

Once upon a time, I realized how important stories are to the world around us. Keep stories alive. Always.


Guest Blog: Tolerance (Or Lack of) On Social Media (Part 2)

{Yesterday, I post a blog from Will Victor (juggler, scholar, Taylor-Lautner-look-alike) on the Chik-fil-A controversy and its effects on Facebook feeds. Read Part 1 first, then commence with reading the rest. Share your thoughts below.}

Read Part 1

After having shared the said analysis of the online ideological war, you may ask me, “Will, why do you maintain your position in no mans land?”

You may tell me to listen to Danté, who once said that “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality.” So, why remain neutral? Why choose to stay in “no man’s land?”

The answer to this inquiry lies not in that I have no opinions.  I certainly have opinions on these issues. In fact, I could tell you all that I personally think about every controversial topic from abortion to the social safety net. My neutrality lies not in that I don’t have an opinion—rather it lies in accepting the reality that every one of these controversial issues has two sides, and more often than not, the reasoning used to justify supporting either side is entirely valid under the assumptions upon which the opinion was based. To give an example, I will share with you two opinions on homosexual relations. The first will support the morality of homosexual relations, and the second will debase it.

In favor of:

“Due to advances in modern psychology and research, we as humans understand that homosexuality is not abnormal. Around 5 percent of the population of humans is homosexual, and homosexuality is not a choice. It is an orientation that is determined by biological, genetic, and environmental factors. Further, to hide from one’s identity and suppress homosexual urges is psychologically harmful according to the APA. Thus, homosexuals should be supported in their decision to have relations with one another.”

In opposition to:

“On planet earth, nature has defined laws that govern itself. We call the system of morality that arises from this fact “Natural Law.” In the context of homosexual relations, natural law can conclude that homosexuality is immoral because of the following: a penis is a human body part that is meant to fertilize an egg inside of a woman. An anus is meant to expel waste from the body. These two body parts are not meant to be put together. This is quite obviously the reason why homosexual relations are immoral.”

It is easy to see how these two pieces of evidence are based off of different assumptions. The former implies that what is moral should be defined by what is deemed “normal, and healthy” by scientific research in human psychology, while the latter defines moral as determined by “natural law.” This leads us to conclude that the argument that is occurring is not just about gay marriage, it is rather about some difference in each person’s concept of the source of morality.

It is quite easy to see in the example above that two arguments can be simultaneously valid because each one is based off of a different assumption. This is why I maintain my neutrality in these issues. I’m tired of people acting like the other side is completely crazy. Many fail to recognize that the opposition is using a different set of assumptions to create their argument.

Maybe, if we better understood this, we would stop throwing ideological grenades at one another. And when everyone noticed that the mortars stopped exploding they would poke their heads out of the trenches, and approach one another peaceably. Maybe then people would start to explain their respective worldviews and either agree to disagree, or search for real compromise.

It is my hope that the armistice will come soon because I genuinely dislike watching the sentimental Facebook Christmas stories be eaten up by the bombs of ideological warfare on my mini-feed.

Guest Blog: Tolerance (Or Lack of) On Social Media (Part 1)

{The following post was authored by Aiken High School’s valedictorian and my good friend Will Victor. He will attending Duke University next year to study Math and Computer Science. He is a juggling enthusiast, teenage philosopher, and all-around good guy. This post reflects his views on several recent topics, but mostly of the recent backlash of the topics.}

When I sign on to my Facebook, I feel as if I have stepped in to a time machine. The room rumbles, and the walls crumble. My computer disappears, and I am standing in a place I wish I would never be—“no man’s land.” Yes, I’m standing in that horrible land of barbed wire and detonated mines situated directly between the trenches of opposing armies in the onslaught of the great World Wars of the Twentieth century.

Above me fly missiles of menacing memes, and to my left fiery flowcharts flash facts as if to say, “Back-off! I’m right—you’re wrong!” I begin to ask myself, “Why am I here? All I wanted was a bit of compromise…”

I feel that this has become the territory of the modern moderate. While the left and the right retreat farther into their respective war trenches, secretly developing new weapons of cyber assertion (such as memes, flowcharts, and videos), the middle of the road becomes ever more a place of “no man’s land.”

The territory of compromise and peaceful discourse that is located exactly halfway between the right and the left has turned into a burning, exploding warzone filled with barbed-wire extremism.

Over the past six months, my Facebook mini-feed has changed drastically. What used to be stories of my friends’ families home for Christmas has been replaced by bands of liberals berating Chick-fil-a for its stance on gay marriage, and conversely, millions of requests from conservatives pestering me to “go to Chick-fil-a on August 1st to support a godly business.”

Indeed, I feel that almost every post on my Facebook has to do with someone arguing that he or she is right, and that the other group of people is certifiably insane for thinking otherwise. If one is opposed to gay marriage, then he or she is a bigotrous homophobe, and if one supports gay marriage, then he or she is a moral relativist heathen.

The thing that I find interesting in the whole situation is that no one uses facebook to actually change their views on an issue. No one compromises. No one humbles themselves. In fact, I would argue that on the overwhelming whole, the information that is shared through social media is so biased that most of it just polarizes people even further. The trenches keep getting deeper, the left moves farther left, the right farther right, and the abyss which separates the two gets so clouded with smoke from exploded word bombs that those of us who are left in the middle can’t see far enough to decide which side is winning.

{For part 2, tune in tomorrow and in the mean time, share your thoughts below.}

Sample: Anti-Chik-fil-A ad



Guest Blog: Life Behind the Shelves

Libraries smell.  It’s a combination of dusty, unread pages, acrylic paintings too hideous for hotels to display, sticky PB&J hands touching every book they can reach, and pee-pee pants.  But libraries also smell of something greater.  They smell of knowledge.

Recently I’ve gotten to view libraries in a new light.  This summer I decided to do something besides sitting in my room watching countless Netflix movies and playing computer games (I suggest Hambo).  I decided to volunteer at Aiken County’s public library.  Sounds good, right?  I’d get to shuffle around all day in the air conditioning, wagging my finger at naughty children and suggesting books to kids slightly younger than me.  I’d also get to display a snazzy “Library Volunteer” pen (complete with a stick person reading a book) on the front of my multicolored shawl, always a plus.

It was a good idea…at the time.

Ever since I started volunteering there, I’ve started hating the library more and more.  Sure, it’s a great resource.  And the staff is super friendly and nice.  And there are a lot of really neat programs and stuff going on there.  But I just don’t like the public, the browsers, perusers, the grazers, whatever you want to call them.

Something about these people really tick me off.  They think it’s okay to leave books strewn across the aisles.  And it’s quite normal to find a ‘Young Adult’ book in the Children’s Room.  And despite common belief, the Spanish books go on a separate shelf, not with the baby books.  I even found a book on interracial relationships on a shelf with books for beginner readers (I left it there just for fun). These people just don’t understand.    And  I could go on, but I’d rather just leave you with the generalization I’ve made, and trust me on this one; library-goers are bad people.

But the other day, I did meet an exception.  Well, it wasn’t technically a “meet.”  It was more of an “overhearing occasion.”  A little bit of eavesdropping.  Alright, I’m not going to lie, I was straight creepin’ and creepin’ hard.

Two complete strangers struck up a conversation.  I learned that one woman was was a young single mom raising two kids after escaping a rough,abusive home life.  The other woman described how two of her brothers were shot and killed and how one day she watched her grandchild play in the front yard as a car ran off the road and broke the little girl’s neck. Her grandchild, like the brothers, died.  But, throughout the talk they spoke about God and how He helped them get to where they are today.  They were so faithful and so religious.   Both women came from, in my opinion, horrible backgrounds.  I can’t even imagine what they’ve gone through.   It made me feel not only guilty for living a comfortable life, but also jealous for their deep, beautiful relationship with God.  It made me take another look at myself.

So I guess libraries are good for something besides playing hide-and-go-seek and wasting time in the air conditioning.  Sure, I’ve got the whole love-hate relationship going on, but there is no denying that the library has taught me much more than any book could (besides maybe the Webster-Merrian Dictionary).  And so what if it does smell?!?!  That’s the smell of knowledge for you, and as we all know, with knowledge comes power. And I like power.

{Annalise Eberhard is a rising senior in high school .  She recently started blogging after her mother forced her to.  She is not a published author, poet, or anything cool like that, but she does enjoy writing and drinking grape soda.  She is a current member of the Poetry Club, National Honors Society, National German Honors Society, and the German Club, as well as Co-Editor of her school’s newspaper.  She also clogs, plays church-league basketball, and runs track and cross country.  Her life isn’t exciting, but she makes up for it by being weird. Check our her blog here}

Guest Blog: I Blog, Therefore I Am……………….. Not Talking To Myself

Guest Post by
Rather than letting my fingers do the walking, I’d try letting my fingers do the talking. At some point, someone is bound to hear me.

When I started blogging a little less than a month ago, here’s what I knew:

  1. There was more to life than teaching my dog new tricks, especially when he decided to go on strike.
  2. I had a lot to say and the few people who would listen (including my dog) were busy doing other insignificant things like earning a living or dealing with their own so called “crises.”
  3. My funny memoir stories were stuck in neutral—an uncomfortable gear for a self-proclaimed anti-procrastinator.
  4. If I didn’t use my brain to learn new things, it would immediately shrivel into a petrified raisin and my driver’s license would be revoked in 30 years.

I needed a plan. My aspiration was to devise an activity that would challenge me, breathe life into my inner writing rascal, allow me to speak my mind to someone other than my reflection in the mirror, and give me the warm glow of feeling like I made a positive difference in the world (no matter how small) with my words. I also challenged myself to write shorter sentences.

The idea of blogging wasn’t mine. Someone came up with it before me, so I can’t take credit for it. Even before he wrote, Crafting the Personal Essay, Dinty Moore (yes, that’s his name), blogging was popular. He suggested blogging—specifically on—to get your writing “out there.” Where exactly? I wasn’t sure. But since he wrote a book and I bought it, he was leaps ahead of me. I took his advice.

I knew nothing about blogs. I googled “blog”: web log. Okay. Then I called my son, explaining my plan.

“Cool, Mom. What’s the blog about?”

“What do you think it should be about?”

“Mom, it’s your blog so you should decide.”

“That’s why I’m calling you. What do people blog about?”

“Have you even read any blogs?”

“No. I read books.”

“Well, Mom, you might want to start there.”

“Okay. Let’s just say I’ve read a few blogs. What advice would yougive to me?”


“Alex, are you there?”

“Yeah. I’m thinking. Okay. Three things: keep it short, include interesting graphics, and make it either about something you’re an expert in or something you know nothing about.”


“Mom, are you still there.”

“Yeah, I’m just thinking. Thanks, love you!”

Keep it short: three words dreaded by any sociologist and I have a Ph.D. in sociology. Include interesting graphics: “interesting” is in the eye of the beholder but who would be doing the beholding? Write about what I’m an expert in or what I’m an idiot in: that covers the universe of topics.

The blog that emerged is Lorna’s Voice. Each page and post is between 500 and 600 words, a testament to hours of editing out superfluous words like “superfluous.” I spend nearly as much time nabbing“interesting” graphics from Google Images to accompany my posts. A few pictures are my own—the unprofessional-looking ones. I haven’t figured out how to include animations yet, but, hey, I’ve only been at this a few weeks…

My posts are all true, funny tales and observations about my life—past and present. If I show how I take my lumps with a helping of humor, maybe others will view their lives more light-heartedly.

That’s why I blog. How about you?

Lora’s Earl is a creative writer and published researcher. She blogs about the daring  journey we refer to as “life” in whimsical posts. Lorna is the author of an essay about post-9/11 reactions called “We Must Seeks Bonds That Link All Humans” and has ventured to write poetry and short stories for her own enjoyment. On Lorna’s Voice, found here:, she discusses her adventures, the idiosyncrasies of modern language usage, and, of course, the niceties of the very strange lives we tend to live.