March 2

Plans for Extended Critical Essay (ECE)

For my upcoming semester at Spalding University,  I need to turn in a 20-30 page essay referred to as an Extended Critical Essay, or ECE,  Since I imagine three and a half-weeks between each draft wouldn’t be enough time for me to do all my research, reading, writing and edits, I am working on gathering all my information now.

I’m not sure what my topic will be on. I’m leaning toward writing emotion into a story or something on world building.  Maybe I can somehow combine the two…. How character’s emotions can help with world building in YA. I may decide to go in a totally different direction as well. But I’m hopefully giving myself enough time to do the research and come up with a final decision.

In fact, I plan to write mini-essays on the two topics while I am doing the research, with the hope that it’ll help me build material/resources for the ECE I will need to work on. I would love feedback from people as I make progress, differing opinions, suggestions on what other resources to look at, no matter what stage I am in during this endeavor.

My first step is to find the resources that will help me write the mini-essays and eventually the ECE. I would appreciate recommendations on:

  • Non-Fiction books/articles on Writing Emotion
  • Non-Fiction books/articles on World Building
  • YA Fiction that is a good example of one or both elements.
  • Any other resources that you think may be of interest/help to me.

Thanks in advance for your recommendations and comments.

September 23

End of Semester is Coming

So some of you may already be aware that I am working on my last packet for this semester.  I won’t be able to attend school for the fall semester, which starts in November.  However, I plan to attend the next spring semester–late May.  By all appearances, second semester students are strongly encouraged to try a different focus for a full semester.  So, instead of taking in YA next semester, try memoir, poetry, screenplay, playwright, adult….  I’m leaning toward Screenplay.  I’ve just heard a lot of great things about that program and it would be different from what I currently write.  I think Adult writing would be too much like YA for it to show me a different way of writing in a significant way.  So I thought I’d ask readers to recommend books or screenplays to me.  Partially so I can keep posting reviews on this blog.

Any genre will do, though I would prefer YA novels for books.  And I have no idea what I’d want Screenplay-wise so I leave that to readers to suggest.

Also, I know, I owe a book review on City of Bones still and two more critical reviews.  Those will be coming shortly!

August 15

Packet 4 plans

I’ll be turning in everything for packet three later today. The critical essays are difficult for me to write, mainly because I have problems picking out the elements. I’ll get stuck on one thing, whether it actually qualifies for what my essays need to be or not, and have a hard time looking for something else that would fit the assignment better.  I think I did a fairly good job with this packet’s critical essays and I’m hoping my next essays for packet four will be a little easier.

For packet four I’ll be reading   Holes by Louis Sachar and How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. I trust the people who recommended them to me and looking forward to reading them, though they probably aren’t books I would have picked up on my own.

Have you read either of these books?  What do you think?  Is there something the authors did particularly well with the books?  Or something in particular you want me or recommend I focus on as I read through it, like dialogue, description, characterization, time, etc.?  I may write about it when I’m done reading.

June 26

Response from Lesléa

I got an initial response from my mentor, Lesléa, about the material I sent her for my first packet. I got a lot of positive feedback on Shadowed and my short critical essays. However Entangled, unsurprisingly, needs a lot of work.  I agree with most of the comments she made. And suspected some of the issues she mentioned.

Entangled needs a work and right now, with the initial comments thrumming in my head, I’m not sure how to make some of the changes, specifically, how do I get Maline into his role without readers going, “A real mother would question that”? I’ve had a few people who have already made suggestions on how I could possibly make it work.  I really like a few of them, but I need to see what kind of changes that would mean for the draft I have and how to make them all work, or use those ideas as inspiration.

Does anyone have ideas?  Anyone else willing to look at the fifteen pages I’m working on?  Or someone who is willing to just play sound board for me while I figure it out?

Lesléa’s email was encouraging but she did not hold back on what she thought needed improvement. So far, I only have an email from Lesléa. From what I understand she’ll be sending my submissions through the mail with her notes in the margins.  So I may get more detailed notes on the material when the packet arrives.  It seems to take mail a week to reach me from the East Coast, so I probably won’t get it until late this week, early next week. But I will let everyone know when I get it.

I also will be reading Inkheart by Cornelia Funke instead of How It Ends by Laura Wiess. If you recall, How It Ends was on my original reading list at the very beginning of the semester. So far, no other books have been switched out.

For my next packet I plan on reading:

  • Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
  • Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
  •  Girl Meets Boy This is due around the time my packet is but isn’t necessarily part of packet 2.
  • Make A Scene: Crafting A Powerful Story One Scene At A Time by Jordan E. Rosenfeld  This one is more to help me make the changes I needed to make and not a necessity for the school semester.

I now have a Goodreads account for those who would like to follow my reading progress.

I’ll keep all of you up-to-date.
Thanks for the help and support.

Edited: Got the Hard copy packet today.

May 8

Highs and Lows of Writing

So, I am starting my first semester at Spalding University next week.  I’m looking forward to start earning an MFA in creative writing. Of course, there is plenty for me to do to get ready. One of those things is filling out a form that’s supposed to help my mentor get to know me. The form asks that I write a paragraph or two for a few questions.  Two particular questions amuse me.  What are your greatest strengths as a writer?  What are your greatest weaknesses?

I smile. The answer I want to give is highly…sarcastic, sardonic. The answer I want to give?  It depends on where I am in my novel.  At one moment, I may believe the words, the pace, the characterization, everything is perfect.  It makes the world sing.  I’m perfect.  I don’t need to change a word, a syllable, a comma.  To change anything would be sacrilegious. I bask in the gloriousness of my great, beautiful writing and believe myself a goddess among writers. HOW DARE SOMEONE SUGGEST IT’S NOT READY TO BE PUBLISHED? My story should be thrown off an airship made out of chocolate so all can enjoy in the majesty of my work.  And as people worship me as I float above them, I shout “Enjoy the sprinkles that is my novel!” WHICH MAKES NO SENSE.

At another point in my novel, or perhaps the same section it’s just a different day, or even an hour later, my novel can feel horrible. My writing is the absolute worst in existence and HOW DARE I EVEN TRY TO BECOME A WRITER?  What I write sucks.  Nothing works.  Everything is cliched and dirty and….wrong. Just absolutely wrong.  What made me think that word would even possibly work there? I’ll have readers bleeding from the eyes if they tried reading my work. What I write is hideous and should be forever hidden in a bamboo tree, guarded by a dragon with a grumpy disposition, who also needs a fire to warm himself with.  Burn baby, burn!

The best place for me to be is at my happy medium.  Nothing is glorious.  Nothing sucks. My writing is mediocre.  I get the most work done in this state, but I’m also my most paranoid.  Everything is mediocre, so how can I kick it up a notch..?. Does this need kicked up a notch or does it just feel like it needs kicked up a notch because I’ve read this section for the 980th time?  I think my friends avoid me when I’m in this state.  Email boxes fill–often my own as I bang my head against a wall. Sometimes an answer will be emailed back to me.  Often my only response is a headache as I try to figure out what email note 129 means by: J needs to turn into a  p so she can kiss B.  And dance with the fluffy masked creatures that want to kill her.  And don’t forget about the purple striped and blue polka-dotted elephants.

Did I even write this email?  How did it get in my mail box?
I’m losing my mind.

Care to guess what state I’m in? What state are you in on your own writing?  High, low, paranoid-mediocre?

Post your response in comments, or anywhere else.