Saturday, June 23, 2012

Day #8705 - Our Stories' Songs

While I have always loved books and the written word, I am also completely in love with music. I think the two actually go hand in hand. It's a different kind of writing to be sure, but both forms can move me in incredible ways and make me think. My appreciation for both also grew exponentially once I tried to learn it myself. I played the clarinet from 5th grade thru my senior year of college and I also play guitar (very slowly and with much room for improvement).

Music says the things I often don't know how to say, but that's why I try to use it as a tool to help me when I'm learning to write (because even if I do ever get published, I'm convinced that you never really stop learning how to do this). It should come as no surprise that I'm a huge fan of authors who let readers know what their "playlist" was - it's like a bonus feature, a companion to the story I've just gotten to experience, and it helps give me insight to a scene or the feeling an author was working to instill.

Plus, it oftentimes lets me know about great artists I may not have otherwise heard of. And I LOVE that. I especially love finding out about a musician and falling in love with their music before they're popular - it's one of those rare times when I feel like the trend setter =)

I've been finding that my playlists come together with my stories before, during, and after drafting. I may hear a song that sparks the idea for a story. I may be writing and want to capture that chord progression's feeling into the tone I'm trying to set. I may be editing and realize I want the dialogue exchange to bounce along the way that chorus does in a song I heard. Most recently, I added a song to my list because even though one story of mine is "done," I had to laugh because the lyrics perfectly fit with a situation my characters are in.

So sometimes songs tell us stories, but just as often I feel like our stories come from songs.

A few nights ago, I got to finally see my favorite musician, Eric Hutchinson, in concert, and it stirred up my very strong feelings on this topic. It was one of those shows where I kept pinching myself that I was actually there and singing and dancing along. His songs about situations that suck even make you smile, and that's something I love (and also hope my stories do something similar). And so today I thought I'd share the "playlist" for the manuscript I'm trying to find an agent for now. Maybe someday if I ever find representation and it gets sold and published and all that fun stuff, I'll share the reasons behind these picks (or maybe you'll see where they fit in when you read it!), but for now, just enjoy!

1. I'm Only Me When I'm With You - Taylor Swift
2. You Lie - The Band Perry
3. Over My Head - The Fray
4. Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) - Kelly Clarkson
5. Irrational Anthem - Plain White T's
6. It's Only Life - Kate Voegele
7. Sound of Your Voice - Barenaked Ladies
8. Here Comes the Sun - The Beatles
9. Rock & Roll - Eric Hutchinson
10. Annie Waits - Ben Folds
*Bonus!* Watching You Watch Him - Eric Hutchinson

Friday, June 15, 2012

Day #8697 - Four Times the Fun

Last night I had the opportunity to go to a stop on the Fierce Reads tour at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, Illinois (my favorite independent bookstore which I declare my love for many, many times on my book review blog and Twitter). These events are really fun to me for a number of reasons, but I can tell that this one will stick with me for a few special reasons.

With Jenn and Leigh
I got to town a few hours before the event, meeting up with three other fantastic book bloggers, Heidi, Erica, and Lynn. We all grabbed dinner together and the conversation never stopped. There are no people quite like book people - our enthusiasm for stories and all that comes with them is boundless. It was the kind of discussion that other people may find crazy, but I couldn't have felt more at home or like I was among "my people."

With Emmy and Anna
And the good times just kept on coming. The event itself was a blast, featuring four authors: Anna Banks (Of Poseidon), Leigh Bardugo (Shadow and Bone), Jennifer Bosworth (Struck), and Emmy Laybourne (Monument 14). The event itself was a blast too. Even though it is the Fierce Reads Tour and many of these books have a bit of a dark side or edge to them, there were a lot of smiles to be had and laughter in the room. One aspect of it all that I found to be particularly fantastic is that all four of these incredible writers are debut novelists. As an aspiring writer myself who is currently building up quite the collection of rejection letters, it was great to see people who were once in the same position I'm in, and not so long ago. They still vividly remember how this part feels, and now their hard work has paid off. They're on their first ever book tour, answering questions, taking pictures, and signing stock. Their stories are finally out in the world and I can't wait to explore each and every one of them. We made jokes about the crazy road to publication and they even gave me hugs and words of encouragement to keep trying and querying and most importantly writing. I left with such a good feeling that even though I woke up this morning with another rejection letter sitting in my inbox, I was just able to shake that one off and get back to my story.

Then afterwards, I went out with some bloggers for ice cream. Talk about a perfect summer evening!

So thanks so much to the Fierce Reads Tour, to Anderson's for hosting an amazing event as always, to the bloggers who have welcomed me into their online community with open arms, and to the authors for sharing your stories with us, coming to visit, and just being completely kind and awesome. You all rock.

Bloggers Mentioned:
Heidi (YA Bibliophile) - Blog - Twitter
Erica (The Book Cellar) - Blog - Twitter
Lynn (Bringing the Epic) - Blog - Twitter

Authors Mentioned:
Anna Banks (Of Poseidon) - Website - Twitter
Leigh Bardugo (Shadow and Bone) - Website - Twitter
Jennifer Bosworth (Struck) - Website - Twitter
Emmy Laybourne (Monument 14) - Website - Twitter

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Day 38692 - The Metaphorical Drawer

Sometimes people are lucky enough to get blessed with a story idea that is intricate and interesting and really has the potential to be something amazing. It could start out small and then grow in beautiful ways or maybe the idea comes to you full blown and you're more like a recorder, translating it from the movie screen in your head to the page in front of you.

And other times you get a story that's really good and you love the characters and the setting is something you really enjoy and the situation is interesting, but even though all the individual parts have amazing potential, when you try to put them all together, something's just not working and try as you might, you can't figure out where exactly it went weird or what you need to do to get things back on track.

Then, perhaps, the time has come to stick the project in the metaphorical drawer for a while.

This is the case I now find myself in. For the last several months I have been working on a story that I still believe has great potential, but for one reason or another, it's just not coming out right. I can see it in my head, but things are just off. So, it's drawer time for this one. I'm not giving up on it, or deleting it, or throwing it out and sulking about how much time I've wasted because that's just not true. It wasn't a waste, it was practice, and maybe someday I'll look at it again with fresh eyes and be able to breathe new life into that particular idea.

Sometimes, that's just the way it goes. In the meantime, I have a story that's been working its way up to the front of my head, demanding to be heard. I've spent a lot of time already "on the side" from my other story world building and getting to know the characters, and now they will have their chance to make the page and make themselves known to me. I'm excited, and hopefully this one will be a good experience too.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Day #8685 - Dear 17 Year Old Me

With today being graduation day for the seniors at the high school I work at, I got to thinking about my own high school graduation and what I would tell my seventeen year old self if I could.