I’m a sporadic quote keeper.
I have a small Moleskine notebook set aside just for quotes, and while it’s nearly full, I don’t use it as often as I mean to. The last book I recorded a quote from was Andy Miller’s A Year of Reading Dangerously, which was my first read of 2015. It’s now June.
I love finding a quote in what I’m reading that stands out and speaks to me louder than all the other words. Sometimes I can go through a book and find a hundred phrases and passages I want to save, too many really, and sometimes I can pick out one and sometimes none at all.
Finding one or none or a hundred doesn’t matter when it comes to my quote keeping. I don’t write everything down. If my notebook isn’t handy, I won’t write it down. If I’m reading an eBook or a library book and can’t underline or want to take the time to figure out how to highlight on my tablet, I won’t save the quote. A quote has to be ridiculously outstanding for me to scribble it on a post-it or type it into a draft email.
In fact, writing that made me recall that I’ve had a quote saved in my email since January. I’m recording it into my notebook now. I also have 28 quotes saved to this blog that randomly refresh in the sidebar. I should add more, and I will. In fact, I just added the quote I mentioned here. (It’s from Bill Bryson, who is a one of my most-quoted writers, because everything he says is amazing and I would just dictate everything he’s written down if I could.)
Keeping quotes is important. It’s important as a reader and as a writer to have an archive of quotes that meant something in a moment.
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When Swoon Reads launched, I was nearly done with The Rules of Summer Camp. I still had revisions and writing group and some re-working to do, but I was almost there. Also, I wanted to submit to agents, as I’d done with previous novels. But I didn’t stop thinking about and considering Swoon Reads. Because I really, really like what they’re doing.
Swoon Reads publishes YA love stories with the help of their reader community. Basically, writers can submit their novels to the site and the community of readers reads the books, comments on them, rates them, and hopefully enjoys them. Then the team there makes publishing decisions based on the novels and the community. I don’t want to call it crowd-sourcing, because it isn’t, but it is definitely a community of readers with one thing in common: love of YA romance.
Swoon Reads is a place for the sort of YA books that I like to read. Fun, contemporary YA romance. It doesn’t have to be heavy or issue-driven. Maybe even something that can be described as “cute.” Something light to take to the beach or on a road trip. Something that a teenage girl (who I imagine being a lot like I was at that age) can escape in to for 250 pages and leave on the other end with a smile on her face and warmth in her heart and a flutter in her stomach.
And the best part is, that’s what The Rules of Summer Camp is to me. I’m glad that Swoon Reads gives this kind of novel a chance.
So I’ve considered for a while whether or not I wanted to submit it.
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I wish I could finish this novel.
I wish I wanted to start something new.
I wish I didn’t have so many ideas that will never be written.
I wish I didn’t get jealous easily.
I wish I was published.
I wish I didn’t love to write so much.
I wish I felt motivated to write.
I wish I didn’t get discouraged every time I read a new book.
I wish I was hopeful and optimistic again.
I wish I felt like I was good at this.
I wish I could get out of this slump.
I wish I didn’t have to write this list at all.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Everything points to the fact that I could have had this novel finished by April 1 and now April 1 is tomorrow and I’m not going to have it done.
The editing is done. By hand, at least. I have one chapter edited that still needs to be transferred to the computer. I’m still missing two scenes and need to finish two other scenes. And for the last month I simply haven’t done it. I don’t even have any excuses. I’ve had the time. I know what to write. It’s not like I have to invent the scenes or figure out where they go. I know all of this.
I just haven’t written them.
That’s not entirely true. I started the “Grand Canyon scene” and have two pages filled in my Moleskine, written over two different writing sessions. I also started to finish the awkward car scene this morning (fittingly) in the car via Google Voice which is always hilarious. (A good example is that I said “geocache” and it translated it to “AG of hash”.)
(Update: After writing and scheduling this post, I hunkered down and crunched out the rest of the awkward car scene in the car again. Still have to edit away Google Voice’s hilarious translation, but that at least leaves me with 1 1/2 or 2/12 scenes left, depending on what I end up with…)
But that’s it. I need to write less than 3,000 words and I’m coming up relatively empty.
So I ask again: what is wrong with me?
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Some days (most days) I want to stop writing.
To be honest, I’m not where I thought I’d be. I don’t know if I could have told you point-blank what I thought I’d be doing at 31 years old, but I had a few ideas. Married with kids, probably a stay-at-home mom, writing, a book (or two) published. But I have none of those things. I’m single, living alone, working 40+ hours a week. Writing-wise, I have a hell of a lot of rejections, no agent, and a huge heaping hole that hope once filled.
I’m not writing this for sympathy. I’m not writing this for anyone’s encouragement. I’m writing this as a confession because it’s hard for me sometimes to come to terms with this. It’s hard for me to keep writing when all I can see in front of me is more rejections, another discarded novel, ideas piling up, time and energy spent on doing what I love without the chance of it going out there into the world for everyone to enjoy.
I feel like I don’t have the time because I have a full-time job and have to work every day and when I get home and on the weekends the last thing I want to do is work on a novel. I feel like every time I see another 16-year-old or 20-year-old or early-20-something with their debut, second, third, fourth novels, that I’ve missed my window. I’m too old, too busy, too — something.
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