Champion

champion

 

In the house

There is a pony

A stuffed pony

Named champion

& on that pony

Is a boy

Who will one day

Be grown

& on that day

I’ll look back

To that stuffed pony

& wonder

How time went

By so fast

& the house

Won’t be this one

& the pony

Will be gone

& I will be

Someone I’m not now

But for now

In this house

There is a pony

& a boy

Riding him

Freedom and writers block…

Calvin and Hobbes

 

This week is my child’s first week of school. He is officially in kindergarten and I officially have time to write! And guess what? I CAN’T DO IT!!

It’s like my brain has been frozen by some klingon-esk ray gun that has fixed it in place so firmly words have ceased to exist. How cruel is that? Very. Very, very cruel. It is so cruel I would like to bounce the old noggin off the wall a few times to see if anything rattles loose. (Honestly, I won’t do that. I have a low pain threshold.)

So how does one deal with writers block? This is something new for me. Most days I’m like a well stocked waterfall, words pour out of me in one form or another.  I know that answer is simple, I need to wait and acclimate myself to this new life unfolding in front of me – but I’m about as patient as a kid in a Christmas checkout line. I want my toy, and I want my toy now.

Damn you words! How can you forsaken me when we have planed this rendezvous for so long? You have left me with nothing but half ass metaphors and a migraine… And with that – I’m going to nap.

 

 

Friday in Review – Ready Player One

ready_player_one_new_cover1

 

I am late this week, but alas… I will make it worth your while. I give you READY PLAYER ONE, a novel by Ernest Cline.

To be frank one of my biggest passions in all of the world is Science Fiction (and yes, some fantasy as well). The list of books I have been posting have not been in that genre, but that is about to end…

I now give you, by far, one of my new all time favorites – READY PLAYER ONE!

Here is my list of why:

#1 – The old adage, “Write what you know.” This book is an amazing example of writing what you know, but in a way that is fresh and new. Set in the future but ripped from out past – Rush (the band), acid washed jeans, pizza parlors, and video games all dropped into a Digital L.A.R.P.ing setting (Live action Role Play). Did you like Dungeons and Dragons growing up? Than read this book.

#2- Realism. This world could exist! It’s the notions of taking the truth and keeping it mostly intact to add to the terrifying idea of what’s to come. Such a wonderful way to add ambiance to a book.  This setting becomes its own character and you forget where you’re at. I was so absorbed I dreamt I was in OASIS (the digital LARPing game that dominates in this title.)

#3 – The Characters. Maybe you’re not a nerd. Maybe you weren’t in marching band in high school and didn’t play Dungeons and Dragons, and when you hear the word “Universe” you don’t automatically think of Marvel vs. DC, but all of that was part of my life. (And mostly still is.) For me I felt like I knew these kids. These are the people I spent a lot of my awkward teen years with, and even some of my twenties.

I loved this book SO MUCH I hijacked nearly every conversation I had for a week after I finished reading it to ask, “Have you read, Ready Player One? You really should – it’s amazing!” And now I ask you, have you read Ready Player One? Because you should!

 

I would love to hear from you! What are you reading?

Until next week! Happy reading!

Aryn

 

 

 

 

Friday in Review: Ham on Rye

ham on rye

 

I visited Bukowski’s grave after moving to Los Angeles. It’s in San Pedro, about a 40 minute drive from my apartment. Better yet, my apartment is about a ten minute drive from the house he grew up in. Well, not better for Chuck ‘ol boy – it wasn’t really a happy home.

To put it mildly, I am a Bukowski fan and have been for years. Oddly, Ham on Rye is a book I’ve only read recently (because someone stole my copy). <- true story. The reason it is so odd is Ham on Rye is by far his best book. I liked Factotum, I loved Women and Hollywood, and I was even amused by Pulp (his last book published shortly before his death 20 years ago.) Say what you want about the man – hate him for all I care – but Ham on Rye is one of the most genuine coming of age stories I have read in a very long time. Starting from when he is 3 years old and ending at the beginning of World War II, Bukowski takes on his alter ego “Hank” and tells you his story like it was. (With a little embellishment here and there just to give it that extra flair.)

Are there women? Some.

Is there booze? Of course.

Why is this different from all of his other booze induced, women laced books?  Because it shows you the “why”. Why did he become the man he was? Why did he crawl inside a bottle? Why was he so obsessed with women and words? Every single answer is right there smashed between orange groves, high school angst, the great depression, and trolley rides to and from Pershing Square.

Loud, brash Bukowski is known for getting right in your face and saying, “What the hell are you going to do about it?” That quality is still there, but that’s not what you’re looking for. You’re looking for the spider. The small tiny moments that subsequently mould us into our adult selves.

So that’s why I pick this book. I pick Charles Bukowski for his poetry, for his soul, and for his courage to say out loud all those things that are very easily hidden behind booze and broads. Maybe you’ve read him, or maybe he is new to you – this is the place to start.

Ham on Rye won’t let you down.

“So, that’s what they wanted: lies. Beautiful lies. That’s what they needed. People were fools. It was going to be easy for me.”

 

Maybe it wasn’t always easy, but it was totally worth it.

 

Please feel free to recommend books below!

 

Friday in Review: Gone Girl

GONE_GIRL

 

Last week I chose a title from years ago, and this week I’ve decided to go a bit more contemporary.

If you haven’t heard of Gone Girl yet, I commend you. About a month back I asked for book suggestions on my Facebook page and this was the number one pick suggestion. So I read it, and let me tell you – it has been stuck in my mind ever since.

Now, I read a lot and I’m not overly picky when it comes to genre. Some of my favorite reads are from Douglas Adams to Jane Austen over to Rick Riordan and Brian K. Vaughan. YA, thriller, science fiction, fantasy – poetry and essays. I enjoy in a way that when I meet people who say, “Who has time for reading?” silently I gasp. That said, if I start a book and lose interest I am also not the type of person who will finish the damn thing. Time wasted on reading isn’t a waste, unless the book doesn’t draw you in. Then it is a waste, indeed.

Enter – Gone Girl.

This is one of those stories 1000+ writers will read and think, “God damn, why didn’t I think of that?” (Or they’ll say, “I thought about that a while ago.” – cuz that’s what we do… fickle as we are.)

The simplicity of this book is genius – and at the same time, there is nothing simple about it. Gone Girl is a gem, and I’m glad it was recommended. (Or I would have skipped it purely out of popularity. As fickle as I am… )

 

movies-gone-girl-teaser-poster

 

You have until October 3rd before the movie is released, there after  Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike will forever stuck in your brain as you read it. Honestly, I don’t think the casting is bad, but as an avid reader it’s always nice to have the ability to create what/who I want to see.

Here are my three reasons why you should read Gone Girl?

  1. As I said before – simplicity. Growing up on Law & Order and Sue Grafton (G is for Gumshoe is another fav), I’ve read and seen my fair share of detective dramas. I’ve looked for the clues – I’ve missed some, I’ve noticed others and normally I figure out who did it in the first few minutes of the show or first few chapters of the book. When I read/see something in this vein of writing and they trip me up I am most impressed.
  2. Along with the simplicity is the originality. It’s scary perfect in a very tangible way. Maybe it’s because part of my life was a petri dish of sorts, or the fact I need to analyze and dissect things (that would be the writer in me) but it is woven in a way you think, “I know that guy/girl.”
  3. It will make you look at the people in your life in a whole new light. There is genius in crafting something that makes other’s perspectives shift. Last week I chose the George Orwell book, Down and Out in London and Pairs. That book made me looks at how much hasn’t changed. It cemented the villainization of poor people in this world we live in. This week, Gone Girl has forced me to stand back and look at past relationships. Who said what when and what did their body language say to me at the time? Am I crazy? Well, am I? Maybe… but that’s okay.

I’m sure the jacket has blurbs strewn across it. “FANTASTIC!” “ORGASMIC!!” “BEST SHIT YOU’LL READ THIS SUMMER!!” All of these statements are true. Check out Gone Girl and see what you can do with average unhappy people in a mundane vanilla setting. Check out Gone Girl and start doing background checks on all the new people you meet, and maybe some of the ones you think you already know.

Either way, go check out Gone Girl. And always remember, maybe you don’t have a kindle or you can’t afford to spend $15 on a new book – library cards are free AND if they don’t have the title you want, request it. Libraries are your friends.

 

Happy reading! Happy Writing! Happy Friday!

If you have any books you love and would like to recommend them to me, please list them in the comments below!

Friday in Review

FRIDAY in REVIEW

 

There comes a time in every writers life when they must read. Or maybe there comes a time in a reader’s life when they must write – I feel this is similar to the “what comes first, the chicken or the egg” conundrum. One may never know…

But for me, the answer is simple – I was a reader and then at the ripe old age of 7 I became both.

As a writer, finding inspiration is a fundamental necessity to the craft. (& yes, hard work.) Finding a novel that instills the sort of inspiration that not only provides me with the courage to write, but motivate me to improve my craft, is a glorious feat. I have read many books (no, most are not listed on goodreads.) but sadly a lot of them have fallen through the cracked gray matter that is my brain. (If a reader reads a book and doesn’t post it on goodreads, does it still make a sound?)

But for every book that has slipped through my cerebrum, there are the few that stick like thick pancakes to your stomach lining. Each Friday I would like to share one of those books with you. My list of personal favorites. Maybe you will have read them, maybe you haven’t yet – either way I would love to hear your opinion.

To kick off this new line of blog posts I’m going to start with a wonderful book by George Orwell: Down and Out in Paris and London.

Down & Out in London & Paris

 

Published in 1933, more than ten years before the acclaimed Animal Farm and sixteen years before Nineteen Eight-Four, Down and Out follows George Orwell as he lives in squalor and sometimes locked up in prison blocks while taking on the life of those in poverty.

Yes, this sounds like a politically based book that shoves a part of the world in your faces most would like to pretend doesn’t exist – but that’s not it’s all about. Yes, there was, and is, an underlining issues of how the poor have been treated through time – but the story is really about the people he meets along the way.

As Orwell bonds with his subjects and they begin to trust him, you are transported to a world filled with lines, crusty bread, broken beds, repugnant bathing water, and incredible and indestructible people deal with the stigmas day in and out – for most of their lives.

Maybe you’ve read Orwell before and are reading this rolling your eyes a mile a minute – but I implore you (before your eyes  lodge themselves in the back of your head) don’t let past experiences sway you from the enlightenment of this novel. There is an easiness to this book, as if you’re sitting at a bar reminiscing with an old friend – a comfort of sorts. And if that isn’t enough you are treated to true craftsmanship in passages like:

Sometimes, he said, when sleeping on the Embankment, it had consoled him to look up at Mars or Jupiter and think that there were probably Embankment sleepers there. He had a curious theory about this. Life on earth, he said, is harsh because the planet is poor in the necessities of existence. Mars, with its cold climate and scanty water, must be far poorer, and life correspondingly harsher. Whereas on earth you are merely imprisoned for stealing sixpence, on Mars you are probably boiled alive.

or

Being a beggar, he said, was not his fault, and he refused either to have any compunction about it or to let it trouble him. He was the enemy of society, and quite ready to take to crime if he saw a good opportunity. He refused on principle to be thrifty. In the summer he saved nothing, spending his surplus earnings on drink, as he did not care about women. If he was penniless when winter came on, then society must look after him. He was ready to extract every penny he could from charity, provided that he was not expected to say thank you for it. He avoided religious charities, however, for he said it stuck in his throat to sing hymns for buns. He had various other points of honour; for instance, it was his boast that never in his life, even when starving, had he picked up a cigarette end. He considered himself in a class above the ordinary run of beggars, who, he said, were an abject lot, without even the decency to be ungrateful.

A fantastic read, and if you happen to have an eReader, chances are you can download a copy for free from your local library – or you can read it online at -> http://www.george-orwell.org/Down_and_Out_in_Paris_and_London/0.html.

 

Happy reading! Happy writing! Happy Friday!

If you have any books you love and would like to recommend them to me, please list them in the comments below.

Pen caps and [soy] ice cream sandwiches…

 

Chart 'o Writing stuff

 

…or even better, “The nearly uninteresting life of an aspiring author.” But let’s be honest – that title is a bit to contemptuous even for my liking.

So, you’re an aspiring writer. You woke up one morning (or afternoon, or evening – I won’t presume to know your sleeping schedule or lack there of) and you decided you want to write. No! You decided you want to be an author! Ah, yes! The glory of the written word. The world will now know every secretly hidden gem you have held so closely to your chest it burns a light so bright it can be seen for miles and miles.

You sit down at your computer (because while paper is fun, typewriters are antiquated – lets face it – the world is digital) and you pour out your soul. There are laughs!!! There are tears… There are epic moments!…!…!

You type the words “The End” and nod proudly at the blinking cursor (as you compulsively save the manuscript 100x) – you, my friend, are D-O-N-E! Boom!

 

BRING ON THE LITERARY AGENTS!

BRING ON THE 3 BOOK DEAL PUBLISHING CONTRACTS!!

AND BRING ON THE SWEET MOVIE FRANCHISE DEAL!!!

(Everyone wants a movie deal these days. It’s insane. I mean, if you want a movie deal so badly why not just write a movie script? Just an observation…)

But alas, that is not the truth of the writers journey. It is a myth brought on by a combo of believing everything you see in movies and just plain lies. So I would like to give you a list of truths. And why do I want to give you this list? To be honest I don’t want you to quit.

I’ve been writing for eons. In the past year alone I’ve written two books and I am currently working on a new one.

Are these books published? No.

Do I have an agent? Not yet.

Will I self-publish? Probably not.

Will I keep writing? Yes.

YOUR TRUTHS ABOUT WRITING:

  1. If by this point you haven’t heard the Stephen King writing quote on how to become a better writer, here it is: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.” I know, he has several other quotes – people LOVE the kill all your darlings one – but this  is my personal favorite. Writing is hard work. There is no book out there that just popped out of someone’s brain polished and ready to be published. (If you don’t believe me pick up the On the Road: Original Scroll and prepare yourself for utter boredom.) 
  2. Your “1st” Draft. This is one of those things that boggles my mind. It is called a “1st” draft – the title alone would imply there are more than one of them. As stated above – writing is hard work. Can you do it? Yes. Will you? That’s up to you. Go, hide, write your first draft. Look at it like the bones of a skeleton and when you go back add all the meaty parts that make it a body. Don’t be afraid of this. DON’T assume someone else out there will do it for you. It’s your book. It’s your job. YOURS and yours alone.
  3. Thomas Edison said “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” So it writing.
  4. That Literary Agent you love and want to rep you – well they may or they may not – but you’ll never know unless you send off your query letter. So SEND OFF YOUR QUERY LETTER! Do it! Right now. Stop with the excuses.
  5. There will always be something else. There will always be your day job. You will always be tired. Your children will take up your time. Your friends will be in the way. You will need to wash your laundry (Please wash your laundry. And guys, wash the sheets.) THERE IS NO GOOD TIME TO START WRITINGS. I will say it again: THERE IS NO GOOD TIME TO START WRITING! So you may as well start right now.
  6. People keep telling you to write what you know – which is fine. I mean, for me that means I will write stories about being a yoga teacher stay at home mom who is vegan. NEW YORK TIME BEST SELLERS LIST, I’M COMING FOR YA! (not). Back to #1 – read and write about things that inspire you. You love The Game of Thrones and want to write the next epic fantasy novel! Go read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. Why? Because the characters are amazing and you can use what you learn there it give a different perspective in your warring world. Want to be the next YA Fiction God/ess? Read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert A. Hienlein – because his use of dialect is a game changer. Expand your horizons and don’t be afraid to thing about thing you may not know. We live in the information age. Google it. Look up someone who has the info you want and email them, give them a call, ask questions. If you’re a woman and want to know how a man would react to a certain situation – ask them. Ask questions. Watch documentaries. Get the hell outside your comfort zone.
  7. Okay – so you already know all of that stuff, now what. The biggest thing about being an aspiring writer is not giving up on yourself. Yes, you’re going to receive rejection letters. Some will be the fun, “It’s not you, it’s me” break up style letters that leave you feeling empty and raw. This is where the ice cream sandwiches come into play. Don’t give up, but take a second to treat yourself and tell yourself it’s okay, because let’s face it. You’ve tired and that’s a lot more than some have done.
  8. This is my final one – pen caps. On this journey you will meet an assortment of people. You’ll meet the ones who tell you to keep going and you’ll meet the ones that tell you to quit. Take the pen cap and shove it up their nose (metaphorically of course). Believe in yourself. Be open to criticism, use it to make yourself a better writer. We all have hang-ups. ALL OF US.

Writing is hard, but it’s worth it. Don’t be afraid of hard work, and don’t try to cut corners. But most of all, don’t give up on yourself. If you want to write and become an author – the only thing standing between you and that goal is yourself. Get out of your own way and go write.