I Hate HP

I got a new computer about 2 years ago and since that time it has been nothing but trouble.  I’ve had to send it back to the company 3 times to be repaired.  The motherboard and the hard drive have been replaced.  The first time this was especially traumatic because I hadn’t backed up a lot of my photos and documents.  I have more or less learned my lesson on that front.  But sending my computer off every 2 months is totally disruptive to my writing life.  Thankfully I paid extra for a warranty, but I can only imagine what will happen when that expires.

Silver linings; I have learned to be more patient.  I have learned that computers are not magic though sometimes we expect them to perform as though they are.  I have made many friends (and a few enemies) in India.

Ideally, I would like to find some big-cheese at HP’s home phone number or email account and bombard them with spam and hate mail until they give me my money back.  Please feel free to leave a comment if you have such information.

Zen Wisdom

“Before enlightenment, carry water, chop wood.  After enlightenment, carry water, chop wood.”

This little zen saying is a good reminder for life in general, but I think could be especially well applied to the process of writing in hopes of publication.  Even after you acquire an agent, or sign with a publisher, or acutally see your book in print, you still have to carry water and chop wood.  That is to say, you still have to write.  So the point is to enjoy the writing as much as you anticipate enjoying the fame and glory (which is of course your destiny).

This saying also helps me keep perspective about transitions or changes in my life that feel enormous and intimidating.  Whatever my job, whether I’m married or single, a home owner or renter, I still have to carry water and chop wood.

Show don’t tell, right?

Show don’t tell.  It’s one of the oldest axioms in the creative writing world.  The example I always use with my students is:

Mrs. McGillicutty was mean.

or

Mrs. McGillicutty smiled as her rocker rolled over the cat’s tail and it let out a tremendous yowl.

Basic, but you get the idea.  However, there are times when it’s important to tell and not show.  I’ve been thinking about this as I revise my YA novel.   Perceptive agent pointed out that there’s quite a bit of what she called “walking around music” in my current draft.  By this she meant that I’m describing a scene in detail that I could simply summarize in a few quick lines.  The scene itself isn’t actually all that important for the reader to witness first hand.  For example, in one place my main character convinces her parents to let her go to the bonfires.  It’s not actually all that important how she convinces them, so instead of writing out that whole scene I can simply sum it up and the outcome is the same and the story line holds more tension.

A more obvious example of this would be if you described a character tying his or her shoes instead of simply saying he or she tied her shoes.

Isabelle carefully laid one lace over the other, making a loop and then chasing the rabbit through the hole as she had learned in Mrs. Wilcox’s warm sunny kindergarten room.  She gently pulled the loop through and…

or

Isabelle tied her shoes.

Now unless Isabelle is recovering from a traumatic head injury, the first description is really unnecessary.  I haven’t unearthed any examples in my own writing that are quite this flagrant, but it has helped me trim quite a bit of unnecessary fat from the manuscript.

Define “Young Adult”

“I can read your books, I’m a young adult right?”

A friend of mine asked me this after reading the descriptions of my current writing projects.  First of all the answer is unequivocally yes.  There are a lot of so-called adults who read YA, and there is a lot of YA that is considered cross-over.

But her question made me think that there are really two definitions of a “young adult”.  There’s the more traditional definition of an adolescent or teenager in the roughly 13-20 range.  But there’s also this idea of someone who is  sort of new to being an adult, in their late 20’s to mid-thirties (or later depending on emotional maturity), someone who’s still getting used to the idea of being an adult.  Whatever age you are, you’ve never been that age before, so we’re always learning about how to be in the world.  Maybe that’s what makes the tropes and themes in YA books so appealing to so many different ages.

I once read a commencement speech given by Tom Brokaw in which he cautioned the future graduates that the real world wasn’t much like college, or even high school.  The real world, he said, was a lot like jr. high.  So maybe we’re all Young Adults to some degree.  Accept it, embrace it… and read whatever you want!