Going back to book basics

One of Alison Flood’s well-read books!

So it seems like every week there’s a new ‘app’ for books, a new platform to read them on or sell them on. E-reading technology is moving so fast that it’s pretty hard to keep up with things. And sometimes when I look around the room at all my bookshelves, I think that maybe I don’t want to keep up with things! That’s why I really loved this article by Alison Flood I found on The Guardian.

Yes, REAL books, with REAL pages, made on REAL printing presses still exist! And not only that, REAL people actually read them! Now this article’s author is pretty dang rough on her books. In fact, I know some people who think that treating your books the way she does is almost blasphemous.

There are some books in my collection that I treat like special jewels (especially hardcovers), others that I don’t care so much about, and those ones I’m happy to lend to people. And that got me to thinking about why we keep as many books on our shelves as we do? I mean, there are probably only one or two in my collection that I’m going to read again – so why do I keep the others? There are probably some books on those shelves that I didn’t really even like very much, but they’re still there!

I think it means that even though we can get a digital copy of pretty much any book out there instantly, with the touch of a button, there’s still something pretty darn special about reading a physical book. This quote in the comments section says it all: “Reading is sacred. Books aren’t. How would I find passages I’ve loved again if I didn’t turn down the pages? How could I relax into the plot if I was worried about breaking the spine? I say, lose yourself in your books! The more dilapidated they are when you’ve finished the more you’ve enjoyed yourself. A messed up book is better than any book review.”

So how do you treat YOUR books?

All the internet’s a stage?

wattpadThere is nothing new under the sun when it comes to the act of writing, right? I mean, despite technological advances at the end of the day we’re all setting either pen to paper or fingers to keyboard to bang out are creations. We all have to go through the same processes of researching, drafting, editing, and redrafting again and again, usually sharing our work with friends and family to see if we’re “on the right track.” Well it seems I might be wrong about that one! Check out this article I read about a woman who took advantage of new technology to help her through that whole process!

I was particularly interested in her story because she was making the leap from non-fiction to fiction, which is the same move I made after I’d written An Elk in the House. And taking that leap to creating entire worlds and characters all by yourself can be pretty scary.

She used a new writing platform called from Toronto-based Wattpad, that lets people post their writing on the site so that people (both strangers and friends) can read and comment on your work while you’re still in the process of writing it.

I can also see a lot of benefits to doing it, too. You can post your writing in a section designed just for your genre, so that means you’re getting feedback from fans of the type of book you’re writing. People who are knowledgeable about your genre can give you valuable advice. And you’re probably going to get more honest feedback than you would normally. Because our friends and family love us so much, sometimes they’re not as honest about what they think as we need them to be. And it never hurts to have a fresh pair of eyes look at what we’re doing.

I think it is an incredibly brave thing to do, and scary! I mean, you’re literally sharing a work-in-progress with people all over the world. And some big writing names use Wattpad, people like Margaret Atwood, which means writers like her could be reading your work!

What do my fellow writers out there think about this? Would you do it?

 

Chicken Soup

20120910-221887-cook-the-book-chicken-soupI doubt there’s a reader in the English language who hasn’t heard of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series of books by now (and they’ve been translated into over 40 languages now too!). There’s definitely something that authors writing these books have hit on, and I know I’ve wondered what that is myself.

When I was doing some internet surfing and came across an article from the publisher of the series giving writers some tips, and I found them very useful, so thought I’d share it with you. One of the reasons I liked her list is that it applies to both fiction and non-fiction writing.

We tend to think the two genres are totally different. And it’s true, not everyone who writes non-fiction can write fiction, and vice versa. But at the end of the day, most of the same rules apply. You need to be passionate about the topic. You need to be true to yourself. And you need to put yourself in the reader’s shoes.

I think I disagree a little bit about her take on creativity – that you should forget about creative writing techniques – because there’s a time and a place for everything, and I know I love when I read a beautifully crafted sentence. But by and large, I think Amy’s on the spot. When you write what you’d like to read, it will always find an audience and always connect with another reader out there.

Write on!