bit more than a month ago, I was searching the net for inspiration for a title
for a short story I had just written (I’m really bad at titles) and I found this
poem by Emily Dickinson. I thought I’d share with you…
stories has been a most important part of my life ever since, at twelve I
believe, I read "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" by Jules Verne.
Imagining fantastic adventures was my way of living them. I wanted to be a
speleologist, a palaeontologist, a marine biologist, and archaeologist, an
astronaut. I wrote, wrote, and wrote about that.
the years, I have started many novels, which I never finished. However, that
never actually seemed important. I have always written for my pleasure. For the
thrill of living many lives at once. I never worried about publishing my work.
That made me light and carefree. I was also very young and the future stretched
endlessly in front of me.
sometime during the past few years, something has shifted. I got older, of
course. The thought of seeking publication has acquired a more tangible shape.
The future, also, suddenly appeared finite –as it truly is, unfortunately-
hence adding urgency to all my actions. Instead of being hopeful, I have become
impatient, anxious. Except for the moments of complete trance, the writing has
become (a bit) painful with apprehension. Just a little bit.
buy a lot of books. However, I rarely go to bookstores anymore. I love books, I
adore books, but seeing them all together like that makes me sad. It
discourages me big-time. That’s because I can’t help thinking: What are the
chances of all these beautiful, colourful, wonderful, shiny,
published books to be bought and read by (many) people? I
would say, rather slim. Except for the best-sellers, of course, which sell best
because, well… they are best-sellers.
there’s Amazon, with so many more books, all kind of books, including a lot of
self-published books. While I’m not eloquent enough to express my admiration
for these people who wrote their novels and published them, one way or another,
I also cringe when I see Amazon best-selling ranks into hundreds of thousands
get me wrong. I still find an exhilarating motivation in seeing other people’s
accomplishments, especially those of my blogging friends. Maximum kudos to all
of them! I do not feel one drop of envy, please believe me, only admiration.
this sea of books, I feel so lost. I’m not even capable of finishing my novel.
I’m too stupid or too lazy, or both, to even finish one
novel. I’m too overwhelmed by OCD – what else could it be this obsessive
polishing of each sentence, this endless pondering of the logic of each plot
element – to go from one paragraph to the next. I couldn’t agree more with whoever
said first that perfectionism breeds paralysis. I’m really fighting hard to
snap out of it.
not giving up. No way. No matter the outcome, I will still be fooling myself and
pushing myself because the “highs” are definitely worth more than the “lows.”
And I will never be able to be just a reader.
I like reading book reviews, the good ones and especially the bad ones. I can extract a lot of useful information from them, on character and plot development, on readers’ expectations. I read them on Amazon, on GoodReads, and on other few sites that publish reviews on a regular basis.
Being written by people, reviews are subjective so they have to be taken with a grain of salt. However, the reviewer’s dislike or ignorance of a genre shouldn’t mean a bad mark for the book.
I mostly ignore the good reviews, especially when they are overly enthusiastic. Sometimes, they look partisan, as if written by friends to give a boost to the ratings. But even if they are sincere, too much praise feels kind of syrupy. When the praise, however, is backed by a thorough analysis then it becomes useful.
Of course, many times the bad reviews are prejudiced too and you can tell the reviewer hasn’t even read the book carefully. There are also the self-righteous reviewers who think they know everything about how somebody should behave, fall in love (I’m reading a lot of YA lately) and generally react to a given situation, on the principle that what they would or wouldn’t do is a universal rule. But people are extremely diverse and, although we all partake in the same human nature, we each might take a different bite out of it. If a character in a book annoys you because of how she behaves, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the author is a bad writer, maybe quite on the contrary. In real life, there are stupid people and intelligent people, cautious people and rash people, etc., etc. If we would all be the same, then where would the fun be?
For good or bad reviews, you have to know how to read in between the lines and, in the end, of course, form your own opinion. I love reading excerpts to get a taste of a book, and I have bought many books after doing that. I have also borrowed books from the local library and then bought them because I loved them so much I had to have them. There are books that I cannot put down and have to force myself to put them down, because if I don’t then my stay in their universe would be over too soon. And there are books (I can still count them on one hand’s fingers) that are simply not palatable to me and that I had to put down unfinished.
I know it is very difficult to write a useful book review and I admire those who can. I’ve tried it but I’m not gifted or patient enough to dissect on paper the whole justification behind a simple “I like it” or “I don’t like it.”
I can read, though, read, read, read. And this is a small sample of what I have piled up on my nightstand… (rubbing my hands in gleeful anticipation)
Yes, it’s the East River down there in a pigeon’s-eye view from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building.
Can you tell that I’ve just got a fresh dose of Manhattan? I’m heartsick now that I’m back in Montreal, but also exhilarated and very eager to write (again). Maybe, hopefully, some of that frenzy that is New York City has rubbed off on me.
I must say that the outlining hasn’t gone that well. (Outlining’s a bitch!) I knew it, but I didn’t want to jinx it. I’ve (re)discovered that the moment I try to put on paper more than the sketchiest of ideas, I become totally blocked. The ideas chase each other around the back of my head and refuse to be chained down on paper in an orderly manner. The story is all in my head and has to be written the way it comes to me. What my brain cannot hold is quite likely to get lost.
However, I did a lot of thinking and re-thinking, and I got some direction from my dilemmas, and my confidence in being able to finish what I’ve started feels a bit timid yet also resilient, like a snowdrop at the end of winter.
These beauties are in my kitchen, not in my garden, but still… spring is in the air.
Last but not least, I wish to thank all of my friends who wrote comments on the previous post. May your kind wishes and thoughts return to you thousandfold. I feel ashamed for answering this late -it's not at all in my nature to be this rude- and I really, truly, deeply apologize. I have you, all of you, in my heart.