Finding Inspiration

My mum is still convinced I'm going to be the next J.K. Rowling...

9:05 PM



She's brought it up, again and again over the years, saying, "Oh, you need to be like that Harry Potter woman," and considering it a matter of course that I will publish many middle grade and young adult books, and that they will all turn into international bestsellers.

I've tried to tell her that success stories like J.K. Rowling's only happen once in a hundred years.

I've tried to tell her that it's hard to publish these days, and that the market is saturated with amateurs trying to get their big break.

I've tried to tell her that the bookstores are dying, and that the masses want mindless entertainment more than they want quality fiction.

But she still believes.

And somehow, she still talks as if I am the one who is going to end up with money. According to mum, I'm going to get my dream mansion, pay off all the family debts, and take care of her in her old age.

I would love for her to be right.

But, really, it doesn't matter if she's right is or not. Even if I barely get my novels published... even if their sales are lacking and I'm a starving artist for the rest of my life... even if I don't leave the stamp on the history books that I always dreamt of leaving... even then it doesn't matter.

If I can be the next J.K. Rowling in my mum's eyes, I have succeeded.

-Amanda

P.S. Of course, I sometimes use my mum's prophecies as leverage. Today, while trying to argue that I should have the last of a batch of Christmas goodies, I cried, "Guys, I'm writing the novel that will pay for all of your college tuition!" 

I don't know if my siblings believed me, but they let me grab the plate and run. It was good company for the next two hours of editing...

Musings

Fear of Regret

10:49 PM



Why do I fear regret?

My life has been blessed and full of good things. I had a happy childhood. My family loves me. I was allowed to pursue my own interests instead of conforming to those around me. And now I have a wonderful job that I adore, the opportunity to pretend I'm a triple threat, and a special little middle-grade novel simmering on the back stove, waiting for its time to shine. Thus far, I have no real regrets.

And yet I fear them.

I fear that one day I will wake up and regret that I did not chase the biggest dreams, the ones that called from far away, bright yet elusive. And that I will regret having lost the time for chasing them, and having settled for a normal life.

I fear that I might regret that I did chase those dreams; that they were so big and bright that they consumed me. And that I will regret the years I lost in chasing them, in trying too hard to grasp at something I could never reach.

I fear that I will have the opportunity to love, and that I will pass it by. And that one day I will regret it, and wish I had taken the chance when it stood before me.

I fear that I might take that chance at love, and jump too soon, and then realize with a shock that I have settled. And I will regret not waiting, not moving on, not holding out for the one that is my own.

I fear.
I fear regret.
And one day I will probably awaken and regret the years I spent fearing it.

There is too much joy, excitement and adventure ahead of me to waste my time with this burden.

I must be free of it. I must not fear. I must not regret.

-Amanda

My Work

Forgotten

12:25 AM

Usually, I plan.

Before I begin writing, I spend days, weeks, months, sometimes even years, planning what I will write. From beginning to end, chapter by chapter, fleshing out characters, filling plot holes, and trying to make sense of it all.

 And then, every once in a while, I write something with no planning, spur of the moment, just for fun.

 A few days ago I wrote a tiny piece, inspired by the #mythicalworld contest on Figment.com. The prompt was to write a story, 500 words or fewer, that takes place in my favorite mythical world. I chose my favorite place, which I really believe to be non-mythical.


 Please read, and if you've got an account on Figment, give it a heart, reaction, or review. Any little bit of feedback is always helpful.

-Amanda 

P.S. I'm super, super close to finishing up another "just for fun" short story that ended up becoming a novella, and took me couple of years to wrap up. My more important work always takes precedence, but when I've got "Miss Oliver" fully released online, then this little work will also get to make its debut. :)

My Favorite Authors

10 Books

9:56 PM


You've probably seen it going around on Facebook. "List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way." I saw it too, was tagged by a couple of friends, and have decided to post my ten here. (Because something bookish should take its place alongside my other writing/reading musings.)

Some of my favorites are listed here, and others that have impacted me. (FYI, I didn't include The Bible, because that one is so obvious and above anything else I've listed.)

  1. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis - This book introduced me to magical lands, and helped awaken my love for the Lion. Of course, the whole series is a masterpiece.
  2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - The first of Alcott's books that I read, and Jo March stirred the desire to be a writer within me. Alcott remains one of my favorite authors, and I have read all of her novels.
  3. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie - This book made me believe in fairies, and never want to grow up. Masterfully, beautifully written. If I could be any character in a book, I'd be Wendy, and fly off with Peter for a long, long time.
  4. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor - In elementary school, I extensively studied the Civil Rights Movement, and was fired up with a desire to bring justice and equality to all people. Everything Taylor put her pen to is superb.
  5. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery - We basically share the same brain. And Montgomery (I've read her every novel) captures moments like photographs. She knows how to get into one's soul.
  6. Songs Out of Doors by Henry van Dyke. Poems that are prayerful, peaceful, aching, lovely.
  7. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit - This book helped me come to grips with life and death in a strangely comforting way. So moving and thought provoking.
  8. Beyond Ourselves by Catherine Marshall - A title that changed my view of God and my life's purpose.
  9. Christy by Catherine Marshall - A work based on Marshall's mother's life, this is one of the few pieces of "Christian fiction" that I can stand. It's profoundly touching without being preachy.
  10. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller - This book changed the way I view myself and the world.
Of course there are so many others... but here you are.  Let me know which titles you have read or enjoyed, and please post a link to your own ten if you decide to share them. I nominate you!

-Amanda

Finding Inspiration

A Daughter of Eve

10:30 PM


A fool I was to sleep at noon,
And wake when night is chilly
Beneath the comfortless cold moon;
A fool to pluck my rose too soon,
A fool to snap my lily.

My garden-plot I have not kept;
Faded and all-forsaken,
I weep as I have never wept:
Oh it was summer when I slept,
It's winter now I waken.

Talk what you please of future spring
And sun-warm'd sweet to-morrow:—
Stripp'd bare of hope and everything,
No more to laugh, no more to sing,
I sit alone with sorrow.

- Christina Rosetti

Miss Oliver At Home

"Write in a way that scares you a little..."

12:19 AM

I'd like to add an ending thought to that quote by Holley Gerth.

"And then post it on the internet."

I'm finally getting around to doing just that. For the first time ever, I'm releasing some of my fiction writing to the world. It's taken me a long time and much pondering to come to this decision, but I figure that if a novel I wrote years ago is not a part of my publishing plans and is just collecting dust, I might as well not have written it in the first place.

Writing, whether it's good or bad, is meant to be shared. If someone is entertained in the process, then it's a success.

So I'm sending "Miss Oliver At Home" off into the big, scary world...

I'll be releasing chapters (hopefully at least 1 a week - "follow" me on Figment for updates) as I get them edited and cleaned up (the novel is still in a -albeit very tidy- "first draft" state). Thank you so much if you take the time to read, follow, and share your comments. (Trust me, the reader's comments are so important, and have influenced major changes in some of my projects.)  I appreciate it more than I can say.

Any other "Figmenters" out there? I'd love to connect with you! :)

-Amanda

Book Reviews

How DIVERGENT reminded me about the important things in life...

10:12 PM


I have mixed feelings about the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth. I read the books over the summer, and flew through the first one, which I enjoyed for the most part. It was interesting enough to keep my attention, and while I wasn't particularly captivated by the characters or the writing style, I thought it was a decent book, minus the "he touches me, I can't breathe" teenage romance, which grated on my nerves. But in books 2 and 3, while they still kept me interested enough to finish, the writing was super distracting and the romance had me rolling my eyes more and more often.

But despite my mixed feelings, I wanted to see the new film, and rented it last weekend.

It was really good.

Better than the book, better than I'd expected, and I'll confess I was completely sucked into the romance. (Who was that person who used to think Theo James was ugly?) But most of all, it gave me a lot to ponder.

When I see films where the characters are up against all odds, caught in situations that are seemingly hopeless, and yet they continue to fight, risking their lives, willing to sacrifice everything for their friends, their family, or a cause that is so much bigger than themselves... my own troubles become small. My daily worries pale in comparison. And I realize how much of what I do and what consumes me is completely and utterly pointless. My comfortable living space, new clothes, and career success mean nothing. If what I'm doing doesn't have a point... to love, to help, to serve, to protect, to teach, to inspire... it is all for nought.

Life is not pointless. I believe that Jesus holds the answers, and I believe that He calls me to live a life that counts.

I am called to live with Passion, with enthusiasm and dedication for the things I believe in, the people I come in contact with, and everything I put my hands to.

I am called to live with Purpose, and that purpose is to show the world the Grace and Love that has been shown to me. Every person who crosses my path is part of that purpose.

I am called to live with Perspective, and always keep my own life and troubles in the context of a greater, hurting world. I need to always keep in mind the things that are truly important, remember those whose circumstances are so immeasurably worse than my own, and see the world with the eyes of Jesus.

I want to live with my hands open, ready to give or receive, to move in whatever direction I am called, and to lay down my life for something bigger than myself.

And just how did a movie like Divergent remind me of all this? Sometimes the pieces just come together in the middle of a bestselling young-adult angst-filled dystopian tale.

-Amanda