A Reading List: for those who wish to become better

  1. Verlyn Klinkenborg Reading
    1. This reading will show you how to make your sentences more powerful by using less words but creating stronger meanings.
    2. “Every word optional until proven useful” (page 12)
  2. “Imag(in)ing the World Now and Then.”
    1. This blip from the blog NO CAPTION NEEDED will help you to blend the past and the present while still keeping the reader’s attention.
    2. “A quiet, restful place, with only the rhythmic sound of the waves beating on the surf, lights perhaps shining from the windows in the buildings lining the beach as a reminder of a living community. But for all of that, it is not just anywhere. It is Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer, France. Seventy years ago this past week it was known as Juno Beach, one of the primary landing zones in the D-Day invasion.“ (NOCAPTIONNEEDED Blog)
  3. “Wisconsin, Monster Capital of America”
    1. This article shows the power of proper nouns, it will explore how essential they are and the impact your work can make if you include them.
    2. ” For millennia, this wild backdrop inspired indigenous people—the Ho Chunk, Algonquians, Mississippians, Fox, Sac, Ojibwe, and others—to tell stories about living cheek by jowl with every monster imaginable” (Linda S Godfrey)
  4. “Where I Go”
    1. This collection of pieces shows the variety of work out there, it will show you that you can still be who you are while also writing for a specific audience. These pieces demonstrate taking a simple place that may mean something to you and being able to find a greater story behind it to draw others in.
    2. This can be seen in the titles of a few articles, “Every Monday I Visit Prisoners at Heathrow” “My Supermarket Doesn’t Love Me” and “A Nuclear Warhead in Suburban Orange County?”
  5. How to Write about Place
    1. This link is a general post about using details that aide the senses specifically, being able to entice sounds, smells, touching, taste, and sight are key to a well-rounded piece.
    2. ” “Landscape is not the passive object of our gaze, but rather a volatile participant…I prefer to take landscape as a collective term for the temperature and pressure of air, the fall of light and its rebounds, the textures and surfaces of rock, soil, and building, the sounds…the scents…and the uncountable other transitory phenomena and atmospheres that together comprise the bristling presence of a particular place at a particular moment.”(Mike Rollin)
  6. How to get a Reader to Care
    1. This piece illustrates many elements to help attract a reader and make them want to continue reading what you are writing.
    2. ” Recognition often creates a bond you can’t find anywhere else. You relate to the character and the lives they lead. You feel for their difficulties. You take comfort in characters knowing that you’ve felt their feelings, too.” (Agent X)
  7. 21 Funny Tips from Authors
    1. This piece is my favorite because it talks about the things no one will teach you in your English class.
    2. “The first draft of everything is shit.”(Ernest Hemingway)

A Look Inside My Soul


I am one person. One of over seven billion people, one of three hundred and nineteen million Americans, one of one hundred and fifty million American women, one of nearly two million American women born in the year 1996, but I am important. And so are you. Our world is one big place, filled with oceans, beaches, deserts, mountains, rivers, cities, and lots of people. There are black people and white people, tall people and short people, fat people and skinny people, straight people and gay people, but the common thread is we are all people. No one person better than another, no race, ethnicity, gender, or orientation is better than another. As a group of people we have been successful. We have created fire, learned to make food, learned to educate ourselves, learned how to interact with each other, learned to fly through the sky and sail across the oceans, we have learned to survive together. But have we learned how to live together? Today in our world there is a lot of hate still. A lot of people telling others they are better than them because of some reason. We need to STOP. This is our world, we only have one and we all have to share. The only way we will ever be able to live together is if we accept each other and treat everyone as equals. In order to do this we must let go of the labels we have given ourselves and remember that we are all PEOPLE before anything else.


“Work will set you free” or does it? In the photo taken at the entrance to Auschwitz concentration camp it was one of the many lies told to the prisoners. The people brought to this camp were forced to work and work and work for little to no food and forced to stay in far less than ideal sleeping quarters. The people worked until they could do no more, until they died of disease, undernourishment, or were killed by the gas, all in hopes of working for their freedom. This phrase, “work will set you free” can have many different interpretations. In today’s world, some could see that work will bring you freedom, the freedom to travel, to have luxuries, to eat the food of you desire. This also gives a false sense of hope to some though, some jobs never get better, never get a raise, never give benefits. Some people will work up until there last days never getting to experience the freedom that is talked about. The idea of the “American Dream” is founded on working to earn a living and being able to prosper because of it. This idea though is somewhat unattainable in the sense that not everyone can have all the money, never have to work again, or be able to live comfortably. Both in today’s world and the time of The Holocaust saying “work will set you free” can still be considered a lie, and instill false hope many people.


fiji beach

Personal Photo

An island off the coast of Fiji, one I never thought I would love so much. The crystal clear waters, the hot white sand, the tiny sea creature homes just beneath the surface. To think I traveled all this way with people I had met just the week before. To think such beauty could be in such a small remote place. I traveled to Fiji with a group of strangers, I didn’t know a single name or face, but when I left the island at the end of three weeks I knew I had found friends for life. Traveling with someone creates a bond within you, something you didn’t expect to find. I came into that trip with a blank slate, to be whoever I wanted, and I came out having found a missing piece of myself. This trip to an island far from home opened my eyes to the world and all its possibilities. I gained knowledge, friendship, and a new perspective. I learned to be grateful for what was before me and to never take anything for granted.

A look inside my soul

Where the power lies

A writer holds all the power within the first sentence. After that the reader with either continue to read or move on. If the reader continues the writer has captured the attention and thus regained the power. The power the writer has generated can be used to make a reader think and feel a certain way, whether it is to imagine the rain pouring from the sky, beating down on the window pane on a cold and stormy night to the way it feels to fall off your bike and scrape your knee. The writer can bend and wield words to affect the reader in different ways.

The responsibility that comes from this kind of power is to keep the reader interested. Just because the first sentence was intriguing does not mean the rest of the work can be boring and uninteresting. The writer can hold the power only if they remain interesting and continuously remind the reader to read on.  The power comes from using specific tools to enhance the writing, in class we have learned about a few of these techniques and how to apply them.

I plan to use a few tools to hold the power and keep my reader interested in what I am writing about. The first way I will do this is by using Klinkenborg’s idea of short sentences. I have and will continue to weed out the unneeded words to make each sentence the best it can be. In the sentences Klinkenborg writes he makes every sentence able to stand alone. He uses a small number of words to create a bigger impact than many would make.  Each of his sentences do not depend on the preceding or following ones which makes his overall piece much stronger.

From the blog NO CAPTION NEEDED I took away the idea of using facts and history to give a picture or place more context. Finding facts and learning about the places I was writing about made it easier to understand and put a new perspective on it. In the example within the blog, of the beach where D-Day occurred, for some it was just a beach people went to on a warm summer day, but for others it was where comrades died and lives were changed. Having all the different perspectives of a place makes it more unique and gives a connection to more readers. I applied this in my close observation project, where I brought the history of the Berlin Wall to the everyday lives of Chapman students walking by the wall together. It gave people who see the wall everyday a new perspective on the lives the wall touched before it arrived on campus.

Reading about Alain De Botton and how he is able to use details I was able to enhance my writing. I now use proper nouns opposed to everyday descriptor words. This has improved the way I can connect to an audience because instead of just a beach, it is Balboa beach with Ruby’s diner at the end of the pier. Adding proper nouns and more details give a better picture of what the reader can see. They are able to see exactly what I as a writer am trying to get them to see.

Having learned all of these tricks to keeping my reader interested I can use my power more skillfully and make my first impression one they won’t want to forget. I will use short sentences with lots of details, intertwine facts and history, and use proper nouns to more accurately convey my writing to an audience of future writers.

Where i am from

Where I’m From

personal photo

personal photo

I’m from looking forward at my unknown success to looking back at what I have accomplished,

From here and now to then and there,

I’m from loving my life to missing the past.

I’m from Cascade High school to Chapman University,

From being the best to being among the best,

I’m from my perfect paper self to the self I truly am.

I’m from rainy clouds and stormy nights to hot pavement and blistering hot days,

From a small school surrounded by cornfields, to the big city life of Chapman,

I’m from fake friends to lasting friendships.

I’m from a close knit family to a group of women,

From a sister by birth to a sister by name,

I’m from just a girl to an Alpha Gam girl.

I’m from who I thought I was to who I want to be,

From the talk of big dreams to the path of completing them,

I’m from hopes, dreams, aspirations to reality.

I’m from raging rivers to calm tributaries,

From the big brown bear to the salmon swimming by,

I’m from a passive way of life to an assertive way of being.

I’m from Oregon to California,

From Salem to Orange,

I’m from one home to another.

Home is where the heart is

Where is my home or where do I live? I live in Orange California but my home is in Salem Oregon. I picked up and moved my life 950 miles in order to go to college at Chapman University. My home in Oregon is where I have always been up until this part of my life. The smell of the ground after the rain is never the same anywhere else.  Oregon is where my family is and where I thought I would always be until I decided to go on an adventure. Living in California is my adventure.  In California I am all alone in the sense that I have no family close by. I have however formed friendships that make it feel almost like I have made a second home with my new Orange family.

A well-known quote has come to have more meaning to me on this new adventure, “Home is where the heart is”. I find this to be especially true at this point in my life. I can choose to have my home be wherever I am. I know my family supports me and loves me no matter where I am. My definition of home is where my family and the people and things I care about most are; so, if they are all in my heart then my home can be anywhere.

Having said that I think this makes my home the best place there is. I can have my home wherever I am, whether it is in Oregon, California, or across the world in London. I will always be able to bring my home with me.

For the purpose of the OC in Unison project I will explain why my home in Orange has become a home for me. The town of Orange swept me off my feet the first time I visited. The quaint circle of Old Towne Orange had me that very first time. There is so much history sitting on display here that it is hard not to want more. From the International Food Festival to Treats in the Streets the town is inviting and family friendly. It is a place you would want to spend a Sunday afternoon, where you could walk aimlessly and feel the sunshine on your face.

The City of Orange allowed me to belong, it allowed me to come here without a single friend and turn this place into a home.

Observing the wall: a look back in time

The Berlin Wall: A Reminder


Green grass. Benches. Unique art display. Students passing by. Tours being given. Chatter about the day. Plans being made. Homework being done. Sun shining. Parrots squawking. Peaceful air about the plaza. All of these things could be found nearly anywhere on campus. But this is not anywhere. This is at Liberty Plaza, between Memorial lawn and Beckman hall, a place we all pass every single day. It may mean nothing to you here in Liberty Plaza but to so many in Berlin it was a constant reminder of the war around them.

The Berlin Wall is a symbol of separation for the people in Berlin. East and West Berlin were separated on August 13, 1961. “The official purpose of this Berlin Wall was to keep Western “fascists” from entering East Germany and undermining the socialist state, but it primarily served the objective of stemming mass defections from East to West” this comes from the History Channel.  Most of the professional work force defected to West Berlin, leaving the East with very few doctors, lawyers, and businessmen.  The wall began as barbed wire but within a few days the makings of concrete slabs were starting to be put up. By the time the wall came down it had been remade three times, the final rendition of the wall is the most well-known.

When the wall was complete it had not one but two walls, as well as a death strip; complete with sporadic land mines, dogs, as well as guards instructed to shoot anyone trying to escape on the spot. Even with all these guards in place, some managed to sneak by. Around 5,000 people were able to escape the wall and cross to the other side. They did this by either driving through the wall and making a run for it, tunnels were made, hot air balloons flown, some people even scaled and then jumped off of buildings to cross over the wall. However more than 170 people were not as fortunate and lost their lives trying to cross over the Berlin Wall.

On November 9, 1989 there was an announcement made by the spokesperson for the East Berlin Communist party that the city’s relations were changing and passage through the wall would be allowed as of midnight. The crowds erupted and went to the wall, they all chanted, “Tor Auf” meaning “open the gate”. The wall came down in pieces from then until the official opening of the border was complete on October 3, 1990, nearly a year after the wall began coming down.

2015-02-20 10.53.54

–My eyes wide open I see the wall, the grass, the lily pond, the students passing by.

I close my eyes and suddenly the world around me is angry, sad, and scared of the future.

I open my eyes again and return to the present day where the skies are blue, the sun is out, and people are laughing.

Closed again the world is dim and dark, unhappiness brooding from every corner.–

The world we live in today, in the US, in California, at Chapman, is much different that the world the Berlin Wall lived in. In Berlin the decisions didn’t involve when you should get Starbucks. Berlin’s conflicts were much more important than that of an average student’s. During the time of the Berlin Wall there were food shortages, nearly one quarter of the housing had been destroyed, and there were not many opportunities for jobs. During the time of the Cold War there were many places experiencing hardships, but nothing compared to an entire city being split in half, each side cut off from one another.

At Chapman University we are fortunate enough to have an opportunity to gain an education, to live where we do without the threat of conflict around the corner. We as students take advantage of this daily, yet we fail to see how fortunate we are in our everyday lives. One way we do this is by walking around the wall. A simple task that most do not realize they are doing. The pathways on either side of the wall allow us to walk around the wall to continue on our way. This was not the case for the people in Berlin. They could not just “walk around” the wall like we do so freely. It amazes me the things we do without realizing their impact. The fact that forty years ago the wall in our Liberty Plaza was used to separate a city and now stands as a reminder to us.

A reminder to never forget. To never take things for granted. To never let a day pass by that is not lived to the fullest.

All Photos By Sarah Walling



My Theory of Writing about Place:

My theory is to look around at what you see. Then, to take what you see and find the story behind it. To tell the story, real or imaginary, so that everyone can see the beauty, the ugly, the sad, the happy, the whatever about your place. The purpose of doing this is to understand what surrounds you, to know why it is there in the first place. In my theory I want to be able to find my “home” in wherever I am, to be able to find something I can connect to. As said by Lailah Gifty Akita, “Take a great adventure to a place, learn the rich history and make your own observation about the place”. I like this because it allows anyone to decide what a place means to them after they find what it means to others.




I chose this photo because it shows a big picture. It shows all of the wall and most of the plaza while also showing the people walking by. I want to show that we walk by this everyday but do we really see it. I want people to realize we are seeing it but not seeing it.

A place of reflection

Green grass. Benches. Unique art display. Students passing by. Tours being given. Chatter about the day. Plans being made. Homework being done. Sun shining. Parrots squawking. Peaceful air about the plaza. All of these things could be found nearly anywhere on campus. But this is not anywhere. This is at Liberty Plaza, between Memorial lawn and Beckman hall, a place we all pass every single day. It may mean nothing to you here in Liberty Plaza but to so many in Berlin it was a constant reminder of the war around them.

berlin wallll

Photo by Sarah Walling

This piece of the Berlin wall was brought to Chapman in 1998 after the hard work President Doti put in to bring it to us. It took him two years to finally see the Berlin wall on his campus, on our campus. He literally moved walls to bring us this cultural structure to remind us every day where it has been and what the past was like. Since the day it was put up on our campus we have forever been changed. We have since been made aware and realized how big the wall was and the impact it has made and makes continuously to this day.

Where the Berlin Wall is today there once was nothing. As you walked to class it was empty. Liberty Plaza has become a placeholder for history. Before we walked by thinking about the future, what we would do later that day, that week, that month. Now we walk by and think of the past. Think of what this piece of history meant to so many people. We never knew the power of being able to walk around something until the wall arrived. While the wall remained intact there was no way to walk around, you couldn’t take another path or move around it, the wall was immovable. Before the Berlin wall arrived on campus it stood as a barrier to East and West Berlin, a reminder to the people each day that they were separate and consequences would be immediate if they tried to escape to the other side. This wall tore friends, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, grandparents and grandchildren apart. The wall gave no mercy. The wall gave no freedom. The wall gave only the reminder of war.

berlin wall


The Berlin wall was erected in 1961 and remained intact until 1989 when it was finally brought down and pieces were distributed around the world. Chapman University is one of twenty five college campuses in the US to receive a piece of the wall. It has special meaning here at Chapman because of the immense amount of Holocaust memorabilia and the Holocaust remembrance museum atop the Leatherby Libraries.

Returning to a place to write is important in order to see what has changed and what still remains the same. As Lity Munshi said, “returned home, an opportunity to use experiences gathered from out”, meaning that to really be able to understand something you must first leave it and then come back with new knowledge to bestow upon the old place.