Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Books I've Read: Belzhar

This was a tricky one for me. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, even though I had an inkling right from the start that there would be a twist at the end, and what that twist might be. And I was right.

And unfortunately, that twist ruined the whole book for me. I won’t tell you what it is because that’s not fair.

The book takes place in a school for disturbed teens. There doesn’t seem to be any therapy or anything to help the kids with their various problems, but it’s small, out in the woods and perhaps has less pressure than a regular school.

On her first day of classes, Jam discovers she has been assigned a class called Special Topic in English. Her roommate who has been at the school for a while is jealous – apparently the kids who took the class the previous year found it life-changing. Jam doesn’t care that the class is exclusive and coveted. She just wants to go home.

But the class turns out to be more than just in-depth study of a single writer – Sylvia Plath. A journaling exercise opens up a whole new world to Jam and her classmates, a world in which they can rediscover their pasts and hopefully find a way to reconcile with the demons that lead them to the school in the first place.

Which is all a very cool idea. But somehow it isn’t executed as well as it should be. The other students’ issues seem so much larger than Jam’s, and there is an poorly executed, uninspired attempt at romance between Jam and a fellow student that just falls flat.

And then the ending… So while I thought this was a very interesting idea, as a whole the book didn’t work for me.

But don’t just believe me. Here’s the blurb:

If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be at home in New Jersey with her sweet British boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing him in the library stacks.

She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.

From New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Weekly Goals 12-11-18

I had great intentions last week about writing 1000 word stories each day, but after doing one, I didn't get around to doing another.  Life has been keeping me too busy and too exhausted to write regularly. And this has to change.

But this week is probably not the week that's going to happen.  And next week is even worse.  I don't think I'm going to have a week where I can actually manage to write every day (or even three days a week) until after Christmas.

But I'll keep trying.

This week I'm beta reading for another writer which is always a good exercise.  So I'm not going to put any pressure on myself to write as well.  If I find a spare hour here or there, I'll try and knock out a 100 word story, but finishing this beta read is more important.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, November 9, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things 9-11-18

This post is part of Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up!

What am I celebrating this week?

I finished my huge project at work!  Yes, the 104 page document is now at the printer and out of my hands.  Maybe now I will have time to catch up on al the other work that has been waiting for my attention.

I'm usually a totally last minute Christmas shopper, but I found the perfect thing for my partner during the week and snapped it up.  I think he's going to love it.  Now I need to try and find the perfect gifts for everyone else.

It's the weekend and I have absolutely nothing I have to do.  Which is complete luxury after the last two weekends.

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Insecure Writers' Group - 7-11-18

It's the first Wednesday in October, so it's time to celebrate with the Insecure Writer's Support Group. This month's question is: How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?

This is an interesting question.

I feel like I've always been a fairly creative person.  I've always written and told stories whether I was writing plays, short fiction or novels.  And when I wasn't writing, my hobbies were acting and jewelry-making and cooking.

Even my jobs have been fairly creative in their own ways.  I was a chef for a number of years, then started working in cinemas where I worked my way to the place where I programed the films that would screen at any given time.  I curated festivals and special events.  At one theater I ran an art gallery space in the foyer and hired out the theater spaces to theatre groups and live music acts around the film schedules.

My current job also has its creative aspects, but more importantly, allows me to use my creativity to solve problems and interpret information in new, and often surprising ways.

As a mother, these are also useful skills, especially with one teenager and one soon-to-be-teenager.  I find I need to be creative in finding ways to engage with these people who are growing up in a world very different to the one I grew up in.  

But mostly I need to be creative to keep myself sane.  In a world that is increasingly noisy and chaotic, sometimes it takes spinning a story to make sense of it.  I channel my emotional responses to the crap flying around me into my stories and it keeps me at least somewhat on the level.

Oh... and I still cook.  Sometimes I even still enjoy it.

How has your creativity evolved since you began writing?

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Weekly Goals 5-11-18

It's going to be another stupidly busy week at work this week, so my goal is just to get through it with some sanity still intact.  Can the end of the year and our summer break come soon?

I've been really out of whack on my gym-going routine too, so it's time to get back into that this week.  Saturday's class was really hard because I hadn't been for two weeks.

I'm having NaNo envy, so to try and make myself feel better about not participating this year, I'm going to try and write a 1000 word short story each day that I have time to do it.  Just to keep my writing brain from drying up and blowing away.

One day I'll get back to my novel...

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things 2-11-18

This post is part of Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up!

What am I celebrating this week?

It's Friday and I actually get a weekend this week!

After being at a conference all of last weekend, and having a really busy week this week, I'm ready for the weekend.

And I'm kicking it off by going out to dinner with my partner to celebrate our 21st anniversary which was on Halloween.  Yes, we met at a Halloween party - he was dressed as a woman and I was covered in fake-blood.

Other weekend plans include a friend's 50th birthday party and maybe going to the movies with my son.

What are you celebrating this week?