Tag Archives: College

Introspective Musings About Life, Engineering, and Writing

I know I say this almost every post that’s not a short story post or another scene for Black-Heart, but boy it’s been a while since I’ve actually put anything on here.  And as you probably guessed it from the title, this post is going to be a little philosophical.  Just a bit.  There will be stuff about writing too, hopefully.  Don’t worry.

You know how in high school how the advisers and teachers and everyone else is asking what we want do or be when we grow up?  How they start pushing all us young students to choose a career path and decide who we are and want to be?  I remember it.  And call me a late bloomer, I’m still thinking about it.  But, I have a feeling we all are still asking ourselves that deep down.

For most they push those questions of careers and future onto us around senior year of high school.  Currently, it’s my senior year of college, so I’ve already made my decision in that regard.  I thought I knew what I wanted to do.  And I remember saying, “I’m going to go into Aerospace Engineering so I can go to space!”  Then things changed.  I missed the deadline for applying to University of Washington and instead got accepted to Oregon State University and University of Nevada, Reno.  Both good engineering colleges, but not for Aerospace.

Ok, so maybe Mechanical Engineering is where I would want to start.  It provides a good base for me to head into Aerospace.  Sounds good to me, I’ll start with Mechanical, get a Bachelors, and then head up to UW to get a Masters in Aerospace.  Good, I have a plan for the future.

Well, through the ups and downs of college.  The hard work, long nights and repeated struggle to keep my GPA above water, mindset’s change and with them goals.  Which keeps bringing me back to the question of what I want to be when I grow up.

It’s difficult to keep your goals and the reasons you started off with in sight when faced with repeated challenges that can seem rather daunting.  I wanted to design and build spaceships.  I wanted to be able to sit down at the drawing board and pull from my experience and knowledge the design for a ship that would best the space shuttle and bring the future of space travel into the now.  That was my reason for starting into Mechanical and wanting to head for Aerospace.

Reality hits hard however and a decent dose of it can open eyes and turn heads.  I learned that we’ve hit a bit of a wall with space travel.  Monetary wise and technology wise.  NASA no longer gets the funding it needs to put some of it’s far reaching ideas to work, and the technology to get us out there hasn’t changed in a while.  We’ve optimized it down to the best of our current knowledge.  Granted, SpaceX and the rest of the private industry are working their magic to take the next step and figure out how to go above and beyond what we currently have.

Where does that leave me however?  Sitting at the library studying my ass off in hopes I don’t fail my next test completely.  And it’s the fact that I’ve been doing that for several years now that’s gotten me thinking:  Am I cut out for Engineering?  I’ve made it this far, so why not?  Am I going to ever get to go to space, to experience the worlds that I write about?  Probably not in this lifetime– unless I want to become an astronaut and be a part of the crew on the International Space Station.  Granted, that would be cool, but I want to go farther.  But then, if I do want to go into Aerospace and try to get with a company like SpaceX, do I have the drive and dedication to stick it out for several more years to get my Masters?  Even then will I still be able to get in with SpaceX?  Do I even want to go to Grad School?  What would I research if I did?  Am I even interested in a specific area of Mechanical, or Aerospace Engineering to even want to get that in-depth with it?

That seems to be the one thing that’s been plaguing me the most.  Am I interested enough in my chosen major or even specific aspects of that major that I want to work with it the rest of my life?  So far I’ve encountered many things in engineering that have been “neat” and “cool” and “interesting”, but I haven’t found anything that stands out enough to me where I could say, “This is the coolest thing ever!  I want to learn everything I can about this one thing and I would be happy doing this for the rest of my life!”  And that troubles me.  I look at everyone else around me and the majority of them have something that they want to do in engineering, some goal that they are working toward.

And this brings me full circle:  What is my goal?  What do I want to do with my life, with my degree?  Well, I know the reason I got into engineering in the first place: to head up into space.  Maybe that’s all well and good, but what’s the core of that want?

Let’s refine it a little bit:  Ever since I can remember I’ve been obsessed (I guess you could call it that maybe) with science fiction, mainly the space opera genre.  I love seeing the amazing star-ship concepts that people come up with to traverse the vast darkness of space and all the little technical details of those ships.

Ok, that’s a start.  Let’s refine it some more:  Well, I want to see those ships and everything that makes them work become a reality.

Good.  Superb.  That’s a helluva good reason to get into engineering.  And that takes into account more than just Aerospace, right?

Sure, let’s follow that train of thought for a moment and make it a slightly more general statement, something to build off of:  The reason I’m working to become a Mechanical Engineer is to see science fiction become a reality.

Let’s get building then.

When I see others’ goals in engineering, I feel they’re more geared toward the industry.  “We’re going to revolutionize it and make it better, faster, more efficient with this component or gizmo.”  This seems to be the driving statement behind everything in engineering.

That’s cool.  But I’m not sold, completely.  How about this?  Let’s take this ridiculous, fantasmical concept that everyone thinks is fantasy and make it a reality.  Screw optimization, lets get our hands dirty.  Trial and error!  Let’s build something from science fiction!

Now that I can get behind.  Maybe that statement was there at the beginning when I started out in Engineering, but as the end of college nears, it’s all “specialize in this”, “learn how to do that”, “you’ll need it in the industry.”  What if sitting behind a desk isn’t what I want?  What if the reason I’m learning all this stuff isn’t to go out and be “successful” in life?  Frankly I could care less about being successful in the industry.  As long as I can build myself a ship that will traverse the stars, I could be the poorest man on the Earth and still be happy when I woke up every day.

Next question:  How I am I going to go about achieving that?

Well, back to square one, I guess.  At least I’ve determined a goal I can get behind.  Maybe this is why I like writing so much.  I get to create all this fantasmical tech and then put it into a universe where I can play with it.

I guess as long as I can write and keep making up crazy ideas for technology that I would like to see happen, I would be alright with living a mild-mannered life as long as I have someone to share it with, and a decent pay rate to keep myself elbow deep in my random hobbies and entertainment.

Well, that makes for an uplifting and slightly depressing blog post.  At least, for me that is.  Even being back at square one, I guess it helps that I can start somewhere with a better idea of what I want.

And the tl;dr version:  Bit of an existential crisis.  I’m a writer trying to be an engineer and an engineer trying to be a writer and it’s not doing me any favors with the choices that I’ve made.

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Spring Spirit

Spring has sprung—more or less where I am—and with it comes spring cleaning and getting ready for Spring term of college.  One week is not enough for me to be ready to go back to sitting hunched over the grindstone honing my brain into a sharp weapon of knowledge.  We’ll see if that every really happens.  I may just turn my brain to mush trying to hone it on a grindstone.  I don’t think that could be very good for a brain.

Nevertheless, I’ve been slacking off this past week as much as possible.  I got my apartment to looking nearly spick and span and have delved deep into the campaign of Gears of War: Judgment.  Which if you haven’t, I highly recommend that you take a look at it.  It’s got a great story and some fun gameplay to boot!

In other news though, I haven’t sold any more copies of Star Catcher, which I sort of expected to happen.  As much as I’ve been promoting it, college and other things have taken priority and I haven’t been promoting it at all.  So in light of that and slowly getting my arse in gear with Theo’s Story and getting that published, I figured I’ll drop the price down to $0.99.  A whole $2.00 drop.  All it means is less money for me.  But I put it out there for myself and anyone who wants to read it, not to make tons of money off of.  Aside from the fact that it’s my only book that I’ve published.

And if you haven’t picked up a copy yet, it’s super cheap now!  And—link!

Star Catcher

Help out a poor college student who needs to pay off his ever-increasing loans.  Haha, they’re not that bad—yet.

But I digress.  I was also thinking about publishing Star Catcher with Amazon’s Create Space which would enable it to be bought as a paperback.  I wonder though if that would have any influence on who would purchase it.  It would open up a new audience, though I would have to get back to work promoting it before anyone would even know about it.

Oh well, I’ll keep that option open.  For now though, I’m going to get back to enjoying my spring break!  Hope everyone is having a nice beginning to spring as well!  If not, get out there and enjoy it!

Cheers!

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Coming to a Close: November

So, it’s November thirtieth, NaNoWriMo is coming to a close, and I am sad to say that I will not be able to make to 50,000 words this year.  And I have an explanation as to why I was not able to reach the goal that I’ve reached in past years.

College.

That’s my explanation for my lack of writing time.  I’m in Pro-school this year, as a Junior and as an engineering student, I do a lot of work.  More than a lot.  Most of my time between classes and on weekends is taken up by work and what little free time I do have, I spend it sleeping.  And when I did find time to write I wasn’t able to pound out enough words to stay ahead of the curve on this one.

So… let’s just say I have half a manuscript and leave it at that for this November.  It’s not a full one, but it’s something to continue working off of.  That unto itself I feel is an accomplishment, so to every NaNo participant out there who didn’t make it to 50,000, don’t feel bad.  You’ve done a great thing!  You took the plunge and you came out with something.  Hopefully came out with something. Even if you didn’t, that’s ok too.

I’ll keep working on it over the next few months and see if something comes of it.  I was also running low on ideas for what to do next in the story.  Writing Aaron’s story the way I have been, blog post by blog post has been much nicer in a way as it gives me time to think of where the plot needs to go and take it a scene at a time.  Trying to cram it all into one month was a bit of a challenge this time, especially with college.

And on that note, finals week is next week!  Which means I have no class, any may be able to work on some more writing between the many hours of studying I plan to do so I can pass all my classes.  Woot!

Short update.  I will hopefully have more as the term comes to a close and I begin to get more sleep.

Until then, happy writing!

Cheers!

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Taking the NaNo Plunge

Well, I’ve decided that I’m gonna do it.  It’s not going to be fun though as I have a good number of college classes to study for and an idea that’s only half fleshed out.  I’m not so worried about the idea as I am the classes.  16 credits is enough to keep me busy to where I have little down time, but I think I will be able to squeeze in about 2000 words a day, maybe.  I’m really going to have to work on weekends and I’m going to have to find somewhere I can be alone to write.  I have three roommates now so that’s going to be a challenge.

I doubt with midterms and finals and everything happening right now I will be able to get a full draft done during November, but I’m resolved to try.  I will need some new music and some new inspiration as to what is going to happen with Aaron on his little adventure in this book.  Ideally I should be writing about Jayko and continuing his story, but the draft I wrote last NaNo is not finished and I’m not sure where I want to go with him.

I’ve always been a pantser—I write by the seat of my pants—so I’ve never done an outline and it seemed to work in the past, but I haven’t been at my best with my writing lately and that’s probably due to the all the stress.  I have been itching to write, so that is a good thing.  I just need to force myself to.  And I’m rambling on…

I’ll post updates throughout November when I have time, but between school and writing and my forgetfulness they will probably be few and far between, but that’s how it’s been lately anyway, so there’s really going to be no change.  I think I will post excerpts though this time around—can’t remember if I did last time.  They will be unedited and raw creativity, so there will be misspellings and errors all over the place.  Just a heads up!

Oh, and tomorrow is Halloween!  I don’t think I will be doing much since I will have homework that is due the day after, but nonetheless— Happy Halloween Everyone!

Cheers!

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Life and Upcoming NaNoWriMo

So… yeah… I’ve haven’t been back here in a while.  I kinda took an impromptu break from working on the blog when college suddenly hit.  That and it was also my birthday toward the beginning of the month.  The fourth to be exact.  And I also came down with a cold and I still can’t seem to shake the cough it left me with.  It’s not bad, but annoying.

Anyway, that’s my first excuse for why I haven’t updated in a while.  The second reason it college is back in full swing and this year is going to be a challenge.  Odd, I’m almost sure I said this last year too.  Déjà vu!  Well being a Junior this year I’ve entered into the higher level classes finally and they are more of a challenge than what I’ve taken before.  Thus the majority of me time and thoughts will be on studying.  This leaves me less time for writing, and as such, I’m going to change my random schedule that I had for posting and slim it down to once a week, if that.

We’ll see how it goes, but you all didn’t come here to listen to me give excuses and rant about college!  You came here to listen to me talk about my writing!  Right?  Regardless, that’s what I’m going to talk about.

Next month is NaNoWriMo!  I’m stoked!  And yet at the same time, I’m probably not going to be doing it as I will have no time with the previously mentioned college taking my life.  I also haven’t had any earth shaking ideas to inspire me in my writing.  Theo’s story still doesn’t have a title, not that I’ve actually devoted a massive chunk of my time to finding one or even trying to sketch out a cover.  It seems every time I come up with an idea for it, it doesn’t fit just right with the story or it’s already taken.  But with so many books and movies out there, it’s hard to not come across a title that hasn’t already been used.

Also Jayko hasn’t taken off anywhere in his story and I need to finish off the what I wrote last NaNoWriMo before I will be able to continue with his story.  Lately my mind has been with Aaron and how I can progress his story.  I’ve been stuck with how to progress his story along to the end I would like to see for it, but it’s hard when there’s not much when my creativity won’t cooperate.  I think that I need to pick up a book and start reading again, I haven’t done that in a while and I need to.  I’ve got a list of books I need to read and for some reason I just can’t bring myself to pick them up.

That aside, back to NaNoWriMo and Aaron, I did have a spark of an idea that I want to pursue.  It basically involves what happens to Aaron after the end of the storyline I’ve been posting here.  I want to end it in a way that leaves him stranded somehow.  From there I want him to discover what it truly means to wield the power he’s been bestowed with.  That and he has to find out what Headquarters is up to and stop them.  And there’s going to be something with Van, but I don’t want to reveal to much yet as I don’t even know what’s going to happen!

That said, I need to gauge my time and see if I can get my schedule in order by the end of this month if I’m even going to have any thoughts of trying to do NaNoWriMo.

So there you all have it, college, life, and NaNoWriMo wrapped up into one post.  And a long one at that.  I’d thought this was going to be a short post, but I apparently had more to say than originally planned.

Oh well, more of Aaron’s story is up next.  Happy Writing!

Cheers!

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A Motivational Dilemma

I don’t know if I’ve said this on my blog before, but I’ve never been a people person.  And that’s true on many levels.  I prefer to stay inside where I can have little contact with the outside world.  Social interaction makes me nervous and talking to someone I don’t know scares the daylights out of me.  Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it get’s the picture across.  I’m not nearly that bad, but it doesn’t help with interviews.

And the letter that I got this morning from MECOP (Mechanical Engineering Co-op, or something like that, I can’t ever remember) punctuates that for me.  As anyone who’s been keeping up with my recent posts would know, I’m going to college at Oregon State University and this whole MECOP thing is an internship program where they sit you down in front of a panel of representatives from companies and you get interviewed.  Now, glance back to the top of the page where I just finished saying how I don’t like social interaction.  Needless to say I did my best and came out of the interview feeling alright.  I remember feeling like that, but as my analytical mind would have it, I kept thinking back on the interview and what I said, and honestly, I could have come up with better responses than the ones that I gave them.

As much as I assured myself that I did alright, I knew deep down that I hadn’t done my best in there.  For a first interview, it was good, I’ll grant myself that since I’ve never done anything like that ever.

That’s all well and fine, but on to why I titled this post the way I did.  The results of the MECOP interviews are in and the letter I got had the heading: “Denial Notification”.  Cheery header right, but that I was all I needed to read to know that I had not made the cut for any of the companies looking to pick up interns.  Don’t worry, I read the letter through twice, and it basically says the same thing as that header.

So, this basically means for me, my long term plans, have been uprooted and I’m staying here in Corvallis for the next Spring and Summer term and I will apply next year.  Needless to say, I’m in a rather less than happy mood and pity anybody that looks at me the wrong way, but on the bright side of things, it gives me time to focus and get more of my education done before heading off into the industry.  Hah!  I think I said in a previous post, I’d currently my motivation.  I set my self some short term goals, but this doesn’t help me with my long term goals.  And really, anymore I don’t have much of a clue as to where or what I want to do.  All I know is that I want to finish up this Bachelor’s degree.  After that, who knows.

Becoming a full time writer, though not the most lucrative job is looking better and better.  Maybe I’ll sign up for a writing class this next term.

If you’ve made it this far into the post, thanks for sticking it through my rant, and if you’re a long time reader, thanks for sticking with my blog.

You know, I think I might have found some motivation to write cause I need to get rid of all this pent up emotion and writing helps.  I guess on that note, expect more Black-Heart installments.

Cheers!

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Creativity Found, Motivation Lost

I’ve found it!  More or less that is.  But where I’ve found some of my creativity, wherever it had been hiding, my motivation has vanished there.  And just as I was getting settled into my apartment and getting things in order and starting to get a schedule going.

So, I have found out that moving into an apartment and going to college at the same time is really hard.  About half the boxes are unpacked and their contents put away.  I was able to get the majority of my stuff unpacked, but my roommate on the other hand has quite a bit of stuff and he’s busy trying to keep up with his summer classes to get it put away.  I’ve tried to do my best, but it just hasn’t happened.

And neither has my writing.  I’ve gotten no where with Theo’s Story.  I’m just starting to get ideas popping into my head for Aaron’s little tale and want to start writing on that, but all I’ve been able to do is play Minecraft.  At least I’m able to put my creativity into that.

I think one of the reasons that I haven’t had any motivation is because it’s so hot here.  Our apartment has no A/C and with the weather having been so hot, and us having two computers running nearly 24/7 it heats up the place.  We’ve got multiple fans running around the clock as well, but it just doesn’t help all that much at times.

So that doesn’t help.  Heck, it was hard enough trying to sit down in a hot room to write this post, but I figured I should force myself to start writing something again.  I can’t neglect my readers.  Therefore this weekend I am forcing myself to sit down and write something.  Or it may be sooner, but not later!  I can’t put my writing off anymore.  I want to get Theo published, and it will happen before the end of the summer!

There!  I’ve set a goal, now let’s see if I can stick to it.  Without any motivation, that might be hard, but I’m going to damn well try!

Now, off to force myself do homework that I have even less motivation to do.

Cheers!

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