Great Holiday Gifts for Writers and Readers

As a writer and reader with writer/reader friends, I love brainstorming bookish gifts to put under the tree. Most people tend to think the only thing to get a writer/reader is a notebook or a random new release or a gift card to Barnes & Noble. But au contraire, mon amie; there is a vast world of gifts out there for the literary-minded sort, and I’ve come up with a list of gift ideas to prove it. (That sounded like such an advertisement. Am I in the wrong field?)

1. Coffee/tea mugs

Reading is Sexy Coffee Cup

Who doesn’t love a good mug? Even if you don’t like hot drinks, you can use it for cereal or (sometime in the dead of night when there’s nobody around to judge you) candy.

This cup is from Etsy. Click on the image if you’d like to buy it!

2. Hairstick

Hairsticks

For your long-haired reader/writer friends, hairsticks are awesome. You haven’t felt artsy until you have one of these things in your hair. This one is from Etsy, so click if you like it!

3. Bookmarks

Wicked Witch bookmark

You can’t go wrong with bookmarks. I mean, for real, you actually can’t. Also, this Etsy bookmark is supercalifragicool so you should totes click the image and buy this beauty.

4. A Really Old Book

Old books are not only great decor, but it’s just an awesome feeling in general to know that the book in your hands has been through a lot of shit. There will likely be names or random notes or dates that just make it even more interesting; my writer girlfriend found an old book of maps and geographic facts (I think it was in France, but I can’t remember) and her face lit up like a Christmas tree. It’s no joke. Plus, they’re super easy to find. Just pop into your local used bookstore or even just an antique store and you should be able to find something with a halfway decent price tag.

5. Fingerless Gloves

Fingerless Gloves

I don’t know about you, but holding a book and typing up stories on my laptop in winter is kind of sucky because your hands are constantly freezing, even indoors. At this very moment, as I write this post, I’m having to take breaks to stick my hands under my legs and warm them up.

6. Beverage of Choice

Beverage

Does your giftee enjoy the delights of raspberry tea? Or perhaps is enraptured by the sweet aroma of cocoa? Gifting somebody with their favorite drink, even if it’s something  as mundane as beer or Kool-Aid, is a nice way to say, “Hey, we must be real friends if I know your beverage of choice. This Diet Cherry Coke is proof that I care.” And it also means your giftee won’t have to go shopping for their favorite drink for a while longer.

7. Anything Handmade

Monogram Art

I’m not remotely artistic, but I can write a poem for someone for Christmas. You may not be a writer like your giftee, but if you can draw a heart with “Happy Holidays” in the middle of it and stick it in a frame, I at least would be thrilled. Even if you can’t sculpt a lifesize marble replica of your giftee, you can still make something, be it a cool crayon monogram or even cookies. But chucking $50 on some random piece of art isn’t going to be nearly as meaningful as something you’ve made yourself.

8. A Bookish Date

This isn’t so much a gift as it is a significant-other arrangement. Don’t just give your darling dearest a gift card to Border’s—take them to the bookstore and buy them a book they find, or just spend the day exploring the shelves and bonding over literature. Take them to a book signing, spend the day curled up together on the couch reading to each other, have an intense debate about Charles Dickens over take-out. Your writer/reader will be happy to know that even if you yourself aren’t a raging book addict, you don’t want that part of their life to be something outside of your relationship. Getting involved with their passion, even in a small way, shows that you love that aspect of them.

That’s it! I’d love to hear about your gift ideas, or what you’d like to give/receive for the holidays. I myself would kill for another bookcase so I don’t have to keep stacking books by my bed. ;)

I hope you’re having a great December so far wherever you are!

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Thoughtful Thursday: Pantsing vs. Plotting

Thoughtful Thursday is my own little meme in which I share my thoughts on a certain topic relating to writing, reading, and (on very special occasions) random things.

I’m one of those people who likes to plan. I’m a list addict and I make budgets for fun and I’m very anal about certain things. My shirts are organized by color and I have a bookmark in just about every color so that I’m never forced into a horrid situation where I have to pair an orange bookmark with a blue book cover.

So I guess it’s no surprise that I’m more of a plotter than a pantser. Which can be a bit of a problem because I’ll get so caught up in reading books on novel writing and making elaborate charts and diagrams for my stories and characters that by the end of it, I’ve got a stack of blueprints and outlines and worksheets and a word count of 2 (those two words say as follows: Chapter One). It’s a bit like rolling down a hill; once you start plotting, you can’t stop.

Or at least that’s how it is for me. I know plenty of people who loathe outlines, and sometimes it works for them, sometimes it doesn’t. I know plotters who hate plotting but do it anyway because otherwise what they write will be crap. I know pantsers who can sit there with an idea and just spill out something beautiful without a single thought for graphs and charts and writing techniques. It really depends on the person.

But with that being said, there are some definite pros and cons to each method.

Plotting Pros

  • No surprises: You’re much less likely to find yourself 30k into a first draft before realizing that it’s all wrong.
  • Less writer’s block: You won’t be sitting at your desk staring at a blinking cursor for hours at a time. With an outline, you’ll at least know what comes next, even if you’re not sure how to write it.
  • Fewer plot holes: Outlining is a big plus in this way because it’s much easier to see issues in your story when looking at a chart or spreadsheet rather than when you’re writing the actual novel. And if you write the whole thing by the seat of your pants and go back to read it, it’s likely that some of those same issues that would’ve popped up in the outline will slip past your radar.
  • Cool stuff: Plotting can be so much fun with all of the cool techniques and software and books that are out there. I mean, color coding and drawing giant maps and doing elaborate designs is pretty awesome, especially when it doubles up as an actual means of productivity.

Plotting Cons

  • No surprises: If you’re the type of person who enjoys discovering the story as you go, outlining will take that first-time thrill away from you.
  • Time eater: Sometimes you can get so stuck on plotting and using cool software and tricks and marking every tiny detail that you never get around to the actual writing (it’s certainly happened to me).
  • Burnout: It’s not uncommon for a writer to spend so much energy and effort on an outline that by the time they’re all prepped and ready to go, there’s just no drive left to write the actual novel.
  • Potentially choppy first draft: While an outline is certainly useful, it’s easy to get stuck on following it to the point that you’re just checking off scenes. Protagonist breakdown? Check. First date? Check. Protagonist conquers evil? Check. And it won’t be very fun to read because there’s no real life in it.

Pantsing Pros

  • The thrill of discovery: It’s a wonderful feeling to have epiphanies during writing. Every word you write is a kind of discovery. You get to know your characters and your story and your setting in a very fresh, exciting way.
  • Writing only: Without an outline, you have nothing to focus on except writing, which can mean you get more writing done in less time.
  • Less boredom (possibly): If you never know what’s coming next, there’s bound to be more excitement in writing, and because of it, you’ll probably get more words on the page.

Pantsing Cons

  • Revision will be hell: Your first draft is most likely going to be very messy and revising it is going to equate to rewriting the whole thing.
  • Major issues popping up: You could very well end up with 50k of plotholes, underdeveloped characters, and it can be really overwhelming to see how much work will need to be done to fix everything, which could put you off the whole project.
  • Your plot will likely be rather basic: Without an outline, it’s hard to thread more complex storylines together to make a more interesting read, so it could end up rather dull.

I think the important thing to remember when considering how to write your novel is that there is no right way. No two people work the same way, so your method of writing will and should be completely unique to you. You may be 100% plotter or 100% pantser, or a mix of both, like me. Just find what works best for you and do it.

3 Things to Consider When Writing A Novel

These three questions aren’t in any particular order, and they certainly aren’t irrefutable nuggets of truth. My ideas about writing may not match your ideas, and that’s perfectly alright. These questions simply explore what I have experienced and felt as both a writer and a reader, and I wanted to share them.

A Note: While I’ve geared this post toward novel-writing, I’m fairly sure it’s applicable to not only other forms of writing, but really to any form of creative expression.

This is huge. HUGE. You can’t write without a reason. Or, come to think of it, you could—theoretically—but there’s a 95% chance that whatever you wrote would be crap.

There are thousands upon thousands of reasons why people write. It can be therapeutic, rewarding, entertaining, but it has to be something. You wouldn’t spend $1 million on a mosquito, would you? (For those of you who answered yes to that question, kindly escort yourself away from my blog and into a mental hospital, please and thank you.) Not unless you had a reason for buying that mosquito. Maybe the mosquito is actually a robot and you are a collector. Maybe the mosquito is the last mosquito on earth and you are a (deranged) scientist who wants to preserve the species. But there is a reason you want that mosquito.

In the same way (leaving the horrid mosquito metaphor behind), you must have a reason for writing. Maybe you’re writing to make money (good luck, mate); maybe you’re writing to distract yourself from something unpleasant in your environment; maybe you’re writing because some mad bloke is holding a gun to your head demanding you write him a sonnet.

Whatever the reason, it must exist, and it must be solid. Otherwise, you can write, but you can’t create.

Personally, I write because I enjoy it. It’s fun, it’s interesting, and I’m good at it. That’s my reason. What’s yours?

This isn’t particularly related to formatting, although that’s certainly something else to consider. But what do you want your novel to be? Do you want it to be cute and fun like Pulling Princes? Dark and dangerous like Dracula? Charming and magical like Matilda? Write with the spirit of your idea. If you’re going to write about a murderer hunting his next victim, don’t drop in slapstick humor just for the hell of it. If you’re writing a children’s book, don’t build a plot around real estate marketing or quantum physics research. Consider your content, your objective, and your own personality, and write with a certain tone already in mind. This will help you not only get to know your story better, but help you write it better too. A lot of writers don’t plot everything out from the beginning, but the good ones have at least the feel of the story and write every word to fit that particular mood.

3 Things3

This is sort of a trick question. You ought to be writing for your own sake, because you want to or you need money or some other reason that involves you. Writing is in many ways a selfish occupation, and using it for gain, healing, or entertainment is one of its primary functions for people. You must write for yourself before you can write for anyone else.

But with that note aside, consider your potential audience. You may not plan for your novel to ever see the light of day, which is perfectly alright, but if you have even a smidgen of an inkling that someone other than yourself might someday lay eyes on your work, think about that. Think about the kinds of people your book may attract and ask yourself what you would say to that group if given the chance. If you’re writing a teen romance, who might pick up that book? Teenage girls, of course. So what would you say to a teenage girl? What advice would you have to offer her? Perhaps you might want to remind her that breakups aren’t the end of the world, or her own self-worth is more important than any boy, or there are worse things in life than having zits or nagging mothers.

This isn’t something that you necessarily have to incorporate into your novel. Your theme doesn’t need to revolve around any particular gem of wisdom you have for your audience, but it will likely be influenced by how you answer this question.

Update Chat

So, the month of October has been general insanity, especially with college applications, senior project, midterms, deadlines, and general mayhem.

Shockingly, this has resulted in very little writing time.

I have, however, had the chance to hone my editing skills as my BFF and partner in madness, Ms. Julia Debski, asked me to be the butcher—er, editor—of her debut novel, The Hazel Tree. That book is now published (*quiet flailing*) so I would love for you go check it out. It’s on Kindle for $1.99 and you can also get it in paperback for $9.50, so seriously, go take a look. It’s awesome and full of werewolves and romance and super-creepy Alphas and super-sexy cousins (*cough*ROB*cough*). As soon as the gods bless me with $10, I will be reading and reviewing this beauty, so stay tuned.

In other news, I am doing my best to write while still clinging to the last vestiges of my sanity (which never existed in the first place according to my loved ones). I’m taking my own advice and writing the best bullshit I can, but I’ll be honest—my personality does not deal well with imperfection, so I’m not chucking out as much nonsense as I’d like. Still, progress.

This coming week is also my fall break (THANK YOU JESUS) so I’ll hopefully have a lot more time for writing, reading, stressing over college, and obsessing over CW’s new TV show “Reign”. Seriously, ridiculous historical inaccuracies aside, it is my most delicious guilty pleasure show this season. But, yes, writing is hopefully happening, along with chipping away at my positively gargantuan TBR pile, starting with a book about the Mongol Queens and John Green’s The Fault in Our Starsas well as finishing “‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore” and The Tao of Pooh. I decided to join this year’s Wonderfully Wicked Read-A-Thon mostly because Halloween is fantastic and this is great motivation for me to put more effort into reading.

As part of this update post, I’d like to include a list of things I’m doing/obsessing over that I’d love for you to check out, which I may or may not have already mentioned above, but we’ll ignore that because I like to make lists. It soothes me.

1. The Hazel Tree

2. Emma Approved (a vlog series by Hank Green)

3. Reign, CW’s new supermegafoxyawesomehot TV show

4. Composing a SSAATB choral piece based on Secret Garden’s Sleepsong

5. New theme which I can’t remember the name of but love purely because a chubby, smiling apple is involved.

6. Einstein Bros. Bagels

7. Beautiful fall weather, nice and cool and fantastic. Absolute favorite season ever because sweaters and hot cider and pretty colors and Halloween.

8. Is anyone else emotionally traumatized by that bizarre “Girls Don’t Poop” ad with the ’50s redhead with a British accent posing on a toilet and referring to her poop at least a dozen times in the space of 20 seconds? That poor actress will probably never have another job offer EVER AGAIN.

That concludes this little post. If you are reading/watching/being traumatized by anything I’ve mentioned, please comment so I can join in your joy/pleasure/horror. And don’t forget to check out the fabulous Julia Debski’s new novel The Hazel Tree!

Stacking the Shelves #1

***Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It’s a chance to share any books you’ve bought, borrowed, or received in the past 7 days. All of the books on this list are linked to Goodreads.

Here I go, diving into these awesome memes! I’ve been buying wayyy too many books considering the amount of time I have to actually read them (which adds up to about .5 seconds per day), so I figured I should share them with the masses. Or rather, any poor unfortunate souls who happen upon my wee little blog.

And with that, here we go!

1. How to Read Literature Like A Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines by Thomas C. Foster

This is something I’m reading to help me with my senior project. I’m shadowing an English professor and if all goes well, my final product will be a completed syllabus and outline for a course on banned/controversial books.

2. The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

I am so excited to write a review for this book. It’s basically a conversation between the author and Winnie the Pooh about Taoism and it’s so freaking adorable.

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3. The Three Theban Plays by Sophocles

This includes the three Greek tragedies “Antigone”, “Oedipus Rex”, and “Oedipus at Colonus”. I’ve read the first two for my lit class and enjoyed them, although Greek ideals amuse me.

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4. “Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screenplay” by Annie Proulx, Larry McMurtry, and Diana Ossana

I didn’t know how much I needed this until I saw it on the shelf. I’m very intrigued by screenwriting, so maybe this will inspire me to give it the old college try.

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5. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

This is for my lit class. I cannot believe I’m actually going to read an entire book about a giant bug. God help me. Although this brings up my favorite joke (which, to my knowledge, I came up with): What is it called when you are attracted to a bug? INSECTuous. (Please laugh. That was funny, admit it.)

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6. The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire by Jack Weatherford

Women in history=my favorite thing ever. Especially when we’re talking about women who are traditionally overlooked by historians and society in general (aka, basically all women). I’m not sure just how well-researched this book is, but the title is enough for me to want to read it.

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7. Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World by Claire Harman

I have a bumper sticker on my car that says “I Heart Jane Austen” and I basically worship her. She’s such a clever author and her books are just chick-flick enough to warm the cockles of my heart and just sad enough that I have to wipe away at least one tear per reading. So obviously I’m all over a book that equates to a big giant “Kudos to Jane!” banner.

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8. Book Smart: Your Essential Reading List for Becoming A Literary Genius in 365 Days by Jane Mallison

I feel like I should know the classics. I mean, they’re classics for a reason you know? So I should at least give them a chance and try to understand why the literary has embraced them so fully. And a guide to finding those books never hurt anybody. ;)

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9. “Howl” and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg

Ginsberg was pretty…interesting. I watched that movie with James Franco and I liked what I saw, and I hate reading poetry on the Internet (it feels like cheating) so I thought I’d go ahead and buy his stuff. Also, the little book is really thin and tiny and cool.

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10. Manhattan Transfer by Dos Passos

I bought this for my lit. class, didn’t read it, and there’s not really a need to read it anymore, so this is going on the Maybe Someday shelf. If anyone reading this post enjoyed this book, please comment below and tell me why you liked it. I’ve heard plenty of negatives about it, but not enough positives.

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11. Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason by Nancy Pearl

Who doesn’t want a book of lists? As a self-diagnosed list-maniac, I drool over books like this.

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12. “The Merchant of Venice” by William Shakespeare

It was 20 cents! What was I supposed to do, leave it?

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13. “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare

I feel like your bookshelf isn’t complete without some R&J.

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14. “Henry V” by William Shakespeare

I dunno, it was cheap and I’ve always been mildly interested in it, so why not?

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15. “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare

Well we’re reading this in lit in the spring, so I thought I’d be a total nerd and read it now instead.

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16. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

I’m considering putting this on my fake syllabus for my senior project. I’m not that excited about reading it to be honest, but I’m going to try my best.

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17. “‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore” by John Ford

I’m actually really excited about reading this. It’s an early 17th century play about a brother and sister who fall in love (with each other, in case that wasn’t clear), and I’m just coming off a pretty serious “Borgias” kick, so I need something taboo and scandalous to keep me going. (I think incest is a thing now. It seems like it’s all over HBO. Which, if I’m honest, doesn’t bother me at all.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list, and if you have any recent additions to your bookshelf, you can comment here or make your own Stacking the Shelves post!

The Art of Writing Bullshit

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I feel like writing is rather like acting. In order to be great, you have to be willing to make a fool out of yourself. Now actors, don’t be offended, but the stage and screen require a certain dose of silliness to be authentic; I find it is the same with writing. To write empathetically, to write from the heart, you have to move past fear and give yourself over to your most ridiculous fantasies. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be afraid–you bloody well ought to be–but writing is an outlet for insanity, and thus deserves to be indulged.

So, with that attitude in mind, try your best to write bullshit. Don’t allow your brain to censor your mind. Don’t be afraid to write stupid things, or impossible things, or mad things, as long as you do write. Part of the fun of writing is just that: having fun. There are no right or wrong answers on the page. There are only words, and what you choose to do with those words is your gift and your legend, so set your plans and your literary expertise aside for awhile and just let the bullshit flow. After all, there’s always time to go back and revise. But restricting your own imagination to the confines of what you feel or have been told is appropriate defeats the entire point of writing; without putting those organic, crazy, unrefined thoughts onto paper, you have no base to build on. How can you edit something physically if you’ve already edited it mentally?

Take my advice: write bullshit. Get it out. Don’t try to tame your imagination. Let it do what it wants. You can worry and fuss about the details later.

 

Guess Who’s A Quarter Finalist!!!

So about a month ago I entered this contest thingy on MyFamilyTravels.com for a scholarship in which I basically wrote a short piece on my long weekend in Cambridge this past May. The focus of the contest was on writing about a place where you feel at home, a place that you love and connect with, which Cambridge certainly fit into. So Saturday night it struck me that they might have made some progress in judging the entries (and there were literally THOUSANDS of entries), so I took a peek into my Spam folder just in case it happened to get shuffled away without my knowing, and sure enough, there was an email. I am officially a Quarter Finalist (top 14%) in the contest!

What does that mean, you ask?

I’ve actually got no bloody clue.

think I’m still in the running to win the actual scholarship, as they apparently haven’t picked the winners just yet, but I’m not sure.

Anyway, I thought, as a sort-of blog post, I might offer up a link to my entry. Cambridge was absolutely lovely and I’m glad I actually got the chance to write about it AND potentially be given cash for doing so. (Always a bonus.)

Happy Tuesday!

Review of “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” by Chris Hedges

Genre: Nonfiction, philosophy, war

Synopsis: As a veteran war correspondent, Chris Hedges has survived ambushes in Central America, imprisonment in Sudan, and a beating by Saudi military police. He has seen children murdered for sport in Gaza and petty thugs elevated into war heroes in the Balkans. Hedges, who is also a former divinity student, has seen war at its worst and knows too well that to those who pass through it, war can be exhilarating and even addictive: “It gives us purpose, meaning, a reason for living.”

Drawing on his own experience and on the literature of combat from Homer to Michael Herr, Hedges shows how war seduces not just those on the front lines but entire societies, corrupting politics, destroying culture, and perverting the most basic human desires. Mixing hard-nosed realism with profound moral and philosophical insight, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning is a work of terrible power and redemptive clarity whose truths have never been more necessary. (Taken from Goodreads)

Review: I’ve been on a nonfiction kick this summer, which is lucky for me as my summer reading for AP Lit this year consisted of war books, one of which was War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. I enjoyed this book, despite my original trepidation. It made me think about a lot of assumptions and beliefs instilled in me by American culture and it really opened my eyes to the truth and reality of war as opposed to the “myth of war” that Hedges describes. Knowing his background, I could ignore the slightly overdone language when needed, but the author has a very nice way with words for the most part, and I found myself tearing up at several points in the book.

It also, rather surprisingly, has affected my own novel. There is certainly violent conflict in some portions of the story, but it hadn’t even occurred to me to think about the psychological aspects that accompany war when it comes to my characters. War Is a Force gave me a clearer view of the realities of any violent situation and helped me cement in my mind how I will approach fighting and battle scenes in Star Kings. We’ve all been exposed to cultural icons such as LOTR, “Braveheart”, “300”, and “The Patriot”, to name a few, and it never occurred to me personally that there was any other way of portraying war. Chris Hedges, however, has made me consider more fully how I want this part of my story to go, and I have a feeling this awareness of the nature of war will be invaluable when it comes to writing those scenes.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend it? Absolutely.

The Power of Your Imagination

Disclaimer: I was inspired to write this partly by this video by one of my new favorite YouTubers, the fabulous Meghan Rosette. I should warn you now that I’ve decided not to restrain myself in this post; therefore, prepare for colorful swearing and uniquely-flavored punctuation.

It strikes me that as writers, we are nearly always incredibly self-conscious. It’s practically guaranteed that if you write, you have a veritable library of insecurities and doubts about yourself, your craft, your ideas, your characters, your future, etc… Why do we have these insecurities? Why do we constantly nitpick at what we may or may not be doing wrong in our writing? We worry about our POVs, our literary style, our marketability, possible traits our story may share with a famous work like Harry Potter or Twilight that would doom us to “copycat status” as authors. There’s so much pressure to be unique and sophisticated and artistic and we read articles and books on how to write when really, really truly, we already know the formula. You sit at your desk, on your bed, on your couch, in a coffee shop, wherever you like, open up your notebook or laptop, and set pen to paper or fingers to keys.

It’s not hard. And yet the simplicity of making art is such a brilliant trap. It is so easy to believe that there’s something yet to learn, another trick of the trade, another inside look at a published author’s methods. We make writing into so much more and so much less than it is. Because what is writing? What is the real, honest-to-God definition of writing? To me, writing is peace. To you, writing may be adventure. To a young boy writing a haiku in his freshman English class, writing may be work. To an old woman with a notebook always at hand, writing may be comfort.

There is always, I suppose, something to improve on when writing, but that is the catch. That’s the reason so many writers don’t make it. We are fundamentally afraid of risk. We are afraid of using that word or keeping that paragraph or making that joke and it’s so stupid. Writing is a business, yes. But first, always first, it is an outlet. You enjoy it, you exercise it, you do with it whatever you please, because if you aren’t writing what you WANT to write, you aren’t writing at all. Writing is the act of giving over to imagination and playing God with your own world, your own characters and stories and places, and there’s no point in doing it for others. Fuck the business. Business makes art dispensable. We stick prices onto what is priceless and call it an industry and that’s okay, that’s alright. But to think of all the people, all the creative energy that has snuffed itself out by second-guessing, by hesitating to upset the unwritten etiquette of writing…it makes me angry and, more than anything, sad. What great stories have we missed because of writers’ constitutional perfectionism?

My novel, if one judged merely by the bones, would be considered YA. But because I don’t want to sacrifice incredible characters and unique plotlines for the sake of an audience that doesn’t even exist yet, I am letting myself do exactly what I want. There’s sex, and taboos, and gruesome violence, and complex villains that you love as much as the protagonists, and it’s pure. It’s what I envisioned, what I saw in my head all along.

I can’t understand why people would even want to restrain themselves and reign in all the power of creation they possess. As a writer, you possess extraordinary gifts. Use them for yourself. Give yourself over to the power of your imagination and let yourself tell the story you want to write. When and if others read your words, you won’t have to wonder if you could have done better. You won’t have to worry and regret over choices you made along the way. The business can make art commercial, but what’s the point in that if you haven’t even let yourself make that art the best it can be?

Let It Be

*ignoring the fact that I’ve been gone for months* So one of my very best friends, who also happens to be a writer, decided some time ago to turn her novel into her senior project for high school graduation. This basically means she spent twenty hours with her fantastic mentor Greg Wilkey, (a local writer whose books and other funsies can be found here), completed and revised her novel over the summer (well actually she’s still working on it even though school starts on Thursday), and is supposed to present the final product this fall to judges. It’s apparently the wussy version of the big-bad-bullying college theses. But the reason I bring up my friend’s situation is because the fact that she actually has a literal NOVEL under her belt (albeit not entirely polished) really pisses me off if I’m honest. Authors generally have overcome the inherent laziness that plagues most writers (especially moi), and my friend seems to be coming along respectably well. And you would think her success would be motivation for my competitive self to catch a fast train and attack my baby manuscript with determination.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

My competitiveness only extends as far as my mouth. I want badly to show everyone else up, and like most people, I have a dreadful tendency to brag on the occasion I do take the lead. I love feeling superior. But I am, for the majority of the time, unwilling to act on my ambitions. A major flaw? I definitely think so.

My novel originally started as a tale about a little girl who could turn herself into a lioness. It became a story about five young people who come from completely different worlds who are chosen to fight for the freedom their lands have lost. And the sheer amount of characters, plotlines, backgrounds, and culture is incredibly intimidating at times. Most people would probably frown and question why I’m making everything so difficult for myself. But I suppose when you have a story that you feel has greatness in it, the kind of characters you wish to God were real, the kind of places you could spend forever exploring, there’s not much to do but let that story grow in your mind. Sometimes the best poems, the best stories, the best art, the best music, come from people who are by no means experts in the craft, but who allow themselves to reach high from the beginning.

Of course, I could laud the magic of amateur creativity for days, but still there lies a far-from-finished novel sitting in my hard drive and it’s frustrating, I won’t lie. But I have to keep believing in it. Even if it takes me years to actually get off my ass and write it, I refuse to simply want myself to complete the final product. I expect it. I owe it to myself to write the story in my head and heart. You owe it to yourself. These stories aren’t just bits of our brain that we’ve plucked out; they can live, they can breathe, they can be, if we can find it in ourselves to let them.

As for me, I’m working on it.