Wednesday, April 1, 2020

This Is Not an April Fool's Joke

I'm doing it.

I have never attempted to write a novel before. I haven't attempted any fiction at all since, oh, fourth grade? Which would be 1978. I mean, maybe a teacher or two along the way made us write stories, but I don't remember writing fiction. I love stories, OBVIOUSLY, and I like writing, but I've always felt like I just can't think of a plot. And plots, I feel firmly, are an important part of novel writing.

Then I had a dream a month or more ago. In the dream, I had just leapt out of this long wooden boat as a fleet of similar boats beached around me, and everyone started running across the beach towards the woods. Only I tripped and fell flat on my face. This bearded man came back and looked down at me laying there and said, completely seriously, "I am beginning to think you are not as vital to this movement as I'd been led to believe." And I was so embarrassed, and also a little afraid that now he was going to kill me because he'd figured out I wasn't the Chosen One.

So that's the story I'm writing. I figure that moment will take place about a third of the way in, but I'm realizing that I'm going to have to edit like a mo-fo, because I'm ten chapters in and nowhere near that point. I mean, my two main characters haven't even MET yet.

But that's okay. Because all my life, I'd read a debut and think 'Wow, they wrote THAT GOOD and it's their FIRST TIME!? I could NEVER do that!" Then I started blogging and following authors on social media, and I found out that no, for most authors their first published book isn't their first book. That they learn by doing. That you can always edit a shitty first draft, but you can't edit a blank page. So I'm giving myself permission to write a terrible first book, with zero expectations. If all that happens is I finish the first draft and it's as long as two George R. R. Martin books combined because I cannot get to the goddamned point, that will still be an amazing win.

Plus, it's something to do while socially distancing besides freak out. I have heard plenty of authors saying they can't concentrate long enough to write right now, but I suspect that because this is NOT my normal, it feels like an escape to me. As opposed to actually trying to figure out how to do my job long distance, which is stressful and difficult and confusing.

Okay then, I need another 466 words today. If you don't see me much on the blog this month though, that's why.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Puzzled Books Galison Ideal Bookshelf: Universals Puzzle, 1000+ ...

Anne over at My Head is Full of Books has been, like many of us, doing puzzles lately. She put together this one from Ideal Bookshelf and was inspired to create a little tag based on the labels. I've been struggling to get myself to blog, so I thought I'd jump on this and share my first thoughts with you. Obviously, there are dozens of options for any of them, so I'll try to not second guess myself. 
  • Unforgettable Book: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
  • Book a Friend Gave Me: The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis
  • Book that Gives Me Happy Tears: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
  • Book I Read Again and Again: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens 
  • Book I'd Grab to Save From a Fire: My tattered copy of The River Why by David James Duncan
  • Best Book I've Ever Read: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Childhood Favorite Book: Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott
  • Book That Makes Me Look Smart: The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne (Just because so many people say they hated it as assigned reading, and I actually enjoyed it.)
  • Book That Makes Me Laugh Out Loud: Dreyer's English by Benjamin Dreyer
  • Super Fantastic Book:  Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
  • Book I Never Finished: Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Feel free to play along! Let Anne know if you do!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

No Thank You: Books To Avoid In These Trying Times

While writing this week's top ten Tuesday post, I casually mentioned a few books I won't be reading this month (season? year?) because of how terrifyingly plausible they seem these days. I keep thinking of more and more of them, so even though I DO NOT RECOMMEND reading them right now, I couldn't resist listing them for you.

1. The Stand
I read this book in 1995, in my little flat in rural Latvia, and I have not yet forgotten the opening scene, with the guy slipping out of the gates as the science goes wrong, then driving off with his wife and baby, coughing ominously.

2. Dry
Neal Shusterman himself just tweeted about the eery connection between his novel of water running out and the current situation (of TP running out?)

3. Life As We Knew It
I lost interest in this series as it progressed, but the first book, in which a slight shift in the moon's orbit basically destroys everything on earth made me want to stack the pantry with canned goods. Hmm, what does that remind me of?

4. Station Eleven
This one's not as near future as the others, so it's a little less relevant. But it's pretty bleak.

5.  Wilder Girls
Quarantined girls unsure if their food source is a boon or the problem...yikes.

6. How I Live Now
How quaint, a near-future book in which nuclear war derails regular life. Seems like a very 1980s concept. Though the cousin incest makes it less quaint, of course. Or more so? Wasn't that a thing in the 1300s?

7. In the After
As my students like to point out, this book came out well BEFORE The Quiet Place came out. After the aliens have attacked the earth, the only way to avoid getting eaten is to be unheard.

8. The Last Policeman
I love this trilogy about the trials and tribulations of trying to be a police detective when the whole world is aware that a meteor is going to take everyone out in a few months.

9. Not a Drop to Drink
I can barely let myself think about this one. After our scare with losing power yesterday, I started to wonder how feral we'd all get in pursuit of water for our immediate family.

10. The Living
The Big One wipes out the west coast, and the resulting flood of illnesses and refugees send the entire country into a tailspin. Oof.

The cover colors and styles kind of crack me up. Compare them to most contemporaries or rom-coms out. These books want you to know they are ominous. Kind of like poison dart frogs or something.

Image result for poison dart frog

What books would you add to this list? Are you brave enough to read any of these right now, or do they all strike a little too close to home? Me, I'm heading back to my comfort reads.