Incredible how it’s been almost a year since my last Well #?^% post. I gave up on numbering them after I realized I skipped a number here and there. But it’s nice to get back to some classic content and write a good old fashioned rant. This one is about my least favorite part about Goodreads‘ smartphone app.
Mostly, I use the app whenever I’m browsing a bookstore or the book section at Target. After reading the back and inside covers of books that catch my eye, the app is a convenient way to check reviews and what else the author has done. Maybe the best part is that it helps keep me from impulse-buying every book that dazzles me. And if Goodreads hasn’t talked me out of that dazzling book, I use the app’s handy barcode-scanning feature.
As much as I love that tool, it is also the reason for this post. Even if my phone is on vibrate, the app makes an obnoxiously loud BEEP every time I scan a barcode. If I was the kind of person who maybe only scanned one book, maybe I would hate that noise a little less. I could scan my book, then run away before anyone could catch on that I was the cause of that awful BEEP.
At minimum, I scan two books. I want to keep track of everything that I want to read. Books I saw promoted on Twitter three weeks ago that now sit on a bookshelf in front of me. BEEP. Books by authors I love. BEEP. Books with crazy awesome cover art that I will read regardless of the premise. BEEP.
I become the weird person pulling book after book off the shelves, holding it up to my phone, and making that ungodly noise. It’s not so bad that I stop using that feature on Goodreads. I could simply type in each book’s title and accomplish the same task. But some part of me just loves scanning books. If that BEEP could be removed, I would love it even more
It was pretty much a standard for me that I didn’t write every single day. You don’t have to go far into my blog archives to find posts where I talk about not working on the things I ought to, either because of all the other work I had to do leaving me tired or I just didn’t want to spend my “free time” doing more work. But over the last six months or so, I started writing every day. I usually write a lot.
Since I sent out The Thieves of Traska to beta readers, I haven’t been writing. I started working on the second installment in the trilogy, but decided it would be better to wait until the ending of ToT is absolute. So, I’m just going a little crazy.
My brain won’t shut off, so it has been coming up with scenes and ideas non-stop. Could be I’m shooting myself in the foot by not writing most of them down, but I’m really trying to give myself a break. It’s so tempting to just keep working, but I know that I’ll need to come back to the story with fresh eyes — both as I’m editing, and when I get to the next parts of the story. Characters and concepts have to be reintroduced so new readers still know what’s going on, but old readers don’t roll their eyes and think, “I know all that! Get on with it!”
I’m still figuring out how that will work, and I’m sure it will make for some good blog posts in the future. For now, though, I just want to keep my sanity. I want to stop imagining spinoff novellas that go into the pasts of other characters. I want to stop thinking about awesome things that could happen in book three, then wonder how I can set up for them in book two.
Unfortunately (or not, depending on how you look at it), I will probably keep poking around at this world I invented. I’ll write scenes in my notebook about other characters so I can understand them better. I’ll write notes about made-up religions so I’ll know how people should react to their world.
I recently asked on Facebook whether anyone actually kept track of the number of female characters in a novel. I only got one response, but it was enough to make me think this is a non-issue I am unreasonably paranoid about.
Typically, my longer pieces feature more male characters than female. This happens on accident. I have no plan to implement subliminal messages about “being a woman in a man’s world” or sexism in general. It just works out that way, and I’m usually unaware until someone points it out.
Whenever I would talk to my roommate last year about The Thieves of Traska, she always wanted me to add more women. And, the moment I created one, she also wanted the character to be a lesbian. (She also mentally pairs my female characters with one another.) Since I’ve lived with her, I know her suggestions are partially based on her desire for same-sex couples to be more widely accepted in fiction and reality. While I also support gay rights, my fiction is not a vehicle for my political beliefs.
Even in writing classes, I’ve been asked how I could write a short story with a male lead. And if I brainstorm aloud about a new female character who could be a badass? A lot of my peers jump on that. It’s almost as if the expectation of a female writer is to have a lot of strong female characters lead the story.
Maybe I’m misinterpreting my feedback. Personally, I feel no obligation to fill my stories with super women or politics. I want to fill them with characters who demonstrate the values I hope to pass on to everyone I meet: honesty, courage, loyalty, faith, and the belief that there is good in everyone. That may sound childish, but those are the things I find worth believing in. That is what I carry with me throughout the day, not my opinions on anyone’s rights.
This clip from Secondhand Lions — one of my favorite movies — puts it better than I can:
If anyone does decide to tally the number of male and female characters in The Thieves of Traska, all I can say is it’s good you’ve found a hobby.