Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Epiphany and other deep thoughts on Why I Write

While meandering through the collage of writer, reader and publishing professional blogs, I stumbled upon a gift.  And oh, did I ever need this very timely gift!
On Weronika Janczuk’s site I found a link to an essay by George Orwell on “Why I Write.”  Now…I am in no way suggesting I possess the genius of Orwell, but something within his message about his own journey toward serious writing resonated for me so strongly that it brought tears to my eyes.  So, of course, I have to share.
But side by side with all this, for fifteen years or more, I was carrying out a literary exercise of a quite different kind: this was the making up of a continuous ‘story’ about myself, a sort of diary existing only in the mind. I believe this is a common habit of children and adolescents. As a very small child I used to imagine that I was, say, Robin Hood, and picture myself as the hero of thrilling adventures, but quite soon my ‘story’ ceased to be narcissistic in a crude way and became more and more a mere description of what I was doing and the things I saw. For minutes at a time this kind of thing would be running through my head: ‘He pushed the door open and entered the room. A yellow beam of sunlight, filtering through the muslin curtains, slanted on to the table, where a match-box, half-open, lay beside the inkpot. With his right hand in his pocket he moved across to the window. Down in the street a tortoiseshell cat was chasing a dead leaf’, etc. etc. This habit continued until I was about twenty-five, right through my non-literary years. Although I had to search, and did search, for the right words, I seemed to be making this descriptive effort almost against my will, under a kind of compulsion from outside.”
Ahhhh….thank you, thank you, THANK YOU George Orwell.  I am not crazy—or at least, not any crazier than you!  I’ve been hearing this mental dialogue my whole adult life and I’ve finally quit running and turned to embrace it.  And, if he could describe writing as like living through a painful illness (instead of the oft claimed—I write because I must), then I know my path to this art is not so impossible.  My mind may write without prompting, but the last couple decades attest to the fact that I can live just fine without writing anything down.  I was struggling with the notion that writing might not be for me if it’s so darned hard and I really can walk away at any time. 
I guess the real question is not whether I can walk away, but do I want to?  The answer is clearly no.  If I won the lottery today, I would still want to write a novel.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What not to do...

Wow.  I just learned so much. 

Not because I read a magical book though--rather the opposite is true.  I read a book that did a lot of telling instead of showing in the first chapter, had cliched main characters without the necessary character flaws to make them real and endearing, and a plot that I could see through within the first 25 pages.  It was an enlightening experience because I could see it all as plain as day.  I knew what worked and what didn't.  And so, I know my understanding of the craft is maturing.

I am awake now.  When reading my own first attempts, I hear the same mistakes and wooden-ness.  I suppose that's half the battle--being able to recognize when the magic is missing.

I know how it sounds when the words are right.  Their rhythm.  Their cadence.  The pattern they form on the page.  Though my ear can't miss, my mind can't seem to invent the symphony on its own.  Forever working, reworking, and deleting the lines anew; feverishly trying to create the magic that flows from the pens of seasoned writers.  I pray for the talent to orchestrate my imagination as they do-to let my characters live and breathe in vivid technicolor even when written in black and white.

What I'm wondering is:  How do you get yourself to finish anything the first time?  I keep stopping and starting over.  I am the queen of chapters one-three.  Do you just not look back and gallop toward the finish regardless of how the race began?


Thursday, December 9, 2010

DemonGlass ARC Give away!!!

I really LOVED Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins.  Her snappy, funny voice full of sarcasm and wit, made me want to hang out in the dorm with her even if it contained crazy witches or possibly murderous vampires.  Sophie could totally be my bud if I was still an awkward teenager instead of a boring old mom...

Anyway, the sequel is being released on March 1, but I have located a give away... so run on over here to get the details. 


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Finally my review of Across the Universe

I know, I know I'm running late on this...
Across the Universe begins with seventeen-year-old Amy and her parents being processed into cryogenic sleep on a spaceship called Godspeed. Amy is seemingly trapped in dreams during the long 300 year journey to the new planet that her parents are supposed to help colonize.  
The story alternates point of view between Amy and a boy of seventeen named Elder who has been born and raised on Godspeed.  He is the heir apparent to the leadership role on the ship. 
Amy is suddenly awakened 50 years earlier than their projected arrival at the new planet.  Emotionally, the impact of the situation is devastating since her parents are still in stasis and cannot be awakened without endangering the entire mission.  Amy cannot be refrozen without endangering her life as well, so she is alone essentially.  She followed her parents on this frightening journey to avoid being left alone on Earth, but now she must learn to live without them in the very odd culture that’s been established on the ship.
Her awakening itself is the first mystery.  Was it an attempted murder?  That seems to be the case when several other frozen passengers are murdered or nearly murdered.  Elder, Amy and Elders friend must protect Amy’s parents and the other frozen colonists while solving the puzzle of what could motivate the attacks.
Across the Universe is absolutely an engaging read that kept me turning pages late into the night.  I had to know the secrets of Godspeed.  It reminded me of several different classic dystopian stories.  To sum up thought, I would call it a swirl of Soylent Green meets 1984 with a side of dystopian love. So, if dystopian tops your book love list, then this one will definitely be a new favorite!