"The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible." -Vladimir Nobokov

Saturday, December 17, 2011

One Moment

As writers, we are obsessed with plot. (Or at least I am) We tend to look at the big picture: how does this event affect that? What happens when someone tries to resolve a conflict and three more arise? Of course, real life doesn't move in a compactly plotted arc, and the effects of life changing events are often not realized until years after the fact. The truth is, life is just a string of moments stuck together in this thing we call time. Moments are like the atoms of life.  And, if atoms are the building blocks of life (people, plants, and animals), then moments are the building blocks of lives. 

So much can happen in a moment. And so little. Think how many moments you spend sleeping. Or eating. Or listening to music. Or laughing. The list goes on! What about those rare moments when you actually connect with a fellow human being. So much can pass between people in a few seconds of eye contact. Some of my favorite moments are the ones spent listening to music. Like this:

Did you like that? Yeah, me too. With the holidays approaching quickly and many memorable moments to come, take some time to calm down, stop the stress, and remember what life is really made of.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Texas Book Festival: (Belated) Recap!!

The Texas Book Festival was: Awesome! Inspiring! Funny! Creative! And basically an all around good time. The capitol was the perfect place to have it. Book lovers and writers alike (is there really a distinction?) could be seen hurrying through it's majestic halls and climbing it's stoically ornate stairways to get to their next seminar. The capital grounds and much of Congress Ave. were covered in white tents full of books. It was overwhelming the number of books in those tents! How could anyone hope to look at them, much less read them all! Of course (because writers are cool), the seminars/interviews/panels with different writers were all wonderful, and believe me, there was something for everyone. But- I'm getting ahead of myself. Because I know you're all dying to see them, here are some pictures!

Sunrise on the way to Austin.

Authors on parenting spoke in the Senate Room. (My parents wanted see this, but it was actually more interesting than I expected)

My Dad and me 

This was a wonderful sight- and there were more like this. A lot more!

Yes, that's Louis Sachar and Mary Worlitzer!

Mom and me on the Senate Room floor! Those chairs are comfy!

Just had to take this. So beautiful!

Austin's two most famous domes! (One is a little more famous than the other...)


We went on a nighttime tour of the State Cemetery. There was a HUGE crowd, so it wasn't quite as fun as we'd hoped. That, and we were tired! 

There's Thomas Mullen!!! (Second to last on the left) This was a panel on Genre Bending fiction. A lot of people were there to see  Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus (which I am planning to read, eventually), but I wish more people knew about Thomas Mullen. He deserves more notice!

This guy was great! He read a passage from one of his middle grade novels inspired by the Hardy Boys series. It was highly entertaining!

View from the Senate Room balcony window. Look closely and you can see the tops of the white tents!
One of the best panels was one with Kate Dicamillo and Rebecca Stead. Those two could be stand up comedians! I wish I had a picture to show you, but we were so mesmerized by all that energy in one place, we never got a chance to take one! If you EVER get a chance to hear either one of them speak I highly recommend it. 

Anyway, I had a great time (can you tell?). The weather was perfect, the people were friendly, and the writers were inspiring. I came home with three book marks, a (signed!) copy of Thomas Mullen's The Revisionists, the book Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris,  a free sample from Penguin with the first three chapters of 9 different books, and-get this- a free notebook! I've got so much reading to do,  and no time at all! But I'm so glad I went to the Texas Book Festival, and (as if I haven't said this enough) I recommend it to anyone and everyone. Hope to see  you there next year!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Off to the Texas Book Festival!

Today really felt like a Friday. Do you ever have those days? Ever since I joined the live music ensemble for our school play, my life has been taken over by after school rehearsals and loads of homework. I have something to look forward to, though!  This weekend will be both a breath of fresh air and a subversive experience into my two loves: reading and writing. I'm off to the Texas Book Festival! Here are some of the things I'm looking forward to:

1. Doing something different. Ever since rehearsals started I sometimes feel like I've fallen into a monotonous daily routine. This will be a nice (and much needed) break!
2. Listening to some amazing writers: Kate Dicamillo and Thomas Mullen are two that I'm especially looking forward to seeing. All you have to do is read Kate Dicamillo's Journal of sorts  to see what an amazing writer she is (if you haven't read Because of Winn-Dixie or any of her other fabulous middle grade books, that is). I also just found out about Thomas Mullen, whose new book, like his others, sounds absolutely fascinating. (You can read my review of his book, The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers, here.)
3. Being in Austin, one of my favorite cities. It's also a great place to go for a fresh change of scenery.

Now, you didn't think I would go off and leave you without any information, did you? Here is the website for the event, and when I get back I will post pictures and stories! Hope you all have a great weekend, and as usual, thanks for reading :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Merits of Eavesdropping

"It's not about the sandwich!" I was eating lunch on the patio of a local taqueria when I overheard a woman saying this into her cell phone. Instantly my inner writer started asking questions. Who is she talking to? What does she mean? What kind of sandwich is it? And, if it's not about the sandwich, then what is it about?

It's human nature to be curious about other people's lives, and as writers it's even more important that we pay attention and ask questions about the things around us. We want to be truthful in our writing, and to do that we must watch, smell, and listen. In her book, Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg writes:

"When you are not writing, you are a writer too. It doesn't leave you. Walk with an animal walk and take in everything around you as prey. Use your senses as an animal does. Watch a cat when he sees something moving in a room. He is perfectly still, and at the same time, his every sense is alive... This is how you should be when you are in the streets."

When you eavesdrop, you are using your animal senses. Listen to the way people talk. Do they have an accent? Does their tone of voice fit with what they are saying, or is there a deeper current of excitement, or irritation, or sadness behind their words? Eavesdropping is like taking a snapshot with a polaroid camera. You capture a moment, but you also get a glimpse of that person's personality, their past. It's not the whole picture. Not by a long shot. But it's better that way, because soon you'll have more snapshots then you know what to do with, and you can pick and choose, taking bits of personality here and there. By doing this, by learning from real life, you are closer than ever before to one of the things all writers strive for: the truth.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Making Time to Read

Reading is medicine. It is a way to loose yourself after a long day, or ground yourself when everything feels like it's up in the air. Readers know this, and so do writers. But sometimes, such a simple act can feel like a waste of time. When asked, "What did you do today?" I sometimes feel ashamed of saying that I read a book. How could I have not done anything productive? I could have worked on homework, or called a friend, or studied for the PSAT. Sometimes it's easy to forget just how valuable reading can be.

But I'm not going to lecture you on the merits of reading. With the speed at which our lives move, even those of us who realize its importance have a hard time finding a minute, much less an afternoon, to sit down with a good book. Always, I hear other writers say, "Make time to write every day." Well, I say, make time to read, too. 

Here are some ideas to help you do just that:

1. Keep your books in one place. Not all your books, of course. Just the ones you're reading at the moment. Try to make it a place that you go often, like on a table next to your favorite armchair, or on the floor by your bed. Few readers can resist a lonely book begging to be picked up and savored.
Tip: Don't keep your books near your workspace, or it will be too tempting to stop what you're doing and read all afternoon. That is one instance where reading is a time waster!

2. Pick one to carry with you. Some people find it hard to wait until evening, when they're at home in their favorite armchair, to read. Or maybe they get home late and can barely make it through a page before falling asleep. If thats the case, then try carrying your book with you. If you have a Kindle or other electronic reading device then you have it easy. I, personally, am a fan of the "real thing," but maybe I'm just old fashioned. Heck, I still write on a typewriter! Anyway, if you have a spare moment, pull out your book and indulge yourself. You'll be surprised by how much more you read when your book is readily accessible whenever you have a moment of down time.

3. Limit the number of books you read at once. I know, easier said than done. Still, if you have 12 books going at once, you may spend more time deciding which ones to read than actually reading them. I try to limit my number to two or three, which I've found to be a pretty good balance.

4. Keep a book journal. Like me! You can buy ones specifically for books, or you can simply choose a regular notebook, but the important thing is to keep a record of the books you read and what you thought of them. This, while slightly more time consuming, is a great way to make reading feel less like wasted time, and more like enrichment to your life and your writing (which it is). Not only will this make you want to make more time for reading, but the end result is a record of every book you've read. And who doesn't want to that?

5. Don't feel guilty! Don't feel bad about not finishing a book, or having to put it down because it's just not speaking to you. (Kristan Hoffman wrote a great post about this on Writer Unboxed.) Beating yourself up about your reading habits will just make the whole experience less enjoyable, hence defeating the purpose, which is to read more.

Well, I hope this was helpful! I'm going to go follow my own advice now and sit down with Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth. If you'd like you know what else I'm reading, you can always look in the side bar to the right. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Confessions of a Notebook Addict (Part Two)

I have so much to say, and I don't even know where to begin! At times like these, there's only one thing to do: Make a List.


  • First, let me say that it's so good to be blogging again! School has been crazy. Enough said.
  •  Am I a bad person for losing a library book? It's true I'm not the most responsible book borrower, and while I've been known to rack up an impressive fine, I've never lost a book before. This is when I really need the accio spell...
  • Speaking of books, I now have a book journal! It's like a birder's life list, except for books. My mom and I made/bound it ourselves while working on an English project.
  • I think book-binding is my new hobby.
  • Also, for those who were wondering, I'm really enjoying my creative writing class! I was also made president of the creative writing club, which is amazing and a little scary at the same time. (I'm not a very good leader, but I'm trying to improve!)
  • And this list could go on forever if I don't get it under control... I think its time to start the actual post.
Ok, well as promised, this is part two of my Confessions of a Notebook Addict post. An update: My condition hasn't improved. Of course you could probably tell that by my mention of my new book journal. Here's a picture:

Isn't it beautiful? I think it is. But enough of that. On to the good stuff. You, like me, are struggling with an addiction. You may have hundreds of unfinished or untouched notebooks. You ask yourself, "What am I going to put in all those pages?" Hopefully, this post will help. But before I give you ideas, here are some things every notebook owner should think about.

1. How does this particular notebook make you feel? Ok, I know that sounds silly, but really think about it. Is this a notebook that gives you permission to write horribly? (Example: Cheap spiral that you found at the dollar store.) Or is this the leather bound journal you bought at the stationary shop at the mall, right next to the 600 dollar pens? If you can abandon your stereotypes and feel fine doodling and scratching out whole pages in your leather bound journal, more power to you, but most of us don't share your point of view. Make sure you feel comfortable enough to write freely and try new things in the notebook that you have. The leather bound one will have to wait.

2. Is it portable? This is important. You can do more with your notebook if you have it with you when inspiration strikes. I have a small black notebook that goes everywhere with me. I write in it at school, at home, in restaurants, and in waiting rooms. My dad caries a thin blue one in his shirt pocket. And ladies: the bigger the purse, the bigger the notebook you can take with you!

3. What do you want it to be? Think about what the purpose of your notebook is. My small one is my idea book; it has descriptions of places I go and people I meet. My book journal is, well, just for writing about the books that I read. And I turn to my personal journals when I've had a bad day. Before you start writing, ask yourself what your notebook means to you. You can use any of the ideas I list in this post exactly as they are, or you can change them and make them your own. Stretch my suggestions to fit your personal needs. If your notebook is all yours, finishing it will be all the more sweet.

And now, without further ado, here are some ideas to help fill those blank pages:

1. Make a list of: dog breeds, ice cream flavors, story ideas, all the things around you that are blue, crayon names (Ex: Caribbean Sky, Dorsal Fin Gray, etc.), interesting books you see in book stores, cool words, and character names.
2. Draw (no matter how bad you think you are): monsters, the person sitting next to you, a character you're thinking about, eyes, mouths, or hair cuts.
3. Write your bucket list. Close your eyes, run your finger down the page, and stop. Make a character in a story do whatever item your finger is pointing to. No cheating!
4. Write something from the point of view of something else. Anything else.
5. Write what you think the person nearest to you is thinking.
6. Draw a map and name all the roads and forests and rivers and lakes after people you know.
7. Put one character in several different settings. How do they react? What do they do differently (or the same) in each?
8. Write a story about a department store while in a department store.
9. Write down any interesting quotes you see, no matter where you are.
10. Glue these into the your journal: ticket stubs, receipts, coupons, random pieces of paper you find in parking lots, other people's grocery lists, polaroid photographs, fabric swatches, strange metal objects (flat, like washers), leaves, pressed flowers, and wood chips.
11. Reserve one page of your notebook for writing in glitter.
12. Make a list of everything you win from gum machines. 
13. Write letters (of the "Thank You" variety or not) to the following people: Your future self, your parents, your pets, your role model, your favorite celebrity, your favorite author, your favorite fictional character,  your favorite historical figure, and your elementary school teacher.
14. Try your hand at writing with a dip pen.
15. Write a poem inspired by whatever song you happen to be listening to at the moment. 
16. Create a virtual Facebook profile for one of your characters.
17. Reserve one page for writing completely in texting language. (Just make sure all your pages don't start looking like that!)
18. Reserve one page for all the words you misspelled on all the other pages, and place them next to their correct spellings. This could actually become a very useful tool.
19. Write down made-up words and their definitions. Who knows when you'll have to make up a new language for a project you're working on!
20. And finally, HAVE FUN!

Well, thats all I can think of, but I hope now you get the jist. Please let me know if this was helpful, and feel free to share any ideas you have in the comments. 

Wow! I didn't realize this post had gotten so long! Once again, thanks so much for reading :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I know I still haven't posted part two of my last post, but in the meantime, here's some words to get you through the day:

And I'll take this time to thank all you who have read and commented. It means a lot to me!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Confessions of a Notebook Addict (Part One)

Another lost soul :)
Picture this: You're in a book store. You wander past the coffee shop and browse the titles on the best seller table. You wonder how any author ever gets published, when there are already so many books in the world. Trying to escape the sinking feeling in your stomach you make a beeline for the stationary department. And then it hits you. The sight is like seeing the grand canyon for the first time, or staring at a field of wildflowers. Your breath is taken away for a moment and your heart skips a beat. Why? Because in front of you is a wall of journals and notebooks, big and small, with designs ranging from cutesy pictures of kittens to engraved leather bindings. But the best part is that they're all just sitting there, waiting to be taken home and filled to the brim with happy words and sad words and maybe some best seller worthy words. That realization is all it takes, and you're hooked. Like me.

I am notebook obsessed. Those empty pages are like a promise. A promise of all the good things I will ever write, all the ideas I will ever have. For more balanced people, a good notebook is something they choose with care, and once they have it, they use it. See, that's where having a notebook problem is a bad thing. After the first few pages of a new journal are used up, the promise is broken. Or at least not as magical. So I am constantly on the look out for new notebooks and fresh promises. At home, my notebook collection is overflowing- and almost none of them are filled up- most haven't even gotten past fifty pages. What's a girl to do?

Truth be told, I have improved somewhat. I have one journal that I've finished and another one that's almost done (put together they chronicle my life from 6th grade to present day-pretty impressive right?) and I have been working toward writing down ideas and tid bits of conversation in a small notebook that fits in my purse. Still, you only have to look in my bookshelves and under my bed to see the evidence of who I truly am- a notebook addict.

But wait! What's this? There's hope for all you other notebook addicts out there? That's right! In Part Two of this post I'll be giving you creative ideas for filling up all those empty  pages,  because even broken promises can be mended.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back to School!

Hey everyone-I guess it's time for an update, since I haven't written since July. Wow, it's really been that long! Expect to be hearing less of me after the 22nd, 'cause thats when school begins to make a meal of my life. Sounds appetizing, doesn't it?

Truthfully, I have nothing against learning. And I'm excited for this year especially because it looks like I'm going to have very good teachers. The classes I'm most looking forward to are Creative Writing (with my favorite teacher ever!) and English. No surprise there, right? I've also heard that the statistics teacher can work wonders for mathematically challenged students like me. Thats very, very good!

In my experience, it's always been about the teacher. If I can find someone who really loves their subject and loves sharing it with us, I'm happy. Not only does enthusiasm make class more interesting, but it also helps when you have to hunker down through four or five hours of homework every night. I want a teacher whose joy of learning and teaching is so contagious that it rubs off on everyone they meet. How come are these people so rare? 

Now, I know good teachers (and their level of enthusiasm) aren't the only factors in a successful education. There's a lot of hard work involved on the part of the student, and learning is as much a self governed activity as it is a guided one. Plenty of kids can survive a class where they are just taught the basics. Still, I know I always do better with a good teacher- and not necessarily one that can explain things so that I understand them the first time around. A good teacher, to me, is one that makes me want to learn more, someone who feeds my curiosity. Give me one of those, and by the next test, I'll be ready.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Stuff Every Writer Needs

Who knew writers were material girls (and guys)! In this post, I thought I'd compile a list of the little things that make writers tick. Enjoy!

  1. A Writing Space. Be it a table by a window, an attic bedroom, a regular spot at a coffee shop, a park bench, or a meticulously designed study just for us, a space dedicated to writing is every writer's dream. And the more time we can spend making it perfect, the less time we have to actually work!
  2. Books. And lots of them. Beside's food and water, this is the fuel that keeps our minds churning.
  3. A Computer. And typing skills. Enough said.
  4. A Lamp. Good lighting is essential to every writer's space. It is especially helpful when staying up late during NanoWriMo!
  5. A Good Pen. Every writer knows what they like in a pen. From fountain, to ballpoint, to gel tip, or even quill, something about this age old writing instrument draws us back time after time.
  6. A Good Notebook. To go with the pen. Make sure it's portable, and high quality. This is one of the writer's most important tools because we use it to trap those precious drops of inspiration that can fall at any moment. 
  7. A Typewriter. This is my personal favorite. What better way to get started in the morning that the smell of inky ribbon and the clack of the keys against the paper. There's something so permanent about it, like you're hammering your words into stone. Talk about a wake up call.
  8. A Dog. Or a cat. Though I'm not much of a cat person, any pet can make a difference in a writer's life. Who else will love you unconditionally, no matter how much bad poetry you recite for them?
  9. A Dictionary/Thesaurus (the old fashioned kind). While you can get this online and as a feature in many word processors, sometimes it's nice to have a real book to refer to. (See also: #2)
  10. A beach, forest, or other natural rest spot. When the going gets tough, or you just need a break from writing, choose a place where you can relax and recharge. 
Well there you have it, all the essentials. But remember, while it's fun to get caught up in the nit picky details when choosing items for our writer's toolbox, sometimes we have to let go of them for a little while a do what's really important. Write.

Photo Cred

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Novel in Progress is....Finally in Progress!

Hey Everyone! I've been in San Antonio these past five days, on a business trip with my parents, which is why I haven't been posting or commenting. Of course I've gone much longer stretches of time without posting or commenting, so this explanation falls short. My apologies. 

Anyway, while in San Antonio I began thinking about my novel, and how I've been afraid to start it or even take a step toward it for a while now. It took me a while to find a good idea. Actually I had a number of ideas, but some of them I lost interest in and couldn't move forward on, or I thought they weren't novel worthy enough. But I've finally settled on one. It may not even be a particularly good idea, but I'm interested in it, and thats what counts. During my little trip to San Antonio, I think I realized that my goal is really just to finish a novel, and I'll worry about publication later.

*sigh* What a breath of fresh air! For a while there I kept thinking way too far in advance, instead of just focusing on what I have to do right now, which is outline my story and then write it. And yes, I'm doing an outline. It's a slightly modified version of The Snowflake Method, which seemed like the best place to start for a beginning novelist like me. 

So, if you'd like to keep track of my progress....wait a while. Haha. It's going to take me a long time to finish the design documents, partly because I'm working on revising some short stories that are going into a Blurb book made by me and my very artistic best friend (a.k.a: VABF). My goal is to finish them by the time she gets back from an art workshop in Chicago (I'm so proud of her!!), so that we can start laying things out. So...that means my novel is on the back burners for now, but I will still be working on it whenever I can. 

And... I've been talking way too much. All you people out there have something to say! What are some projects that you're working on?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Life After Harry Potter

The first thing I thought when the screen went black and the credits began to roll at last nights midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, was, "I can't believe it's over." Somehow, this was not the reaction I had been expecting.

Maybe I thought I was prepared for the end. Maybe I went into denial and kept telling myself that Harry Potter couldn't end, that it would live forever. The more likely story is that I thought I would be so blown away by the last film that I would only be thinking about how good it was and not the fact that there will be no more of them. Ever.

Of course the movie was amazing. They did a fantastic job with it, which only made the end to the series that much more heart wrenching. During the last third of the movie I'm sure there was not a dry eyed person in the theatre, and the sound of sniffling was only interrupted by cheers for Molly Weasley when she defeats Bellatrix.

And now for the questions nobody can answer. Will Harry Potter live on? Will our children be reading our well worn copies of the books we cherished when we were kids? Or will there be another series in its place? No matter what happens, I think that Harry Potter will always be special to those who grew up with its characters. It will be remembered, not only for its wonderful writing or its world wide fame, but because it taught people everywhere to believe in magic.

Monday, July 4, 2011

How to Get the Most out of your 4th of July

We writers take holidays seriously. Not because we spend most of our time writing in our pajamas (if we're lucky) and holidays are the only time we get to dress up, but because holidays are a great way to get new material for stories. Right? Ok.

So, on that note I'm going to tell all you fellow writers out there how to get the most out of your 4th of July.

1. Go places. Ok, this may seem obvious, but for those of you who were planning on sitting at home doing nothing today, wake up! What better opportunity are you going to have to observe all those 4th of July party goers.

2. Bake. What's more patriotic that good ol' apple pie? Plus, you can get your mind off of writing for a little while you wait for inspiration to show up.

3. Spend time with family. And while you're at it, steal your favorite uncle into the back room and give him that manuscript you've been dying to show someone. (Just make sure he'll give you good advice!)

4. Crash a Barbecue. Ok, well you don't have to ruin the party, but definitely observe the happenings at your typical backyard grill fest. You never know when you may have to write a scene like that!

5. And finally, go see fireworks! Not only are fireworks essential to a successful 4th of July, but while you're at it why not do a character study of the hot dog vendor at the event. Who knows what stories will pop up?!

Well thats all for now. Hope you all have a great 4th of July!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Random Music Post #1

Well, it was bound to happen sometime! I told you in my first post that I was slightly obsessive about playing the piano, which (of course) makes me prone to random music posts on my otherwise writerly blog. 
This is a piece that I'm hoping to learn by the end of the summer- Schubert's Impromptu No. 2, Op. 90. Hope you enjoy it, and when I've learned it I'll post my own video (though I doubt it will be as epic as this!)  :D

Review: The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers

"The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothersis a rollicking and smart novel—mythic, mysterious and utterly compelling. Thomas Mullen shows us ourselves in his speculative historical fiction, and for readers who love great stories told beautifully, his books can't come fast enough."

—Jess Walter, author of The Financial Lives of the PoetsThe Zero, and Citizen Vince

It's rare to find a book that stays with you long after you read it. There are plenty of books that I think fondly about when the subject comes up, but only a few who's characters draw me back into their world at random intervals, making it impossible to think about anything else. A kind of haunting, but in a good way. ;)  To my surprise, I found that The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen is one of those books.

The basic premise is as follows: Jason and Whit Fireson cannot die. This is especially convenient because they also happen to be bank robbers in the 1930s. Interested yet? Even if this seems a little unbelievable, Mullen handles it so well that the reader instantly suspends their disbelief and is wrapped up the fast paced narrative. And, while I didn't want to have to use this phrase, I could not put the book down!

All of the characters were interesting and well drawn. I especially liked the conversations between Jason and Whit, which were natural and humorous. The book is wide ranging, and goes in depth into several more minor characters surrounding the brothers. I found myself rooting first for the brothers, then for the cops that are chasing them, then for the third brother who feels lost in the wake of the two family outlaws. The time period is also fairly well drawn, and the spirit of a desperate country during the  Great Depression is put together nicely with a few stark images here and there.

After reading the reviews on Amazon, I can see why some people would complain that the setting and time period were not as clear as they hoped, or that the moral situation of the two outlaws was not well expressed. While I can see where they're coming from, I choose not to be quite as picky. Overall, The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers was captivating and well written, with characters that I can hear in my head if I just close my eyes and listen. What reader could ask for more?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Inspiration 101

Ask just about any writer where they get their ideas (and believe me, I've asked this question one too many times), and they usually say something like, "everywhere," or "life," or maybe, "things that interest me." I usually thought their answers were pretty vague. What did they mean, "everywhere?" Everywhere could be anywhere! From coffee shops to outer space! The entire cosmos! 

And then I realized, that was the point. That's the reason we have to be observers. Ideas are all around us. It's just a matter of finding them. And while some people might know exactly where to go to find inspiration, I thought I'd offer what little advice I can to the rest of us who are well, feeling a little drained of ideas.

Here's my list of places to go when you're looking for inspiration:

1. Schools: Ok, so I know this might not be an option for everyone, but what better place is there for all the latest teenage gossip about who's broken up with who or why she's ignoring her supposedly best friend? There isn't. So at the risk of looking creepy, try taking a spin around your local high school. It's worth it!

2. Coffe Shops: It used to be that coffee shops were the center of business and politics. The people who went there talked to each other, and the idea of someone sitting by themselves without talking to strangers was practically nonexistent. Even though nowadays you might not always strike up a conversation with another random coffee shop customer, you can still eavesdrop and get good ideas! Its also a great place to actually write, too.

3. Downtown Office Buildings: I for one find it fascinating to watch people do what they do every day, which is work. Maybe you'll catch the security guard checking Facebook from her phone, or you'll see someone who looks like he could be a CEO taking in the view from the eighteenth floor observation lobby. All in all this is an unconventional but effective place to be inspired.

4. Art Galleries/Museums: When not people watching, sometimes writers can be inspired by   other types of art. Plus, museums are a great place to take a nice, relaxing break, while still feeding your creativity.

5. Movie Theatres: This is another great people watching venue. If you can't make it to a school, going to the movies on a Friday night gives the same effect.

6. Parks/Wild Life Reserves: Sometimes we can be inspired by the beauty of nature, or an idea pops up while we are spending some alone time in the woods. Also, a new environment, one we're not used to, can be just the thing to get the creative juices flowing.

7. Dreams: While dreams aren't exactly a place (although I know some people who might argue the opposite), they are great places for inspiration. I was reading recently about an author (her name escapes me at the moment), who dreamed she would write a bestselling novel, and she eventually did. Many people have told me to keep a notebook by my bed so I can write down my dreams, but all my dreams are usually forgotten by the time my dog is done licking my face to get me to wake up.

Well, thats about all I can think of at the moment. What places do you go for inspiration?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Writing vs. Living

Teenagers are social creatures. Not that I profess to be overly social. In fact I'm rather introverted, and often prefer to be doing things alone, like reading and writing. Oops. I guess I just proved myself wrong. Well, count me as the exception to the rule.

Now. Most teenagers are social creatures. We like to hang out, talk on the phone, and go to crowded movie theaters on Friday night. So where does writing fit in? And what about the opposite end of the scale? What about the people who are so submerged in their craft that their family hardly ever sees them, let alone long standing or potential friends?

Here's an example: My best friend is an amazing artist. Like, amazing isn't even a strong enough adjective to describe how good she is. Because she's just that amazing! But I digress... Anyway, she goes to this school that specializes in the arts and she gets bucket loads of drawing assignments. It used to be that her parents wouldn't let her go places unless she had finished a certain number of sketchbook pieces. It seems to me that any artist, no matter how good, needs to have normal life experiences as well as practicing their art. And that really boils to what this post is all about.

I guess what made me think about this today was the time that I spent with my friends in the afternoon and then playing with my dog. I said in the my last post that summer is the only time that I can really write. Well, it's also the best time to really live.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Diary of a First Time Novelist

Dear Diary,
        It's me again! As you may have heard from the pages of my other (countless) notebooks, I got it into my head that this was the summer that I was going to write a novel. Having never written a novel before, the whole process seems terribly daunting. So far I have a basic outline of the plot, and several in depth character sketches. I started writing a couple days ago, and it's going ok, but I find that I can't write for long periods of time. Maybe it's my inner editor kicking in, telling me everything has to be perfect the first time around. I know I shouldn't expect perfection, but it's hard for me to loosen up and just write. What should I do? But then again, why am I asking you this question? You're just a dumb diary :)


There you have it folks. This teenage writer is attempting a novel. Not that I haven't tried before. I've thought about taking part in NaNoWriMo, but school work pretty much takes over my life in the fall. Summer is the only time I get any real writing done. If you'd like to keep tabs on my progress, look for the picture of the typewriter on the left. 

Oh! And before I forget, let me bring your attention momentarily to the new page features. (Yay! Are you excited? 'Cause I am.) To your left you will see a place where you can follow me, a box that tells the (rather discouraging) word count of my novel-in-progress, and finally a list of blogs that I found interesting, and hope you will too. Now, if you look to your right, you will see the Daily Photo Prompt, my profile, categories, and archives. And up at the top is a quote that I thought was pretty cool.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about my writing struggles, but I'd also like to hear about yours. What work-in-progress is giving you the most trouble right now? And how do you overcome the hopeless desire for perfection?

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Hi. This is me. In leu of a more formal introduction, here are ten things I know to be true:

1. I'm a teenager, but not an angsty one. On the contrary I'm quite a happy person.
2. I love reading, and writing. I'll read anything and write about whatever new idea most interests me at the moment. (This is also the reason I have trouble finishing most works in progress.)
3. I play the piano, and can be minorly obsessive about it at times, especially movie themes. I love to play movie themes.
4. I have an unexplainable phobia of taking medicine. First it was the icky liquid stuff and even today I still have to get into a certain mindset before getting up the courage to swallow a pill. 
5. I don't watch very much programmed TV, but I've been subjected to countless movies. (My family is a big fan of Netflix)
6. Summer is the best time of year. No exceptions.
7. I am the proud owner of a 1930's typewriter (a Remette), which was a fifth grade graduation present and, I have found, an instant crowd pleaser.
8.  Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate? Most definitely Dark.
9. I'm running out of things to say. Maybe I'll sneak in a reference to Because of Winn-Dixie and leave this list at nine.

So yeah. Now you know more about me. As far as this blog is concerned, it's mostly going to be about writing and books and possibly a few random music posts. It is also about conquering the ever present blank page, and freeing yourself with words. Because isn't that what writing's all about?