May 31, 2011

Extraordinary

What makes a book extraordinary? Are the necessary elements quantifiable, or ineffable?

And how many extraordinary books can one expect to read in a year? A lifetime?

I've been succumbing to reader fatigue recently, and I just really want to know. When is that extraordinary book going to appear? And how will I know it, when it appears?

May 26, 2011

By the way

By the way, I started training for a half-marathon.

I'm not sure exactly how this will inform my writing, but it's something that I've been thinking about for a while now. I've been out of college for almost exactly a year, and let's face it: my level of in-shape-ness has been on a steady decline since my varsity cross country/soccer days in high school. Am I going to turn into one of those ridiculously buff people with absolutely no fat on their bodies? No. But I'm looking to get in good shape, to sleep better, to get high off all the endorphins, etc. etc. To be healthy. To negate the effects of my largely sedentary day job. To meet the requirements of my superhero application.

So I'm running. I don't particularly like running (I kind of loathe it, actually), but it's straightforward. Put one foot in front of the other. Plus, I spent way too much time getting a running playlist together for my iPod. You kind of have to use it once you do that.

May 25, 2011

I've caved (or something)

Those of you keeping up with the blog will remember my recent entry on my development of reading discontent. In an effort to refresh, rejuvenate, and return cooler than ever, I've made a resolution. That resolution? To erase young adult literature entirely from my reading life for the month of June 2011.

It's a big step, but a good one, I think. I have nothing against young adult literature (I actually love it a whole lot more than most people think I should), but my recent oversaturation in the genre has left me...bloated. In a slouchy reader kind of way.

I don't know what's going to step up and fill the gap, but we'll be finding out soon... Thanks to those who suggested taking a step back from young adult -- I think it's really going to help!

May 23, 2011

Hypothetical Crichton

So I just read this nifty piece in GalleyCat about Micro, Michael Crichton's unfinished novel, and it got me thinking. I'm not a huge fan of Michael Crichton, but you have to wonder what he thinks about all this. One third of his novel was drafted, and someone else was called in to complete the book using Crichton's notes and outlines, etc.

(Sort of) the same thing just happened at my work, actually -- one of our authors passed away, leaving what some would have called his magnum opus unfinished. We'll be publishing it, but it certainly won't be the product that our author (or Michael Crichton, for that matter) would have completed.

You have to wonder, when this happens, why? In this case money is clearly a big factor. Michael Crichton sells many books. Oodles of them, to be precise. But would the man himself have wanted this work to be completed by someone else? Would he have wanted someone else to write the majority of the words of this book?

If it were me, I would say...no. I think. Writing is a tricky business. On the personal side, every book is someone's baby. Would I want someone messing with my book-baby? Um, no. The end-product might have my name on it, but it wouldn't be mine. You also have to wonder about what stuff Crichton was carrying around in his head that he just hadn't gotten around to putting down on paper. There could have been twists! Turns! Jumps off cliffs that no one will ever know.

So from an author's perspective: do I think that unfinished works should be published posthumously? If it were up to me, no. It wouldn't be perfect, it wouldn't be done. As a reader, however, reading an unfinished manuscript exactly as is would be a fascinating experience in the creative mind of another person.

So which is it? If you were an author, would you want your last work to be published, if it's not complete? (Or even if it's completed by someone else?) And how do you feel about these works as a reader?

May 19, 2011

Diagnose Me

I have the blahs. That gorgeous cover of the latest YA AWESOME? Eh. The best cyber-zombie-were-cow-mermaid series to hit the streets? Been there, done that. Reading? So over it.

In short, friends, I haven't felt like reading much lately. But that might be because I haven't felt like reading young adult fiction lately. At some point, they all start to blur together. Take the last book I read (title and author redacted). There was nothing inherently wrong with it. The writing didn't make me want to roll my eyes and send the author back to kindergarten. The romance didn't make me want to throw up. I wasn't immediately able to detail the entire plot from start to finish off of the jacket flap. But altogether, it was pretty much meh.

Is there something wrong with the genre, or something wrong with me? Is it even (gasp) possible that I've finally gotten tired of young adult altogether?

I hope not. There's cool stuff going on in there. It's just that I haven't read a really cool book in a very long time. Anyone else feeling the YA fatigue? What are you doing to snap yourself out of it?

May 17, 2011

WIP Update

I'm starting a mad dash to get this draft of my work in progress done by the end of May. For those who haven't been privy to the whole story, this work in progress started as an idea, which turned into my NaNo novel last November, which has been languishing ever since. Since my NaNo draft was really a splat draft, this will be my actual first draft, with (hopefully) most of the scenes present, if not perfect, and most characters and plot points in place.

In all probability I won't make it -- I'm only just over 8,000 words in, and anticipating at least 70,000 more to go before I reach the end. But it's a goal, and that's the important thing, right?

I reached two big milestones today, anyway. First, my main character has a name. (Yes, she went 8,000 words nameless, and her name still has not appeared in the text. But it will.) Also, I've discovered the first song on my WIP playlist: "Poison & Wine," by The Civil Wars. It's kind of ridiculously fitting, both in tone and message.

So that's how that's going. In the meantime I really haven't been reading much at all, yet somehow there are still 17 library books on my shelf...

May 13, 2011

The Book Lantern

I've been MIA for a while, and I apologize. Real life has gotten complicated, what with a: trying to find a new apartment, b: freaking out about graduate school applications, c: trying to write a novel, and d: worrying about my PURPOSE. That wasn't an Avenue Q reference at all.

I'm making the effort to come back soon, but in the meantime, the following:

1. Where She Went is the best book I have read in a really long time.

2. "The Book Lantern" is my new favorite book blog. Check it out!

3. I am taking book recommendations. If you were going to recommend only ONE book (let's say, one book that has influenced your life in a major way), what would it be? Keep in mind I'm attempting to branch away from young adult, but if you have an extraordinary YA book to recommend, I'll definitely put it on my list.

See you soon! I still love you, and hope you still love me. :)