I know I complain a lot, but I have so much to be thankful for. I’m healthy. I’m alive. I have a roof over my head and food on my table. I have two wonderful parents. My dad quit smoking six months ago after over THIRTY years! I’m so proud of him. My sisters and brother are funny and loving and supportive. My brothers-in-law are not jerks and they really love my sisters. My family is just wonderful all around. And I have a fantastic support system in my writing from the readers of this blog and the friends I’ve made on The Next Big Writer.
Thank you to everyone who loves me. I love you, too!
I just heard back from the agent who requested a partial. They passed. Said the story was flat.
NANO is not going well. I’ve been so stressed and busy I haven’t really worked on it at all.
Bad day today, but hopefully tomorrow will be a good one.
Okay, so I’ve been trying to be a good little writer and be “in the know” by joining writing websites, researching agents and literary agencies, and following writing blogs. But most agents’ blogs really scare the crap out of me. I’ll read blogs about character, plot, POV, etc. and suddenly have a panic attack. Am I doing what the agent says NOT to do? Is my work the kind of thing an agent takes one look at, groans, then turns to his/her trusty computer to educate the rest of the world NOT to do what I’ve just done? Dear God, I hope not. I don’t THINK that I’m doing all the wrong things I’m reading about, but how can I be subjective of my own work? Does anyone else get really freaked out after reading agent blogs?
And a lot of days I do.
I’m stuck. I’m stuck in this life that isn’t right in any way, shape, or form. I was supposed to do things with my life. I was supposed to be somebody. I always did well in school. I was freaking valedictorian of my high school class, voted Most Likely to Succeed. I was supposed to go to college and do well, graduate, and get an amazing job. So what happened along the way that I’m broke, in a dead-end job which I’m about to quit so I can wait tables to get myself out of debt? I went to college, I did well, I graduated. Where’s the amazing job?
I wondered in high school why I couldn’t find a boyfriend. All my friends had boyfriends. Several of my friends went from one boyfriend straight to another. But not me. And people would tell me it was because I was too mature. High school boys weren’t at my level. And because I’m naive, I believed that. I was told, by several people, that I’d have boys falling at my feet when I went to college. Yeah, that didn’t happen either. I met one guy my freshman year who was actually interested in me, too, but that only lasted about two weeks. Then, what? He got bored? Realized I was boring? Realized I was going nowhere? I don’t know. He just kinda disappeared. And that was the last time anyone’s ever been interested in me.
I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. Why do some people get everything and others get nothing? Why do I get nothing? How do I get anything? Anything at all? I’m sick of crying. I’m sick of hating my reflection every time I look in the mirror. I’m sick of the negative, pissy, angry person I’ve become.
This was a HARD list for me to make. I love to read. I’ve always loved to read and my taste in books is broad. I only had one requirement for a book to make my top ten list: I had to have read it more than once. To me, that’s an automatic way to determine if a book is good. Do I want to read it a second time? A third time? Otherwise, I just went with my gut.
1.) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I know, no big surprise here if you’ve read other blog entries and the Randomness page. I’ve read this book more times than I can count. I cry every time Darcy says, “You are too generous to trifle with me…” I have “I love Mr. Darcy” as the screen saver on my phone. Yes. I really do. I’m such a dork, but I don’t care. Elizabeth Bennett is witty, independent, and kind. She stays true to the women of the time period she lived in, but she also breaks new ground. Jane Austen is a genius. This is ABSOLUTELY the best book ever written. If you disagree we cannot be friends.
2.) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling. Okay. This may seem like it’s really high up on the list. It’s a YA book about wizards. Again, I don’t care how big a dork it makes me. I freakin’ LOVE Harry Potter. I love the whole series, but Goblet of Fire is my favorite because it really is the peak of the series. The kids are transitioning from children into young adults. The happy-go-lucky innocence of childhood disappears as Voldemort returns to his physical body and Harry is faced with death first hand once again. Complications arise as hormones increase. And the Tri-Wizard tournament is written with vivid description and heart-stopping action. J.K. Rowling is one of the best writers of the twenty-first century. And I will not apologize for listing it as my #2.
3.) Persuasion by Jane Austen. Another Jane Austen book. I think of all her heroines, I relate personally to Anne Elliot the most. She’s a lot like me. Quiet. A little bit of a doormat for those around her. Mid-to-late twenties and still single. Not the prettiest girl on the block. Yet, despite all of her seemingly negative qualities, she’s so lovable. She’s one of the kindest and most selfless characters in literature. And she doesn’t change who she is for the approval of others. And Captain Wentworth is almost (ALMOST) as dreamy as Mr. Darcy.
4.) Bleak House by Charles Dickens. After Jane Austen, I think Charles Dickens may be my favorite author. I love the way he builds characters and plot. In Bleak House, the tension is high from the beginning and it never breaks. This book dips and twists between different perspectives and different plot lines seamlessly and then weaves everything together in the end. Everything is connected. It’s fantastic. And the book keeps you guessing about more than plot. Even once the story ends, you are left wondering if Esther is really as reliable as she seems to be.
5.) Matilda by Roald Dahl. Again, this may seem like an odd choice, but I have a very good reason for including it. I read this book OVER and OVER when I was a child. I would finish reading it and immediately restart. I wanted to be Matilda. I didn’t want to have her horrible parents, but I wanted to have her genius brain. I hated Ms. Trunchbull and felt victorious every time Matilda got her revenge on her with the chalkboard. It’s imaginative and just plain superb story-telling. This is the kind of book that makes kids want to read.
6.) Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. The only work of non-fiction on my list. This book speaks to anyone having a crisis of faith. It’s beautiful in it’s honesty. It says the things most Christian books are scared to say. It’s okay to doubt. It’s okay to be afraid. It’s okay to lose your way. And then, it helps you find your faith, your courage, your path. Miller’s other books are also great, but Blue Like Jazz will always be on my Top Ten.
7.) The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Another childhood favorite. I forced my mom to take me to the library every two days one summer so I could check out the next book. Eventually she broke down and bought them for me. I love the whole series, again, but LWW is the best known for a reason. The characters, the scenery, the danger! It has everything a child (or an adult) could want in their fantasyland. And for some reason, I had a crush on Edmund when I was little!
8.) A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Another love of my childhood: Sara Crewe and the students at Miss Minchin’s boarding school. This may be one of the first books I read because I loved the movie so much I wanted more time with the characters! But, let me tell you, the book is WAY better than the movie. Sara deals with more trials and tribulations than any child should ever have to go through: she loses her mother, her father, her privileged life, her friends, her dignity. But through everything, she never loses her spirit. She never lets the world break her.
9.) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I read this for the first time in fifth grade. I felt so special reading such a “grown-up” book. Years later, I wondered if my love for it came from that importance I felt when reading it for the first time at such a young age. But then I re-read it in college and realized that it’s one of the best stories ever conceived about family, young love, and becoming the person you are meant to be. Every young girl and woman should read this book. Jo March rivals Elizabeth Bennett as one of the greatest literary heroines ever written.
10.) The Time-Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I had to include at least one modern book and you can’t do any better than this beautiful love story. I suppose you could call it paranormal, since one of the main characters is a time-traveler, but the real world setting is SO REAL. The love Clare and Henry feel for each other knows no limits. I love the way the story moves in and out of past and present, from Clare to Henry’s POVs, from one real-world issue to the next, but always remembering it is a love story and that the focus should be on the love the main characters share. I cry every time I read it.
So there it is. My top ten. I’m sure a lot of you out there will question my choices, but this is certainly only a list built upon my personal preference and the emotion stirred in me when I read these novels. For good measure, I’ve also compiled a list of honorable mentions. This was almost as hard as the top ten, because I wanted to include EVERYTHING! I won’t say why I chose all these because it would take too long, but in no particular order, my honorable mentions are:
A Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Emma by Jane Austen
The Rainmaker by John Grisham
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
Green Eggs & Ham by Dr. Seuss. Okay, this one I will give a reason for. My mom taught me how to read with this book!
Now, what are some of YOUR favorite books?
Someone asked me today why I started writing. I was tempted to pull up my blog and say, here, read THIS. Of course, I did not. I’ve already addressed why I started writing, it was an attempt to control my life. An attempt to control something I felt was spiraling into the black abyss of averageness. (I love the phrase black abyss, by the way. I realize it’s a bit redundant, but I don’t care. I’ve used it elsewhere in my writing, but I can’t remember where at this moment. This may make my overall point completely off-base, you’ll have to be the judge.)
I think the real question is: Why have I continued writing?
Hmmm… Now isn’t that a doozy. I could simply say I enjoy it, which is true. I could say I have nothing better to do, which is basically true. Or I could say that once I started, I felt a pull, a compelling need to keep going, which is definitely true as well.
But none of those are the real reasons I continue to write.
I keep writing because deep down, I think I’m good at it.
Okay, how horrible is that? And vain. I know. But, I know myself well enough to know that I wouldn’t continue on a path I thought would lead to nothing. Again, read my first post and how many times I switched my career goals.
(OH! I just remembered where I used the term “black abyss” in my other writing. It’s in Chapter 47 of Twenty-Five. I hope this admission doesn’t make you seriously reconsider whether or not you want to read Twenty-Five, unless you didn’t want to read it before and now knowing it has such an awesomely redundant but kinda-cool-poetic phrase you do.)
I write now because I think I’ve found something I actually do have a talent for. I could be completely wrong. I hope I’m not. I normally don’t take praise to heart, but I’ve made friends based on my writing. People I never would have met or known have read and ENJOYED my book. Maybe I shouldn’t believe every word of positive feedback they give, but it can’t ALL be BS, right?
Since I graduated college, I’ve been wondering where all my potential went. I found it with a pen in my hand. And that’s why I continue to write.
That’s what pops up on my laptop screen when it falls asleep.
You see, for some reason, I have my screen saver set to play a slideshow of my iPhoto gallery. So whenever I step out of the room for five minutes and come back, there are pictures of weddings looping over and over on the screen. Now, were I also happily married, I’m sure I’d ooh and aah at each successive picture, and hey, sometimes I do. But not lately. Lately, it’s just depressing.
What is it about looking at other people’s happy moments that makes me want to stick a pencil in my ear and jiggle it around?
The fact that it has never been me? Or the fact that it will never be me?
On a happier note, NANO is going really well for me. I have seven chapters written already and 11,381 words! Not bad for day six! I posted my first chapter on TNBW and it’s gotten really positive feedback so far. I know the TNBW-ers well enough to know they don’t give false praise… at least not all the time
I guess that’s a happy moment, right? I should take a snapshot of my reviews and upload it to my iPhoto gallery. Not exactly the same as a happy shot of a bride and groom smashing cake in each others’ faces, but it will have to do for now.
Oh, I got my second rejection from an agent yesterday! I’m really feeling good about it. More letters going out today!
Oh, and on the financial trouble front, I’m looking for a new job. I told one of my bosses yesterday. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to find one, but I wanted to be upfront with my boss about it. I don’t really want to quit either of my jobs, but I can’t keep going on the way things are.
So, yeah, now you know what a basketcase I am…