Jamie Sobrato's Blog, page 4
February 21, 2012
The book's description:
Say no to sex. So Jane Langston advises women if they want better relationships. Who knew that as a result men across the country would be sleeping single and blaming her? Now Jane needs a little protection. It arrives in the form of gorgeous Luke Nicoletti, and he has her thinking maybe no isn't the right answer. Instead, she's taking him up on his offer to prove that sex can improve relationships!
Luke can't figure out why a woman as sexy as Jane would give such, well, puritan advice. Because when they kiss, they're combustible! Their affair is so steamy, he can't seem to keep his mind on the reason he's there. But as the threats against Jane continue, Luke starts feeling a little more protective of her than his role as her security guy and casual lover warrant. Suddenly he's showing her how their just-for-now affair is hot enough to last forever.
A year and a half ago, we bought our first home. In the yard are a fig tree and an orange tree, which I thought were very cool bonuses. I'd never lived with fruit trees before, and I soon learned the pleasure of walking out into the yard and finding breakfast. Because someone had the wisdom 20 or more years ago to plant these trees, I get to enjoy their fruit now.
We have since bought a few more fruit trees. They are small and frail, in need of nurturing and patience as we wait for them to bear fruit. Of course because I'm a writer, I find a way to connect it all to the writing process. The new trees remind me of the ideas and partially finished books that look like they may never survive. And it's true, they may not. As young ideas, just as with young trees, they are mostly just potential.
But by persevering, being patient, and nurturing what I have as best I can, eventually these works in progress may become complete in themselves. They fill out. They take shape. They find a purpose. And they may, if I'm lucky and I do everything right, bear fruit.
February 20, 2012
Until I had kids, I didn't do any reading out loud. Now I do it every day. Mostly, the books we read are stories I've pre-selected for quality, and they work well when read to an audience, but occasionally, we come across one that I haven't pre-screened, and invariably, if it's not a well-written book, it's even more of a chore to read aloud than it is to read to oneself.
I read one book over the holidays to myself that I fell in love with, and because it was about a boy my son's age, I decided it would work well to read aloud to the kids too. Soon as I finished it myself, I set about reading it to them, and I was shocked to find that the book I'd been reading so happily in silence was utter torture to read to an audience. All sorts of problems I hadn't noticed on the page before leapt out at me, forcing me to edit as I was reading in an effort to make the story sound better than it was. We ultimately gave up on the book before finishing it.
This has led me to the realization that before I consider any piece of work fully revised, I have to read it aloud to myself. If it doesn't read well, the editing is not done. I can catch things when reading aloud that I might not notice reading silently–too-long stretches of narrative or dialogue, for instance, or awkwardly worded passages. Also, now that I'm working on several projects for kids, I will be using my kids as my first audience. This applies an additional filter. Not only must the book read well aloud, but it must contain a story that is appropriate and compelling to the two people who are by far my most important audience.
Do you read your work aloud when editing? If not, try it and see if it makes you a better writer.
February 18, 2012
“Running a close second [as a writing lesson] was the realization that stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.” ― Stephen King
It’s true. You can’t judge whether your work is going well by how it felt to write it. Sometimes every word comes out like hard labor, and that doesn’t mean you’re doing bad work. Any time you’re sitting down and doing the work, you get to feel good at the end that you sat down and did the work.
"Running a close second [as a writing lesson] was the realization that stopping a piece of work just because it's hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position." ― Stephen King
It's true. You can't judge whether your work is going well by how it felt to write it. Sometimes every word comes out like hard labor, and that doesn't mean you're doing bad work. Any time you're sitting down and doing the work, you get to feel good at the end that you sat down and did the work.
February 13, 2012
"When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth."
― Kurt Vonnegut
Oh, yes. It is a blunt, grubby little crayon too.
Kurt Vonnegut was the first male author I truly loved as a teenager. I've always identified more with what women authors have to say, but Vonnegut grabbed me and made me laugh and think and laugh some more.
Right now I'm re-reading authors I admire to see how they do what they do so well. Often they are authors I didn't understand at all when I first read them (Faulkner, Forster). It's a great exercise for an author to read the work of others in order to see what in it is lasting, what has an impact, what makes it a classic. If you are a writer, one of the most important things you can do is read every day, widely, in many genres, with an eye toward appreciating what is effective and what isn't in each piece you read.
A really good novel needs to be read at least twice, because the first time, it will draw you into the story so completely, you won't be able to read it with a critical eye. This might be true the second time too. I've read my all-time favorite novel, Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible, at least 5 times and still get swept up in it every time. I've yet to read it with a critical eye.
February 8, 2012
My head hurts. I've been working too much. There's a lot of noise in my life, and I always struggle to tune out enough of it to hear what I have to say as a writer. Being a writer means being quiet and listening. A lot. It means sitting still and pondering. Or taking long walks and pondering. Preferably both.
Do you have enough quiet time in your life to hear your story speaking to you?
February 5, 2012
We writers can get so caught up in worrying about finding an audience, selling books, and gaining recognition for our work, that we forget to love our work. We are our own first readers, and we should each be writing the book we would most love to read. That should be your test of every idea you have for a book and every sentence and paragraph and scene you put on paper. Do you love to read it? Is it the book you wish you could find in the library?
If not, keep trying until it is.
February 4, 2012
Being a writer means, first and foremost, being a person who lives fully. We have so many media images of writers who sit in front of computers or typewriters all day banging out words, we come to think of writers as cerebral, indoorsy people who need do little else. And it's true to some extent–sitting down and writing all day is what a dutiful writer does in the midst of a project. But without some stretches in between, some times in which we experience the real world outside our own minds, most of us will have very little of interest to say on the page.
To be a good writer, we have to be curious about everything, hungry to learn, eager to experience full, rich lives. I have to admit this is something I've always struggled with. I hate taking time away from regular writing, but I've found as I get older that the more I become a rich-in-experiences person outside my writing life, the more I have to say when I do write.
The past few years in which I've written very little have been a time of filling up on experiences, and in spite of my utter panic about not writing "enough," have ultimately made me a writer I never could have been if I'd kept slogging away and forcing myself to write on a nearly empty tank of experiences.
February 3, 2012
"The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse." ― Carlos Castaneda
If you pursue any kind of creative passion seriously, you will encounter difficult times. The trick is to see the lesson in the adversity. What does it have to teach you about your art? Plenty, if you pay attention.