Monthly Archives: June 2012

Older but not wiser

Today (yesterday, if you want to get technical, since it’s after midnight) was my birthday. I’m 23 now. Been out of college for a little over two years. Been out of high school for a little over five. It’s a weird feeling, especially considering I haven’t really done anything with my life so far and am still living with my parents, but I suppose this isn’t the place to complain about my life. It is, however, the place to complain about my writing, so I guess I’ll settle for that right now.

I still don’t have a completed outline for Keep Going yet, but I’m making progress. I understand the characters more, and I know what the overall plot is going to be – I’m just working on the details. It helps that I have two started drafts of this one already. I first attempted to write this novel for NaNo 2008. I hit 10k and stopped writing. Then I tried it again in 2010 as a sort of pre-NaNo exercise. This time I got to 4k and stopped.

So here I am now, trying to figure out which parts of each draft I want to keep and work into the new one, and I can’t help but notice that my writing was a lot better back then. I knew what the characters were doing with their lives. They interacted with other people. Sure, Samantha spent most of her chapter scowling at her boss and thinking of ways to kill him, but she was still out of her apartment. Chloe was at an acting class and then picking up her sister from school. Natalie was complaining about her English teacher (which was so not a passive-aggressive way for me to get back at my incompetent TA, no, not at all). Is it perfect? Of course not. I’ll have to take out Natalie’s whining scene completely and tighten up Chloe’s chapter a bit, but as a whole I still really, really like what I have.

The same goes for the version I started in 2010 (or 2009 – I honestly have no idea anymore). I like the opening chapter so much more for that one and will probably end up keeping that whole thing (except for the line about the Vikings game, as I have no idea what sport they play but I don’t think it’s played in March, when that scene is now taking place). That version opens on election night 2008, and that would really just require a bit of tweaking to fit with my new plot line – or at least the bits of one that I have planned thus far. The characters are amusing and interesting (at least in my opinion), and I think my writing there could actually stand up to some of the books I’ve been reading lately.

And yet the stuff I’ve been writing lately isn’t anything like that. The stuff I’ve been writing lately is pretty horrible. Yes, there are parts of Degeneration and Tilt Your Head and Smile that I like, but for the most part, they need serious work. As in I probably need to rewrite most of them, or at least add another 20k to each so that I can show who the characters are more.

I really just need to figure out what changed between then and now. I was a good writer a few years ago. Now I’m just mediocre, and I don’t really know what changed. I lost it somewhere along the way. Maybe I’m just trying to be too serious. The further I get into this blog post, the more I’m realizing that that’s it. Keep Going is about a group of roommates who get to know each other and confront their problems. There’s serious stuff happening in there, but I still manage to have fun with the characters.

I don’t do that with April and Adelyn. I think I put too much of myself in them to be able to distance myself from the novels and just enjoy myself. I was trying to show how much unemployment sucks with April, and I was trying to show why you shouldn’t automatically respect people just because they’re family with Adelyn, and somewhere along the way I got too caught up in the bad and stopped making the characters interesting. There’s divorce and abuse in Keep Going, too, but that’s not all that the characters are about. They learn about themselves and each other along the way.

April and Adelyn don’t really learn anything. Well, April learns that she could have tried harder and that she’s mostly to blame for her unemployment, but that’s about it, and even that I just sort of ghost over near the end. I rarely show her interacting with people. I just show failed interview after failed interview. I got so bored writing them, and then I wonder why it’s not fun to read.

I keep thinking about those writing classes I took in college. They all focused so much time and energy talking about what you were and weren’t allowed to write about. You couldn’t say that someone was a jerk – you had to show them being a jerk. So for the last two stories, I haven’t summarized anything. I showed everything that happened. My characters don’t just get up from the table and fix themselves a cup of coffee. They get up. They get a cup from above the sink. Then they pour themselves a mug. Then they add the cream and sugar. It’s ridiculous. I know I’ve talked about this before, but apparently I haven’t fixed it yet. It’s like I’m so afraid that someone’s going to read over my shoulder and tell me that there’s not enough detail, so I put in too much, as if that’s better.

It’s like I’ve forgotten that you can also get to know a character by listening to their thoughts. While it’s important to show that one character likes another character better and not just say it, it’s all right to say it sometimes, too. There needs to be a balance. I knew what that balance was in 2008. I just seem to have forgotten it. My boyfriend got me two writing books for my birthday – perhaps one of them can help me get back to where I used to be.

In other news, I got a huge ice cream maker for my birthday, so that’s pretty exciting. What’s not so exciting is the fact that Script Frenzy has been canceled. Most people probably already know that (I think I got at least three emails telling me that, not including the one they sent out to the MLs), but I figured I’d mention it. I decided to get a Script Frenzy shirt and keychain now, while they still have them. They came in today, which was a nice little birthday surprise. I’m sad to see it go, but it’s not really much of a surprise.

Top Ten Characters Who Remind Me Of Myself Or Someone I Know In Real Life

Top Ten Tuesday is a cool meme created by the people over at The Broke and the Bookish. This weeks’ topic is Top 10 Characters Who Remind Me of Myself or Someone I know in Real Life.

1. Lee Fiora from Prep
I have never met a character whom I could relate to more than Lee Fiora. She’s awkward. She doesn’t have many friends. She’s constantly worried about making a fool of herself. She is me if I had talked my parents into sending me to prep school. I reviewed this book previously and went into more detail about why she reminded me of myself there. Most people seemed to hate this book and this character, but I loved it.

2. Jessica Darling – from Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, etc.
Jessica and I are different in many ways – she’s extremely skinny and very athletic, and she’s sort of friends with the popular people; I’m fat and hate exercising and had very few friends in high school – but we’re also really similar. We’re both smart and sarcastic. We dislike the same type of people. She doesn’t feel like she really belongs with the people around her. I think that’s part of why I liked reading the series so much – I could relate so well to her.

3. Colie Sparks from Keeping the Mooon
Colie has always been the fat girl, and she’s never really fit in anywhere. She’s not great at talking to people, and she feels awkward a lot. Aside from the fact that I’m still fat, she and I are a lot alike. It was nice to see her start to come out of her shell. It gave me hope for myself.

4. Caitlin O’Koren from Dreamland
Caitlin reminds me a bit of myself and my sister, a fact which sort of worries me considering what happens to her in the novel. Caitlin constantly feels overshadowed by her older sister, who was perfect. I worry that that’s how my sister felt through high school. I was a straight-A student, and every one of her teachers who had me first looked forward to having another Green sister in the class and then was disappointed when she didn’t live up to my standards. I never meant to make her feel bad for it, but I’m afraid that she did. But Caitlin also reminds me of me because she puts up with things that she shouldn’t and because she doesn’t quite know what she wants to do with herself. She’s way more popular than I ever was – and I would never be a cheerleader – but I still found her oddly relatable.

5. Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre
I liked this book so much more than Pride and Prejudice or Wuthering Heights because I could relate so well to Jane. Neither of us is pretty or popular or particularly outspoken, and it was nice to see her fall in love and find someone to love her back. As an awkward high school junior who had never had a boyfriend, I found her inspiring.

6. Briony Tallis from Atonement
Briony has been trying to write a story about what happened in her past, the night everything changed, but she can’t do it because she can’t face the truth. Or, rather, she doesn’t want to admit the truth. I no longer remember the exact words of the scene, but I remember there was a scene where I felt like I was Briony. She had gotten feedback from a story she wrote, and she had finally realized that there was no depth to what she wrote, that it didn’t feel real because she was afraid to be that honest and face what happened. I’ve been having the same problem with Degeneration that Briony had then. Fortunately, I – like she – eventually got over that.

7. Macy Queen from The Truth About Froever
Fortunately, I haven’t had to deal with the death of a family member, but I can relate to Macy’s desire to be as close to perfect as possible. I was also reminded of a past relationship I used to have with a guy who would ask me random questions that helped me get to know him. I was as crazy about him as Macy was about Wes, except that we had a completely different outcome in real life. Still, I knew how she felt to be stuck in a life that she didn’t really like and to finally find someone who made her feel happy and honest for the first time in a long time.

8. Annabel Greene from Just Listen
Annabel reminds me a lot of my sister. I can relate to her at times, too, but for the most part she reminds me of my sister, who has so many friends that aren’t really there for her when she needs them, and who has been through more than I think my parents or I realize but doesn’t want to tell anyone. Most of what I know about her I only know because of what she told me when she was drunk, or that I overheard, and it scares me, especially since I know how much she liked this book. It makes me wonder what else she’s hiding.

9. Tibby from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Tibby likes to act tough, like she hates the world, but she actually has a very good heart that she keeps hidden. She’s also frequently wrong about people at first, which is something else that she and I have in common. Throughout the series, I found that I could relate to each of the main characters at one point or the other, but Tibby was the one that I consistently related to the most.

10. Vin from Mistborn
I struggled for a bit with this last one before I settled on Vin. She and I are very different in a lot of ways, but there’s one thing that we have in common: we’re both afraid of trusting people, but we both also want to believe that there are some people who are worthy of that trust. She has way worst trust issues than I do, but I found myself relating to her a lot, especially in the beginning of the book when she hadn’t started coming out of her shell yet.

Book 23: That Summer by Sarah Dessen

Title: That Summer
Author: Sarah Dessen
Page Count: 208
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Young adult

Rating: 7/10

Haven’s life is changing faster than she’d like it to. Her father’s marrying a woman half his age. Her sister’s marrying the most boring man in the world. Her mother’s planning a trip to Europe. Her best friend’s obsessed with a guy she met at camp. Oh, and Haven grows another couple of inches practically every other day. All she wants is for everything to go back to it how it was that summer, the summer when they were still a happy family. But as she’s quickly finding out, you can’t hold onto the past forever.

This has been my least favorite Dessen book so far. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it was bad, because there were still aspects that I liked. I found Haven sympathetic and relatable in certain aspects, and I feel like Dessen did a great job at portraying the relationship between sisters. They can drive you crazy and make you want to kill them at times, but deep down you’re still going to miss them when they’re gone. The scenes between Haven and Ashley were really well written. I also liked the view we got into Haven’s relationship with her mother, although I wished that that had been explored a bit more.

Really, the only reason I didn’t like this book was that it didn’t quite feel like a completed novel. It felt more like the draft I just finished of Degeneration – a good start to a novel, but one that’s ultimately missing something that would tie it all together and make it more emotional. It was like I wasn’t waiting for anything. There was no secret I was trying to find out, or a secret that I was waiting for the main character to share. I wasn’t waiting for her to find her inner strength or anything. Really, the only mystery was why Ashley and Sumner broke up, and I really don’t feel that that was enough to hold the whole book together.

I still enjoyed the book overall, and considering this was Dessen’s first published novel, I feel like I can’t really hold it against her that this book hasn’t been as good as the others. I would still recommend this book to people who like this genre and like Sarah Dessen, but I would not recommend this to anyone who’s looking to read a Sarah Dessen book for the first time, as this is hardly her best.

Fourth time’s the charm?

I’m pleased to say that I’ve finished the first draft of Degeneration. I actually finished it yesterday. I meant to write about this yesterday, but I spent the rest of the day watching Twin Peaks with my parents, so I was a bit distracted. Back to Degeneration, though. It currently sits at 47,879 words. According to most of the sites I’ve found online, this is within the normal range for a young novel, so I’m going to try not to be too disappointed in how short it is, especially since I know it’ll get longer when I edit it.

Despite what I said in the last post, I’ve decided not to go back and edit anything right now. I think I need to distance myself from this novel for a little while. It probably won’t last for too long, but I at least want a few days when I think of something else first. Maybe I’ll work on one of the short stories I’ve been meaning to write. Or maybe I’ll work on outlining another novel. Keep Going has been on my mind a lot lately, and I will probably be ready to work on the outline soon.

I’m not entirely happy with the way Degeneration turned out. There are some parts of it that I really like, but I think I’m still afraid of making my characters suffer too much. I’ve let Adelyn convince me that she really doesn’t care that her family hates her, but that’s not true. She says that she doesn’t care, but when she’s around them, she still wants them to like her, and that’s not really all that evident in the novel. Without that honesty, the book is just…boring. I don’t want to make Adelyn suffer, but without that suffering, the book lacks any real feeling.

This is the first draft of this novel, though it’s the third draft of the story. After two screenplays, you’d think I’d have a better understanding of what I’m writing about, but I’m still having problems. The first draft lacked drama. The second draft lacked flow. The third draft lacked emotion. The good news is that at least now I have a better understanding of what it’s supposed to be.

Sadly, I always have a clear understanding of what I want the story to be when I’m planning. Then I go to write it, and it just doesn’t work out how I want it to. I think this is where my lack of planning comes in. I’ve always had outlines, but they’ve more been a list of events that should occur in each chapter. I don’t include transitions or notes on my characters’ emotional states or anything. I think that’s part of my problem. My outlines aren’t detailed enough. I used to get really detailed in my outlines, and then I’d never write the story, and somehow I took that as a sign that outlines don’t work for me, when really I think I was just a stupid kid who hadn’t found a proper story to work on yet.

A Lovely Award and Other Good News

First, the writing. My goal for today was to get caught back up to where I’m supposed to be for Camp, as well as finish the most dramatic chapter in the novel. I’m pleased to say that I accomplished both. I wrote 4,390 words today, bringing my Camp WC to 38,399 and Degeneration up to chapter 16 and 45,614 words. I have another chapter and a half left to write, as well as a chapter that I skipped the first time around and had been planning to go back to add. I thought about writing it, then realized that it didn’t really fit and thus skipped it the first time around. Then, as I was working on the new outline for the novel, I thought of more things to add to that chapter to make it fit, so I made a note to go back later.

Of course, now that I’m reaching the end of the novel, I’m realizing that what I had planned for that novel doesn’t really work anymore. The MC’s father was a main part of that chapter, and now that I’ve decided that her parents are divorced, that doesn’t really work for that chapter anymore. I’m not really sure where I want to go with that chapter anymore. I might end up just skipping it all together, or I might end up going back and changing it to fit with my new knowledge of the characters. I’m not really sure which at this point.

I know I’m going to have to change quite a few things with this story. I was originally going to try to fix all those problems later, when I had left the story alone for a while, but now I’m thinking about going back and adding some things in now, especially considering I won’t be able to hit 50k without either working on another story or going back and adding more to this one. I realized the other day that there’s not really any reason for people to be emotionally vested in these characters, and I’ve thought of several scenes to add that would help with that. Of course, that would involve making Adelyn and her family stay there for most of a week instead of two days, but I think that will work better. You can’t really get a good sense of her family and how they interact with each other in 36 hours.

In other news, Julie over at Word Flows was kind enough to give me the One Lovely Blog Award. I’m flattered. If you haven’t read her blog yet, you definitely should. She’s such an inspiration. She’s written at least four complete drafts since November – and edited most of those at least once-and she’s still planning her next novel. She never stops. It’s incredible to read about, and whenever I feel down on my writing, I read her blog, and I want to write again.

And now for the rules of the award:

Thank the person/people who nominated you and link back to them in your post.
Share seven possibly unknown things about yourself.
Nominate fifteen or so bloggers you admire.
Contact the chosen bloggers to let them know and link back to them.

I’ve thanked Julie and linked back to her site. Now for the seven things about myself:

1. My favorite TV shows are Arrested Development and The West Wing, though I love anything by Aaron Sorkin – even the shows that aren’t really that great. I’m really looking forward to seeing The Newsroom. I’m hoping it’s more like TWW and less like Studio 60.

2. I haven’t kept in touch with any of my friends from high school – aside from the occasional Facebook comment, and even those mostly come from people I sort of knew, not the people I actually hung out with. And I actually like it better that way.

3. I hate confrontations. Whenever my boyfriend’s parents start ranting about politics, I keep my mouth shut and close my eyes and try to think about something else. I get furious and offended whenever they speak, but it’s better than starting a fight.

4. I’m terrified of the garbage disposal. I can use it without freaking out, but for some reason I’m terrified that if anyone else uses it, they’re going to end up chopping their hand off. It doesn’t make any sense, I know, but whenever someone else in my family turns on the garbage disposal, I either have to leave the room or plug my ears, close my eyes, and hum to myself until it’s over.

5. I’m also terrified of guns, which probably makes a bit more sense than garbage disposals. I’m afraid that someone will accidentally shoot the wrong person. This was never a big problem until I learned that my boyfriend’s brother has several guns. I’m now afraid to walk upstairs unannounced whenever we’re over there. I also almost cut my hand my pressing my nails into my palms the day that his father started playing with the gun when he was sitting right in front of me. Yes, I know that “playing with” isn’t really accurate, and that since he was in the army and has worked for the government for years he probably knows how to examine a gun without firing it, but it still scared the hell out of me.

6. Math was my favorite subject in high school. I loved my English classes and teachers best, and I loved reading all those different classics, but math was the easiest, and the homework I looked forward to the most because it required the least amount of energy. I almost took a math class in college just so that I would have homework that didn’t require hours of reading. Sometimes I wish I had followed through with that.

7. When I was thirteen, my sister bought me a fish. It cost twelve cents, and I named it Remus Lupin. I was very sad when it died three days later.

And now for the blogs. I’m not sure if I have 15 of them, but I’ll see how many I can name. Some of these I’ve been following for months. Some of them I’ve only read one or two entries from and have liked.

1. Read Wear Write
2. The Hollywood Virgin
3. Of a Writerly Sort
4. Thoughts From My Head
5. Novel Ideas
6. Everything I Wish I Said
7. Cresting the Words
8. Inkwell

There are probably some blogs that I’m forgetting, but it’s almost two o’clock in the morning now, and I’m rather tired, so I’m going to leave it at that.

Book 22: Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Title: Lock and Key
Author: Sarah Dessen
Page Count: 422
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 9/10

Ruby’s used to taking care of herself. So when her mother vanishes one day, she decides not to tell anyone. After a few weeks, though, she can no longer keep her situation a secret, and she gets sent to live with her sister, Cora, whom she hasn’t spoken to in ten years. She now has to deal with a new house, a new school, and a new job – not to mention Nate, the guy next door who’s hiding a secret of his own. What happens when the girl who hates accepting help from anyone is now the one who must offer help to someone else?

This started out as my least favorite Sarah Dessen book. I wasn’t immediately hooked in, and I think that was because I found it hard to relate to Ruby at first. As someone who has a horrible time making friends, I find it really hard to read about someone who is just handed friends and tries t push them away. Once I got past that, though, I really enjoyed the book. From chapter 4 on, I was hooked. I come from a small family, too, or at least an incredibly distant one, so I found it really easy to relate to Ruby and Cora, especially when they had to deal with Jamie’s incredibly large and good-natured family.

The best part, though, was the fact that there were so many returning characters from other Dessen books: Rogerson Briscoe from Dreamland; Annabel, Owen, Owen’s sister and her friends from Just Listen; Kristen, Bert, and Mrs. Queen from The Truth About Forever, and Kiki Sparks from Keeping the Moon. Only three of these characters are mentioned by name, and they’re only mentioned in passing (i.e. some girl named Annabel was on the radio), but I still knew who they were, and it was so much fun to see how they were just sort of thrown in as background information. It makes me curious to know if there were more characters who were barely mentioned in this novel but which were huge in other books.

I never thought of Sarah Dessen’s books as being a series before, but now I’m almost wishing that I had started reading them in order, if only so that it would be easier to pick up on all the crossovers. I have a feeling that I will be rereading all of her books once I’ve read them all once, looking to see who else appears that I might have missed the first time. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: My Summer TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a cool meme created by the people over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This weeks’ topic is the Top 10 Books on My Summer TBR List.

Plenty of people have books on their shelves that they’ve meant to read but haven’t yet. I have an entire shelf dedicated to those books. Well, okay, to be fair the books are spread out along the top of one of my three book shelves and on the top shelf of that bookshelf, in front of the rest of the books on that shelf. I have so many books on my to-read shelf right now that this is undoubtedly the easiest list I’ve made so far.

I find it interesting that 9 of the 10 books here are non-fiction. First, I didn’t read these books because I was trying to work and keep up the 52 books in 52 weeks thing, and it takes me longer to read non-fiction because I take notes and then color-code those notes. Then, I realized that a good number of these books I couldn’t read at work because the titles alone would probably get me fired (I take school pictures in the Bible Belt; remember that as you read my list, and you’ll understand). Now, I’m not reading them because I want to read books that will help me with my writing. Perhaps I should try to read both at one time, because I hate seeing all these books on my shelf.

Here are the ten I most want to read, in no particular order (all links lead to GoodReads):

1. Erotic Innocence by James R. Kincaid
We read an excerpt of this book in my (Mis)conceptions of Childhood class in college. Since then, I’ve wanted to read the whole book, as it brought up a lot of interesting points that I had never thought about before, but the book was rather expensive (more than my usual $4-with-shipping books, anyway), so I didn’t get it. My boyfriend finally bought it for me for Christmas last year, and I’m sad to say that I still haven’t gotten around to reading it.

2. The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women by Jessica Valenti
I was searching through Amazon for books on this topic, and I came across this one. It sounded like the sort of book that I would want to read, and it was relatively cheap at the time, so I bought it. It hasn’t moved from my shelf since then.

3. The Silent Takeover: Global Capitalism and the Death of Democracy by Noreena Hertz
I found this book in a used bookstore in Athens last year. I haven’t really read any political books since high school – at least political books that weren’t required for a class and weren’t written by comedians – so I bought this one. I was hoping that doing so would get me into reading more non-fiction books. Clearly, that hasn’t happened yet, but when it does, this book will be high up on my to-read list.

4. Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex by Judith Levine
Of all the books on this list, this is the one that I’ve had for the longest. I saw this author at a campus event my freshman year of college. She was talking about America’s ridiculous sexual standards and how our fear of telling children the truth about sex actually causes more harm than good. She was very smart and well-spoken, and I went out and bought her book soon after. I got about halfway through and then stopped because finals got in the way, and somehow I never got around to finishing it.

5. The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing by Alfie Kohn
My boyfriend had to get this book for one of his classes. He and I have always had very different views of homework (I looked at is as an easy A, and he looked at it as a waste of time), so this book intrigued me. Since I recently applied to grad school to teach, I’m even more curious about this book. I should try to read this before school starts in the fall – assuming that I get in, of course.

6. Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages by Guy Deutscher
I saw this book linked in a blog once upon a time, and it sounded interesting. I haven’t taken any linguistics classes, but I was told by one of my college advisors that I would have liked it, especially since I loved my English classes that focuses on taking apart sentences and reading meaning into them. This book immediately caught my interest, but I decided to save it for a time when I had more time available to read. And then I found other books to read instead.

7. Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow into Troublesome Gaps – and What We Can Do About It by Lise Eliot, Ph.D
My boyfriend was told about this book in one of his classes, and he told me about it since I’m always complaining about stereotypes. Again, I really want to read this book, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet because it seems like a book that requires close attention, and I’ve been more in the mood to read fiction lately.

8. Everything You Know About God is Wrong by Russ Kick
My mom felt bad that she bought me a book for Christmas that I already had, so she bought me this book because I’m always looking for a good anti-religion book. This book is huge (not long , just literally too big to fit in my work bag), and it’s not really the sort of book I want to read at work, so I decided to wait until the summer to read it.

9. God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens
For the same reasons as the book above, I decided not to read this one at work. I actually think this was one of the last books I bought at Borders before it closed. I’m not really sure why I haven’t read this one yet.

10. The White Road by Lynn Flewelling
This is the only fiction book on the list. I’ve owned it practically since it came out, which must have been a while ago since the sixth book in the Nightrunner series is either out or will be out soon, and there’s a book of short stories based in this universe out. I read the first three books in this series when I was in high school, and I really enjoyed them. I was thrilled when I realized there was a fourth one, and I read that one quickly. Then I read Lynn Flewelling’s other book series, The Tamir Trilogy, and I sort of moved on from this series. I was excited when the fifth one came out, but I no longer remembered what had happened in the fourth book, aside from a few basic plot points. I decided to reread the rest of the books in the series before reading this one. I haven’t done that, either. I should really get on that, because I do really enjoy these characters, and it’s been far too long since I’ve read about them.

Camp NaNo Day 18 – Behind but not worried

Today’s Goal: 30,006
Today’s WC: 27,049

I’ve been having some trouble writing recently. I was all excited about what I was doing, and I turned what was meant to be the shortest chapter in my novel into the longest chapter, and the one that I like the best so far. And then I started the next chapter, and I’ve been dragging my feet ever since. I just feel like this scene isn’t all that important overall, but I don’t want to just jump over it because the story only takes up two days and skipping 5 hours of time is rather a lot. I finally finished the chapter, and I’ll probably take it out later, but I’m glad to say that it’s finally done and now I can get on to the good part of the novel. If I can write at least one chapter a day, I should finish this week, which would be exciting.

And now onto my weekly ponderings…

I was talking to my boyfriend’s mother the other day about his brother. She was telling me about how he used to write when he was younger. She showed me a story he wrote in middle school and then went on to explain that he always had so many ideas that he could never find a way to tire them all together, which meant that all his stories just sort of fizzled out and never actually came to a conclusive end.

I’m the same way. I try to fit too much into my stories. I want to be able to relate to the characters, want to write primarily for myself, but I’m trying to fit too much of my real life in there. Not every main character has to be exactly like me. That would be boring. I don’t need to fit everything into one story. I can spread it out, focus on a certain part of myself in each story.

Degeneration deals with family and fear.
Tilt Your Head and Smile deals with unemployment and expectations.
For Real This Time deals with weight and acceptance.
Keep Going deals with college and friendship.
The Story of Em deals with desire and doubt.

Each of those stories focuses on a different part of my life to some extent. Some are entirely fictional with a main character who shares a personality trait with me. Others are at least half autobiographical. I’ve found that having them listed out like that help me focus on what’s important. There’s a lot more to the stories than just those two words that I picked for each, but I like having that reminder to keep me from getting too off track.

Book 21: The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

Title: The Truth About Forever
Author: Sarah Dessen
Page Count: 400
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 9/10

Ever since her father died, Macy has made it her goal to be as perfect as possible. She has a genius boyfriend. She spends all her time studying. She has taken over her boyfriend’s job at the information desk at the library while he’s away at Brain Camp. Her life is as perfect as it can be. So why isn’t she happy? It’s not until she joins Wish Catering that she finally starts to laugh again. Spending most of her time with the handsome, artistic Wes certainly doesn’t hurt, either. What is it about him that makes her open up for the first time since her father did?

I stayed up until four in the morning finishing this book, both because I couldn’t sleep and because I really wanted to see how this ended. Macy was very frustrating to read about at times. Her boyfriend is absolutely abysmal, and I just want to take her and smack her whenever she talks about him and how perfect he is. I also hated her mother, who refused to listen to anything her daughters said. I understand that she was grieving and that that undoubtedly affected her, but I still wanted to smack her.

Overall, though, I really enjoyed the book. It’s always fun to see other people get nervous talking to guys they like, and the book gave me a lot to think about, both about life and about my writing style. I would definitely recommend this book to others. Sarah Dessen is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.

On a side note, it was amusing to see that she referenced the town of Colby and the Last Chance diner in this book, which was the setting of Keeping the Moon. It was amusing.

Book 20: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Title: Just Listen
Author: Sarah Dessen
Page Count: 371
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 9/10

Annabel Greene doesn’t like confrontations – not an easy thing to avoid when you’re the youngest of three sisters and best friends with one of the most popular – and outspoken – girls in school. When her friendship ends in a swirl of accusations and taunts, Annabel continues her trend of keeping her thoughts to herself, no matter how much it hurts to do so. But that changes when she befriends Owen, notorious around school for beating someone up in the parking lot. Around Owen, she becomes the sort of person she never thought she could be – the sort of person who tells the truth. But how long can she keep that up, and will she ever be able to admit why she and Sophie stopped being friends?

Had I not just finished reading Keeping the Moon, I might not have read this book, as the first two sentences on the back cover immediately put me off. Annabel’s a teen model who doesn’t have it all, despite how it looks. That’s not the sort of book I usually read, as I get tired of hearing about how the beautiful people’s lives aren’t perfect. That usually doesn’t interest me.

In this case, though, I’m very glad that I did. I felt a connection with Annabel that I wouldn’t have expected. I found I could relate to her in a lot of ways, even though I have never been friends with the popular crowd. I knew how she felt, though, and I could understand how she got to where she is now. I could understand why she left her best friend to hang out with the popular one, even though I knew it was the wrong choice. I could understand her fear of anger and confrontation.

The main part I didn’t like was how much of a music snob Owen was. I realize that music’s a big part of him and the novel, and that it wouldn’t have worked if he weren’t completely open and honest about his taste and what he thought about those who disagreed with him, but I couldn’t help but think back to one of my college roommates. She and I had been friends for a year before we were roommates, and we actually first bonded over a French band that we both liked, but she was a complete music snob who constantly made me feel bad about myself because I didn’t know all the bands she knew, and she was really judgmental of other people’s music. That’s what I was reminded of whenever Owen started talking about music.

Overall, a very good book. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who reads YA. I’m pretty sure I’m the last of the YA fans to get on board with Sarah Dessen, but I figured I’d still mention it in case there was anyone else who was late to the party.