Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Maurice Sendak is AWESOME!!!

So, my YA post for the week is a cheat, really... it's more about children's literature... and actually, I'm going to let Maurice Sendak and Steven Colbert say it. (Maurice Sendak, by the way... is AWESOME!!!)

Best line of this interview "I don't write for children... I write... and somebody says 'That's for children'"

I think that kind of writing produces the best books. It's one thing to market and hit a target demographic... but in the end you just gotta write your story.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Grim Colberty Tales with Maurice Sendak Pt. 1
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Grim Colberty Tales with Maurice Sendak Pt. 2
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Monday, January 30, 2012

Knights of MicroFiction

I thought I'd participate in this new monthly blog hop of Write. Skate. Dream.'s and Imagine Today's. It's a chance to do a little flash fiction writing and oil the gears of my imagination a little. Play along if you will :)

Write a Flash Fiction (MicroFiction) piece in 250 words or less about someone who's done something wrong but doesn't have the guts to apologize. Whether they end up apologizing or not is up to you.

Here's my entry:

Stupid, stupid, stupid… my face was burning. How could I be so stupid? I looked at the smoldering, melted mess that used to be my sister’s yoga mat. The smell of incense and burning plastic seared the back of my throat. And there’s the smoke alarm. Fantastic.

I hurried around the apartment opening windows and waving frantically at the smoke detector. Fandango, Aya’s preening Pomeranian, danced yapping about my feet, his wagging tail and sparkling eyes mocking me. At least he couldn’t talk… he couldn’t tell Aya what I’d done. “You just better keep your tiny little dog lips sealed, got it?” I threatened. Great. I’m threatening a Pomeranian. I sighed.

I gathered up the molten mess of mat and stuffed it into a trash bag from under the kitchen sink. I took one last look around the apartment, sniffing the air to make sure the burning smell was completely gone. Eh. Could be worse, I suppose. I’d better hurry up and get out of here before she comes home and catches me. Oh wait, the dog!

“Damn it Fandango, get back in your crate, you little monster!” I chased the gleeful pup around the kitchen island for the fifth time. “Gotcha!” Fandango screeched as I dived and grabbed him by the middle and shoved him in his crate. “Remember, I was never here!”

Monday, January 23, 2012

Remember when...

Ok, I admit two things. One, I'm 34, and so using the phrase "Remember when..." sort of rings a little hollow. I've done a lot of looking back recently, and talking about former times. I still feel too young to be waxing nostalgic.

Second admission... Just now when I typed the title "Remember when..." for this post the song "Crocodile Rock" by Elton John popped into my head and it's stuck there. Please tell me you know the song... No? Yes? Well, for better or worse, here it is:
And piggy-backing on that second admission, here's a third... I LOVE THAT SONG :) It makes me get all wiggly and smile a lot. Ha!

Ok, back to the point... I'm borrowing from the lovely and talented Margo Berendsen, who last week wrote about teenage love. I partook in a lively discussion about whether it was appropriate to portray teenage love that seems like it will last forever, that has such intense "I'd-die-for-you" qualities as a lot of the books out there right now do (i.e. Twilight, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, come on you name 'em). There was some argument that the kind of love in those books wasn't "realistic" enough.

To which I laugh... firstly because realism is hardly what I look for or expect when I pick up a Young Adult novel. But the question, I guess, pertains to my expectation as well. Should I expect the love stories contained in Young Adult fiction to be more 'realistic'?

My argument in the whole thing was that, apart from the "happily ever after" bit, the way love is portrayed in a book like Twilight (even Romeo and Juliet) is completely realistic in an overly dramatic, "I'd rather die than live without you" kind of way. I know, I know... it sounds like a paradox. How can you be realistic and overly dramatic at the same time? Try being a teenager.

It was a while ago for me, but not so long that I haven't forgotten how it felt to be in love as a teenager. Of course, the love I felt was hardly requited (ah the life of the awkward youth)... but that even added an edge of proving just how deeply smitten I was in the hopes that my love would be recognized as THE love. Still not relating? Really, you must have the emotions of an automaton then.

So in my auto-biographical example, "he" wasn't the most popular kid in school, although he was well liked by many people. I thought he was the most handsome boy minus one... he had the most beautiful singing voice... and he was prone to his own fits of melodrama that made him desperately tragic. Plus, he was one of my best friends (read that as, he was way too nice to tell me I was a loser)... and I spent a lot of time hanging out with him. Not that he would ever read this blog, but if any of you knew me in high school you know who he is, too.

It's not like I kept my feelings a secret. My heart was LITERALLY on my sleeve... well, ok, not Literally... but you get the idea. If you had asked me to, I would have jumped (off of what?) for him, I'm fairly certain. No he never returned my feelings... but that just meant I needed to prove how desolate my life was without him!

So, now... all these years later... I'm so over that phase of my life... I moved to California and now to the East Coast again... I met a wonderful, amazing man whom I have been married to for 9 years... and I know that love is more than the wibbly-wobbly feelings in my stomach... that it's so much richer when it's requited (ha... a given, that...)... and that it takes effort, tenacity, open-mindedness, vulnerability... that the flash in the pan is not the staying power of a lasting marriage. That doesn't invalidate the experience I had when I was young, though.

And THAT is why those books are so popular... it's because we all recognize the echo of our own teenage loves that we wish had lasted for an eternity in the story of Bella and Edward. I am in NO WAY defending Twilight as a good book... as I said on Margo's blog, Bella's character makes me want to choke on my own bile. But that's partly because I have grown up, grown out of that stage of helpless mush. But the echo, the resonance with our past, that's what gives these stories their popularity... it's precisely because they ARE realistic... realistically unrealistic.

Thoughts? There's an underlying question here of whether you think literature should exist to edify or entertain... should books portray more "realistic" love for teens to learn what that looks like? Hmmm... I'd love to hear what people have to say about this.

This post fits with the meme Young Adult Teen Tuesday started by Shari Larsen over at Writers Ally in that it is almost Tuesday and the post is about teens in love and grew out of Margo's post along the same meme from last week. So I guess I'll "join" in the conversation.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ah Monday...

Good morning Monday. I mean, good late morning... I have been up since before the sun today... attempting the creative life... struggling to stay awake while scribbling morning pages out into the universe... reading my creative inspirational readings... and visiting the Subaru dealership to get the car serviced. Ah Monday. You sure do know how to mix together aspects of life that I wouldn't ordinarily let associate. What better way to spend an hour and a half, though? If I had to wait for the car, at least I wasn't wasting my time... not really. Ok, maybe a little. They have a TV there! (we don't have TV at home) So naturally I was a little distracted by Matt Lauer and crew... and all those commercials!

I have never been more thankful that we don't have TV (we do have A tv, but not TV, get it?) than I am at this current stage in my life. I am so easily distracted by the computer, much less the ever babbling world of modern media. If I had a conduit to that flow, I would slip into a stupor of inaction that I know I would never recover from. Sometimes I miss not knowing the pop-culture answers at pub trivia (we woulda won the other week if we only watched TV). But on the whole, I feel less anxiety... I can breathe more, better, find time to do things... or at least have one less major excuse for not doing things that I want to do.

I'm working on myself recently. Working on figuring out what my hangups are with just getting my creative projects done. It's not as if I don't have time. But something keeps holding me back from allowing myself to play and in the process be successful and creative. I think I'm getting closer to the source. The monsters have been rumbling more and I haven't been able to sleep very well. Weird dreams about werewolves and Neil Gaiman and Harry Potter...

So I have to check in with myself and ... just ... breathe ...

How do you tap into the flow of your creativity? Any hangups you would like to share?

This beautiful owl lives at the nature center
a friend of mine runs in NJ.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group

I've been lurking around others' sites long enough looking at this monthly blog group. It's time to self-identify. I am an insecure writer. There's no two ways around that. So, the idea of this support group is to post once a month with this tag and talk about my insecurities (and hopefully about victories over my insecurities)... and then go around to other writers' blogs and comment/show support for them. I can get behind that. Especially because one of my main insecurities is that no one is actually listening to (reading) me. Oh, but thank you SO much to my good friends who consistently comment, even if it's just to say hello.

Isn't that just every writer's fear, somewhere deep inside? That no matter how targeted, how sculpted, how well written your work, no one will connect with it. You'll meet with the sound of crickets... if you're lucky... instead of the sound of interaction. Because... even negative interaction is something... even if people disagree with you, at least you know that they heard you...

Sigh... so that's my insecure writer's post, my first one. Now I'm off to say hi to some other writers out there, to comment, to play, to interact.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Books I read last year and reading goals for this year

  • The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • Anthropology of an American Girl - Hilary Thayer Hamann
  • Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
  • Bottlenose Dolphins: Biology and Conservation - Reynolds, Wells, Eide
  • The Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll
  • A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
  • Interview with the Vampire - Anne Rice
  • Anansi's Boys - Neil Gaiman
  • Not in Kansas Anymore: A curious tale of how magic is transforming America - Christine Wicker
  • The Crystal Cave - Mary Stewart
  • The Hollow Hills - Mary Stewart
  • The Tiger in the Well - Phillip Pullman
  • Smoke and Mirrors - Neil Gaiman
  • The Book of Dead Days - Marcus Sedgewick
  • Wicked - Gregory Maguire
  • Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
  • Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
  • Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - JK Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
  • The Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan
  • The Dead-Tossed Waves - Carrie Ryan
  • The Dark and Hollow Places - Carrie Ryan
  • Going Bovine - Libba Bray
  • Melting Stones - Tamora Pierce
  • The Will of the Empress - Tamora Pierce
  • The Good Earth - Pearl S. Buck
  • The Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin
  • A Clash of Kings - George R.R. Martin
  • A Storm of Swords - George R.R. Martin
  • A Feast for Crows - George R.R. Martin
  • Mountain Spirit: The Sheepeater Indians of Yellowstone - Lawrence L. Loendorf & Nancy Medaris Stone
  • Watership Down - Richard Adams
  • Wildwood - Colin Meloy
  • Feng Shui Step By Step by T. Raphael Simons
  • Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynn Jones
I read a lot last year. I have so much more to read, too. This year I'm hoping to read a lot more new books... I have stacks at home and goals... one of them is to read more non-fiction. I have a couple books by feminist authors on tap, a book about the history of Kauai, a book about the politics of the conservation of wolves, and a couple of liberal political books (George Carlin and Michael Moore) that I'm hoping to get through. I also want to read Atlas Shrugged... and Ulysses. We'll see if I can manage those...  I'm planning to keep a running list again, at home on my kitchen cabinet and here on the blog for others to see :)