Writing

This is my third attempt at writing/editing this post. I was planning to share it last month but couldn’t find the time to finish it. Today, I decided it was done.

A work colleague turned friend finished a draft of her book and she’s in the process of getting it ready to send to her agent. I had the chance to do a beta read for her. I really enjoyed it and I hope she finds a publisher. She’s worked on this book for years and she’s ready. The book is ready.

I share that little bit as a segue into this next sentence.

I write. Honestly, that’s difficult to admit not because I’m embarrassed by that confession (OK, yes, some of what I put on the page is horrible until I re-write it but it’s words on a page and that counts so I try not to be too hard on myself.) but because I don’t do it with enough regularity to think of myself as a writer. Take this blog for instance. A regular poster I am not.

I write all day long, five days a week. But I don’t think of that writing the same way I think of my fiction writing, mostly because the ‘at work’ writing is limited to emails, marketing plans, creative briefs, editing releases, web content, you get the idea. I don’t consider it exciting writing. By exciting, I mean that I’m not making up a world, or a character, or a scene. Work writing has to be based in brand reality — that’s not exciting the way fiction writing is for me.

Recently, I had this notion that I would spend 30 minutes a night writing, working on my new story, outlining scenes, whatever it was as long as I was focused on my story in some small way. I would even time myself so I knew it was only 30 minutes and a small commitment.

That plan lasted all of two days.

Two. Days.

I have ideas. I write them down in my notebook. But I don’t feel I’m actively writing. Frankly, life can be busy. Work can be busy and mentally trying. I don’t always want to close one laptop to open another.

You know what that is? That’s an excuse. And lately, I feel I’ve become excellent at making excuses when it comes to my writing.

That needs to change because I want it to. I want to write more. I enjoy writing, making up a new reality to play in, and if it seems right, to share with other people.

Maybe saying that out loud will help create the change I’m looking for.

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Reading out of order

I intensely dislike reading books in a series out of order. Yet, I do it all the time. A reasonable person might ask me why I do this. Well, there are many reasons, some good, some bad, but what they almost all result in are happy accidents. By accidents I mean more books being added to the TBR.

My last out of order read was Hunting Price Dracula by Kerri Maniscalo. It was a great book. Fun, entertaining to the last page, interesting characters, a wonderfully creepy setting (a castle in Romania) with dead people, some of which are thought to be vampires. As a Dracula fan, a fascination with castles, and a desire to visit Romania, this was a perfect fit for me. So you might be wondering why and where I see a problem? Truthfully, there’s not a problem. The only issue is that this isn’t the first book featuring these characters. Stalking Jack the Ripper is the first.

Hunting Prince Dracula stood on its own for a second book in a series. The characters, clearly developed, took on a new adventure with ease, the setting was perfect and creepy, and I was more than happy when I finished this book. But. Yes, dear reader, a but. I wanted to know more about the characters. How they developed their saucy looks and lovely banter, why they were traveling to a castle in Romania together and their history. I missed that because I didn’t read the first book where that played out.

Is this really a problem? No. It’s not. Unless you’re a reader! And a reader who likes to read books in order! Then, yes, it’s a problem.

So, how did I end up in this predicament? I have a ginormous wish list on my library app. (I use Overdrive if you’re curious.) I found the book on Instagram and added it to my list. And I noticed it was a series so I added the first book too. I then decided I wanted to read these books and put holds on both, hopeful they would arrive on the same day and I could read my weekend away.

That didn’t happen. When Hunting Price Dracula arrived, I remembered I wanted to read this one and did. I forgot there was a first book, which is still on my holds list.

What I do know is that when Stalking Jack the Ripper arrives, I’ll devour it happily. I hope that happens before Escaping from Houdini makes it off the waitlist and puts me one step back. Oh, who am I kidding, I’ll read whatever book arrives.

On Wuthering Heights

I enjoy the little details nestled in the pages of books and that’s the reason why I re-read. Sometimes I re-visit books I may not have loved from the first page but found I had fallen in too deep along the way and I needed to know what happened to characters I invested feelings in, characters that invaded my thoughts, and characters that began to live with me as I made my way through a book. And this brings me to another reason I re-read — sometimes it’s not about the details. Sometimes it’s about the feelings.

Feelings of doom, darkness, depression, and desperation. That’s what I felt re-reading Wuthering Heights. I knew that going in and wasn’t surprised that those feelings surfaced but I also felt something else this time and it was an annoyance with these characters. The self-absorption became too much somewhere around the middle and I put the book down several times to read another story. I’m glad I did because I think if I pushed through I’d have given up.

I won’t go into details of the story itself but I did want to talk about two characters in particular because they are the driving force for the above-mentioned feelings. Heathcliff is simply horrid. Yes, I know you already know this and, no, this is nothing new. I want to feel for him, to understand his hurt, his need to feel loved, but I can’t forgive him or any of his actions. Catherine needs help, is crying out for help, but everyone around her is too tightly bound up in themselves to either accept she needs help or to offer it. All of the characters are crying out for help in their own myriad of ways; except for Lockwood who more or less needs a bedtime story because he’s sick.

Can we talk about Nelly for a moment? She’s one hell of a storyteller! Seriously. She tells everything to a stranger, spills all the family secrets, makes sorry and pointed observations about the people in her life without regret. It makes me wonder if her housekeeping abilities live up to the liveliness of her storytelling abilities. It also makes me question her motives too. These are people she supposedly cares/d about and she tells these stories to a stranger. Then again, she’s living up to my feelings about this book so maybe it’s not odd at all.

Would I re-read Wuthering Heights again? Probably, but it will be a long while before I pick this up again. It’s a book that will forever and always live on my shelf and books with that status are always subject to re-examination. I fully expect the details and feelings to be different next time. I consider that a good thing.

End of year reading

At the end of every year, I find myself with a reading conundrum. I want to end the year with an amazing book. I scour the shelves, my library options, and, yes, sometimes bookstores. In the end, I usually re-read a book. Why? I think it has to do with comfort.

I might want to end the year with an outstanding book but there’s a lot of pressure to find the right one. Will I be disappointed? Does it say something about my reading choices, or even more worrisome, about me as a reader, if I don’t pick the right book? It’s too much pressure to put on a single book and on myself as a reader. I’m not going to even entertain thoughts about what the ‘right’ book would be…

So, I find a book on my shelf that I know. A book I have a relationship with. A book I love. This year, it’s Wuthering Heights. Yes, I’m ending my year with a morose book but somehow that dark, somber read seems appropriate to say goodbye to 2018. There are no regrets about this choice.

I can’t wait to see what 2019 will hold on the book front and to see what stories make it onto my shelf, into my library queue, and what books I write about.

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2019 full of wonderful stories, great moments, and smiles. And of course, books!

A new way to read

I’m not sure if I’m fascinated or horrified by this New York Times article -> Tiny Books Fit in One Hand. Will They Change the Way We Read? 

On one hand, I love that books are changing, adapting to new ways that readers are interacting with words. Innovation is exciting in that regard. I’m always interested in exploring literary worlds in new formats and I think this one is interesting. But. Yes, a but.

I’m torn. I want to embrace this new tiny book idea and I’ll probably buy one out of curiosity.  BUT the one part of the article I keep coming back to is this:

The tiny editions are the size of a cell phone and no thicker than your thumb, with paper as thin as onion skin. They can be read with one hand — the text flows horizontally, and you can flip the pages upward, like swiping a smartphone.

I read on my phone, I read on an e-reader too. I’m not opposed to that but I don’t want books to be nothing more than a cell phone.

Books are an experience. Books are to be savored. Books become memories. Books and the stories they carry shouldn’t be a simple swipe. But, again, a but. If using innovation as the inspiration, maybe I need to step back and give this new format a go and see how I feel then.

For now, old school. I’ll be reading a heavy 571-page hardcover book this weekend. If my arms get tired, my thoughts on this may change.

More Changes

It’s been four years, FOUR YEARS, and 12 days if I did the math correctly, since I last posted something here.

I’m not sure why today felt like the day to return, but it did and it is.

I’m keeping expectation low, like buried the bar low, so I can ease back into writing and talking about books without any pressure.

Let’s start simple. Hello. I’m Amy and I’m back to writing about books. Expect bookish things soon.

Changes

My unscheduled hiatus lasted longer than anticipated. These things happen.

I thought about taking a permanent break. I decided against it.

Lately, I’ve been composing posts in my head. Obviously, none have made it from the brain wave stage yet.

That will happen. Soon, I hope.

To ease myself back into writing, I’m starting with a new look.

And when I do start again, it will be more than just book reviews.

I need, and crave, change right now.

Let’s see what happens.