Monday, October 4, 2021

Read So You Can Write

During the summer, I drafted a novel in two months. It was my first young adult contemporary romance. I had the itch for a story that brought me to tears during a walk when it came to fruitation. Any free-ish moment I had, I was at the coffee shop for an hour at a time trying to get it down. I was stoked with how it turned out, given how fast it went. Then, I took a two week break and decided to fill down time with hoarded reading time before edits.

I've been an avid reader since my childhood. For the past several years, I dived heavily into YA fantasy, because that was what I was writing at the time. Another genre would be my second or bedside table read. This summer, I spent more time finding my comp titles, so I veered toward writers in the contemporary genre. I was thankful for that opportunity because I found some new authors/books to love. In general, I do read just about everything and two books at a time. One in a genre I'm writing, one in another, for the most part.

But the thing is, I was asked how I can even find time to read. However, I posed a question back to the person and said how do you fill your day? They answered with various hobbies, about three of them. My answer to them was when they are busy with their hobbies, I read. When I'm done with work, dinner, a walk, family time, etc.--I read. I read before I go to bed while in bed. I read when I have downtime at work. I read when I'm waiting in my car when I rarely need to. I read when I want to relax and everyone is off doing something else. I read after church to chill. I read when I'm going through emotions and need to escape. I read because that is my hobby, and the one thing I keep coming back to.

Part of my reading, is also part of knowing what I like in writing, research really. What I'd like to aspire to be, what worked and didn't work for me in a book, what writerly tricks, familiar tropes, prose styles are still workable. It's studying and learning. It's familiarizing yourself in a work you want to do and commit time to. If I were an artist, or aspiring artist, I would look at other people's art. I would want to go to galleries, look them up online, see their videos of how they did it, and what I'd like to try myself. If I were a singer, or aspiring singer, I would listen to other's songs. I would go to concerts, look up artists, watch their videos, and test my vocal range and style because of it.

If you're going to be a writer, read so you can write.

Love your guts, 
-Tammy-

Here's what I've read this year so far in fiction. Yes, I read non-fiction as well. (5 writing craft books, 1 self-help, 1 memoir) If you've read any of them listed below, or wondered how they are, let me know! 

ALL THE STARS AND TEETH by Adalyn Grace
FABLE by Adrienne Young
NAMESAKE by Adrienne Young
TIDES by Adrienne Young
THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE by V.E. Schwab
MIDNIGHT SUN by Stephenie Meyer
FURIA by Yamile Said Mendez
CEMETERY BOYS by Aiden Thomas
LOVE ME AGAIN, COWBOY by Torsha Baker
THE POET X by Elizabeth Acevedo
CLAP WHEN YOU LAND by Elizabeth Acevedo
WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by John Green
PAPERTOWNS by John Green
LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green
A PHO LOVE STORY by Loan Le
THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY by Jenny Han
WHEN SUMMER ENDS by Jessica Pennington
AGAIN, AGAIN by E. Lockhart
SUNKISSED by Kasie West
BONE GAP by Laura Ruby
IN THE WILD LIGHT by Jeff Zentner
SIXTEENTH SUMMER by Michelle Dalton
MORE HAPPY THAN NOT by Adam Silvera
HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME by Adam Silvera
LOVE AND GELATO by Jenna Evans Welch
SOMEONE LIKE YOU by Sarah Dessen
THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER by Sarah Dessen
RANDOM ACTS OF MURDER: A MURPHY'S LAW MYSTERY by Terry Deighton
ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell
THE SHADOWS BETWEEN US by Tricia Levenseller
BEYOND THE MAPPED STARS by Rosalyn Eves

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Finding Your True Voice

If ya'll remember, back in 2017, I eagerly drafted a Viking fantasy in 3 months. It had sisters, believing in oneself, a side order of romance... and then months later, I redrafted the entire book. Yeah. I did that. And suddenly, the theme and direction began to change. I felt the microscope of the writing community and what publishers were currently publishing coming down to a few subjects/themes. I became overwhelmed with this incessant need to write to that. If I didn't then my book wasn't good enough. And without actively wanting to, I let my book be for them. That's how freaking tight the grasp was.

Those are the lies we tell ourselves - that it's not a story if it doesn't fit the current xyz. Um, hello, those change frequently. New trends happen because we make them happen.

I'd several requests for the book, came close, never made it. 

However, it taught me more than I asked for, and for that? I'm grateful. I learned to not write for some idea going around. I learned that I needed to be behind it's every word 100% with my words, not ones stuffed down my throat. I made a mistake to myself. I moved on, vowing never again. I'm better for it. Although...there is one side character asking for a redo and to power up to main character.

That is finding your true voice - your writing. YOUR writing.

It's not a secret. It's not a formula. It's your words, in your order, with no influence of mass media or anyone else filling your head. It's your character in your way because that's how you see them, not how you think they'll sell by changing the true image that came to you. It's your message, or no message. Your theme, or no theme. It's how you see the story in your head if you never knew what was trending in the moment. It's what brings you back to telling the story because you are steering the wheel. It's your jargon. It's your twist on sentences and paragraphs and chapters and all their structures. 

It's you on the gosh dang page. Not them. Just write what you see, and tell it how you'd tell it. In your own gosh dang words.

Love your guts,

-Tammy -

P.S. What about you? What are you writing, listening to, watching on TV? What has 2021 looked like for you??