Summer 2014 in Review

“One day at a time, this is enough. Don’t look back and grieve over the past for it is gone. Do not be troubled about the future, for it has yet to come. Live in the present and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering.”

–  Unknown

 

It’s that time of year again. Whether you’re in middle school or high school or college, it’s almost time for classes to start. Summer has come to a close.

Every year, the night before I return to school, I write a post summarizing the summer. And since I head back to college tomorrow morning, here we are now.

I had a lot of anticipation riding on this summer, because it’s my first one since college. I had no idea if the friends (and ex-girlfriend) I said goodbye to last year would be exactly the same, or completely new people entirely.

This summer was by far full of some of the best memories I’ve ever made, and some of the worst. It was a constant ride of ups and downs, and in the end, I’m still not sure what to think of it.

Since I’m a college kid, classes ended nice and early, mid-May. I came back from college and felt all the immediate comforts of home: this great town, my high school friends who were dying to catch up with me, and my younger brother (AKA my best friend), who I’d managed to stay best friends with all year, despite us living a hundred miles apart.

The warm welcomes lasted for a few weeks, but by June, it hit me: I needed to do something productive this summer besides work on my book. Especially considering that said book received rejections on all pending full requests shortly after I got home.

Low point.

So, I applied for a job hauling books at the local library. And got called in for an interview. High point.

And didn’t get the job. Low point.

So I helped remodel my family’s house. I hung out with my ex-girlfriend without it being weird. My brother and I went on a trip with our Boy Scout troop to Ocean City. All high points.

July was full of its own highs and lows: I learned I had an inguinal hernia which would require surgery in August. Low point. But hey look, at least I didn’t take that job at the library. High point.

I then went on the best week-long adventure of my life.

Anyone familiar with scouts knows what Sea Base is. It’s a nationally recognized scout summer camp in Florida, and the older scouts in our troop headed there at the end of July for a week of sailing, fishing, staying up super late talking about life, and becoming much closer friends. The last night of the trip, we stayed in a hotel and ordered heaps of pizza and watched Ted on the flat screen.

Highest point.

August, like last summer, proved to be infinitely less fun.

I had my hernia surgery at the start of the month, and I got to spend the next two weeks bedridden watching the entire Harry Potter series, followed by every episode of The Office, in a row. I can’t decide what kind of point that was.

Then, in the final weeks of August, I did wonderfully productive things like re-sending my query letter out to a new round of agents, and packing, and getting myself pumped for the upcoming school year. And I did terribly upsetting things like have a falling-out with my brother, which I’m unsure is going to be resolved.

And now, I’m here. Same place as I was a year ago, the night before I left for college. Boy, it is astounding how life can feel like it moves so fast and so slow at the same time, amirite?

Let’s examine the end of last summer vs. the end of this one.

The blue are excerpts from my end of summer post last year.

Honestly, right now, everything’s happening way too fast for me to take any of it in. And I’m at the point where I can’t even imagine what my life will be like three days from now, let alone a week or a month or a year, like I used to. A year ago, around the time I started this blog, I had a pretty good idea that I’d be going to college right now. And I knew it would be busy. But did I know I would date the girl of my dreams, then have to break up with her? Or make a really awesome new best friend? Or get a full request from a literary agent?

No. I didn’t.

That makes me both excited and nervous for what life will be like one year from now, or even one month from now.

Hey, here we are a year later! I’m sitting at the same desk. Same computer. Sure, it has a new keyboard and monitor, but I’m still blogging, and I still have that same lingering nostalgia that keeps my thoughts going.

I have not had another girlfriend yet.  I got three new full requests from agents.

I want to go to college and have fun, but I don’t want to get sucked into anything and come out a different person. I love who I am, and more importantly, I love who my friends are. And if there’s one thing I’m really scared about, it’s that I’ll come home and find that they’re different.

My friends are the same. They’ve grown up, but they’re the same people. So am I.

I still don’t drink, by the way.

Today with my best friend was the more fun kind of goodbye, running around the neighborhood and of course, talking. It’s funny how in a lot of cases, that’s all you need. And when we said bye, no, it wasn’t emotional or anything like that. Mostly a “see ya,” same as the rest. But the difference with this was how fun it was, not to mention that it was the last of my goodbyes before I go. It was the perfect way to end summer and have a final social event before I go off to college.

This touches on my biggest regret of the summer. Last year, I saved my most important goodbye—my younger brother—for last, and it was the best one. I wanted to do the same thing this year, but we’ve both been super busy lately, and that combined with a lot of pressure on a lot of different fronts led to what I keep calling a “falling out” but what I’d like to think is really just a blip on the radar.

Needless to say, this summer overall was a bit less cut-and-dry then last year. Leaving home can be emotional, but the nice thing is, everyone makes a big DEAL of it, so it feels proper. The summer after college? That’s the awkward phase, the stretch where you’re trying to figure out if you should hang out with your new friends or your old ones and do you still have to do chores and why does it feel like half of your life is somewhere else.

I loved this summer, and I made a lot of great memories. I made a few not-great ones as well, but in the end, everything is what it is. Life goes on. Home is still home. Friends are still friends. Your brother is still your brother. And it all works out in the end, somehow.

I’m sad to say goodbye to summer, but I’m also hopeful for what this coming year will bring. Hey, my old friends and I survived one year apart from each other…we can do it again.

So, I suppose one big thing about me did change from last year: back then, I believed no friendship was permanent, that this all was about letting each other go and moving on. But now I know that true friendships really are permanent, that there are some people in your life who you’ll always love, even though you no longer walk the hallways with them anymore.

Let’s hope this year is the best one yet.

Here’s to permanence.

On Writing: Writing and Pitching a Series

“Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.”

–  John Dewey

 

A few weeks ago, I received a question on one of my older writing posts. This was from someone who was writing a series, but having trouble making book one “long enough” to reach books two and three. This question intrigued me enough to write a post about it.

There are a lot of people out there whose advice goes something like this: “If you want any shot in being published at all, completely forget about ever doing a series and just write this one book, you naïve plebeian.”

I half agree with that philosophy. First of all, I know exactly what it’s like to pitch a series, because I’ve done it before. When I was sixteen, I began querying a YA Fantasy project I’d been working on for a few years. At this point, I’d written most of the books in my potential series of seven.

Looking back, it’s easy to see why I didn’t get very far with that. I was spreading out my creative energy so thinly across multiple projects, I wasn’t devoting all my attention just towards the first one.

Since then I’ve shelved the fantasy project and focused my efforts on my contemporary YA novel (which is up to three full requests, yay!) but, I do plan to come back to the fantasy project someday. And I do plan to pitch it as a series.

However, there’s a right way to do that.

Again, I truly sympathize with the ideology of plotting out an entire saga, and having tons of elements from book one affect things in books six or seven. But I also think that for a series to truly flourish, you have to let yourself “re-create” it along the way, know what I mean?

For my fantasy series, I knew exactly what I wanted to happen in all of the books; at least, for the most part. I certainly knew enough for that to influence the way I wrote book one. And when I come back to it, I’ll revise book one carefully, keeping certain parts intact so they can set up events in future books. But, I also can’t let these feel out of place during the story.

There are many people—and I used to be one of them—who get so excited about the events in book two or three that they rush book one. This is entirely understandable, but it doesn’t fit well in the publishing business. Book two won’t see print if book one sucks. It just won’t.

With you and I both agreeing that’s unfortunate, what can we do about it?

Glad you asked!

How I approached my “series problem” is I took a deep breath and told myself that I will always be a creative person. And I will always get new story ideas. And if I channel every drop of my creative energy into just (just!) book one, then when the time comes to write book two, there will be more creative energy there to write that one, too.

See what I’m getting at? It’s a balancing act. On one hand, you should keep the series potential in mind, and maybe let that influence certain plot points in book one. But on the other, much more important hand, you have to let yourself get creative and put all your effort into book one, so that it can do well enough on its own. That won’t happen if you “just make it long enough” to be a bridge towards sequels.

Another thing that sucks, but you have to keep it in mind anyway: each book should have its own story arc which builds up, reaches its peak, then gradually concludes by the end of the novel. Do you have to wrap everything up? Of course not! That would defeat the point of a series. But look at the Harry Potter novels. Sure, the whole threat of the Dark Lord taking over is there for the entire series, but each book has its own self-contained adventure (the Triwizard Tournament, the Chamber of Secrets being opened, etc.)

I know for a fact that most agents, while possibly willing to sign on multiple books, prefer to be pitched them one at a time. That makes it easier for the writer, too. Now you only have to write one query letter, and one synopsis! If a book does well enough, and there’s the right amount of suspense at the end, there will be demand for a sequel.

Like anything in writing, it’s a balancing act.

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Happy balancing.

On Writing: The Two Ingredients of Good Writing

“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

–  Toni Morrison

 

Take yourself back to third grade for a minute. Back then, nine long years ago, I was learning about finding greatest common factors. If anyone else learned these the same way I did, you probably had to take the numbers being compared and break them down with little trees, again and again, until you had them all reduced to 2’s and 3’s and other small numbers being multiplied together—aka, until you had a list of all factors. Then you found the greatest ones in each tree, proudly circled the answer, and got your sticker.

This was the best example I could think of to paint the simple picture in your mind of a chart where one thing is at the top, then it’s broken down into smaller increments, and smaller, until it’s all reduced. I could’ve gone the ‘family tree’ route, but those don’t exactly show one person being broken down into smaller and smaller pieces. At least, I hope not.

Get to the point, you clown.

Alright! The reason I kicked off this post with this example is because I think I’ve finally figured out what makes good writing—in strictly my opinion, of course. And I needed the tree breakdown example because one thing I think we can all agree on is that books (well, good ones, anyway) are complicated. It’s not just about having a good story, or concept…it’s about having good characters, and setting, and humor, and drama, and a satisfying conclusion, and oh by the way each of those have different amounts depending on what genre you’re writing for. We don’t want too much humor in a story about death nor too much drama in a children’s picture book. And no, I haven’t forgotten about nonfiction books, which are just as hard to write.

So, that’s the bottom of the “good writing” tree, and I’m not smart nor experienced enough to pick through all that. Instead, I’m zooming back up the tree to the very top, to the one thing (or two things, in this case) that envelops all others. The two things that, if you without a doubt have these, mean that everything else is or will be there in appropriate amounts.

Okay, let’s continue this abysmal math metaphor with an equation.

My personal, subjective equation:

Thought + Emotion= Good Writing

Now. Any officials in the publishing or agenting industry who just read that are most likely slapping their keyboard and/or about to commit a drastic crime. When it comes down to publishing, a book is about a million other things than good content. It’s about proper font, and formatting, and professionalism in editing…

Which is why I specifically said this equation equals good writing, not a good book. I’m just going off the assumption that if an aspiring author has good writing, they can figure out the formatting for themselves. And if they can’t, I’m sure not the person to ask.

So, since I have some time, I’ll examine these two elements under a microscope (ooh, we’re doing science analogies now!)

 

1. Thought

First of all, allow me to appease any grammar Nazis who are currently contemplating the best way to detach my head from my body. Yes, grammar is an essential ingredient in writing. I didn’t leave it out of the equation. It’s included, right here, under ‘thought.’ You’d better believe that in the English language, having proper grammar takes some serious thought. And one of the primary ways to inject thought into writing is to decide, with extreme care, how words are going to be linked together not only to make sense, but to convey the clearest meaning.

Writing where thought is most important is non-fiction, of course, such as with information books, instruction manuals, or personal memoirs. Yes, some memoirs are much more emotion-based, but not everyone who has an inspiring story or is famous can write well. Just look at Snooki, to name one example. She could have the most tear-jerking tale of all time (the world could also end next week; anything’s possible). But if Snooki’s book reads anything like she speaks, I won’t be able to make any sense of it. Probably a blessing in disguise, but that’s not my point.

Thought goes beyond just using words, though. It also means putting thought into your story. I can’t define this too well other than to say it. Putting thought into story. Things like the complexity of Severus Snape’s past, or the elaborate explanation of crimes in Sherlock Holmes. These required conscious effort on the authors’ parts, and it shows.

As for non-fiction, thought is still required beyond words. This is more deciding how to organize what you’re trying to say, and researching facts before you regurgitate them. I would rather be bound by my imagination, but that’s a personal preference.

 

2. Emotion

It’s my belief that people are quite wrong if they assume emotion is strictly for fiction writing and memoirs. Fact-based books without even a drop of emotional appeal don’t read well, and while their information may be correct, there tends to be limited success in conveying said information to the painfully bored reader. My AP World History textbook, loathed even by my patient teacher, is a perfect example of this.

That being said, emotion is a much more important ingredient in fiction writing. A story without emotion is like a train that never shows up. Not every book has to be the next Harry Potter, but I think every story should at least make you smile, cry, laugh, or gasp in surprise. Good books like Harry Potter do all of the above, but that’s just icing on the cake.

Because if you think about it, isn’t that why we read fiction? Other than when our teachers make us, I mean.

 

Writing is difficult, which is why I only do it if my heart is in it (see epigraph). With these two ingredients, the whole writing process gets tricky, because thought and emotion go hand in hand. You need to think in order to feel and you need to feel in order to find the energy to think.

And those people who can think and feel in just the right way, in just the right amounts, while blowing us away with their cleverness?

Well, I like to call them storytellers.

We’re Not in Hogwarts Anymore (Book Review: The Casual Vacancy)

“I’ll put it out there, and if everyone says, ‘Well, that’s shockingly bad – back to wizards with you’, then obviously I won’t be throwing a party. But I will live. I will live.”

 –  J.K. Rowling, in an interview

 

The Casual Vacancy coverThere are several reasons I’m hesitant to review this book. First of all, the review is several months overdue. I don’t have an excuse for this, other than I haven’t had time to construct a breakdown of Mrs. Rowling’s newest novel.

And, secondly, I have very few positive things to say of this story. I know I should technically be able to speak freely, but I’m still not totally comfortable trashing on a book by one of my favorite authors, especially seeing as she’s one of the most successful writers to date, and I’m an unpublished teenager with a blog.

But, I have a fair amount to talk about with this story. And so I talk.

 

Yes, I was (am) crazily obsessed with the Harry Potter franchise, but that doesn’t mean I started this book expecting to be blown away like I was by Rowling’s famous wizard. I decided to go into it with an open mind, expecting nothing. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much more than that.

Here’s the setup: there’s a small town called Pagford, which we know is filled with at least thirty-four people, as that’s how many main characters there are. Unfortunately, the most appealing of them—who’s still a bitter, reclusive journalist who doesn’t think much of his family, mind you—dies on page two. This character, named Barry Fairbrother, was on the town council, and his death leaves an empty seat which acts as a catalyst in the characters’ scrambles for power.

(Please note that this review, from here, contains spoilers. There isn’t a whole lot to spoil, honestly, but I still think I should warn you.)

If I summarized all of the sub-plots spattered across these five hundred pages, I could write a small book myself. So instead of wasting words, I’ll try to just hit the high points:

  • We have Miles Mollison, who is predicted on page 10-ish to win the town election. On page 500-ish, he wins the town election.
  • Sam Mollison, Miles’ wife, is constantly thinking snarky comments on everyone’s words and actions, all while fantasizing about running off with the lead singer of her daughter’s favorite boy band.
  • Howard Mollison, Miles’ father, is a power-hungry member of the council. Notable for being the source of more obesity descriptions than I’ve ever read in a single book.
  • Terri Weedon is a heroin addict with a three year old son, Robbie, and sixteen year old daughter named…
  • Krystal Weedon, a student who juggles going to school, caring for her younger brother, and crushing Samuel L. Jackson in the imaginary game show, “So you think you can use the F-word more than me?”
  • Stuart “Fats” Wall is a scrawny student at the same school as Krystal, and eventually starts a relationship with her (though this relationship is notable for its lack of emotional investment and honesty).
  • Andrew Price is a school kid who’s best friends with Stuart and spends his free time stalking a girl in their class (at one point it describes in detail his combing through her Facebook photos).
  • Simon Price is the father of Andrew Price, and chooses to show his affection for his wife and children by relentlessly abusing them both verbally and physically. He was my personal least favorite.

There are several others whom I could list out with their related sub-plots, but there are many other things I could do that would take far less time. Watching all of the Lord of the Rings movies, for example.

So those are the sub-plots of the novel. These unfold side by side as the pages slip from one hundred, to two to three to four hundred…and finally, around page 450…there’s an election! Holy Grail!

And it turns out exactly as expected. The least horrible character wins.

Then, just to finish off the narrative—this is supposed to be the grand finale, mind you—Krystal Weedon goes down to the river with her boyfriend, Stuart Wall. They don’t pay attention to her younger brother, Robbie, who takes several steps forward and drowns in the river.

Then, Krystal runs home and commits suicide with her mom’s heroin.

And on the last page of the book, as the two kids’ coffins are carried down the aisle with Terri crying, “the congregation avert[s] its eyes.”

This illustrates my biggest problem with the book, right down to the last sentence: there’s absolutely no redeeming qualities in this story. All of the characters start out as horrible people and end the same, if not worse. Instead of coming to terms with their own problems or trying to fix things, they all screw themselves over by being selfish. It’s as if Rowling and her publisher said to themselves, “You know how with that last series, we made a bunch of characters who start out bad and redeem themselves through love and forgiveness? Yes, this time, let’s do the opposite of that.”

See, I hate doing this. I hate trashing on my favorite author, but this book lends itself to criticism so easily. It tries to send out so many scrambled messages, but they all fall short on top of each other, leaving a mixed mess of unpleasantness we can’t wait to wash our hands of.

I will say, though, that this still is a compliment to Rowling’s skill as a writer. She decided to write a horribly depressing story, and I can honestly say she succeeded brilliantly in doing exactly that. So, in all sincerity, Rowling is still a great writer. She just needs to find a bit more uplifting—or at the very least, meaningful—material. As she said in an interview, “If everyone says, ‘Well, that’s shockingly bad – back to wizards, please,’ then obviously I won’t be throwing a party, but I’ll live.” The woman can still write, and she at least deserves credit for that. Unfortunately, it still can’t save this particular novel.

 

In conclusion: this is shockingly bad. Back to wizards, please.

Rate: 2 out of 10.

The Three Stages of Editing (On Revision: Intro)

“There’s a hormone secreted into the bloodstream of most writers that makes them hate their own work while they are doing it, or immediately after. This, coupled with the chorus of critical reaction from those privileged to take a first look, is almost enough to discourage further work entirely.”

 –  Francis Ford Coppola

  

Well, I’ve accomplished something, at least: the first draft of my manuscript is done.

The one thing I can say with confidence is that I spent enough time working on it, for a first draft. I started it back in April 2009, finished the story, set it aside for a few months, rewrote most of it, set it aside again, rewrote it again, then set it aside and finally, this past August, rebooted it starting from scratch.

And I think I might have something worth keeping this time.

I followed that annoying rule of writing a first draft; the one that says to try as hard as humanly possible to make it good, all while keeping the firm mentality that it won’t be. Every author I’ve ever read about has said that the first draft of their story was terrible. Nobody is perfect the first time around…nobody I’ve heard of, at least.

And thus introduces the purpose of…revision.

[Insert Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor].

 

Based on what I’ve heard, there are three stages of revision, if we’re discussing a novel (which I always am). None are pretty, but I think together, they’re fairly effective.

 

Stage 1: Plot Revision

I don’t claim many of my personal methods as ironclad, but I think it’s safe to say that you should always revise plot before anything else. Always. You can work on wording all you like, but if the beautiful descriptions fit a stupid storyline that you intend to change later, then it’s back to square one.

When I myself go through “plot revision,” I don’t just look at storyline, either. Yes, my first step is to make sure everything is logical, that there are no gaping holes in logic or unrealistic events taking place. But then I also think through the characters. Are there any that fall flat? I liven them up. Are there any that the story would be the same without? I erase them.

Yep, just like that. I still can’t figure out how extraneous characters work their way into my story (because why would I take the time to invent them if they didn’t have a purpose?) but they do. And during this first stage of revision, I find and eliminate them.

I’ll talk more about this and the other stages in their own posts later, so I’ll shut up for now.

 

Stage 2: Word/Style Revision

After my plot is in place, this becomes the most important phase of revision. Anyone can tell a story, some can tell a good story, but there are only some who can tell a good story in a good way. The difference is a little thing called voice, and it’s one of the most important ingredients of a novel. How different would the Percy Jackson books be if narrated in a factual, third-person POV similar to that of Artemis Fowl or Harry Potter? Or, likewise, if Artemis Fowl and Harry Potter were narrated from the first person POV of their titular characters?

Every word is essential. And the way they’re mixed makes all the difference.

I’ll dump my thoughts on this a little later.

 

Stage 3: Final Read-Through

Yay! The plot is good, the wording is good, and you even found a copy of the 2013 Guide to Literary Agents on sale! Praise Tolkien!

Unfortunately, there’s one thing every author recommends you do with your manuscript before it’s declared perfect. I’m not looking forward to it, but I’m going to do it.

I’m going to read my entire manuscript aloud. Cover to cover.

At first when I heard this recommendation, I thought it was a matter of personal preference. And I suppose it still is. But I’ve heard it from enough successful authors that I think I should do it, and I’d recommend you do it, too.

I agree that it’s a good way to eliminate any final “flow” problems. You’ve fixed plot, you’ve fixed wording…now, this last revision is a way to nail any issues with both.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

Happy revising, to anyone starting it. I’m sure I’ll be distracting myself by blogging more often later.

On Writing: But Look at J.K. Rowling!

It is impossible to live without failing at something…unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case, you fail by default.”

 –  J.K. Rowling

 

Quick! By a show of hands: how many unpublished writers have talked about their work and added, “But, of course, writers never make any money.” And how many have received the all-too-casual reply of, “Well, unless you’re J.K. Rowling”?

If so, you’re probably too frustrated at hearing this much repeated response to bother telling the person that you are, in fact, not J.K. Rowling. Nor have you ever been J.K. Rowling, as cool as that might be.

Don’t get me wrong: Rowling is amazing. She’s my idol, actually. When I got a reply to the letter I wrote her last fall, I was ecstatic. Even though I didn’t start reading the Harry Potter books until middle school, I still grew up with those things. I was at the midnight premieres for the last two movies, I saw Half-Blood Prince with my best friend the night before he moved, and I’ve re-read each book probably five to ten times.

It’s easy to see why Rowling was richer than the Queen by 2003, and it can be just as easy to assume that yes, if you write an amazing book (or, better yet, book series!), you’ll soon have enough cash to quit your day job, move to the city, buy a mansion, and spend your days sipping sparkling water, with your biggest worry being that an earthquake will come, sending your stacks of money toppling down on you.

Which, incidentally, was death 333 on 1000 Ways to Die.

But I digress. The point is that, sadly, one of the reasons Rowling is considered to be such an incredible exception to all the rules is because she’s exactly that: an exception.  She went from dirt poor to billionaire. That doesn’t happen every day. In fact, getting a book published, period, doesn’t happen every day.

We always hear and talk about success stories like those of J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins. But we never hear about the hundreds of manuscripts rejected daily, or the thousands of turn-down slips that aspiring authors get in the mail. Even though Rowling received more than a handful of those, it’s never mentioned. I think she herself summed it up best in an interview with Oprah:

Failure is so important…it doesn’t get spoken about enough. We speak about success all the time…but, you know…I’ve met some extraordinary people through Harry Potter, and not one of them didn’t have their failures.”

And thus, I want to close by once again saying how much of an inspiration J.K. Rowling is to me. She’s a rich woman who gives most of her wealth away to charity. She’s one of the most famous (not to mention one of the most influential) people in the world, yet she always acts with humility and has enormous respect for her fans.

And if you’re a fan of hers, too, I would strongly recommend you check out the movie called Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story. It’s a TV movie that came out a few days before the final Harry Potter last summer, and tells the author’s journey from her childhood, to the writing of the first book back in 1990, to the publishing process and the success that followed. The movie is on iTunes, and in my opinion it’s well worth the money.

 

So, those are my thoughts on one of the most famous authors alive today. (I’m currently reading her new book, The Casual Vacancy, which I’ll review soon but will make no mention of yet so as to spare you its less than pleasant details.)

I could go on and on about how much I could say to this woman. But instead of making a ten-page list—which, believe me, I could do—I’ll instead close by saying what I believe to be my most important sentiment. One that, I think, quite a few people my age would like to say, too.

Mrs. Rowling, thank you for my childhood.

NaNoWriMo and the Problem With Star Wars: Episode VII

“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next. It’s now time for me to pass ‘Star Wars’ on to a new generation of filmmakers.”

 –  George Lucas

 

Whoa, lots to talk about tonight. Two particular topics, both of which I’m several days late on. But still, here are my thoughts anyway.

For those unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it’s short for “National Novel Writing Month,” which is November. In recognition of this, NaNoWriMo is an organization that challenges people everywhere to sit down and write a novel at least 50,000 words long (roughly two hundred pages in book form) in just one month, from November 1st to the 30th.

Those who want to officially participate sign up on http://www.nanowrimo.org/, create an account, and enter their story in an online word processor. If you make it to the word count by midnight on the last day of November, you get egregiously large sums of money, along with a mansion of your choosing and every Harry Potter replica wand ever made…

Just kidding. You get an online certificate.

Still cool though, right?

 

Am I participating?

…Kind of.

Officially, no, I’m not creating an account and uploading my work. Nor am I starting a novel from scratch. But, I am hoping to write one.

Fasten your seat belts, ladies and gentleman, because I’m about to blow up this world with a great, closely-guarded secret:

The first book I ever wrote was bad.

 

 

Slight Dramatization.

 

Okay, so maybe that doesn’t surprise you. It shouldn’t. But the point is, I’ve spent the past few years rewriting portions of this manuscript, rewriting other portions, editing the whole thing for wording, adding chapters…and finally, several months ago, I realized I just need to start it all over.

So that’s what I hope to do this month. I already started over, had a friend look at the first few chapters, and got several aweing ideas to incorporate. And so I begin incorporating, with the goal of finishing the REAL, FINAL version of the manuscript by November 30th.

Wish me luck.

And do NaNoWriMo! Just because I’m not, officially, doesn’t mean you can’t. Get going, though…you’re already three days behind.

And, next…Star Wars.

Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up in the 80’s, but unlike most people, I don’t hate the prequel trilogy of this saga. In fact—I’ll lose a few readers here, I’m sure—I thought Episode III was the best one.

I’m just unleashing secrets tonight, aren’t I?

But regardless of your stance on which movies were good and which weren’t, everyone was in a significant state of emotions when it was announced on Tuesday that Disney bought Lucasfilm, and Star Wars: Episode VII is due for release in three years. (http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118061434).

First of all, relax! When I say “Disney” bought Lucasfilm, I don’t mean Disney Channel, the network currently airing shows such as A.N.T. Farm, Fish Hooks and their latest installment, Dog With a Blog (Yes, that is a real show. And yes, its premise is exactly what the title implies).

I mean Disney, the movie company that brought us Pirates of the Caribbean and The Avengers. And Disney is working closely with George Lucas in developing storylines for Star Wars Episodes VII, VIII and IX.

Don’t get me wrong; I was excited when I read this. I still am, especially seeing as George Lucas will serve as story consultant. But when I stopped and thought about it, one little problem with this new set of films crossed my mind.

 

I have a bad feeling about this.

 

Okay, so Luke, Leia and Han aren’t exactly as spry as they once were. I agree that the CGI team will probably long to create another lava battle when faced with the task of making these three senior citizens look remotely similar to their characters, who are supposed to be in their thirties.

But still, I’m willing to give them a shot.

So, in conclusion: write lots this month! And pray that the production team behind Star Wars knows what they’re doing.