I wrote another chapter to my novel: click here to read it. :) In a few hours. Today. On a whim. I have no idea what’s gotten into me haha but I did it. I just felt inspired, after reading so much yesterday and the day before. I’m turning into a Harry Potter fan. I read 70% of the first book in just 2 days. I’m so addicted arghh. :D

Anyways, my novel is really getting to an end. Just one more chapter to go… then I will have to review every chapter and hopefully I’ll do this soon. Life’s been getting pretty busy, been to some great places this year, had my share of good moments, good books and music, and good loving. I haven’t had time to think about my imaginary world (I mean, my writing). It feels good to have that novel updated. Finally! Yeahhhh!

Well, the main problem with my novel is that at first I “designed” it as a sad story, but meanwhile I decided to change it to a happy-end story. It was pretty hard to figure a way out of this dilemma, but finally, I got it! I know how it will end.

In the last few months my life’s been so busy that I don’t know how I managed to read two long books: Gaskell’s North and South and Collins’s The Woman in White – both authors new to me. Finally I had the courage to beat the fear of great narratives. I think somebody famous once said that fat books are like an affair — a great commitment. I must be afraid of commitments then, argh. Sometimes I prefer to watch the movie before I take any chances.

For North and South, I saw the miniseries done by BBC one or two years ago. I didn’t love it that much at that time, so I didn’t think that the book would thrill me either, but oh, how wrong was I! The book was so more enjoyable! The first chapters were slow, so slow and so boring, but then, as soon as the heroine meets Mr. Thornton that book didn’t leave my hands, figuratively speaking because unfortunately I can never finish a book in one sitting. My eyes hurt after an hour or so. In short, if I were to choose between Mr. Darcy, Mr. Rochester and Mr. Thornton, the latter would be my immediate choice! But then again, if I were to choose between Jane Eyre and Margaret, Jane Eyre would be the one — without any doubt! Margaret seemed a bit childish to me and a little prejudiced at times, and in this way I associate her more with the Austen heroines, whom I admit to dislike sometimes.

Then comes The Woman in White. Well,  for this one I decided I would not watch the movie completely. Only saw that part when Mr. Hartright comes into the scene. After Laura’s marriage I stopped the movie. I was interested enough in the novel so I started to read it and re-watched the movie after finishing the book. Because it was a mystery novel, supposedly one of the best, I had reason enough to think that by seeing the whole movie, the novel itself would have been spoiled. And well did I do! True, the movie was very different from the book, but still Laura’s future would’ve been revealed. Before seeing the movie, I had no idea where the novel was going. I thought that Laura would leave the plot and Marian would have to take revenge on the Count. I also couldn’t have guessed (in years!) the secret of Sir Percival which I will try not to reveal here because I don’t want to give spoilers. Usually, I don’t care about them, I have read lots of books after reading about their ending and didn’t mind them, but with this Collins book, part of its charm is the fact that at a certain moment you will feel that you can guess what’s happening, only to be revealed later that you were totally wrong. It was a marvellous book, with memorable characters. I found Marian a sort of ‘Jane Eyre’, Laura resembling a bit with the Jane Austen heroines, but without their prejudices… Laura is really a sweet, innocent girl, and Mr. Hartright is the courageous hero ready to give his life for his love. What’s not to love at this triangle? In short, it was a great novel.

I also read The Mistress of Shenstone, expecting a novel as beautiful as The Rosary. And it was, but… incomparable with the latter. It was also shorter, maybe if the action were paced wiser it would’ve been a read as thrilling as The Rosary. Other than this, it was enjoyable.

I’m looking forward to finishing Wives and Daughters after seeing the BBC movie adaptation which I enjoyed more than the North and South one. Justine Wadell is perfect in the role and Roger is like another Mr. Thornton. Gotta love the Gaskell men! :)

My most remarkable achievement: reading Gone with the Wind in less than three months. Or so. I know it sounds a lot, but hey, I’ve had university going on! And generally, more than 1000 pages for me is a big no-no! I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the novel and what an easy read it was! I couldn’t put the book down when Rhett Butler was in the landscape. My favourite character, no doubt! I can hardly remember the descriptions… This is what I really didn’t like. I know they were valuable pieces of historical information, but I would’ve rather skipped them. But all in all… I loved the book!

My biggest surprise was Little Women. I usually wouldn’t have gone for Christian, 100% clean romance books, but I am glad I’ve overstepped my comfort zone. I am definitely a fan of comfort books now and, if I ever plan on writing a new novel, this is what I am going to write. Needless to say, I think, that Jo was my favourite March girl, and of course, I loved the professor and his kind nature. Such a sweet read!

Then it was The Thorn Birds. Wow. After seeing the movie, I thought that I should read this as well, for the sake of the old times, when I was so interested in star-crossed romances and tragic stories. It also posed some moral and philosophical questions, so I immediately put my hands on it. And it was great. My favourite character was Ralph, and man, he is the one I less understood. Such an interesting character the author portraied! I was quite unsure whether to read it because I knew it has some… eh… sex scenes that I was not into. I thought I would not like it at all. And the truth it, it could’ve been written without those explicit scenes. But considering the rest of the story… and overall… I liked it.

Right now I am reading North and South and I am definitely falling in love with Mr. Thornton! Aww! It feels like another version of Jane Eyre.

You are a teenager, lonely and misunderstood. You plot your own novel because you can’t plot your own life. Which sucks. Period. You want to know the truth? The truth is that all writers are lonely. At least those who write for their own pleasure. Writing is a tough thing to take passion in, and only the… strongest(?) survive. The strongest… you would say? Think again. Only the lonelier, I would say.

Then suddenly, you find yourself all grown-up, with friends all around you. You are no longer lonely. You start to realise how beautiful life is when you’re actually a part of it. You begin to rejoice in the moments when you are surrounded by real people. They are the characters you most love. They are your friends, your lover… people you must strive for. People worth spending your time with. And then there’s also nature. So many places to visit! All of a sudden, here I am: the no longer sad and depressed and “artsy” one. I am no longer living in some sort of imaginary realm, but in a real one, where I myself am a character. I breathe, I talk, I love, I enjoy. One could say, why bother writing anyway?

Well, I would say that too. But the truth is, I’ve accomplished a lot of thigns. I have found a band to sing with, I have even written my own song (together with the guys, of course), I have had one of my photos featured as a Daily Deviation on Deviantart. Music and photography were, and still are, my biggest hobbies. I even passed an interview for an internship, but I gave up the job.  It was not my thing. I even gratuated. Thanks God!

But then there’s writing. The summer is gone and there’s less than a week until I start my MA programme and there are still some pangs of conscience bugging me. I have not finished my novel… and I only have three more chapters to write. What a shame!

But then again, I had some problems plotting my novel. Never abandon your novel for more than a month! A few days ago when I tried to continue with my writing, I realised I had almost forgotten it.  It was a shock! The writer, forgetting what she personally wrote? That’s silly. I wouldn’t have thought it possible.

And then, there was another thing. The ending, as I first imagined it, was meant to be a tragic one. I was very much influenced by The Lady with the Camellias when I began writing my first draft (I think five years ago…). It was also one of the fewest books I had read at the moment… so yeah, my horizon was quite limited. But now I want the ending to be a happy one. So I’ve started replotting my novel. It was not an easy job, but I finally know exactly how my chapters will flow. At least I have the sketch. Now I can go back to writing!

Even if you are an author, a wannabe writer, or just a simple human being with no intention of becoming a writer, I am sure you HAVE written something at least once in your life, be it an entry in your personal journal, a blog entry, or a piece of fanfiction (I am guilty here, I tried writing fanfics once)… or even your own story. Do most of us write solely for money or must there be something else that triggers our wish for expressing on paper?

Let’s see.

Money. Yes, there are a lot of people who write for money, especially professional writers, but also a lot of bloggers who can make money with every visitor who lands on his blog and hits the ads on the page. But can you write just for the money? I doubt… Where there is no passion, no intrinsic reason, I don’t think there can be anything to last. Of course you can write in the basic sense of the word, but it is not authentic, and it can’t last. I once thought I enjoyed drawing, because my friends were good at it, but in the end I gave up drawing. It was just a fling.

Writing is a means of expressing our thoughts. I think this is the main reason for which we take up writing. Here, there is no external factor that forces us to write. But often, if we publish what we write, we become influenced by those who comment and watch our works… and so…

Writing becomes a duty to the readers. A duty to our fans. I uploaded my novel on Fictionpress and received some comments. Of course, most of all were positive, consisting of good advice, but if it weren’t for the reviews I’ve received, I would’ve probably never written the last draft of my novel. The worst thing is that, once I get a few followers, I feel obliged to them to update the novel as soon as possible, sooner than I would’ve if it weren’t for the pressure. This is not necessarily a good thing. Once you begin to feel this duty to your readers, you stop writing what your mind thinks, and start writing what they expect you to write. Even if involuntarily, you begin to realise what your readers want, and you become influenced by their comments. Thus the work becomes less personal.

And the last reason that comes to my mind:

Writing is like another reality for you. Have you ever felt that your life is meaningless… or not the way you wanted it to be? That there are a lot of things you wish you’ve had or known, a lot of things you would want to be? You start to daydream, and soon, you wish to put your ideal life on paper. I (partly) write because my dreams come true by writing them. I also noticed this… that when I am very happy with my life, I tend to neglect my writing, and start doing more practical things, like going outside with my friends, going in a club and having fun etc. Writing is like playing a RPG. It’s like an alternate reality. PS: This also includes writing a story in which the people you hate are the victims (hence the picture), or in which your crush becomes your boyfriend (if you are a teenager writing YA).

So, why do you write? Because I am sure you do… :)

I’ve just had an American Literature exam, and my head is full of Emerson, Poe, Irving, Henry James and so on and so forth. But what I really found interesting is Howell’s and Poe’s theories of writing.

I’ll start with Howells and his “Novel-Writing and Novel-Reading”. I found a good outline of his ideas here: http://www3.dbu.edu/mitchell/howellsr.htm

  • “A true, life-like representation of reality is beautiful and cannot corrupt; the imagination can only work with the stuff of experience. Ugliness, by contrast, is what is false and unreal.” Clearly, he was influenced by the ideas of the Transcendentalist writers. I’d rather see it as “the aesthetics of ugliness”, but surely this is not what Howell thought at all.
  • “Like actors who love to take ‘note [of] how the thing is done.  We forget the shop [...] but the shop does not forget us’. Authors are essentially performers and makers of a craft.” This is what Poe thought. too. I completely agree. In writing, unlike in any other form of art, imagination is less important. The writer is less of a creator, and more of a crafter.
  • “Women read for the psycho-ethical referent of characters and stories.” Now that’s a a bit of a prejudice, isn’t it? I can’t decide if it applies to me, but since my favourite books have this psycho-ethical referent in them… yeah, I guess that’s right. Though I can’t prove in any way if men read for the same reason, so it remains an open question.
  • Fiction presently takes three broad approaches to representation: novel (characters are real, incidents grow out of characters) — what I would call a realist novel, in which every character has a flaw, and that is what triggers the action, romance (characters are types, they represent an ideal, and there are a lot of allegories) — I’d add gothic novels here and maybe even some fantasy novels and fairytales, and romantic novel (characters, who are real types, they don’t represent an ideal, and their behaviour is arbitrary) – this is where I would add my novel and almost all of the historical romances written nowadays, and well, almost all contemporary fiction.

The same website I listed above comes with a set of questions to consider; I’ve only answered a few:

  1. What separates a “type” in fiction from a “character”?  How do we ascertain “realistic” motives? A type is less likely to be found in real life. Examples of types are Frankestein, Faust, and they are animated by one idea which is an ideal for them. The action usually takes place under fantasy-like circumstanes, in mythical places and mythical times. Mr. Rochester, for example, is a character, not a type, he is not guided by any ideal, is real, has a variety of facets. Thus, the characters are also more “real”, more “humane”, and have a variety of personality traits and flaws.
  2. Should fictional be ethical in its message?  Will it naturally be so? Fiction is ethical without us realising it. It is impossible not to be so, since the author is a real person, with values and principles, with an ethical view of the world. However, I dislike books which try to force you to think in a certain way. In other words, the narrator should not be biased or prejudiced, he should offer a balanced view with different ethical views.
  3. What keeps a story interesting to a reader? That’s a hard question… if we knew the precise answer we would have the key to writing! But I’ll try to answer it. I think readers seek to identify themselves with either the characters, the situations, or with the narrative voice (ultimately with the author’s views and ideas). For example, I like Jane Austen for her humour, sometimes so ironical and witty! I enjoyed  “To Kill a Mockingbird” because I am strongly against racism, I loved the character of Atticus because his judgement was always so strong. I also liked “The Lord of the Rings”, but because of my fascination for this type of fantasy novels. Therefore, to all the reasons above, I would also add that some readers want to satisfy their own passions for certain things when reading a book. They might be history addicts, or Science Fiction geeks etc., so obviously, this is why they read historical/SF/etc. books.
  4. Do women and men read differently? I wouldn’t know, since I’m not a man, but what I noticed is that men seem to read books with subjects they are interested in (computers, SF). They are more focused on ideas, rather than on the characters. They are also more keen on the plot, the action, rather than on the dialogue. Women, on the other hand, seem to grow fond of the characters, the values which they engross, and focus more on the dialogue. Hence why we love “Jane Eyre”, and men love “Dune”.

I admit that I have:

  • neglected my writing in favour of watching a movie, reading a book etc.;
  • not kept my promise to finish my novel by the end of the year that has passed;
  • copied fragments of my previous works just because I had a supposed writer’s block (of this I’m very ashamed);
  • presumed that I have a writer’s block when all I had was a bad disposition (I no longer believe in this fancy word: “writer’s block”);
  • “stolen” ideas from my favourite writers, without even realising it (but hey, who doesn’t? “Imitation is the greatest form of admiration.”);
  • deleted a scene just because I wanted to finish the chapter earlier (ashamed again…);
  • included a scene just because the chapter seemed too short (the eternal quanity over quality thing…);
  • attempted at cutting down half of the pages (one character’s POV), just because I wanted to finish the goddamn novel sooner;
  • loved and hated my novel and my characters at the same time;
  • not documented myself thoroughly about the era I’m writing in (it’s not supposed to be a source of documentation, but a work of fiction, right?).

May the God of writing have mercy on my soul!

Completely unrelated to the topic, some time ago, a reader complained that I made my male character too romantic. Whoo, imagine him a heartless Casanova! Who said women like romantic characters (I assume she was a girl by the name)? I have noticed this… that lately the ‘Mr. Bad Guy’ is more and more often found in historical romances. If you ask me, I think it’s nonsense and completely unfit for the 18th/19th century. But that’s my two cents.

What I’ve learned in time is that there is no such thing as a writer’s block. It is only an excuse, and in my case, a way of saying “I’m done with writing. I’m too bored. Let’s do something funnier!” The bad luck of being a person with many interests, who just happens to write a novel and wants very eagerly to finish it, haha!

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