Reading Books

I think I mentioned this several posts ago, but I thought I’d do a little recap. I decided starting in December to read (or attempt to read) one book a week. I’ll share the books I’ve read this month and let you know if I finished them or not.

  1. American Short Fiction: 55 (not technically a book, but rather a periodical.) Finished!
  2. Ready Player One. Finished! (good read, nicely written book about games and pop culture)
  3. Gandhi, an autobiography. Unfinished—this book is very dry and not super interesting to me, maybe a biography of his next time…
  4. Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries. Finished! (a good book about a cult I’d never heard about. Interested parallels, and sparks for creativity)

There you have it. This will also be my last blog of the year. Stay tuned in 2013 for a lot of wonderful things that will happen. I wish you all the best in the new year!

Confidence

Last week, I made a statement about how my confidence was boosted by a comment made to me. Today’s topic, I’d like to revisit confidence.

From New Oxford American Dictionary (thoughtfully provided by Apple’s Dictionary Mac application) the word confidence is defined as: a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities. The feeling is good, and it relies on appreciation of abilities—something I know people tend to lack (and others overly exaggerate) their abilities.

So, back on track. I’ve noticed that my poetry is more often accepted than that of my prose. Naturally, I then write more poetry and submit more, and then more acceptances come in. I have confidence in my poetry that has lacked in my stories. Something I think it finally coming back. My critique groups appreciate the fiction I write, find such minor flaws as they say, and argue the meaning of the story. I think this bodes well for my fiction (though never fear, I will continue with poetry!).

It is never very easy to get off scot-free when writing fiction. There are millions of opinions on the form, with millions more changing and contradicting every moment—often in the same person. Perhaps this is because I’ve immersed myself in the culture of fiction for so long that I see these opinions every day. You have critique groups, beta-readers, critique partners, cheerleaders, agents, publishers, all talking about what is “correct” and “right” and “acceptable” in fiction. Should you use flush left the first paragraph? Should you indent with a tab or 5 spaces? What font to use? Contractions? Even what happens in a story. All of these can undermine the writer. Did I do that correctly? a writer might think. For me, I think that translated into not trusting my instincts, not trusting myself that I’d made the right word choice. This undercurrent of doubt will pervade the work, a subtle hint that the work is not good enough.

I am lucky in that I found poetry and friends that have encouraged me to continue even if I thought my writing was lousy at best. Thankfully. Poetry has no rules. Try to enforce a rule on a poet. No seriously, try. They will subvert the rule, while using it and breaking it AND write a great poem. As they say,” In your FACE!” I think we writers of prose are too timid, too reluctant to push the envelope like poets do. People who read poetry (usually) like pushing envelops. People who like fiction sometimes do. I say push it.

Ignore the nit-picky silly rules (for now) and write what is inside. The story will reveal to you how it should be. Find people you trust to help you reveal those secrets. Trust yourself and write, write, write. I only became a better writer through writing a lot of crap and revising a lot of that same crap into okay writing. Then I wrote lots of okay stuff, and that okay stuff became pretty good stuff. I think I’m writing pretty good stuff now—but no doubt, I still write crap. But I am now seeing confidence in my own writing, a voice that has emerged and says, “This is me, this is a story, and you will want to listen. Trust me.”

That feeling has been worth it.

8 Days Until the End

Or so it has been rumored. I’m not sure if I believe it. I guess we will see!

I’ve started the revision process on the two stories I wrote last month. The novella has been tough to re vision as something I didn’t write it to be. I haven’t been fighting with it, so much as discovering exactly how wrong I was in my initial planning. The novel was much smoother to revise, and I think I’ll have a harder time seeing the precise flaws in it—fun to write, way too easy to edit.

During this time, I’ve had another story, if you remember, The Heir of Illumination, recently decide that it would like to be revised as well. Apparently December is revise three books month >.<

I’ll manage somehow. I’ve already breezed through the first draft of revisions on Someone Has To Give (tentative title to the novella). And by breeze, I mean it took me several hours of frustrated markings and paper shuffling to get the hard copy in order—I still have to get through the actual changes. This weekend will mark my working on the novel Glenwood High (yes, another terrible title—did I mention I’m terrible at titles?). I will be inputting the changes slowly, mostly before I submit them to my critique groups. One gets the novella, one the novel, and when I’m done, I’ll switch! #goodthinkingself

I’d like to share something someone told me recently that gave me a nice little boost of self-confidence: “You are one of the most dedicated people I’ve met (online) to the craft of writing.”

Thank you. I have never thought of myself as dedicated, because writing is what I do, and I don’t do it all day every day. Not to say I make no effort—it is a huge part of my life, but not the only part. This comment made me step back for a moment, and think Yes, I am dedicated. That is a big step for me.

Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful week. Until next time!

Preparing for the Holiday Season

As many of you are aware, the holiday season is upon us. Thanks to where I work, I am inundated with classic Christmas music (which for me is pure torture—the same three albums playing every single day is enough to drive me crazy, especially as I’ve heard all the music a hundred million times before!). Whew.

For me, this time of year is not about what is given or what is received (though always nice), this is a time to rejoice in life, to enjoy the company of people we care about. Even though many in my family may not get along with each other all the time, we manage to make this time of year fun.

I always tell myself to remember the good, to prepare a little early (which I’ve failed at right now), and enjoy the flow of the days. There is no point in fighting them! What happens, happens. Smile and the days will be good.

I hope you all have a happy holiday season!