It’s snowing in North Carolina, which let’s face it, doesn’t happen very often. The result of which is that I’m probably stuck inside my house all day Saturday.
But, on a happier note, I was inspired by the snow to write a piece of flash fiction for The Next Big Writer‘s current contest. Since this blog is all about my goal to become a “real” writer, I thought I should maybe share some of my writing with you! So here it is, my flash fiction piece, Snow Angel.
We walked hand in hand along the side of a snow-covered road. He stopped and scooped up a handful of ice, packing it together and rounding it out. I ran as he stretched his arm back, preparing to throw…
He just laughed and hurled the snowball above my head.
He laughed again and ran towards me, grabbing my waist and lifting me off the ground, spinning and twirling us both until we dropped to the earth, the blanket of white fluff cushioning our fall.
“Gosh, how old are you?” I slapped his arms, he released his grip on me. Rolling over, he lay flat, flaying his arms and legs out, making a snow angel. He stood, pulling me to my feet.
“An angel for my angel,” he whispered.
“That’s so cheesy!” I smiled, turning to face him. “But sweet.”
He dropped to his knee and took my hand, pulling a velvet box out of his pocket at the same time.
“What’re you doing?”
He peeled my glove off and let it drop to the snow. “I was going to wait til we got back to the house, build a fire, light a bunch of candles, and get cozy with you on the couch, but I can’t wait. I love you so much.” He popped the top of the box. “Will you marry me?” The ring could only hold my attention for a second, my gaze immediately found his. Tears swam in both our eyes.
“Yes! Of course! I love you, too!”
He fumbled with the ring, sliding it on my finger, then jumped up and kissed me. The box tumbled out of his grasp and slid on the ice into the middle of the road.
“I should get that.” But he didn’t release me. His hands were on my hips, his eyes staring into mine. In that moment, I knew I’d love him for the rest of my life.
Kissing the tip of my nose, his hands fell. He turned to retrieve the box and I looked at the square-cut diamond and platinum ring on my hand. The stone was incredible, but its beauty was eclipsed by the love and commitment it symbolized.
I bent to pick up my glove and the sound of squealing tires reached my ears. Whipping my head around, I saw an SUV fishtailing on the icy road. He was straightening up, too, putting the ring box in his pocket. The vehicle skidded towards him, but he didn’t move. Maybe there wasn’t time. Maybe the world only seemed to slow down as I watched the car plow into him.
When the ambulance and police arrived, the angel in the snow was tainted with blood and glass. And he was gone.
I have to add three books to my reading list for the year:
11.) Push by Sapphire
12.) Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
13.) The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik
(Okay, so technically, I’ve already read #13- but I read it in 2010, so it counts!)
I’m entering a contest. A writing contest. SCARY. The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.
I know that I am not going to win this thing. It’s a 1 in 5000 shot. Literally, they accept 5000 entries and choose one winner. There’s no way I have the talent or luck to make it. I spent days, no, weeks, convincing myself not to enter because there was no point. But tonight I said to myself, four hours before the site was open to entries (10 minutes and counting right now), “What the hell? You have nothing to lose!”
Why can’t I think and act like that more often? I never have anything to lose, and yet I live my life in constant fear of failure and rejection. I stop myself from truly living, from taking risks and going after the things I really want because there’s no scariness in the status quo. There’s nothing to be afraid of when you never try for anything.
So, my new motto: What the hell. Give it a whirl. What can it hurt?
When I get hurt, well, that will be another story.
What is a writer?
Am I a writer? I’ve written a book and I write a blog and I have a couple of works in progress, but does any of that make me a writer?
What is a writer exactly? Is it anyone who can pick up a pencil and make markings on a piece of paper that resemble letters and words? Or is it someone who knows how to string together those letters and words into sentences and paragraphs and pages– into pieces of art. Or is it someone who not only makes art out of words, but someone who gets paid to make art out of words?
Today, I had a horribly jealous reaction to the idea of a friend of mine beginning to work on a new book. I thought to myself, how can this person start a new story when I’m so pathetic I can’t complete mine. Which of course made me wonder, yet again, if Twenty-Five is just a fluke. I wrote the one story I’ve wanted for myself my whole life. Maybe I have nothing else in me.
I hate that I doubt myself. I really do hate it. But I do. I doubt myself constantly. I never believe I am good enough or that anything I do is good enough. And I don’t even know why I’m like that. I shouldn’t be like that. I know I’m smart- I’ve never doubted that, though maybe I should. Why does anyone doubt themselves? Fear, I think. For me, fear of failure and fear of rejection. It’s a hard life, trying to be a writer, trying to be published. I just know that I’m going to fail at it, like I’ve failed at so many other things. And I can’t stand it. Because I want it so bad. I want to do something worthwhile, be someone worth while. That’s what got me started on this whole writing kick in the first place. I wrote a book, with a main character who is a lot like me, but I made her prettier and I gave her a boyfriend and a career with the potential to go somewhere. And she got everything she ever wanted. I still cry reading the ending of my book. Imagining that a wonderful man could be so in love with a girl so like me.
And now I wonder if this wonderful book about the girl who is like me but isn’t me whose dreams all come true is the extent of my writing abilities. Do I have any other stories inside me. Am I really a writer, or was I just desperately seeking to make something out of the life I have but hate?
All of this doubt comes just two days after I find out that a poem I wrote (the poem which inspired the title of this blog, BTW) is going to be published in an online magazine. That has to mean something, right? A poem I wrote was selected for this magazine’s next issue, and yet, I still doubt myself. Maybe because I have no one but an online community to share it with. I told my mother and her only reaction was “That’s great. Wait- is that a good thing?” And nothing else. No one is excited for me, well no one that I know in real life. Is that where doubt comes from- lack of validation? Lack of enthusiasm?
It all brings me back to the same question: Am I a writer? Or am I just kidding myself?
…At a brand new job. Here’s hoping that things go well. Sorry for the short post, but I have to leave the apartment in 15 minutes and I still need to get dressed and put some makeup on!
So much for not being rushed on the first day!
I promised I’d let you know how I liked the book from my Barnes and Noble bookshelf browsing experiment, so here it is!
I just finished the book about an hour ago. The biggest compliment I can give it is that the characters were SO REAL. I mean it. I immediately related to both sisters, Ava with her belief that she is always second best to her sister in the looks department while priding herself in her intelligence and non-chalant about looks attitude (yeah, right!), and Lauren who’s up to her ass in debt , but ignores the situation because she just isn’t ready to deal with her own failings.
My biggest complaint about the book is that some of the situations seemed a little too convenient. Lauren calls a man who her family knew when she was a small child, but who she hasn’t seen or talked to in twenty-some years and he’s more than happy to meet with her and her sister, without question or hesitation? I don’t quite buy that, but I liked Russell, so I’m kinda glad that he doesn’t exactly play by the rules of modern social interactions.
My second biggest complaint is that the book ended too soon! There is still so much I want to know about the characters!
I know a book is good when I get lost in it. That’s what happened with this book. I started reading it around 9:00 pm on Saturday night and didn’t stop. At 1:46 am, my mother came in my room “You still up?” I had completely lost track of time and gone 3/4ths of the way through the book. With the TV on the whole time! The book just sucked me in!
I have to admit, it was really nice to read a book where I wasn’t looking for typos, grammatical errors, or awkward sentences. Lately, all I’ve been reading have been works in progress on TNBW, so I am constantly in “review mode.” But I was able to turn my inner editor off for this one and really just get swept up into the story.
I liked that the book dealt with a family I felt could live down the street from me and that the issues they were dealing with (sibling rivalry, sisterly affection, a parent with cancer, debt, loneliness and romantic troubles) were all sincere, real life issues. No end of the world in sight and no one acting like any of their problems were going to cause the downfall of humanity. It was simple and sweet and truthful.
I’m so glad I choose to buy it!
…At work. My last day. I had to hand over my key last night to a new girl and I started crying. My boss called me before we closed and spent about 10-15 minutes talking about my personal growth and how he was proud of me, etc. and I cried like a baby.
I know it’s time to move on. I’ve outgrown the place and if I ever want to move out of my parents, I have to start making more money, but it is still sad. It’s been a part of my life for so long and it’s almost gone.
I don’t hand write everything. But I think I get in a better flow when I’m writing by hand. Mainly because I don’t have the distraction of Facebook or TNBW or Absolute Write or even the dashboard of my blog!
Also, when you write the first draft of something by hand, you get a second shot at the first draft when you type it. For example, I hand wrote part of a chapter of The Death Effect during down time at work the other day. Shhh, don’t tell my boss! (Not that it really matters that much because down time at work is literally seconds in between phone calls and guests checking in and out and stylists needing help with their schedules and the purchase order being checked in, etc. etc. etc. And, my last day is January 9, 2010, so, I think it’s a moot point anyways.) Here’s a few sample sentences that I hand wrote:
They each dropped a rose into the grave. Donny took Geri’s hand and put his other arm around her waist to lead her back to their seats.
Okay those are sooo not exciting. But! When I typed it into my draft I saw how unexciting it was and my inner editor changed it to this:
Her fingers trembled as she loosened her grip on the roses meant to be the last gift to her daughter. The stems rolled out of her hands and tumbled into the grave, a few petals breaking off as the flowers struck the casket. Her husband’s touch replaced the roses as he took her hand and put his arm around her waist to lead her back to their seats.
Still not amazing, but can’t you see the VAST difference! Handwriting is great because it gives you a chance to have 2 first drafts. If I had been typing my first draft, I probably wouldn’t have gone back through and changed that sentence until a couple of months from now, if at all, once I’ve finished the whole book.
I wrote the entire first draft of Twenty-Five by hand and didn’t start typing it until it was 75% complete. I think that’s how I even finished it in the first place. It feels more tangible when you can hold the pages in your hand, and it feels more like your work when you see your hand writing expressing the words making up a story. I feel like I need to stop staring at a computer screen and pick my pen back up if I want to have any shot of finishing another book.
I read somewhere that writers aspiring to be published should
(A) Read as many books in the genre they are writing in as possible
(B) Support other beginning (or non-famous) authors by buying their books.
Well, if you’ve been reading my blog regularly you’ll know my financial situation as of late hasn’t really allowed me to purchase many books (or any at all), so I’m dreadfully out of touch with what is out there in book world right now.
For Christmas I received a couple of gift cards for Barnes and Noble and I decided I should use them to go out there and fulfill A and B. Okay, so I can’t really fulfill them, the gift cards aren’t bottomless, but I can do something small.
So I browsed the shelves at my local B&N for a while today. My goal was to find a book where the genre wasn’t formulaic romance but had a romantic storyline. I also wanted to find an interesting title and, if possible, I wanted a book by a first-time author (well, first time published).
I got 2 out of 3. The book I choose is called The Smart One and The Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik. The title immediately caught my eye, though it was on the bottom shelf, as did the cover. (I tried to find a picture of the cover online to add here, but none that I found were downloadable, so I’ll have to describe it to you, sorry!) It has a plain white background, a stack of books and a bright pink purse sitting on top of the books. The “Pretty” in the title is written in a pink cursive font while the rest of the title is written in a straight, brown print.
I know the old adage goes: don’t judge a book by its cover, but I can’t help it. I’m a FIRM believer in judging books by their covers. At least for selecting ones to buy. This cover told me SO much about the story even before I read the back jacket. I assumed that I hadn’t just picked up a crime or mystery thriller, that the main characters would be female, and that the dynamics of their relationship would be affected by their status as either “smart” or “pretty.” And obviously, the choice of books present on the front cover drew me in because I love an MC who reads.
Then, I turn the book over and I find it fits the genre specifics I want! It’s about 2 sisters, one who, I must admit, sounds A LOT like me (another reason I eventually choose to purchase the book- that whole, relating-to-the-MC factor). I assume this is the “smart” sister. The sister I assume is the “pretty” sister tries to set “smart” sister up with an (quoting from the back jacket here) highly inappropriate, twice-divorced, but incredibly charming guy.
It didn’t meet my first novel criteria, the author has 4 other books published, however, The Smart One and The Pretty One was the only book of Mrs. LaZebnik’s on the shelf at B&N. (Well, the fiction shelf at least, 2 of her books are non-fiction, I think.)
I’m very excited to read the book and let everyone out here in the blogosphere know how my experiment worked. I have one gift card left, so after I finish it, I’ll go on the hunt for another hidden treasure.
I encourage everyone to try this experiment out for themselves. Even if I don’t end up liking the book, the hunt for it was a bit thrilling and gives me the hope that someday (maybe, keep your fingers crossed!) someone out there will be browsing the shelves at their book store of choice and just happen to spot MY book, pick it up, and feel compelled to buy it.
After writing the above, I googled The Smart One and The Pretty One to see if I could find a website to link to for anyone interested in learning more about the book. I found Claire LaZebnik’s blog! It’s linked above to the page for the book, but I’m going to link it here to her homepage as well and I’ll be adding her to my blogroll. I feel like I’ve found a kindred spirit. After google sent me to the page on her blog for the book, I clicked on the homepage and her latest blog entry is about her love of Jane Austen and how she feels connected with her through a very personal experience in her own life. I cannot wait to read more of her blog and it makes me even more jazzed to read the book!