Tag Archives: fear

Monday Memories: Books

Today my Monday Memories post is about a book. Some books stick with you for life. Some books you can’t remember a week later. I am going to tell you about a book that scared me to death, was burned into my brain, and left me wanting more all at the same time.

When I was a teenager I went through a phase where I wanted to read “big” books. I read Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell, I read The Stand by Stephen King, and I attempted to read Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Moby Dick put me to sleep. I never got past the first chapter. I tried multiple times. It was just so boring.

 

Then a copy of It by Stephen King fell into my lap. I was instantly enthralled. I fell in love with the characters. I developed a phobia for clowns. In the middle of the night I was so scared, I actually didn’t want to get out of bed and make the trek to the bathroom because it was dark. I stayed up all night reading with a flashlight.  When the book was over I missed the characters so much I started reading the book again.

If you’ve seen the made for TV movie version of the book, trust me, the book was a million times better. I think that movie was the worst adaptation of a book I have ever seen. That movies was an embarrassment. If I were Stephen King, I would be screaming about it right now…years and years later.

When I was in my twenties I read The Shining by Stephen King and that book scared me too. Right after reading it I rented the movie. That movie made me laugh and laugh. The effects were so old by the time I watched it that it just seemed silly and ridiculous. The book was heart attack inducing. Good thing I read it when I was young and healthy.

Anyway, I love scary books. At least, I used to. I mean, it takes me days and days to finish a book now. I read a page or two every night before falling asleep with the lights on. Having a small child makes it near impossible to read during the day with all of the, “Mom, I need a drink. Mom, help me get my toy. Mom, I have to go potty. Mom, I need a new dress. Mom, I want to go outside. Mom, I got wet. Mom, I need another new dress. Mom, not THAT dress. Mom….” And that is only about five minutes worth of my day. Reading at night is hard too because I am too tired to keep my eyes open for very long.

 

I used to be a pretty ferocious reader. I used to read the big books. I used to like scary things. I don’t have it in me anymore. I hope I do again someday. The last scary book I read was The Road by Cormac McCarthy. That apocalyptic nightmare scared me so bad that Jim still talks about the time I read it…five years later. He always laughs about how frightened I was. He didn’t read it. He doesn’t realize how life altering it was. That book is the reason I fantasize about stockpiling food in our basement.

Anyway, have any books changed your life? Do you suffer from an unnatural fear of clowns, the apocalypse, or hoop skirts because of the books you have read? Let me know in the comments. I’m looking for new books to read…even if it takes me six months to finish them. Just don’t ask me to read Moby Dick, because that will only make me cry.

 

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Monday Memories

 

Writing A Novel Is Freakishly Hard

Writing a novel is hard you guys. I mean really hard. I am sure anyone who writes fiction is rolling their eyes at this post already and muttering, “Of course it is, you amateur.” I mean, if any fiction writers are even reading this post that is. Which I doubt they are. Seriously, they are likely far too busy inventing whole new worlds to spend time reading this drivel. They don’t need to listen to me whine about character development, or about staring at the blank page, or about how my characters have made me cry even though I barely have anything written about them yet.

My fictional people are real, in my mind. Sort of like how I am famous in my own mind, but in a more real way. They have hopes and dreams and failure and really hard times. I even know exactly what they look like. I think my sadness for them is keeping me from writing. I already know what the future has in store for them and I want to tell them to turn around and run the other way. “Don’t go down that dark path!” I yell even as I write about them going down that dark path. The only way to help them is to stop writing. I feel a duty to keep these people alive. I am willing to use procrastination to do it. I know, it sounds like I am developing some sort of mental illness over here. Like maybe I think these people really are REAL or maybe like I see dead people…I hope I didn’t just give away the ending.

Anyway, I started Googling “How to write a novel” and all sorts of useful, debilitating information came up. Person A says to do it this way and person B says no, do it this way. Meanwhile I am doing it any old way I can get it out onto the paper…or screen, or old piece of junk mail that happens to be next to me when an idea pops into my head. Is writing a novel a total act of desperation for everyone, or is it just me? Some people have a lot of rules about their writing and some people don’t seem to have any. The best thing I read was not to “tell” people, but to “show” people, especially when it comes to dialogue. Now I am obsessed with listening to how people talk and I started reading first person novels to make sure I am doing it all the right way. Mostly, I just keep telling myself to write something. To write anything. It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be there so I can make it good later. Like a skeleton with bones that can be rearranged. OK, that is probably the worst metaphor for bad writing ever written, but one day it might transform into something beautiful. Maybe. Probably not. If only I could get things to make more sense and stop being so flip-floppy and argumentative with myself.

I can’t seem to write in a linear way. I am jumping from the beginning to the middle to the end. I see things developing in my imagination and want to write a random scene down before I forget it. Little pieces of dialogue here and there. At some point this brainstorming approach will all need to be connected by some sort of narrative that makes sense. Or maybe it won’t.  Make sense, that is. I don’t know for sure because I’m lost in a sea of words and ideas. I am hyperventilating on a raft boat in the middle of the ocean with sharks circling….I am hoping I can do it. I don’t really know how to write fiction or a novel. I am better at memoir. I can snatch moments in time out of the air, but how do I connect them all into one story? How do I keep time and space sort of moving in the same direction? How do I create an entire world for these people? How do I do them any justice? They deserve so much more than I can give them. They deserve better words than I can write. They deserve someone with more skill and talent than I can muster with my level of experience, which is zero. I have zero experience! What was I thinking?!

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on my month of writing. Meanwhile I laugh because nobody cares if I write a novel or not. These people I owe my best work to do not even exist. I made them up. Those sharks are not real and I am not on a raft in the ocean. I am on a mountain, drinking coffee and admiring the chickens out the window.  I might be floating, but it’s of my own freewill. My worries and stress about writing are fictional. It’s all fictional. It’s self-inflicted! I can just stop writing fiction right now and all will be right with the world. Except, then my characters won’t exist at all and that sort of makes me sad too.

Writing a novel is hard. I think most people think it is easy. It’s not. It’s hard. It requires discipline and confidence and maybe a touch of insanity. Maybe it causes insanity. Maybe it’s just causing me some insanity. I’ve become more neurotic than ever and that is saying something.

If you have written a novel or are writing a novel, I salute you. You are the Kings and Queens of creativity. Yes, I am showering you with compliments because I am about to ask you for a favor. Please, give me some advice. How do you do it? How do you write a novel? How are you writing a novel? Throw me a life jacket, tow my raft ashore. Drop me some tips in the comment section. Stop the insanity!

Please?

My characters thank you in advance. I promise, nobody in my novel can see dead people. Unless, you think they should…I am open to suggestions, obviously.

 

 

I’m Writing A Novel

pets-writing a novel
Not Mickey wants the book to be all about cats. Cats riding unicorns as they run up and down rainbows.

I’m writing a novel. I started it last night in a paper notebook. I know, writing a novel sounds super ambitious for someone who can’t even seem to keep up with Fiction Fridays, right? I joined Camp NaNoWriMo two days ago. I have a month to write 50,000 words. Yes, that is four zeroes after that five. I had to do a double-take the first time too. My fingers hurt just thinking about it. My computer is considering over heating in advance. I’ve already taken up pretend alcoholism and invisible chain-smoking to get into my imaginary writers, stereotypical, creative character. I am like the Daniel Day-Lewis of amateur, off, off-Broadway writers. I am sure Mr. Day-Lewis would find the comparison completely insulting, so I should probably just apologize now. I know I am not worthy of the comparison, but I need to create some drama and intrigue and excitement around my new project. All the how-to websites say creating a buzz about your fiction is essential. I hope you can hear that buzz right now, loudly, like an annoying bumblebee that won’t leave you alone, but in a totally “I will be making honey soon” kind of way. This writing gig is already exhausting and I have hardly even started. Do you hear the BUZZ, Mr. Day-Lewis? Do you hear it now? I loved you in Lincoln, by the way….

Since it is already the fourth of April, I have some catching up to do. I am already pages behind. I will soon have to write 2500 words a day to meet my goal. I keep procrastinating on getting an App for writing. I don’t know why, I mean I need one for a multitude of writing reasons: Job resumes, sending letters to politicians, making newsletters randomly, pretending I have serious work to do. I just keep putting it off because I can and maybe because I like the pressure of a looming deadline. It makes me feel important, as if I have somewhere to be. I can say, “Watch out, people, busy, crazy mom coming through. I have things to write. I have DEADLINES!” Nothing makes you feel important like upcoming, self-imposed deadlines. I can scream about my editor being difficult. Nobody has to know that I am my own editor, right? Even if they do find out I am not just the writer, but also the editor, I am pretty sure they will agree that my editor is a real pain in the you-know-what. On a side note, I’m not good at swearing. Someone said people who swear are more trustworthy. I guess that says something about my character. Don’t say I never warned you. My novel will likely be filled with lies. Fictional lies about fictional, made-up people. Wait, maybe real fiction writers don’t swear at all then, right? Now we might be getting somewhere.

Anyway, this novel-writing is incredibly ambitious, but I started last night and so far I think it is pretty good. I mean, pretty good for someone who has never written a book before. That’s the best part about NaNoWriMo. It doesn’t have to be good, it just has to be done. Write a book in one month and then edit it for five years. Sounds like the perfect plan to me! Or, write a book and bury it in the closet for your great-grandchildren to discover and read one day. They will certainly be horrified by my swearing and crude humor (none of which has actually been written by the way (mostly because I don’t swear), but I have big plans…BIG plans filled with crude humor and unfortunate grammar mistakes). I am pretty sure they will mostly marvel at my over-use of parenthesis.

As soon as I finish the book I will print one copy and take it to my Alma Mater and demand they put it into library circulation right next to my philosophy-professor-friend’s book. The friend I like to argue with ad nauseam about life and death and existential angst. I know getting my book next to his will be difficult to accomplish because his book is nonfiction and our last names do not start with the same letter (I may have to start a campaign to do away with the whole alphabetic system of organization and the Dewey Decimal System, but that is a challenge I am willing to take on). His book may be intellectually superior to mine, but I am pretty sure mine will be much more entertaining. I will do my best to work in a few unicorn’s and rainbows as a shout-out to my Fiction Friday peeps and as a way to annoy my philosophizing friend, even though he will likely never read this post or my book. At least, I will know, in my heart, that I have written a book too and that it has unicorns and that it would annoy him if he ever read it. That will satisfy my desire for one-upmanship. If it doesn’t, I’ll have to write a second book, or maybe even a third because he has two books on that college library shelf. Wow, 50,000 words x three is making me a little woozy. I’ll probably need to invest in some robotic wrists by then. Do you think they will be invented sometime during the next 15 years? My carpal tunnel is already getting angry.

Anyway, here I am procrastinating. Over 1000 words of procrastinating. I should have saved them for my book. I’m probably doing this all backwards. When I finish the book I’ll let you read some of it. We all need a good laugh and the grammar sticklers out there need something to write on with their red pens. I have a feeling it will be a hit one way or another. Even if it is the worst book ever written, at least it will be on the library shelf of my old college where they will brag about the accomplishments of local alumni. I can continue to be famous in my own mind, and you, my dear readers, will have the opportunity to laugh and leave me horrible reviews with anonymous names. That kind of sounds like a blast, doesn’t it? It does to me! I am actually looking forward to it.

I guess I better go. I am off to do important things. I have serious, self-imposed deadlines to meet. I am busy being famous in my own mind. I’m writing a novel. It’s hard work. It’s important too, have I mentioned that? Due to my inability to swear I am probably not to be trusted when declaring my level of importance, but hopefully, my exaggerations and love of drama will unfold nicely between the pages of a fictional book. Send prayers. Send chocolate. Send robotic wrists. Prepare to write entertaining reviews.