Perfect Phrases

Part of what I enjoy so much about reading is finding new descriptions and phrases that writers coin. I always tell myself to write them down as I read them, but I never do. Still, some stick with me and are then forever stuck in my mind as a way of thinking about or describing something.

The color of blood at midnight: Jacqueline Carey used this phrase to describe the color of red so dark, it’s nearly black. It’s always sounded beautiful to me.

Dusk, when the world goes soft around the edges: I believe that Sarah Dessen used this in one of her books and that’s where I remember it from, but honestly I’m not entirely sure. It may be from somewhere entirely different. Still, it seems like a perfect description to me of what dusk feels like on certain days.

A thing can be true and not true: This, I believe, is used in Charles de Lint’s stories quite often. As his tales are urban-fantasy, it feels extremely fitting.

These are just a few that I can remember off the top of my head. There have been, at the very least, a few dozen more phrases that I’ve read and loved – but I didn’t write them down, so I’ll just have to reread my books to discover them again!

Anyone else have any favorite phrases that they’ve found in books?

Letter to the Author

I am a great and loyal fan of many writers: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Tamora Pierce, Jacqueline Carey, Kate Elliot, Libba Bray, Sarah Dessen… the list goes on and on. These are authors who are living and writing and creating today. These are authors whose books I can look forward to, whose careers I can actively follow (what with the wonders of the online community these days). I treat these people with as much reverence as I treat my favorite bands – more so, perhaps, because their fame is often less materially rewarding and their renown is limited to the community who enjoy their particular genre; meaning my respect for them and awe of them grows because of the difficulties they face in pursuing their chosen careers.

I’ve met Neil Gaiman. He was a darling, and managed not to seem the least bit bored during the two signings of his in which I participated. He is an incredible public speaker. He is extremely popular, though, and I have never felt the urge to write to him. So, also, with many other of the authors I love.

I wrote to Jacqueline Carey though. I wrote of my passion for her books and my admiration for both her literary style and her imagination, for her beautifully-wrought characters and her intricate plots. She wrote back. She really did. It was a while after I had written, but she did write back.

Which is why, I suppose, I’ve been struggling for days with trying to find the perfect wording for a second letter – this time to Tamora Pierce. I grew up on her books – I own every single one of them, and there are many, believe me. The smell of the pages of those well-thumbed novels of hers bring back memories from countless instances, and I’ve read and reread her books endlessly. I hope that once I find the words to write to her properly, she’ll respond. I shouldn’t expect it, but I can’t help but hope.

It’s overwhelming, sometimes, to love and admire people with such creative minds and incredible determination. But it’s often inspiring too.

Voice and Tense

I realized today something that I’ve realized many times before, something which gets me more excited about college than ever – I need to learn how to write. What I mean is that I need to really study and practice in an orderly fashion, with someone to read my work and tell me that “this is good” and “this is bad” and “this needs some more work.” I love this blog, and I’m proud of myself for keeping it up – my track record on keeping organized blogs is disastrous, to say the least. The fact that I’m keeping this one up is due to my true devotion and love of practicing my writing.

But, as I was saying, I need to study and learn methods for it. The reason I realized this today was because I was spending my time at work, as I usually do, with trying to plan a new story. This new story is a sort of young-adult type thing, something that I decided to try after remember how much I love Sarah Dessen’s books. I started writing about my character from the third-person point of view, but after a page or so I realized that it sounded wrong. It wasn’t what I’d pictured in my head.

So I changed the voice, and tried writing her from the first person point of view: her speaking about herself. Once again, it sounded wrong because I was using past tense, and it sounded like any second she would be lapsing into current events. I realized that I don’t know how to write past tense but make it sound like the present, and not like the retelling of a story.

And so, whether or not I major in creative writing, I’m definitely going to take some writing courses when I go to college. I can’t wait!

On a completely unrelated subject – I find it highly amusing that WordPress, a blogging website, highlights the word “blog” as a misspell in its spell-checker program. WordPress is another word that is listed as misspelled.