Why I Write…and a New Idea

I’ve been examining my goals as a writer, and I’ve realized that I’m not writing books because I have some need for other people to read them, and I don’t have a need to be some public figure. I write because I love to make up the stories and the characters. I love to create things, and I have the most fun creating novels. They are both challenging and rewarding in themselves.

I am okay with not having my hard work over the past 9 years (wrote my first novel in 2004) traditionally published. That’s not to say I don’t have hopes that my current project will be published, because that would be cool, and hopefully there are people who really would enjoy reading my stories.

So I’ve been thinking that I’d really like to do something with the books I have finished. So someday (maybe later this year? This is only just the fledgling of an idea) I would like to put together a website or something where I can serialize the books I’ve finished for free for anyone who might stumble upon them. It would be nice to make money from my hard work, but it would be nicer to somewhere to display it, period.

Just a very early heads up!

Austen’s Persuasion: Starting Out

Yes, as the title states, my next foray into the classics is Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I actually have not read any of Austen’s books that I remember at least, though I have seen at least on movie based on one of them. So why did I pick this one? Easy–I want to read Diana Peterfreund’s For Darkness Shows the Stars, which is based on this book, so I’d like to know the “based on” part going in.

So my goal was to spend the same amount of time reading each week as I’d spent on War and Peace. That seemed to average to about 5 chapters, or around 80 Nook pages (it’s a Nook version and paginated by the small screen-sized pages). But then on Friday I discovered my other book (one on physics theories of multiple universes) had expired and I’d have to be at home to renew it, and the children took forever to go to sleep, so I got another 5 chapters read in Persuasion. So this week will be a double dose.

In the first five chapters I got to know the characters, and my notes consisted of who everyone is. The main protagonist appears to be Anne, the youngest (or possibly middle) child of widower, Sir Walter Elliot. She is now 27, but when she was 19 she was in love with a young sailor, Frederick Wentworth, but because he had no money and Lady Russell, a widow and close friend of the family, and most importantly, Anne’s favorite person and the only one who likes her–because Lady Russell disapproved she broke it off.

Then her mother died and her looks declined and she was kind of the family’s black sheep. Considered pretty much useless (though of course she is the most sensible and capable of the lot of them).

Things went along fine for a while, but then they started having money troubles. They had to let out their big country estate and move, but Anne gets to stay behind for a while to help out her married sister, Mary, who is a hypochondriac and is pretty much useless.

This is where the story gets a little more interesting, because the naval officer who rents their estate is married to Frederick’s sister, and F. comes to visit the area and stays with Mary’s neighbors and close friends. He is looking to be married but doesn’t want anything to do with Anne and her weak, easily swayed personality. He does like the neighbor girls, though.

My reaction: It really isn’t that bad. I’m not a huge fan of pure romances, but I still love to root for love. I’m not sure what I think about Anne. I think she reminds me a little of myself (though I have to say I am better off). I just want her to get tough and put herself out there–stand up for herself–and I get a little angry when she just blushes, looks away and stays silent, which probably correlates to the times I’ve done the same. So if I don’t like Anne, it is partly because I don’t like that meekness in myself. I hope she grows beyond it, just as I am working to. Come on, Anne, stand up for yourself–go after what you really want! (I have a feeling this will not be the last time I yell this at her.)

But I’d say it’s a good start. Persuasion is persuading me to its side.

Why YA Books Are the Most Important Books (Part 2 of 2)

Last time I discussed why teens/young adults are the most important people on the planet (we all know they believe this, but it seems that they are right). To read my reasons scroll back or click here. So now I will talk about the repercussions.

Older adults have a love-hate relationship with this idea. Many older adults spend their money trying to recapture their youth (almost always unsuccessfully). We don’t look good in teen clothes. Makeup can only hide wrinkles for so long. And it’s just weird and gross seeing middle-aged women swooning in public over boy bands (and older men swooning over young models). Those who don’t do these things are usually labeled as “boring.” You may be mature and responsible, but you aren’t having any fun.

As an aside, at least half and maybe more of the readers of YA are adults, it seems. Why do so many adults want to read about teens? Well, 1, because YA books are usually interesting, fast-moving, with interesting characters and plots. Also, though, they read them because yet again, they are trying to experience that feeling of youth once more. (And if you have a good imagination, you can be successful at this! At least for a the amount of time you’re reading. And you won’t look like an idiot doing it. You’ll look smart! (Depending on the book cover, but that’s why they invented e-readers)

Once that time of our life is gone, we tend to resent it. We feel like we’re missing out. Like we’re too big to play in the ball pit or jump in the bouncy house. So those who don’t vainly try to recapture their youth often belittle it. They claim that it lacks substance and is lesser than anything meant for those mature, boring adults like them. I’m not saying there’s not a lot of great literature and activities and media out there for adults, because there it, but it rarely reaches the popularity and therefore realm of influence that young adult materials can have. This is what I think about when I read about another article saying how trite and mediocre this “YA fad” is. Whether the article’s author realizes it or not he (or she) is jealous.

YA books are the most important books because they are written for and about the most important people. Quality doesn’t really matter, though most of the YA books I read are excellent quality. What matters is that young people like them, and it is young people who have the most influence in our world.

Why YA Books Are The Most Important Books (Part 1 of 2)

This is a post topic I have been thinking about for a while. It started as I was reading The Rivals by Whitney Davis. There’s a scene where they’re in class discussing why teens are so important. And you know, teens and young adults are the most important people in the world.

So that statement may sound kind of crazy, but just think about it.

Popular culture is completely driven by what young adults are into. The most money made in music is from bands teens like. The movies that make the money are the ones young people like. The clothes that are fashionable are all for young adults. Technology is mastered by young adults way before most adults catch on. So obviously the best books are also the ones about and for young adults.

Young adults are in their physical prime. All older adults spend tons of money trying to recapture their looks of youth. Obesity epidemic aside, it is young people who can be thin and fit without trying hard. Young people are in their sexual prime as well (though we don’t like to think about it in those under 18).

Also, young people are the most free. They still have their whole lives ahead of them. They have infinite opportunities to choose from, while the older we get, the more stuck in our lives we tend to feel.

Though young people are inexperienced and often make decisions that older people consider stupid, they are extremely fast learners. Their minds work much more quickly than old, tired minds, and they can learn so much in a much shorter period of time.

Those who write YA books are writing books for the most powerful audience in the world, whether the world is willing to recognize that or not.

Anyone have anything to add? Or maybe I’m missing something and have it all wrong. I’d love to hear your comments!

Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion on Thursday!

War and Peace Saturday: The End!

I did it! The book is finished! I can’t say I was too pleased with the second epilogue, but overall I did enjoy the book.

Basically in the second epilogue Tolstoy goes on a philosophical rant about how history is explained, which branches into another philosophical rant about free will or lack-there-of. He pretty much claims there is no such thing as free-will or freedom. Our every action is influenced in some way whether we are conscious of it or not, so in history when something unexpected happens it is not because of someone exerting their free will; it is just because we don’t know all the details we need to.

This conclusion is actually interesting and even thought-provoking but I had problems with the way it was presented, the main problem of which is PHILOSOPHY. I have not had good experiences with philosophy. It was my least-favorite college class. Mostly, I just really dislike the style all philosophers seem to use to make their points. For one, they labor on their points over and over. I’m the type of person who generally gets and idea the first time it’s explained. I don’t need things repeated over and over. I also hate that they always make up scenarios to supposedly support their arguments. As a person who regularly makes up stories and scenarios, I have a hard time believing that this made up story supports your argument you are trying to present as true and not made up. I don’t need a situation compared to beekeeping or whatever when it doesn’t have anything to do with beekeeping. Metaphors are fine in fiction, but they make no sense to me in philosophy. So that is why I really disliked the second epilogue.

But the second epilogue made me think about what purpose Tolstoy wanted from this book. Was he trying to use these stories and characters to make some kind of philosophical point? He probably was. I’m not really sure what it was, though. His characters didn’t really do anything to influence history. Just the historical characters, who I didn’t like and would have liked to see a lot less of. So I guess whatever meaning Tolstoy wanted me to get out of it, I just didn’t get.

But hey, now I can say that I’ve read War and Peace. (which I have already, several times). Is there a club I can join or something? Maybe I should start one…

Am I “Mars One” Astronaut Material?

I just learned about this amazing plan by a Dutch entrepreneur to send a team on a one-way trip to start a colony on Mars. I will say right now that as much as I’d like to go to space, I don’t want to leave Earth forever. But I will definitely follow this mission, and the geniuses behind it are making that simple to do.

Here’s the idea (and you can learn about it first-hand here:

This year the team will select its Astronauts. Video applications will be available for everyone to view online. Then it becomes a reality show that I am actually interested to watch–viewers of the world will get to select the astronauts they want to represent their country. Then we will get to see them train and prepare.

So, what makes you astronaut material? The website has a list in its FAQ section and there’s nothing like “a PhD in astrophysics” or anything quite like that, but they do want you to be pretty-near perfect. You have to be able to get along with people, problem solve, trust other people to do their jobs, be adaptable, etc. I’m pretty sure you also will need some special edge to help you stand out from the crowd of thousands who you will be up against.

Which has made me think, what do I have that would make me stand out if I decided to try to run off to Mars? What is my special skill? I am definitely creative, and I’m pretty adaptable while at the same time being organized and a planner. In a lot of ways my right and left brain are balanced. Someone one Twitter thought the team definitely needed a writer–and they do. They at least need some way to keep all of their progress and achievements recorded, but I have a feeling, given the nature of the selection process, this will be more in video form than written.

If I were to apply, though, I’d have to think of a lot of specific examples of ways I’ve used my strengths that make me particularly qualified for the mission. I think just to apply successfully you’d have to be a pretty good writer–or just amazingly qualified by your overall awesomeness.

What do you think? Do you have what it takes to be a Mars One Astronaut? (Whether or not you’d want to actually do it).

The Meaning of Life: A Vision for a Happier Me

Here is my current position on life and where I’d like to be in mine:

  • Enjoying my life is key, so I need to get back to doing more of that and less time working
  • I enjoy my job, but I never wanted a job that required a lot of outside of the office time (like homework) yet here I am, spending a good portion of all of my Saturdays (and sometimes Sundays) working. So I’m cutting back on that.
  • This blog is important–I think it helps me sort out my ideas, but I’m paring back to about 3 posts a week
  • I’m going to stay serious about my books and push myself to be as professional as possible about them, from research to trying to publish
  • I’m not giving up on my mystery…but I need to do some revisions
  • Stay dedicated with my writing time
  • Make small steps to be healthier–when I’m healthy and fit I feel better, and I haven’t been feeling good lately

These are not “resolutions.” And if you think they are, fine, but I’m telling myself they’re not. They are a vision of how I want to be.

In some ways these are selfish, and I get that–there’s nothing about spending more time serving others, giving more time/money to others, etc. But I think to be my best self, this is something I need to concentrate on right now. If, in the future, I look at myself and think that I’ve turned incredibly self-centered and intolerable, then I will make a new vision. But I think this vision is a good place to start.