Category Archives: From this Reader’s perspective

Emotions are our Trade

I watched a movie the other day called Bigger Than the Sky.  It was about a guy finding himself through community theater.  At the beginning, he was a recently dumped, yes-man at work, uninspired, friendless, boring frump who seemed invisible to himself and others.  He auditions for a play at the local community theater despite having no experience and gets the lead as Cyrano de Bergerac.  Through the course of the movie, he meets another girl, makes some friends, quits his job and finds out he can be a leading man in the play and in his own life.

 It wasn’t a great movie but it was a really good one, and it did have John Corbett, Amy Smart, Patty Duke and Sean Astin in it.  But more importantly, it resonated with me.  It will stay with me.  I realized half way through it, I had seen it before years ago, but it had not made the same impact then.  I had not been going through the same process then either.

 When I really started writing full time a year and a half ago, I was a closed off, emotionally stunted, relationship-challenged, hopeless romantic trapped in a jaded cynic’s body.  People for decades had been telling me to tear down my walls and let people in, to be vulnerable.  I rolled my eyes and said I was perfectly happy as I was – thank you very much.  When I decided I wanted to write for a living, it didn’t take long to figure out that if my writing was ever going to be great, it needed to be emotional and vulnerable.  But, how do you write that when you aren’t living it?  Answer:  you can’t.

 So, I have spent this year tearing down walls, opening up, exploring sides of me I didn’t know existed and becoming the most authentic me I can become.  Am I still a work in progress – yes.  Do I still have a long way to go – hell yes.  But, am I already a better writer for it – most definitely.  Sometimes, I feel like a walking wound, crying all the time.  Feeling raw and exposed is not the most comfortable place to exist, yet I have thirty years of pent up emotion waiting to be expressed, so I shouldn’t be surprised that it takes time and a lot of energy.  I’m glad though.  I’m happier, calmer, and more at peace within my own skin than I have ever been. 

As writers, we can research jobs and places from the comfort of our home thanks to the internet.  We can fake it well enough the reader may never know we haven’t done that job or visited that place.  We can’t fake the emotions though.  We have to put ourselves out there in order to draw the reader in with us.  It’s worth it though, isn’t it?  If we can touch someone with our writing?  I think so.  What say you?

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Filed under From this Reader's perspective, Life thoughts, Writing in general

The great, the okay and the terrible

I read avidly, rabidly, voraciously – however you want to phrase it.  And though I now have gotten to the point where I will just stop reading a book because it is bad (saving much time, thank you), I am still blown away that something as bad as what I was reading managed to get published in the first place.  I learn lessons from bad writing – ya’ know, examples of what NOT to do.   But I still sit there, saying “Really?  Really, that got published?  How?”

Last year, I began a spreadsheet of all the books I read.  Curiosity… more than anything else.  I also have one for all the movies I watch, but movies are my special weakness.  Nevermind that though, back to books.  So, I have now begun noting not just the author and title but also the publishing house.  If I see a trend with a publisher, like every book I read from them is only okay at best and terrible at worst, then that is not a publisher I want to ever submit to.  It’s kind of eye-opening.  Writers – look at this… really.

Every writer has particular publishers or agents or editors that are their dream place/person to work with.  I am no different, but now I also have a list of publishers, agents, editors I want to avoid because I don’t think they are doing their job well or some of the stuff I’m reading wouldn’t be available. 

I have nothing against self-publishing.  I think lots of good stuff gets published that way, but I also know that the odds of it not being very good are also higher because no publisher, editor, or agent has vetted that piece of work.  So, when I get something that has been self-published I go into it with lower expectations and that thought in mind. 

If I read a book that has been published through a publisher whether they are big or small, I expect that an agent or editor or both saw merit in this work and the publisher agreed with them.   Even the stories that are okay – not great, not even good,  just okay – make me wonder.  With as much talent as is out there, why are these pieces being promoted?  I don’t get it.  In all fairness, it’s a really small number of publishers I’m seeing this from, and a really small number of books that are just so bad I can’t even finish them, but more worrying is the plethora of ‘just okay’ writing that is also out there.   ‘Just okay’ is not good enough.

I’m not an advocate for or against the big five/six publishing houses, I’d love to be an author with one of them.  I also appreciate all the smaller publishers that are opening up opportunities for authors.  I like that we can just go self publish with a vanity press or post something on Amazon and hope it takes off.  But I don’t like mediocrity or outright crap, and I’m seeing more of it than I care to admit.  

I work very hard to write the best I can and improve daily.  And, I hope that I will be published soon, but I don’t want to publish something that someone will find so awful they can’t finish it.  Is it subjective – sure.  But if you are reading/writing in a genre you know you like – and you don’t like a particular book – it’s either the story didn’t resonate or the writing  is just not good.  I don’t have to love every book I read, but I do want to at least think the writing is good even if the story didn’t grab me.   Both were novellas, both were published, both were romance, yet one was great and one was so bad I couldn’t finish it.  This makes me sad.  Go read or write my friends, the rant is over…

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Filed under From this Reader's perspective, Writing in general