Marry Date or Dump: Peter, Calvin and Laurie

The rules are simple, and the game is fun. I’ve listed three of my all time favorite literary crushes, you choose which one you would marry, date and dump. Enjoy!

Peter from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis
Calvin O’Keefe from A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
Laurie from Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

Links for a Lazy Sunday

Is there anything better than knowing on a lazy Sunday, that you will also get to have a lazy Monday?

What speed do you read? Find out how your reading speed compares with the national average by taking this test. Be warned that they will quiz you for reading comprehension upon completion, so no cheating or skimming!

Although I haven’t used it before, for awhile I’ve been interested in Project Gutenberg. They offer over 39,000 free ebooks, and it is completely legal because the US copyright has expired. Delightful, right? Even more delightful is my recent discovery that they also offer free audio book downloads. Most are computer generated, and in my imagination it is akin to asking Siri to read you a bedtime story.

With some craziness over at work, I am recommitting myself to writing. Here are some tools around the internet that I’ve found helpful.

  • 10 steps to finding your writing voice
  • The emotion thesaurus (I didn’t buy this, but have started making a list of every emotion I can think of. Beside benefiting your writing, I think there is also therapeutic value in this exercise.)
  • had two posts this week featuring famous authors thoughts on the writing process Part 1 and Part 2.
  • Miss Snark an old, unfortunately discontinued, literary agent blog, I used to read in high school and dream about being published. This won’t necessarily help your writing, but it will help you look ahead to the next stage when it is time to write a query letter.

Living by Comparison in a Post School World

*No Emo.

When you are in school, it is almost impossible not to live by comparison. It doesn’t matter how much you are supposed to compete with yourself not your classmates, or if an A is dressed up as an “excellent”. An A isn’t an A if someone doesn’t have a B, or even an F. It’s how educators extrinsically motivate students. There is more you can compare, how many friends you have, what activities you participate in, if you are in a relationship.

It’s funny that in this time of hyper comparison, you and your peers are living essentially the same life. From preschool to college, for the most part classmates share both similar lives and labels.  Whether you are first or last in your class, everyone in the 10th grade is a sophomore.

And then you graduate, and everyone that you’ve been the same with your whole life is now different.  But the training to live by comparison, to measures success by looking at how you measure up to the people around you, for me, that didn’t just go away.

This month marks the 2-year anniversary since I graduated from college. This was a tough one for me, in part because when graduation everyone’s advice seemed to be that graduates should take 2 years to figure out what they want to do. I think this was meant to take the pressure off: to make us feel like we didn’t need to have everything figured out by the Sunday after graduation.  So what does it mean years out and still not know?

Probably, nothing.  People get to be fifty and still don’t know, but that shouldn’t get in the way of living your life … right Mom?

It is so crazy to look back two years and see the fantastic things my friends have accomplished.  Friends that went straight into grad school after graduating now have master’s degrees or have passed their qualifying exams to get PhD’s. They’ve paid off their student loans, found new exciting jobs, started their own businesses, and moved into new apartments. Girls who were single on graduation day are engaged. The list goes on, and I’m doing some of these things to. And even if I’m a little jealous sometimes, that doesn’t mean I’m not hugely proud of all of them.

But what is harder than facing the occasional green-eyed monster, is not knowing how I stack up when compared to friends who are living lives that seem so separate and different from mine.  I’m hoping this sounds slightly more thoughtful, than pathetically self-pitying (which is not my intention).  Has anyone else had similar experiences? Does anyone secretly wish there were grades at work?

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: Metaphor, allegory or just meh?

*** there are some light spoilers in this review.

I really like the idea behind Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs. The book started as a collection of peculiar photographs of children, and that is where the story starts.

Sixteen year-old Jacob is dealing with the before and after of his beloved grandfather’s death. No one else has ever understood him, and no one believes him when he describes his grandfather’s murder.  Jacob had his grandfather’s stories of hiding from the monsters on an island with magical children during the Holocaust and a collection of photographs from this time.

I enjoyed the first section of the book, covering his grief and people’s reaction to his stories. The second half, when he travels to the island (I won’t tell you what he finds there) relied too much on the photographs and not enough on narrative and character development.

While I didn’t hugely enjoy, or dislike, the book there were aspects I found interesting. I think it is a hugely innovative way to think about the Holocaust and World War II.  The children in the grandfather’s story are all being kept on the island because of their strange powers and abilities. They are also suspended in childhood, and have very little control over their time. I couldn’t help wondering if this was a strange allusion to concentration camps.

There are terrible monsters, hunting only these types of children, and special informers that blend into society. Jacob questions whether these stories are his grandfather’s allegorical way of being able to talk about his child as a Polish Jew in the 1940s. These are interesting ideas, but they aren’t taken far enough to work in the book.

The photographs were my favorite part of the book. While I didn’t dislike it, I don’t see why it has been so enormously popular, spending 45 weeks on the New York Times “Best Sellers” list for children’s chapter books.

For further reading and reviews:

How long should it take to write a novel?

Last week, while perusing the NYT website I started reading “Writer’s Cramp: In the E-Reader Era, a Book a Year Is Slacking,” by Julie Bosman. You should also read the article, hence the link, but the gist of it discusses the new pressures on authors because of technology and a consumer culture based on instant gratification.

It has long been the norm for authors, especially genre writers (romance, mystery, thriller etc.) to publish a book every year. EBooks have made instant publishing possible and publishers are pushing authors to double or triple their writing schedule to keep readers interest.

As a reader, this doesn’t seem like a bad thing to me. I have no problem admitting that I am impatient for books from the authors I love.  The faster they end up on my kindle the better. However, as an aspiring writer I echo the sentiments that it would be a bad thing for an author’s career to be judged on productivity and not creativity.

The article also made me start thinking, how long should it take to write a novel? How long will it take me to write mine?

Some of you know (I have a hard time decipher the ratio of real life friends to internet friends of this blog’s readership) that I have been working on a young adult project that I call “dreamers”. I started writing my senior year during January break, thinking if I can write this novel in a month then I won’t have to find a job. After leaving my first job and moving home I wrote the bulk of the book during my 2 months of unemployment. I’ve tried to balance writing with working, something I plan to recommit to this week.

It’s been almost 3 years since I started thinking about the project, and 2 years since I started writing, and while I know a month seems like a silly amount of time to spend on a book I’m starting to wonder if the end is in sight. If I am meant to be a writer, shouldn’t I be done by now? Or is the time I’m spending, less about procrastination and more about adding meaningful depth to my work? Hard to say, my guess is that it is probably both.

I wonder if there is a quality loss that accompanies the pressure to write more faster? Or if the more your work, the more you have to work with.  I keep remembering something I heard Eugenia Kim, author of The Calligrapher’s Daughter, say. She talked about how difficult it was to adjust her process from taking 12 years to write her first book to being expected to write the second one in under a year. Now it seems like with eBooks, the pace might be even worse. Right now, I kind of hope that is a problem I have someday.