For the Love of Books

It’s Valentine’s Day, and since my husband-to-be and I are still some 1600 miles apart and both generally loathe the holiday anyways, I figured I’d play around with some of my other loves–such as my love of books, both writing them and reading them.

Because, honestly, who wants a box of chocolate when you can be given a book?

I was talking before class on Thursday about Valentine’s Day, and a classmate said she didn’t care for chocolates either, but wine and flowers are nice. And I was like, if you need a special holiday to give me wine and flowers, how much do you really love me?

Anyways, I digress. Valentine’s Day is only one disgusting element of capitalism, and besides, today I’m treating myself to books.

Writing was always my first love, and it’s strange because people ask why math, and I go on all these tangents about fantastic professors and where to find them, but they don’t ask about my poetry, or my fiction, or my blogging–and these, these are the things I love even more than math. Yes, I enjoy the metaphor of algebra, the meter of metrics, and the equivalence of rhymes–but they’re only tools for telling stories, not the stories themselves, and if I Brené Brown can be a researcher/storyteller, than I can be a mathematician/teacher/storyteller, but so often that second slash is ignored.

I think I first began writing when I was ten, and then sporadically until I began typing around twelve or thirteen, but it wasn’t really until I was sixteen or so when things took off: I found a writers’ community to belong to, to build my craft with, and I discovered (read: was told about) NaNoWriMo, which has been a staple in my life ever since.

I was also fortunate enough to have some great teachers in my journey to write–I took a writers’ workshop before I started college, and then in college I pursued a minor in creative writing, my classes split almost evenly between prose and poetry.

In my first full class on short stories, I recall one classmate who wrote the most enthralling horror stories. He has the honor of being the first of my writing friends to publish a book, and if you enjoy horror and speculative fiction, I encourage you to read The Corrupted Kingdom by Jesse Galena (I was not paid by the author to say this).

Meanwhile, many of my writing friends have fallen off the page (it’s a terrible addiction to break, and life’s better when not sober in this sense), but others I know are now in MFA programs, teaching English classes, or keeping up with their own blogs.

I often imagine the books I’d like to someday write–collections of poetry I’ve already named, such as Gross Politic, or the Mathematics of Longing, or this really engaging one on education whose title I should’ve written down because it was amazing, but now I’ve forgotten it. Lately I’ve also been toying with the idea of a collection I could start compiling with the poems I’ve already written. I’d like to call it Names and Other Lies We Live By, but it’s a little long, I think, so it’s just a working title.

(But if you saw Names and Other Lies We Live By sitting on the shelf, its cover a black-and-white image of a man painted with slurs and other words, would you buy it?)

((Seriously, let me know–maybe I’m onto something.))

All the while I’m tumbling around stories, imagining imaginings, and longing for the days I might put the pixels to paper and print these tales–perhaps, I imagine, another collection of stories, maybe Rheveworld in its revised state (waiting for illustrations from my hubby-to-be, once work allows him any time to draw), or its yet-to-be revised sequel Ex Vocare, or the final chapter of its story, still to be written, called Unbound.

I’ve had that opening scene in my mind for over three years–fire and ashes blowing in the wind, the Scion standing before the Mistress, a pause amid the ascending chaos.

But that’s another story for another day.

If I were to move forward with any of these options, I’d have to decide to publish or self-publish, which means I’d have to start with research and queries and possibly (if accepted) unlikable editors, or I could do it myself, possibly unleash an unfinished or incomplete collection, riddled with typos or places where a few extra sets of well-tuned eyes could’ve helped me make it better, with the task or promoting it all on my own.

Sometimes I’d rather keep the stories on my hard drive and just indulge in them on Sunday afternoons like this one when all I feel like doing is procrastinating.

Hell, at least other dates buy you dinner: mine just sweeps me away into other lands until I forget to eat. But don’t books always listen better anyways?

19 thoughts on “For the Love of Books

  1. Well I’m happy to get to meet you today (later), Valentine’s Day or not. And I happen to be an editor/proofreader if you need one. Let’s talk about it.

    • Thank you so much for the kind remarks! I’m going to shamelessly plug The Corrupted Kingdom again, and also recommend looking at Silent Soliloquy, my companion blog. I write poetry and fantasy/sci-fi more than horror, but I’m a fan of Lovecraft and Clive Barker, so I dabble in the genre occasionally.

      What brought you to writing horror, if I may ask?

      • Ah… Lovecraft. That takes me back.
        However, I would have to give the credit of my obsession to the King himself… King Stephen, that is. There can be no greater, I am convinced.
        Though I do incorporate supernatural horror into my works, I am far more interested in the psychological aspect of it. That, I would have to say, is the most terrifying of tales.
        I will certainly look into the Corrupted Kingdom, my dear, as well as the blog. Thank you.

      • If I had to trace my entry into horror back to a single author, I would have to credit Clive Barker–I’ve read some of his later short stories, and I can still conjure images of psychological terror in my head today, years later, and I am convinced I’m going to read my children “The Thief of Always.” It’s more nightmarish than Neil Gaiman’s “Coraline,” but still child-friendly. However, when I read horror today, it’s usually Lovecraft, since I have his complete works on my Kindle, whereas Barker’s books are harder to carry around with me.

        As for King, I’ve read only one of his books, but I did watch some of his made-for-TV adaptations, and I’ve always meant to read more…. What would be your top recommendations?

      • Such a hard question! King’s books, while terrifying, also conjure a certain feeling of nostalgia – presumably for the decades before this century. He also writes a good deal of short stories as well, which I find the most powerful of his works. Such collections include ‘Nightmares & Dreamscapes’ and ‘Everything’s Eventual’. As for novels, I would recommend Hearts in Atlantis (my personal favorite, though not technically horror) and maybe Desperation.
        Oh, I nearly forgot! I have found your friend’s book on Amazon and plan to read it as soon as I can. I also forgot to ask: did he self-publish, or did he manage to find an agent?

      • I’m a big fan of short stories, so having a couple of King’s collections in mind is definitely helpul–thank you!

        I believe he self-published through Amazon, but I’m not 100% certain. Either way, thank you for supporting him!

      • Years ago, I found the Writers Digest series of books very helpful in learning about publishing options. Many libraries have recent copies, and even older editions have great essays (in the first half of each book) that are still worthwhile and relevant.

        I tend to get very obsessed with my endeavors, and knowing how intensive pursuing publication can be, I’m really not looking into it at the moment (I’d like to finish all my years in school first, lol). I’m content where I am right now, and I like that. However, I am definitely supportive of anyone who feels ready to take that step. Good luck, Devore!

  2. Now now, without capitalism how would you have access to the plethora of books you enjoy? :) I share your love of the written word – whether consuming it as a reader or creating it as a writer. As to your derision of Valentine’s Day (this is not a reproach, obviously): I think a lot of holidays are overplayed by various interested parties – Vday by the Hershey’s and Hallmarks of the world, Easter by the religious devotees etc etc. Who cares? The beauty of living in a democracy is that you can choose whether or not to observe and/or participate in any particular holiday. But here I, too, digress and must apologize for taking up such a grotesque amount of space in a comment on an entry I found otherwise incredibly engaging – especially since I could relate to much of it as a frustrated would-be-wannabe writer who lacked the support or confidence to follow her dreams in this area. I wrote horror short stories (probably more what one would consider “young adult” though) and attempted (then abruptly discontinued) novels as a teenager too long ago but still have them in a binder – too embarrassed to ever show them to anyone. I still write fiction that no one will probably ever get to see because I’m too chicken to open myself up to objective criticism and assessment. Btw, I LOVE the idea for Names and Other Lies We Live By. It’s like the bookend to a tome about bullying. Thank you for giving me some food for thought since I’ve already eaten more than my fair share of non-Valentines-y chocolates this week LOL

    • I do believe there are books in socialist countries–in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they read more per capita than people in the US. But I digress, capitalism isn’t all bad, but the form of capitalism that has evolved in the last few decades in the US certainly does not make the list of things I love about my country. ;)

      And…the political scientist in me wants to point out (since your post made it ambiguous, imo) that socialism is an economic system and democracy is a political system, so the two can happily coexist–whether or not I’m in favor of socialism as replacing capitalism, well, I’m undecided, but I do know what we have no isn’t working. (And I’d have my degree revoked if I didn’t also mention that we don’t truly live in a democracy, but a democratic republic. They’re not exactly the same.) Of course, you probably know all of this, but for potential future readers…well, I have to keep my professors proud. =D

      That said, I totally agree about everything you said in regards to holidays! Way too commercialized, but we have our choices to celebrate or not, and that’s a good thing. Also don’t worry about long replies–I grew up being the guy who wrote long forum posts that nobody read, so I can relate and appreciate it.

      Now onto the climax of your comment–writing. It took me a long, long, long time to finally call myself a writer even though I haven’t been published, and it’s now an identity I bear proudly. Yes, I’m not a published writer, but that doesn’t make me any less a writer. I might not frequently put pen to paper these days, but that makes me no less a writer. Likewise, even if you haven’t written in years, even if you don’t want to share your stories with anybody, you’re still a writer if you love writing.

      (And thank you for your thoughts on Names and Other Lies We Live By! I appreciate it.)

      • Oh I agree, what we have isn’t working – on so, so many levels. Last but not least, IMO, because it seems there’s an increasing concept of usurpation in lieu of coexistence. I mean, is it just me or is everyone trying to force their views and beliefs on everyone else?

        But, clearly, being predisposed to be verbose, I could go on. Literally.

        And can I just say thank you so very much for your words of encouragement! I can honestly tell you that means a lot.

        Do you ever read something – whether an actual, physically published book, blog, magazine article, what have you – and think to yourself, seriously did this get published? HOW?

        In recent years I’ve found myself getting increasingly irate at what seems like a complete lack of editing – plethora of incorrect grammar, syntax, bad spelling galore.

        And yes, I definitely think you should write and publish – self or otherwise – Names and Other Lies We Live By. :)

      • I think we live in a time of heightened, enshrined anxiety–not just individual anxiety, but anxiety on a societal level. And I think that insecurity and uncertainty makes people cling to anything they have that seems remotely certain–and if their beliefs come under question, what’s left for them? Hmm… seems like this should be a blog post. XD

        You’re very welcome! I wish I had someone tell me that years ago, but it’s true. Writing isn’t a paid position. It’s part of who we are.

        Yes! All the time! Especially with young adult fiction, unfortunately, but also with many books published online. Even smaller publishers sometimes have terrible proofreading, or terrible stories in general. It’s depressing, and envying. If this slush can be published, why am I still unpublished? lol

        Okay, you’ve literally got me inspired to start putting the collection together! Thank you! ^_^

  3. Yay for mutual inspiration! :))

    Yeah I feel like the publishing industry is really going down the drain. I normally consider myself an avid reader but I’ve really struggled lately, so many times I pick something up only to think, REALLY? Even with authors I previously enjoyed. A couple of months ago I picked up a novel by David Baldacci – to name just one mundane example – and I swear, I couldn’t read more than a page, page and a half without groaning audibly at the grotesque cliches and rolling my eyes and what really came across as pure and utter drivel. I mean it was just SO bad that I basically gave up after a couple of chapters. Not worth the brain cells. And that’s not an isolated incident, I’m afraid.

    YA is a difficult genre, I think, because it’s typically not written by YAs or teenagers so I think there’s probably a disconnect. I think an adult writing YA is probably consciously or subconsciously trying to bridge the age gap with excessive use of vernacular etc. I’ve tried rereading some of those things I wrote in my teens and I literally find myself grimacing – but what else can you expect? The truly pathetic thing is that, despite the fact that I’m obviously not at all confident in the potential mass appeal of anything I’ve ever written or can/could write, even those somewhat embarrassing, juvenile writings are still better IMO than some of the crap that’s out on shelves and grossing a ton of $$$,

    You know I read something that I always thought was really great but I can’t find the piece of paper I had with it on there so this may just be paraphrasing rather than verbatim: “If you wait for inspiration to write you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter”. LOL

    • It may be my cynicism speaking, but I think many publishers use established names to sell books, not good stories. >.< I've read a number of books by Dean Koontz that I just didn't care for–his book False Memory especially stands out. It was like riding a rollercoaster (in the worst possible way), and the ending was a complete deus ex machina that ruined the whole experience. *sigh* I digress.

      I have a strict policy of not looking at what I wrote when I was younger, because I cannot stand a single word of it. Yeah, the stories might be occasionally good, but the writing was atrocious. Someday I intend to go back and rewrite them, but yeah, future plans and life goals. I recently read the Divergent trilogy, and the whole story just feels so flat in the books. It's one of the rare times I've actually told people to skip the books and just watch the movies instead because they're so much better.

      Oooh, that's a good saying! =D

      • HAHAHAHA yeah I can totally see that – and in a way it’s so unfair to judge one’s own juvenile writing through the eyes of a (dare I say, in my case at least) jaded eyes of an adult. I was really into the YA horror genre as a teenager and actually read some of LJ Smith’s earlier books (the covers were so cheezy it’s just painful) – before pay dirt through The Vampire Diaries.

        I know this is probably going to sound incredibly snooty coming from someone with little to no writing experiences and eons away from even the hope or dream of ever publishing anything, but I definitely feel like there’s A LOT of bad writing these days. And can I just register my outrage at the price of eBooks? I mean, at least with a physical book there’s the actual cost of production but with the electronic version you make it once and it can be downloaded an infinite number of times. Of course it’s all about the royalties etc, I get that – like with music – but still. They should at least not me more expensive than the print version IMO. Where do you stand on the whole real book vs digital?

      • It really confuses me when eBooks are more expensive than the print books (except maybe in the case of very old books, where used copies are generally cheaper than the eBooks). With that said, I like both.

        On the one hand, I love printed books, the way they feel, the way they smell, the way I can snuggle close with them and feel a part of the book. But I don’t like how they take up space (that I don’t have), and I don’t like how they’re often heavy and inconvenient to carry around when I might only have five minutes to read one day.

        On the other hand, I also love eBooks. They’re infinitely light, take up no space at all, and are right there when I want them, whether I have five minutes or an hour. I’m a proud Kindle owner, and I appreciate being able to get eBooks, and the fact that they’re cheaper than printed books generally makes me feel less bad about buying them, because I’m mostly broke and spending money is painful. (In my defense, all the books I’ve bought lately have been relevant to starting Teach for America or instrumental in my mental/emotional recovery.)

        With that said, not all books are created equal. If I get a chance to meet an author, I will buy their book and get it signed. Hands down, no exceptions. I also refuse to buy digital poetry. Something about poetry demands to be printed. Nonfiction and complete works are almost always digital buys, as is anything in which I’m not emotionally attached to the author or story in some way. Which means most of my library acquisitions these days are eBooks, and I’m okay with that. I’m trying to pare down my material possessions, so not buying new printed books helps.

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