Snowflake, Aaron Burden

New year, new you? Just focus.

I don’t like making New Year’s resolutions. Inevitably I keep none of them. I rarely make it even a few months. Weeks, even, sometimes. Yet every year I still think that maybe, just maybe, this year will be the year I keep all of my resolutions.

Thinking on that, I don’t like the word ‘resolution.’ I prefer the idea of goals. And I don’t think that any goals I make for 2016 will be transformative. They might broaden my reading horizons. They might urge me to finish something or try something new for me. They might anticipate things I already know I’ll slack on. But they won’t change me. I don’t mean to sound negative about all of this though I know it’s coming across that way.

The way I see it, each year brings new opportunities. For me, the opportunities I want to take are those that revolve around things I already like doing or things I want to be doing. For instance, I read a lot and love doing it, so I want to make some goals about my reading list. Or goals with cooking or writing, things I already do and love. Another example is exercise. I hate exercising. In New York City, it was so easy because I walked everywhere and up and down steps every day. Now, I’m being a bit hypocritical to my own opinions here because I have actually added an exercise goal to my 2016 list, but it’s one I already know I’ll fail. On the other hand, I know I won’t fail my reading and writing and cooking goals.
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Quotes Notebook

Being a quote-keeper

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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Sunshine, by Virginia Sanderson / flickr

Taking a chance

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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Dandelion wish, by John Liu / flickr

What I Wish

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.

Sour Patch Kids, photo by Sarah Reck

What is wrong with me

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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