Month: September 2010 Page 1 of 3

Bite your tongue

Hey hey, I’m over at Writer Unboxed today! Wanna check out my post, maybe leave me some love? Sweet, thanks! Here’s a teaser:

As writers, we’re used to having the last word. (“The End,” right?) In fact, we’re used to having every word. In our stories, we get to give voice to all of our thoughts, opinions, and experiences – be they fictional or otherwise. We hold the mic, and we don’t have to share.

Until we want to get published, that is.

Assuming that’s your goal, then suddenly there are going to be a lot of people grabbing the mic and telling you what’s what. Your friends, family, critique partners, potential agents and editors, and worst of all, your own Internal Editor. That’s a lot of voices competing for attention – the uproar can be overwhelming. My first inclination is usually to try and grab the mic back, to wrest the situation under my control again.

But here’s what I’ve learned (from years of being proven wrong): it’s better to bite your tongue.

Read the rest…

Watch and learn

Apologies for being AWOL on Friday. My work-work (as opposed to my writing-work) had an all-day, off-site retreat. It was good times with great people, at the lovely Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.

Later that night I watched The Town, which I thought was quite good, and I finished reading THE DUFF, which I loved. Now I may or may not have a raging crush on Wesley. I also may or may not be a wee bit jealous of the author, Miss Kody Keplinger, a bona fide teen writer of teen books. But mostly I admire her and wish her continued success. (Particularly if she gives me more Wesley!)

The rest of my weekend was spent recuperating from my recent travels, and catching up on writing-work. I did all right, but there’s always more, isn’t there?

Hindering me (just a bit) was the start of the new fall seasons. I’m down to a handful of TV shows — Life Unexpected, Glee, and Grey’s Anatomy — but I’ve been disappointed with Glee recently, and now I mostly “watch” for the songs. The only new show I’m checking out is Nikita, to support my fellow halfie Maggie Q, so I’ll weigh in on that later.

Now, I joke that TV is a waste of time, and in some ways, sure, it is. But well-written TV actually inspires me. It helps me think about character development, plot arcs, sharp dialogue, and scenes that function well on multiple levels. Episodes are like chapters, seasons like novels. It’s not apples to apples, but it can be informative.

I’m not saying to watch a bunch of television and call it research — and if you do, definitely don’t credit me — but I think it’s important for writers to keep their eyes peeled for potential learning opportunities. I mean, if you’re going to spend that time, you may as well make it useful, right?

That’s how I justify it when Andy asks. ^_~

The "blogosphere" problem

At this point, this link is a little old, but I think it’s too important to just skip: “What are we doing to YA?” by Hannah Moskowitz. If you’re a writer, of any genre, READ IT.

In a nutshell:

I’m starting to wonder if YA is turning into something written by/for the internet community under the guise of writing for everyday teenagers, and that who likes you on the internet is more important to your career–or, if not to your career, to your psyche and your perception of your success–than if teenagers are picking up your book.

Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes! YES.

I don’t have any stats to back me up, but I have friends, and we have blogs, and Twitter feeds, and works-in-progress. And I have seen us all step up to the edge of this problem, and stare down into the abyss, and then look at each other with fear in our eyes.

To be honest, I don’t know that I can add much more to the conversation beyond the questions that Hannah posed and the discussion that ensued in her comments. (READ THEM.) But I do want to say that I see this problem, and I don’t want to be a part of it. I don’t blog to amass “fans.” I don’t comment on agent/author sites to make connections. I don’t write books to impress anyone. If that happens, awesome. But to me, it’s just icing on the cake.

(And for the record, I scrape 80% of the icing off all baked goods. It’s just not my thing.)

I blog because I’m a chatterbox. I comment because I’m overly opinionated. I write books to tell great stories, to move and entertain people.

(And for the record, I’ve been doing this stuff since I was 9 years old — way too young to have an agenda.)

Yes, I want to be a successful, life-long author. But I think the best way to do that is to write fantastic novels. And fantastic novels can only come out of (never-ending) hard work, perseverance, humility, passion… Not from kissing butt in the “blogosphere.”

I’m not saying that writers shouldn’t blog or Tweet or join online groups. On the contrary, I think the online writing community is wonderful! It’s a great resource for information and support. Without it, I wouldn’t have made so much progress in the past couple of years.

I’m also not saying that authors who blog are “playing the game.” Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. I try not to make assumptions, and either way it’s none of my businses.

What I’m saying is, I’m not playing the game. I don’t want to, and now I know/remember that I don’t have to. (Just look at J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins!) Playing the game doesn’t sell books. Playing the game doesn’t guarantee you a long career. In fact, playing the game may hurt the very industry we love…

So I’m really glad Hannah blogged about this. Because once you discover this world, it’s easy to get caught up, to forget your true motivation. Sometimes we all need a reality check, a gentle reminder, to help us re-focus on what’s really important.

Glug glug glug (cruise recap, part 3)

You didn’t think there was more, did you? Well, when we docked in Tampa after the cruise, Andy decided he still hadn’t seen enough marine life. (Plus we had like 8 hours to kill before our flight home.) So where did we go? Why, to the aquarium of course!

Day 6 Tampa 060

Seriously, he cracks me up. He’s like a kid when it comes to this stuff.

Fortunately for him, I like it too. And the Tampa aquarium had this great, color-changing jellyfish display. (Jellyfish are among my favorite things to photograph!)

Day 6 Tampa 065 Day 6 Tampa 066
Day 6 Tampa 068 Day 6 Tampa 070

Okay, The End for real now!

Actually, I could do 1 more travel recap — this past weekend I went to Pittsburgh and had a great time seeing friends and family — but I think I’ve gone on long enough, don’t you? Plus, with all this travel, I’ve totally thrown my writing routine out the window. It’s time to get back on track, and my blog, though it contains plenty of words, does not count.

Viva Mexico (cruise recap, part 2)

Snorkeling with stingrays was the no-question, hands-down, unrivaled, most fantabulous part of our cruise. Any safety concerns I had were quickly brushed aside by our friendly, funny, knowledgeable guide, as well as the sweet stingrays we met. The one you see us holding below is Lupita, and the smaller one we held was Gabriel. There were a dozen others in the “encounter” area, and they rubbed against our ankles like affectionate cats when we had fish to feed them.

After the encounter, we snorkeled for a while, and I got to play with the waterproof bag Andy bought for our camera. (A few of the kayaking pictures were taken underwater, too.) I don’t want to ramble too long — it’s a Friday, after all — but I will say that Cozumel and its marine life were incredibly beautiful, and my Spanish was embarrassingly rusty.

Day 4 Everybody Loves Rays 012 Day 4 Everybody Loves Rays 013
Day 4 Cozumel 014
Day 4 Cozumel 018 Day 4 Cozumel 010
Day 4 Cozumel 039 Day 4 Cozumel 053

Last but not least, towel animals (because everybody loves those) and the main atrium of our ship (because I thought the vertical photo-stitch turned out pretty neat):

Day 5 at sea towel animal stitch
Day 5 at sea lobby stitch

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