Reading unrecommendation – Eat, Pray, Love

Wow, I can’t believe Eat, Pray, Love is going to be a movie. I’m halfway through the book now, and it’s terrible. It hijacked my reading streak (I was at 30 novels at the end of July and haven’t finished a single novel in nearly two weeks), so now I’m behind. I don’t know if I can catch up. Is it going to take me another two weeks to get through the stupid thing?

I used to be one of those people who had to finish every book she started. But this year, I decided I wasn’t going to get derailed on my quest to read 52 books (one book per week). Plus, I decided I didn’t want to waste my time reading books I didn’t like when there are so many amazing novels out there. This stood me well for a couple of novels, one of which I lent to a friend with a warning via sticky note about the overuse of exclamation points.

I should have put Eat, Pray, Love down, but I liked the writing and thought it would get better. Who knew the author would whine about her life, depression, divorce, inability to meditate for so many pages? The author is so whiney and pathetic that I just can’t sympathize, and that’s the real problem with this novel. I’m only halfway through, so maybe I should reserve final judgment till I finish the blasted thing. I’ve only gotten as far as I’ve gotten because I read it to my daughter for ten minutes a day (I like the writing and vocabulary).

I’m just amazed that so many people liked this book that it’s now a movie.

Here are a couple of reviews:

Fixing bad writing habits: creating an outline

I’ve been thinking about writing a lot over the last few months but have yet to produce anything. I have sizable chunks for two novels – over 50k words for each (thank you, Nanowrimo); however, there isn’t a lot of usable content. I found that when I was writing for word count (and both years I was competing to be the first of my cohorts to reach 50k words), I’d write poorly. For example:

Sylvia paused at the street corner and looked longingly through the window of the cafe, hesitating for just a moment to inhale the sharp scent of freshly ground coffee beans before giving up and heading to the counter to order her frothy and sweet morning latte.

(I was the first to reach 50k words both years.) You see why I have so much unusable content? Nanowrimo was a great motivator, but I was a lax writer.

The other problem I ran into was lack of organization and outline. I had an idea of what I wanted to happen, but I got lost in the side stories and couldn’t get back to the main story. I finally came to the conclusion that I’m a writer who needs to follow an outline. But what type of outline?

Papa G led me to a few promising sites, but after discounting pages for the obvious reasons (comic sans usage, too many grammatical errors, too wordy, grating to the eyes), I only have:

I think I need to look a little deeper.

The Average Joe’s guide to outlining a novel

Only a slight improvement on writing

The best writing advice anyone will ever give you is practice, practice, practice and read, read, read. I’ve got the reading part down, kind of, and one of the main reasons I created this blog was to practice my writing. Three posts in (including this one) and a couple of ideas in draft later, I don’t think I’m improving much.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect to see a miraculous improvement over three days, but I did expect to take extra time on my writing. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality of my life. For each of the last few days, I’ve rushed to put fingers to keyboard to get a few minutes of writing in. Although this is an improvement over not writing at all, I doubt rushing to write a blog post every day is going to help me improve my writing much. And I doubt it gets me closer to finishing one of the novels I started.

Obviously, there’s an easy solution to this problem. If I can manage to start writing earlier in the evening, I will. I’m not going to beat myself up over it or anything. Eventually, I’ll get the practice bit down as well as I have the reading bit down. I may have to ease myself into it, just like I have to ease myself into reading quality novels instead of poorly written chick lit. But that’s a topic for another day.

Here’s my modified writing advice for improving your writing: practice, but don’t rush; read as much as you can, but avoid the chick lit.

Not another niche blogger

I’m so over niche blogging. I know it’s a faux pas and goes against basic blog tenets, but what are you supposed to do if you have a variety of interests you want to write about? Create a new blog for each interest? To some extent, I tried that and felt stifled. I’d want to write about something, but I’d worry about it being off topic, so I’d wait for an on topic idea that wouldn’t come. Then I’d feel guilty for not maintaining my niche blog and would avoid the computer. Then I wouldn’t be writing at all, and that was worse than breaking one of the basic blogging rules. I couldn’t win.

So, I am not a niche blogger. If I was, I’d feel guilty about sharing Mashable’s favorite dance videos with you. Do yourself a favor and watch the second video. Those little girls are amazing. They complete a triple pirouette like it’s easier than riding a bike. The other videos are pretty good, too.

The Year of the Book

A year ago this month, I quit my job to stay home with my daughter and work on other pursuits. I dreamed of finishing one of the novels I started years ago and of building Boss of Words, Inc. into a successful company. It was a hard decision. I really loved the team I was working with and my subject matter, so if I was going to quit this great job, I had to make it worthwhile. Hence telling myself I’d write my novel.

One year out, no book. But Boss of Words, Inc. has built several websites and has written a lot of software documentation. Half a win?

As I reflect on the year, I’m content with the quality time I’ve spent with my daughter. It’s been a whirlwind and a pleasure to watch Juliet learn to crawl, eat, walk. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I would, however, trade the many hours lost watching Lost for hours spent writing. What a waste of time that was for such a letdown series finale. But I digress…

I’m declaring this the year of the book. I have several projects to finish up and still need to spend quality time with my daughter, but I have been plotting and planning (in my head) and am determined that by the time another year rolls around, I’ll have more to show for it in my personal writing.

Let the writing begin.