Brief Review of “Ready Player One”


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“The Distracted Globe” – Ready Player One Fan Art by Andrew Guerrero

Ready Player One reminded me a few other books as I read it.

In the beginning, as the author showed the grim reality of 2044, I got a strong 1984-feeling. More people lived in poverty than ever before, there were neighborhoods with trailers stacked on top of each other like dysfunctional Leggo towers and many sought refuge in the OASIS, an advanced virtual reality. It’s not that it was anything like 1984 (more like the opposite in several cases, since in that world, you can enroll in online school without giving your real name), but I definitely had the creeps. If the energy crisis blows out of proportion and the unemployment sky-rockets, I can see all that crap happening. Plenty of us are already hiding behind one screen or the other, and using the Internet to “connect with people,” while we’re pretty much just shouting in the void.

Another book I thought of was The Hunger Games: Our heroes are a group of young people trying to win a contest. With a prize of riches beyond imagination. The difference, of course, is that they enter it willingly and they don’t realize that they’re in real mortal peril until the bad guys catch up to them. It definitely doesn’t feel as dark and depressing either. I’m grateful for the humor that the protagonist Wade Watts and his friend Art3mis bring to the page. (Aech, Shoto and Daito are beautiful characters as well.) Their vast knowledge of video games and 1980’s trivia showed some realistic sides to being introvert geeks: One, Wade was overweight from his sugar-inflated poverty diet and his continuous game-play; Two, neither of them had any real friends outside the OASIS because they didn’t spend much time outside. The passage that stood out to me the most in the entire book was:

Standing there, under the bleak fluorescents of my tiny one-room apartment, there was no escaping the truth. In real life, I was nothing but an antisocial hermit. A recluse. A pale-skinned pop culture-obsessed geek. An agoraphobic shut-in, with no real friends, family, or genuine human contact. I was just another sad, lost, lonely soul, wasting his life on a glorified videogame.

But not in the OASIS. In there, I was the great Parzival. World-famous gunter and international celebrity. People asked for my autograph. I had a fan club. Several actually. I was recognized everywhere I went (but only when I wanted to be). I was paid to endorse products. People admired and looked up to me. I got invited to the most exclusive parties. I went to all the hippest clubs and never had to wait in line. I was a pop-culture icon, a VP rock star. And, in gunter circles, I was a legend. Nay, a god.

It becomes so easy to feel bigger and more powerful than you actually are when you’re being some alter ego in a game. Last summer when I had two crappy minimum-wage jobs, I would try to forget about my day by turning on Skyrim or Mass Effect and go on quests, fight criminals and save people. Video games is sort of the modern day version of playing Cowboys and Robbers. But towards the end, I like that Wade and his friends begin to realize that even if they find the Easter Egg and win the contest, the world hasn’t changed. There’s still poverty, famine and so forth. The only difference now is that they have the power to do something about it.

As for Wade and Art3mis, who by the way is an amazing female character, I love how their relationship develops over time. It has its ups and downs and it doesn’t feel unnatural or forced. They show that a simulation can only do so much for a person; humans need true contact with each other. Even if you talk about everything between heaven and earth, it’s not until you spend time together that you know them.

I loved the book (five out of five)! Ernest Cline managed to tell a story nicely with characters who could have easily become stereotypes, but he made all of them interesting and appealing. The plot itself was clever, not to mention the riddles within the contest.

There were only a few times when I blanked out during the extreme nerd rage or video game monologues, but that’s mainly a personal taste; it doesn’t make the story any less good. I know next to nothing about the 1980’s so I had to mainly “tag along for the ride” and trust that Wade knew what he was talking about. Honestly I think even if the reader knows nothing about that era either or doesn’t play video games, they can enjoy the story nonetheless because of Wade’s fun, witty and smart narration.

Upcoming “Compare&Contrast” with Ready Player One


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Quick announcement, folks. The regular Wednesday post is postponed to Friday, because of two reasons. Honestly, I cannot think of anything clever to talk about; all my creativity fuel is being channeled to my fictional stories at the moment (check most recent post on competitions and you will understand). Second of all, my time is also consumed by job hunting. Oh joy…

But fret not, on Friday I will give you a fun review on this cool book called Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It takes place in 2045 when the world is falling apart due to the energy crisis, poverty and hunger, and most people try to escape through O.A.S.I.S., a virtual reality. Then there’s also the Hunt, a video game contest where the winner can go home with billions of dollars. Different books and various uncomfortable thoughts have passed through my mind. There’s one book in particular that I’ve recalled several times, because I get the same eebie jeebies as I’m reading. I also love the writing itself.

I’m only half-way through, but I’m certain that I’ll finish on time. Last night I hit that point in the book when you can’t put it down. I had to call it at three in the morning (so sleepy right now).

P.S. Apparently they’re making this into a movie and Steven Spielberg will direct it; can’t wait to see that magic happening.

The Importance of Short Stories & Competitions


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Who has brought the beginning of their novel to a creative writing workshop? Show of hands? All of you? Most of you? I thought so. I’m guilty of bringing the first couple of chapters of my novel to a workshop once and I still feel bad about it, because it was way too much. I can’t remember the page limit our professor gave us, but I know I overstepped it (over 30?). And not only did I overstep the limit, I didn’t double-space; I only spaced it 1.5 so I could shorten the number of pages. I knew perfectly well what I was doing.

Ray-Bradbury-quoteMost professors teaching a creative writing class will encourage his or her students to bring short stories. I don’t want to say because writing short stories is a lost art. It probably seems like it since everyone wants to write a New York Times Bestseller and perhaps have their book turned into a movie or TV series.

Aside from being short but sweet pleasantries, short stories serve a purpose for any writer who wants to master their skills: It has a beginning, middle and end, which everyone in the workshop can read and analyze when they have a short story. It also allows a writer to finish a story. It’s good practice. They’re truly healthy doses of creativity. Plus, a short story can always lead to something unexpected, which I will get into in a minute.

Like Ray Bradbury said, “Write a short story every week. It’s impossible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”

Additionally, short stories are easier to sell. I hope I don’t sound like a poser when I say that, but it’s true. I searched writing competitions and magazine submissions before the weekend started and found many interesting goals to pursue. [List of competitions and possible publications are further down the page.] Yesterday I sent in a short story I wrote two years ago… after dusting it off, editing out over 2,000 words and re-reading it ten times over, of course. I also submitted an article to another competition, which I frankly don’t have a ton of hope for, but at least I tried.

I know that over the past year or so, I’ve said things like, “Write for you, man. No one has to see it.” Writing is something personal, yes, we do it for ourselves. Not having your name out there doesn’t make you less a writer. However, getting published is such a rewarding feeling; it’s like winning a prize at the end of a marathon. So why not give it a go? Jeez, the only thing I’ve gotten published since high school – not counting any news articles – is a one-act play called “Shoveling Shit in Hell,” which got out last spring in The Central Review. It was so fun to attend the event that followed the publication where all of us writers met with friends and faculty at the library at Central Michigan University. Each and every one of us read his or her piece to the audience. I was a little nervous when it was my turn and it didn’t help that the guy reading with me played the snobby character as a Silicon Valley girl; it took me a moment to choke down my own laughter before I could go on.

Me reading at opening event of The Central Review's spring edition on April 24, 2015 (courtesy of the student magazine's Facebook page).

Me introducing myself at opening event of The Central Review’s spring edition on April 24, 2015 (courtesy of the student magazine’s Facebook page).

As I was saying earlier, a short story can lead you places. After sending the short story, I recalled all the little “spin-offs” I had cooked up in my mind. The story itself had many interesting characters, not to mention that it had an epilogue that introduced several possibilities. For whatever reason, I tucked away the story somewhere and forgot about it instead. I’m happy I picked it back up, because I think I finally found the people and the setting for my crime novella. Sometimes a story has the weirdest sense of sneaking up on you.

Wow, a novel with a deadline on May 1st, this novella and several short stories I got to write. I am good at giving myself homework.

Here are some competitions and open submissions for you to look into. Good luck to you and may the best man or woman win!

  • Visions of the Future in Cicada Magazine: Due Feb. 7
  • Science poetry competition in Event Horizon Magazine: Due Feb. 29
  • Innocence and Experience in Parabola (The Magazine of Myth and Tradition): Due March 1
    • Same magazine has submissions for Paths to Healing (Due June 1) and Generosity and Service (Due Sept. 1).
  • Returning Home in Temenos: Due March 21
  • Florida Keys Flash Fiction Contest (three-week residency): Due March 31
  • Identity in Story Magazine: Due May 1
  • General issue in subTerrain: Due May 1
  • Nostalgia in subTerrain: Due Sept. 1
  • Chicken Soup for the Soul has several submissions coming up:
    • Dreams and Synchronicities, and The Spirit of Canada: both due March 31
    • The Joy of Christmas: Due April 30
    • Stories about Teachers and Teaching, and Blended Families: both due June 30
  • The New Yorker has open submissions year-round.
  • Fantastic Stories also takes submissions, original stories up to 3,000 words long, either science fiction or fantasy.

Find a Writing Routine, Job or No Job


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*Sequel post to ‘A Writer Needs a “Real” Job’ posted last fall.*

Jodi Picoult said during one interview that writer’s block isn’t real, only a sign that you have too much time on your hands: “If you have limited amount of time to write, you just sit down and do it. You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

Among the vast majority of writing myths, one says that you cannot have a day job if you want to be an author. You cannot do both at the same time. That mediocre job will suck all the motivation and inspiration out of you. As I’ve stated in another blog post, that mediocre job can serve as a pool of ideas where you go fishing five days a week. As for Picoult’s comment on writer’s block, having a job forces you to pin down a writing routine. Otherwise it’s easy to procrastinate, which happens to even the most passionate writers. For example, I have the bad habit of blogging in the last minute, which I’m thankfully breaking as I’m typing this.

And that’s for just my blog, which I consider to be a hobby, while writing short stories and finishing my novel is my “secondary job.”

The key to avoid procrastination – whether you’re currently working or not – is to make writing part of your daily routine. Bryan Hutchinson wrote an article on how to become a more prolific writer on

  • Take note of the things you do consistently every day before and after work. Consider writing them down so you can become more conscious of them.
  • Create a space of time within your current daily rituals for writing every day. Make sure it’s at a time of day that works best for you. I write best in the morning and other people write better at night. When do you write best?
  • Commit: It’s important to commit to writing at the same time every day so that it becomes a natural, automatic part of your day, regardless of whether you feel inspired or motivated. It’s believed that it takes 21 days (source) to create a habit, so hang in there and keep going. In my personal experience it takes up to 60 to 90 days, but I’m stubborn like that.

Another cool thing to do if you’re finding yourself unproductive, it helps to read about successful writers’ daily routines. Perhaps there’s something that looks appealing. It all comes down to figuring out what works for you. Like E.B. White, the famous author of Charlotte’s Web, once said: “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”


You’re Unemployed: What Now?


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Last month I read many articles advising you what to do if you get laid off and how to stay motivated when you face set-backs. There are emotional and practical methods to get yourself back on your feet. It’s incredibly difficult to get through those “to-do lists” when you feel like knocking people’s hats off or lounging in front of the TV all day. But it’s do-able and frankly, when it really comes down to it, you simply have to do something to pay the bills. Currently I’m applying to both regular jobs at Kroger, etc. as well as jobs related to my field.


Motivation post-it notes on my closet door.

Accepting the fact that I may have to work behind a cash register for a while after having such an exciting newspaper job was the hardest thing I had to do. An old friend of mine helped me getting there: “There’s your job and there’s your career, and sometimes you need a job while you work on your career.” It’s become a mantra in my daily life as I fill out applications, rewrite cover letter after cover letter, and read my resume at least five times in a row.

From what I gathered in the articles, here’s a list of things that help you get through the sudden change emotionally.

  • Mourn the loss, then move on.
  • Rediscover your interest: They advise that you write a list of 25 accomplishments to get an overview of what you’re good at and what you enjoy.
  • Have things to look forward to… 1 year from now, 5, 10, 15… 40.
  • Don’t let fear or anger be your life coach (or make any rash decisions).
  • Get someone to keep you focused.
  • Resist temptation to hide out at home.
  • Avoid “self-medicating” yourself.
  • Make an effort to spend time with friends and family.
  • Dive into a good book.
  • Meditate.
  • Exercise.
  • Keep your sense of humor.

As for the practical steps to take after getting laid off, one article said it’s vital to negotiate severance pay and check logistics, such as how long the health insurance coverage will last. Talk with your (former) employer if you may use them as a reference and/or if they can write a letter of recommendation. Get help finding a job and file for unemployment. (For more tips and details in the article, click here.) Since I live in Michigan, I’ve signed up for Pure Michigan Talent Connect, but I think if you file for unemployment in whatever state you live in, they will point you to a site where you can search for jobs.

Another good thing to do – especially if you work in the media industry – is to update your online status: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, an online portfolio if you have one.

I personally have discovered it helps to accomplish something every day. It can be something as simple as doing laundry and making yourself a good meal to start with. As time goes on, you can set bigger goals for yourself: It’s healthy to stay busy somehow until you got a job again. For example, I’ve dedicated more time and energy to my writing, and I have done some indoor gardening. Today I bought some canvas so I can paint more and sometime in the week, I plan on taking a walk in the woods to snap some winter photos.

If there’s a lesson in losing a job, I would say as much as it sucks to have no control over it, you have power to make the situation better. Maybe you can find a cooler job somewhere else. Maybe it allows you to spend some time on things you haven’t been able to do for a while. Maybe it gives you a chance to reflect on what you want out of life.

Book Recommendations 2016


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MMD-2016-Reading-Challenge The ice and snow have kept many of us indoors. Seems like the best time to settle down with a cup of tea and a good book. I myself am working on a “reading challenge” right now (see picture on the left). But for those who would like some tips, I’ve found a few book lists.

One is from Emma Watson’s book club; I found it on 16 picks for your feminist book club.

Actress, model, and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson recently started a feminist book club called “Our Shared Shelf.” We’re all in, and even better, we have a few suggestions. Here are 16 books to read in your feminist book club.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In this short, but powerful essay based on her TEDx Talk, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes about the importance of gender and gender equality.

Dietland by Sarai Walker

Our favorite feminist manifesto of 2015 will have you ready to revolt faster than you can say patriarchy.

Feminism Is For Everybody by bell hooks

Every feminist should be acquainted with the great bell hooks, and this exploration of race and class-spanning feminism is an essential introduction.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood’s classic imagines a dystopia where rich families have returned to the nightmarish practice of using concubines to conceive children.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Bad Feminist became an instant classic thanks to Roxane Gay’s astute and witty essays on gender, sexuality, and race.

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan’s landmark book The Feminine Mystique identified a problem that had no name, sparked a new dialogue for women, and launched the second-wave feminist movement.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Plath’s only novel chronicles the breakdown of aspiring poet Esther Greenwood, as societal and internal pressures drive her to contemplate (and attempt) suicide.

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

This scathing, hilarious essay collection inspired the term “mansplaining,” which is (despite claims that argue otherwise) definitely a real phenomenon.

The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks

The young superheroine of this comic doesn’t just battle out-of-this-world monsters — she’s forced to reckon with the ones in everyday life, too.

Spinster by Kate Bolick

Don’t be surprised if your views on marriage do a 180 after readingBolick’s part-memoir, part-biography of some thoroughly modern women from history.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Tina Fey’s memoir includes self-deprecating essays on body image, hilarious anecdotes from the set of Saturday Night Live, and razor-sharp responses to shut down the haters.

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf’s writing often explores feminist themes, but her classic work A Room of One’s Own offers the best discussion on the role of women in fiction.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

LeGuin’s genre-transcendent work always gazes deep into the human soul, even when those humans exist in fantasy or science-fiction worlds. In her most acclaimed work, an interstellar human ambassador’s encounter with a genderless planet forces him (and the reader) to reconsider everything he thinks about men, women, and identity.

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

“One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman,” writes Simone de Beauvoir in what has become one of the most significant books in feminist philosophy.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

In the follow-up to her memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?Mindy Kaling provides more “down-to-earth, everygirl essays” on topics like her sorority experience, filming sex scenes, and running her own TV show.

Science…For Her! by Megan Amram

Parks and Recreation writer Megan Amram’s hilarious book is a pitch-perfect satire of women’s magazines.

Joy Williams cover from lit hub's website.

Joy Williams cover from lit hub’s website.

I realize these books won’t available for a while, but I’d like to show that the literary hub has posted which books will be released by Buzz Books in the spring and summer this year.

The Notables

Don DeLillo, Zero (Scribner, May)

*Louise Erdrich, LaRose (Harper, May)

Mark Haddon, The Pier Falls and Other Stories (Doubleday, May)

Herta Muller, The Fox Was Ever the Hunter (Metropolitan, May)

Annie Proulx, Barkskins (Scribner, June)

Anna Quindlen, Miller’s Valley (Random House, April)

Edna O’Brien, The Little Red Chairs (Little, Brown, April)

Stewart O’Nan, City of Secrets (Viking, April)

Helen Oyeyemi, What is Not Yours is Not Yours (Riverhead, March)

Dana Spiotta, Innocents and Others (Scribner, March)

Joy Williams, Ninety-Nine Stories of God (Tin House, July)


Highly Anticipated

Charles Bock, Alice & Oliver (Random House, April)

Jennifer Haigh, Heat and Light (Ecco, May)

Adam Haslett, Imagine Me Gone (Little, Brown, May)

Jenni Fagan, The Sunlight Pilgrims (Hogarth, July)

Boris Fishman, Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo (Harper, March)

Manuel Gonzales, ThRegionaOfficiUndeAttack! (Riverhead, April)

Elizabeth Kelly, The Miracle on Monhegan Island (Liveright, May)

Karan Mahajan, The Association of Small Bombs (Viking, March)

*C.E. Morgan, The Sport of Kings (FSG, May)

Robin Wasserman, Girls On Fire (Harper, May)


Charlotte Rogan, Now and Again (Little, Brown, April)

Sunjeev Sahota, The Year of the Runaways (Knopf, March)

Amanda Eyre Ward, The Nearness of You (Ballantine, July)


Emerging Voices

Allison Amend, Enchanted Islands (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, May)

Ramona Ausubel, Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty (Riverhead, June)

Mischa Berlinski, Peacekeeping (Sarah Crichton Books, March)

Mark Binelli, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ All-Time Greatest Hits (Metropolitan, May)

Liz Moore, The Unseen World (Norton, June)

Bonnie Nadzam, Lions (Grove, July)

Marie NDaiye, Ladivine (Knopf, April)

Hannah Pittard, Listen to Me (HMH, July)

Elizabeth Poliner, As Close to Us As Breathing (Lee Boudreaux Books, March)

Alexis Smith, Marrow Island (HMH, June)

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, Sarong Party Girls (William Morrow, July)

Rufi Thorpe, Dear Fang, With Love (Knopf, May)

Ayelet Tsabari, The Best Place on Earth (Random House, March)

*Shawn Vestal, Daredevils (Penguin Press, April)


There are more categories, including a nice list of debut novels and additional links to excerpts, but I don’t want to drag it on. Feel free to click the link.


Happy reading.

The Eloquence: Writing the Senses


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from amandaonwriting tumblr

I see writing tips and motivational messages about writing on a daily basis; it seems well-advised to share them with you good people. Unfortunately, I got so many of these pictures and I was in a hurry when I downloaded them, I cannot give credit where credit is due. They’re from several random writer’s channels on tumblr, the Writer’s Circle on Facebook and I think a few others.

Either way, today I’m starting with writing the senses. Enjoy and happy learning!





Should writers comply with trends?


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Should you write the type of story that’s popular among the masses or whatever you feel, something that (just) might get published? It’s possible, of course. Neil Gaiman made a living writing strange tales of magic, monsters and ordinary people accomplishing amazing things. Caitlin Kiernan’s The Drowning Girl was all over the place with its schizophrenic protagonist, talking about the suicide forest in Japan, Red Riding Hood and mermaids, but someone thought it was cool and sent it to the printers. I could get my magic realism-slash-mystery novel out there, sure… in time.

I’m not saying it’s a hopeless cause, but the odds of breaking sales records like J.K. Rowling did with Harry Potter or George R.R. Martin with A Song of Fire and Ice, a.k.a. Game of Thrones, are so slim. Beyond slim. The slim line is a dot to most of us. That begs the question, should a person who loves fantasy, ghost stories and fairy tales comply with trends? Does it make you a sell-out? For a while now, zombies, various apocalypse scenarios, dystopias like the Hunger Games and and a fair amount of vampire stories have been all the rage. Another genre that’s popular – which has always been popular to a degree – is crime. Detective stories. Mysteries. Sherlock Holmes. Mix in some spies in there, like with that fun British TV show Foyle’s War, and you’re golden, right?

"The Black Morgue" by Cameron Bathory (found on tumblr).

“The Black Morgue” by Cameron Bathory (found on tumblr).

Let’s be clear, I didn’t become a writer to be rich. A couple bucks would be nice, but in terms of finances, I don’t have high hopes. However, to get a book published and read by many people – to be publicly recognized as a writer – that’s the dream. Then if I could spend my days writing books and short stories for a living, I would be a unbelievably happy woman.

Someone told me recently that one way to get there sooner is to write a crime novel, because that’s what most people like. That someone was my dad; he’s not much a reader to begin with, but he and my mom have read books by Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson and many other Swedish crime writers. Over the years I’ve been repeatedly told that “oh, many Swedish authors write incredible criminal fiction, oh the murders and the psychos,” and people seem to expect me to write about another girl with a dragon tattoo. Apparently, murder is the road to success.

I suppose the reason I haven’t dabbled with crime stories lately is because I got this inexplicable impulse to do the opposite of what most people are doing, or expecting. Besides magic, I’ve written some historical fiction and short stories where the main character with mental illness. In regards to the latter, I believe it’s something that needs to be discussed more. Mental illness causes more problems than murderers if you ask me, especially here in the States, where they clearly have no clue whatsoever on how to handle the crazy, the depressed and the mentally challenged. Overall it’s a complex issue without an easy, singular solution, so it feels only natural for me to play it out in a fictional world.

Characters like Tyrion Lannister is a rare breed that I'd like to see more in popular fiction, too. I created a short person in my "bigger book" once I realized you don't see too many dwarves outside fairy tales or who aren't there for comic relief. (Found on

Characters like Tyrion Lannister is a rare breed that I’d like to see more in popular fiction, too. I created a short person in my “bigger book” once I realized you don’t see too many dwarves outside fairy tales or who aren’t there for comic relief. (Found on

Abiding by my dad’s advice, I started working on a crime story today. Not to win a popularity contest or get rich or live up to my Scandinavian heritage. I will never stop writing about magic. That would be possible only if a Dementor sucked the soul out of me. No, I’m doing it to get out of my comfort zone. Don’t worry about the novel I talked about last week; it’s still in the works. This crime novella is something for me to do whenever I need to take my mind off the bigger book.

I want to know if I can write something short and sweet, something mysterious and intriguing; I want to see if I can pull myself away from that world I’ve kept building in the last two years; I want to create a character “from scratch.” I can’t remember the last time I had a blank canvas in my mind’s eye so the idea of starting something new is actually pretty exciting.

And trust me, I won’t bar any queer characters just because I experimenting with a different genre.

The long, frustrating journey with my novel


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*Important announcement about blog at the end of this post.*

The other day, my dad asked me why I haven’t tried sending any of my books to publishers.

“Because they stink,” I told him after a slight pause. It surprised me that he would ask since I wrote those ages ago. For those who have read my blog in recent years may know that I’ve been working on a novel for a while. Let me tell you, though, it isn’t my first. Between the ages 12 to 16, I wrote six books –  none of which shall ever meet the eye of the public. One probably shouldn’t count, because it was technically fan-fiction. Four of those belonged to a series that I never finished. I’d tell you what it was about, but sometimes I think about re-writing the whole thing, so I’m keeping that information to myself. It may turn out to be a single book instead of a series, that’s all I can say.

For now, it doesn’t matter, because I’m preoccupied with another story.

In a few days, it will be two years since I started it. Two damn years. So when I was younger, I pulled off writing six books in four years. But I can’t finish one dinky little book in two? What the Hell? Well sure, I haven’t been writing endlessly for two straight years. There have been several periods when I didn’t write at all (sadly). I also didn’t fully understand what story I wanted to tell, not until recently. First, I wrote three chapters, then started over because I didn’t like where it was going. Didn’t help that I actually hated the protagonist. Despised her! Then I wrote several more chapters before I got angry at myself for coming up with such a silly and illogical plot. During the third round, I nearly finished the story, but then I stepped back…

… took one hard, long look at it…

… and threw it in the trash.

I’ve thought about quitting many times, because maybe there isn’t a story, maybe I’m fooling myself. But whenever that happened I’d think of James Joyce. It took him ten years to pen Ulysses. Not that my novel is anything like his, but it makes me feel better. Plus, when he was working on A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, he got sick of it one day. He threw the whole manuscript in the fire. Fortunately, his wife Nora pulled it out the flames in time. The British professor at Central Michigan University, who taught my class all about Joyce, said that he later thanked her for it: “There are lines in that manuscript I never could have written again.”

I know whom I’m going to thank when my novel is done. Many have helped in some small way, but definitely my mom and my friend Katy who take the time to read my drafts, and now also my dad who encouraged me to write again. A couple weeks ago I had nearly given up on it entirely, because of various reasons I won’t get into. Then he reminded me that writing makes me happy. That’s the whole point, isn’t it? We write because it’s fun.

Borrowed from the Writer's Circle on Facebook.

Borrowed from the Writer’s Circle on Facebook.

Think of that if you’re losing hope on your story: Write because it makes you happy. Don’t worry about what people may think. Don’t compare yourself to others. Avoid editing yourself as you write, because the first rough draft will be shitty. It’s always shitty, so deal with it. Don’t spend too much time with the outline, because once you sit down and start typing, your characters show that they have other plans. Sometimes an outline will hold you back, too, because you can’t find the right words; that’s when I improvise. If it’s shitty – probably is – I can fix it later.

With those thoughts in mind, I’ve finally moved forward. I’m 50 pages into the story and it’s getting really exciting.

To maintain this newly found motivation, I have established two things: A deadline and a condition. I will finish the novel by May 1st. By June, I should be editing. The condition: I won’t cut my hair until then. It sounds silly, sure, but I like my hair really short and it’s already down over my shoulders so if this condition won’t do, I don’t know what will.

*Announcement: Doing things differently this year. I’m going to stick to a schedule and post every Wednesday and Sunday, starting January 10.*