What am I celebrating this week?
I've sent the new book off to two of my CPs, so it's now that horrible period of waiting to see what they say, waiting for them to tell me it's not really finished after all. I should work on something else while I'm waiting, but I suspect I'm going to be too busy this week to really focus on writing at all. Short weeks after long weekends tend to be.
But if I do get some spare moments, Harley is waiting for me to pick up his story...
What are your goals this week?
I actually read the sequel to this one a few weeks back without knowing it was a sequel until after I'd started it. So I was pleased to find the first book in the series so I could find out the back story to what happened in the sequel.
Now, let me make it clear. I know nothing much about K-pop. I've never listened to it and don't really expect to in the future. It's not really my jam. But I've now read several books set in the K-pop world and there is something strangely fascinating about it.
This book (and the sequel, Bright) are written by a K-pop star and reading her bio in the back of the book, it's pretty clear the novels are based, at least loosely, on her own experiences. Which is pretty horrifying if (and I believe they probably are) the stories told in the book are true.
At just 11 Rachel began her training to be a K-pop star with the powerful label DB, known for churning out hit after hit. The competition is fierce and Rachel has a disadvantage in that her mother won't allow her to live on the DB campus and train full time. She has to fit her training in around school and living at home while the other girls live on campus and train full time.
Yet even with this disadvantage, Rachel manages to shine. She has a great voice and that goes a long way toward overshadowing the fact she's incredibly awkward and shy in front of cameras and sometimes struggles with dance moves. In the competitive environment of K-pop, any weakness is likely to be exploited by other trainees clawing their way to the top and Rachel is no exception.
When the opportunity arises to perform with one of the most popular singers in a K-pop boy band, the competition becomes cut-throat and Rachel finds herself needing to resort to her own subterfuge to ensure she gets seen the way she wants to be seen.
But things get complicated when she realizes she doesn't just like singing with Jason Lee. She actually likes Jason as a person. Maybe more than likes. But she can't do anything to act on this because K-pop singers aren't allowed to date. One kiss caught on camera has been known to end a career and Rachel can't risk losing her chance when she's worked so hard to get to this point and may even get put into a group to debut this year if things go well.
I enjoyed this insight into the world of K-pop. Like ballet, it's super competitive with rules that make very little sense and are designed to keep people from being too individual and standing out from the crowd. Independence is discouraged and anyone who dares to deviate from the company line is likely to find themselves cut from the programme and never given a chance to perform again.
It's not a work of high art, but it's readable and compelling enough to keep you turning the pages if just to see how awful ambitious people can be to each other.
But don't just listen to me. Here's the blurb.
A Korean American teen is thrust into the competitive, technicolor world of K-pop, from Jessica Jung, K-pop legend and former lead singer of Girls Generation.What would you give for a chance to live your dreams?
When I picked this one up from our whare kai (lunchroom) library, I knew I'd heard of it, but couldn't remember why or in what context. So I read the the whole thing before realizing that this is the "memoir" that everyone dumped on because the author apparently made some stuff up and embellished other parts of it.
Now, I don't really care how much is true and how much isn't. I don't believe memoirs have to be 100% factual. Everyone has slightly different memories about past events and what I believe is the truth about something may not ring true to someone else who was there. And to write a compelling story, sometimes you need to skip things or merge events or even potentially make something up to connect two points in time.
There. Rant over.
Now, as for the book I read. I didn't love it. I found the writing challenging in places because the author doesn't use standard punctuation, especially around dialogue, so it was often hard to know who was speaking, especially when there was more than two people in a conversation. And he randomly capitalises some words which was just weird and unnecessary.
It's not an uplifting read either. Addiction rarely is and addicts tend to be incredibly self-centered and lacking in empathy for others. James is no different and his refusal to buy into the treatment plan offered to him made an already unlikable character even less likable. I kind of wanted to slap him and tell him that if he wasn't willing to do the work, he should leave and let someone else who was ready to work take his place.
The whole book basically takes place at the treatment center and it isn't a short book. It's a long time to spend with a rather unlikable dude and his fellow addicts. I almost gave up on the whole book after an extended description of James's root canal without any anaesthetic.
But I read on because I was just intrigued enough to want to know more. And because I'm stubborn and very rarely give up on a book, even if I'm not loving it. Plus, I hadn't had time to go to the library and nothing else to read.
It's not a great book by any stretch of the imagination, but it is somehow compelling. Even though I never liked James, I did find myself rooting for him to succeed. At the end of the book whoever had left the book in our library had stuck a helpful sticky note on the last page of the actual story warning not to read on because there's a whole bunch of stuff after the ending that tells you what happened to the characters in the book post-rehab. I read on (stubborn, remember? No sticky note tells me what to do) and now I don't need to read the follow-up book because I know what's going to happen.
So would I recommend this one? Probably not. But not because it's a fabricated memoir, but because it's just not that great a read. But if you're interested in addiction and recovery, maybe it will offer you something different.
But don't just listen to me. Here's the blurb:At the age of 23, James Frey woke up on a plane to find his front teeth knocked out and his nose broken. He had no idea where the plane was headed nor any recollection of the past two weeks. An alcoholic for ten years and a crack addict for three, he checked into a treatment facility shortly after landing. There he was told he could either stop using or die before he reached age 24. This is Frey’s acclaimed account of his six weeks in rehab.
It's a festival week for me this week, the first one since I started my new job, so I'm not going to have a lot of free time. I have shows to work four nights this week and all weekend. So my goals this week are to get through all of that without any major issues or errors.
And if I have any time for it, I'd like to keep doing my little flash fiction pieces. Even only a few times a week would be fine; it doesn't have to be every day.
The plus side of working nights this week is that I can go into toe office later which means I'll have time to go to the gym every morning before I start. So that's another goal for this week - to get the gym five times.
What are your goals this week?
It's the first Wednesday in September, so it's time for the Insecure Writers Support Group!
It's only 9 days until the first festival I'm working on in my new job starts, so work going to be pretty busy for the next two weeks. I don't need to put any extra pressure on myself, so my goals are pretty small. I'm going to try and keep up with my flash fiction writing each day. It's only half an hour a day and I think I can spare that.
Once I've got that habit bedded in, I might start using that time to work on my novel because even if I am only added 1000 words a day, it's better than no words. But right now, I don't really feel like tackling a novel, even the one I started a few months ago.
What are your goals this week?
It's the end of the week, so it's time to Celebrate the Small things...