Monday, March 19, 2012

Library Hungry: In Which a Book Blog Saves the Day

I think I wrote a total of 150 words this weekend, but I was determined to give myself a 48-hour pass from Book Guilt, so there that is.

Saturday was gorgeous here, so we hauled The Son's bike out of storage and went to the elementary school playground. Good times, but I managed to fall off a curb and twist my ankle. It hurt a lot Sat. night, so Sunday I really babied it-- let The Husband take over Son duty and just sat on my ass all day. And what did I do with all that ass-sitting time (since we already know I wasn't writing)? I read this blog: Library Hungry. I seriously read almost the entire thing, from the very first entries back in 2004.

Now, I've "known" Library Hungry (LH) for years, through a women's message board community. She's a regular commenter here, and I've checked out her blog before and enjoyed the posts. But writing blogs are my thing, not reading blogs. Or so I thought.

GodDAMN is it an incredible blog!  If you are a lover of books at all (and if you're not I can't imagine what the hell you're doing here) I pretty much have to insist that you take your little fanny over there right now. LH is funny, crazy smart, and amazingly insightful about what makes a good book. She doesn't write "reviews" of the books she reads (and that would be over 100 books a year-- holy hell!) as much as she captures her experience of reading them. Aside from making fascinating reading, sharing that experience turns out to be an immensely valuable resource for writers-- or at least for this one. I'm used to thinking of my stories from the writer's side of thing, but after spending the last day and a half immersed in LH's perspective, my gears are turning in a new direction and I'm getting excited to work again. Case in point: I've written 600 words today, pretty painlessly, and plan to write at least 200 more before bed.

This is a little embarrassing to admit, but all day I've been composing LH's future review of The Owl Bearer in my head. Naturally, she LOVES it. But as I lavish praise upon myself, I'm realizing that some of my brilliant characterization hasn't actually made the leap from my mind to the page. For example, Willa is bright, self-assured, and well-educated. It would be easy to misinterpret her ambition to enter a particular Vocation as a desire for knowledge-- when, really, what drives her is not being able to tolerate secrets being kept from her. I need to make that facet of her personality more explicit. And doing so sets her up to be even more Tom's pawn, and leads into a stronger motivation for taking on this insanely dangerous-sounding mission.

So some of those still-to-be-written 200 words for today will be a line added here and an exchange there to bring Willa into sharper focus. I like to think LH would be pleased.

She would probably also be pleased to learn that the book I'm reading now (The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss) comes straight from her endorsement, and that I added 13 make that 15 more books to my TBR list as a result of yesterday's reading.

P.S.: Babying the twisted ankle was also a good idea from a physical standpoint. It is 90% better today.


  1. I am...rendered somewhat speechless by this post. Is it even mannerly to comment on something like this to say thank you, and that I might have cried a tiny bit around the edges while I was reading it, and that it's possibly the nicest thing anyone's ever said about me, including the toasts at my wedding? I'm really pleased that you like it, and THRILLED that you want to read some of the books I loved (which ones?), and DYING!!! to read The Owl Bearer. Which means you have to keep plugging away--for me!

    Also, I wanted to let you know that your recent head of steam has inspired me and I'm going to be putting some time into my truncated NaNoWriMo from a couple of years ago. Because I know how it ends, and darn it, I want to get there. So thank you--thank you so much!

  2. I was hoping you'd see this and comment, LH!

    The books I want to read (up to 19 now!):

    Life as We Knew It
    The Thief
    The Grand Sophy
    84 Charing Cross Road
    The Family Man
    Beat the Reaper
    The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
    Castle Waiting
    Shades of Milk and Honey
    The Sparrow
    Mistress of the Art of Death
    Gunnerkrigg Court
    The Thirteenth Child
    Point of Honor
    The Night Circus

    I'm glad to hear you're returning to your NaNo. What genre is it?

  3. Oh, I love all these books! It's so exciting that you get to read them for the first time. For Gunnerkrigg, I strongly suggest reading it on the website. Since it's published one page at a time, the pacing makes more sense reading it like that (even if you read it all at once) makes a lot more sense than reading it in book form.

    My NaNo was historical romance--probably not a great idea since I don't read a lot of romance, but I'd had the idea for ages. I really wrote by the seat of my pants, though; the amount of preparation you do--not the work so much as the deep understanding of the character, plot, etc. It's like you see the whole fabric of the story before you write it; I tend to learn what it is once I've written it down.

    Don't let the slower momentum stop you. I'm DYING to read your novel. I REALLY hope I get to be your beta reader!