Monday, April 11, 2011

Reading a book, y'all

This is making the rounds of the blogs. I saw it on Eating YA Books. And I love it. It makes me happy.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I have three minutes to write this post

Because I am following the advice of the amazing Dorothea Brande, whose "Becoming a Writer" is easily the best writing book I have ever read. It focuses much more on what it takes to actually be a writer  than it does on craft, and it's awesome. One of the first steps she requires you to take is to set a specific time each day to write for ten minutes - and do it, no matter what. If you said you were going to write at 10, than you'd better do it. If you're in you car, pull over. If you're in the grocery store, park yourself on a bench. It's all about getting that pesky, artistic unconscious to start obeying you. To make it your bitch. I'm off to beat my own into submission now. Peace, gentle readers.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Gotta case of the love bipolar

On Monday, I was riding high with my writing. I sat down at ten and didn't emerge from my scribbling frenzy until four. There are people for whom six hours straight of writing (I'm looking at you Amanda Hocking) is nothing. But for me, that's a freaking marathon.

And when I finished, I loved my book. It was brilliant. It was a masterpiece. The characters were tiny gods. The story was riveting. The words were electric.

Then there was yesterday. I eked out a whole scene, reread it and decided it was awful and needed to be cut. Then I started the half-hearted perusal of other parts of the manuscript, just so I didn't have to write anymore. And you know what? It was terrible. The characters were one-dimensional. The story was one big, fat cliche. The words were clunky and pointless. The book effing sucked.

I feel like I am a writer in adolescence. The highs are Everest, the lows Death Valley, the self-consciousness absolute. I cannot get a handle on my emotions. And The Book? The Book is The Boy. You know, that boy. The One. The greatest crush of my life. And one day he talks to me, and that day takes on a sublime perfection. Then the very next day he ignores me completely, and life is a soul-sucking pit of blackness and despair.

Yeah. That's pretty much how it feels.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Author blogging yes or no

I've been thinking since my last post, wondering exactly why it might be that I'm reluctant about blogging my life as a writer. The lovely Beth Revis, author of Across the Universe, wrote about social media the other day on her blog, and her message first and foremost is this: You don't have to do anything.

"The analogy I use is this: social media is like a cocktail party. Come to the party if you want to. At the party, meet new people, reconnect with others. It's a business party, so it's okay to talk shop, but it's not okay to monopolize the conversation and push yourself or your product on other people. Be polite. You can be a social butterfly or a wallflower; you can come with a thousand friends or not. It's up to you. You don't want to come to the party? Don't. You want to leave early? Do."

I agree with that. I like the actual social aspect of media. The meeting people bit, the person-to-person contact. But my reluctance, or rather fear, stems from something else. Something I can't quite articulate. Luckily, another writer, Ilona Andrews, managed to find the words to express what I fear on her blog. She writes:

"There is a curious shift that occurs sometime around the publication of your first book.  You stop being a person and become a representative of your books.  For all intents and purposes, you are a business entity."

Suddenly, the whole person-to-person interaction changes. Now, for some readers, interaction with you becomes author-to-reader, a relationship with entirely different rules and expectations. Andrews shares a story about an interaction with a reader, who, having been offended by Andrews (over her simple objection to a facebook game), told her she shouldn't be so quick to anger the people who bought her books.

"Look at the wording here: ‘people who bought my books’.  To her I am not a person.  I am a collection of books and entertaining status updates.  She is defining our relationship in terms of me as the content provider and her as the consumer.  And consumer is always right.  I am supposed to make her feel good, not point out her thoughtlessness.  My mistake was attempting a person-to-person interaction, while she was clearly on reader-to-author basis.  (Facebook, unfortunately, blurs this line a bit.)  As a representative of a business entity, I am not allowed to have my feelings hurt or to be angry. From her point of view, in this relationship, she holds all the cards, because she purchases the product I provide."

A very, very interesting point. And not one I take lightly. I am, by nature, a person who craves intimacy and understanding. In most of my daily interactions with others, I am usually the one trying to form some sort of bond, however tenuous and immediate, just because that's where I'm happiest. So the idea of becoming something other than just a person, just me, scares me a little. It seems like a lot of pressure to be a representative of anything - even my own work - rather than just a person like anyone else.

I realize I am jumping the gun here in a spectacular way. The grand assumption that anyone will even bother to read my work, let alone seek me out on the Internet - yeah, I know it's a jump. But I am slightly neurotic and over-thinky. This is what I do.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A little more about me for the curious

I have wanted to be a writer since the first grade. I still have my first book, illustrated by me and lovingly bound by my first grade teacher, about a white cat named Snowball. Not the most original piece of literature, but it got me started. I've been writing ever since. I even majored in creative writing in college. But after college I got sidetracked a little bit, first by a master's degree in religion, then by an editing job at a business magazine, and lastly by a pint-sized version of my DNA.

But now I'm back, and writing again. At the moment I am based in lovely Cleveland, Ohio, city of my birth and a wonderful, magical place woefully underrated by everybody. Things are in flux at the moment, both personally and professionally, but the one constant in my life - besides my lovely son - is The Book. The Book is consuming me at the moment. I am restructuring the first draft, and it's hard to think about anything else. Hard even to write this blog, write something that isn't The Book. But I've got to clear my head. Come back to Earth a little bit, you know? So here we are. Come along for the ride.

Friday, March 11, 2011

So why am I doing this?

I've been blogging since 2003, so it's nothing new to me. But that's a personal blog, where I post pictures of myself and my family and overshare on a regular basis. For some reason I don't want to do that with a blog that might, hopefully, be connected to my book (may I be even more hopeful and say books?). I don't know why, but I am pretty torn about the whole idea of author blogs. I love reading blogs by some of my favorite authors, love reading about their personal lives and knowing more about them. But for other authors, I love the not knowing. I love the distance between the person and the work. Love that for me there is only this world they created, and they are an entirely separate entity.

Obviously I was born before the Internet revolution. I was born in a more private time. And the mystery that surrounds certain writers - well, it was part of the magic.

I have always planned on writing under a pen name. Under several, in fact, in the different genres I hope one day to write in. It's not that I don't want people knowing who I am; it's just that I like the idea of the separation. I need it, I think. Need to feel divorced somehow from the emotions I let loose in my writing. Need to feel free to bare my soul while still keeping part of me hidden. Is it fear? Maybe. But maybe not. Maybe it's just that I write to experience many lives. And part of that is in the persona of the writer I am in different genres. Sometimes I want to deal with some difficult, painful issues. Sometimes I just want to write something escapist. I am a different writer just as I'm a different reader at different points in my life.

So the idea of a permanent record, in the form of a blog, of my personality and thoughts, that could be connected to my writing, does kind of freak me out. So why am I on here? Because I should be? Because if I want, in the future, for people to hear about my books, then I need an Internet presence?

Yeah. Probably. It seems an impure motivation to start a blog. And because I am a writer and confessional by nature, I feel the need to confess it to you, oh reader-that-exists-only-in-my-head. I do want to connect with you. I do want to connect with other writers as well. I do want to share my experience and trials and journey. But I also want to keep it all to myself, to be elusive and mysterious and for my books to just appear out of nowhere and BAM! knock everyone's socks off. So there you have it. Apparently I have an ego. A rare thing in a writer, no?

I hope that this doesn't put you off too much. That my starting a blog as a vehicle to get my voice out there doesn't make you think too much less of me. I am a nice person, and pretty genuine most of the time. And I won't lie in this space, won't be fake or try to impress everyone, because I'm simply not good at it. I will probably repeat myself a lot - something I tend to do to work stuff out in my thoughts - and I will probably go from aloof to oversharing on a regular basis. But I'll be myself. Honest. Contradictory? Yes. Intriiiiiiiguing? You decide.

Okay, I'm annoying myself right now. Signing off.

Monday, March 7, 2011

This is the first post of the rest of your blog

I've never been very good at beginnings. I think it's because I'm a writer, so everything has to start with a bang. This is the first entry on my blog, the only entry that will ever be the first entry. That kind of thing paralyzes me. I mean, what do I say in my first ever entry? Do I introduce myself? Share what this blog is all about? Or just start with a random entry, the way so many blogs that I read do?

(Aside: That drives me crazy, by the way, when I read a new blog. If I like it, I go to the first entry. A blog is a story, and I want an introduction. A first scene. A little exposition and a hint at where it's going. But most of the time all I get is an entry en medias res of someone's life, as if I should already know who they are, where they've been, and where they're headed. This is very hard for me to accept. But I digress.)

So in the interest of those oddballs like me, who need a sense of place and order, I'll go the way of the introduction.

Hi. I'm Rebecca Townley. And this is my blog.

I've just finished the rough draft of my very first novel. I would have blogged about the writing of it, but I can't do two things at once like that. Writing takes all my attention. But now I'm revising, editing, getting into the meat of it, and the loneliest part of the journey - the banging on the keyboard, the forcing words out when they refuse to come - is over. And I want to meet some people like me who are working hard at being writers. Or people like me who just love books. If you've landed here, chances are you fit in one of those categories.