Thursday, January 24, 2019

A Twenty-Something's Existential Crisis About Publishing?

The other day I went out for coffee with my parents and my little brother, and among other things we talked about creative career aspirations. They were wondering whether I still wanted to be an author, since when I was a little kid, author was always the first thing on my list of dream jobs. I thought I'd go a bit more in depth about where my thoughts are at now, since they've changed a lot since I was five.

I was sure when I was younger that I would be one of those prodigies that was published at thirteen. My family was super impressed with my writing skill, after all, so I was sure I could wow the world. I never actually got around to that, as much as I stalked the careers of young published authors, but that was okay. I've written before about how I was glad I wasn't a teen published author, for a variety of reasons.

But things change, as they do. There was a while when I was in university that I kind of lost writing for a while. I learned a lot of things about life, but also was frozen with fear and didn't write much of anything for four years, and wondered if I even counted as a writer at all, kind of gave up on the dream for a while. It wasn't until I let go of my fears, perfectionism, and own personal pressures that I could actually enjoy writing again for what it was to me.

And now that I have found myself writing again, and really liking it, a lot, I've reconsidered over the years my thoughts on publishing. For one, I know a lot more about publishing than I did then. When I was younger, publishing was always presented as the obvious next step for someone who loved writing. Now, I understand that loving writing and publishing don't necessarily have to intertwine. I also know now that publishing is a business, first, and being an author is a job. Also, it's a business that doesn't necessarily pay well. Nicole Brinkley recently posted this super informative thread on Twitter on how authors get paid, if you want a glimpse into how a small piece of the business works. Tl;dr VERY few writers are able to work full time as authors. As Nicole put it:
So the question I've been asking myself is, what do I want from this? My dad's question was, could a writer be happy just writing and enjoying that craft, and not pursue publishing at all? When I think about it, I totally think I could. Writing is what I like, after all. 

HOWEVER, I am also aware of how I let fear get in the way a lot of the time. Maybe I'm just too scared of all of the unknowns of pursuing publishing. And I have experienced the joy that can come from sharing stories with a wider audience, and the beautiful connections that can be born out of that. And I'm sure there are tons of lovely new experiences to be had in the path of publishing and pursuing an author career that I'm not even aware of yet.

And then there's the fact that there is not just one way to get your story out there, as so many things on the Internet have demonstrated: serial stories posted on websites, comic stories shared through Tumblr updates, self-published things that rise to stardom...



I don't have a good conclusion other than to say that I don't know? I don't really know what I think about publishing right now. Things I do know: I like writing, and in some way, shape or form, I'm pretty sure I want to use my stories to connect with other people. Whether that be a large or small circle is to be determined.

What are your thoughts on publishing? What kind of creative ways have you seen people get their stories out there? If you have pursued a career as an author, what advice would you have for people pursuing the same career path?

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Hello, Wednesday! (What's Up Wednesday)

This week's post was going to be a long, really involved list of indigenous fantasy books out there, but as happens with a lot of research, I came up with an entirely different conclusion than I expected and thus have to completely rethink how I'm going to do that post. (Also if you have recommendations for fantasy/speculative fiction/sci-fi written by Indigenous authors, please let me know!) So today I'm just going to fall back on the ol' What's Up Wednesday formatting and we'll just have a nice chat. Grab yourself a cup of coffee or your preferred hot drink and get comfy.


Reading

All the fantasy! One of the reasons I want to make a book list is for my own TBR. I'm now to the third book in NK Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy, The Stone Sky. I'm very excited to see how the end of this series ends up because so far each book in the series has ended with a solid bang. She's such a good writer, please go read her books.

Writing

After spending a few years working on two different contemporary books (which were necessary for my state of mind), I've delved deep into fantasy! I have about 25k of a new fantasy thing and it's so much fun! I love the crazy imagination that can go into fantasy. If you want to see a few lines of that, you can check out my #1linewed tweets on Twitter. This is also the first time I've ever spent a significant amount of time world-building and outlining before ever sitting down to write. My mind is always set on the concrete productivity of word count, so sitting down to spend hours not actually physically writing was torturous sometimes, but SO worth it. Now when I am writing, I don't get stuck (as often) after a few pages because I know the characters, the world, and where I want the story to go. I'm just like whyyy did I not do this before now?? I mean I'm still a pantser at heart (my outline is one page and a lot of "a bunch of stuff happens to get them from this point to this point"), but I'm definitely becoming a plotter convert.

Life

In my last update post about six months ago I said that I'd graduated university! Well I have since finished all traveling and settled into the ups and downs of funemployment as I look for work after university. It has been fun having more time to do personal projects, writing (hello, finishing two drafts in the space of three months), cooking and spending time with people, but I'm starting to get a bit antsy. I also feel like I may have been a bit ambitious with my goals for the blog this year, but it's still early yet! If you have any ideas or comments about what you might like me to write about on the blog this year, please comment and share! Or even tell me what your favourite kind of posts have been over the years.

Happy Wednesday!


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Review: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

In one way, it's a lot easier to review books that I liked but didn't love all that much, because somehow then I'm actually able to step back and analyze the reasons why I liked a book, rather than just being blinded by my love. The Fifth Season turned out to be the kind of book where I don't really know how to put into words why I ended up liking it so much. I mean, other than I think that N.K. Jemisin is a genius.



The Fifth Season is the first book in an adult fantasy trilogy, and follows the lives of three different characters at different stages of life as they deal with the Seasons that Father Earth brings upon them, which are basically different kinds of apocalyptic weather events. Part of this intricately detailed world that N.K. Jemisin creates are people called orogenes, who are people that can control the earth itself. But they are also people who are feared and used for their skill set.

It's always a bit much to try to get into a new fantasy series for me, so at the beginning I was kind of hesitant and overwhelmed by all the new concepts and such being thrown at me. But what's that dumb phrase from The Fault in Our Stars? I fell in love slowly and then all at once? I found myself saying at the beginning that I might not get into this book and then eventually not being able to put it down. N.K. Jemisin has such a smooth writing style you barely notice you're being carried along.

I'm not going to spoil anything, but N.K. Jemisin also perfectly writes reveals - she drops just enough hints for you to figure something out, but just few enough you don't figure out anything too soon. It heightens the intrigue and suspense right to the mind-blowing climax at the end that just makes you want to keep reading.

While The Fifth Season is intense and suspenseful and intriguing like all good fantasy is, it's also rich in character and dives deep into human emotions. It reminds me of Billy Ray Belcourt's essay on the "poetry of sadness". The sorrow that comes through on the page is cathartic and beautiful to read. You know you've found a good book when it makes your heart squeeze with emotion, and beat rapidly in anticipation.

I hope I've managed to be at least somewhat articulate about The Fifth Season and N.K. Jemisin's work. If you aren't on her train already thanks to her three Hugo Award wins, you should get on it right now and pick up some of her work. (Also if you've read the rest of the trilogy say nothing because I'm not done them yet!!)

The Fifth Season on Amazon.ca
The Fifth Season on Amazon.com
The Fifth Season on Goodreads

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Another Year, Another Chapter: 2019 Reading & Blogging Goals

Happy New Year! Well, so far this week we've gone over the books I've read this year, the blog this year, and today we're looking towards what's to come in the new year!



First, let's see how I did with my goals last year. Last year I didn't make a lot of specific goals, but general ideas for the directions I wanted to go with my reading, writing and blogging.

"I know I want to keep doing the same, reading lots of CanLit, lots of diverse literature, and reading even more widely than I do currently, whether that be through characters, setting, language, or genre. And I still want to keep reviewing and promoting books that I think deserve more love."
 For not having a certain goal or anything, I think I definitely did this to some extent. I've kept up my reading of CanLit and #ownvoices and diverse literature, just because that's the kind of books I keep on my lists and look for when I'm looking for something to read. And actually, a couple years ago my goal was to read 40% ownvoices and I wasn't quite there, but this year I hit it! Would love to surpass 40% though. I still want to read more in translation, and more book from non-Western authors. I also want to read some diverse fantasy! I've gotten a craving for fantasy recently and want to discover the different kinds of stories that are out there. There's so much more now than just Western European-based medieval fantasy, I love it.

As for reviewing, I did a bit of that, mostly prodded by books I was sent and stuff, but I want to do more!

"But I've recently got back into writing, and I want to start talking about that more too - including sharing more of my own writing and my thoughts behind that terrifying process."
 This was the second part of my vision for last year: share more writing, including my thoughts behind the process! I did a bunch of creative writing-type posts on my thoughts on writing which was super fun. I'm proud of those posts even if they aren't as popular to a larger audience. You can also check out some classic embarrassing childhood writing if you want too.

Besides these two visions for my blog, I've spent a lot of time this year actually WRITING. Which means I don't blog as much because I'm writing, but that's been really fun. I actually re-wrote two books, and started world-building for another one. I also won NaNoWriMo while doing one draft re-write. Who knew that university and assignments were so harmful to writing productivity??

So, next year! As I've talked about before, I've gone through many iterations of this blog - from fun, silly teen to actually having a vision for what I want this blog to be (see my about page if you're curious). And now this year, since I am done school and can actually have time to do some creative things, I want to commit a bit more to this blog. So here are my goals for next year:

1. Have a schedule, and post at least once a week.

I'm not sure exactly what the schedule will be yet, but I know I want to do way more reviews than I do currently (like more than just when I get ARCs sent to me to review).

2. Commit to Women in Translation Month!

Hopefully I won't be traveling as much this year in August, but even if I am I want to be prepared to actually have reviews and posts and stuff up on the blog! This will also help with reading books in translation and stuff.

3. Do more Local Book Nook posts! 

I also want to do get back to doing Local Book Nook posts. I have a few Local Book Nook posts, but I'd love to have a more extensive collection, featuring bloggers from all over the globe! Contact me if you know of a reader or blogger who might be interested in talking about their favourite local books!

4. Get up to 50% #ownvoices

Like I said, I read about 40% ownvoices (where the character shares the same identity as the author) books this year but I'd love to keep increasing that!

I think that's plenty for now, but please stick around to see what happens around here in the next year and please get involved! I'd love to work with you. Do you have any ideas for the blog this year? What are your favourite kinds of posts? What would you like to see?

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