Tag Archives: book gush

Best Worst Writing Retreat Ever!

Last week I didn’t write any blog posts, on purpose! You see every once in a while my Mom and I pack all our writing supplies and head off to a cabin Casino in the woods and write for a few days. It’s cool because the rooms are dirt cheap mid-week in the dead of winter, there’s free soda all the time, there are shiny things to distract us when we’ve been sitting at our computers for too many hours, I have a pool to jump into when I’m fed up with everything, we don’t have to argue about eating because there’s a buffet or three, and generally all kinds of good things.

This time we headed up to Black Bear, which is a beautiful building with really decent food located in one of my favorite places on earth (Lake Superior, specifically about 25 minutes outside Duluth, MN). If the people there had been a little more welcoming I would have been in hog heaven, but they were all a bit… unfriendly and it was an issue.

I can’t write in places where I feel unwelcome. It’s why I stick to coffee shops and libraries and my apartment for writing times. I pay to be in those places, whether through rent or taxes or by buying overpriced tea, so I have every right to be there. On the other hand, I can’t write at my parents’ house or Maddy’s family farm because I am a guest there, no matter that I’m family. The Erins that  are guests in other people’s homes are not the Erins who do the writing. Maybe they will be someday, but the Erins who write are still pretty sensitive artistic types and fear rejection from friends and family. That feeling of unwelcome made me less-than-disposed to write on my writing retreat, so I did what any good writer would: I started reading.

I read my own novel-in-progress, Steamstress, which was sometimes awful, sometimes good and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. Then the next day I went for breakfast with the plan of reading Tim Buckley’s Great Games Bowl novella* after which I was exiled from the room by housekeeping so I wandered the resort, looking unsuccessfully for a place to work. In the end I wound up in the lobby, reading the Steampunk! anthlogy on my Kindle and pretending it was work (I’m writing steampunk, it kind of was) then I was sucked into it and then the third Soul Screamers* book came in at the library (oh Kindle library lending, how I do love thee, how I do love thy ability to deliver books to my Kindle anywhere) and then… I read the next three books in the series, plus the two novellas. Then my Kindle died, just as I was tweeting the completion of my sixth book of the day. I got a bit done the next day, but obviously not the glorious burst through the finish line bout of writing I’d been expecting on the outset.

So, was it a waste? Should I have stayed home?

No. Because as I was falling into bed last night I was thinking about the things that bugged me in the protagonists of the last two YA series I’ve inhaled (Soul Screamers and Jessica), namely that they proved competent time and again, but would revert to hiding behind their boyfriends until it became necessary to be competent again. That’s overstating it a bit for Soul Screamers, Jessica hangs a lantern on the problem and both resolve it in a way that I find acceptable, but I realized I’d done the same thing in my book, unintentionally. That’s not the story I want to tell and that sure as hell is not my grumpy protagonist (I love my grumpy protagonist).

In the midst of this epiphany/breakdown last night I realized (and affirmed said realization as not crazy with two sources) that I would have to excise large tracts of delightful gooey romance from the book. It not only allowed Grumpy Protagonist to learn things without earning that knowledge, because the Honorable Love Interest would tell her, but also was way too easy on the Honorable Love Interest. Things happened more or less according to his plan and as we all know, no battle plan survives contact with the enemy, especially when the enemy is Grumpy Protagonist (also, I, as a writer, am morally obligated to make things as hard as possible for my favorite character, especially when he’s the Honorable Love Interest, those are my achilles heel) . So, that’s a lot of editing to do and some major changes to make, including new characters to add (Grumpy Protagonist gets a BFF whether she wants it or not! BFF is awesome and comes with Polar Bears!) all of which will make the novel much stronger because I no longer have an improbable romance dragging down my character progress.

It’s a major improvement to the novel, and I would never have spotted it if I hadn’t spent my writing retreat reading.

*This is the third comic I’ve seen branch into prose fiction in the last few years and I must say that it holds its own against the Fables and Girl Genius novels.

**Loved the series, entertaining as hell, fun, really great take on the paranormal YA thing. I was describing it to a 15-year-old boy and he wanted to try them out. I think the covers might scare him, but I may find a copy of the first book, “give” it to his sister and tell him to check it out.

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Summer… at last?

School’s over, finally.  Second semester really kicked my butt this year, everything was pretty brutal but Creative Writing was the worst because I did so much writing for it that it took away all my drive to write elsewhere (like here or the chum) and no matter how badly I wanted to write my chum column or a blog post I just didn’t have it in me.  It was also pretty defeatist because I really am not meant to write fiction that literature snobs will like.  I’ll stick to popular fiction, where my desire to blow things up is seen as indulging my audience’s desire for excitement rather than a precursor to a murderous rampage across campus (imaginary violence is the next tobacco, mark my words).  On the bright side, my other classes were pretty good, my business law class actually has me re-thinking the path of my entire life (I did unexpectedly well).  Between doing well in law, hating creative, and my failure to actually do anything for the Chum being a lawyer seems easy, and more up my alley than publishing.

Speaking of the Chum, man, ch-ch-ch-changes going on over there.  I’m the new Online/Technical editor, which is nice, but I’ve always been wary of being labeled the tech-head and it’s not great for that.  I am the most webbish of the lot of us, so it makes sense, but I’d hate to get pigeonholed into something that isn’t really my strong suit.  Of course, I did build a pretty wicked sweet twitter bot today, entirely from the ground up, so I’m not too bad at the job, it’s just not the most ideal thing in the whole wide world.

I would say “speaking of the most ideal thing in the whole wide world” here, but I think it’s time to cut to the chase.  As you might know from the title of this blog and everything, I kinda like reading, and as it is summer the really god thing is that I have a lot of time to read, nothing else that I have to read (a problem during school) and I usually end up with a pretty good stock of books to read in summer.  So anyway, in order to try and make myself write on this blog/read more in general this summer I’m gonna gush about every book I read here on the blog. Not review outright, because I don’t want it to be a review thing, but more chronicle my feelings about what I’m reading.  I’m going to try and avoid rereading anything I read this summer (which means I read what I want, including stuff I’ve already read, but not gush about anything twice, except for one exception I’ll get to when/if it happens), and I am not going to gush over single issues of the comics that I read, but I will count trades and/or reading whole arcs together (like 5+ issues) but I will try and at least list the comics I buy each week.   Along with knitting and talking comics I think I should be able to have enough gushing to do to update 5 days a week or so, I’ve got a 4 book backlog to get through already and there are so many books that I want to read that content shouldn’t be a problem (and if it is I’ll do a series on every podcast that I listen to). The fun starts tomorrow, see ya then!

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Filed under Books, Gibberish, me me me, Web