How I Learned To Love My Writing (And You Can Learn Too)

Hi everyone! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted anything. I keep telling myself I’m going to finish my TBR pile soon but then I just want to watch Avengers: Infinity War on repeat until Loki is alive again (spoiler). Also, let’s face it, part of the writing process is just opening your Word document and then your just end up watching YouTube videos for five hours straight. Don’t act like you’re not guilty of doing that. Anyways, I wanted to talk to you about how I learned to eventually learned to love what I write. I made a previous post about my crappy writing habits and I mentioned how I don’t always like what I write. While that is true, I’ve learned more about how to appreciate what I write. I’ve decided to share with you all some of the things that keep me loving being a writer.

  • Accept that it’s not going to be perfect the first time around. We all wish that we could have a brilliant idea during the first draft. That, however, is not true. Chances are that you aren’t going to like how your plot sounds on paper. As someone who has studied editing and publishing, I can tell you that the process to “perfect” a book takes a very long time. The writing process itself may take along time and it may not be perfect even then. As long as you have the commitment and patience, you can accomplish it.
  • Don’t write hoping to impress others. In my sophomore year of college, I decided to start to pursue a minor in Writing. This made sense since I was (and still am) and English major. Once I got into the classes, however, I realized I was trying way too hard to impress my professors and classmates. It got to the point where I would spend way too long even thinking about the story then I would end up writing at the last minute. Most of those stories didn’t turn out great. Don’t forget that your writing is for yourself, first and foremost. Enjoy the solitude that comes with the writing process because plenty of people will come along to go over every detail of your work. Make yourself proud by just fulfilling your accomplishment.
  • Let your imagination run wild. It’s easy to get caught up in the genres. We all want to fit into one specific genre because we love certain authors so much. This, however, shouldn’t limit you. Your ideas are going to sound silly sometimes. Your worlds and characters are going to raise eyebrows but that’s perfectly fine. Get weird with it. Don’t settle for ordinary, regardless of your preferred genre. Let loose once in a while and that might be how you strike gold.
  • Tap into your emotional side. The best stories are the ones that move us emotionally. It’s hard to communicate your emotions. I still have a hard time with it. Don’t let this hold you back, though. Make your story sad. Make your story angry. Make your story joyful. Don’t be afraid to put a healthy dose of “the feels” into your writing. I’ve learned I feel more in tune with my emotions once I put them on paper.
  • Congratulate yourself every so often. If you’re a person with a day job, like me, then you can have a hard time finding time to sit down and just write. You might be too tired or just not in the mood. When you do find the time, make sure to give yourself a nice little pat on the back. It doesn’t matter if you get one page or ten pages done, you still made progress. So give yourself a round of applause for hitting your goals because you deserve it.

So those are the ways I have learned to love my writing. Let me know about how you learned to love your writing as well. I can’t wait to hear from you all.

Current Favorites: Music Edition (aka What’s On My Writing Playlist?)

Hello everyone! I’m really glad a lot of you enjoyed my review of Children of Blood and Bone. I’m actually still in the process of finishing it and, once I’m done, I’m going to work on reading V.E. Schwab’s Vicious. In between all of that, I’m also working on my writing. I’ve finally settled on an idea and committed to it. I’m feeling pretty confident so I might give you all updated in the future. In the meanwhile, I decided to do another Current Favorites but about some of my favorite musical artists. My taste in music has a pretty large range but I do mostly stick to indie and alt-rock. I have to have music playing while I’m writing in order to focus. I’ll leave links to some of my favorite songs by these artists if you are interested.

I’m going to stop my list there before I just end up giving you all my entire Spotify playlist. I hope that you check out some of this music. I always appreciate when you all take an interest in my opinions. Feel free to leave me some suggestions in the comments.

 

Types of Literary Narrators I Hate

Hello everyone! I am currently catching up on the last new novel I got so, hopefully, I will be giving you a review of that soon. I’m coming up on spring break so I might wait till then. In the meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about certain story telling styles I don’t click with. These mostly apply to first person narrators but there are some things in third person stories that I can’t stand. There are certain things writers do when it comes to their narrators that just piss me off and make the story less enjoyable. Now, I’m going to share with you the kind of narrators that I am tired of reading about.

The Skeptic: The is narrator mostly shows up in horror or science fiction. From the beginning of the story, they have to remind you that they don’t believe in the paranormal or supernatural. This narrator has to remind you every other sentence that they have always thought ghosts were stupid. You don’t have to remind me every five seconds that your are skeptical. This is when the “show, don’t tell,” rule should come in to play.

scully

The Philosopher: This narrator loves to ask sweeping, broad questions or statements in order to get the reader thinking about the meaning of life or something like that. When a story begins out with some line like, “since the dawn of time, there have aways been things hidden from humans…” then I start to roll my eyes. If you want to incorporate philosophy in your story, that’s fine but there’s a way to include without immediately boring the reader.

philosophy

The Romantic: This narrator has the biggest crush on another character in the story and they will stop everything to go on and on about the love of their life. Their crush breathes and the world stops turning. Their crush has the most amazing eyes in the whole entire universe and not a single other person’s eyes compare to it. Listen, I like romance as much as the next person but there’s a better way to convey a relationship between two characters.

romance

The Pessimist: Life sucks and this narrator won’t let you forget it. This narrator is hard to read because you start to feel depressed over fictional things. I want to enjoy a book to a degree and I can’t do that when the narrator won’t give me anything to enjoy. Believe it or not, there’s always some sort of “silver lining.” Don’t let this narrator get you down.

eeyore

The Narrator Who Is Not Like Other People: This narrator is just so unique and different. They are not like average people. They are so extraordinary because of whatever talents or features they have. You mostly find this narrator in YA novels because teens want to live vicariously through this super special character. The author takes great care to let you know how different their character is from the rest and it’s exhausting. Again, “show, don’t tell” is a good rule here.

special

The Hardened and Angsty Soul: This narrator is a step up from the pessimist. This narrator has seen some sh*t in their time and everything they do comes back to whatever traumatic even they experienced. They always refer vaguely and bitterly back to this event and all of the other characters tell them that they need to move on but they just can’t because angst. I’ve seen this one pop up in plenty of detective stories and it’s pretty common in action movies as well. You’ll probably know who I’m talking about.

angst

Note: This is not meant to shade any specific authors. These are just observations I have made while reading. Feel free to debate me or agree with me in the comments. I like to hear your feedback.

I have crappy writing habits – and I’m okay with that

Hello everyone! As of this moment, I don’t have anything new to read and, unfortunately, I’m a cheapskate who doesn’t want to buy any books right now. I can hear the e-readers saying “But just get an e-book! They are so much cheaper!” Well, I’m old-fashioned and I can’t bring myself to invest in any electronic versions of books. Back to the subject, I want to talk about my personal writing habits that may make my fellow writers cringe to death or you might say “yeah same.” I’m also going to talk about the bad habits I’ve embraced and the ones I want to change.

My first crappy writing habit is that I don’t plan any of my stories ahead of actually writing them. I’ve seen all these “worksheet” type things on Pinterest that are meant to help you really get the details of your story straight and flesh out your characters. I’ve known people who have created entire maps for their fictional worlds. I am proud to say that I don’t do any of that. Sometimes, I can’t even pick my character’s name right away. I’ve changed pronouns midway through a story because I couldn’t decide on the character’s gender. Settings and time periods mean nothing to me until I feel like its important (which might not be until after the first chapter). Every time I tried to map out a story ahead of time, I ended up feeling discouraged because then I feel as though I’ve put too much work into something I don’t even like anymore. Feel free to call me lazy but I am proud of my spontaneous planning.

My second crappy writing habit is I can have a difficult time committing to my stories. I don’t even like some of the stuff I write. One of the most common piece of advice for writers is “The only obligation you have is to love your story.” Guess what? I don’t always like what I’ve written. I’ve thrown away entire stories just because I got fed up or even bored. On one hand, it is very liberating because I don’t have to commit to something I don’t have confidence in. On the other hand, it makes me feel bad because maybe I could have fixed it but I didn’t even want to look at it again. I’ve been doing my best to try to work on my stories, rather than just throw them away when I feel like it. I’ve been pretty good at it too. Some of my ideas just need a little more tweaking.

This next writing habit I’m going to talk about is probably the one I want to change the most. My third crappy writing habit is that I hate sharing my stories. I am horribly self-conscious about what I write and I panic at the thought of having to share my ideas. They sound great in my head but I find myself having a cringe attack when other people read them. As you can imagine, my Fiction Writing I class was absolute hell. But, that class kind of sucked regardless. Anyways, I am trying my best to become more confident about my writing. I am perfectly capable of handling critiques when it comes to my technical writing (i.e. essays) but when it comes to prose I can’t stand it. This one will take a while to break but I am determined to be confident.

What I’m trying to get at here is that there is no way to be a good writer. Every writer has their own style and process that they have honed over the years. You know what they say: it isn’t stupid if it works. You are a writer regardless of what you write, when you write, and how you write. Don’t be afraid to change, either. Keep going and I guarantee that you will find that one story that you fall in love with.

PS: I’ve found a really good writing app called Werdsmith. It’s free and it has been a really good writing tool for me. Check it out if you want.

Some Thoughts, TBR List,and Plans for this Blog

Hi everyone! I’m back at school and I have the day off due to Martin Luther King Jr day so I decided to do a little ramble, if you don’t mind. I’m not expecting a ton of you to be terribly interested in this but if you stick around to read this then I appreciate it. For starters, I’m pleased to say that I’ll have much more time to do some leisure reading as I don’t have any required novel reading this semester. I have a lot of really awesome opportunities coming up and I am beyond excited. I’m even considering doing posts about these things but I am still on the fence. Privacy is very important to me, as it is to you but I might be opening up a bit more about myself as posts I have done about that in the past have seem to have gotten very good reception.

As for other blog posts, I’m going to experiment with other reviews. I’m a big movie fan so I would like to do movies reviews and see how that goes. Also, I’m considering doing a big series where I re-read series that I used to be especially obsessed with give my thoughts on them as an adult. Some of the series I want to re-read are the Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus series, The Mortal Instruments series, and the Hunger Games series. Those are (almost) the complete YA series I own. I also really wanted to kick off my Bad Fan Fiction Friday series. I did a previous blog post with more detail but the abbreviated version is that I want you guys to send me bad fan fiction and I will do a semi-serious analysis of it. I think it would be really funny and interesting. I also might do some other non-book related posts but I don’t have any specific ideas at this moment. Let me know if you have any ideas that you would like to see.

Let’s get to the TBR list. I actually went through a bunch of various posts from all of you and compiled all of your favorite books into my own list of novels I want to read now. So I have to give a big shout out to all of my fellow bookworms for giving me the ideas. I currently have eighteen (!) books I’m hoping to read in this year alone. I might post this list in a separate post along with a very honest DNF list.

Thank you so much for reading this post if you decided to stick around to the end. You can look forward to two book reviews coming up soon. In the meanwhile, I hope you stay warm and live your best lives.

 

Some Quick Updates and Miscellaneous Thoughts

Hello my fellow bloggers. This is my first update post. Don’t feel any pressure to read this but if you’re interested then I appreciate it. On Sunday, I move back to college to complete my senior year. This ought to be a fun but hectic semester that I’m looking forward to. With this will come bigger gaps in between my posts. Hopefully since I’m mainly reading novels this year, I will be able to give you more reviews. Just be aware that I will not be able to keep up as much with my posts.

The next thing I wanted to address was something I have been thinking about for a while. I was thinking about doing movie or t.v. show reviews. Most of the things I watch are comic book based so it would still be relevant to my blog style. Not that I have that much of a blog style, but still. I’m a movie buff and an avid t.v. fangirl so I would like to share those with you all.

Now we are at the last matter of business. I just wanted to thank you all for reading my reviews and dealing with my book tags. I really love your blogs too and I love hearing feedback. I hope you all had an enjoyable summer. To those going back to school, I wish you the best of luck and hope that you achieve whatever goals you have set for yourself.

 

Top 10 Short Stories I Must Recommend You Read

I know the title sounds like click bait but it got you to read my post, didn’t it? I’ve read more than my fair share of short stories over the years. I’m currently trying to write my own with little luck. There are a few that I absolutely love that you might enjoy too. The art of the short story is one that takes a while to master. It’s hard to convey a powerful message in just a few pages. These ones I have picked have a made an impact for me and I hope that they make an impact for you too.

  1. “The Pit and the Pendulum” by Edgar Allan Poe – I’ve a been a huge fan of Poe for years now and own several different editions of his complete collections. Though I absolutely love his other famous short stories, I love this one in particular for the sensory picture that Poe writes that creates a sense of impending doom and suspense as you read it.
  2. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – In only 6,000 words, Perkins Gilman provides a scathing indictment of the American mental health system. As told through the diary entries of a woman suffering from postpartum depression, “The Yellow Wallpaper” shows how improper treatment of mental illness in women can have devastating effects on the mind.
  3. “A Temporary Matter” by Jhumpa Lahiri from The Interpreter of Maladies – Lahiri’s bold and intimate writing provides an inside look at the struggles of people’s lives that others might overlook. In this particular story, a young couple must come to terms with the loss of their child and deterioration of their marriage during the nightly blackouts that occur in India. This story is has a heavy and poignant message that is palpable as you read it.
  4. “October in the Chair” by Neil Gaiman from Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Other Wonders – Gaiman is well known for his surreal, humorous, and profound writing. His short stories are no exception. In this story, the personifications of the months gather around to listen to October’s turn to tell a story about a young boy find out more than he wanted when he decides to run away from home. Gaiman artfully crafts a fable-like tale for fairy tale characters who come to life on the page.
  5. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson – This story is a classic one that I read back in high school. I was initially confused but soon found out that this story provides a much darker message than it gives away. Jackson paints the picture of a quaint little town built on dark traditions. It is hard to create the perfect plot twist and Jackson doesn’t fail to deliver a shock at the very end.
  6. “The Dead” by James Joyce from Dubliners – Last year, I went to Dublin on spring break specifically for Joyce. One of my professors is a leading Joyce scholar so it would be foolish of me not to mention any of Joyce’s short stories. Dubliners is a tricky read but it is endlessly fascinating. “The Dead” is the final story in the collection and it takes an introspective look into the life of a man who is struggling with his identity. The very last line of the story is profound and brings the whole novel into perspective. Even if you haven’t read Dubliners, the story is still just as powerful.
  7. “There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury – I’ve been a fan of Bradbury for a while and, in particular, I remember reading this story in grade school. “There Will Come Soft Rains” follows the daily goings on of an automated “smart house” that continues to operate despite the fact that no one is living there. The story serves as a warning for how technology may develop and how it could change the environment. Bradbury’s haunting and detailed science fiction story is another great example of how to master the plot twist.
  8. “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver – One of the more famous short stories out there, Carver’s message of “don’t judge a book by its cover” is just as powerful with each read. When a man wife invites a blind man to their house, he is reluctant to let him stay. However, he soon learns how to understand how other people live as he spends more time with the blind man.
  9. “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe – Yet another classic Poe story, this one is a bit more famous. Poe was famous for his unreliable narrators and this story is one that makes the reader question what truly makes someone insane.
  10. “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes – Much like Gilman’s story, this one also calls into question the ethics of how mental health is treated. Though it involves science fiction, Keyes is still not too far off from reality. This story follows Charlie Gordon, a man with an IQ of 68, who undergoes a surgery to increase his intelligence. He and a mouse named Algernon who also received the surgery are then subjected to scrutiny as they are thrust into the spotlight.

How My Reading Habits Have Changed Over the Years

I don’t know if any other bookworms have done this but, on occasion, I realize how much my taste in books or the way I read books has changed since I was young. Now, I do certainly have staples. I still generally read fiction and I’m always reading more than one book at a time but some slight changes have come up in my reading life. Maybe some of you have experienced similar things or maybe you haven’t. Here is a quick list of what I’ve noticed has changed.

  • Series: I haven’t read a book series in a rather long time. As a kid, I read a lot of series and I believe the most recent one I read was The Song of Fire and Ice series, which I read back in high school. Most of the books I read now are standalone. Why is it that there are very few series for adults? Maybe I’ve simply lost patience for book series. I still have favorites but I haven’t been interested in any book series in a while.
  • Romance: I’ve never been a huge fan of romance novels but I used to get more invested in romantic relationships in books. Now, unless it’s intended to be a romantic novel, I could care less if my characters are in relationships or not. Is that weird?
  • Fantasy: I do still like fantasy novels but it no longer catches my interest as much. I don’t pick up books solely because they belong to a particular genre I enjoy. I used to do that more when I was younger. Fantasy elements no longer hook me in like they used to.
  • Trends: When I was kid, the Twilight phenomenon had struck the pop culture scene and I was one of the many preteen victims. Like others, I do regret it now but it made me think that I can’t think of any book trends that are popular right now. Harry Potter is making a comeback, which is great, but I haven’t noticed any huge trends in the literary world. Maybe I’m just getting old and I no longer notice this stuff.
  • Classics: I’ve found myself wanting to read more classic novels. You know, authors like Woolf, Hemingway, Austen, the Brontes, Dostoyvesky, and other authors that are worshipped by writers and readers alike. I almost feel like I have an obligation to read these authors. I don’t know if I’ll enjoy any of these or not but I would like to try at least.

That’s my stream of consciousness for now. I’m still stalling until I read enough to write another book review. I would definitely by interested in hearing if any of you other book worms feel the same way that I do or maybe you haven’t noticed any changes in how or what you read. Either way, don’t stop reading what you love.

Breaking It Down: Reviewing Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People who Love Books and Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose

I don’t know about anyone else but I didn’t have very good creative writing classes in my school career. I did competitive writing in grade school in a competition called Power of the Pen, which is a regional thing in America. I didn’t have anything available to me in high school and the classes I took in college were tedious. This hasn’t squashed my passion for creative writing but it has dampened my confidence in being able to execute my ideas on a technical level. I was browsing around the bookstore when Prose’s book caught my eye. Normally, I don’t gravitate towards non-fiction but I was certainly interested in this. I am happy to say that it was the right choice to take home.

Francine Prose, a prolific author with a fitting name, takes a realistic and informative look at the art of fiction writing. Like most authors, she learned from reading other famed authors and studying their techniques. Starting with a chapter just focusing on words and building up to the full story, Prose teaches you how she and other authors craft their stories in ways that are succinct and impactful while still being unique. She also reflects on her time as a teacher and how she found her way in the literary world. With an honest and friendly voice, Prose provides a helpful and detailed way to improve your writing and reading skills.

The first thing I enjoyed about this book is that it doesn’t feel like its too technical or condescending. I’ve taken literary theory classes and those made my head ache. Prose, however, provides an honest look at how to better improve writing and reading skills. As fun as fiction is, it is still a pain to master and Prose understands that completely. This book is a great learning tool for writers and readers alike. It dissects famous short stories in a way that shows why they are so effective. This has already taught me more than I have learned in actual classes.

On Confidence, Perseverance, and Acceptance

I’m going to start this out with a confession. As of today, I am now a licensed driver. While I am relieved to have finally gotten past that obstacle, I am still a little reluctant to admit that I didn’t get my license until I was twenty-one. The reason for this delay was that damned monster known as anxiety. Sitting behind the wheel of a car sent me into panic attacks and I bust out into tears on more than one occasion in order to avoid driving. Anxiety, in general, has had a deep impact on my life since I was in high school. Looking back on it now, there were a lot of things I wish I had known then. What is important, however, is that I can finally keep moving forward into my twenties with a new sense of confidence.

I decided I will share some of my favorite (literary) quotes about learning to keep moving forward and accepting yourself even when you don’t feel you are at your best.

“I wasn’t born to be soft and quiet. I was born to make the world shatter and shake at my fingertips.” – Unknown

“She was never quite ready. But she was brave. And the universe listens to brave.” – Rebecca Ray

“Still, like air, I rise.” – Dr. Maya Angelou

“The minute you think of giving up, think of the reason you held on for so long.” – Unknown

“The courage it took to get out of bed each morning to face the same things over and over was enormous.” – Charles Bukowski

“Time heals nothing unless you move along with it.” – Rachel Wokhin

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keep leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” – Jane Austen

“Nobody important? Blimey, do you know that in nine hundred years of time and space I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important before?” – The Eleventh Doctor

“I am the one thing in life I can control. I am inimitable. I am an original.” – Aaron Burr from Hamilton: An American Musical