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I Love Books

Posted by Elizabeth Ryann on 10:23 PM in , , ,
I seriously, seriously love books. Like, LOVE them love them. Sometimes when I wonder why I'm agonizing over my villain's elusive motivation, I stare at my bookshelf and in moments I'm usually sporting a goofy smile. I just have so much affection for them, for the stories themselves, and also for the memories I associate with them.

My mom made me keep a journal one year during middle school, just listing how many books I read. I believe the final tally was something like 427. Not counting rereads. Yes, I read more than one a day. And I'd happily discuss any one of those books with anyone who was so inclined. Anytime I received any money, like for birthdays or holidays, I would always use it to buy books. But I wouldn't lend them to people because I dreaded how abused they'd be when I got them back (if I even got them back, Mrs. Goldstein, don't think I've forgotten how you "misplaced" 12 of my favorite books in 7th grade). Inevitably, if they did actually return them, they had cracked the spine, loosened the cover, bent the pages, stained them, or left them with a mysterious odor. And I would be devastated. That's just uncool, people. Books, especially ones that do not belong to you, should be treated with care. (The exception to this rule is, obviously, college textbooks which should totally be highlighted and annotated for future generations.)

Growing up, everyone who knew me knew about my book obsession, and my friends would patiently and good-naturedly stop at the book store every single time we went to the mall, even if they knew I couldn't buy anything that day. Because they knew that being that close to that many books and not visiting them was near-impossible for me. The school librarian lavished me with preferential treatment, letting me check out more books than the limit--knowing I would return them quickly and in good condition. And honestly, I think she looked forward to our discussions upon their return. Most of the other students were a little scared of her, but they didn't know she had read every single book in that library. Including all the R.L. Stine ones. I was also allowed to visit whenever I wanted, even though the rule was that the same student was not allowed to visit the library more than once a week. (No, I have no idea why the school had so many restrictions and limits on pleasure reading.) My elementary school principal was fantastic too, and also indulged me, lending me books from his personal collection. The bookseller at the local bookstore knew my name, and sometimes would give me a deal on a book that she thought I would like (that's how I got the complete works of Jane Austen for $5--feel free to be jealous), or sometimes she'd throw a present in the bag, like a sparkly bookmark.

Anyway, my point is that I really, really love to read. I've had moments where I've felt different and lonely, and had a book that just resonated perfectly at just the right time. I have books that make me laugh just as much during the 32nd reading as they did during the first. And I want to write a book because I really, really want to be a part of that legacy. Books have given me so very much, that I want to be able to give back, if that makes any sense at all. Sure, J.K. Rowling levels of success would be lovely, but it would be self-defeating to write for that purpose. That's the sort of thing that's 100% out of my hands, and I recognize that. But putting as much love into crafting a book as I've gotten from reading them, that is something that is entirely in my hands, that I am completely capable of, and actually eager to do. So that is why I care about all the inconsequential details and agonize over every choice. Even if the final decision doesn't make it into the actual book, knowing those details helps make the world I'm creating more real to me. And the more real it is to me, the easier it is to share with others. So in the end, I drive myself crazy writing late into the early morning because I love it. I love writing, I love reading, and I love books.

Sometimes it's just nice to remind myself.

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New Beginnings

Posted by Elizabeth Ryann on 10:39 PM in , , ,
One of the least helpful responses I've ever received to the question: "What if the problem isn't coming up with ideas, but finding ways to motivate yourself to actually finish the novel once you've started?" was from one of my creative writing professors. She said, "Well, aren't you lucky? Some of us have to work hard for our ideas."

Which, in the end, kind of ended up answering my question, albeit in a bizarrely confrontational fashion. At the end of the day (because seriously, that's the only time I ever get to write), it's up to me to figure out my own process. And it's time I quit putting off my dreams because being stubborn about achieving them just sounds like too much work. I've decided to remember that when you're really enjoying what you do, and when you feel really strongly about your goal, work doesn't have to feel like a punishment. It can actually be fun! No, really--I've read all these rumors from totally reliable sources on the internet about this particular phenomenon. Like, um, these guys.

And if there are no shortcuts or easy answers (and I think this only because I have yet to find any, but if someone's willing to share, please don't be shy), there are certainly bribes and vaguely public humiliation. The carrot AND the stick method, if you will. So I have rewarded my renewed commitment to publishing with some super pretty new writing toys (Hello, Scrivener!) and a blog.

So...here we go! *deep breath*

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