Sunday, September 21, 2014

Book Recommendation: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Not only am I recommending this because it is a great book, it is also because other than the Alex Rider series, no other book had ever effected my writing as much as this book did.
            The story is about a girl named Cather “Cath” who is a student about to go to college. She has social anxiety and doesn’t like crowds so living alone in a dorm scared her tremendously. Her roommate Regan is a scary and intimidating upperclassman, but she eventually warms up to Cath and helps her overcome her anxiety slightly. She gets accepted into a junior level writing class as a freshman taught by a best-selling author. However, after submitting one of her “Simon Snow” fanficitons for one of her class assignments, she gets a reality check that although she put work and effort into her fanfiction, it is considered plagiarism in the literary world. Throughout her first year in college she must juggle her anxiety, her love of the fictional character Simon Snow and her desire for him to end up in a relationship with his best friend Baz, her twin sister Wren who is out every weekend getting drunk, Regan’s ex-boyfriend Levi who constantly hangs around her room bothering her, her unstable father who struggles with his advertising job, a boy named Nick who she writes stories with in her spare time, her mother she never wants to see again, and her internal struggle about whether or not she’s cut out to be a fiction writer.
            This is a great story over all with an amazing plot and amazing characters to go along with it. You really can’t help but empathize with Cath throughout her journey in college and you really hope for the best for her. The reason I like it so much is because although it is a young adult book, it is for an older age group within the genre, which I really appreciated. This was also a great book for me to read at this time considering the fact that I read it the spring before I started college.
            I think this is a great coming of age novel for an older audience, and I really recommend high school students, especially those about to go off to college read this book. I think those with anxiety would also find this book helpful if they’re afraid of going to college. I think they could really relate to Cath’s character, and she could serve as a role model to them on how to get through college. I would also recommend it to anyone who is considering going into the creative writing field, because this book really gave me a good outlook on writing and other things of that nature.
            The reason this book affected me so much was because of one thing very small think I learned about writing. Considering the book follows Cath’s dream of becoming a fiction writer, writing plays a huge part in the story. One piece of advice Cath’s professor tells her when she’s about to give up on writing it to “write about what you know”. That statement had such a huge impact on my writing ever since reading that book.
            It’s most evident in a lot of my ANGA stories where I write about things that I have experienced or can relate to in my life such as going to college, living in Michigan, or being an only child. I began to take little bits of things I learned from personal experience and I began to incorporate them into my stories, even if it’s only a small part of it. I began to realize that this actually helped my writing become better, and it helped me to write something I was proud of. Relating my personal experience back to a fictional story helped me connect with the story better, and overall helped it to become more realistic and emotional. Write what you know is now advice that I would give to any writer, because I do think can really help out when writing.
            Overall, the book had an interesting plot with relatable and realistic characters. It was a bit of a cute comedic romance, but there’s wasn’t too much romance to consider it a full out romance story. The main plot really follows Cath and her personal journey through college, and her struggles and successes are something I think all people can learn something from.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Writer Problem #2 The Mind of a Writer

A writer’s mind is a dangerous place to be. I think it would be almost at an identical level with a person in an insane asylum. With all the constant stories swirling around, little side plots that may or may not be relevant, the characters that want you to bring them back from the dead, and all of the voices yelling at you because you haven’t written anything in days, you could easily find yourself wandering around lost in there.
In my opinion, in order to be a writer, you have to have a certain mind. You have to be able to visualize events playing out in your head. You have to be able to create characters that the reader will not only fall in love with, but will remember long after they set down the book. You have to be able to deal with and ignore the five different voices in your head telling you to go on Facebook, check your Twitter account, or even check your email the second you sit down to start writing. You also sometimes get the voices of your characters nagging you in your head when you take an extended hiatus for the book, because a writer is only “a bunch of different people trying to be one person.”
            When people hear the word creative, most people automatically think of artists, painters, sculptors, and all people associated with “visual” arts. All the art students got voted most creative in my senior year mock elections and when asked to define “art” most people in my humanities class responded referring only to types of visual art. Most people’s first thought is rarely ever writers. However, I would like to change that concept. I think that writers are the most creative people of all.
            Not to discredit those who are painters and such, because it does take a great amount of talent to visualize a picture in their head and then replicate it on paper. However, a writer is constantly stretching their mind beyond its limits, always thinking of different and unique plot elements. Planning the big reveal of a story is not easy, and making sure the reader will react to it is even harder. That comes with a lot of planning, and also creativity in how a writer presents the plot twists and conflicts. Not the everyday person would think the identity of the killer would be decided by an acorn left in the bathroom that somehow contradicted with a suspect’s alibi who claimed he lived by the ocean. Even as ridiculous as that sounds, great writers make it work so it makes complete sense while also leaving the reader crying.
            I also think that we’re all criminally insane to a certain extent, even if it’s only a small amount, but we have the capacity to aim that energy towards writing, and not at actual people. Being a writer is one of the only jobs where it is encouraged to be slightly insane. There’s no fun in it if you’re not. You might have already heard never to check a writer’s search history, and I will advise you to not do it. It’s almost constantly filled with searches on tasteless poison, different models of guns, modern torture practices, and how long it takes a person to bleed to death. If you happen to stumble upon something like this on any writer’s computer, don’t be alarmed and call the cops, it’s just part of the job. Think of it as only research. You have to do research with any other job you do, and that’s what it is. Everyone is just jealous because research for writers is way more fun than other jobs.
            I’ve spoken to enough writers to know that some will find joy in making the perfect partner of their character only to find even more joy in ripping them apart at the most unfortunate time and having either one of both of them dead by the end of the story. Writers will laugh like a mad man when they kill off the main character of their story, and will give them the most gruesome death, knowing how it will rip the reader’s heart to shreds( there are also a lot of people, myself included who will cry when we do this). I think this is where you will start to believe me when I say we’re all insane. I once got an edit back from an editor correcting me on the fact that a human body when preserved and rationed the right way will sustain a person for a month, and not just a couple of weeks as I had stated. I found the edit amusing, while also helpful. I wouldn’t want to have wrong information in my story and offend the cannibals of the world now would I?
            We throw all rules of grammar and spelling out the window if we see it fit. People might think that we’re the grammar Nazis of the world, but we can be the complete opposite when we want to be. Whoever said that you can’t start a sentence with “and” or “because.” I will do what I want. Why you ask? Because I can. Spell check will try to tell us it’s not a sentence, but we won’t care the slightest bit. The green squiggly line will get on the nerves of people with OCD, but other than that, a writer will push through it. We defy the normal boring spellings of names in today’s society. Who said that you can’t spell Kayla like “Cayla” or “Kaela”. Variety makes things memorable and interesting. When characters are from the south, we will defy the rules of spelling and grammar and throw around words like “youngen”, “gunna”, “’nother” and “yer” for the sake of dialogue. It sounds way more authentic that way in the first place.
            And no one has really known true frustration until they have dealt with the horrible disease that is writers block. It sneaks up on you from behind and has your mind working overtime trying to think of ways to fix the problem, while ultimately getting nowhere. You may have a perfectly amazing idea for a story plotted out in your head, but can’t figure out the way to put it down in words once you go to actually write it. You might be one hundred pages into you novel only to realize that you have no way for the main character to confront the antagonist so you reread the hundred pages over and over trying to come up with ways to fix it only to realize the only way of resolving the problem is to rewrite the entire thing. Writers block is what drives us to actual insanity, and not the good kind that helps us as writers.
            Overall, yes we are a bit crazy, and no we will not deny that we sometimes go slightly off the edge in order to do our job correctly. We write because we feel there are stories that need to be told, and we are the only ones who have the ability to tell them. We have the ability to move someone to tears with only words and also the ability to bring a reader to absolute rage the next chapter. We are our own race of people. I am a writer. And I am proud to be one. 


Monday, September 1, 2014

Summer Update!

I start school again tomorrow, so here's an update with some other things I've been doing over the summer. 
I think by my pervious blog posts it’s been obvious as to what I’ve been up to this summer. Obviously my big accomplishment was finally publishing The Unusual Isles which was an awesome experience. This time around the self-publishing experience was a lot more pleasant because I used a better company and also had a lot more support. I have also obviously been taking part in ANGA as you have read about in many previous blog posts, so I won’t go into detail about that.
            I have also been working on a few other small projects that aren’t nearly as important for me at the moment. I am working on a collection to 100 haikus. I took a 100 day art prompt from Deviantart and decided to write a haiku on each theme. I realized during ANGA that I am terrible at writing haikus so I thought this would be good practice. I will admit that I only have about 15 done and I don’t know if this project will ever get finished.
            I also participated in another group called Figment’s Next Top Writer: Summer Camp. I wasn’t nearly as involved in this as I was ANGA, but it was still a fun experience. I won one of the writing workshops and I found quite hilarious. We were given a character outline and told to write a certain scenario about her. The character happened to be a swimmer, so I took a lot of inspiration from an anime I watch named Free! about a bunch of swimming guys. I got a lot of comments on it saying how good it was because they could tell I was a swimming in real life, which I’m not. I guess that anime really ended up helping me.
            I also had a few side novels I wanted to work on, both of which got absolutely nowhere. One was a college murder sort of detective story where seven students try to figure out the murder of this one girl. I hit a wall with this one almost as soon as I started it. The other was about a prestigious school that only lets one third of the senior class graduate due to its very interesting graduation standards. I decided I want to restructure this one to make it darker, more like a manga I read called Dolls Code.
            I have also started writing the sequel to The Unusual Isles and it currently sits at around 8,000 words. I still have some plot holes and things I need to clear up in this story.
            So that’s what I’ve been up to over the summer. When I start school my writing time will be very limited, which is sad, but I know I’ll find the time to write somewhere.