Be careful when you tell your own story.

These stories we tell about ourselves– they’re almost like our infrastructure, like railroads or highways. We can build them almost any way we want to. But once they’re in place, this whole inner landscape grows up around them. So maybe the point here is that you should be careful about how you tell your story, or at least conscious of it. Because once you’ve told it, once you’ve built the highway, it’s just very hard to move it. Even if your story is about an angel who came out of nowhere and saved your life, even then, not even the angel herself can change it.

 

-Michael Lewis, http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/504/how-i-got-into-college?act=2#play

 

Michael Lewis really is a great non-fiction writer. I think this is one of the best segments on This American Life that I’ve heard in a while. It fascinates me how something from reality can be presented in such a poetic and poignant manner. I tend to read and to write fiction, but  drafting a story that has already happened takes away some of the burden of fabrication. Something to consider.

Struggle and Appreciate

I’ll leave you with two pieces of advice: Choose to struggle with something — we live in a culture of the quick and easy and it has made us impatient and lazy. When you commit to something that takes work and see it through to the end, it will develop you as much as you develop it. Second, invest in art — I am not just suggesting my art, but any art that you like. We are a society that looks at everything and beholds nothing. Good art is something to behold and will bring you a sense of peace and stillness in a world in constant motion.

 

-Jake Weidman, one of only 11 “Master Penman

NaNoWriMo 2012!

It begins! A new year, a new novel, a new chance to reach my dream. I’m cheating this year, though, because I’ve planned this novel for quite a while now. I’m sure I will still be discovering new parts to it that I never planned for. Also, I’m giving myself a December 31 deadline. 1000 words a day is much more reasonable on my schedule. (I have a career-changing exam on December 1 to study for as well).

Remind me to stop buying books. My queue of acquired-but-not-yet-read novels is starting to burst out of my single cubby bookshelf.

Synopsis for the NaNoWriMo project:

The Fidellan queen has been replaced by a doppelganger, her soul evicted from her body by a dark magic that can only be defeated if Prince Derig finds the key. With the help of his magic locket-compass, he discovers the rather obtuse yet alluring Saria along with her wise-cracking crow and unruly, rebellious shadow. Together, they brave the wild country of Fidela, meeting with a cast of diverse characters and arcane puzzles that will bring them closer to saving the queen, the realm and to each other.

Book Review: The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

Lately, I’ve been obsessively wallowing on GoodReads. The lady in the Young Adult section of Half Price Books knows my face. Recently, I picked up the Newbery-medaled book The Thief and zipped through the ensuing sequels. Here are my thoughts on the third book in The Queen’s Thief series:The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

Continue reading Book Review: The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

History Matters and is Beautiful, Even to Fiction Writers

Books remind me that I will never be truly satisfied with my level of knowledge. In high school, I was particularly weak in the areas of history and geography because I was so concerned with changing the future with math and science that I figured things of the past, things that were not subject to change by my hand in my lifetime, were secondary to my education. But I was wrong, incredibly wrong.

History is more vital to me as a person and a writer and a creative mind than I ever knew. Math and science have become perfunctory now – equally important, but just… more of my day job. History places us in context. It manipulates our experience of art, anchors the stories, and if framed properly, can be just as enjoyable as something fictional.

I’ve been reading Rubicon – The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic, a narrative history by Tom Holland. The book has awakened my appreciation for history. Be amazed at Holland’s expertly-crafted opening paragraphs:

In the beginning, before the Republic, Rome was ruled by kings. About one of these, a haughty tyrant by the name of Tarquin, an eerie tale was told. Once, in his palace, an old woman came calling on him. In her arms she carried nine books. When she offered these to Tarquin, he laughed in her face, so fabulous was the price she was demanding. The old woman, making no attempt to bargain, turned and left without a word. She burned three books, and then reappearing before the King, offered him the remaining volumes, still at the same price as before. A second time, although with less self-assurance now, the King refused, and a second time the old woman left. By now, Tarquin had grown nervous about what he might be turning down, and so then the mysterious crone reappeared, this time holding only three books, he hurriedly bought them, even though he had to pay the price originally demanded for all nine. Taking her money, the old woman then vanished, never to be seen again.

Who had she been? Her books proved to contain prophecies of such potency that the Romans soon realised the only one woman could possibly have been their author – the Sibyl… only two things could be asserted with any real confidence – that her books, inscribed with spidery and antique Greek, certainly existed, and that within them could be read the pattern of events to come. The Romans, thanks to Tarquin’s belated eye for a bargain, found themselves with a window to the future of the world.

Thoughts on Cashore’s Bitterblue Preview

Kristin Cashore is one of my favorite authors. She adores The Hunger Games. By transitive property, I am also supposed to enjoy Suzanne Collin’s work, but somehow, I can’t get into it. I’m just not a fan of dystopian novels and as strong and noble as Katniss appears, I consider her emotionally stunted and somehow frustrating to read about. I may revise my opinion when I finish reading the books, but as of this moment, the trilogy is set aside on my bookshelf.

Anyway, back to Kristin Cashore, who wrote Graceling and Fire, two great romantic fantasy young adult novels that feature two very different female leads. I highly recommend Graceling to anyone who enjoys a bit of adventure, survival, intrigue and romance wrapped up in a glorious and enchanting world.

Her third book, Bitterblue, is about one of the characters introduced in Graceling. I’m not sure what reasoning led Ms. Cashore into naming her character with such a strange compound word, but perhaps when the book is released this May, it will reveal itself. For now, the prologue and first chapter preview is available on Amazon and I wanted to express my initial reactions.

Continue reading Thoughts on Cashore’s Bitterblue Preview

Sanderson’s Warbreaker and Writing Motivation

***Spoiler Alert!***

Jump to the /end spoiler tag if you don’t want to ruin Warbreaker for yourself. You aren’t supposed to know that these two characters meet until deep into the book.

Continue reading Sanderson’s Warbreaker and Writing Motivation