Thursday, February 21, 2013
Personally a lot of things have happened, not to me directly for the most part, but to those around me. Since those stories are theirs to tell or not I won't share them on here, merely say that they've played a part in my absence as the real world was far more important in these cases. Outside of those things, I'm also auditioning for a training program tomorrow that will run for six months. If I get it (hopefully when, but I don't want to get ahead of myself), I'll be very, very busy for the next six months. Ideally the film industry will have sorted itself out by then. If not, well, I suppose I'll try and get an agent who looks globally for work, not just locally. I want to work after all, that's half the fun of this career!
I have found that choosing to follow this path has actually relaxed my expectations on my writing, which perversely is making the thought of writing much more bearable. I don't have to worry about it being done now, I can put the time and effort into it to make it really, really good. It's a huge relief that I didn't even realize I needed until I did it. As for the chocolates, I have decided I will still play with them and learn about them, and may one day open up a business with them, but for now, I am just going to make them for people I love on special occasions or when I'm asked to by those who have tried them and liked them. (And yes, you will probably have to pay me for those lol).
All in all it's been a crazy but overall okay couple of weeks. we'll have to see how everything plays out once I've done the audition tomorrow. As to my personal friends and family who are in the midst of great troubles, know that my prayers and my thoughts are with you all and to any of my readers who are inclined to do so, if you think of me, then think of these people I mention so vaguely and send your prayers up for them. God will know what they're for and who and will take care of the rest. Many thanks.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Instead, I have been considering an interesting question with one of my writer friends. Why should we care? When you pick up a book and start to read, that's often the unacknowledged question in the back of your head (feel free to disagree with me, but I feel that's accurate). You want to know why this story, why these characters, why should I choose this book over that one? Basically, why should I care? Story is important, the way it's told, the people it's told about, all that stuff (which will lead to another one at some point about plot vs. situation that was sparked by another blog post from someone else which I have sadly misplaced). But when we talk about "pulling the reader in", it's more than story.
A truly talented writer will be able to pull the reader so far into the world, the characters and the story itself that when they finish reading it you get Memes like the ones that say "I finish a good book and the rest of the world goes on, not knowing that it just ended". it's suggesting that the story, the reason that we care about the book and the people it's writing about is so strong that when it ends it carries over into your real life. Some readers don't want the sadness as an ending (of course there are a variety of different endings to leave you with joy as well as sorrow), but to some extent they need to care about the people and the world to care about the book and to pick up the next one.
As much as we might not like to think about it as writers, our job besides telling story is to draw the reader in and make them are about the book. If you can't answer "why should I care" with something besides "because" you've got a serious problem.
A good start to judge this is if you as the writer care about the story. The more you care about it the more time and effort you're going to put into it and the better final product you often end up with. Sometimes it doesn't work the way we plan, but quite frequently this factor helps a lot in the actual writing and completion of the novel or story that is being worked on. Sometimes there are other factors and we care so much that we overlook things, or we overemphasize or under emphasize or any number of other contradictory thoughts to the story, but in the end it comes down to that for whatever reason, the reader just doesn't care. Sometimes it's something as simple as the opening of the story not being strong enough to motivate the reader to keep reading.
I had that problem with a book in high school. I unfortunately don't remember the title or the author and have no way of finding it easily again. (All I remember is that it was sci-fi and had "green" in the title somewhere... I think.) It was a slim little book, adult, not youth, and was in the science fiction, paperback section. I picked it up and looked at it several times before I actually borrowed it from the library, and then ended up borrowing this thin little book another four times just to try and finish reading it. I still had not finished reading it when I found it for sale at a library book sale, but the dang thing kept popping across my path so I kept picking it up and looking at it. Here's a book that had done well in the sale. The cover art made it look interesting, the synopsis on the back made it sound interesting enough to open, but the book itself could not hold my attention.
At that point I had no idea why this book was so hard for me to read, let alone finish. I was a very fast reader at that age (have been pretty much since I started reading) and it bothered me that I had met a book that I simply could not finish! It became a challenge, I had to finish this book. Not because it was a particularly good book, and not because I was invested in it (which was what made it so hard to read, but I didn't know that), but because it was a challenge and I simply had to work my way through it. I have a suspicion that every time I started reading it I read to about the same spot and lost interest for something shinier.
Looking back at it now and thinking about that book (the challenge of which has stuck in my head more than the book itself), I realize that I couldn't finish reading it because the author hadn't done their job in holding my attention. The world was pale, the characters not quite as interesting or dynamic as they could be, and it could not hold my attention away from its competition except by pure stubborn determination to keep wandering across my path. Now though, i couldn't tell you what it was about, but I remember the cover, and I remember that it was science fiction.
I have a lot of books, well over one thousand, packed into boxes in my mom's basement (which we intend to unpack the moment we have space for the shelves), and there have been more than one that I never finished reading for one reason or another, but usually they sag in the middle, even if they should be interesting and I just never finish them. One was so badly written (that, and I wasn't expecting erotica as it was not properly labeled which was another story), that i couldn't make it past the first 20 pages, which is too bad since the free short story that made me buy the book was pretty good when taken alone. Fortunately it wasn't very expensive (though when I finished I felt it wasn't even worth that price). Another one wasn't bad, and the story concept was really interesting to me, but the story itself wasn't executed well enough to hold my attention (I do remember the title but can't find the author and it's not even listed on the bookstore's webpage to give you an idea...). That one made me very disappointed by the end.
So when you're writing your book, working on your novel ask yourself with each scene. "Why is this important"? Because that question can help you with the reader's "why do I care"? If it's not important then why are you putting it in? Why waste the time and energy with a scene that doesn't move the story forward, doesn't reveal something about a character or a situation or would not make a difference to the rest of the story if it was cut? (important scenes make a difference, I promise). The only thing including unimportant scenes will accomplish is losing your reader. If you're having people not want to read through, or struggling to continue, or who only read it because they know you, you have a problem. I just hope your friends are nice enough to tell you the truth and not do the "oh, yeah, it was good." thing. That just sucks and makes you feel like you're on American Idol finding out your friends have been lying to you. I know I expect the truth from anyone I send my work to, if I don't get the truth I can't make it better, even if it's hard to hear. If you have trouble with criticism go take an art class, that's about the hardest critique you're going to get.
Good luck and don't forget to make your readers care by asking yourself why is this important?
Thursday, January 31, 2013
A Concerned Citizen.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
I've realized that "finding" time is a misnomer. If all you do is look for time, ironically you'll probably never find it. You'll always have something more important to do and something that will take priority over your writing or you just won't feel like it because that time could be equally useful in resting or in doing something else that you really want to do because you don't really feel like writing. Often it's because it's just one more thing in your day to do, just one more thing to keep you tired that's all too easy to shove off to one side and let it go for a day. There's always "tomorrow" right? When you're writing your first novels especially this can be hard because you're not likely to have a deadline or an agent waiting for your book and keeping you to task to get it in on time.
This is a problem even when you have loads of time. In fact, it might be more of a problem when you have lots of time because your sense of "i can do it later" is somewhat true. Trite sayings like "never put off what you can do today until tomorrow" are painfully true in this situation. If you want to write the words need to get on the page. If you're never "finding" enough time to write, re-evaluate whether you really want to be writing or not. If you don't, go do somethign you're rather do and don't waste your time, but if you do, make that decision and do it.
A good author friend of mine (who will know who she is when she reads this I expect), has set a goal for herself to write 500 words every day. It's not a lot, but when you're dealing with two kids in the 2-3 year range that suddenly becomes a mammoth task, and yet more times than not she manages to make time to write it. I suggested to another author friend of mine (who will also probably know who she is) to try just 100 words a day because she was feeling particularly burdened with time and with the writing. She was doing something I'm terrible for doing, she looked for time but couldn't find it and then spent a lot of time feeling guilty that she couldn't do it. The small word goal and a determination has been enough to see her in front of the computer and she's already written two chapters up from not writing at all!
I'm the worst culprit for spending too much time "looking" for time (and yes, it's active so you can waste time while you're looking). I've written two novels (that will likely never see the light of day because they're not up to my standards and I don't think they can be PUT up to my standards, they're terrible), and I'm working on my third. The biggest differences come in my ability to time manage. The first two novels I wrote I wrote the biggest chunks of them in under three weeks. Partly due to a deadline and partly due to not being able to find "inspiration" or "time" or whatever other excuse I could think of. I found reasons to put it off and procrastinate and even as I was doing it I felt guilty because I KNEW I could spend all that time writing instead. If I had spent as much time writing as I had trying to find time to write I probably could have written six novels already! (and believe me with the number of "idea's" folders sitting next to me that I've come up with over the course of the novel I'm writing right now? It wouldn't be hard!)
When I wrote the first two I didn't have enough time, but it was a priority, I wanted to get it done and I had to get it done and instead of putting it off I begged, borrowed, stole whatever moment I could to get it done and it worked. Now, writing my third, I have too much time, not enough to fill my space and perversely it's even harder to make myself sit down and type anything, let alone my novel. It's too easy to feel discouraged and then guilty about the time I've 'looked for' and then ended up wasting. If you're serious about it, make a decision, set a small goal that will be really, really easy to reach and set it for every day, don't miss a day and the thing you're working on will get done. Maybe not as fast as you would like, but it will get there and that's part of the beauty of doing it.
There's an ending to the cliche I mentioned earlier and the whole thing put together makes me smile and think that's exactly what I've been doing with all my "free" time. Never put off until tomorrow the things that you can do today, because today is just yesterday's tomorrow. It's good advice when you hear the whole thing, and it's all about making time to do things, even when you maybe don't feel like it. But don't kill yourself with guilt either, just recognize why you didn't do it and if you are still serious about writing, change it. It's always going to be one step at a time, regardless of what you're doing and writers need to remember that too.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Life has been crazy lately, trying to get everything done and keep writing. While I have had the inclination to write I haven't had the time. I have however been chosen for a small acting role for a short film that I am extremely excited about. I will probably give more details when I'm done and have permission to do so. (Assuming they give me permission!)
But one of the things that is really taking up a lot of my time is chocolate and the quest for a ganache without cream. It seems next to impossible to find and I can feel another book idea creeping up on me as I search for it. I expect the next romance I write may very well be centered around chocolate, mystery and love. It is a fun idea for me.
There is actually a ganache that you can do without cream called a butter ganache, but I haven't had the courage to try it yet. Or the time for that matter. It's funny though how things in your everyday life can give you such inspiration for future ideas. Cut yourself off from noticing life around you and expect writer's block. Pay attention and live life and suddenly your access to materials for future novels grows. If you're stuck with your writing live a little more life then go back to it. After all, whatever story you might be writing about, in the end you're still writing about life. (And yes, writing about death, the undead or the afterLIFE still counts in my book.)
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
The fact that the phrase "this week's post is kind of weak" makes me giggle the way it does is a suggestion that I'm probably getting sick. Either that or I'm just really off right now. That being said, with the rush and bustle of Christmas, writing and the blog haven't been high on my mind. It's amazing how this time of year makes everything else slip away, especially when you're still (or still choosing to) make your own Christmas presents. They may be easy on the wallet but boy do they take a LOT of time to do.
I almost called this post "the indulgence of Chocolate" since I've been spending a lot of time making chocolates. I'm trying to think of some unusual flavors that will make good chocolates, like paprika lime or curry cashew maybe. Right now I make tea-chocolates, they're kind of my thing and I've made them several years in a row so I'm getting pretty good at it. The attempted study of them is much more difficult than you'd thing. Half the time you get the same information regarding the "chocolate makers" which involves the beans when most people are actually Chocolatiers, not chocolate makers. Funny huh? All the chocolatier books? Yeah, they're ridiculously expensive...
I love chocolate, and it fits in with the romance genre in so many ways. Men enjoy it too of course, but hey, it's so associated and aimed at women... anyway, it's a fun hobby and eventually maybe I'll move on to making and selling them. They're pretty good so far if I do say so myself. :D Hopefully next week I'll be able to concentrate on something other than... well... chocolate.