A Year Without Books

It’s been months again, but it hardly seems any time has passed since I last posted. The last few months have been hellacious, physically and emotionally. Suffice it to say, writing has been far from my mind because of it. I was in a huge downward spiral of depression and angst with no sign of letting up.

Then my doctor put me on a thyroid medication and it was spook how, in less than 24 hours, I turned 180 degrees and started putting one foot in front of the other again. I’ve known for a long time that I had thyroid problems, but the doctors insisted because my blood tests were “normal,” I couldn’t possibly have a thyroid issue. But the results of taking this new medication prove them all wrong.

Now I’m slowly getting back into a writerly groove and I’m thankful. I’ve missed it.

But I’ve also spent FAR too much money on books this year. People may say that’s impossible, but when I’m feel down or blue or anxious, buying books is my sanity. Especially spending an hour or two browsing through a huge bookstore. Very little is more calming to me than that.

However, I know I’ve spent far and away what I should have, and I need to get it under control.

So, beginning October 1st, I will be giving up buying books for a whole year.

How is this possible? Won’t I run out of new books to read. *scoff* Hardly. I have a couple thousand books for my shelves and haven’t read at least 1/3 to 1/2 of them. Not to mention all the books on my Kindle. And this will get me at least a tiny bit caught up on my TBR list. Not all the way, but at least making some headway.

But I’d like to get your advice: are there any books you know of that are coming out soon, will be forthcoming in the next year, or any favorites you recommend that I just won’t be able to live without for a year? 🙂 I have a wide range of tastes in reading, so I’m fairly open.

Shoot ’em at me before I go cold turkey in a few weeks.

Happy writing and reading!

 

“Sometimes, looking at the many books I have at home, I feel I shall die before I come to the end of them, yet I cannot resist the temptation of buying new books. Whenever I walk into a bookstore and find a book on one of my hobbies — for example, Old English or Old Norse poetry — I say to myself, “What a pity I can’t buy that book, for I already have a copy at home.”
Jorge Luis Borges, This Craft of Verse

“How many cities have revealed themselves to me in the marches I undertook in the pursuit of books!”
Walter Benjamin, Illuminations: Essays and Reflections

“To build up a library is to create a life. It’s never just a random collection of books.”
Carlos María Domínguez, The House of Paper

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Writing Without Regrets

It has been brought home to me of late the fragility of life and how little time we actually have in this world.

A few weeks ago, my only remaining grandparent, my dad’s mom, passed away at the age of 81.

Last night, one of my best friend’s grandma’s was given less than 48 hours to live.

Working in the medical field, death is something I see almost every day. In the past six months, at least two dozen of the people I treated as a physical therapist in the hospital passed away, many of whom I’d gotten to know.

Dwelling on death can be crippling, but it’s also made me realize I shouldn’t have any regrets. Eighty-one seems young to me, since I see many people live far past that age. On the other hand, I’ve known too many people who’ve passed far short of that age.

I’ve decided to take on a new stance regarding my writing due to all this personal experience with death lately: I shall not regret a word I’ve written, good or bad, positive or negative. Every bit of my writing has shaped me into the creative artist I am today.

What about you? Do you regret anything you’ve written?

Happy writing, my friends.

 

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

“It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.”
Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

Frozen Writer

So many times I’ve heard people talk about how some of the best writers struggled with depression, angst, anxiety, and a variety of other psychological disorders, and that their difficulties fueled their writing. This past 12 months have been hellish for me with various health scares and concerns and I’ve been struggling through the pits of depression and anxiety.

Apparently, I am NOT in the hallowed group of depressed performers. When I’m going through a rough patch emotionally or psychologically, I do not perform well.

In fact, what comes out of me is either nothing–from being frozen by my issues–or the worst junk ever to hit paper/screen.

Does anybody else agree with me on this? I think I’ve read a couple books on writing that agree with me, but history often says otherwise.

Without a doubt, my best writing comes when I am happy, upbeat, rested, relaxed, etc. Even the dark scenes come best when I’m mentally in a good place.

What about you? When do you do your best writing? Does emotional state affect your writing ability, or put you solidly in a freeze?

Happy writing, or, perhaps, any writing? 🙂

 

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”
T.H. White, The Once and Future King

“Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?”
John Keats, Letters of John Keats

“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”
C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Bologna 2017 Book Fair

Right now, the Bologna Book Fair is taking place in Bologna, Italy. What an exciting prospect!

The Bologna Book Fair is an annual event that gives agents, editors, publishers, etc., to find new talent, new trends, and acquire new rights. It sounds fabulous. While reading about it, I found this article that relates what current agents and publishers will be looking for at the Fair in regards to children and young adult books. Which is my area of writing emphasis.

Hands down, the most sought after reads will be from marginalized and diverse authors. Most of the agents in the article mention this as a popular trend, but I hope it’s far more than a trend. It should be here to stay and continue to grow so publishing and readership becomes more well-rounded and culturally diverse. That is the society in America. Diverse. Varying. Ever-changing.

It also looks like YA fantasy will be much harder to break into in the next couple of years. That makes sense, though, given all the break-out hits of the past ten years. The bar is much higher.

However, middle grade fantasy is on the upswing, which is good news for yours truly, and YA contemporary is, as well.

Of course, the current political climate was also mentioned and how this will influence the writing wave of the next few years. I don’t doubt it one iota.

I look forward to seeing what comes about after this Fair! I only wish I could go!

What kinds of books are you hoping to see in the near future? Any genre or age group specifically?

Happy writing!

“Yeah, well, we’re all writers, aren’t we? He’s a writer that hasn’t been published, and I’m a writer who hasn’t written anything.”
Steve Martin, Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Other Plays

“I wrote a book. It sucked. I wrote nine more books. They sucked, too. Meanwhile, I read every single thing I could find on publishing and writing, went to conferences, joined professional organizations, hooked up with fellow writers in critique groups, and didn’t give up. Then I wrote one more book.”
Beth Revis

Opposing Views

Hello, again, bloggy friends!

The past year has been a nutty one, and I’m shamefully returning to the blogging scene. I’m taking a page out of a friend’s blog and trying to make writing goals for each month.

If you don’t know her, Indigo Wood is amaze-sauce. Truly. A fabulous friend and amazing writing buddy. Go visit her.

Anywho, recently I undertook a massive project to completely revamp my fantasy series. I know I’ve said that before with multiple re-writes, but this is actually a re-think from the beginning. Similar ideas, but plot and overarching series arc is different.

In an effort to bring about the best writing I can muster, I read two different books on writing (from my impressive collection of books on writing), and I wanted to recommend them both.

However, they’re polar opposites in views. But I think that’s a good thing.

The first one is Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish by James Scott Bell.

Essentially, he wrote a book for people who think they can’t learn how to write. How he learned to write and the techniques from start to finish for completing a book. Including how to plot, finding ideas, structuring a successful novel, etc.

I literally took notes on this book as if it were a class on writing and found some AMAZING ideas for my new plot in the process. This was a life-changing read.

On the other hand, I’m not the most structured writer and feel too confined when following specific guidelines. So I also read Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules by Steven James. A solid book for pantsers or semi-pantsers, like me.

All about breaking out of the structural guidelines that other books purport to be essential to the writing process. Actually, I felt like he was taking a few digs at Scott Bell’s book, directly, but maybe that was just me.

Both of these books offered great advice and two different takes on successful writing. Depending on your mood, ideals, personality, etc, one of these would work for you. I recommend reading them both to get a well rounded concept of how to write, if you’re struggling.

 

Happy writing to all!

 

“In fact, one could argue that the skill of the fiction writer boils down to the ability to exploit intensity.”
James Scott Bell, Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish

“Organic writers are never directionless because we can always work on scenes that fulfill the promises we’ve made earlier in the story or go back and foreshadow the fulfillment of promises we think of as the story takes shape.”
Steven James (Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules)

A Reading Challenge

Hello again!!

What a year 2016 was, and I’m SO glad it’s over. I’ve been quite absent on the blogosphere, but never fear! That was mostly due to many health issues that plagued me over the year and the corresponding depressive/anxious states that occurred alongside them.

I’m truly hoping to return to a more active presence here this year. Starting with…

A reading challenge! Created by one of my fellow bloggy/writing friends, John Guillen.

I did his reading challenge last year, as well, and I think this one will be even better! Last year I completed the challenge just by the sheer number of books I read (313), but this year, I’m planning it out a little more, so I have one book for every challenge listed.

I hope you partake! And go visit John’s blog ASAP! He always has something interesting to say about reading and writing and books. I’ve been a follower for years.

Happy 2017 everyone!

In 2016 I hosted my very own reading challenge for the first time. Of course I didn’t even complete it myself. So now I’m upping the stakes! Last year’s challenge included 20 books. This year’s includes 25. Branch out and read along with me as 2017 unfolds and I continue to diversify my habits. Take […]

via 2017 Reading Challenge Announcement! — Johnny Reads

Blogging Slump

That’s right. I admit it.

I’ve been in a blogging slump. I just haven’t felt like blogging lately, but I’m totally okay with that. I do miss my bloggy buddies as most of you are the reason d’être that I started branching out into reading and writing other things.

But I’ve been focused on writing, reading, more reading, tons more writing, and a little sleeping/working knocked in there somewhere.

On top of that, this week is my last week at my current contract before I head to Maine for the spring/summer.

I’m too stressed right now to be 100% excited because I have so much to do before then, plus I’ve been dealing with some medical issues lately–the last three months, really–but haven’t mentioned it to anybody until last week. And the docs don’t know what it is. So. Yay.

Anywho…

A quick update on my life: I’m 60-some books into my 115 book goal for the year, reading-wise, but that doesn’t include books I’ve already re-read since the beginning of the year. If I did, that number would be in the high 70s.

I did a complete 100k rewrite in six weeks and I won a couple auctions through a literary agency and am getting feedback on my query letter, first 10 pages, and first 50 pages, from three different agents. Squee!! I’m most excited about that. How often do you get that opportunity?!?!?!!

 

What’s going on in your lives, my bloggy pals? I’ll update with more pictures and try to get back on the blogging bandwagon, especially since I signed up for Camp NaNo in April to help me finish the second book in my MG fantasy series.

Hugs and happy writing/reading to all!

 

“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.
That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”
― Octavia E. Butler
“A normal reader reads to enjoy, a writer is in training”
― Bangambiki HabyarimanaThe Great Pearl of Wisdom

“You must write as if each word is a precious drop of blood, or a tear to be saved in a glass phial.”
― Chloe ThurlowKatie in Love