Posts Tagged ‘books’

Image

Saving Mr. Banks is amazing. I know that, as a reviewer, I should first summarize the whole thing for you, and then tell you my thoughts on it in a detailed and intelligent way. But, there’s just no denying that – for me – this movie is awesome. 

So, now that we have that out of the way, I’ll summarize the movie for you. Saving Mr. Banks is a behind-the-scenes biopic of how Mary Poppins was made. P.L. Travers (the great Emma Thompson), the author of the Mary Poppins books, received offers for the movie rights of her beloved books for twenty consecutive years until she was finally convinced by her agent to give Walt Disney (the brilliant Tom Hanks) a chance. That’s the basic plot of the movie, and with those two actors working together, it was already a guarantee for me that it’d be a great experience.

However, one of the biggest surprises was Colin Farrell’s performance as Travers Goff, P.L. Travers’ father. Her childhood is told in a series of flashbacks, normally starting when P.L. Travers is annoyed by a section of the script, and the flashback then shows why she’s annoyed with it. It’s pretty interesting, and it’s easier than some voiceover narration or a lengthy conversation where Emma Thompson is forced to explain every one of her choices. The rule, “Show, don’t tell,” was clearly taken to heart by the writers and director.

Back to Colin Farrell. I thought he was great in In Bruges, but it wasn’t one of those mind-blowing performances that you tell your friends about for months until they forcibly stop you from telling them any more. His performance in Saving Mr. Banks, however, is one of those performances. He plays an alcoholic that dotes on his daughters very much, but seems to be unable to escape the urge to drink. The character is both haunted and happy, angry and contemplative. 

There’s a great scene in the movie where his children are chasing a hen, and he tells them, jokingly, that it’s no hen. It’s their evil Aunt! Later, when he’s about to go to bed with his wife (Ruth Wilson, Luther), it’s revealed that she’s been pleading for him to let her ask her sister for help. There are a few more surprises in the movie, but I won’t spoil them for you.

Back to the present. (Or the 1960’s.) The first scene where Walt Disney appears in the movie is a favorite of mine. The scriptwriter, Don, tells Travers it’s not a good idea to call him Mr. Disney. He likes to be called Walt. Disney then rushes out of his office, and in the background, you can see an entire shelf of oscars, polished as can be. They go out of focus, and you see Tom Hanks’ best smile. 

Image

I think it was then that Travers decided to do her best to make his life miserable. She calls him Mr. Disney, and continues to do so even though he keeps insisting he call her by his first name. In a masterful scene, Travers lists her demands, and you can see the look on Hanks’ face as she insults his life’s work. Tom Hanks version of Mr. Disney is very interesting. Unlike a lot of actors, he never overdoes it. When he becomes angry near the middle of the movie, you know it. But he doesn’t fly off the handle. After all, you don’t get your own theme park if you throw a temper tantrum every time someone is being unreasonable. 

Emma Thompson, however, has the most difficult role of all. She has to play a difficult, cold… hag. There’s really no other way to put it. I mean, even Emma Thompson admitted that Travers was a bit of a hag in an interview on Graham Norton. But, despite that, she manages to put a lot of heart into the performance. This is a woman that’s seen things, as a child, that she never should have seen.

Image

As such, she spends her life writing books for children so they won’t have to see the horrible things around them. She uses the joy and wonder that she still possesses in her heart on her books, while putting on a facade of detachment and bitterness when interacting with other people. There’s a wonderful scene in the movie where she starts letting her guard down around her driver Ralph (Paul Giamatti). 

When she first met him, she made it very clear that she did not want to be there. When they see some beautiful scenery on the way to Walt Disney studios, Ralph cheerfully says: “Isn’t it beautiful?”

“If you like that sort of thing,” she replies promptly.

“Well, I do,” he says slightly crestfallen.

But he ends up her only friend, anyhow. I can talk for much longer about this movie, but to do so would mean telling you about some really interesting scenes and I want you to discover those scenes for yourself. The score is beautiful, and the main song is both happy and somber, just like Disney and Travers.

Image

 

~J.A. Romano

Advertisements

Well, I was tagged by Erica Dakin in this new meme that’s been working its way through a lot of writers. It was interesting to respond to these questions because I had to resist from writing a very long complicated answer. (Well… I may not have restrained myself all that well.)

So, without further ado, my answers.

1. What’s the name of your current WIP?

Well, I’m technically working on two WIPs right now. There’s my serialized story, Radio Silence, and there’s the Line of Corruption. I’ve already finished writing it, but I still need to work on it a lot more.

2. Ready to do a cover reveal?

For Line of Corruption? Definitely not. The cover I’m envisioning would be too complicated for my sister to do, so I think I’m gonna wait around and be vigilant for an opportunity to make the cover it deserves. For Radio Silence, I’ve already revealed it. Since my sister is an awesome photographer, I chose from the large assortment of photographs she’d taken the past few years, and picked the one I thought best suited Radio Silence.

3. How many words are you into it? 

For Radio Silence, I’m 7,759 words into it. I still need to write a lot more practically every day if I want to be on schedule for the serialization. For Line of Corruption, I have 112,459 words written. While I consider it finished, I still have a few chapters to add that will tidy it up. Not to mention the editing process will most likely shave off a good couple thousand words. (See, I use a lot of unnecessary words..)

4. Goal word count by the end of the week?

I don’t have one. I tried doing that, but it didn’t work out. I lost all motivation to write. The only goal I have is actually writing. I’m pretty sure that having goal word counts and being able to stick to them would make my life a lot easier, but I specialize in making it more difficult than it has to be.

5. Goal word count for the entire manuscript?

Nope. Don’t have that, either. At best, I have a chapter count, but even then, I rarely stick to it. For Line of Corruption, I planned it as a short story… It numbers over forty chapters. I do know, however, that I won’t go over 110k for Radio Silence.

6. What genre does your WIP fall within?

Line of Corruption falls into Dark Epic Fantasy. Radio Silence falls under Horror. Now, while I’m not very strict in word counts, I am very strict when it comes to genre. Before I wrote a single word, I chose which genre the story would fall under.

7. When would you like to publish this project?

Once I’m done editing Line of Corruption, as soon as possible. Radio Silence is already published, but I think I’m going to publish it as an eBook once I’m done with all the chapters. Each chapter is heavily edited before being posted, so it will most likely contain much fewer mistakes than LoC. (The mistake I had with LoC was not rereading the stuff I wrote…)

8. Go to page five of your manuscript and pick a random sentence to share with us!

From Radio Silence:

“Another one bites the dust,” said the entire band of Queen.

From Line of Corruption:

He couldn’t preserve the look on his eyes as he died now that his eyeballs had been popped.

I copied and pasted sentences that wouldn’t really give away too much of the story. I wish the meme asked for an entire page, rather than one single sentence. I’m tempted to go: “Well, you see, I wrote that because of this, that, and him…”

You can read Chapter One and Two of Radio Silence here, though.

9. Will this WIP turn into a series?

I’m planning a trilogy for Line of Corruption. Radio Silence may turn into a series, but it depends on my thoughts on it once I finish writing the entire thing. I’d originally planned a long series for LoC, but I decided that would be a bit too much. I figured a compact trilogy would be the best option.

10. What has been the hardest challenge in working on this WIP?

The biggest problem I had with Radio Silence was the fact that despite the whole spirits possessing ghosts thing, it was still based in the real world. So, the fighting scenes had to be polished, but it taught me to work a bit harder while writing the fight scenes. For Line of Corruption, I think the hardest challenge was finishing it. At 75k, I wondered when it would finish. I loved writing it, but I was beginning to fear it would be another one of my unfinished stories. So, I set a goal for myself. Finish it before my birthday, and that’s what I did.

11. What has been your favourite part of working on this WIP?

Now that is a tough one to answer. I think my favorite thing when writing LoC was just… the freedom. I freely added characters with questionable morals, I killed off whichever ones I wanted.. This may sound nuts to some of you, but in my first book, I didn’t know I could do that. I didn’t know the author could just grey characters, or kill off all the good characters. (Not that I killed off all the good characters..)

So, it was a fresh change from writing my first book. Definitely. For Radio Silence, it was using music. As some of you may know, ghosts are possessing the people in Sheriff Matthews’ town, and the only way he knows a person has been possessed if a song suddenly starts playing on the radio. It was really fun to listen to songs, use them, and make them eerie.

12. Any special treat planned for when you finish the final draft of your WIP?

I’ll probably take out my entire family for dinner. I couldn’t have written anything without their help, so I figure that when I’m done with my two WIPs, that would be the time to give them all a treat.

13. Tag 3 2 people to complete this WIP meme:

T.K. Trian

Caleb Hill

Louise James

Hope you enjoyed that. I felt like I was actually being interviewed, so it was really fun for me to write. Now, I just need to wait anxiously for them  to accept my tag.

~J.A. Romano

Edit: Added two people to the tags. Decided I should extend this meme to more people. (insert laughter)

From the time when we were eagerly awaiting dessert after being forced to eat our vegetables, to the time when we’re anxiously waiting for the results of a test… A phrase has been drilled into us. What is that phrase? Well, you already know, but I’ll repeat it for good measure. “Patience is a virtue.”

It is a virtue that I’m not really known for, to be honest. I am not patient. I’m impatient when waiting for a new episode of Psych or Big Bang Theory, and I’m impatient for my Birthday. So, how do I handle waiting for results when submitting my writing to be judged and rejected/accepted?

Fair warning, I’m not sure if this works for all writers. It may just work for me, but let me talk about the times when I had to wait to find out whether or not I was accepted or rejected. The first time I had to do this with my writing was the Fantasy Faction Anthology. There was a short story contest, and if I had won, I would’ve gotten lots of cash. Of course, I also wanted my story to be showcased alongside some bona fide, professional authors. So, in one day, I wrote two different short stories set in my current fantasy universe.

The first was a change for me. It was more insightful and ‘quiet’, I should say, than any of my other works. The second was a safety net, I guess you could say. I specialize in massive fight scenes. I won’t tell you that I am amazing at them, but I’m comfortable writing them. So, the first was the equivalent of a preachy story set in a desert, and the second was the equivalent of a big, dumb action movie. Except it was even worse.

Which did I pick? I picked the preachy story. Except, I rewrote the heck out of it until it wasn’t very preachy anymore. That short story ended up being called Rakhul. So, once everything was edited, I sent it off to be judged.

It was time to be patient. Like I said, I am not patient. So, when the editors kept pushing the release date – understandably so, considering the massive amount of submissions – I was banging my head against the wall. I tried to write away my problems, but the waiting was killing me. So, at the three month mark, I decided to forget about it. Any time I read about the anthology’s results – I ignored it. I was determined to wait until the official results were in. And guess what… I did forget about it. So much so that I forgot about the short story I wrote for it. Eventually, I found out about the results, and I wasn’t accepted. I wasn’t even on the short list. I was, of course, disappointed. But, I had discovered two things. How to deal with disappointment, and how to deal with waiting.

So, maybe a month after that, I submitted to a literary agency. I was in love with the literary agency, because it was the agency that handled one of my favorite authors – Brent Weeks. So, I bookmarked the site, and I’d read all the rules, and I’d read all the books of their clients. (Yeah, he was REALLY in love with it.) I submitted my story, and maybe three weeks later, I see an email in my Junk folder. I open it, and it’s Donald Maass’s rejection letter.

A few minutes later, after telling the news to my family, I make the joke: “My email’s so thoughtful. It sent the rejection letter directly to Junk because it was trying to protect my feelings.”

Thank you, Gmail, but I’m glad I found out about the news. Because, I knew going into this business that there would be a lot of disappointment. And I managed to hone the “waiting” skill even more. I still wasn’t very patient, but I was a master at forgetting about ever having submitted anything. (Wow, so your horrible memory pays off…)

That brings us to todays waiting game. I submitted my story, Radio Silence, to be serialized about a month and a half ago. And, I still haven’t received word about it.

Image

Originally, I captured the cover in that screenshot as well, but I decided to cut that out. HA! I know, I’m quite devious like that. I promise I’ll unveil it soon, but not just yet. Anyways, as you can see the status is Pending. The word ‘pending’ has never looked quite so ominous to me ’till now.

This was even harder to forget about than my submission to the literary agency. Why? Because the odds aren’t so high against my favor this time. This time, I was confident in my story. The cover is awesome, because my sister took a great picture and slapped my name on it. So, the chances of me being accepted are quite high and in my favor.

The simple fact that they haven’t even rejected or accepted me after a month and a half is excruciating. But, everything that’s happened in my past as a writer has paid off. I’m still not patient, but every now and then.. I completely forget about this serialization. I only remember it right before the day ends so I can check if my status is still pending. Then I forget about it and go to sleep.

So, what am I saying? To forget about it? No, that may not suit your tastes. But don’t dwell on it. The trick to the waiting game is cheating and not waiting at all. How can you wait for something if you’re not even thinking about it most of the time?

You can’t do anything ’till then, so it’s best to simply… move on. Move on like you’ve already been either accepted or rejected or like you didn’t even submit in the first place. My advice? Cheat the waiting game, and win at the end.

Right now, I’m not sure if my status may be ACCEPTED or REJECTED in a month or so. But, this has taught me something. After going through such pains and measures, I will not let my stories go to waste. Even if Radio Silence isn’t accepted, I will still post the cover on my blog, and I will most likely make any and future chapters available to read.

I am doing the same with Rakhul. So, yeah. Make the best out of it, and you’ll basically be pointing and laughing at the Waiting Game… while it cries and sulks in the corner. Yeah.

Thanks!

P.S: Just to note, if you’ve yet to read my previous post, any time I write about writing in general, I will also write an accompanying review of a book/movie/television series. It’s to make up for the fact that I no longer write blogposts as often as I used to. Please remember to Like, Follow, and Comment. Hopefully, all three. And thanks again!

~J.A. Romano

I know. Long title. But, bear with me. I was planning on writing just a regular movie review to accompany yet another one of my posts about the misadventures of a writer. However, as I was deciding which movie to write about, I hit a wall. I have watched so many great movies lately. Zodiac, which is now my favorite movie of all time. Million Dollar Baby, which… made me cry like a baby. And then the Godfather, which I re-watched after three years.

Image

The Godfather was the movie which inspired me to write again, three years ago. Earlier, I wrote a post about Failure. But, the thing is… I didn’t know that back then. I had just finished Xenon Bane, and it was horrible. I talk a little bit about that in every post, but I’m going to fill you all in on the details. It was a disaster, and while I didn’t really stop writing for long… I had no intention to actually write again. By the end of Xenon Bane, I was having no fun at all, and it became a chore. Writing wasn’t as cool as it started out to be, and I was back to just doing whatever that struck my whimsy. Then, one night, I convinced my parents to let me watch Godfather. The CD we had of Godfather was horrible, and the voices weren’t synced properly, and there were tiny cracks in the disc. But, I loved the movie. There were no jokes at all, and it wasn’t a war film either. It didn’t have a lot of action, and it was in the dark most of the time.

The movie was two hours and forty-five minutes long, it was late, and I couldn’t understand what Marlon Brando was saying. Yet, I was spellbound by the movie. I was transfixed by the story about gangsters. They wore suits, they were smart, and they didn’t just go around raping women for no reason. In fact, it has been noted by a lot of critics that there isn’t a single innocent victim in the entire movie.

For me, the Godfather showed me the grey area. I’ve talked before about books which were about grey characters, but the Godfather was the movie which inspired me to write again. So, after watching all three Godfather movies, I started writing my second book – the City of Crime. Writing became fun again. It was interesting and new. I wrote about Asian gangsters, and about a dogged Asian prosecutor trying to catch the Triad in the act. It was awesome! I won’t tell you the story is brilliant – that’s for you guys to decide. But I will tell you that writing the City of Crime paved the road for me to start writing even more.

In more ways than one, I owe the Godfather for inspiring me to write again. I watched it two days ago, and it inspired me again. Lately, I’ve been trying to write scripts. But, I just can’t do it! I keep trying to be funny, and all of my jokes would fall flat. After watching the Godfather, I am reminded that you don’t need to be funny to be interesting.

And guess what, I wrote a few more scenes in my script. So, I guess you can say that I’m thinking too much into it. Heck, you can call me pretentious, but while the Godfather didn’t change my entire lifestyle… it did inspire me to write once more, and a year later, the way I did things did change.

So, yeah. I hope you enjoyed this post. I sure enjoyed writing ( Ahem, GUSHING ) about the Godfather. It’s a true story. I was inspired by it to write once more, and I guess you can say this is the “spin-off” for my Failure is Actually An Option post.

I’d appreciate if you’d Like, Follow, and Comment. Hopefully all three. Other than that, I’m going to inform some of my loyal followers ( You mean everyone that’s related to you? ) that I will now be posting a review accompanying each post I make about writing or about life in general. It’s a way of making up for the fact that I no longer post once a day like I used to do.

Interesting fact, Mario Puzo, who wrote The Godfather, also wrote the Sicilian. And the main character of the Sicilian is named Guiliano. Yup, I am named after him. My devoutly Catholic grandmother had my mother change the spelling and add Angelo as my middle name for fear of me becoming a gangster. Yup, that’s also why my middle name, in English, means Angel. To cancel out the Gangster first name. It’s a shame the Sicilian wasn’t made into a huge, blockbuster movie like the Godfather.

Thank you, and goodbye!

~J.A. Romano

It’s been awhile since my last post, and I apologize to all the loyal followers that were distraught over this. (Uh, Jian, the only follower that was remotely bothered was… you.)

Ignore the parenthesis. Anyways, I wanted to talk about the pros and cons about networking. What I mean by networking is social network sites such as Twitter, Facebook, forums, Goodreads, blogs, and all that stuff. They’re all very important for writers. We want people to read our work, but how do we let people know about our work? Say it with me – Networking. So, I thought long and hard about it, and came up with a Pros and Cons.

Let me start with the cons.

1. In Twitter, if you’re new and want a lot of Followers, you simply follow a whole lot of people. What I do (and most likely, what a lot of others do) is look for other writers with about 200 some followers, and if you see they more or less follow the same number of people, that means they will likely follow you back if you were to follow them. That’s how I got to 200 Followers. However, the problem is that your Twitter feed is bombarded with advertisements, blogposts, etc. I’m okay with that, but the thing is… very few actually click the links. Why? Because it’s very easy to get hacked on Twitter, and no one wants to risk getting hacked. In fact, my Twitter account got hacked awhile ago, through a Private Message. In fact, I got hacked more than once. This is really annoying, because it means I had to change my password several times. And several more times after that because I kept forgetting them. (Your memory is awesome, Jian!)

So, odds are, if you’re posting links to your latest blogpost or book, only five out of twenty people actually click it. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true.

2. Here’s something I made a mistake of not doing. When I initially started following people at random, I didn’t really look at their Tweets before doing so. What ended up happening was that a week later, I kept seeing Tweets about some really inappropriate stuff… and praises of Fifty Shades of Grey. Which is just as bad as Tweeting inappropriate stuff, if you ask me. So, of course, I unfollowed. But, I became a lot less attentive to tweets because I just didn’t want to end up clicking a link and seeing inappropriate stuff. That’s a mistake that didn’t have to happen, so it’s something to look out for.

3. Character limit. I don’t know about you, but I am really talkative and wordy. (We know already…) And since people aren’t always going to click your links to your book’s excerpts, you’d benefit by including a short summary or a short excerpt from your book. Unfortunately, there is a 160 Character Limit on Twitter which prevents you from doing that. So, people are normally forced to post four different tweets where all they do is continue from where they left off.

4. So far, I’ve only been talking about Twitter, but let’s talk about Facebook, too. The reason why people normally use Twitter for advertising is because Facebook is where all their friends and family are. And they don’t want random people adding them as friends on Facebook due to an advertisement. They could block their photos, and choose only a “select” group of people to see them… but that’s a real bothersome process. You could start a Facebook page, but it works both ways, really. Three out of ten people will not Like because they do not want some random person to suddenly add them. May not seem a lot, but it adds up.

5. Trolls on Twitter. Considering the fact that we literally cannot choose our Followers on Twitter (unless you privatize your account, which defeats the purpose of using it to advertise), the chances of having trolls exponentially increases vis-a-vis Facebook. Whether you’re Tweeting a link to Neil Gaiman’s new book, or Tweeting about the movie you are currently watching, there is always a risk of a troll trying to dampen your spirits. They aren’t as numerous I guess, as they are in Youtube comment sections, but they’re still there, and you should keep an eye out for them.

6. This is actually a “spin-off” from the #1. Since you can normally get Followers by first following a lot of people, your Twitter feed is clogged with advertisements. However, the problem is that you may be following friends, family, or authors you love, and it’ll be difficult to see their latest Tweets. Unless you obsessively check their Twitter pages to see their latest Tweet… which I did, but seriously, it’s not for everyone. Unless you’re a big-time actor, celebrity, or writer – you won’t get Followers easy, and that means it’s hard to be selective of which people you follow.

I think that’s about it. I know, it sounds like I really hate Facebook and Twitter. But now, I’ll move unto the Pros.

Pros:

1. Like I said, you can’t be selective about the people you Follow, but in my experience, this has worked out to my benefit at certain times. Because of this, I got to see a Tweet from Bane of Kings about a Guest post, and I was able to send him a Private Message about doing a guest post. And he, surprisingly enough, agreed! Imagine my surprise! I was really ecstatic when this happened. So, you may find a plethora of new opportunities in Twitter.

2. Everyone has a chance of becoming a friend. It’s true. It’s very easy to make friends on Twitter, and I’ve become friends with a lot of writers through Twitter. It’s also a great place to get some writing advice. For example, when I first started using Twitter, Ben Galley, one of the youngest Self-Pubbed authors followed me. And he was nice enough to respond to a few of my writing questions. It was really great.

3. Easy to keep in touch. You can do this both on Facebook and Twitter. My old friend and I, for example, live in completely different timezones. So, if neither of us get to come online on Skype to have a chat about what happened and all, we Tweet to each other. Normally, I just tweet to him: “You’re horrid at keeping your appointments.” And he Tweets back a witty reply. This can be done on Facebook, as well, but considering the fact that I don’t have a character limit there, I spend thirty minutes writing a long letter. The amount of witty jokes I can fit in is immeasurable!

4. Blogs. Oh, they’re tons of fun to read. I’ve followed quite a few people on WordPress, and the majority of them are writers, and I get to read about cool, new interesting stuff. My friend, Caleb Hill, writes reviews on books I’d never even heard of, and that’s always a joy to read. I learn a little something about poetry from Louise. And I learn about realism in writing from my beta readers, T.K. Trian.

5. What blogs can do for you. Up above, I talk about what you can find out. Now, I’ll talk about what you can do with blogs. For example, I can write about Networking as much as I want in a blog, and someone may Like it. As writers, we love to be validated. And if even a single person Likes one of our posts, we are over the moon.

31 Likes

Imagine my surprise and happiness when I saw that 31 people, in all, had Liked my post on the mistakes I made as a writer. If I’m over the moon at just one Like, then I was out of this solar system when 31 people Liked it. It’s really great to see that people think your views are cool, and that your writing was good enough that they weren’t cringing the entire time they read it.

Of course, it takes awhile to get to a point where there’s a reasonable chance of you getting 1 Like per post. In fact, when I first started out, I didn’t get Likes for a few months. So, you need to stick it out, but it will pay off.

6. Support. You can receive the support of your cool Followers just by asking them. For example, awhile ago, I talked about how I was going to submit one of my stories for serialization, and I got a lot of Likes. Some of my good writer friends commented or messaged me and told me that they had my vote. I was incredibly happy when I saw this, and it just made me want to succeed even more. Just so that their faith wasn’t lost. It’s really great.

7. Inspiration. When I get a writer’s block, and can no longer write about my characters… I just write a blog post about my writer’s block. That’s what I do when I can’t write in any of my stories. I write a blogpost. It clears my mind, and I can get back to writing immediately after.

And last, but not least… It is fun. Yeah. I’ve said it so many times, but really. It is fun. It’s fun to Tweet to authors you like, and hope they may respond. It’s fun to see that someone “Favorited” your tweet about how bored you were. It’s fun to see someone commenting on your last blogpost to disagree with you. It’s fun when you get to engage with them about how your point was correct. It’s all so much fun. And that’s why I write, you know.

Because it is fun.

So, network may be a pain.. for a very long time. And  the pain will never disappear, but the fun times, when they do happen, completely wash away the pain of accidentally clicking on a link to a 4 star (out of 4) review of Fifty Shades of Grey. Yeah…

Thanks for reading. Hope you Like, Comment, and Follow. Hopefully, all three. And that’s all for now. Thanks again!

~J.A. Romano

To be honest, I didn’t realize why I wanted to be a writer ’till earlier this morning. Well, I knew why, but before then, I didn’t actually put it into a proper sentence aloud. I was jogging 6 kilometers and… (Jian, was this a ploy to casually slip in the fact that you ran TWO kilometers? Yeah, that’s right, people. He only did two kilometers)

Ahem. 2.5 kilometers, as I said. The person I was jogging with asked me what I wanted to be, and I casually proceeded to tell him my life story. Told him about all my dream jobs – which consisted of being a soldier in World War II (I was five, in my defense.), a surgeon for all the cash, and finally a writer. Being a writer makes sense to me. My hands are too shaky to be a surgeon, and I’m way too pampered to be a soldier in World War II. Also, World War II was over fifty years ago. There’s that.

But even when I wanted to be a surgeon, I still wrote. I remember three stories that I started when I was seven, which I thought was some of the greatest things ever, at the time. My parents, who didn’t have it in them to tell me, said I was a gifted writer. They still tell me that today, but after their deception when I was seven… I’m not so sure. Maybe I’ll believe them when I’m successful.

Maybe.

My favorite of the three stories was this mash up of Lost and Band of Brothers. At the time, they were my two favorite shows. I mean, I can’t say I really understood some of the twists in the plot of Lost… and I couldn’t see the awful things that happened in WWII Band of Brothers was trying to convey. I looked at both shows, and saw the glory in them. So, I wrote about these WWII paratroopers that get stranded on an island, and they end up being forced to fight terrorists.

I didn’t even account for them not being able to contact any other people. I just thought it was a natural thing for people to get stranded and not even try to find a way off the island… Normal.

Second story was a joint project with my then best friend. He was a big fan of the Lord of the Rings, and so was I. So, we wrote a massive rip off of Lord of the Rings. Tolkien would have been crying in his grave with each word I typed.

And the third story, which I consider to be the worst, was a Fantastic Four ripoff. The funny thing is I didn’t even watch the movies or read the comic books. I just saw a trailer of the first Fantastic Four movie, and thought: “I think I could write a book about that… only with different powers.”

My Johnny Storm ripoff had electrokinesis instead of pyrokinesis, though. And to this day, I still believe that electrokinesis is a cooler ability than pyrokinesis. I mean, you can’t control pyrokinesis. Really, try to fight some bad guys in a dense wooden area. See how far that gets you. But with electro-

That’s beside the point. Anyways, all things I considered, I was a horrible writer. I didn’t have an innate talent for it, but I had fun. Skip to a few years later, and I wanted to do something more with it. I could continue to perfect my fan fiction writing skills ( which was, in all honesty, was abysmal ), or I could write my own book. And four years later, I realize that I really wanted to be a writer because I had fun doing it. With my academic subjects, I didn’t have an innate talent for them, either. I had to work hard on each subject in school.

However, I was even worse at writing, yet I had fun? That did not make sense to me. At all. But nothing, up to that point, had ever given me the same amount of joy that writing did. And I think that’s what started it all. My boredom, and the fact that writing was one of the few things that quenched the boredom. That, and television. But, I couldn’t really make a career out of watching Tv, now could I?

(Unless you’re really good at it, which you aren’t.)

Ignore the parentheses. So, anyways. I wrote an earlier article called Writers Assemble, and that was loads of fun to write. But, while I touched on the subject of origin stories, I didn’t actually talk about why I started to work hard to be a writer. The reason why in that article, I mention a rather different story than the stories above is that I didn’t really start considering myself a writer ’till about three years after I stopped writing terrible stories that ripped off amazing stories.

So, if you’d do me the honor, please tell me below in the comments why you became a writer. Or, link me to a blogpost where you say ( in much more coherence than I did ) why you decided to continue writing after the initial ‘meh’ moments of your writing. That’d be pretty awesome, and I hope you do that. Thanks!

P.S: Also want to say Thanks to everyone that Liked the last post, and commented. Pretty awesome of those people. If you liked this post, please remember to Like, Follow, and Comment. All three, preferably. Thanks! Talk to you later!

~J.A. Romano

Well, let’s get this straightened out before I begin my rant. I don’t know if every writer will have experienced these mistakes, but as a writer myself, these are the worst mistakes that I made. I just thought it’d be interesting for some of you to read about my horrible mistakes. (Because I know how funny that is for all of you.)

Mistake No. 1: Not reading any books. I’ve said this many times, but I hated to read. I knew how to write, but there are certain things you can only figure out from actually reading a book. It’s normal. That is, for those of us that aren’t prodigies. I, for one, wasn’t like Mozart, nor even Salieri. (Name dropping famous musicians from over a hundred years ago – strikes off Bucket List )

So, for any young people out there that are wondering if they should read before writing their masterpiece… Do it. It honestly cannot hurt. And, it can achieve two things. It can humble you by blowing your mind with the book’s brilliance… OR, it can give you an ego boost after you read a book you think is quite terrible. It’s rather wrong for you to read a book on purpose because you know it is bad, of course, but at the end of the day, anything that will help inspire you is not really horrible. As long as you don’t make a habit of it.

Mistake No. 2: Ignoring your grammar. Commas. ‘Nuff said. You know that stuff they teach you at school? That can actually be useful. Hey, I’m not a square. I hate diagramming, for example, but it was actually good to know when it is appropriate to use semi-colons, or colons, etc. That type of stuff can really expand your writing style. It really won’t hurt.

I’m not saying you need to love it. It’s just very useful, if you allow it to be.

Mistake No. 3: Not reading your own stuff. This is actually a very heinous mistake that I make (albeit, unknowingly) to this day. You see, whenever I reread my own stuff, I feel terribly arrogant. That isn’t because I’m quite conscious of myself – it’s because of my sister’s constant yammering in my ear about how arrogant I am. But we’ll talk about that next time. So, reread your stuff until you’re sick of it. I’m not telling you to edit it, but rereading it will refresh your memory of it. I mean, one time, I forgot a character’s name because it’d been so long since I wrote about him. I know! Ridiculous. So, rereading everything you write? Can’t hurt. Besides, if you’re as egotistical as me (doubtful), you’ll probably like it a lot.

Mistake No. 4: Arrogance is not Confidence. I tend to fall prey to this mistake quite often. I mean. Whether it’s simply scoffing at the horrible writing of a famous author, or whether it’s ridiculing someone’s attempts at defeating you in writing – it’s not good, man. Once you become arrogant, it becomes harder for you to edit anything you write. “You know… Killing all of the female characters in my book may not sound like a good decision, but my writing really is quite awesome. I’ll keep it.”

You can be confident. Nay, everyone should be confident in their writing. You should always consider your writing good, but always remember that it can be improved. Once I got into the mindset, I improved exponentially. If you think my writing is bad NOW… HAH. If you only knew… HAH.

Like I said, be confident, but not arrogant. Because the temptation to laugh at a famous author’s writing is quite strong… I won’t even mention the name of the author I normally pick on, because I haven’t got the right to do so. This author became successful, and he’s got a good fan base. That’s more than what I’ve done so far… Granted, he’s about a decade older than me. But still, until I become as successful, I haven’t earned the right to do such a thing. Heck, I wouldn’t even do that when I do get that successful (IF, I mean) because by then… I’d probably have realized how hard it was to do all of that.

Mistake No. 5: Research is not lame. Research… It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a supposedly very accurate biographical novel of Abe Lincoln, or if you’re writing a fantasy novel set in a completely different universe, or if you’re writing about talking animals. Research, man. Even if you’re writing about a completely new world, research will not hurt. For example, if you remember the topic I linked about the myths about fights in literature, you’ll know that swords don’t actually make a cool sound when you unsheathe ’em. Topic link is down below, if you want it.

Research makes a world much more vivid – it is especially useful in your fictional universe. Another example. Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, likes to inject real life facts into his novels because it helps make his book that much more real. Really, it’s a lot of fun. In Lullaby, he mentions how the taped audience in certain sitcoms were recorded back in the 1950’s. And that they’re all probably dead. Or the scene in Fight Club where Tyler gives the main character a chemical burn and tells him that vinegar can neutralize the pain. (That isn’t a spoiler since it happens fairly early.)

Mistake No. 6: Don’t get caught up in your research. You’re probably annoyed at me right now because I just said to do your research. Well. It’s important for you to actually, you know, write. And research can and will get in the way of that. If you think about it ,doing research is really easy. It’s easy to forget about the novel, and just get absorbed in your research.

Japanese soldiers in Iwo Jima got dysentery from the sewers? Really? They ate worms after they ran out of food? You know. It can be pretty cool, the research. So, you must remember to actually write. Research is cool, but the actual writing is… I would say that it’s even better, but it’s necessary. Because writing can make you either miserable or ecstatic. It’s a fickle mistress that toys with her lovers. And we still buy her jewelry. I don’t get it, either!

Mistake No. 7: Listen to beta readers, but don’t destroy your masterpiece. Let me tell you. My beta readers have saved my ass on so many occasions that it’s not even funny. (Wait, why should it be funny?) They’ve given me stellar advice, and told me about mistakes that I didn’t notice. I really owe ’em a lot. However, if you get a beta reader that simply insults you, and tells you that something you worked hard on for an entire year is trash… Don’t destroy your masterpiece. Sure, it may not be a masterpiece to anyone else, but it’s yours. You sweated over that! (Probably not… Unless it was very hot when he wrote a chapter.) You bled over that. (How would he have injured himself?) You cried over that. (Now THAT is quite likely.)

So, constructive criticism is awesome, but if your beta reader is not being helpful, don’t simply change everything. Get another beta reader and ask that person what they think. If everyone, as a consensus, thinks your book is bad. Well. Just put it in a drawer, and write something new. Don’t destroy it. I technically destroyed my first book, but I still have a copy on my Mom’s computer. My first book may have been unsalvageable, but its mere existence in the world is comforting. I can tell people that I wrote my first book at the age of 11. It wasn’t good, but I worked hard on it for a year. That’s something. The fact that you worked on something consistently every single day is awesome. It’s a sign that you actually can finish something. So, if you finish a book, no matter how bad it is… Pat yourself on the back and call it a good day.

Those are all the mistakes that I’ve made, but here’s something that I think all writers should do.

Be Nice to other writers. Whenever you meet a writer, be nice to ’em. They’re your long lost soul sisters and brothers, you know? Be nice to ’em just for the sake of being nice until they give you a reason not to be nice to ’em. If they insult you, then you can stop. But consider this: even if the other person is a bad writer… He or she is still a writer. He or she probably went through all the difficulties that you went through. So, it stands to reason that you should give that person the same respect that you would want to be given. 

You know what. I think we should apply this to meeting other people in general. All of you are probably nice enough that you do this unconditionally, but it needs to be said. Be cool with people, and it’ll work out. For one, it’s nice to be friends with writers. You can talk all day about your writer’s block, and they’ll know what you mean. It’s pretty awesome, in all honesty.

I hope this stuff I’ve written helps. Thank you. Like, Follow, and Comment. I would appreciate it very much if you did all three.

P.S: I thought that I should write a post today. I’ve already submitted my story, Radio Silence, but I’ve yet to receive word on whether or not they think it’s good or bad. I think I went over the word limit, so I may have to cut the first chapter in half. Anyways. I hope you enjoyed this post. I’ve made all of those mistakes at least once. And as an amateur writer, I thought I actually knew a little something about it. I liked writing about all of this quite a bit.  Thanks again.

~J.A. Romano

 

Common Myths in Fights: Busted