Sunday, September 15, 2013

Reading Slump, No Leisure Reads

OK, after going on a mad spending spree purchasing books that I truly have no room for in the small room that I am renting out, I am also falling into a reading slump. This reading slumps seems to effect my school related reading first, but then bleeds into my leisure reads. The thing is I have far too many books assigned for realistic reading at my college. I am not a fast reader, so when I do attempt to read the book I become depressed at the amount of time it will take to read them all. So, what have I been doing?

First of all, I am what you would call an improviser. So, instead of reading the books at the unrealistic time frame that I am given, I only read the books that I have to read for an upcoming discussion question or paper, and then I let the others sit around until I have time to get to them for future paper or tests. Also, for books that require test taking, or multiple choice tests rather, I read enough to become familiar with the story the first 2-3 chapters and the last 2 chapters, then I scan through for any missing information. This is sad, but I am simply not cut out for this mad dash reading pace. Everything seems to be rather read as much as you can in as little time as possible with no regard to the fact that you have other classes.

For most classes, you get to choose what book you write about, so in truth you'll really only need to read one book for a give paper. At most two for a sort of compare and contrast sort of assignment. So, now that I have been reduced to this sort of frowned upon practice, (mind you I don't frown upon it) I will have more time to devote to my leisure reading. Now if I wasn't working a part-time job and going to school full time, this wouldn't be an issue. Unfortunately life hands you lemons and you don't even have the water and sugar to make lemonade, sigh.

Now, don't get me wrong, I will be doing the required reading eventually. Just not at the speed that the Professor expects every student to read at. Anyways I suppose the best I can do here is leave with a quote that sums up my feelings:
"If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done" -- Bruce Lee


Advice on negative self talk when writing

Ok, so I have been busy with school, work and writing; and yes that is three separate things. I have recently for the past couple of days been successfully writing a thousand words per day, and I didn't feel as if it was ruining my story or I was pushing myself too fast. So, why am I doubting myself?

Well, I can't quite answer that question, but I don't have a lot of confidence in my writing which is a shame because I am not  a bad writer. Due to this predisposition towards negative self talk, I decided to have my friends and family member read my writing and let me know what their first impressions were. The first person was my friend, after she read the opening of my book she loved it. She even went on to say that she wanted to know what happened because I only sent an excerpt of the first chapter. At first I was excited, but then I started to think, she's my friend of course she's going to be positive about my writing. Talk about unrealistic expectations. My friend was genuinely taken aback by my writing and I still trying to come up with a reason for why it wasn't as good as I or she thought it was.

 Next I tried my aunt, who is a voracious reader and has a very critical eye. After she read the book, she first said that it caught her attention and made her want to keep reading. She did make a couple of comments on there being certain words that didn't fit or there being too much information (science fiction book) and I can understand that. When she pointed out these quirks I thought, great, I'm actually not putting my book down for once. I welcomed the criticism, but I also felt like I learned something from here opinions. She overall liked the book.

So, do I still doubt myself? Yes and no, I think I will always doubt myself at least until I have the book finished. I am a hard core procrastinator, so unless the book is finished I will always have a critical eye on what I write and on whether it can be better or not. On the flip side, I feel more confident in the fact that I know I have good writing skills that entertain others. I am no literary genius but then again, I don't want to write those kinds of books. I want books that help people grow and gives them something to feel good about.

One advice I would give those that have this problem is to get someone that you can trust, someone that understands the structure of good writing  and have them read and critique your work. Having someone you trust and someone that respects you would be your best option. If you have a mentor such as a Teacher or Professor, even better but not necessarily needed.

"Without conflict you haven't got a story" -- JK Rowling

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Amanda Hocking Inspiring Many

Throughout my life I have come across some really influential writers, to name a few there is Diana Wynne Jones, Megan Whalen Turner, JK Rowling (HP Series), Paul Zindel, and a select few others. These writers helped me to understand that I wanted to be a writer myself. Although I didn't grow up writing stories or anything like that, I was always an avid reader and journal writer. In my youth I even dabbled in writing poetry, which I thought at the time was pure genius. With time, I believe that I will finally bridge the gap between none writer, to writer, but before then I perfect my craft and wait for the day my work is ready for publication. 

Now this brings me to another note. I have thought about it for some time and I believe the best route for me would be e-books. It is now becoming common for writers to enjoy the fruits of being published while actually making a living off their e-books. This may not be the most popular thing at this moment, but it is becoming more and more common. Now, instead of the great writers of my youth, one of my inspirations is Amanda Hocking. Admittedly I have only read one of her books Hollowland which is a series about zombies. For me, it was not my cup of tea, but I could certainly see the diamond within the rough in her work. I actually bought the book so that I could study her writing style but the more that I read it, the more it really didn't appeal to me. Also reading Amanda's book allowed me to see that great writing isn't always what sells books. It is often times characters or a really good plot. When you believe in your story, you are your first reader. Write your book for yourself first and for your readers second. 

What really made me become inspired by Amanda Hocking was her drive to succeed. Her success of course was being published. Not making money, but having her work out there even if it meant only via e-books. She finally started to believe in herself and in her writing and despite all her negative thought ad the rejection letters from publishers, Amanda made up her mind to do the only thing she had left to do. That was to write, and write some more.


Another thing that I loved about Amanda was the fact that she didn't just write, she wrote hard. She would spend on average 8-10 hours writing. She was often fueled with trash food like sweet tarts and red bull a diabetic shock waiting to happen, but she understood her limits and knew that she had to work hard to get her writing down on the computer screen and out of her head. She also was a hard working in other respects, holding down a job as a care taker at a senior citizen facility. So she would work for 8-9 hours, write for 8-10, sleep and do it all again. For me more than anything her work ethic has inspired me, in a way that other writers never could. I remember trying to understand the craft and how my favorite writers wrote, yet I could never really understand what they meant by just write. Amanda Hocking finally drove the concept down my brain a wooden spike of knowledge. Writing was her job, and in essence she worked 2 jobs. That is exactly what it took for her to become the writer that she is today. 

Amanda Hocking made me realize that writing isn't some fluffy, pixie magic that just descends upon the select few who have the mark of a writer. It is hard work and dedication, a constant pursuit of being better than you were the day or night before. Beating your best, and becoming better and of course never giving up. If you really want to write, then you can never even think about giving up.

For those who might think wow 8-12 hours of non-stop writing, that's a beast I can't possibly do that. Just know that Amanda Hocking had days where she didn't write. Where she only wanted to veg out and watch TV or read. There were moments, where she knew that she should be writing, but she just didn't write anything, but she always came back to it. 

Anyways, I hope I didn't make Amanda look as if she wasn't a master of her craft, because the truth is she is a BOSS.   
Her book Hollowland she wrote in 20-25 days, I don't have the exact quote, but Amanda Hocking is that prolific. Her novel stories and drive to complete her work makes her someone I can really look up to. I hope this will help others who are looking to understand what it takes to become a writer, or someone who just loves a good author and book. 
Here is her blog, which is really down to earth, especially pre-millionaire:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Writing slump

I haven't been writing anything for so long. I don't know if I should keep on writing, I am in limbo and I don't know how to get out. I usually always get to this point. I have an idea, I start to write the synopsis of the story. Most of the time it's quite detailed, ranging from a page to a couple of pages. Then, the story seemingly sizzles and puffs out and I am left with nothing. The whole concept then feels foreign to me and I abort mission for good. The great news is, that isn't happening with the book I am working on right now. The bad news is, I'm not sure if the book is coming along, and so I am hitting a writing slump.

I don't have writer friends, and I am not even sure if I did if it would be of any use to my own writing. I have come up with a plan of action though to help me continue writing, even if it happens to be complete crap. The plan has two major components. The first component is quite simple and relatable to any craft and that is research. I am not really going to research on how to write, but I am going to read and critically analyze work that I loved and try to understand why it is that I love the book so much. The second component is something that I will try to practice at least once a week, and that is imitation. I will find a film, a passage, an image, really anything I can turn into words and recreate the story. This gives me something tangible to work with and I can easily check my work by comparing it to the original. I might put up an image up on my blog and have my version or interpretive story on the image.

Here's a list of the books I will be analyzing:

Sabriel by Garth Nixon
Castle in the air by Diana Wynne Jones
The pigman by Paul Zindel
To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee
Dracula by Bram Stoker

Now the above books are books that I have already read and allows me to analyze them, without focusing too much attention to the story especially since I've already read them. I also will be analyzing books that I haven't read that I feel will enhance my writing perspective:

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Ocean at the end of the lane Neil Gaiman
Disappearing act by Terry Mcmillan
Great and terrible beauty by Libba Bray
Book Thief by Markus Zusack

Now, I have a mix of books, but since I plan on writing for young adults particularly the 8-16 range, I think it is good to have some YA books in the mix. Since I am currently working on a piece for any age, I feel like the more adult books are appropriate as well.
Why am I doing all this? I don't know, I just think it is an organic way of learning the craft of writing. I also think that forcing someone to read a number of books they don't naturally enjoy (college) might ruin their desire to wright good fiction. So, if I actively throttle the attempts at making me hate reading and writing, I feel I will only come on top for it.

"Don't let schooling interfere with your education"
--Mark Twain

Sorry I haven't really been writing anything on this site, it's mainly due to the fact that I am in full swing of classes. I know I said I wouldn't BS my reading and all that, but I have come to the realization that I am a slow reader and I need to savor what I read. I still fully intend on reading all the material, just not exactly when my courses intend me to do so. That's it for now, looking forward to more posts in the future.

I leave you with this:

I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.  ~Richard Wright, American Hunger, 1977