Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Get All The Reading Done!

I'm just going to confess right now: I didn't write. Not a lick. I didn't even role play this week, since I had to work through the D&D session on Saturday. Instead, I spent the week still catching up on chores I had neglected in November in favor of NaNo. I've also worked on prepping for Christmas, as well as organizing the living room a bit. Mainly due to the fact that I bought brand new living room furniture! Aside from the kitchen island my mother bought us for my birthday a few years back, this is literally the only bit of new furniture that we own. Exciting!
Hubby picked the matching loveseats out. Awesome, right?
Anyway, the last thing that I've been focusing on this past week is READING. I still have two more categories in the 2016 Reading Challenge, and I haven't touched either yet. But I'll get back to that.

First, I wanted to state that at writing group last week I ended up reading my still-yet-to-be-edited first chapter of "Lost Loves and Paramours" - my NaNoWriMo story about Jolene. It was glaringly obvious that I "head hopped" - switched from one character's POV to another's - and I'm not entirely sure how to fix that. Especially since I do the exact same thing in a later chapter, and that switch to Teo's POV from Jolene's is one of my favorite scenes. However, I only jump from Jolene's POV about three or four times, and for maybe 1000 words out of the over-all 50,885... So I have to find a way to keep the story entirely in her head, or I have to include a lot more scenes where we're in the man's head. It will be a challenge to edit this thing....

Plus side? That was the only critique: I head hopped, and it was mildly jarring. The room seemed otherwise stunned at how well my first draft was. Well, all but one woman who has kind of been rubbing me the wrong way; she simply said "I don't comment about people's first drafts." Um... isn't that the point though? I didn't realize our writing group was simply a place for us to stroke each other's egos. I thought it was a safe spot to come together, read our works, get critiques in order to improve, and work out the kinks so that we can all become successful.

Keaton also irritated me about the same thing a few months back when I wanted to talk more about one of my stories, but I only had the outline; not the actual narrative. I wanted to go over the outline to see if people could help me figure out the structure of my story before I actually started writing, yet she didn't want to hear it; claimed she didn't want it to spoil the story itself by having her know what was coming. Instead, she wanted me to read whatever narrative I had.

I mean, I get it, but at the same time, if the outline is done well enough, it should still be engaging. People should still be like "I want to know more" or "I can't wait to actually read this!" It's a synopsis, and if it's good enough, it should make you want to read/watch the actual thing. Right?

On top of that, DFL doesn't like to read her stuff or talk about her writing progress at all because she doesn't want to "waste anyone's time" with seeking help. She doesn't have anything new to read to the group, so we should just pass on by her instead of allowing her to ask questions or talk about her latest research in the matter.

After a year with this group, I truly feel they are missing the greatest point of having the group in the first place: a place for us to grow.

So, I want DFL to talk to us about her progress, even if no new narrative is written. I want Keaton - and all the other members - to listen to the pre-production of novels: the story concepts, the general plot/theme concepts, the outlines, the character descriptions/builds, the world-building, etc. I want this new woman - who, technically, is an old member who has finally returned to group - to comment on first drafts so we can know what to look for when we edit. If she points something out - like the head hopping - that the author already knows is a problem, a simple "Yup, I know. I need to fix that" is all that's needed. That's exactly what I said to Carson when he pointed out the head-hop in my chapter. I blushed slightly and said "Yeah. I do that. I know I need to fix that." But who knows if this woman had insight to my draft that I never thought of?

Still, having every one else - aside from that woman - say they couldn't think of anything else to change, aside from fixing the head-hop, was very encouraging. In the past - as repeat readers probably already know - I was paranoid that their lack of commenting on my writing was due to them brushing me off; my writing, or I, wasn't worth their time. They'd focus more on some of the older authors; giving longer critiques of lines they loved, words that seemed out of place, and character building.

I still don't really get any of that. None of my lines seem to stand out - either because they're excellent or terrible - and no one seems to go on and on about my character builds. However, in-between group sessions, I get a lot of comments from the group members about Jolene. They all seem really interested in hearing her story. Then there's the fact that they all actually verbalized last week that they couldn't think of anything to change, because the story was good. It's giving me confidence that they truly didn't comment in the past simply because they couldn't think of a critique, not because there was so much wrong with it, they didn't know where to start.

So, there's that.

Now, back to the Reading Challenge.

Upon review of this blog, it seems the last time I really talked in-depth about a book was my thoughts on "Xenocide" back in June. Aside from that, I did talk about "Ready Player One" while I was reading it, but didn't give it an overall review once done. I kept meaning to do that as my "make up" posts to still get me to 52 by the end of the year. Yet I keep falling off the horse about that too.

Therefore, I will not guarantee it will actually happen, but I do really want to reflect on all the books I read this year in one blog post. I might do that as my "year in review" post that I write each December. I haven't quite figured it out yet.

For now, though, I'm racing through "The Hammer of Thor," the second book in the Magnus Chase series written by Rick Riordan. In fact, as of this writing, I only have 30pgs left to read. I almost polished it off last night, but my eyes began to glaze over at about midnight.

I'm a bit behind; I wanted to be done by the 10th. That way I could break down the last three categories I needed to cross off into three 10-day blocks; allowing me to finish by the end of the month. Aside from reading "Coraline" in a day - one of the challenge categories - this would be the fastest I've read a novel: 10 days.

Well, in recent, post-college years, at least. When I was in high school and middle school I would be able to take a whole Saturday or Sunday; curl up in bed, and just read all day long. Can't really do that anymore. Stupid adulting.

Anyway, once I'm done with "The Hammer of Thor" I really TRULY need to figure out the last two categories that I've been avoiding all year long. As of right now I STILL don't have a clue what I should read for "Should have read in school." Because the only books I didn't actually read in school - that I can recall - are "The Old Man and The Sea" by Ernest Hemingway, and "The Red Badge of Courage" by Stephen Crane. In both cases, I did read about half-way through the books before giving up on them. Both cases, I gave up mostly because I kept falling asleep while reading. These books are just painfully boring to me. The plot and/or characterization just isn't there. I can't connect.

Both books are fairly short, however. Perhaps I could plow through in less than 10 days, call the challenge complete, and move on to the banned book. The other alternative to the "boring novels" for the "should have read in school" category is also super short: "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck. Hubby was actually so shocked when I told him that this book was never on my required reading list in school, that he handed me his copy about a decade ago, and told me to read it. That and "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding; another book I couldn't stand.

Anyway, I could always reread "Of Mice and Men" and call that challenge category complete, even if I had read it before. Or I could tackle the two books in my entire schooling career that literally put me to sleep. Or I could go for another classic that most were forced to read, but it never ended up on my school's required reading: "A Stitch in Time," or "The Giver," or Shakespeare's "King Lear." See? Still have no clue what I'm reading.

Same goes for a once-banned book. There's so many to choose from! Also, the list of banned books is not very consistent. I can't find one comprehensive list, when I assumed there was one that libraries used for their annual Banned Books Week. For those who don't know, this is a week at the end of September where libraries purposely display books that were banned or challenged; encouraging others to read these books. It is an expression of Reading Freedom. For more detailed info, please check out the link.

Anyway, books I "should have read in school" could also cross over into these "banned books" category. Some most notable are "Of Mice and Men" and "The Giver." There's also "A Stitch in Time" or "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" or "Brave New World" - a book I greatly enjoyed in school - or "Nineteen Eighty-Four."

I think I'm largely leaning towards 1984. For three reasons: One, it's the year I was born, so why not?

Two, so many TV shows, movies, and books reference it. Heck, even I use "Big Brother" frequently. It is such a well-known concept of a book, and the main parts of the story have bled into modern culture without a lot of people truly knowing its source. I want to know the source.

Three: Spink is reading it, and it inspired me to want to. It's considered such a great classic by most, and it seems a shame that I haven't cracked it open yet.

So, heading into this final stretch for this challenge, let's take a look at how I'm doing so far:
Challenge created by Modern Mrs. Darcy
The coolest part is that I've also read four books that don't fit on the above challenge list: two self-help/how-to books and two fiction novels. Not too shabby for someone who only read one book last year! I might try for two books a month next year.

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