Friday Things

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I like being drunk. On booze, on fiction, on writing, on love, on beautiful sentences. Maybe that’s why I’m so discontent on a daily basis; my day job can be quite sobering most of the time.

At least it’s Friday. Here are my 3 things for the week.

1. I adore Tumblr. Have I mentioned that? Nearly everything good I find on the internet (like the image above) either comes from or has some point been on Tumblr. What’s more, people are nice to each other there. Come join me: there’s my personal Tumblr, where I blog photos, quotes, and a mini-journal. Then there’s the Tumblr I started just to record all my favorite sentences.

2. This article on why it’s important for writers to talk about where their money comes from really spoke to me.

3. I admit I don’t read fanfiction but I know how big a thing it is (I am on Tumblr, after all). I even downloaded Wattpad to look into it more. But … I just can’t find anything I want to get into. The problem is that I like my writing polished and my prose beautiful, and Wattpad is full of first drafts. Also, when I read poorly written fiction, it tends to seep into my own writing. Am I being snobby? Is there good stuff on Wattpad? Anyway, this article is really helpful for those who are curious on the entire phenomena.

Reading: I just finished The Beginning of Everything and I have mixed feelings. I just started Isla and the Happily Ever After and I’m already sure I’m going to love it as much as Stephanie Perkins’s other two novels. If you’re looking for light but well-written, romantic YA, pick all her books up immediately.

Watching:just started watching Sherlock on Netflix. I have no idea what took me so long.

Listening to: Radical Face. It’s lovely and haunting.

Image found here

The First 250 Words

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Much has been written on the importance of the first 250 words of your manuscript.

All of it is true.

It can be hard, as a writer, to keep that in mind–you have the whole story to keep in your mind–so polishing (or demolishing and rewriting) your opening is something best done at the editing stage. Once your whole story is down on paper, go back to that beginning (after taking a break from the manuscript so you’re looking at it with fresh eyes) and ask yourself–if I were a reader, would I pick up this book based on this first page?

I’m not going to rehash the advice in the articles I linked to–go read them for yourself. Instead, here is the beginning of one of my favorite books of all time. I’ll post it, then we can discuss why it’s so great. I think I’ll make this a regular thing.

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Friday Things

tumblr_nlf7u2loCY1qa11wdo1_1280I’ve had a very long week and thought many times about running away from my life like the dude in the picture above. I know I’m lucky to have a good job with a good company that pays me more than enough to live on, but sometimes the soul-sucking hours spent in a windowless cubicle working on things that really don’t matter at all can get to me.

Even bad weeks have high points; here are some of mine:

1. I finally got around to watching the film version of Never Let Me Go, which was just as devastating as I’d expected after reading the book a couple years ago. If you feel like sobbing hysterically (while pondering a really interesting ethical dilemma), this book/movie is for you. Also, Ishiguro’s prose is so simple and brilliant, reading him is an asset to writers (and readers!) everywhere.

2. This Tumblr is awesome.

3. For those who like bread: how to revive stale bread. This article changed my life.

Reading: The Martian. It’s fascinating. And a definite departure from my usual angsty-YA reading list. It also makes me feel supremely stupid (never would have thought of trying to grow my own potatoes, what’s wrong with me?) Read it before it becomes a movie!

Watching: Girls. I know, I’m late to the party. I have never been so sucked into a show in which I dislike pretty much every single character (except Ray. And maybe Adam). Maybe it’s because I live here and find them so realistic. Realism wins out over likability anytime.

Listening to: The Horrible Crowes. This song has been on repeat this week. I adore it.

I believe the above photo originated here

Writing Inspiration: Quotes

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As a writer, I’m constantly asked: “Where do you get your ideas?”

I can’t say where my ideas come from. From life, from other stories, from the interests I’ve naturally developed over time … They start out as a vague idea (nostalgia!) and then develop out from there (a teenage girl, World War II, a chateau with secrets…) Most of the time I just have bunches of ideas that only get fleshed out as I write (I’m not an outliner).

In the beginning, I like to collect quotes that inspire me and have something to do with the theme and tone of the book I’m trying to write. Does anyone else do that? So I thought it would be fun to share the quotes I currently have at the top of my Word document work-in-progress. See if you can guess where they’re from:

1. “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?”

2. “Over time, the ghosts of things that happened start to turn distant; once they’ve cut you a couple of million times, their edges blunt on your scar tissue, they wear thin. The ones that slice like razors forever are the ghosts of things that never got the chance to happen.”

3. “You can throw yourself away, missing what you’ve lost.”

4. “But don’t you think it’s better to be extremely happy for a short while, even if you lose it, than to be just okay for your whole life?”

5. “All of them, all except Phineas, constructed at infinite cost to themselves these Maginot Lines against this enemy they thought they saw across the frontier, this enemy who never attacked that way—if he ever attacked at all; if he was indeed the enemy.”

6. “The point was for one place in their lives to be impregnable. For just one kind of love to be stronger than any outside thing; to be safe.”

7. “Does such a thing as ‘the fatal flaw,’ that showy dark crack running down the middle of a life, exist outside literature? I used to think it didn’t. Now I think it does.”

8. “I suppose at one time in my life I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.”

9. “They know that tragedy is not glamorous. They know it doesn’t play out in life as it does on a stage or between the pages of a book. It is neither a punishment meted out nor a lesson conferred. Its horrors are not attributable to one single person. Tragedy is ugly and tangled, stupid and confusing. That is what the children know.”

(Answers below. Photo found here.)

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

MK’s Book Reviews: We Were Liars

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God. This book.

The setting pulled me in. Rich cousins on a private island off of Massachusetts? Yes please. Love developing between two childhood friends? I’m a sucker for that.

“He was contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee. I could have looked at him forever.

The voice was so well done, lots of sentence fragments filled with bits of beauty. It could have come off oddly in the hands of a less talented writer, but Lockhart did it wonderfully.

“It is good to be loved, even though it will not last.”

You know from the beginning something bad is going to happen, and then when something does, you aren’t even entirely sure what it is. To find out, along with Cadence, you keep reading. But before you even know the extent of Cadence’s struggle, you admire her strength.

“I’d a million times rather live and risk and have it all end badly than stay in the box I’ve been in for the past two years.”

“I lie there and wait, and remind myself over and over that it doesn’t last forever. That there will be another day and after that, yet another day. One of those days, I’ll get up and eat breakfast and feel okay.”

And oh, Cadence and Gat.

“When blood dripped on my bare feet or poured over the book I was reading, he was kind. He wrapped my wrists in soft white gauze and asked me questions about what had happened. He asked about Dad and about Gran—as if talking about something could make it better. As if wounds needed attention.”

“Someone once wrote that a novel should deliver a series of small astonishments. I get the same thing spending an hour with you.”

And the end. I did not see it coming, though in retrospect there were so many clues. That’s a real accomplishment, as an author. It was so good and so devastating. Think first-time-reading-Fault-in-Our-Stars levels of sobbing.

“They know that tragedy is not glamorous. They know it doesn’t play out in life as it does on a stage or between the pages of a book. It is neither a punishment meted out nor a lesson conferred. Its horrors or not attributable to one single person. Tragedy is ugly and tangled, stupid and confusing. That is what the children know.”

Go read this book. Now.

Zen Pencils

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The other night I was talking to a friend of mine about wanting to quit my corporate job and write full time. It’s a wish I’ve had for years, that always ends with me talking myself out of it, because of money, stability, grass-is-greener syndrome, etc. So he sent me this.

It really struck home.

I am now a huge fan of this guy. Do yourself a favor and check out his stuff, if you haven’t already.