"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, June 15, 2013

On Expectation vs. Reality

Photo Spread: Ms. Butterfly on Tumblr. Movie: 500 Days of Summer

If anyone knows the feeling that reality never lives up to our expectations, it's writers. We rely on our imaginations to give us story ideas and interesting characters and plot twists, so it's no surprise that we also spend inordinate amounts of time imagining just how great our stories are going to be once they get on the page. Or at least, I do. It's writers who must deal with the constant disappointment of not having the words on the page come even close to the potential the story held when it was just in our heads.

I was talking to my mom about this the other day, and she said something which I thought made a lot of sense. When you think about it, the story in your head doesn't really matter. Sure, that idea is the catalyst for what you put on the page, but its importance pretty much stops there. After that, all that matters is the real story. That's the story that will be worked on and labored over. That's the story that will go through actual critiques and have actual readers. What's the good of clinging to what your story could have been when you have the real one right in front of you?

Of course you can tell yourself this all you want and it won't make up for the fact that the real story will never be as good as the imagined one. But maybe we should stop putting so much emphasis on the imagined story. Maybe we should shelve it in the backs of our minds once it's given us that first spark of inspiration and focus on the task at hand, which is learning to appreciate the real story, and the work that goes into it, even though it will never be the same as the one in our heads. This is all easier said than done. Still, I think it's worth a try. As Maureen Johnson puts it: Dare to suck. I'd also add: Dare to embrace reality. Even if it sucks. A lot.

If this post was helpful or confusing or you have more thoughts on this subject, don't hesitate to leave comment!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Summer Reading

I had so many posts planned for today. I wanted to finally give you a recap of my trip to New York. I wanted to write a response to Stephanie Morrill's post about wether or not teen writers should have a blog. I wanted to review the amazing and perplexing book The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma. But as I was staring at my newly re-arranged bookshelves, and at the stacks of books still littering my floor, I realized that there was only one post I could write today, and it's largely  for myself. I hope you find it mildly interesting, and I promise to have at least one of the aforementioned posts up by the end of the week. Here, without further ado, is the list of books I want to read this summer.*

1. When a Crocodile Eats the Sun by Peter Godwin (required summer reading)
2. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
3. Ready, Okay! by Adam Cadre
4. You Are One of Them by Elliot Holt
5. The Disappointment Artist by Jonathan Lethem (started)
6. A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor
7. Seabuiscut by Laura Hillenbrand
8. Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
9. Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro
10. The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont
11. Birds of a Lesser Paradise by Megan Mayhew Bergman

* It is completely possible that I will not finish all of these before mid-august, but I'm going to try! 

What books are you reading this summer? No, really. I'd like to know. 

Also, side note: How freaking awesome is it that I actually have time to read anything? I love summer.