Category Archives: Writer’s Perspective
So I caught the PBS opening special about The Great American Read. The idea is to do a few themed episodes showcasing the 100 top voted books in the country. They chose the books through a voting system and now they are looking to narrow it down to the top book in America.
I found it interesting that I didn’t know a handful of these books. I also have only read a handful as well. I thought it would be interesting to think about the books I think should win.
I love this idea, having people go through a list and vote on the book that speaks most to them. Books change our lives in so many different ways. They can wake you up, they can break your heart and help you find a new way to grow. They can be the thing that changes your way of thinking. Books open so many paths.
After going through this list I have an idea of the top three books I think should win this. The first being Harry Potter of course. I have gone on and one about my love and adoration for this series. I have done numerous posts about the way this series has shaped my life. I would love to see this series win.
Second I would chose The Giver. This book is my second favorite book of all time. It is unique and fascinating. A world where there is no pain, no emotion, no memories. Watching the main character wake up, watching the world around him become something more is fascinating. It is short but it is powerful. For a world that is forgetting what it means to be human this is an important book.
Last I would pick The Outsiders. I remember this being one of those books that just hit me square in the chest when I read it. It was one of the first books where I saw male friends becoming family. You saw the emotional side of these friends and these guys, something you rarely see. I loved the intense emotion of this book.
On another note there are two books on this list I think should not have even made it on here. The first being Fifty Shades of Grey. I read the series, more out of curiosity than anything. While I didn’t hate it, it definitely does not deserve to be considered a “great read.” It has zero substance and perpetuates a lot of negative things.
Second I do not see why Twilight is on here. I read that series, I loved it at one time. It is a fun read. It is perfect to escape into and help boost the YA genre. But it doesn’t hold any real substance or life changing aspect to it.
I thought it would be interesting and fun to talk about these books. Out of the list which have you read? Which do you think deserve to win this race? (I have starred the books I have read).
I am going to leave the link to their website if you want to learn more or vote.
The Great American Read Book List:
* 1984 George Orwell
A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole
A Prayer for Owen Meany John Irving
A Separate Peace John Knowles
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Betty Smith
* The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Mark Twain
The Alchemist Paulo Coelho
Alex Cross Mysteries (series) James Patterson
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll
Americanah Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
*And Then There Were None Agatha Christie
* Anne of Green Gables Lucy Maud Montgomery
Another Country James Baldwin
Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand
* Beloved Toni Morrison
Bless Me, Ultima Rudolfo Anaya
* The Book Thief Markus Zusak
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Junot Díaz
* The Call of the Wild Jack London
* Catch-22 Joseph Heller
*The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger
* Charlotte’s Web E.B. White
The Clan of the Cave Bear Jean M. Auel
The Coldest Winter Ever Sister Souljah
The Color Purple Alice Walker
The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas6
Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Mark Haddon
*The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown
Don Quixote Miguel de Cervantes
Doña Bárbára Rómulo Gallegos
Dune Frank Herbert
*Fifty Shades of Grey (series) E.L. James
Flowers in the Attic V.C. Andrews
Foundation (series) Isaac Asimov
*Frankenstein Mary Shelley
*A Game of Thrones (series) George R.R. Martin
Ghost Jason Reynolds
Gilead Marilynne Robinson
*The Giver Lois Lowry
The Godfather Mario Puzo
Gone Girl Gillian Flynn
*Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell
The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck
Great Expectations Charles Dickens
*The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift
*The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood
* Harry Potter (series) J.K. Rowling
*Hatchet (series) Gary Paulsen
*Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad
*The Help Kathryn Stockett
*The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams
*The Hunger Games (series) Suzanne Collins
The Hunt for Red October Tom Clancy
The Intuitionist Colson Whitehead
*Invisible Man Ralph Ellison
Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë
The Joy Luck Club Amy Tan
Jurassic Park Michael Crichton
Left Behind (series) Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Little Women Louisa May Alcott
Lonesome Dove Larry McMurtry
Looking for Alaska John Green
*The Lord of the Rings (series) J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold
The Martian Andy Weir
Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden
Mind Invaders Dave Hunt
Moby-Dick Herman Melville
The Notebook Nicholas Sparks
One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez
Outlander (series) Diana Gabaldon
*The Outsiders S.E. Hinton
The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde
The Pilgrim’s Progress John Bunyan
The Pillars of the Earth Ken Follett
*Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
*Ready Player One Ernest Cline
Rebecca Daphne du Maurier
*The Shack William P. Young
Siddhartha Hermann Hesse
The Sirens of Titan Kurt Vonnegut
*The Stand Stephen King
The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway
Swan Song Robert R. McCammon
Tales of the City (series) Armistead Maupin
Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston
Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe
This Present Darkness Frank E. Peretti
*To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
*The Twilight Saga (series) Stephenie Meyer
War and Peace Leo Tolstoy
Watchers Dean Koontz
The Wheel of Time (series) Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
* Where the Red Fern Grows Wilson Rawls
*White Teeth Zadie Smith
Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë
I have been struggling for quite a while to find my inspiration for writing. In college I wrote all the time. I wrote fan fiction as well as my own original pieces. I was always eager to write. (Now this might be because in my first two years I was lonely and had a lot of time on my hands).
After I graduated I spent a lot of time editing and working on self-publishing my book of short stories, Is There More? Once the book was completed I found myself struggling with picking up my pen and writing again.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write. The stories chased themselves around my head, all the time. I had ideas piling up on my phone and in notebooks. It was just as soon as I put my pen to paper, the words were stuck. I couldn’t translate my ideas in any real way. They would sound chunky and out of order. The stories themselves started to sound contrived and boring. I just felt like I was barely treading water.
I worked on a novel, wrote two drafts but never felt connected to it. I always felt like I was pushing against a wall and the wall was winning. I began to wonder what I was doing wrong or what I needed to do again.
During this time I was also struggling hard with finding a job. My schedule was all over the place and my mental health was not the best. January I found a full-time job that I love. I don’t come home stressed. I feel accomplished, wanted and needed. I feel the most in control of my life than I have in a very long time. But writing was still so difficult for me and I could not figure out why.
On August 4th I went to a writing conference in my city that was held by a local nonprofit. It was free and it was big. I had heard about it for a long time but never could manage to get there. I was finally able to do it this year and I am so thankful that I did.
I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if I was going to meet a bunch of people, hear great talks or just feel comfortable in a realm that I knew. I was worried that it might not be what I wanted it to be, that I would leave feeling lost and disappointed. When in fact the opposite happened.
It was simple yet it was exactly what I needed. I didn’t meet anyone new and I was okay with that. It was interesting because it was a conference for writers, who are usually introverts, everyone kind of did their own thing. No one forced a conversation to “network.” Everyone there was friendly but there was no forced ice breakers. For me I felt comfortable because I wasn’t being forced to talk, just to talk. I didn’t feel out of sorts or like an outcast. I felt like I belonged there, which is a super important feeling for me.
The talks were awesome. I felt connected to the subject matter. I sat in on a talk about after the first draft, what publishers think when reading your first page and social media for writers. I felt connected to all the subject matter and it was useful. Not stuff I knew already. It was information that I could and will use.
I expected a younger crowd. I am not sure why but I was expected a crowed from 20-35. Where in reality it was actually more like 35-60. I found that inspiring as well. I think part of my problem has been that I feel like the older I get, time is running out to make my writing matter. Seeing the older age range here made me realize that isn’t true. I knew it deep down but it pushed that thought to the surface and that was helpful.
I am so excited now to write. I found a journal that I want to submit to. I feel like I have an idea of how to go about working on my novel. I feel the old excitement that I felt in college. I also plan on joining this group that is the local literary group and hope that will give me a push that I need. I am so excited again and that is thrilling.
How have you overcome a creative block?
It’s June, which means it is Pride Month! I knew I wanted to do a post about some of my favorite books with LGBTQIA+ representation in them but wasn’t quite sure how to frame it. I thought about just doing a list but also wanted it to have a bit more depth. I decided to explore how my eyes as a straight cis person have been opened through the books I have read over the last 10 or so years.
The other day I got to thinking about how my reading habits have changed and expanded as I have gotten older. I then began thinking about the books that have become available in the last few years. It amazed me to think about how representation has expanded in books recently and how encouraging that is to see. While we have a long way to go there has been serious positive progress.
I remember the first book I read that had a gay character in it was The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. I was in high school when I started that series and I chose it become it seemed like it had Harry Potter vibes to it. I really got into the story and found that one of my favorite characters was Magnus Bane.
I remember reading about Alec and his journey of coming out and his relationship with Magnus and thought it was adorable. It became one of my favorite aspects of the books because I really enjoyed their relationship together. But it was quite a while until I found another book that had any characters that weren’t straight in them.
Where I went to college you were required to take what was called a “Thematic Sequence.” I went to a liberal arts college so this was another way to get us to take classes outside of our major and explore other areas more. (In reality it was probably just a way to get more money out of us because you had to do this to graduate but that isn’t the point).
I chose to take “Family and Sexuality.” At this point being gay and part of the LGBT (these were the only letters in that acryonm that I knew of) community was becoming something I was hearing about more and realizing was a bigger part of our world than I previously had known.
When I grew up I knew about being gay or a lesbian but it was not something that I heard about often. Once I entered college in 2007-2011 I heard more and more and became very interested in the history of the LGBT community and how it related to our society at the time. I identify as straight and female but I still found myself very intrigued so I took three course that centered around family and sexuality and how they intersected with one another.
I learned a lot about different sexualities but I still noticed that what I was reading was very one note. Representation in the literature I read was lacking any characters that were not straight and I wanted to find more diverse stories. While I enjoyed what I was reading I realized there was something lacking.
So I took a course called “Queer Theory,” which was extremely fascinating. (It is also interesting and possibly a post for the future that my mom had a trouble with the name of the course. For her the word “queer” was always a very negative term. It was used a serious insult for gay people when she was growing up. She still has trouble seeing it as anything but that now, even with the way my brother (who is gay) have tried to explain to her how it is used today. But as I said that is probably a future post about how words have changed and been reclaimed over time.)
The course focused on the history of queer culture and how it has been represented in literature, more so in essays but still in some stories. I remember one book standing out and that was The Case of the Not-So-Nice Nurse by Mabel Maney. It was a lesbian mystery, along the lines of Nancy Drew. It was funny and different.
While I enjoyed the course I noticed that it still didn’t give me a plethora of literature to choose from that had any LGBT representation. So I started googling books on my own. I realized after taking these classes that I needed to expand my reading horizons.
I pride myself on making every attempt to understand the world around me. I want to learn about all life styles, culture, and religions that are not my own. I want to be able to understand how different the world is. One of the primary ways I do this is by reading so when I realized how limited my reading had been I knew I needed to try to learn more.
The books I found while doing my research was David Levithan’s books Boy Meets Boy and Two Boys Kissing. They both had story lines that intrigued me and focused on the stories of people I hadn’t read about before. Boy Meets Boy, I remember being plain fun. I do think it is time for a re-read of that one.
Two Boys Kissing was a deeper book. This was the first one that really exposed me to the trials of being gay. It was interesting because if focused on a handful of different stories. There were the boys trying to protest and make a point, there was a budding romance and there was the boy who was thrown out of his family because of who he was. I wrote a review for it and you can read that here. I really enjoyed the book especially the manner of storytelling.
Once I stated blogging I found a way to find much more diverse books. It became easierfor me to find books that were outside of what I grew up reading. While I adored the books I read in my childhood I realized how important some of these other books were becoming.
The next author I found that I enjoyed was Adam Silver. I read More Happy Than Notand it was such a fantastic story. It was painful and it hurt but it told a very important tale. I put him on my list of authors to watch right away. If you have not read History is All you Left Me or They Both Die at the End you are definitely missing out. They are all emotional and will hurt your heart but they are fantastic reads.
Victoria Schwab was the next author I discovered that had queer representation in her books. In “her Gathering of Magic” of series there is a gay relationship. I actually didn’t know that was part of the series when I started to read it. It was just a added bonus to an already fantastic story.
I came across Sean David Hutchinson next and if you have read any of my tags or reviews you will know that he is one my all time favorite authors. we are the ants, is one my top 10 books of all time. It is such a great story with some of the richest characters I have ever read. It was not what I expected and I think that is what made it so great. Edge of the Universe and Apocalypse Elena Mendoza are also fantastic.
One of the things I remember from Edge of the Universe was reading about a gender queer character. This was not a type of character I had encountered before. I only had a very basic understanding of what being gender non-conforming meant when I was reading this book. But because of the inclusion and the addition I began to do my research and understand it more.
That is one of the things I love about reading. You are exposed to all new lives and ways of living that you may not be able to see in your every day life. I don’t know if I would have the understanding I do now of what gender non-conforming or gender fluid means without reading that character in Edge of the Universe. I didn’t understand so I did my research. I learned about someone different than me, one of the gifts that reading provides you.
Once I learned what gender fluid meant I kept my eye out for books with that representation. I found Mask of Shadows, which is a fantasy book where the main character is gender fluid. It was a fast paced and exciting story. It was brutal but it gave me a lot to think about and I enjoyed it.
I also picked up David Levithan’s book Every Day. It is about someone who switches bodies every single day. They never live inside the same life. While it doesn’t have a specific type of sexuality that the character identifies with it does explore sexualities and gender identities in a very interesting way. It was different and I thought it opened up interesting thoughts about how people identify. Like the idea of if you didn’t have a specific body of your own would you be attached to labels and definitions?
I began a new job where part of our mission involves sports, specifically soccer. I heard about a book called Running with Lions by Julian Winters which is a love story between soccer players, one gay, the other bisexual. I was intrigued because it was rare to see a story with LGBTQUIA+ characters who are athletic. I enjoyed it and I enjoyed the look at a world that we tend to shy away from talking about sexuality through.
This was a look at how my reading has diversified over the years and how books have helped me see life in a broader way while also recommending some of my favorite books with LGBTQIA+ representation in them. This is a short list and I have more that I enjoyed over time.
I also know that many of these focus on gay characters and I am in the process of finding more books that go beyond just gay characters. If you have recommendations of good stories with trans, bi-sexual, asexual, aromantic or genderfluid characters please pass them along.
Reading is powerful. Reading is one way we can help the world see that all love matters and is beautiful. Reading can help expose us to other live sand help us to understand how we are more the same than different.
What are some of your LGBTQIA+ recommendations?
The other day I was leaving my therapist’s office (I see a therapist for anxiety related issues, which can be a whole post in and of itself), and thinking about how much I have changed in the last few years. I then got to thinking about what helped lead me to be more comfortable in my own skin. One of the main things is reading, finding characters I can relate to and being part of a plot that in the end finds a solution.
During my session we got to talking about me being an introvert and that for the longest time I thought that being quiet was wrong. I grew up in an extroverted household and around a lot of extroverted people. I was seen as the shy one, sometimes even a bit rude because I had an issue talking with people. I thought there was something wrong with how I interacted with the world, because I was so different from those around me.
It wasn’t until about 4 years ago that I realized that being quiet is not a wrong thing. I realized this after reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. It made me realize that there wasn’t anything wrong with me. I just experienced the world differently.
There was nothing wrong with the fact that being around huge groups of people all the time was exhausting to me. I could put a name and idea to the way I got frustrated, tired and irritable after being around people all the time. It started to make sense. I realized how to adjust myself. I learned how to find a balance between what I need and the world around me.
I don’t know if I would have ever found that balance without that book. That is not the first time that a book impacted my life though. Books have been helping me find a way to deal with world around me ever since I can remember.
I began reading when I was young because I felt like I needed somewhere to belong. Being the quiet one made me invisible in school. I had a few friends but no one seemed to see me. I was quiet so the teachers wrote me off as one not to worry about while other students figured I wasn’t worth the time to get to know. Books made me realize that I mattered in someway.
I read and saw these characters work to find solutions to huge problems. Whether it was the world ending, a personal problem or saving a loved one; they always found a way to solve that problem. Sometimes it worked as they wanted, while other times it didn’t. Yet they always found a way to move one and continue living. I learned from my favorite stories what courage meant.
I fell in love with characters that I could relate to in the stories I loved. Hermione was this nerd that at first seemed like someone everyone was going to write off. She loved to study and learn new things, just like me. She was teased but she never changed who she was at her core. She stood up for herself and continued living for herself.
One moment I remember hitting me hard was in the fourth book when she gets all done up for the Yule Ball. She liked how she looked but realized that effort was too much for everyday. She was just as satisfied with how she looked every other day of her life as well.
For me that meant a lot. I have always had an issue with accepting the way I look. I am not what you would call a girly girl. I didn’t feel comfortable wearing dresses until my last weekend in college. I still only wear them now once in a while. I never wear makeup because I just don’t see enough of a different not justify the time needed. I have always thought of myself as a bit less because I don’t follow the usual stereotype of what being a girl means.
I found characters in books who were able to accept themselves as they were. Not only was there Hermione but Clary in Mortal Instruments and April from the Everworld series. I found myself in books and found ways I could relate to the world around me better.
As I grew older this became even more important. Recently I read The Hearts We Sold and Dee talked about her anxiety a bit, I felt like I could relate more to the character. I also have learned how to be stronger from the stories I have read. I read wondering how in the world things can work out sometimes and yet they always do. Characters find a way to succeed and I know that I can too.
For someone who has spent most of my life thinking that I have been living life wrong; being 29 and unmarried, no kids and just finding a full time job this year, I appreciate a story where things don’t go as they “should” go. I get to see that life is too complicated for us to ever think we have to live it one way.
I know when I pick up a book that it will take me somewhere where I can learn sometime. Even in books that I don’t enjoy that much, there is always something I can learn. I will always be someone who pushes reading as the most important thing in our society.
We learn about others while learning about ourselves by reading. Books help us see that the world is complicated but also conquerable. Books provide hope.
I just was thinking about all this the other day and thought writing it up would be interesting. How has reading shaped your life?
Over the last year I have been trying to figure out why my motivation for writing has been lacking. I could remember when I wrote everyday. I remember feeling like I didn’t have the choice but to write. I would write no matter what had gone on throughout the day. I never was too tired, or too preoccupied.
Over the last year that feeling has been gone. I have been trying to desperately figure out where it went. I thought at first it was because I spent so much time looking for a job, then I had multiple jobs. I put it all off as being too tired. I was not just physically tired but mentally as well. I was trying so hard during the day to prove myself, to show that I was worth hiring into a full time position that I used up all my motivation and strength. There was nothing left for me.
Then at the end of last year I was offered a full time position at one of my jobs. I took it with excitement. It was exactly what I had been hoping would happen from the start of my journey. I thought, “Perfect, that worry is now gone. I can pay my bills doing a job I love.”
I thought my writing motivation would come back in a flood. My weary mind had room to do something else now. But that didn’t happen. At first I put it off as the holidays. Christmas and New Years was stressful this year, in a good and bad ways. Life was stressful in and of itself. I thought if I could just get through December that I would get a routine back and everything would fall back into place.
Again, that didn’t happen. I found excuse after excuse to not write. I was tired. I had other things to do. I began to wonder if I cared about writing the same way again.
I then began watching the reboot of “Queer Eye” on Netflix. (It is a reboot of the show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” a makeover show from the early 2000s I believe. It was one of my favorite shows back then. The reboot is fantastic!) One of the things they tend to do in that show is talk about creating a place specifically for the guy’s either hobby or way of life. It is usually about creating a space designed for them.
I realized that is what I was missing. In college I had a writing space. I had my set up, that was supposed to be for school work but became where I went to write. It had no distractions. It was about work and a spot for specifically for that and only that.
I did not have that in my apartment. It had a desk but it was used as a trash heap. I had my supplies but they had no home. I wrote on the couch, my back yelling at me. I wrote on the floor but could never get comfortable. Also each of those spots required me to do a lot of set up, a process that I never wanted to do.
So I went out and bought some things to create my writing space. I cleaned off my desk and moved it to a central part of my room. Moved my bed to the side and surround the desk with bookshelves. I found signs with sayings that can inspire me. I bought whiteboards and calendars to keep myself organized.
I transformed my room from a bedroom to a writing space. It has a new purpose now. I have somewhere, where I can sit down and begin to work without a set up process. It has no TV to be distracted by and my cat can easily curl up in my lap as I work without getting in the way.
Is this a magical cure to my block? No, but it is a start. It is a space that can inspire me. It is a space where I can feel like my writing has a home. I can see my progress whenever I walk in the room on my whiteboards. I want to be here and I am excited to see how far I can go now.
Do you have a writing space? How do you push yourself to get writing done around the rest of your life?
I recently finish a re-read of the Prisoner of Azkaban after getting the illustrated version. I decided to choose a handful of the Wizard World Book club questions for Prisoner of Azbakan and answer them instead of choosing just one.
Why does Lupin ask Neville to face the Boggart?
Lupin is one of the those people who can see past the outer facade of someone. He was able to see past Neville’s timid self. He saw past the self-doubt and fear. He saw the true potential that Neville held.
Lupin knew that Neville had power inside of himself. He knew that Neville just had to see himself succeed. Once Neville was able to stand up to his fear, he started on a path to becoming the Neville we see at the end of the series. I believe this moment gave Neville a test of what he could do and who he could become. In the end he learned that anyone, no matter their past, can face their fears and succeed.
Why is Harry so determined to prefect his Patronous?
The Patronous is a tool against something that terrifies Harry. The Dementors are a fear that at first he can’t see a way around. They pulled him down and he didn’t see how to make them go away.
He wants his Patronous perfect so that he can banish these things that bring him down. Harry can’t let anything defeat or hurt him. He needs power over these creatures. He can’t and he won’t let them rule him or over him. His Patronous gives him his power back.
Is Snape right to draw comparisons between Harry and James?
Snape can’t help but draw comparison. Harry is Jame’s son. It is natural to look at someone’s child and see their parent. People tend to look for traits so that they can say, “You are just like your father/mother.”
Snape sees Harry’s reckless behavior and sees a man that used to torment him. He sees a similar strong attitude, an attitude that makes him wonder if Harry is heading down a similar path to his father. Harry isn’t as arrogant as James but Harry does hold an opinion about himself, one he won’t let anyone change.
Harry disregards rules like James and his friends did. Snape sees these traits and draws an easy comparison. I don’t think it is a question of right or wrong. I think it is more of asking, can Snape see the difference between the two people?
Is Hermione close-minded as Trewlaney suggest?
Hermione is not necessarily close-minded. She is open to new things, she accepts Lupin, sticks up for house-elves and tries to not judge people too quickly. She can open her mind when necessary. What she can’t do is believe in something she can’t prove.
Hermione is someone who needs facts and figures. She needs to see the details, and be able to use evidence to prove something. She needs books to supply her with knowledge and lessons.
Divination takes a bit of ability to go beyond facts and figures. You have to believe a bit in what you can’t tangibly understand with book knowledge. Hermione can’t do that. She can’t work with something that can’t be learned from books.
I wouldn’t say she is close-minded but she is hesitant to go with what she can’t learn and prefect.
Has Malfoy inherited the grudges he bears from his father?
I would say in a way, yes. Malfoy grew up with a mindset drilled into his head. He was taught that Muggleborns are beneath him. He was raised thinking his family name made him important. He believes this because of his father.
During his time at school he starts to see the difference in what is real and what his father has drilled into him. He sees the way attitudes are different. By book six and seven we see Malfoy becoming detached with his father’s way of thinking and acting. He begins to doubt the way he was told to understand the world.
Do the Marauders trust each other?
In school, yes they did. They had no reason not to. Once they learned each other’s secrets, they learned who they were. They helped one another and in that process formed a strong bond. A bond that made them put all their trust into one another.
As they grew up and life got darker, misgivings snuck into their thoughts. They were in the middle of a war where no one knew who they could trust or not trust. People who never seemed evil were being caught as Death Eaters and hurting others. Even their strong bond began to crumble a little bit.
To keep Lily and James safe, they had to hide all they could from everyone. It was a dark and scary time, it was natural for them to wonder about the people around them. I think though that true trust between Sirius, James and Lupin was unbreakable.
It is that time of year again! NaNoWriMo is right around the corner and this year is going to be a serious challenge for me. For those of you who have no idea what NaNoWriMo means, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in a month in November.
I have been doing NaNoWriMo since 2012. I have only “won” twice, in 2014 and 2015. I have written a number of draft for novels though none have quite gotten past the initial draft stage. I use NaNo as a time to get as much of the idea onto paper as I can. Sometimes the stories just get stuck and I have to place them to the side until I can determine if they have anything to them.
Winning NaNo is difficult. You start off full of determination but as the month wears on you realize that writing a novel in a month is not easy. Many people get stuck in the middle and have no idea how to move forward. You get that beginning moving and when you hit the middle everything comes to a screaming halt.
Or you set up a schedule and in the end figure out that it just will not work for every day. One you miss that first day of words you find yourself trying to catch up and sometimes it just seems nearly impossible. The two times I have “won” I have been working until the last day. The years I have not won is because I get behind and can’t close that gap.
I love doing NaNo because I love the challenge. It pushes me to get as much of my novel done as I can. I need to get as many words down as I can throughout the month. I also make it more of a challenge for myself because of the fact that I hand write everything then type it up. Sometimes I think that makes it that much harder for myself.
This year will be my biggest challenge because I currently work two jobs and finding time to write has been difficult. I want to use November to see how I can better use my time. I know that “winning” this year may not be in the cards. I have two major work events in the middle of the month and then there is Thanksgiving and a shopping day with my brother. So I know there will be at least 4 days where I will get almost no writing done. But I want to see what I can do.
The best part of NaNo is that there is no real way to lose, unless you never start I guess. As long you get something written and get that work moving then it is worth the time. You may not get 50,000 words done but getting any words one the paper is what counts. Novels don’t get written by thinking about the story, they have to become physical for anyone to read them. NaNo helps give that push in order for you to get started. Once you have something on paper you have something work with.
This year I am going to be working on the novel I have been working on for two years now. It is about a world where alternate universe are kept in books and timelines, every choice made results is a new life and new world. Callie is in charge of keeping everything in order but once The Voices threaten her life and sanity she runs, leaving things to deteriorate. A group of people whose lives begin to devolve because of her choice must find her and put life right again.
I love the idea and have been struggling with particulars of it. Some pieces don’t fit and I have had trouble explain other aspects. Recently I rethought a huge portion of the story, got rid of a useless character and I now think I have it in a position where it can really roll. I am going to use NaNo to push this story as far as I can and see where I end up.
Who else is taking on this challenge in November? If you need a writing buddy find me on the site, my username is Shmibby. I would love to have some virtual writing friends to work on this with.
Good Luck to all those doing NaNoWriMo this year!
The Wizarding World Book Club has moved onto Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets. The questions for the rest of book one were alright but none of them sparked any discussion post ideas for me.
From the week of August 4th there were two questions that interested me. Both of them centered around the concept of home and how it is defined. Home is one of those words that has numerous definitions. For most it is a house but it does not always have to be. A lot of the times people talk about the difference between a house and a home. The house is the building you go to at the end of the day whereas a home is where you feel safe and loved. Both of the questions from this week center around how Harry and Ron define home.
The first question was pretty simple to answer; “Why is The Burrow so appealing to Harry?” The Burrow is appealing to Harry because it contains what the Dursley’s house does not, love. The crooked structure contains a family that adores and loves one another.
Harry grew up with nothing but anger and disdain thrown his way. No one wanted him around, no one gave him a second thought, no one cared about him. He had no purpose and no power in the Dursley household. He just made it day to day. Privet Drive was just house to Harry, somewhere for him to sleep and eat.
Harry meets the Weasley and realized that life could be better. He is welcomed into their home and their family with a smile and a hug. Mrs. Weasley treats him as one of her own. He is treated as someone who matters, someone who has a life that matters.
The Burrow itself is falling apart, it is crooked and nowhere near perfect, but it is what is on the inside that matters. Ron is ashamed of his house, not realizing what it means for Harry.
The way Ron talks about The Burrow reminds me of the way my parents talk about my childhood home. It is too cramped, dirty and broken. To me and Harry all those marks and scars are what make the building a home. It represents a family, a safe place and love. When I go home I am content and happy no matter what dishes are in the sink or what holes are in a door. It is somewhere where I am wanted and loved and I think it is the same for Harry. For Harry The Burrow is the definition of what a home means, it contains love and comfort and makes Harry feel safe and wanted.
The second question was a little tricker and required a bit more thought. “Where do you think Ron feels most at home?” I don’t think there is a particular place where Ron feels at home. I think it is more about the people that around Ron and what they make him feel. For him most of the time he is at home when he is with Harry and Hermione.
Ron grew up overshadowed by his siblings. He never got a real chance to stand out. We see in the first book that when he looks into The Mirror of Erised he sees himself the best of all his brothers and sister. On top of that he has a piece of himself that feels ashamed for his family’s status.
Unlike Harry The Burrow isn’t Ron’s favorite place. It isn’t a bad place to him, he loves his family and he knows that he is safe at The Burrow. When he is at The Burrow he is reminded of the people that overshadowed him. It is a safe place but it isn’t a place where he can find who he truly is.
When Ron is with Hermione and Harry he is able to stand out. Ron has a place and a purpose inside their group. He is not just a name in the middle of a giant family. He is an essential part of the group. I think for him that is where he feels most a home, a place and time where he feels like he matters, is wanted and needed and can make a difference.
In the end Harry and Ron were able to provide homes to each other. Both of them felt loss and powerless at the time when they met and in the end they gave each other places where to they could feel safe, wanted, cared for and needed.
My obsession with Harry Potter is not a secret. When Pottermore announced that they were going to start a Harry Potter book club a few months ago I was excited. One of my friends saw the announcement and passed it on to me. It sounded like a perfect place for me to geek out about Harry Potter with fellows Potterheads.
The bookclub officially started in mid-June, unfortunately for me it is limited to a Twitter chat (as of right now). The chat takes place on Friday at 11am which is when I am at work (damn bills needing to be paid!). So I can’t take part in the official chat. I glanced through the feed though and saw that some of the questions they asked were interesting.
After looking through the chat I decided that, once in a while, I am going to do blog posts on the questions that I really like or have a strong opinion about. It won’t be something I do every week, just when I like the questions asked. I figured this would be a fun way for me to still take part in the idea of the bookclub in some way.
The way it appears to be working is that they are going to break the books down into small sections. Last Friday was the first few chapter of the first book. They had three questions that they asked and the question that I found the most interesting was “Why do you think the Dursleys are so afraid of magic?”
From the first chapter I knew that the Dursleys were going to be people who feared and detested anything that was different or unexplainable to them. I knew that they were going to be people who liked life one way and one way only. Vernon came off as the worst of the three of them.
They are the kind of people who believe the world should run in a way that they can define and understand. If something different happens or comes up that is beyond their comprehension they want it gone. The last thing they want to do is learn a new way of life. For Vernon, especially if he can’t define it, it is dangerous.
The Dursleys are the type of people who don’t want to learn anything new. They don’t want to find out that their way of thinking may be wrong. To them the “other” is wrong and thus dangerous. Unfortunately today this attitude is all too prevalent.
I feel like Vernon was always this type of person from when he was a child. I feel like he grew up thinking he was superior and looking down on anyone different than him. Whereas Petunia was more open-minded at one time but jealously and resentment clouded that aspect of her personality. She was so hurt to not be a witch and to be rejected by Hogwarts that she internalized that anger and turned it into fear.
She met Vernon who thought in that narrow minded way and it fit in with her anger. He allowed her to build this wall and then hide behind it. She didn’t have to deal with why she was upset and angry, instead she made it so that the wizarding world and magic were to blame. She fell into this blackhole of fear and anger. It became so deep that it took having to hide and leave Harry behind to even begin to crack that exterior.
Dudley is his parents son and we know he inherited their narrow-mind set and fear of the “other.” Though his parting words with Harry showed that redemption is possible; if he wanted it.
Why do you think that the Dursleys fear magic?
I was always the quiet kid. I did not like to be put in the center of attention and I had trouble getting to know new people. I dreaded having to go to parties where I knew only a handful of people. I was called shy because I talked little. People learned quickly that I preferred to be alone or in small groups. And for a long time I thought that was “wrong,” in some manner. I thought that there was something off about the way I dealt with life because I was not comfortable in situations so many others seemed comfortable in.
My parents did their best not to force me into any situations that I did not want to be part of, but I know it was sometimes hard to have a kid who didn’t seem to want to talk to people. They were perfectly fine with me being quiet and spending time on my own, they never made me feel like I was doing anything wrong. It was more watching the world around me and wondering why I couldn’t be like everyone else. Was there something wrong with being the quiet girl? The one who preferred to hang out with two or three people versus a huge group? Who got tired after spending extended time with people?
It wasn’t until about 3 years ago that I came to understand what an introvert truly was and that there was nothing wrong with being one. I saw Susan Cain’s TED Talk (watch here) about being an introvert and it intrigued me. She was talking about me and she was talking about how there was nothing wrong with being quiet. I then found out she wrote a book and I knew I had to read it. The title Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, interested me right away.
I had heard the terms introvert, extrovert and ambivert before, I just didn’t have a good grasp on what they meant. I thought introvert’s were shy and extroverts were outgoing and loud and ambiverts were in the middle. After reading Quiet I learned that there was so much more to those terms than I knew about before.
One of the first things this book does is explain what an introvert is. The true difference between introverts and extroverts are how and where they gain their energy. Extroverts gather energy from being around people and being in social situations. While introverts gain their energy from being either alone or in small groups of people. Introverts get tired when they have to constantly be social.
I read these definitions and it instantly clicked with me. I don’t hate being around people (which is a distinction that is made many times throughout the book. Introverts do like being around people, just in smaller doses). I enjoy going out and spending time with family and friends. I love fun camping weekends and going on vacations but they also can be tiring for me. I find myself wanting to be alone for at least an hour or so. I find myself just needing time to decompress and for a while I thought there was something wrong with me. After reading Quiet I realized that there is nothing wrong with wanting to be alone sometime. There is nothing wrong with being someone who enjoys spending an entire day reading or watching TV without anyone else around.
One of the other things this book does is make a note that our world is an extrovert world, our society today (at least Western society) wants you to be social, all the time. You are expected to be able to go to networking events and talk continuously with people, you are expected to be okay with striking up conversations with everyone around you and want to spend all your time with people. You are expected to enjoy this and, for it to be something that energizes you.
Our society has trouble understanding why someone would want to stay home alone. Why someone doesn’t want to take part in small talk. Why would someone want to be quiet and listen more than talk? Our society instantly pushes these people to the side and calls us antisocial and shy. We are told that we need to change, we need to be more outgoing; or else we may not get the job or career we want or we may never find right person to be with.
This book explains the world we live in and then gives tips on how to exist in this world. Right now this is the society we have. Changing people’s perceptions and making them understand that introverts don’t hate everyone and don’t hate people will take time. It will take time for people to realize that sometimes we need time to recharge or we prefer to have deep conversations instead of pointless small talk.
I enjoyed this book because it told me that being introvert isn’t wrong. There is nothing wrong with how I interact and view the world. It helped me see ways that I can exist in our current world without overwhelming myself or completely changing who I am.
I no longer try to force myself into social situations that make me exhausted or uncomfortable because I think I have to do them. I take time to be alone, especially after extensive time socializing. I know how to take care of myself now. This book helped me start to understand this side of myself. I have also had other help with this but this book was a open door for me. I was hoping to better understand what the term introvert meant and I was pleasantly surprised to learn more about myself as I read.
If you are someone who is an introvert and wants to understand the term and what it means for you; or if you are someone who is interested in this part of personality, you will find this book helpful. It is a great book that explains who introverts are and what power they hold in our world today.