Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Teaser Tuesday! Snippet From My WiP

Um...yeah...I guess this isn't really a "teaser" since I'm an unknown aspiring author with zero people anticipating this novel, but...I needed something that went with Tuesday, okay? Okay. :)

So, I know you're all just DYING for a glimpse of my WiP, right?


Anyway. I've been TERRIBLE with my short stories this year. The plan was to write one short story a month, and I had planned on sharing them with you. Well, I shared my January short story with you, but I ...uh...haven't written once since. Heh. And since my brain won't work right now to come up with an actual post, and I'm in a particularly share-y mood, I'll share a small snippet from New Novel. You'll have absolutely no idea what's going on, of course, and I'm going to be cruel and leave it that way. Muahahaha :D

* * *

Nighttime. Magic. It’s as though a switch is flipped, an ordinary lounge turned magical lair. The daytime is almost too normal, as though the night is only a dream. As though I’ve made this whole life up in my mind. But then the night comes and allures us all, and we’re happy to be in the dream again. I let the customers in. I shiver. I listen to the music. I drink one of James’s concoctions. I watch the customers in their trance, loving loving loving this place as they slowly fade away. This is what normal looks like.
So why is there this gnawing in my chest, aching to break free?
I stand with my arms crossed, my ankles crossed, leaning against the column outside of the lounge. It’s nearly two in the morning—nearly closing time. We aren’t letting any more customers in, but it’s supposed to snow tonight and I want to wait for it. I want to be outside when it does. I remember being little, jumping in huge piles of snow, laughing with Julie as we froze in the icy white stuff but not caring a bit, because it was the most fun we could imagine. I would do that again, now. I would do it if I wouldn’t look like a fool.
I would do it if it didn’t remind me so much of Julie, and the person that I used to be.
The sky is dark, but there’s an almost red tint to it. The air is frigid and smells of snow. I watch the yellow-orange glow of the streetlamps, waiting to see a sign of snowflakes against the light. There’s nothing yet, but it should be soon, and I’m not tired.
Someone walks up to me and stands at my side.
I keep my eyes on the light as I say, “We’re closing.”
“I’m not allowed in, anyway.”
I don’t need to look at him to know it’s Leonel, but I do. His black jacket is fraying at the collar, his neck exposed. I wonder how he isn’t freezing. His guitar is a permanent fixture on his back, like it’s grown right out of him, like it’s part of him. His hands are shoved into the pockets of his jeans, and he stares steadily at the streetlamp as though I’m not even there.
“What are you doing here? Did Papa call you?”
“No. I just finished a gig around the corner and wanted to walk by.”
I stare at him. He stares at the streetlamp. How is it that he stole my perfect moment and now I can’t even look at the streetlamp on my own?
“Why would you do that if we don’t need you tonight?” I say. It comes out a little harsher than necessary, but I don’t apologize.
He parts his lips and exhales, his breath forming a white cloud in the air. He finally looks at me. “No reason. I just felt like going for a walk, I guess.” His eyelashes are so thick they cast a shadow on his face, just under his eyes. I bet when it snows, the flakes catch on them like crazy.
I don’t know what to say, so I look back to the streetlamp. It’s not the same with him here, but we stand there together and wait. I’m waiting for the snow. I’m not sure what he’s waiting for.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Growing As A Writer

I think that sometimes, as writers, we tend to get down on ourselves and our writing. We can always improve, we can always fix something and write faster and try harder. Our prose can be better. Our plots tighter. Our characters more likable. Our premises more interesting.

I'm wracked with doubt every time I sit down to write. Doubt and hope. Doubt and hope. It's an endless cycle.

The other day I pulled out my first novel and read some of it. It's still a first draft, and I still love the premise, and I still think about going back to it one day, but...man, it's messy. And kind of scary. And pretty...bad.

But the funny thing is that I used to think it was awesome. (Ha ha ha!) And even though it sounds like I'm bashing myself, I'm not. This realization made me insanely happy, because I realized that I've grown SO MUCH as a writer since that first novel. All that angsting over the keyboard with the new novel has not been in vain. My writing is stronger than it used to be. (And will get stronger still!)

Not only that, but my first novel took me almost two years to write. Just the first draft. I'd write a page or two and think that was impressive for one day. (And hey, at the time, it totally was for me. We do what we can, and I finished the draft that way.) But now? I usually set a goal of at least 1,000 words a day. I never thought I'd be able to do that.

Somehow, during all that writing, even while I was doubting and getting down on myself, I was growing. And I didn't even realize it.

So today, I'd like to encourage all of you who might be doubting your work or getting down on yourselves. Everything you write--EVERYTHING--is helping you grow as a writer. Even that crap scene that you just cut. Even that piece of dialogue that made you cringe. Even that cliche that your CP nailed you for. It's all worth it and helping in some way.

So tell me, lovely friends: in what ways have you grown since you first started writing? What are you most proud of? For me, it's my word count, and the flow of my writing. It's not as choppy as it used to be. It's not perfect by ANY MEANS, but it's better. Definitely better.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

There Are Teenagers In My Library!

So...um...this might be slightly obvious to you bookish and writerly peeps...but seriously, libraries are so cool! I mean, I knew this already. Libraries are full of books, and books are awesome, and therefore libraries are awesome. This is merely fact.


Last week I got my very own, very first library card since I was a kid. It was like entering some kind of magical wonderland! Books, books, everywhere! People who love books! People who read books! People who love people who love and read books! I immediately gravitated toward the YA section and stood in wonder as I scanned the shelves. All my favorite authors were stocked. Books I've been wanting to read but haven't had a chance to buy yet were readily available. But now, I could read them for FREE. FOR FREE! Seriously? How is this amazingness even possible? (Yeah, tax dollars, I know. Shhhh.)

So, my new obsession is the library. I decided to indulge in this obsession last night, and so I packed up my laptop and my notebook, and headed to the most magical place on earth. (Sorry, Disney World--I still love you!) I sat at a table and opened my laptop, only to find the battery was dead because I forgot to charge it. Awesome. I was kind of in a bad mood until I heard something...



You guys, my library is full of teenagers!!! (Um, WOW that sounded creepy. *backs away slowly*)

But seriously. I was SO intrigued. I was in the perfect position to eavesdrop on real life teen conversation. This was RESEARCH, people. Research.

This is what I learned:

1. Some teenage boys are all about RULE BREAKING. There was one boy who INSISTED on using his cellphone even though the rules clearly stated that no cellphones shall be used in the library! But he was a rebel. He whispered into his cell phone, talking to "Chris" and telling "Chris" that he was with "Michelle" at the library. I think he might have said that he was with "Michelle" seven times. Which leads me to believe that

2. Some teenage boys are all about BRAGGING ABOUT GIRLS THEY ARE WITH. This boy clearly had a thing for Michelle. Or maybe Chris had a thing for Michelle and he wanted Chris to be jealous, perhaps elevating his social status? Who knows. All I know is that it was IMPORTANT that Chris know he was with Michelle.

3. Some teenagers LIKE TO PROCRASTINATE. They were supposed to be studying. Maybe they were even TRYING to study, but let me tell you...no studying happened. There was much joking, loud talking, illegal phone calls, and making of plans for after studying. At one point, Michelle even told the first boy (the one who called Chris), "I'm never studying with you again." Wise choice, Michelle, if you ever want to get any actual studying done.

4. Some teenagers are RISK-TAKERS. This is on a small scale, of course. I mean, how much risk is there in a library? But anyway, one boy was talking LOUDLY, and even using some choice expletives WITHIN EARSHOT of the librarian. Some teens shushed him, saying, "We're in a library!", but he continued until he finished his story. It was worth the risk.

5. Some teenagers are QUIET and STUDIOUS. Okay, this totally contradicts everything I just said, but there were other teenagers there that were not part of the group. They were alone. And they were quiet. They followed the rules. And they studied! Which leads me to believe that

6. Teenagers get more work done and follow more rules when they are ALONE, but seem to have more fun and take more risks when they are IN A GROUP. Astounding, no?

My conclusion is that teenagers are UNIQUE and INTERESTING and JUST LIKE US! But younger! Some are introverts, and some are extroverts! Some are loud and some are quiet! Some like to procrastinate and some like to study! And  yeah, some are more keen to breaking rules and taking risks. But that's why I like to write about them! That's WHY THEY ARE AWESOME! Aren't all good stories about taking risks?

Anyway, I'm sure there's much more to learn. I hope to make my library trips a weekly thing, and I really, REALLY hope there will be more teenagers that I can listen to. It's been eye-opening.

Also? Teenagers rock. I kind of want to make friends with them. Maybe that's the next step...slowly move my chair closer...laugh at someone's joke...gradually enter the conversation...suggest some BOOKS...

Or not. Would that be weird?