Everyone needs a vacation. I think a lot of us need more vacation time than we get, even if it’s just a week at home doing nothing. Me, I don’t usually get much allocated vacation time, and the time I spend away from home is usually hardly a vacation. This weekend, I went to Scottsdale, AZ but it wasn’t for a vacation. It was for a rabbit show (which is definitely no kind of vacation considering all the work involved). On the other hand, since I used to live in Phoenix, going back there feels like a mini-vacation no matter what I’m doing.
The scariest thing about actually being a writer is letting other people read your writing. When you first start writing, you think it’s fantastic and everything you write is gold! Fast-forward five years to you rereading what you wrote and thinking it’s the worst piece of crap since the first time your puppy took one on the floor. The best part about writing is that you’re constantly growing and improving with every person who reads your work, so even if their comments don’t make you jump for joy (okay, and sometimes they make you die on the inside), it’s helping in the long-run.
Putting yourself out there is the hardest and the most important thing you have to do. Opening yourself up to critiques is scary, letting people read the things you wrote, that you slaved over for months or years, is terrifying. It’ll take you farther, though.
Today, in fact, I have an event to attend in which I’ll be talking about writing and possibly even reading aloud to people (reading your own work aloud? What is this? The Torture Chamber?). I’m generally not that great in front of groups, and you’d think I’d be better after being a teacher, but not so much. Taking this step, however, could lead to bigger and better things, or at least, a book sale.
I’ll admit I am not one to step out on a cliff very often. I haven’t sent my novels to publishers because I’m afraid they’re not good enough. Someday, I hope to write one that I deem “good enough” for the pros to read and hopefully not just toss back on the slushpile. It’ll be terrifying when I do, but I know it’ll be for the best. Most writers dream of being traditionally published, of being stamped with a “verified” writer stamp across their forehead, as though the gatekeepers in publishing have deemed them worthy. Worthiness is all in the eyes of the beholder.
So I’m still here, taking small steps, but steps nonetheless, to get somewhere in my writing career. I’m putting myself somewhere – maybe not out there yet – but somewhere.
I have a problem – and the first step is admitting it, right? I push my characters too hard to be what I want them to be. I feel like this isn’t just my problem – many authors/writers have this problem when it comes to endings. When I sit down to plan a novel, or even if I just have an idea, I usually have some idea of how it’s going to end – who’s going to end up with who, etc. By the time I get to the end, however, my characters aren’t always the same as I envisioned them back at the beginning, and that puts a crink in my plans.
As it is June, I think perhaps it’s the perfect time to check in on my New Years Resolutions. Admittedly, I didn’t make very many and I haven’t looked at them much since I did, but you have to hold yourself accountable for the goals you set. So here we go:
You know those times when you have absolutely nothing to do so you don’t do anything? And then you get a great idea and you start to work on it and then everything happens at once? This seems to come in a monthly cycle in my life. For weeks, there was nothing. No writing work to do, no editing, no new novels to work on, and then I got an idea. And the moment I sat down the put pen to paper, I was barraged with other things to do. My editor sent back a draft with more changes to make. My friends sent back a first draft with it slashed to shreds (as first drafts are often want to become), and one of my clients emailed about a dozen articles to proofread. So much for getting anything done.
So I made a goal to actually read books this year – I know, a writer reading? It’s unheard of! Well, I’ve been doing terribly so far but I decided to go out and read a book the other day and I picked Maze Runner by James Dashner. You may have heard of it since the movie is coming out in September, starring Dylan O’Brian. I like Dylan, so I figured I’d read the book.
My first impression: it was good, moved fairly quickly, wasn’t too annoying with epithets. It’s one of my pet peeves when reading, when writers use descriptors instead of a person’s name. There were a few moments when I wanted to reach in and erase the word “keeper” and replace it with a name.
I tend to be extremely picky when it comes to the types of books I like to read. I hate first person POV. I am getting more and more frustrated with YA books that only begin when a girl meets a boy or a boy meets a girl and they “turn their world upside down.” I went to the bookstore and about 90% of the books I looked at were like that. Luckily, The Maze Runner is not one of those books, at least not in the first book of the trilogy. There is a girl, but she doesn’t feature so much in the beginning and the story is not one of romance. At least, not yet. I haven’t finished the trilogy, though, so I could be wrong.
Overall, I enjoyed the book – it has lots of action, and though the majority of the characters are male, it didn’t feel like the book was vomiting masculinity everywhere. It helped, perhaps, that the characters were in their teens or younger, still able to feel some vulnerability.
My one criticism came near the end in which, after a whole novel of questions, we’re about to get answers, and instead of getting to see it, we have to sit and listen to the narrator tell us what happened. I would have much rather read about it myself than to get his boring one-page explanation.
It was good enough, however, that I went out and got the second book in the trilogy. We’ll see where The Scorch Trials take Thomas and the gang.