I’ve been reading a lot of books and not posting about them! So here’s the first of some ‘what I’ve been reading’ catch up posts:
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway: I read For Whom the Bell Tolls a while back, and was underwhelmed, though parts of it did make me feel, and the end did stick with me. So many people love Hemingway so much, I thought I’d give him a second shot. I picked ‘TSAR’ because I heard it mentioned a couple times as Hemingway’s best.
Well, again I was underwhelmed, and mostly bored until the end. I think perhaps I just don’t get the appeal of Hemingway. The stories are so simply told, and the prose so simple and basic, and ‘surface level’. For me, I get a lot of my enjoyment of reading from the prose, so even if there are not exciting things happening, I can enjoy the words for themselves. Perhaps I’m missing subtexts or something, but Hemingway’s writing just doesn’t appeal to me in that way. So when his stories are moving slowly or simply forward, it’s much easier for me to get bored and stop paying attention than if I were reading a different writer who writes beautifully even when nothing is ‘happening’.
I think, he’s just not for me.
Habits sure are easy to break.
I have been writing a lot of short stories lately, and trying to edit my novel, and doing a lot of stuff for Lucent Dreaming. Let’s see, what’s been going on…
I’ve written 22 stories this year so far, though some of them are very very short, and some are so ridiculous they will never be read by strangers. I’ve submitted a bunch of them to various magazines with no luck yet.
I’m nearly halfway done with a first edit of my novel, and yowza is it slow going. What a pain… why do people write novels anyway…
We’ve accepted a bunch of stories for issue 3 of Lucent Dreaming, and I’m working on editing some of those.
I’m reading things! I won’t make my goal of 40 novels this year, but, I’ll get close.
So, I’m still alive and doing writing stuff, but I’ve got to get back into the habit of writing about things. Writing about thoughts cements them into reality, and helps them grow and become something useful…
All that talk about blogging again and I go on vacation for 2 weeks and don’t blog. oops.
I read a book while I was away, called How Fiction Works, by James Wood. It was great, I read it in just a few days cause I couldn’t stop. I learned a lot from it, and got many ideas of what to read next…
Subject of a future post… ‘Nothing kills life so much as explanation’
I haven’t sold a story in over 5 years, and I’d like to think that I’ve improved in those 5 years… so that leads me to believe that even if my writing is technically better, I must not be writing what sells.
I thought for a minute that I’d better find out what sells, and try to write that. So I read some recent stories published in places that I regularly submit to, and found that I can’t stand them and would be embarrassed to have written them.
So… what does it all mean? In order to be published in the well-paying magazines, I have to write something with a broad appeal… But I don’t really like things with broad appeal… so, I probably should stop submitting to these places. Which I have.
As of now I’m exclusively submitting my stories to nonpaying markets. Because… socialism? And also because places that aren’t trying to make money might actually want to publish something they like, instead of something they are worried about other people liking.
Version two of this blog post:
No one wants to publish my writing so I’m going to tell myself it’s because I’m just too good for this world, and somehow turn this into a positive for myself.
I’ve just started listening to The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, which is about a missionary family traveling to the Congo. I’m only a short way in, but I’m feeling a sort of anticipation for all the horrible things I know are going to happen to these people.
They are described with just the right combination of naivety, arrogance, western chauvinism and old fashioned racism to make me itch to see everything go wrong.
Nabokov does this with his characters quite often, but with him it’s a slow build up to realize just how full of themselves and incompetent the character is. With The Poisonwood Bible, almost from the first pages I’m rolling my eyes and wanting them to learn hard lessons.
This is really good so far!
I’ve fallen off blogging for too long, time to get back into it!
While I’ve been away I have:
- Decided to take a break from writing my next novel to writing short stories.
- Threw away the short story I was writing and went back to my novel
- Enrolled in a technical writing certification course so I can get paid for writing
- Mostly quit playing go and started playing chess instead
The most interesting of those is probably the tech writing class. I’m a few weeks into it already, and for my final project I’ve decided to create a how-to guide for new writers, that will detail how to find online markets, and submit fiction to them. I’ll be posting the finished project here, as well as on lucentdreaming.com
Anyway, time to write/read/post more!
I just finished this one, my first Tolstoy, chosen because it’s the shortest novel he wrote. The story is about a nobleman in 1880, Nekhlyudov, who finds himself on a jury. One of the accused is a woman he knew in is past, and who he wronged when he was young. While watching the trial he recalls how he treated her, and blames himself for how her life turned out. He vows to do whatever he can to help her out of her situation, as a way to earn her forgiveness.
The story, while well written and engagingly told, is not so much about the characters, but about the politics of the era. Tolstoy uses the story to rail against the justice system, the church, the rich, the prison system, and the way humans treat each other as if they are objects. There are several very eloquently written rants that feel as if they could have been written about the state of the world today.
While I enjoyed it, I probably only did so because it was preaching to the right choir, and I cheered on all his statements about the world. But for someone else not so into political thoughts, it is pretty light on drama and story.