Recently, I stumbled upon a blog called “The Days of Yore,” which showcases interviews from people before they became famous. Most of these interviews turn out to be prophetic. Since I was itching to read A Visit From the Goon Squad I decided to buy it rather than wait for the 20 people ahead of me on the library request list. The blog had an article from the author, Jennifer Egan, and after reading such an amazing book, I was really interested in what she had to say.
When asked if she had any advice for aspiring writers, Egan said, “Read.” To me, that was the best advice she could give. Reading the works of other authors, seeing what works and what doesn’t, what plot points seem forced or natural, can really help a writer create his or her own story.
Her other pieces of advice were to make writing a routine and constantly revise and revisit your work. I remember reading an article about J.K Rowling who said that when she wrote Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone it was all written on paper so she had to type it. It seemed like that was a gift, given that she was now proofreading her work and catching mistakes. (Personally, I hate to proofread. I overanalyze what I’ve written and delete a lot of things. I usually ask someone else to read my work, someone removed from it with a fresh pair of eyes).
There are plenty of untold stories out there by creative people who just don’t know where to begin. If that's you, know that you're not alone. Check out “Days of Yore” and find out how it was done before folks got their big break. It’s probably not as daunting as you think.
I do enjoy the show, Chelsea Lately, and I watch it if there is nothing else on. So I figured reading her book would be enjoyable and humorous. Unfortunately, it was 200-plus pages of vulgar humor and outlandish anecdotes. Chelsea is that one friend that you would send Christmas cards to and avoid them when they’re in town. She’s immature and sometimes downright cruel. She plays unnecessary pranks on the people closest to her, most of the time her significant other. This book was full of the things she did to people that she felt were funny. I just thought they were sad.
Speaking of sadness, The Crank Trilogy(Crank, Glass, and Fallout) is a story about a girl’s life long struggle with crystal meth. These books were so engaging that I could hardly put them down. I never had any real interaction with drug addiction, only the glamorized version in movies and television. The story of Kristina felt so real that it scared me. I hated her, all of her decisions and how she completely destroyed her family’s life. These books should be mandatory reads for the D.A.R.E program because they are sure to keep people off drugs. I even thought twice about taking Tylenol for a headache while reading these. The books felt so real to me due to Ellen Hopkins’ writing since it was coming from a real place. Hopkins’ daughter had run-ins with crystal meth. The trilogy isn’t based on a true story but there are plenty of elements of truth to it.
I’d been anxious to read this book ever since I knew it was coming out. Jay-Z has always been a person of interest to me. Even in college, my political science professors would cite Jay-Z’s various successes when talking about capitalism. His story is inspiring and poignant. I read this on my Nook and the footnotes were interactive. By clicking them, it took you to the explanation of the lyrics, which I really enjoyed reading. Some of his more controversial songs are explained by Jay-Z and what he meant while writing them. This book speaks to all demographics and I think everyone has something to learn from Jay-Z and his personal struggles.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Jennifer Egan deserves every ounce of praise that it has received. I enjoyed this book immensely and cannot wait until HBO makes it into a TV series. The characters are outrageous, but real, and easy to relate to. The novel tells the story of different people living in New York City but their stories are woven together through decades. I enjoyed piecing together the characters and how they knew each other.
So have I inspired you to pick up a pen and write the next great American novel? I sure hope so! If Chelsea Handler can do it, so can you!