Embrace the Audiobooks, Friends

Since absolutely nothing of interest happened At The Office this week, I decided I’m going to write about audiobooks instead. It’s related because I listen to them… at the office.

I happen to be blessed with a job that is mostly mindless. Since that is the case, I get to listen to stuff while I work. Sometimes I listen to music, but mostly I listen to audiobooks. Do you have any idea how many audiobooks I go through in a month? My best guess is an average of five.

As a Book Person, this fills me with joy.

I also listen to audiobooks when I’m crocheting. I listened to the Complete Sherlock Holmes while crocheting various things. It was like 58 hours and some change. Read by Simon Vance, who is one of my favorite audiobook narrators.

I’ve been listening to audiobooks at work for about six years. I’ve had this job for five years, but before that, I had a job where I could listen to audiobooks, too.

It used to be, back when I first started listening, that people would consider listening to an audiobook “cheating”. I was always cautious about telling other book people that I had listened to the audiobook of whatever book we were talking about. They either didn’t care or they considered it cheating. I would say that it is likely these people never actually listened to an audiobook. If they had, they would know there is no cheating involved. My mind is just as active, just as engaged with the story, sometimes even more so. When I read, I live the story. I see the settings and the characters. The same thing happens when I listen to an audiobook. So as far as I’m concerned, if you listened to the audiobook version of the latest bestseller, you have still read the book. It’s the same story, just received differently.

Nowadays, people don’t say that as much. At least not to me and not lately. So I’ve become less cautious about it. I think this is because online streaming has made audiobooks more accessible. You no longer have to carry around a million cassette tapes or a thousand CDs. All you need is your phone. Or a web browser.

I would actually describe myself as a poly-book-formatist. Yeah, okay, I obviously made that up, but what I’m trying to say is that I don’t limit myself to any one format. I listen to audiobooks, I buy books on my Kindle, and I have at least a couple hundred paper books on my shelves at home. I love them all.

I would recommend audiobooks to anybody. Since I get to listen to so many, it really helps me keep my love of reading and books alive while still working a full-time job. They make me laugh, they make me cry, they make me want to scream in frustration, just like all books do.

“But wait,” I hear you saying. “If you’re such a book person, why don’t you just read more?”

If you were real, I would slap you. Fool!

I work eight hours a day. When I get home, I write. Haven’t you been reading this blog at all?? I’m a writer! I can’t write and work at the same time! I only get to write at work when I have no work to do. That happens sometimes, but not very often.

The thing is, I do read at home. I read all the books I have that aren’t in audio format. It takes me a lot longer because I don’t get to read for four hours. At work, I get to listen to about four hours of audio each day between answering phone calls and sending out faxes. At home, I get maybe a half an hour – an hour tops – unless it’s the weekend.

This is because I write. I’m working on my dang novel, yo. The thing about writing while also having a full-time job is that it doesn’t leave you very much time to read. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to work on my story. I’m just dang lucky that I can use audiobooks to offset that a little bit.

In conclusion, I love audiobooks, I recommend them to one and all, and if anybody says it’s cheating, I will be sure to inform them that they are wrong.

What My Novel Is About

There is a question that I get asked every time someone is told that I’m writing a novel. It is always, “What’s your novel about?”

I used to have very strong feelings about this question. Basically, I hated it.

I have been working on a novel of some kind since I was fourteen. I’m going to be thirty-two in a couple weeks. For a large chunk of that time, I suffered from social phobia. It was a dark, horrible place. Talking to people at all was a struggle, let alone trying to answer that question of horror.

The reality is that novels are complex beasts and since I’m always in process and never finished, it’s actually really difficult for me to summarize what I’m working on.

This is probably different for every writer, but for me, it’s practically impossible to tell you what my novel is about. It’s not because I don’t want to share it with you. It’s because I don’t actually know.

The trick is usually trying to figure out if the person I’m talking to is someone I can trust with the information that I don’t know what my own novel is about.

When I was young and terrified, nobody could be trusted with that information. I wouldn’t willingly hand it out. So what did I do? I usually tried to get away with saying what genre I was writing. “Oh, it’s a fantasy novel.” If that didn’t work, I tried to summarize. And I failed. And then I felt like an idiot. And then I probably resolved never to talk to that person again out of shame.

So I think you can see why I hated this question back then.

Nowadays, I’m not as scared of people or what they think, so I find in most cases I can go ahead and tell them that I don’t know what my novel is about. It’s actually the perfect mechanism to change the subject from what my book is about to how I write. Since the next obvious question is something like, “How can you not know?” or “Are you some kind of idiot?” Then I can answer, no, not exactly, I’m just a discovery writer. I find my story as I go along. See? Now we’re talking about my process and I no longer have to attempt to summarize the slush that is currently my novel.

loooove talking about my writing process. I could talk about that mess all day long.

And since I no longer hate and fear the dreaded question, I can instead appreciate the person who asked for being interested in my writing at all.

I find in most cases, gratitude can change your outlook on anything. Something I used to hate is now something I can be grateful for. I know that people who ask aren’t trying to make me feel anxious or stupid. I know that they simply want to get to know me. So instead of telling them what my story is about, I tell them why I don’t know what it’s about.

So if you ever ask me what my novel is about, you can be sure that I won’t give you a direct answer. Even if I had some kind of summary to provide, it would be meaningless. If you asked me the same question a week later, the entire summary would be different. This is how I work. My creative process is a mess. It works, but that means my story is also a mess and thus summary is impossible.

In conclusion, I am grateful to anyone who expresses genuine interest in my writing, no matter what questions they ask. Just remember that I’m dodgy and don’t be offended if I don’t actually attempt to summarize my novel for you. I’m still happy you asked about it.

Literary Mayhem

BA HA HA HA HA HA.

I AM BACK.

That’s how I feel right now, full of villainous laughter and the feeling that I’m back to being who I’ve always been. IT FEELS GREAT.

I seriously considered ending this blog post right here, but then I thought that would be kind of mean. Though “kind of mean” totally fits with my vibe right now.

Okay so let me start with this: it’s about writing. You should not be surprised. It’s always about writing. Okay, it’s almost always about writing. The next post is gonna be about not-writing, I promise.

ANYWAY.

In case you didn’t already know, I have been really strugglingwith my writing for the past forever. It had less to do with writing and more to do with my outlook… maybe go back a post and read about Sisyphus, then you’ll get what I mean.

Basically, trying to write filled me with agony and pain and suffering. Every word, every sentence, felt like a punishment. And so whatever I wrote was also really bad. Really bad and really sad and just not at all what it used to be like when I was young and joyous and free.

Now what do you think I mean when I say I AM BACK?

Normally I write a lot of blogs during NaNoWriMo, but this year I didn’t. There were a couple of reasons. Reason number one was that writing was still painful and I honestly didn’t think I’d do much of it. Reason number two was that the story I was writing was nothing but a single character. It has since evolved into a few different things, but I was starting with practically nothing. It had been a long timesince I had done such a thing – starting a story with nothing to go on but a character. So I figured that I wasn’t going to get far and there was no point in blogging a ton about my barely there NaNo efforts.

I was right. The goal? 50,000 words. My ending total? 13,033 words.

More than I was expecting, but nowhere near the actual goal.

So I think I made the right choice not blogging about NaNo this year.

Now that it’s over, though, I’m really liking where my story is going. So I decided to keep working on it.

I just finished writing a scene for this story. And the feeling I got when I had finished was the feeling that made me want to be a writer back when I first got serious about it sixteen years ago. I get a little shiver of excitement down my spine that makes me feel like an EVIL MASTERMIND OF AUTHORIAL MADNESS and all I want to do is Evil Laugh.

Thus the BA HA HA ing at the beginning.

Not only did the scene turn out better than I expected, but a connection I needed showed up quite nicely for me.

That one character I started with? Not in this scene. This one was about a completely different character that I had made up during NaNo because I was getting bored. Their stories didn’t collide in any way that I could see. But I wasn’t trying to make it all work. I was trying to just go along with whatever happened.

I still couldn’t help trying to figure out where their stories crossed, though. I thought about it occasionally, as I went about my normal days. I even thought I might have to separate the stories.

And then tonight, as I worked on a new scene for the second character, one word that I added on some kind of whimsical writerly inspiration connected the stories. One word was all it took. And that’s when I started feeling a bit like a VILLAINOUS MAD SCIENTIST.

It didn’t help that the word also kind of made this second character really dark.

This is a feeling I’ve had before. Back when writing wasn’t painful. Back when writing was more like experiments in a lab coat with a hunch backed flunky. Back when writing was like a dark cauldron bubbling over with neon goop. Back when all I wanted to do was be a Word Wizard that would Cast Spells of Fiction over all my Unwitting Readers.

I missed this feeling. It’s why I write. I thought I lost it forever, but it turns out I just had to dump my PAIN AND SUFFERING by being my own Word Wizard and not someone else’s idea of a Word Wizard.

I’m a discovery writer, folks. That’s the long and short of it. I don’t plan. I don’t create outlines. I can and I have and I tried to make myself do it. And I was miserable.

BUT NOW I AM BACK.

Maybe one day you’ll get to read my Spells of Fiction. I know some of you have been waiting a long time.

Fear not for I sense the day is nigh! My wizardly word fingers are tingling like they haven’t tingled in years! My villanous laugh is deeper and truer than it has ever been! Prepare for literary mayhem!

BA HA HA HA HA HA!