Monday, March 30, 2009

Writing and Spirituality

So said the title of James River Writers Writing Show the other night, or something along those lines anyway.  On a dreary rainy night in the new Writing Show digs of the Childrens Museum. 
The Show wasn't exactly what I expected but I did take a few notes.  Interestingly they were mostly along the lines of thoughts that popped into my head about what the panelists were saying, rather than what the panelists were actually saying.  So it was definitely different than the notes I am usually jotting down.

One thing that was very interesting was a 'question' posed by an audience member [that's never really a question].  The person seemed to be very upset that people that had critiqued the book written by this person weren't seeing the same things in it that were part of this person's experience and what they intended/meant when they wrote it.  That they just didn't get it!
One of the panelists said they thought that everyone should be able to get what they need to out of our writing.

So what do you think?   

Do we write of our own experiences to only say what needs to be said, or is it more encompassing than that, and that as our lives and experiences are different so will be our reading preferences and experiences, and we interpret accordingly?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Good books?

So I've been working on writing a couple of Young Adult (YA) books for a few years now.  Struggling along with writing them, probably because, frankly, who in their right minds want to go through all that angst again?
Not that as an adult you are home free or anything.  But teenage angst and worry..... yikes.

So anyway, rather than spend copious amounts of time reliving my own teenage angst I've preferred to check out YA books and read about others teenage angst.
At least from a perspective of an adult viewing it anyway, since even the most popular YA books are obviously not written by YA ages or anything.

At least that's the story, and I'm sticking to it. ;)
Hey, I just happen to Really like to read.
And there just so happens to be a Lot of Really good YA books around now!

Seriously!  Check them out!

The Harry Potter craze seems to have passed by, to be taken over by the Twilight book series of vampires versus werewolves.
Okay so I read all the Potter books, and for the most part enjoyed them all.  
But I'm not sure I'll ever gather quite the enthusiasm that a Lot of people seem to have for the Twilight books series.  [And yes, I Know only the First book is Twilight but it's so much easier to just write that rather than each book name.  Most will have heard and know about them.  And if you haven't, well, you seriously need to check out my blog more often.  Let me know and we'll 'talk.' ;-D  Espec. since I obviously need to check it out more often too. ;-}  ]
And now don't anybody shoot me flaming words or anything, but I read the last book in the series first.  Hey, it was the Only book I could actually check out from the library!  All the rest were checked out and had like 100 people waiting lists!  And actually even a few years after publications, that's still the case.  Impressive, if nothing else!
I finally bought the first two books in paperback since obviously it was going to be Forever to check them out from library.
I can sortta understand the appeal.  A bit.  I'm still not enamoured by them though.
Definitely not enough to pay the money for the 3rd one that's still in hardcover, not in paperback yet.

I think there are some good to better options out there for good story telling and reading.

Like Maggie Stiefvater's books, if you like the fantasy element, altho' singular book at present, soon to be joined by 2 new books coming out this year - And she's scheduled to be at the James River Writers Conference in Richmond, VA in October this year too!!!!!   has neat blog too -

My favorite book I've read in a Loooong time, YA or not!, has to be Melina Marchetta's book Saving Francesca.
[next to Maggie's of course, in case you're reading this Maggie. ;) ;)]
Marchetta has a new book out that Maggie and a lot of people are raving about - Jellicoe Road.
I thought it was good.  But had to stick with it and wade through a lot of confusing parts.  Although it did have some good things going for it to make you want to finish it.
But it still doesn't topple Francesca.

John Green's books are good - I think his first book Looking for Alaska probably the best, but if you've skimmed this blog at all you'll see things I took away from his other books also.

I also read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, and think Every high school student Should read it!!!
Makes you wonder if peoples' lives would be different if more people, YA or adult, read it.

But that's enough of my reading talk for now.

I need to go read! ;)  

Oh, and after you read your great, not-so-great, or so-so books, get on here and let me know what you are reading!!!  And what you think about it.  And why!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Read Any Good Books Lately?

As with most writers working on their own books, reading books by other authors can feel like a dirty little secret luxury.  But as we've heard said several times at the James River Writers Conference, how can you be a good writer if you aren't a good reader?  
[That is true b-t-w, not just because I'd really rather read than write. ;)
Most of the time.

I learn from the books I like, I learn more from the books I don't.  

When books are well-written I get caught up in the story and it channels me along until it dumps me out at the end, the reader becoming the bemused writer trying to analyze how the writer did that so well.   
If it isn't so well written I notice the mechanics of it more than getting all caught up in the characters and their story.  
Both learning experiences, one just a bit more enjoyable for my reading pleasure. ;)

So what books are you reading?

Are they helping you with your writing?

Or they just helping you with your reading? ;)

Either or both can help you.  So what are you learning?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

What do you think of your own writing?

Do you think it's good?  Fair?  Decent?   Or crap?

Good, bad, or indifferent?

My writing/critique group consists of really good writers - and me.  Not sure where I fit in there sometimes.  Not just for the fact that they all write fantasy and I don't.  For all that I think they believe I am really a 'closet' fantasy writer, that's not what I naturally gravitate to for reading or to write.
Sometimes I think my writing is okay/semi-decent.  Sometimes recently tho' more crap.  Although, the very accomplished writing group member Katharine with an 'a' said last night she thinks my crap-o-meter is broken.  And while I think the Dragon Queen, a.k.a. Sheri, understands some of my plight, her writing has grown so much it's been turning out quite vivid and good.  And then the Wildcat Bill just keeps surpassing us all with his prolific writing drive.
I'm floundering somewhere in the chaotic churning of words trying to bring order and present some kind of semblence of good writing.  Although I have to admit I'm really hoping for Great, and I'm not sure I'm willing to settle for just good.  Guess that means I have to keep at it and keep trying for those great words to flow into a great sentence which becomes a great story, that keeps us wanting more.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Defined by our choices.

Each decision we’ve ever made in our lives has brought us to where we are in this exact moment.

Whether they were good ones, or bad ones – and what really would be the difference, being that we learn from all of them in different ways.  Or whether we have Really learned, or even want to.

In the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun” the main character says - any little turning along the way she’d be different, she’d be elsewhere.

And so would we.

So if we desire to be different, to be elsewhere, we must make different choices.  Right now.

….we define ourselves by the stories we tell others…..So says a character in Megan McCafferty’s book charmed thirds.

And in her fourth comings book another character writes ‘….The tales we tell ourselves about ourselves make us who we are…”

So really we All are storytellers in our own ways.  Whether by profession or not, we all tell stories to others, and to ourselves.  They help us understand each other, and hopefully, ourselves.

And they help us to be better storytellers as we write.  Which is what a writer should really be doing, right?   Telling a story.  Hopefully really good stories, and learning as we live and grow to do that even better than when we started.

And contrary to some popular advice, I don’t think we have to write what we know or about ourselves at all.  My stories aren’t about me.  At all.  And whether some might believe we are all our characters and our stories, well, I don’t see me in mine at all.

My decisions I’ve made along the way, the choices I’ve made, the things I’ve experienced, give me an insight into myself and into others.  It helps me to understand others, a little anyway.  Or at least to get somewhat of their feelings, or what they might be feeling.  And the choices they might make.  The choices my characters make, while so totally different than what I would do or say or even think, are not so alien when touched by the experience and edges of my own.  I might not understand someone completely, even one of my own characters, but I at least have a touch into their inner life that tells me, whether I feel their choices are right or wrong, they are the choices they choose to make.  And as with me, brings them to where they are right now.

And while I need to work more on actually sitting down and getting my characters' stories down – in coherent form at least.  At least I’m learning each day how to tell their story better.  And how to make my turnings be where I want to be.

Where are your turnings, and choices, taking you?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


It is interesting the perceptions we have of other people.  

And the perceptions they have of us.  

Especially the ones that often have very little to do with who we are, and what we are all about. 
Especially when we know that what they are espousing as being us, is nothing about who we are at all.

 I seem to have had so many people in my life telling me about what is me.  And with total and absolution conviction.  
When I knew that wasn't who I was, what I was like, or even what I even liked.  It sure seemed to me it was all about them and who they were.  Casting their perceptions of who they were, or what they wanted, on me perhaps but what does that actually have to do with me?

So when someone declares something to be 'so you' that has nothing to do with you at all, is that a communication error on your part, or an understanding problem on their part?