Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What I read vs What I Write: Alexis's Take

What I Read vs. What I Write

I am about as random as it gets... in pretty much all aspects of my life. In high school I was a golfer, cheerleader, top-of-the-class art student, and the kid who slacked off at school by reading. Yes, reading. Half my peers were surprised when I'd show up dressed for whichever role I was playing that day, and inevitably... Every. Single. Time... someone would say, "I didn't know you were an {insert stereotype here}. I wouldn't have guessed that at all."

So, naturally, I'm also a random - aka varied - reader. My absolute favorite books include, but are NOT limited to {seriously. I can't even fit them all in one picture}: a science-fiction thriller, an 1800's romance classic, a children's fantasy series, a 1950's crime novel, a YA dystopian trilogy, a Shakespearean comedy, a children's science-fiction novel, a high-fantasy trilogy {it's not what you think it is}, a humorous middle-grade-reader mystery series, a psychological horror suspense, and a memoir I was convinced was non-fiction until the very last page.

And I like it that way.

That's the thing about me. I'm open to anything. I have a rule {usually for food, but I think it works for this, too}: I will try anything once. {And if I like it, I latch on like a terrapin}. If a story piques my interest, I'm going to take a chance on it. If M or J says, "This was great. You've gotta read it!" I will. Cover to cover without knowing more about it than what they've told me. It doesn't matter what section of the bookstore it comes from. I trust my friends. They know I won't hesitate to branch out and try something new. All I want is to be entertained by a compelling story. Sure, I have a comfort zone. I read a lot from it. But I take a lot of risks as a reader, too. And more often than not, I'm rewarded.

All I ask from what I read is this: a good story.
I want stories that make me feel something for the characters - whose actions evoke visceral reactions from me. I want to own the merchandise {i.e. time-turner necklace} so that I might for a moment feel as though I held a piece of the world I was lost in between the covers. I want stories that make me tear through the pages like my life hangs in the balance, only to leave me with a gaping hole of loss when I realize the story is over and the world is nothing but a memory... and real life rushes back around me, chaotic and unbalanced and, for a while, somehow lacking in depth or meaning.

Which brings me to why I write.

Nothing {aside from my husband, my family, my friends} has ever affected me so deeply as the written word. Authors - people I don't even know - constantly influencing me, inspiring me, forcing me to think or allowing me to escape... all writers who simply had a story they wanted to share. Authors - writers - are brave. I admire them. They bare their very imagination for the world to see - and voice an opinion about - their deepest thoughts and feelings {disguised as characters and places and plots}. But the greatest thing these authors have done is spread their love of the written word, feed the voracious appetite we have as readers, and create new readers who fell in love with a story and want that feeling again and again. That's what I want. I want to take the stories in my head and share them with the world. I'm willing to face criticism and the inevitable swings of depression and elation we must journey through in the writing process in order to do that. I want readers to be as affected by my stories as I was by the ones I've read. And maybe, just maybe, I'll be good influence enough to turn a few non-readers into bookworms, too.

But this is supposed to be about what I write, not why.

So here's the answer:
I write what I want to read. I write what influences me. I write places in the world I long to see, so that I can experience them before I find the money {and vacation time} to visit them for real. I have an unruly imagination. So I write what doesn't exist so it will come alive in the world I create {like dragonflies the way I pictured them as a child}. *see illustration*

And all of that falls into place best in YA.... where my somewhat innocent disposition can flourish in the same place where almost anything goes, and the only genre distinction is the age of the reader {though let's face it, even this is arbitrary, since more than half the adults I know are hardcore fans of books in YA}. This is where I belong, as a writer; in the section of the bookstore that most closely reflects me: Open to anything. Willing to take risks. And of course - completely, awesomely - random.


Next week, get ready for our first Game Pod {creation mode}: We'll each be writing a mini-story based on an image I've chosen, so you can get a taste of the creative side of our writer minds!


  1. I like your outlook on experiencing things and not necessarily buying into a label as a reader. I think it says a lot about you as a writer. Very well thought through post.

  2. Ditto to M's comment. I think all great writers are random readers and don't limit themselves. There is no limit to imagination so why should we limit our reading? :)

  3. I want to know what some of your all time favorite books are by title! You have seduced me with your descriptions, now I want to know if I have read them. I love the NP blog. Always so interesting!! Yay Peas!

  4. M, thanks! I'm definitely not a label buyer. I'm also not usually a name buyer either, which is probably really annoying to publishing marketing teams who put the author's name in a font size three times larger than the name of the book! *eyeroll*
    J I totally agree!! No limits! Yey!

    Skitty, I (cleverly) placed the black&white photo next to those descriptions on purpose ;) Click on the pic to enlarge and they are all there- I believe, if I did it right, from bottom to top in the order listed! If you can't read certain ones though, I can always list them here :)

  5. Oops. Wow. Those did not enlarge. *note to self and other peas, uploading pix from iphone blogger app = small photos when clicked on*

    The books are:
    •Timeline, Michael Crichton
    •Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
    •Harry Potter (series), J.K. Rowling
    •The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith
    •The Hunger Games (series), Suzanne Collins
    •Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare
    •Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
    •The Night Angel Trilogy, Brent Weeks
    •The Name of This Book is Secret (secret series), Pseudononymous Bosch
    •A Good and Happy Child, Justin Evans
    •Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden