Whatcha Reading?

As writers, we have to be just as concerned with our input as our output. Good writers are usually voracious readers. Not only is reading pleasurable, it exercises the mind in a more passive way than writing, while also providing subconscious material for future writing.

Mind you, I’m not talking about plagiarism. I’m saying that having lots and lots of stories in your head gives you more to pull from when you do your own writing. It’s good to read in your preferred genre. But it’s even more excellent to branch out and read in other genres. Push yourself. It might just liven up your writing!

Here’s what I’m reading now:

  • The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein. This is a sci-fi book about a penal colony on the Moon planning a revolution against their Earthly tyrants – all with the help of Mike, a sentient machine.
  • Daniel Deronda by George Eliot. This is a Victorian novel about a beautiful but spoiled and headstrong young woman who knows marriage is inevitable, but she really wants no parts of it. Isn’t it better to be fawned over and admired by many men?
  • Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King. I have no idea what this book is about but it’s hella long (699 pages)! I’m really looking forward to diving in!

What are you all reading? What are your favorite genres?

Have a beautiful weekend – and happy reading!

Peace and joy,

Raven

Advertisements

Charles Dickens – My Hero

I fell in love with reading before I had even learned how to do it. Like most babies, I enjoyed being read to. I even memorized my favorite stories to the point where people who didn’t know better thought I was reading – because I remembered exactly when to turn the pages! And my love for reading never faded with age.

Early in my childhood, my mom established the helpful habit of regular trips to the library. Because she also loves to read, she would venture off to the popular fiction section, and I would head over to the kids/young adult section. I loved mysteries at first. Eventually I moved on to the Judy-Blume-type books. I remember the book Go Ask Alice (by Anonymous) had a profound effect on me. People make fun of me when I say that because they view it as a cheesy “don’t do drugs” book. But it worked on me. I was never interested in drugs anyway. But the visuals from that story painted a nauseating enough picture to permanently discourage me from going down that road.

As I got older, I fell in love with classic literature. When I’d go to bookstores (remember those?) I’d always go straight to the Literature section. I didn’t know what I was looking for exactly. I just wanted to be told a great story, but I wanted to have to work for it a little bit. I wanted the language itself to speak to me. I wanted the humor to be sarcastic and subtle. I wanted any romance involved to be oblique, hinted about, not graphic and obvious. The first author I became attached to was Charles Dickens.

I don’t remember which of his novels I read first. But I remember Oliver Twist and Great Expectations being the most memorable ones for me. Dickens was a great entry-level literary fiction author for me because, though he is considered “literary” now, his novels were received as popular fiction in his day. I loved the humor in his novels, the way he makes fun of his characters in a loving way, and the cartoonishness of his villains. Beyond that, he’s able to inject social commentary without being self-righteous or preachy.

The social justice aspect of his novels combined with great writing and great story-telling make him my favorite author. I never knew much about him personally, so the above YouTube video was informative for me. I identify with him in many ways. I know what struggle is. I am always on the side of the underdog. I believe the arts should do something beyond entertain. They should inform the reader in some way, make him/her better off, inspired, open to changing societal ills. I’ve always loved the old morality plays for that reason. Yes, they are simplistic, but they are powerful in that they entertain as well as deliver a message.

So I hope to do the same with my writing! In fact, learning about Dickens has inspired me to scrap the story I was working on and start something that has a deeper meaning for me. Wish me luck!

Happy Reading and Writing,

Raven

Polyamory in Romance Novels

I was listening to Polyamory Weekly last week and the interviewee was Racheline Maltese, co-author of The Art of Three, a new romance novel. The story sounds intriguing, but more intriguing is that the authors themselves are polyamorous.

Polyamory is the practice of having multiple long-term loving relationships with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. Having dated polyamorously a couple of times, and having studied it seriously for the better part of a year, I can say that it is not as scandalous or exciting as it sounds. It attracts all kinds of different people, some of whom are highly evolved and have the utmost of beautiful intentions, some of whom are confused or predatory, and some of whom have no business even trying it. But that’s a subject another blog.

In terms of writing a romance novel, what I love about this story (I haven’t read it yet) is that it dispenses with the tired cliché of whom will she pick – the hot young stud who offers her passion and excitement, or the other hot stud who offers her depth and commitment? Or some other such sad and soggy cliché. Instead, the heroine pursues a relationship with both parties and deals with whatever joy and drama ensues from such a choice. What a new and seductive idea!

Writing – and all art – is a tight balance between being innovative and real, but conforming to the conventions readers expect. It is a hard balance to get right. If it’s too cutting edge, readers may be offended and dismiss it out of hand. If it’s too conventional, readers will be bored and pass it over. What I like about Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese, the co-authors of The Art of Three, is that they decided to just write what they wanted to write. The best art, in my opinion, comes from the depths of the artist; it does not come from studying the market. It’s a risk. But it seems to have paid off for these authors. The book has received positive reviews.

So, for all of you who love, compose, or consume art, may you open the boundaries of your spirit and stretch yourselves to consider new and trailblazing ideas.

Have a blessed and beautiful week,

Raven