15 April 2010

Day 19: Moonlight Falls

Moonlight Falls by Vincent Zandri.  ISBN: 9780981965406.

There are a lot of things I would like to say about this book and its...qualities, but I'm going to save that for Goodreads.com.  I do feel bad about the review I'm going to give this novel in some ways, because I did win a signed copy via the First Reads program on Goodreads.com. I wanted to like the book.  I wanted to be able to say, "Oh yeah, I have a signed copy of that, and it's really good."  But on the other hand, I have to keep my integrity as a reviewer, and I'm just not digging the book.If you want to read my reviews, just follow me there.  Let's just say this novel reminds me a lot of why I'm not a novelist.

My first attempt to write a novel was on my mom's MacIntosh laptop sometime back in 1998.  I was in 8th grade and our literature teacher spent a lot of time getting us to write as a means of improving out thinking about literature and as a means of improving our grammar.  The novel started off as a short story (possibly 8 pages long double-spaced) that was heavily borrowed from the Star Wars novels I was reading devouring at the time.  I remember actually sketching out the main character, creating symbols, and describing new creatures and terrains for the desert world my characters lived in.

The first novel was sadly eaten by the computer when it decided not to boot up properly, or some necessary program was somehow deleted.  My disks were corrupt because I wasn't particularly careful with them and we didn't have flash drives, which are significantly more stable and portable than the old floppy disks ever were.  I'm actually sad that no existing copy of the story remains, because it's one of those things I can show people and say, "I know it's crap, but look, I was only in 8th grade when I wrote it.  It's pretty good for being 13, right?!"   I can't remember exactly, but I think I got up to something like 50 pages single-spaced on that laptop. That's a sizable chunk of work for someone so young, and who knows, it could have been salvageable..

My second attempt at writing a novel is much more embarrassing.  I was working at Syracuse Peace Council at the time as an intern and so it kept me occupied and thinking about things other than my difficult living situation (which did eventually improve).  I was fascinated with the local cemetery at the time, which is one of the oldest historical cemeteries in the country that still accepts internments.  I don't consider myself morbid, but cemeteries are nice places to go, with their well kept lawns, nice statuary, and tendency to be deserted.   Plus, if there's a historical society or cemetery society attached, you can go on some pretty interesting walking tours and get some local history lessons, usually for free.

I think my problem with this particular novel is that I wasn't able to stop and think about what I was writing.  Of course I didn't prepare for it properly either because the last novel I worked on came to me a little more organically.  This one was the result of the infamous NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.  I don't actually have a problem with this phenomena.  I think it's a great idea to get people writing and to realize how difficult it actually is to write...but I think there needs to be about three or four months before November comes around where there's a National Character Sketch Month, and a National Basic Plotline Month.  Something where we can plan and stew over the novels we're supposed to vomit out in one month.  And while 50,000 words is great, it does not a novel make (usually).  So yeah...I gave up on that one too, especially once I realized I had no idea what I was doing with it.

Still, I find the process of writing cathartic, and people who can actually follow through and finish a novel are amazing...  I just don't think those novels should always be published.  Sorry Zandri, I'm sure you're a nice guy, but your writing style is driving me up the walls and I'm glad I only have 100 pages left in your novel.  But just think, if I hadn't won this book I wouldn't have even bothered to finish it.  For those of you who write, keep writing even if it's bad, show it to someone, edit the crap out of it (seriously, take the crap out of it), and be proud of it no matter what people like me say about it, because when it comes down to it, someone is going to like it.  And thank you for reading my stuff.  I know it's not the best, but it helps me process, and I like to think you might get a little something out of it.

On a side note, I'd like to thank Neil Gaiman for being the spokesperson for National Library Week.  You just scored huge brownie points with me by saying you were a feral child raised by librarians

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