Print Books are just Superior

Through a combination of daily Bookbub emails and the android kindle app, I’ve started reading some books in ebook form. I haven’t read many yet, because even shorter ones can take me months to finish. I read several books at once and, generally, I’m more likely to reach for physical copies than the kindle app. It doesn’t inspire me to open it.

It might be partially because of my device. Maybe when I inevitably get a true ereader (or a tablet, more likely), with a screen that displays something more like a real book’s full page, it will improve the e-reading experience. That said, I still think I will forever prefer turning a page to swiping a screen.

Ebooks might be more practical at times, certainly. In the sense of the paper it saves, more environmentally friendly. On a long trip, you could bring a large collection of books without taking up much space in your luggage. And the content is the same–but the reading experience simply is not.

I feel like print books welcome me into the story. They draw me in and ask me to stay a little longer. Having something to hold on to allows me to believe that in some way or another, the story is more real. The tactile connection is important. Ebooks are cold, distant. They don’t care about me reading them.

Perhaps it is the very fact that physical books take up space–owning them is more of a commitment. Maybe it’s a generational thing. When I was a child, computers were much less a part of daily life and e-books were not yet a product. I grew up on print. I can’t help wondering if this convenient but impersonal form of books is going to create a generation (or many) that do not understand the importance and magic of reading. That makes me sad.

I don’t really care that much what kind of paper print books are made of. If they find a better, more environmentally-conscious material for physical volumes, that would be fantastic, and I would fully endorse making books in the greenest possible way. I also believe that good books cannot be a waste of paper.

However the process changes in the future, I ask everyone–publishers, consumers, printers, etc.–to consider the wonder of print books.

Books that Inspire

I’m currently reading Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. I find myself wishing that I had read it as a child–not because it’s written for children (I don’t know if it was) or because I would have enjoyed it more then than I am right now. I wish I had read it when I was younger because it is so well-written and such a wonderful tale that I know it would have been one of those books that I read over and over, one of those that inspired me as a writer.

As I read I’m comparing the book to the movie that came out a few years ago, and I am surprised at the amount of differences in just the first third of the book. This is definitely a case of the book and movie being almost entirely separate stories (I mean, in the movie, Yvaine never says “fuck”). So, although I have some idea of how the story goes, there are enough differences that I get to have that feeling of wanting to know what will happen next.

I would say the story has many typical elements of fairy tales and the fantasy genre (that is, before urban fantasy became popular). The details, though, are unique enough that I don’t feel like I’ve read the same story a thousand times. Since every basic story has been told already, as they say, it’s all in the way the story is told, and this one is told brilliantly. The way that details are revealed allows for just the right amount of suspense, in my opinion. I have a somewhat low suspense threshold and when it’s crossed, I get bored, so I’m happy with just enough to keep it interesting. And the language, oh my. It’s not news that Neil Gaiman is an excellent writer, but there is something about this book in particular… the quality of the writing fits so well with the setting of the Faerie world. In my opinion it’s quite ethereal, a little surreal, but not insubstantial or unbelievable in any way. Maybe I would still believe in Faerie if I had read this book when I was younger.

Last night I was reading this instead of going to sleep and I was reminded in a way that rarely happens these days that I am supposed to be writing. Of all the other interests I have cultivated, nothing makes me feel as satisfied as writing, and there is no other medium through which I can express myself so well. If I didn’t have bills and student loans and all that to worry about, I would just write full time starting NOW.

An Unnecessary Post

Just now, my life is feeling very bland. I’m not devoid of creative inspiration for writing, but I don’t feel a particular urge to create. I want to spend time with my friends, do something fun, exciting–but I also want to just have time alone, possibly lying in bed staring at the ceiling while listening to music.* I want to get lost in reading.

I have two thoughts on this. One is that my creative energy needs time to build up. None of our creative wells are quite bottomless, and if it hasn’t rained enough lately, they’re bound to be very low.

My other thought is that I’ve become engulfed in necessity (chores, bills, etc.), and the energy that requires just puts me in a mindset that is not conducive to writing.

From my past experience, I have to advise myself that the best way to fix this is to just start writing something.

But I need to complete this editing work first. And many other more “necessary” things.

But what could be more necessary to a writer than writing?

I am awash in dilemmas of adulthood.

 

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*Current music selection would probably be Deftones, Oh Land, or something very new age/experimental with no vocals.

416 days later- Please don’t give up

Deva Jasheway:

Remember: You aren’t likely to learn as much from success as from failure…

Originally posted on So you want to be a writer?:

My friend and I were talking yesterday of what it takes to be a writer. The endless hours. The self-hatred. The joy. The turmoil of never being good enough, wondering if any of us will ever get published. What made us the saddest though, was thinking about all the brilliant writers out there who gave up.

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Sex and the City and the Internet

I’ve watched Sex and the City a lot. More than I should probably admit to if I want anyone to take me seriously… but in doing so, I’ve thought a lot about the characters’ situations and other aspects of the show that I’d expect most people would just dismiss or accept without really thinking too much about it. The other day I was watching an episode and had a certain thought about Carrie’s career.

I have seen comments in various places regarding how ridiculous it is that she can make enough money writing a once-weekly newspaper column to afford a nice apartment and support the lifestyle of constantly eating out and 100 pairs of shoes that cost $500. This is true, and I can respond to this by saying that maybe they should have worked a little harder to explain how this is possible, but the whole show is about people who live a glamorous, fantasy life, so it all fits.

My point is actually quite unrelated to this. I’ve determined that due to the blogging platforms of the internet, Carrie’s job would actually be much less secure these days.

I’m not just talking about the demise of print journalism, but the actual content of her columns. Supposedly, her success with the column and the reason it did well in book form was because she was writing openly and (pretty much) honestly about topics that were otherwise still hard to find elsewhere. She was unique, and maybe opened doors for more honest conversation on the often taboo details of sex and relationships.

These days you can find this everywhere. Granted, you might have to encounter some dumb, poorly written material in order to actually find the good stuff, and you’re more than likely to encounter pornographic sites if you choose to google certain terms, but the internet has made it possible to have access to essentially all information. There are sites like xoJane and Jezebel that frequently feature articles about sexual or personal topics that Carrie Bradshaw might have covered, and Cracked.com that presents its information with a lot of satire, sarcasm, and other approaches to humor. I would have to say, though, that blogging sites like WordPress are one of the main reasons for this explosion of honest personal writing. It allows anyone to publish anything, without having to be accepted by a publisher or a magazine or online journal or any of the more traditional (or perhaps neo-traditional?) channels, and many of them allow writers to remain anonymous. This, I’m sure, prompts more people to upload posts about subjects that embarrass them, or that they don’t want associated with their name for other reasons, and that may be very important to someone who ends up reading them.

This is bad for Carrie Bradshaw (who is fictional, so that’s ok), but good for us in general. It is my personal wish that people would learn the basics of grammar and sentence structure and not flood the internet with such atrocities of illiteracy. Leaving that aside, I think that honest communication is extremely important. In personal writing–autobiographical or opinion-based–it makes pieces better. I’m not sure if it’s harder or easier these days to make a living off this type of writing, but I’m guessing not the type of living that would allow you to spend thousands on shoes and clothes every month. The main reason I have not tried to test this by experience yet is that, anonymous or not, it is so difficult to put your private self out there for strangers or close friends and family to read. I hope I can find the guts for this one day.

Too excited to think of a title!

I have the best news EVER… maybe.

A long time ago I posted about having lost all the editing I did on a collection of stories. I had worked hard on the original versions, which I still had, but it was probably the most effort I had ever put into editing any of my creative work, and then I lost the files! …or did I?

By the definition of “lost,” yes, I did lose the work, because I could not find those files. But perhaps misplaced is a better term–because I think I’ve found the missing files.

I was looking through my external hard drive files and I saw there, finally, another file of these same stories. It was a larger file, indicating a fairly substantial number of pages, and it was saved in April of 2010, which is right around the last time I remember having that lost thumb drive. To satisfy my curiosity, I opened the file and had a quick look through it.

1. It has all five stories. I had been looking for them separately whenever I searched before, for whatever reason not considering that I had probably saved them all into one file.

2. The original files had preliminary titles for each story, but this one has the final titles. (Final, but with room for adjustment if I come up with something better.)

I have not yet looked carefully enough to confirm that this IS the file I’ve been looking for, but all signs point to yes! What a mood booster. I had the intention of sending this collection out to publishers, but got so discouraged at the thought of doing the first round of revisions again that I just put it off… and off… and off… and haven’t looked at it since. Time to dust it off. That’s a great conclusion to a Friday!

~

By now you might be wondering, unless you were here back then, what the story’s about. It was an independent study project from my college years, a joining of mythologies from various traditions all pulled together through the life of the Hindu god Krishna. I’ve always been fascinated by┬ámythology and I loved writing these stories. One of the main comments I have gotten on this work is that the stories could be worked into each other a little better, so I will make an attempt to do that. I’ve also been told my female characters aren’t strong enough, which is odd, because I’m female–but not so odd, because it reflects the way female characters have been represented in much of the literature I’ve read. And I’m a feminist, too. MUST WRITE STRONGER WOMEN….

My Problem with Speed-Reading

A while ago I read (or, more accurately, skimmed) an article about an app that could train you to read a novel in 90 minutes. On the one hand I thought, “Wow, that’s impressive.” (I’m sure it’s not, to some people.) On the other hand, it made me feel … disappointed is the best word I can come up with. Disappointed that this is how people view reading, as something that should be done as quickly as possible, or else it’s a waste of time.

I understand the appeal of reading a book that quickly, as there are so many books out there I want to read, and I know there will be more, that it would be beneficial in that sense to be able to get through a book in 90 minutes. I could greatly increase my number of total books read, broaden my reading experience, etc.

But both as a reader and as a writer, this emphasis on speed-reading bothers me.

There have been times, particularly in college, when reading a little faster was necessary. I’m not arguing that you should never read quickly just to finish a book, if it’s required for your school or work to do so. But other than that, if you’re reading for pleasure, why would you be in such a hurry to be finished? If I choose to read a book, not for any assignment but because I think I will find it interesting or enjoyable, I like to spend time with it. A book is a great place to be, better, sometimes, than the real world. Particularly in very engaging books, I don’t want to rush through that world. But if I start speed-reading, then slower reading would be hard to go back to.

Then, of course, I consider speed-reading from the point of view of a writer–more specifically, a writer who intends to publish novels. Any serious writer will spend a lot of time and effort creating the content you’re reading, wanting to craft something readers will find worth their time. If I spend a year on a book (drafting, revising, etc.), I don’t want someone to pick it up only to toss it aside in an hour or two. Although real writers write for themselves, they also write for readers, and the thought that something created with care is worth only the smallest fraction of someone’s time is discouraging. There would likely be many writers who understandably reason that they should not put so much effort into their work if the people enjoying the final product are not going to appreciate it properly.

I am against this notion that a “solution” is needed to read novels faster. Internet articles? Yes, read them as fast as you can, particularly the ones that seem like they were written in ten minutes. Or even this one, which should certainly not take you longer than that to read… you’ll get the idea. But a story that someone has taken the care to craft so that they can be proud of it? Spend a little time with it. Don’t be so scared of books.