Saturday, August 27, 2011

Writing Out the Hurricane

As a Manhattanite, I am not used to hurricanes.  Although we have experienced some major storms, flooding, and other significant man-made disasters in our city, the effects of this approaching hurricane are unusual for most of us.  The shut down of the New York City mass transit system (trains, buses, subways) as a result of a (potential) natural disaster is unprecedented.  The airports are also closed, and the tunnels, bridges, and certain highways may be next.

The Whole Foods at Time Warner Center is busy on an average day, and many times I stood on line for twenty minutes.  Yesterday and this morning, I held my produce and other nonperishables in my arms and waited for my turn, for more than two hours combined - perfectly calm madness ruled every store I went to.  No impatience, no pushing; as a matter of fact, most of us New Yorkers were more civilized today than on a nice sunny day running errands after work.

Foodshopping complete, we taped some of the windows, made bags of ice, put fresh batteries in the flashlights, filled bottles and pitchers with water, and charged the iPhones, iPads, and the MacBook. 

What's left?

Baking some muffins.  Those will last for a few days even if we have no electricity or gas.

And tonight, when the storm rolls in, I will be too nervous to sleep. 

That is where the fully charged MacBook comes in.  Let's hope "The Muse" will cooperate.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Am I "Forcing" A Genre?

Reading M.J's post about not being able to get started made me think of my inability to climb out of an exceptionally deep hole I dug for myself. 

When I work on my "normal" contemporary/literary pieces, I can generally manage even after a rough start or a break of sorts.  The ideas start coming, although usually at the worst of times (like during a meeting at the office...), and once I know where I want the story to go, the words keep coming.  This could be a full-length work (admittedly, I am only on my second) or, more often, a short story.

But when I switch genres and (try to) write a piece of YA, more often than not, I fail.  First, I think I have a genius plot or an unusual idea, but once I start writing it all goes up in smoke.  My characters, the settings, the voice - everything. 

Yet I keep going back to writing YA because I like reading it, and because I like a good challenge.

Well, I'll let you know when I finish my current YA short - or not....

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Give and Take, and Then Some

I am waiting.

Although I am not exactly sure yet what it is I am waiting for (it could be inspiration, story lines, inner peace, a break in the rain, or bedtime), here I am, sitting in front of my MacBook, thinking, reading, typing, and chewing the inside of my cheeks.  I should be giving a final read to the last couple of chapters of my first novel, the synopsis, and the query letter, or maybe work on the outline of my second novel, or perhaps find inspiration for the two short stories I want to write and enter into the WD competition in October.  I should not waste the little time I have - my real life will awaken together with the rising sun.

But I guess there is value in (almost) everything we do:

- if I do not get signed by an agent, I will not be destroyed, and, instead, will become stronger.
- if my first novel ever get published but does not sell, I can always say that the novel was a great success, but the audience was a disaster.  
- as I gear up for my second novel, "imagination is more important than knowledge." 
- I cannot give up because without art and the world it creates, reality could make my world unbearable.  
- I must keep writing to ensure I do not die without having really lived.

Yes, I know.  Instead of poaching the words of others, I should find my own.  But tonight, their wisdom gives me peace.

I guess that is what I was waiting for. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The First Paragraph of My Second Novel Now on "Paper" - But Which PoA?

I realize it is only one paragraph each and neither the message nor the theme can be devised or understood from passages as short as these, but if you have an opinion on which one sounds or is better, first or third PoV, I'd love to hear from you!  This is all I have written so far - the rest is in my head.  And I will (try to) stay true to my word and start with (some version) of a synopsis first.


The massive lock jolted open with a sudden thud, as if it had just awoken from an unexpectedly long and restful sleep. I gave the handle a gentle push and stepped inside.  Although the air was stale, the mellow rays of the afternoon sun lent the room its familiar warmth.  For a moment I thought she would come out of the kitchen carrying a trey of poppyseed beigli in her hand and a reassuring smile on her face.  Knowing that soon I would be cleaning and packing up my grandmother's house felt like she died again; I felt guilty having to remove the memories that witnessed her long and adventurous life. 

Julianna pressed down on the rusty handle and it gave way with a sudden thud.  She pushed it gently and stepped inside.  Warm afternoon sunlight flooded the living room and the hallway and Julianna took a deep breath.  She turned toward the kitchen and, for a moment, a smile full of expectation and sadness flashed though her face.  Here she was, two years after her grandmother's death, ready to clean the house and remove Teresa's personal belongings so that the new owner could put his mark on the house that witnessed her long and adventurous life. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

First Person for the First - Third for the Second?

For me, first person point of view comes naturally; it feels like the "right way" to write.  But is it?  Or rather, is it always the right way?
It clearly has its advantages.

-I know what is inside my protagonists head, what he feels, thinks, dreams.  Thus, it is "easier" to write my story.
-For my (future) readers, there will be an immediacy between the protagonist and the reader, a level of comfort and understanding.

The list of disadvantages (at least in theory) is much longer.

-Subplots are often out of the question.
-There is a constant danger that the protagonist, in particular in the early drafts, will sound like me and not like the character I am developing.
-All characterization of the protagonist is derived from him, which could limit character descriptions and, thus, the readers' understanding of his personality and traits.
-The protagonist is in every scene, potentially boring the reader.

I had no choice but to use first person point of view for In The Shadow of Honey Locusts - it could not have been done any other way.  I did not even try third person; it is a story only my protagonist knows and no one else can tell.  The subplots are minor and the protagonist's struggles and feelings are the heart of the story.

With my first novel almost ready to be sent out to agents, my second is brewing in my mind and heart and I don't know whether I want to stick with first person or try third.  Well, to be honest, I know I want to use first person again - but I wonder if I should perhaps try third person this time?

What do you think?  What POV do you like to read and why?
To make it more interesting, I will write the first paragraph of my second novel in both first and third and will post it here.  Maybe that will help the decision-making process!