Month: October 2013

FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell

Please note: My “Reading Reflections” are not reviews. They are simply my thoughts in response to certain passages.

Fangirl

There is no way for me to fit all of my memories and feelings about college into the confines of a blog post. But somehow, author Rainbow Rowell has managed to capture them — my emotions, my experiences — within the pages of her latest novel, FANGIRL.

The tiny dorm rooms. The kind but intimidating professors. The musty, maze-like library. The snowy walks between classes. Seeing different sides of people you thought you knew. Faltering as a writer. Growing as a writer. Falling in love. Making your own home. Living up to other people’s expectations. Learning how to be okay with not living up to them.

All that, and so much more. Rainbow Rowell is now 3-for-3 for me, which means I’ll read pretty much anything/everything she writes from here on out. (Her other two books are ELEANOR & PARK and ATTACHMENTS, in case you were wondering. Which you should be.) I guess you could call me a… fangirl?

(Sorry, I had to.)

“I don’t want to kiss a stranger,” Cath would answer. “I’m not interested in lips out of context.”

Neither am I. Never really have been, for some reason.

Oh, there is a boldness inside me, and sometimes she imagines what it would be like to have “hooked up” with someone. Or to be single in her 20s and dating around. But at the end of the day, that boldness is best served — is happiest — in my stories. She likes adventure without consequences, which doesn’t exist in real life, but is beautifully abundant through fiction.

“How do you not like the internet? That’s like saying, ‘I don’t like things that are convenient. And easy. I don’t like having access to all of mankind’s recorded discoveries at my fingertips. I don’t like light. And knowledge.'”

On the one hand: SO TRUE.

On the other hand: The internet is evil. It’s such a distraction. And such a dangerous distraction, because it distracts you by pretending to be useful. One second you’re researching a “small” and “quick” detail for your story — an hour later, you’ve got a dozen different tabs open, ranging from Wikipedia to the latest controversial think-piece to (let’s be honest) Twitter.

So, I love the internet. But I hate it at the same time.

“I’m afraid,” Professor Piper said, “afraid that you’re never going to discover what you’re truly capable of. That you won’t get to see — that I won’t get to see — any of the wonder that’s inside of you.”

I think that’s what we all fear. Isn’t it?

On a related note — but detouring away from the context of FANGIRL — I don’t care for the one-size-fits-all definition of “seeing the wonder” that our society encourages. In other words, fame & fortune. That is not the only way that wonder can be recognized or valued. And yet that seems to be what we’re telling people matters most. If you’re not spectacular, you’re nothing.

Except that isn’t true at all.

This wasn’t good, but it was something. Cath could always change it later. That was the beauty in stacking up words — they got cheaper, the more you had of them. It would feel good to come back and cut this when she’d worked her way to something better.

Oh words. Words words words. I’ve got to try and remember that you are free. Free to use, free to be bad, free to delete later. Free, and not to be feared.

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Pursuing dreams

After college, I immediately started working as an account manager at a design firm, where everyone was insanely talented and stylish. (If you’ve worked in the commercial arts, you probably know what I’m talking about.) One of my coworkers there was Emily Mavridoglou, who I would sum up as elegant, colorful, and kind. Eventually we both left the company, and now we’re each pursuing our lifelong dreams. Mine, to write novels. Hers, to design custom stationery.

 

She’s just starting out, but already she has created so many wonderful designs for people. Thank you cards, wedding invites, birth announcements, and more. I really like how she brings beauty to these communications, making them more personal. Custom stationery is truly “social media,” in a sense. And there’s something to it that can’t be replicated in an e-vite or a Facebook update.

You can learn more about Emily and her work at Dorothy Jane Design.

You can also learn more about me over on Emily’s blog, where she is hosting a series of interviews with creative friends who are pursuing their dreams. I’m honored to be included. In my interview I talk about the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far, what inspires me, and where I work.

Oh, and Riley makes a cameo! (Two, if you count doodles.)

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Stuff worth reading

“I hate Strong Female Characters” by Sophia McDougall

What do I want instead of a Strong Female Character? I want a male:female character ratio of 1:1 instead of 3:1 on our screens. I want a wealth of complex female protagonists who can be either strong or weak or both or neither, because they are more than strength or weakness. Badass gunslingers and martial artists sure, but also interesting women who are shy and quiet and do, sometimes, put up with others’ shit because in real life there’s often no practical alternative. And besides heroines, I want to see women in as many and varied secondary and character roles as men: female sidekicks, mentors, comic relief, rivals, villains. I want not to be asked, when I try to sell a book about two girls, two boys and a genderless robot, if we couldn’t change one of those girls to a boy.

“The world will end if you write the wrong scene” by Laini Taylor

You will find stuff you weren’t looking for. It’s like sofa cushions. Yeah, there’s money there, and the occasional diamond ring, but there’s also a lot of lint, and probably a half-sucked Life Saver or a used Q-tip you’d rather not deal with. But would you let a used Q-tip stand between you and a diamond ring?

“Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling” as shared by Emma Coats

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