Monday, May 19, 2014


This past weekend, I went to the town in Maryland where I went to high school for a friend's bridal shower.  I've been back once or twice since I've moved to the West coast, but not to the town itself, and I was nervous.  I don't have the best of memories of high school, so I wasn't sure what to expect.

One of the places I was able to get to was the public library near my old high school.  I worked there most of the time I was in high school, and it was the place (other than the theater at school) were I spent the most time, especially after my father died.  While I had always loved books, that library was the first place where I felt comforted by the presence of so many books in one place.  Bookstores were always a little too cold, but the library...the books were welcoming, the tables and ridiculously uncomfortable chairs were the perfect place to hide when things got to be too much.  Even when I wasn't working, I still spent countless hours hiding out, filling my notebooks with scribbles and not worrying about the rest of the world.

The library was almost exactly the same as I remember it, and the branch manager there was the same person who had been my manager when I worked there.  I spent over an hour in there, reading and getting myself in a good place to meet with a bunch of people from high school.  In the end, that was one of the best things I could have done for myself, and it reminded me that maybe not everything about that period of my life was as bad as I thought.

Sometimes I miss having that kind of sanctuary.  There's something to be said for having a place away from the rest of the world, to just write or read or do what I need to do to keep myself together.  It's one of those things that I need to make a priority again, and I'm very glad to have had that reminder.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Comfort reading

I've always been a re-reader.  Growing up, my father instilled in me the desire to buy or otherwise obtain books that I could keep, rather than borrowing them, so I could always re-read them if I wanted to.  Naturally, this led to the kind of library that causes moving companies to glare daggers at you, but that's beside the point.

I discovered early on that there are some books that I enjoy re-reading multiple times, because they make me feel better.  Something about revisiting a story I already know well, and characters I've met before, can be very soothing.  Some of them are books I read about once a year; others I cling to when I need something specific, even if it's undefinable.  Below are some of my favorites:

A Wrinkle in Time - probably my favorite book of all time.  This was the book that taught me it was OK to have a female protagonist who wasn't the prettiest/smartest/best at everything, but rather someone a little more like me.  It also showed me that heroes don't always want to be heroes.

A Little Princess - this one's a close second of favorite book ever.  I find that I like to read it when I'm hungry - the scenes describing the food that the Magic leaves for Sara always interested me, even if they aren't particularly detailed.

The Anne of Green Gables series - I freely admit, Gilbert Blythe was my first crush.  It's also really nice to read about a girl with the kind of imagination that can run wild.

The Discworld series - I didn't discover Terry Pratchett until I was in college, when a friend handed me Maskerade.  I devoured it, and haven't looked back.  Sometimes, I focus on one series - usually the Watch or the Death books - but occasionally I'll just pick one at random and see where it takes me.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - I have probably read this book five or six times since I got it when it first came out, and I find new things about it every time.  Watching people bond over books and letters, even in the aftermath of World War II, is something I think I will always enjoy.

So, what are your comfort reads?  What do you find yourself reaching for when you're having a bad day or just need something familiar?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Momentum, or lack thereof

So, April ended and my Camp Nanowrimo story...didn't.  I managed to make a little over half of my goal, but there's no winning certificate for me this year.  I tried to figure out why that was, since Nanowrimo has gone pretty well for me the last few years.

One of the big issues I came across was that I lost interest in the story I was writing.  By about ten thousand words in, I realized that I was having a hard time caring about what happened to my characters.  Even as they were doing things that were off-script (as characters are wont to do), it didn't really interest me.  I found myself drawn back to the world of Paranormal Investigations, which had been put on the shelf for a few months.

Once I shifted to the other story, my momentum moved much faster than before.  I knew these characters, I'd spent time with them, and I cared about what happened next - all of these things were lacking in the original story I tried to write.  Honestly, what it taught me is that I should probably shift over to the story that interests me earlier on if I want to maintain momentum.

How do you handle the lulls of writing, the "muddle in the middle"?  Do you shift projects, or just fight your way through?  Any advice you can give, I'm happy to receive it, as I clearly still have a hard time with this problem.