A little less progress than I would like to confess this week – I’m now half a chapter closer to finishing Future Memories. I would love to say it’s another full one knocked out but half-way done doesn’t count. This particular chapter is going to leave readers with the final impression of a main character who we’ll see again in book two and is admittedly a bit of a beast to conquer for that reason. But conquer it I shall!
While the progress meter on the writing end of things didn’t get as far as I’d like, it’s been moving steadily in the area of reading – which I would argue is almost as important for anyone hoping to earn the title “published author”.
Stephen King is attributed with the quote “if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.” As hard as it can be to squeeze in writing with the combination of mundane and unexpected things that daily life throws at us, I’m a strong believer in those words. I also think it’s important for your reading to not just be research relating to what you’re working on – it needs to be a fun read. Something that let’s you hear another author’s voice and dive into a world that isn’t your own creation. A sappy romance you enjoy with a glass of wine in hand, a bit of historical fiction that lets you journey back in time, whatever floats your literary boat. My just-for-heck-of-it read right now is Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and I’m actually nearing the end of it. I came across this one in a used book store and, since it was published in 2011, I’m a late comer to it. But if you’re into what I can best describe as YA dark speculative fiction and like creepy photos with your stories, then I highly recommend this one.
Now when I used mighty Google to get a picture of the novel, I inevitably came across reviews from when it first came out and it seems this is one of those reads that you either love or hate. Not much middle ground from what I saw. Those who were less than smitten seemed to almost unanimously complain that the novel isn’t scary enough. On that note, I do feel the need for a disclaimer on this book for anyone who may want to check it out: this is not a horror novel. Yes, there’s a creepy levitating girl on the cover and there’s definitely monsters but if you sit down with this for a bedtime read holding expectations of missing sleep, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Also, I wasn’t actually aware when I started reading that this fits in the Young Adult realm but caught on pretty quick. That fact didn’t take away my entertainment value but I suspect a lot of the less happy reviews stem back to folks anticipating they had something a little more risque in their hands. But I myself am digging it and looking forward to book two (then again, I still love and enjoyed re-reading A Wrinkle in Time even though I’m in my 30’s so keep that in mind).
Now coming across those bi-polar reviews reminded me of the simple truth that you can’t write to please an audience. You just can’t.
Learn the rules of grammar? Yes, it’s your duty to try to do that at the very least.
Tell a good story, have protagonists and antagonists, yada, yada? Yes, yes, yes!
But after all the editing is done and your work is “perfect”, keep in mind there will likely be just as many roses as tomatoes thrown when it’s published. I mention this partly because, aside from the hit and miss writing schedule I’ve kept in the past, one reason FM isn’t published yet is that I’m also one of those writers who can easily obsess over pithy little things. Should I take out the word that or keep it? What if this character starts their dialogue with what I have as the last sentence right now? How would I say this line if I were the one arguing with an alien who thinks humans are good as dirt? Is my robot cocking its head to the side too many times? I suspect that any of my blog followers who happen to also be writers have at one point or another fallen trap to their own versions of these questions. But what I’ve had to learn to do is stop being so neurotic over what amounts to very small potatoes. The important thing is to just get the whole pot of them boiled and mashed up so you can eat them. So putting my peeler where my mouth is, by this time next week I’ll have that troublesome chapter I mentioned in this post’s beginning scratched off and in the done pile.
With butter and pepper even.