Posts tagged: YA

Apr 03 2010

About reading.

I’m a writer, but I’m also a reader. When I was in grade school, I read constantly. I devoured novels as though my life depended on it. And my writing has been greatly influenced by what I read back then.

When I went to university, I stopped reading fiction as much and started reading non-fiction: text books, to be sure, but also books to research my papers and other books that I discovered through my research. My writing has also been influenced by this reading.

After university, there was the Internet. Reading blogs, reading articles online, doing research online, reading web comics… there is a wealth of words out there, and if you sift through the chaff you can find amazing nourishment for your mind.

It has been difficult to get back into reading fiction. I probably will never again read as voraciously as I once did, but it’s definitely not something I will ever give up completely, just as there have been certain authors who have consistently retained me as a reader through the years.

Four Authors I Read Regularly

Orson Scott Card (Science Fiction, Fantasy)
Lurlene McDaniel (Young Adult Inspirational)
Charles De Lint (Fantasy)
Robin McKinley (Fantasy)

Four Books I Recommend

Concerning the Spiritual in Art, by Wassily Kandinsky (Non-Fiction; an insightful look at the nature of art)
On Writing, by Stephen King (Non-Fiction; a by turns funny and serious book about the craft)
Sewer, Gas, and Electric: The Public Works Trilogy, by Matt Ruff (Futuristic Fiction; a very humourous novel that is well-written and has some amazing characters, as well as a great plot)
Lottery, by Patricia Wood (Fiction; a novel from the point-of-view of a man with an intellectual disability that has well-developed characters, an entertaining plot, and is incredibly believable across the board)

I read other authors, of course, but those are the four I look for most often in the bookstore. I own over 20 of Lurlene McDaniels’ books. And I would recommend other books, but these four, I think, offer an excellent assortment of theory, practice, and example.

Oh, by the way, if you go to the Artful Words web site, the April newsletter came out yesterday. Go check it out!

Jun 12 2009

The passion behind the words.

I read a short novel today. It’s a young adult novel by Canadian author William Bell. His books have won awards. I discovered him when I was in high school and read what I could find; I found another two books of his at our local library a few weeks ago and have finally had time to read the first. It is called Alma, and it is about a young girl who loves to read and longs to be a writer. (Sound familiar?)

Alma befriends an author – her favourite author, no less – and near the end of the book, the author says a few words about the passion writers have for telling stories. Tears threatened as I read the words, for they are true:

“But the main thing, I think, was that I had simply lost my passion for telling stories. That’s something you know about, Alma, the passion, because you have it.”

Alma thought she knew what Miss Lily meant, but she wasn’t sure. “Tell me what it’s like,” she said. “Please.”

“Perhaps,” Miss Lily began, “it is, above all things, lonely. So many hours by oneslf, lost in research or imaginings. Then there is the lack of understanding. So many people seem to think that all one has to do is find an idea for a story and write it down. They talk of inspiration as if it replaced grinding toil, the wrestling with ideas and character and narrative structure, the revising, the arguments with editors. And worst of all, the corroding self-doubt that will not go away no matter how well received the books are.”

Miss Lily looked away again.

“All of which sounds like a complaint,” she went on, “but I don’t mean it that way. What gets us through is the thrill of making something out of nothing. It’s the passion to tell the story that means so much to us.”

William Bell, Alma (Doubleday Canada, 2003) 112-113

I don’t think there is much else to say on the topic; Mr Bell has summed it up so well here.

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