Don't Want to Do Anything
by Jennifer Paros
You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.
~ Lucille Ball
At the start of this school year, my fourteen- year-old son declared his desire to write a book and to use some of our homeschooling class time to work on it each day. So we set to it. But as he sat before the computer, he'd often slump, push his hands through his hair, and claim exhaustion. Then, despite my objections, encouragement, counsel, and insisting, he would close the laptop, having written little or nothing. One day at the start of our time together, he said, "I don't want to do anything."
What stood between him and his desire? It seemed the same nebulous, choking force I had witnessed in my own experience - the stunning thought that life would be easier and less stressful if I simply didn't participate in it. But this is a tired mind's false solution to an anxious mind's problem. The other false solution is to "make ourselves" do things.
When I was my son's age, I thought avoiding discomfort was my best chance at feeling okay. I tried to make myself comfortable by not doing things. Later, I tried the "make myself do it" approach. For a time, I herded my body and mind through the next challenges and whatever I thought I should do. Though there were certainly gains, there was also a lack of joy. It was a marching game that left me enervated.
Though we speak of "making ourselves" do things, the language is inaccurate. There are no separate selves - no "I" at the wheel honking the horn ready to leave, and another "I" refusing to get in the car. Rather, there are two forms of thought, producing two different, conflicting feelings. We don't have to talk ourselves into anything. It's not a wrestling match - no strong-arming, no threats, no shaming necessary. This is a game of recognition of and relationship to our own thinking. more...
Attracting an Agent: It Takes More than Good Writing
by Erin Brown
You've written an epic novel (The Sound and the Fury, Part Two: The Really Loud and the Really Mad), or the next great self-help book ( You: A Renter's Manual) and you figure, "That's it. Now this puppy will sell itself. Agents and editors will realize the gold mine they have on their desk and the rest is history!" Right? Wrong. You might well have the next best thing since sliced bread and your writing talent could be genuinely brilliant, but if you don't present yourself well to an agent (and an editor!), then you could very well shoot yourself in the foot. Sure, writing a fantabulous manuscript is essential to landing an agent and selling the book. But presenting yourself as an amenable author that an agent and publishing house wants to work with is a huge component too. Remember that an agent isn't only signing your book, but you as well. They will be devoting an inordinate amount of time to you and your work, and will want to work with someone that they like, or at least an author who isn't a total jackass. So how do you present yourself in the best way possible, increasing your chances for representation and ultimately publication? (*Note: bribery is so 2007, so up the ante or switch tactics if that's not working.)
Here are the Dos and Don'ts:
DO get your manuscript into the best shape possible before submitting to agents. As I've mentioned before, hire an editor or join a critique group; copyedit and proofread your manuscript. Get that bad boy in tip-top shape. Presenting a solid and clean manuscript reflects well on you. The opposite is also true (i.e. "If an author can't bother to take the time to proof their manuscript, then why should our agency invest our time in him or her?") . more...
The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor
reviewed by Scott Pearson
The first Walking Dead novel (now available in mass market paperback) is the back-story of the self-styled governor of Woodbury, a small community trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. It follows him and some companions (including his daughter, Penny) from shortly after the outbreak of the zombie virus through their early days at Woodbury. It's tied a bit more closely to the comic book, but, for the most part, also works within the slightly different continuity of the TV series.
Although accessible on its own, I would recommend the novel more to current fans of either comic book or TV show, not as an entry point for the curious reader. Certain elements of the plot will resonate more effectively for those already familiar with the details established in the other formats.
There is, by the nature of the world in which the story takes place, a certain familiarity to the plot as a small group of people tries to get by in the zombified world, meeting other desperate survivors as they go. It's up to the individual characters involved to engage the reader, and the novel delivers an interesting mix of people-and some great twists-as you learn just what drove the Governor to becoming the sociopath he is. more...
Writing From Life
by Molly Best Tinsley
Memoir has been the next new thing for at least twenty years, gobbling up the pie-share of sales that used to go to literary fiction. Speculation abounds as to the reason for the shift. Compared to a literary novel riddled with symbolism and ambiguity, maybe non-fiction seems to offer a clear, reality-based take-away. Memoir is the more practical choice, and we live in a practical age. Maybe memoir triggers our inner voyeur. Maybe readers have been hooked by the same packaging gimmick that draws viewers to the hyper-contrived worlds of "reality" TV.
And maybe, considering that the two genres are so close in appearance they could pass for each other in dim light, the change isn't that big a deal. Everyone knows that fiction is rooted in remembered fact, however twisted or thin the tendril. And no one assumes that every person, place, and event in a memoir exactly mirrors the author's lived experience.
Whatever. Having decided three years ago to write a memoir myself, I am pretty up on what motivates the author. I don't think it's exhibitionism or an inflated self-esteem that makes us choose to expose our private lives rather than hide behind fictional camouflage. In my own case, I wanted to document a situation that needed to be changed. I also wanted to memorialize real people. But maybe most to the point, I took refuge in memoir because real life had become so bizarre that only the rubric of non-fiction could handle it. Fiction, even magical realism, has standards of credibility and coherence after all. more...