Sincerely, A Frustrated Reader

Guys. I am a huge believer in the idea that all writers are, at least in part, a frustrated reader who got tired of waiting for someone else to write the book they want to read.

This is pretty much where I am now; I have one flavour of story I want to read, but I can’t find it anywhere; who knew a cross between Sailor Moon, The Mummy, and Stargate, with a smattering of Fringe/X-Files thrown in, would be so hard to find. Just a book with upbeat, irrepressibly optimistic protagonists, a heavy influence of archaeology, reincarnated kingdoms, ancient futuristic technology, and dimension/time travel. It’s not like that’s a terribly specific and weird combination. Surely there are loads of books like that, no? No?

Anyway, besides now having a new story I have to write, I am left wondering; is there an app or website that lets you plug in elements from books you like, or just straight up book you like, and it spit out other books that match up? I’m not talking Goodreads; while in theory it might be good, I’ve found it rather useless. (When I say I want to read something like Mansfield Park, I don’t want something Regency-era. I want a book with a quietly strong female character, told by a witty narrator. That sort of thing.) if there is, or by some miracle you actually know if books that match what I’ve described here, please help. I can’t focus on other work until I’ve got this craving sorted.

If such an app or site does not exist, I’m very tempted to create one myself. (Never mind the fact that coding is the very bane of my existence.) I mean, it would take a phenomenal amount of research and effort, but good gravy, think of the payoff.

On the topic of wanting new books. I don’t care what format its in; series, book, novella, snippy paragraph- I just need J.K. Rowling to write more about ancient Egyptian Wizards. I needs it.

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Never Re-read Favourite Childhood Books

Well, that’s a bit harsh. Maybe I should’ve said “Never re-read favourite childhood books, unless you’ve prepared your heart for disappointment.”

But, in my life, considering all the dreams lost and plans foiled, the most disappointing moments have been when I decided to re-read a past favourite book/series.

This doesn’t happen often, my choosing to re-read something, and when it does, it is almost always at least two years between reads. Most books, to me, aren’t “alive”, so to speak; creations that manage to change, be different and new, with each read. Those books are, very, very rare in my life. I usually need about a 2-3 year buffer between reads to forget the details that made it interesting. (I’ve yet to fully forget the main plot of any book I’ve read, so the details are what I need to keep my interest.) Some books, I need closer to a decade.

In my youth, there were some books I read every year, I loved them that much; I loved the story, the prose, everything. Some, like Edding’s Belgariad and Mallorean, I can still read with just as much enjoyment as I did in my youth. Other favourites, unfortunately, did not fair so well. Surprisingly, it was not the stories that pushed me away, but the prose that I once loved so much.

The first series I experienced this with was Terry Brook’s Shannara Chronicles; I loved these as child. I loved the plot, the characters, the works. But I especially loved how it was written. To my ten year old mind, it was the epitome of descriptive works, and after which I strove to model my own writings. So, in the last year of university, I decided to reread them, and bought the first book as incentive to go to the gym. (Telling myself I could only read it while on an exercise bike.) This worked precisely once, and that was when I learned that one’s taste for prose can change drastically over the course of a dozen years. I faced this again with Pier’s Anthony’s Apprentice Adept series. Descriptive passages I once marveled at now set my teeth on edge. It’s rather depressing, actually. I still love the idea of the books, the story and characters, but I can’t get two pages in without my fingers itching to rewrite it all. (Not, mind you, that I think I could do better, or that I would if I could; these stories deserve to be told in the voice of the one doing to the telling, not in mine.)

There are a great many books I read and loved as I child that could/would not read now, and the idea I am probably denying myself a great story based solely on matters of style preferences is concerning.

All this jabber to say, I’m careful now to choose what I reread carefully, lest I taint fond memories with new sensibilities.

Who I Am: Writer Edition

Okay, so after writing the Artist-me post, I realized that I could still introduce Writer-me, since I am still working on the ‘writing blog posts without third party prompts’ thing. (Whether I should write this must be determined by a jury of my peers at a later date.)

So again, I present the duality of my self-as-writer: Non-fiction vs Fiction.

The non-fiction writing I do is very much me, in that when I am writing, when it is my voice and information being imparted, I write like I think. Literally. This is my train of thought, here on this page. I don’t sit down and bullet point each segment, I don’t craft a thesis, I don’t worry about the conclusion. I fix on a topic, and type. (This is great, usually, for word count, but grammar often gets left behind, and I have a tendency to ramble in parentheses and commas. [I even find the need to do parentheses within parentheses, because I have issues.] It means I always did well in English, but I didn’t get straight-As.) What you see on this blog and any other social media is me, talking to you, via ink and pixel.

Fiction me is another beast entirely. When writing a story, I’m not really the one telling the story; I’m more like a conduit than a crafter. (Don’t get me wrong, it is my story, and I am the one writing it, but for me writing is more like uncovering a story that is already out there, fully formed, and less like building a story brick by brick) Therefore, how I tell a story- the tone, the rhythm, the flavour, if you will- differs wildly depending on who and what it’s about. For example, one of my stories is a third person narration, wherein the narrator is invisible, while another might still be third person, but the narrator has much more personality (without being a straight up character, or first person.)

And that’s me.

Day Thirty: My Favourite Movie Character

I have a very large collection of favourite characters from movies and books, and picking only just one is trying to pick a favourite friend, I shan’t do it.

But, I do have certain archetypes that I love more than others, and those characters that introduced me to the archetype will always be beloved.

Therefore, I can resolutely state that Mouse, from Ladyhawke- a 1985 fantasy movie I’ve grown up watching- is one of my favourite characters. Mouse, played by Matthew Broderick, is a thief, loyal, and witty, and solidly sold me on the ‘lovable rouge,’ so much so that if I see a movie or book has this particular flavor of the archetype, I am 98%* more likely to watch it.

Other characters that further solidified this preference includes Jim from The Stainless Steal Rat, Silk from the Belgariad/Mallorean (often compared to a weasel; I’m starting to see a pattern here I don’t much like), Mercedes Lackey’s Skif, and much more recently but squarely fits in this category so I am including him, Nick from Zootopia. (If you noticed that Han Solo is missing from this list, it’s because though he fits the general archetype, he’s a subtype I’m not very fond of. Sorry ’bout it.)

*statistics shown here are entirely fictitious, but probably pretty accurate anyway.