Friday, October 23, 2009

9 Pages

Every once in awhile, I get the girls to sleep before midnight. Occasionally these nights coincide with the amazing Blair working a grave. So with the house all to myself, I of course catch up on some laundry and make sure the sink is empty of dirty dishes.

FALSE.

I read YA novels.

I'm not sure if YA fiction (usually fantasy) can be classified as guilty pleasure, but throw in a half-a-pint of Ben & Jerry's Pumpkin Cheesecake... ? There's a reason I wait till I'm alone for these moments.

It's no secret that I enjoy reading very much, and I have read a host of very high-quality authors. J. K. Rowling (twice) and Neil Gaiman to name a few. However it seems as of late I've been much more critical, or perhaps discerning, with the books I've picked up I recently finished Uglies by Scott Westerfield. Meh. It was okay. It ended as a cliffhanger. Boo. I was mildly annoyed to have been robbed of anything resembling an ending, especially since I had really no desire at all to seek out the second book. Not worth my time.
Last night I started reading the first Septimus Heap book on strong recommendations from my sister and parents.
Is 9 pages into a book to early to decide that it's garbage?
I of course sincerely apologize to my family for tearing into a book that they all enjoyed so much, and I know exactly what their argument would be: "It's a great story, you can't get into the plot of the story in just 9 pages!" To that I respond with this. It really wouldn't matter if the author is the greatest storyteller in the world. If the writing is terrible, I can't focus on anything else. And the writing in this book is terrible. I could point out numerous examples, instead I will explain the triumph and also subsequent fear I experienced upon this realization.

First of all, it comforts me to know that all the time, headache, and money spent on an English degree did not completely go to waste. I can decide if a book is any good all by myself now. Good for me. Gold star. I believe what Todd Petersen told me in class is true. Sometimes you can learn more about being a writer by reading a terrible book, than reading a good one. A clever metaphor here and there and a somewhat interesting plot does not excuse for poor sentence construction and indifferent grammar. The really good books are the ones where the writing is so expertly crafted, so that you don't notice it at all and are therefore allowed the freedom to be completely wrapped up in the characters and the story. Of course solid writing isn't everything. Michael Chabon is an incredible writer, but I found Summerland to be completely lacking in the sense of wonder that should exist in a fantastical YA novel. So obviously, some kind of balance must be found.

Now I understand the who the target audience of this book is. But that in my mind is no excuse. Just because the subject matter of a book is intended for younger audiences does not mean that intelligent crafting of the plot, writing style, or description of characters and setting can be ignored or just breezed over. Over the years there have been numerous books that not only successfully engage the minds and imaginations of children but are pretty tolerable, and in some cases even more meaningful when combined with the wisdom and experience of age. Take for example: Peter Pan, The Tale of Desperaux, The Graveyard Book, The Secret Garden, the entire Harry Potter series, Winnie the Pooh (the original of course), The Chronicles of Narnia, Matilda or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Ok. Rant complete.

Here's where I become terrified.

What if someone wants to put me down after 9 pages?

Like 90% of the population, I (foolishly) imagine myself to be a writer, and aspire to complete a novel someday. My biggest concern has always been that I don't have a good enough grasp on what it takes to create a decent plot. And now i'm realizing that if I can't write well in the first place, no one is going to even give my unstable plot ideas a chance.

So my conclusion to all of this? No, i don't have one. I guess i'm not tossing out my dream just yet. I mean, if Septimus Heap books can be published and considered bestsellers despite deplorable writing (and don't even get me started on Meyer...) I still have a shot.

Right?

Maybe this all just means I need more education. :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Two Year Old

This is my Astoria. She is 2 today!

I love love love this little girl.

Even when she gives me death glares (often), and responds to every question with "NO!" Well, she is 2. i should give her a break. Besides she ate every bite of eggs off my plate at her birthday breakfast at the ihop yesterday. Can't complain about that.

Here are some awesome things you should know about my miss Stori-pie:

  • She is a marvelously artistic dancer. Not just simple kicks and turns, she rolls on the floor, makes pretty poses with her arms, and even throws some yoga poses in the mix.
  • She used the potty for the first time yesterday (all by herself) this is a big deal for me. Elliot is still struggling with this concept. So yes, a very big deal
  • Astoria is named after the little town of Astoria, Oregon. Which is where The Goonies was filmed, and also sung about on the album So Long, Astoria by the Ataris. It's also one of my favorite places on the planet.
  • She is left-handed, which I take a strange kind of pride in.
  • Her favorite thing in the WORLD to do, is take all the sippy cup lids and put them in rows and circles. I need to get a picture of this.
  • She loves to sing pretty songs. My favorite ones she sings are the "Pick it Up" song from Yo Gabba Gabba, and "You've got a Friend in Me" from Toy Story

Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

5 is a really big deal.


5 things i love about Blair:
1. he kept a really good secret for our anniversary date, which is a pretty tough thing for him to do.
2. he is the most perfect combination of freckles, eyes, and handsome.
3. he takes anything he is interested in very seriously. He doesn't just like LOST, basketball, and literature, he is consumed by it.
4. he doesn't laugh out loud often, but when he does it's absolutely magical
5. he tells me i look good, even when i'm 7 months pregnant


5 amazing things we got to do on our 5 year anniversary:
1. watch Thriller by Odyssey dance company
2. stay in a gorgeous room at the Anniversary Inn
3. eat some intensely delicious local cuisine
4. play in rose petals and waterfalls
5. watch our very adorable offspring play in a hay maze and pumpkin patch


5 happy moments we've had together:
1. the monsoon in AZ
2. ocean kayaking at Catalina
3. front row for Format, RXB, Straylight Run and Jack's (with a very pregnant belly)
4. NCAA tourney 2006
5. that one time when we watched Will Ferrel on Jay Leno doing the Goulet thing, and he laughed so hard he had tears


5 ways i know he'll be my sweetie for ever and eternity:
1. we still make CDs to listen to on long car drives and never get to hear them because we are too deep in conversation
2. he is an amazing, fun, and creative daddy
3. he always believes that i can do something amazing, even if i don't
4. he does P90X with me, and doesn't make fun of me when i wuss out on the pull-ups
5. he eats what i cook, even if we both know it's disgusting


5 adorable things you should know about Blair:
1. he loves Glee, Annie, Moulin Rouge, Little Shop of Horrors, and a host of other musicals.
2. if he really likes something at a restaurant, he'll try to find a copy cat recipe for it and make it at home
3. once he was very tired and made himself a sandwich and took it with him to bed. 5 hours later he woke up, ate the sandwich, and spilled his cup of milk.
4. he would probably die (literally) if he had to live a week without technology
5. he claims to dislike low forms of comedy such as physical humor... but laughs his face off whenever he watches the youtube video of the afro ninja doing a back flip and landing on his face


it's been the best 5 years of my life so far. thanks Blair, you are rather awesome.