This was sort of a weird month in that I didn’t get nearly as much done as I’d planned. I started out feeling optimistic, like I could conquer the world. But in reality, I was stalled.
Does that ever happen to any of you? All these grand plans but no motivation to execute? Or just not enough time? It’s not quite writer’s block or burnout… I don’t think it has a name.
I did get some pretty exciting news though… I was chosen as a new editorial intern for Entangled Publishing! That means I read submissions, write reports on whether to accept or decline, and follow those submissions through the publishing process. I also get access to all of Entangled’s workshops and conferences. I could not be more exciting. It’s an amazing opportunity to get my foot in the door and get a first hand look behind the scenes.
So despite the disappointment of having to move some goals/deadlines around, I am determined to make December a more productive month despite the holidays. But I did get a few things done this month, so let’s talk about those first!
What I Read
GRAND TOTAL: 4
Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart ★★★☆☆
Let me preface this by saying that absolutely LOVED Lockhart’s novel We Were Liars. It is genius, so I had high expectations going into this one. And I was sort of satisfied.
This book is pretty much impossible to summarize without giving it away. I read it in one afternoon. And I highly recommend doing it that way because the book starts at the end and tells the story backwards. If I had let time go betweeen chapters, I think I would have found the timeline very confusing. But by doing it in only a couple sittings, I was able to really enjoy the format. It was a very unique way to frame a story and drive the mystery.
Pacing and structure aside, I did struggle a bit with the characters; Lockhart may have done that on purpose. To alienate the readers with unlikeable characters. Now don’t get me wrong, I think that can work. But here I wasn’t ever really upset when something terrible happened to a character. Disturbed, yes. Emotionally invested? Not so much.
Lastly, I have heard from other readers that this book is heavily drawn from The Talented Mr. Ripley. Even Lockhart admits it in the acknowledgements. Now I have not read the book or seen the movie, but I would think that if you have done so recently then the suspense factor may be ruined for you. If not, Lockhart’s writing and suspense skills make it worth a read.
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham ★★★★☆
First let me explain why exactly I bought this book. The short answer? My next protagonist is really into herbs… Oh, and she’s a witch.
This encyclopedia was as perfect as I could get for what I was looking for. It includes chapters on the powers and intentions of herbs as well as specific spells to use. Then it breaks down each herb with its common, scientific and folk names, gender, planet, element, associated deities, powers, and ritual and magical uses. And an illustration of each herb.
It’s the perfect handbook for gardeners, magic practitioners, and the odd writer who’s interested – like me! I do wish the illustrations were in color and that it included medicinal uses for each herb too. I guess I will have to get a second book for that.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky ★★☆☆☆
I have been thinking about reading this book for years but have always hesitated. Chbosky’s novel is considered a cult classic which I tend to shy away from but I decided to give it a go this month. And as I feared, I struggled with it.
Charlie is a freshman in high school struggling to get a hold on his life, his anxiety and his past. He’s kind and intelligent but awkward and lonely. Until he meets Sam and Patrick who take him under their wings to teach him how to experience life the way it’s meant to be.
To me, this felt like a cross between Catcher in the Rye and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime… One of which I loved, and one of which I hated.
Let’s start with the good things first. First of all, Chbosky did an incredible job depicting the realities and struggles of anxiety and depression. They are difficult issues to nail down without coming across as mopey or neurotic. Charlie’s struggled was very realistic, and I loved that. I also loved the structure of the novel – the entire thing is told in letters to an anonymous “friend.” I found it refreshing and a good way to see the story from a somewhat unreliable narrator. There are also some amazing lessons and lines. I am sure you have all heard a few even if you don’t know where they came from.
But there were some problems too. Charlie is described as extremely intelligent but he writes, speaks and acts like a seven-year-old. How can that be? I also struggled with the lack of emotion. I get that he is supposed to be emotionally inhibited, but there was no real connection. There’s only so many times you can describe sadness as “I started to cry really hard,” and that sentence is used about one hundred times. As for the other characters, they all felt very real – especially Patrick and Sam (who I loved at the beginning and grew to quickly hate at the end. I won’t say why because of spoilers.)
The other main problem I had was the sheer amount of “issues” utilized as plot points. Abortion, rape, molestation, homosexuality, suicide, relationship violence, drugs… It’s all there. But there was no depth to any of them – with the exception of Charlie’s depression. They felt melodramatic, and due to the lack of connection I felt with the characters, I didn’t really care about any of it. I would have gathered only one or two issues and for them to have really been dug into.
Overall, I don’t quite get the appeal of this one. I think it’s a great story, and I might have enjoyed it more when I was in high school. But the execution just wasn’t there for me.
I’m also continuing my reread of the Harry Potter series. The fifth book – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – is my least favorite. But it’s also where things start to get really deep and complicated, so I am excited for the final two installments in all their glory.
What I Wrote
My goal this month was to make some serious headway on 700 Main revisions. That didn’t happen. Mainly because I realized it was going to be a much project than I’d originally thought, and quite frankly, I got overwhelmed.
I had planned on completing revisions by December 13th. That’s obviously not going to happen. But that’s okay. There’s nothing worse than rushing a project that needs as much time as it can get. Plus, agents and editors are usually taking a break this time of year, so my plan is to wait until January when they’re hungry for new stories.
It’s the last month of what has been a pretty crazy and weird year. I have one month left to accomplish the goals I set at the beginning of the year, and I am confident I can do it.
Revising takes up a lot of brain power, and my new internship will take a good chunk of time as well. So to be honest, I am not sure how much time I will have for reading and blogging. My plan is three new posts (including my yearly wrap up) and four novels:
- If We We Were Villains by M. L. Rio
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Think I can do it? What goals to do you have the rest of the year? Let me know in the comments below!