Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Just Slightly Off

I have tons to say, but am unable to put it into words today.

Isn't that interesting?

It's as though I am just slightly off.

I've been listening to a song on repeat for a couple hours, hoping for some inspiration.

None has arrived. And so, this week, it seems, I leave you without any That Girl Tyson.

The song has put me in the oddest of moods. Part melancholy and part happiness.

Heart-breakingly beautiful.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lazy Writing

When it comes to reading, I can overlook a lot of things. Adverbs don't bother me, not even when they are in speech tags. Sometimes I enjoy flowery prose. I can handle head hopping and even some plot holes. At times, I will even overlook cliches, because sometimes they fit better than explaining it a different way.

But there is one thing that irritates me to high hell and I can't look past.

Personal pronoun starts.

Don't think I'm dumb. Every book/novel/manuscript has them, but it's the amount of them that gets on my nerves. When I see a paragraph and five out of eight sentences start with: he, she, I, or a name, it makes me want to scream.

In my opinion, this is lazy writing. And it isn't necessary!

When I write, I try not to use more than one per paragraph. Yes, I actually make a conscious effort to do this. Why? Because I don't want a boring book. I want people to sink into my writing and not be yawing over all the things he/she are doing.

It's almost as though people don't know how many alternative ways there are to start a sentence. So, I'm going to help out and list ten other ways to do so: 

1. Article - The girl sat on the bus.

2. Noun - Rain soaked through his jacket.

3. Interjection - Oh, he knew what he was doing.

4. Participial phrase - Running after her, he stumbled and fell.

5. Conjunction - Either she wanted to be with him or she didn't.

6. Adverb - Stubbornly, he crossed his arms.

7. Adjective - Upset over what had happened, he refused to speak to anyone.

8. Prepositional Phrase - At the top of the stairs, he turned around.

9. Infinitive Phrase - To pour out his soul to the woman he loved was his goal.

10. Gerund - Shouting was the only thing that worked.

These examples were written on the fly. Don't judge me on them.

I am not pedantic. Nor am I a grammar Nazi. To be honest, I'm not even all that picky. But Personal Pronoun starts are the bane of my existence. (That's a cliche!) Not only will adjusting how you start your sentence make your writing stronger, but it will also improve the readability of your novel. Oh, it also increases the fluidity of your narrative.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

No Faith

I don't work with children.
For some reason, I felt that needed to be stated before we continued. It's important for you to know that. It is. If you didn't know this tiny little fact then the rest of the blog might actually be lost on you.
Oh, I also don't work with people with special needs.
Although, it isn't lost on me that working with people with special needs would be more rewarding and, at times, easier than working with some of the people I interact with on a day-to-day basis. 
Of course, I am not talking about certain individuals. No, I am casting a general net over the whole company. 
None of them are special needs. Well, not that I know of.
So, there you have it. I do not work with children or people with special needs. Nor do I work with children with special needs.
To be blunt, I work with adults who drive to work, have children, function relatively easily, don't have to overcome too many hurdles when they get out of bed, and who, as a general rule, are able to understand the concept of personal hygiene.
Or so I thought.
Our place of employment has posted signs near every sink for our convenience.
They look like this:

Do you see why it was important to stress who I don't work with?
Children don't know how to wash their hands. Not adults.
But apparently, they don't.
I have absolutely no faith in people anymore. If they can't handle a simple task such as washing their hands then what else are they incapable of doing. Every time I look at these signs I feel a bit of rage rise up in the back of my throat.
You see, I learned how to wash my hand when I was about four years old. Granted, I wasn't the most diligent at that age, but I still understand the concept of getting my hands clean.
The really disturbing part of these posters popping up is that they make me wonder what happened to make the big guys in the fancy offices decide we need them? My mind rampages through all the possibilities.
Oh, the horror.
It leaves me positively disturbed, and only furthers my desire to, one day, be able to work from home, behind my little desk, weaving wonder tales in Microsoft Word.
At first I was surprised by this, but I really shouldn't have been. After all, we are talking about people who don't seem to understand the importance of flushing toilets. But that's a story for another time.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

All Worthwhile

Some days the Internet is too much to handle. It's too time consuming and I question what the point of it is.

Then someone swings by my Facebook page and posts a comment that makes it all worthwhile.

 Thank you, M.M Bennetts.

I have yet to stop laughing.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Wary Romantic


For the most part, I scoff and shake my head. Sometimes I even throw in an eye-roll for good measure. My ex used to joke about me being unfeeling because I'd laugh at emotional scenes on television or in movies. It's not that I have a rock under my ribcage. It's because, to me, that love isn't real. It's forced. It's contrived. It's Hollywood's way of giving us unrealistic expectations.

Don't get me wrong. People can be loving and caring. People can make the 'grand gesture'. Women (and men) the world over get swept off their feet daily. People are content. Hell, people are even happy.

But from personal experience, from years of being not only an active participant but a silent observer, love is a hard thing to find and an even harder thing to hold on to.

The beginning. We love the beginning. If life could be filled with only the beginning of falling in love we would all be a lot happier. It's sweet. It's fun. It's romantic. Oh, so romantic. We are blinded by the other person, completely consumed by them. We would walk across broken glass to feel their fingers butterfly over our cheek. Things are easy.

And we make promises. Promises we can't keep. We tell them we will love them forever, that they're the only one for us, and we say will always be there for them.

Things change though. Times get harder. Hurdles are set up in our paths. We stumble, we fall, we reach out in hopes of being helped up and find ourselves grasping at only air. We come home grumpy. We let the stress of our jobs screw with the contents of our hearts. We draw ourselves a bath and hang our heads and cry.

And we start wondering what it is we are doing. We start wondering who the person lying next to us each night. Some of us will try to change them, to mould them into the person we need them to be and completely ignore the person they actually are. The person we fell in love with, the flaws that endeared us to them, are no longer good enough.

And the romance fades. For some reason, it always seems to be the first thing to go. Probably because we're too busy, too preoccupied, too consumed with some ridiculous reality television show on TLC. Then, one night, we are laying in bed next to the person we're supposed to love and this crushing feeling of being alone swallows us whole. You want to press yourself up against them, wake them up, and tell them you're lonely, that you just want to be held. But you don't, because you aren't sure how they would react to being roused from sleep.

Loneliness is hard to shake.

I know my ideas of love are skewed. I don't believe there is one person out there for me. I don't believe in true love. I don't believe in happily-ever-afters. And I certainly don't think love at first sight exists. I don't think we're destined to meet people. Even more so, I sincerely doubt whether or not I'm cut out to be in love. I don't function well in relationships.

But the simple truth is, I'm a hopeless romantic. Terribly so. I dream of all-consuming love. The love where you get lost in someone. A love where you wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Where you know the person you're with and they know you. A love beyond words.

Lately, I've been feeling romantic. When a hush settles on the world and it feels as though every soul is sleeping, I entertain the 'what-ifs'. I imagine loving and being loved. It's not the countless days spent in bed that appeal to me. It's having someone in my corner, trusting they have my back when no one else seems to. Someone to count on, someone to appreciate, someone to laugh over the silly stuff with and cry over the sad things with. Someone to give to and someone to take from. Someone to respect. Someone to trust. And someone to kiss me properly.  

We all have hurt, I'm not unique in mine. We've all been in love and had it crushed. Things fall apart. We grow and change, and sometimes the person we're with doesn't grow and change with us. Sometimes we have to leave behind the ones we love in order to be happy, no matter how much it hurts at the time. Most of us have baggage, and all of us know heartache. I'm not alone in how I feel. Love is hard. Love is messed up. At times it isn't pretty. At times it isn't easy. And sometimes it's so painful we wonder why we even do it.

Despite all of that, we keep looking for it and we try and try again. Why? Because being in love is the best feeling in the world. We'd rather have a moment of love than not experience it at all. And besides, there's always that question tickling the back of our minds. What if? 

See, I'm not bitter or uncaring. I'm not jaded. I'm not angry or sad or hard or broken.

I'm just a wary romantic.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Honesty Isn't Nasty

It seems as though there is something completely lacking in some of the writing communities.


In the course of the last two years, I cannot tell you how many books I've been asked to read by people looking for feedback. The truth is, I am more than happy to take time out of my schedule to edit and review people's work. I like to help. I want people to succeed.

I always preface everything I say in a crit with "I am not an editor". I'm not. It's true. I never went to a fancy editing school and I can't tell you whether an Oxford comma is necessary or not. Does that make my opinion less valuable? I don't think so. After all, I am a reader. I know up from down. And I can articulate myself decently enough to get across what is and isn't working for me in someones novel or short story.

Did you know there are websites where people can upload their work and ask others to comment on it?

It's true! I joined one about two years ago. It was called Authonomy and, unlike some of the others signing up, I didn't have high expectations. I wanted feedback on a little Young Adult novel I wrote called Seeking Eleanor. It surprised me when people didn't hate it. It shocked me when people loved it. And it flabbergasted me when it made it to the editors desk and it didn't get a BAD review from HarperCollins.

Here's the thing, while I didn't join this site to have my ego stroked, I am starting to wonder how many others did. In my opinion, the site is not a writers group, nor is it intended to be one. If you want people to coach, guide or tell you what a wonderful, pretty pony you are then you came to the wrong place. This site is, in my opinion, for feedback. It's a place where people can be honest, rip your book to shreds or do the reverse and fawn over it.

This is why it floors me when people get a comment and rebuff it, reason it away, throw a temper tantrum or demand it be removed. Are you not there for honest feedback? And I am not talking about some moron who comes along and writes 'this book sucks'. No. I am talking about well thought-out, detailed comments that list what they did and didn't like about the book.

People have gone out of their way to ask me to review for them. I take it seriously. I think it means they respect me as a writer and reader and want to hear the truth, no matter if it hurts or not. So, needless to say, it really lights me up when they ask me to remove a comment. This tells me they are far too sensitive. It tells me they will never make it in the publishing world. It tells me that when they end up self-publishing their work and get a bad review on Amazon they're going to go into meltdown mode, eat a tub of ice cream and neglect personal hygiene for a week.

Which brings me to a very important question, why ask? Why are you asking for feedback if you don't want it? I've had my work torn to ribbons and while it may sting, because we all know it stings a bit, I've taken the advice and moved forward. You can disagree with the review, but maybe you need to step around your big, fat ego and actually think about what it's saying.

I'm never nasty. I'm honest. And if people think honesty is nasty then they can count me out of their sugar-coated world of pats on the back and lies. What people don't realize is the comments that tear your book apart do more for you than the ones saying it is excellent. The comments that offer criticism allow you to learn, to grow as a writer.

I am a firm believer we all have room to grow. An inflexible, arrogant writer who doesn't question their art is not one I want to read. This business is subjective and you have to learn how to change with the times. No one's work is perfect and if you think yours is, you are sorely mistaken and in for a rude awakening.

Perhaps Authonomy is turning into a writers group, where people upload their Works In Progress and expect others to pat their bottoms and tell them how brilliant they are. Maybe the droves of people signing up have no interest in hearing what people actually think of their work.

The truth is, we can't all be fabulous all of the time. Some of us are going to suck from time to time. Some of us are going to miss the plot. I only hope when my turn comes to suck and miss the plot someone taps me on the shoulder and lets me know because I simply don't have the time for the 'no, you're the best writer in the world' game.

And if you don't want my honesty, don't ask for it. And if you ask for it, leave your sensitivity at the door. This isn't personal, no matter how much you coddle and love your WIP. We all love our WIPS. This is business. And business is booming.