Reading, Writing, ROWing--Week 1

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The first week of my first ROW 80 is over, and I have to say that even though I didn't meet all of my goals, I'm still calling the week a success.  I certainly accomplished more this week than I would have done without my ROW 80 goals, and that's the point, right?

This week I only met my target word count on one of my three assigned writing days, but I still made progress on my novel, so I'm not going to beat myself up about that too much.  I did manage to submit a story to five journals this week and to read one of my writing magazines--the March/April issue of Writer's Digest.  I'll admit I didn't read the magazine cover-to-cover--there were a few articles that aren't of any use to me right now because I don't do freelance work--but what I did read was informative and helpful. I also learned that I shouldn't read a magazine like WD in one sitting, just to meet some sort of weekly goal. In order for the articles to be helpful, I need to give myself time to absorb what I read in an article and even put some of the suggestions into practice before I read the next one. So this coming week I will try to put this "revised" goal into practice. In the mean time, here are a few fun things or insightful ideas I thought I'd share from this month's WD:

Fun thing #1: Oh, look!  It's Alice and the Cheshire Cat.  But that's not all--it's a poster with the entire text of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland printed on it!  Pretty awesome, right? And Postertext has tons of these kinds of posters of classic works to choose from, everything from Peter Pan to Crime and Punishment.

Fun thing #2: T-shirts emblazoned with the covers of classic books from Out of Print Clothing.  I really want this Great Gatsby shirt for women.

Insightful Idea: In the "Exercise Your Pen" column this month, Barbara Baig stresses that we should get to know books we are reading on a more imaginative level, "reading for pictures."  Her advice? "When you find a passage that creates powerful images, try to figure out how the writer did that. What kinds of sensory details did he or she use? In what order? Write an imitation of the passage. What do you learn that you might apply to your own work?"  I think this is a fantastic idea, and one that would certainly help me in my own writing. I know sensory details in particular are sometimes lacking in my stories, and I have to make a conscious effort to include them sometimes, so it will be an interesting challenge for me to focus on descriptions both in the novels I read and in my own writing.

Finally, this week for my book/review of the week, I read Beth Revis's Across the Universe, a YA dystopian/sci fi/romance/mystery novel.  I really enjoyed it, for a variety of reasons.  Dystopian novels are big right now, but Revis's novel is very different from all the others I've read recently.  First, it's set on a spaceship, Godspeed, hundreds of years from now, and one of the protagonists is Amy, a teenage girl from Earth who's been cryogenically frozen but is awoken fifty years too early.  The story is told in alternating chapters by Amy and Elder, the future leader of the ship, which I actually really enjoyed.  I'm not usually a huge fan of novels that switch back and forth between two first-person POVs, but I thought Revis did it really well. I enjoyed both characters' perspectives, and both felt necessary to the storyline.

Although the cover of the book suggests that this is a romance, the love story isn't emphasized as much as in a lot of other YA novels, and this is really more of a mystery novel than anything else. This truly is a "whodunit"-type novel, although it is a bit predictable and even the final twist was something that had been nagging me for awhile, so it perhaps wasn't as shocking as it was supposed to be. Overall, though, I really enjoyed the book and the characters. The novel is supposed to be the first in a trilogy, and it will be really interesting to see where Revis takes the story. The novel actually wraps up far more cleanly than most of the first-in-a-series novels I've read lately (I'm thinking of Matched and Delirium, in particular), and I thought the book could easily stand on its own. So in conclusion, it's definitely a novel worth checking out if you're a fan of the dystopian genre or spaceships in general, and if you don't feel like investing your time or patience in a series right now, with Across the Universe you don't really have to.


Anonymous,  April 10, 2011 at 10:36 PM  

That Alice in wonderland poster is made of awesome.

Good progress this week! Don't feel bad about not meeting all of your goals especially since you're easing into the flow of ROW80.

Vicki Keire April 12, 2011 at 8:30 AM  

It seems like you have to write a trilogy if you're writing YA, doesn't it? It's a biblical decree. Across the Universe is in my TBR pile. It's intriguing because I'm betting there are no vampires in space. I'm probably wrong about that. Vampires are everywhere.
If you have any shorter YA fiction and you're looking for a periodical market, you should check out Cricket magazine. It's kind of the New Yorker of YA- my friend Eugie Foster has published there several times. Her website is helpful for writers too, and you can read her Nebula-winning novellete for free there. Cricket pays really well and if you can get in there, that's a really really good thing.
Plus it has pretttyyy pictures.

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