Monday, April 9, 2012

Much and More

A quick stop on reading updates, and then on to the monumental progress with writing groups.

Books so far this year:

4. The Home & the World (Tagore)
3. To the Lighthouse (Woolf)
2. Mrs. Dalloway (Woolf)
1. Jacob's Room (Woolf)

This is going incredibly slow, and I think a lot of it has to do with The Difference Engine. I got pretty into it for a while, and then the story shifted dramatically and I was sort of left adrift in the wrong part of the pool, spinning in circles and trying to figure out why. Every time I pick the book up I try to get a new grip on things, but I'm confused. That's not good.

Also not delighting my little reader's heart is Matched (Condie). I started this over the weekend hoping to find great YA fantasy candy for the drive to and from Cleveland. It is a quick read, so that's not a problem. The problem is that the characters are supposed to be 17 and I can't imagine any of them being a day over 13. Beyond which, there are a LOT of sentences that are just clunky and unfortunate. Usually, I don't even notice these things in my "mind candy" reads. Example: Twilight. For all the shit it gets for being crappy writing, I would argue that the language is mostly unnoticeable -- which is a good thing comparatively. The plot progression and character melodrama is fair game, but there was a voice (in the first three books, anyway) and a rhythm. I never stopped and said "Why didn't an editor cross some of this out?" I'm doing that a lot with Matched. I'm also getting annoyed by the scenes that are overt in their purpose. In a good novel, I feel like every scene is important but I don't always know why at the moment. In Matched, every time a new scene starts I can pinpoint exactly what I'm supposed to get from it. Too often the setup is convenient and contrived. All negatives. Still, I'm halfway through and there's no point in tossing it aside. It will take a lot to get me to read the rest of the trilogy, though. More likely I'll Google for the plot points (or wait for the films) and move on.

That makes reading sound so sad! I'm confident I'll find something brilliant soon. If not, I'll start Game of Thrones over again. At any rate, the things I'm reading for Modernism in India are interesting. The Home and the World (Tagore) reminded me a lot of Ayn Rand with less plot. It was a whole lot of political philosophy packed into a novel about three characters who do a lot of contemplating. I enjoyed it on some level, though I doubt I would pursue the author further. Still, it's whetted my appetite for what's to come as far as the culture is concerned. Next up for class is Untouchable (Anand) about a street sweeper in India.

More on that to come.

Now...writing.

Since my last post, a lot has changed. I finally joined the NaNoWriMo group that meets monthly. I've been meaning to for over a year, and now that I have I wish I'd joined much sooner. But even better, at the first meeting a member told me about another writing group and I've since joined that as well. It meets weekly (and I thought I didn't have time for a monthly commitment!) and reviews two 5k pieces at a time. So far I've had my first two chapters reviewed and have two more on the table this week. The responses have been incredibly helpful so far. I really think the constant deadline and the feedback are going to be a huge part of my goal.

Between edits, I can't help daydreaming. We all do it. The querying, the agent, the publishing deal. A weekly writers' group keeps it fresh on my mind. Rather than losing myself in the fantasy, I try to spend those moments combing the internet for useful information. I'm happy to announce I've finally discovered a good use for Twitter. (@MegOverman) There are so many agents and editors there, posting advice and interesting anecdotes about the industry. Besides that, there are hundreds of authors -- published, self-published (which is different, and a whole separate blog post that's looming on the horizon), and aspiring. I follow as many as I can find. I also follow the crap out of anyone who likes anything I consider remotely similar to what I write, in hopes that one day I'll be able to tweet "Hey! Like X and Y? Try my Z." I don't know much about building a platform, but it can't hurt to tinker around with it now, yes?

Anyhow, I'm getting dangerously close to midnight. And I've got some writing to do.

For my own reference, blog posts to eventually write if I ever run out of other things to say:
Why Self-Publishing is Wonderful and Terrible
My Favorite Agent and/or Editor Websites and Tips I've Taken to Heart
Could I Survive a Bunny, a Cat, a Puppy, a Toddler, and an Eventual Infant: Or Can My Husband Have a Puppy for His 30th Birthday and Does He Read My Blog? (Maybe this isn't a post so much as a run-on question.)

Til next time,
-- Meg

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