Books I Haven’t Read In 2012 (Or Any Other Year)

Sometimes I am slow to get on a bandwagon, other times I’m ahead of the game. I’ve read many lists about the best books of 2012, books that have been read in 2012, worst books of 2012, etc. , so I thought I’d do a version. Options for my list included a list of books I used to even out my coffee table this year, or the above decided upon title.

NW – Zadie Smith: I checked it out from the library I had it on my desk. I never got to it. I heard it was great.

Wild-Cheryl Strayed: Except for the hiking alone, the drugs, the stranger-danger intimacy, snakes, bears, divorce, I’ve been through that kind of feeling. Losing a parent is hard.

This Is How You Lose Her-Junot Diaz: I want to read it, I really do. Maybe it will be a good snow day read.

The Hunger Games Trilogy-Suzanne Collins: I want to read them and then watch the movie. I hear they are good. Someday, when I’m hungry, maybe? (Ha! I made a pun-ny.)

The Casual Vacancy-JK Rowling: This book has had a casual vacancy at my library. I guess that means people like it. It sounds like a nice, fun, political subtext read.

Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die-Willie Nelson: I like the title, I like Willie; I think I’ll leave it on that positive note.

Most any popular book that other people are reading: I can’t help it, I’m a rebel. Reading is breathing, thinking and living, but sometimes you just gotta do it your own way.

 

Come back to see a few books I have read in my next blog.

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Thanks A Million

It is holiday time, time to be thankful. I am thankful for so much in my life; experiences, the people in my life, family, opportunities, the joys and even the powerful lessons that come with really crappy life moments. There are days I question how thankful I should be that I am a (word) artist at heart. These questions have no answers.

I’m happy my God-given talent is writing, He gave me the ability to say things in writing that  I can not put into this world any other way except for the written word. (Here comes that word we aren’t supposed to say). But… it sure is difficult choosing the road less travelled. It’s hard to be artist of any kind these days. Sure, I have used my powers for “evil” instead of “good” helping to sell things, ideas and concepts to people. You try to keep your integrity and then that text gets altered by this person or that person until it becomes just a shell of the thing of which you were so proud. You don’t want to lay claim to it, but still at its core you know it was yours.

A different perspective is when you are using your “great power” with “great responsibility” (i.e. in the manner in which you intended, as an artist, not what the corporate world dictates) you have an empty place where your money used to go. That in turn creates an empty place where your inner artist dwells and creates doubts. “Hmmm… Maybe I don’t have what it takes.” “No one likes it/me, everyone hates it/me, think I’ll go eat worms…” because after all your art is a piece of me and if it gets turned down, maybe it’s me they are turning down.

On the other side of the page, there’s nothing else I’d rather do. I do this writing thing pretty well sometimes. It’s all I’ve ever wanted. For that I am thankful.

To sum up my Thanksgiving thanks, I say thank you for the talent. Thank you for the opportunity. Thank you for the future that is not yet written, may it be free of red pen marks.

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If the Muse Moves, Catch Her

Writers and artists of all mediums like to consider their artistic endeavors as being inspired or carried out ‘by being moved by the muse.’  

Who is this muse and how can I have her at my full time disposal? Uh, you can’t.

Inspiration comes from many, many different sources: ideas, other artistic works, nature, meditating, not thinking about it, or thinking about it a lot… some like to think alcohol helps them, but if you have ever written anything after having a few you know this is not the case. Whatever inspires you to do your art is not something you can bottle. However, you can hang onto that vision by taking notes, photos, or mentally visualizing your inspiration.

By hanging on to the muse in this manner you have it when you need it. And you will need it.

Inspiration is just the beginning, in order to actually do your art, you must have a specific time and place to write. During this time you will write. It doesn’t matter if you write something your 4 year old could have done, you must write. It is a process. Through this process is where the magic happens.

 

It would be nice to think that a muse was a cause of all the art in the world, and it is possible there is divine intervention, however, the work is your own and if you don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. Juggling it all to convey your art to the world in the way you intended it…therein lies the magic of art.

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Books for Writers About Writing

In my years of writing and trying to perfect (ha, ha, ha) the writing process and technique, I have read my weight 20 times over in books for writers. Below are my favorites.

The Artists’ Way by Julia Cameron – More motivation than technique, but also helps to develop technique, process and helps to let that artist out no matter who or what inner critic says, “Who do you think you are?”

Writing Down The Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg – Spiritual and classic.

Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott – First time or the 50th time reading it I feel the same, love this, love this, love this. Real world, real life, real writing.

Writer’s Digest Writer’s Encyclopedia – In case you need to quickly know what any element in writing is about or means, from permission rights to 3rd person. It is in a helpful A-Z format, like an Encyclopedia, if you remember those, please say yes or I’ll feel old.

Fiction Writers Workshop by Josip Novakovich – The title is exactly what it is, exercises and all.

The number one best book for a writer is blank notebook filled with your writing.

Reading anything will improve your writing. It is another way you can hear other writer’s voices and discover what makes your own voice unique.

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Writers Do What???

I’m always looking for that one piece of writing genius that will make the muse move straight from my heart to my hand creating magical word worlds onto paper. Deep in my soul I already know what it happens to be, and always have known.

The only way to write is…(drumroll, please) to write.

It’s not hard to figure out, but it does the one thing good advice usually does; it puts it right back into the advice seekers hands. It doesn’t rely on destiny, fate, a perfect time when the planets and stars are in perfect alignment or even the perfect pen, although, I DO love a great pen. In order to write, you (and I) must write.

It’s hard to begin. It’s hard to write the middle. It’s hard to find a satisfying end. Believe me, I understand, but the only way to do it is to just do it. It may be bad  writing at first, but as you write, you’ll learn more about writing, your voice and what works.

This advice, or lack thereof, reminds me of an old joke. “How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time.” Or even “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” “Practice, practice, practice.”

Find a few minutes in your day and write. That’s how writers write.

Don’t forget about NaNoWriMo in November – National Novel Writing Month.

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Books, Hope & Despair, plus Reading

It’s that time! National Book Award finalist time, that is.

You may be asking yourself, what does this mean for me?  After reading the Publisher’s Weekly announcement, you will discover there are five debut works in the mix. If you are new to publishing/writing this gives you hope.  You will also discover there are five Nobel Prize winners. This may make you feel like you missed the boat and should have started publishing in your teens. Six books were published by small, independent or university presses. This should give you hope again as you may be able to realize your writing dreams after all. You might just be able to get published someday without having a major publisher; and that the publishing world indeed, may not be dead, but merely sleeping through its mainstream erotic fiction (oxymoron alert) that it is currently supporting.  

Most of all, if you are looking for good reading material this is the place to start.

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Write Here, Write Now

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” – Maya Angelou

I remember when I realized that maybe I could be a writer. I had always written, but it had never occurred to me that I could major in creative writing and be a person who writes books. I love books! I love to read! I could actually be that person. How lucky to be that person! It was an idea that gave me permission to be who I was designed to be.

Fast forward 20 years down the road, if I were published tomorrow, I might be referred to a late bloomer as writers now apparently publish in the womb, so they have their greatest works done by the time they are 35. I have been published, but not in the manner I want. I want the novel. That’s my Golden Ticket. I am writing the novel, slowly. It’s a story I have suppressed for 15 years. I’ve been trying to be so many other things instead of a writer. Trying to suppress the story and who I am has led to much frustration. I’ve never lost the dream, but I tried to push it away. What I lost was naiveté and blind confidence, and it was replaced with doubt by reading the statistics on those who actually ‘make it’ as writers. If they can’t get published, why should my story get published? Over the years, I forgot one of the most important rules of writing: write for yourself.

When you write for yourself, you lose the inner critic who tells you, “No one will read this,” and “This is crap.” When you write for yourself you lose the inner voice that tells you to change your story to be more commercial. When you write for yourself, you gain your voice. When you write for yourself, you gain who you were meant to be. I may never be a best seller, but then again, I definitely won’t be if I don’t try.

What would we all be if we weren’t ourselves? Well, I’d be you. Or you. You would be me. Or her. Or him.

“To thine own self be true.” -Shakespeare

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