My Experience With Poetry

I never liked poetry. I always played it off as a dislike of flowery language (which is the truth, but avoiding the actual problem) and that it was too much work to decrypt that language into something that actually made sense. Because you know, in high school, we always read those stupid poems that didn’t make any sense unless you were a professional. And believe me, none of us were professionals.

It’s a little different now. I’ve come to appreciate flowery language for what it is (even if I’m not too fond of writing it myself) and have begun to recognize that poetry does, in fact, have its uses in the world of prose, and when the time comes, I will utilize it for those purposes. However, that’s not really what I wanted to talk about because I haven’t actually gotten to the point in my writing where I’ve felt the need to incorporate that into the text.

I intended to exclusively write fiction because that’s what I’m best at and have the most interest in writing. However, when I was registering for classes at the beginning of the year, I was looking at the creative writing degree requirements. According to UBCO’s website, in order to register as a Creative Writing major when the time comes, I need to have a portfolio that consists of at least two different writing genres. Genres being fiction,  creative non-fiction, poetry, screenwriting, etc.

Well shit, right?

That made me pretty grumpy. I wanted to learn how to write poetry, but I really didn’t want it to be forced on me. And since even now I’m still iffy on screenwriting/ drama and the like, that was pretty much my only option.

So for the time being, poetry is my alternate genre. I’m going to discuss the other options in a separate post later on because there are some other routes I’m considering, they just aren’t really related to this so I don’t want to drive too far off the road. Anyway, the second semester has come around and started, and thus so has my first formal poetry writing class. You know, it actually isn’t so bad. A lot of the poetry we’ve read so far has been rather pleasant and not too difficult to understand (although maybe that’s because I’m not as lazy nor as stupid as I was in high school).

The most important thing so far, though, has been the discovery of the real reason why I’ve never liked poetry. Now that poetry is part of my weekly required readings, it’s become a part of my routine. And because I have a poetry assignment due sometime in the next couple of months, I’ve begun to try my hand at the writing part, as I know I’m no good at it and that I’ll probably need some time to get the hang of it before I’m comfortable submitting anything.and

My god is it hard. Coming up with something that makes sense, flows, and doesn’t sound absolutely corny as shit is next to impossible. I’ve gone through a dozen pages in my notebook trying to write two poems, and I’ve ended up with six parts of six different poems, and one completed piece. Just last night I started rounding out the second poem I was working on, but it took so much longer than I feel was necessary. Ugh. Still, the difficulty isn’t really what’s on my mind. Writing fiction isn’t easy, either, I’m just used to it now, so it’s more that it’s just a familiar kind of difficult, rather than it’s actually become easy for me.

The reason I don’t like poetry, I have realized, is because the flowery language often evokes emotions I don’t want to think about or feel. I was a difficult teenager. I’m a difficult adult. More often than not, the only place I ever expressed what I felt was via the written word, usually in the form of a story that never saw the light of day. And while, when I was younger, I always thought that poetry was complete bullshit, I’m now discovering how easy it is to drop myself in the world of those shitty, cryptic words, and let all that bottled up emotion flow free.

The poems I’ve been writing are filled with angst and emotional torture and depression and it sucks to read that and know that it’s the truth about what I feel. It’s not even just because it’s the truth, it’s also because most of that shit has been shoved so far down inside my pool of emotions that it’s almost painful to bring it all back up like this. I don’t want any obvious evidence of my emotional failings written up and shown to the world– at least with fiction, I can argue that world and those characters are just fucked up and that it has nothing to do with me– and yet the words just keep coming. And coming. And coming.

I feel like the first poem I wrote expresses the sadness that I’ve hidden. The second, though still a work in progress, the anger. The third, still in conception, the disappointment. Every time I write a new word down, even if it’s not something I think I’ll end up using, I feel like I’m getting closer to that happy place. There is a happy place in the world of poetry, right? Well if there isn’t, I’ll sure as hell be making one, ’cause the moment I’m done getting all these shitty feelings out I’m prepared to write a thousand sonnets of joy.

~Erynn

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A Natural History of Dragons

I honestly thought I made a post about this book months ago, probably in February or something when I read it, but I guess I didn’t because this post was sitting in my ‘drafts’ section, blank. Ugh.

So I’ve got this really bad habit of buying books and then letting them sit around for a long time before touching them, but that didn’t happen with this book because I bought it for a purpose. You know, as an aspiring author, a thousand and one references are needed on a thousand and one different subjects in order to make a thousand and one different things make sense inside a single novel. And you know, more than half of those references get put on the shelf to be read when they’re actually needed. But I picked up this book and was like “hey, dragons, why not?” and so I read it.

It was not what I expected. It was better.

So I guess I was expecting something like lots of diagrams and a bit of lore based on the dragons present in this world, but that has to be the stupidest assumption I’ve ever made about a book. It clearly says ‘memoir’ on the cover, and considering the size and shape of the book, it’s most definitely a novel, not a picture book. Regardless, my retardation aside, it was quite a lovely read.

It had a Victorian era feel to it and I’m a fan of that for whatever reason– don’t ask me to explain it because I don’t even know why; I just do. I especially liked how it was a unique, female perspective from a fantasy version of the era– I’ve never read anything like that before. I suppose females had little say in important matters back then, even–or arguably, especially– the wealthy.

This story had a bit of that, but the protagonist– whatever her name was– only accepted it to a degree. I think for a novel set in this time, that’s pretty typical, almost cliche. But I don’t know, I guess the way this character’s motivations weren’t necessarily wrapped around her lack of freedom, more so she needed freedom as a consequence of her motivations and interests, was a different take on it. Or at least it felt like it.

It was also… heartbreaking. I can’t say too much about why without revealing critical plot points, but the story was unexpected and magical in a way that you don’t often find in stories that lack magic (at least I’m pretty sure there wasn’t any magic– gimme a break I read it almost a year ago). But I guess as someone who sympathizes with animals regardless of their nature, maybe some people wouldn’t necessarily agree with that view.

I say that the novel is definitely worth a read to anyone interested in fantasy on the lower end of the magical scale. I haven’t read the sequels yet to have an opinion to share on those, but I do look forward to reading them sometime in the near future.

~Erynn

 

 

Second Sight

Second Sight by George Szanto was the first novel I finished this year. I started working on it in early November, but it quickly turned my daily reading sessions from enjoyment to a chore before I stopped reading again altogether. There were times where I picked up the book, determined to get a chapter or so out of the way, but the result was still the same.

If I was not so keen on doing my best to finish every book I pick up, I probably would have given up on it a couple chapters in. I think part of that is because it really just wasn’t my type of story, and the genre is way off of what I normally read. Honestly, I’m not sure what it was supposed to be. Perhaps mystery/ suspense, although I was only mystified for a whole of ten seconds and the entirety of the novel’s suspense was how many pages were left until my suffering was over.

It felt as if nothing happened in the book. A friend of the main character goes missing at the start, and so he sets out to discover what happened to him. Chapter after chapter went by with pointless interactions and no clues. The protagonist was about as clueless as I was throughout the whole story, I guess that should tell you something.

I mean, maybe I missed all of the clues that were thrown around, but even considering that as a possibility, I just didn’t find myself liking any of the characters. They made any semblance of a story that there might have been completely unreadable. I don’t really like saying so many negative things about a book, but… well, that’s just how I felt about the whole thing. At least I managed to finish it.

I’m going to assume that no one else has bothered to read Second Sight, but if anyone has any thoughts to share then I’ll be here to respond. 🙂

~Erynn

Eona: The Last Dragoneye

Eona is the final book of the two-part series, Eon. Like the first book, I enjoyed it quite a bit, despite it having a bit of a slow start. The level of discovery I felt in this novel was akin to the first, although it was for a different aspect of the book. Let me explain.

In Eon, there was a lot of discovery regarding Eona herself, the world, and its politics. I found all of these, tied together, very enjoyable to read about. But in Eona, things are mixed up a bit. Instead I found myself learning a lot about how the world’s magic worked, Eona’s magic in particular, and developed an interest in the development of her relationships with others (romantic and otherwise).

Through the first half of the book, everything was very promising. I couldn’t put it down. But near the last half… *sigh* I felt as if I were let down a bit. Unfortunately, this isn’t something I can really explain without spoilers, and since I don’t want to provide any, what it comes down to is the direction of the story.

I really liked Eona’s relationship with Ido in particular. It developed exceptionally well throughout the book, until about half-way through where I felt things went sour. Excellent characterization and development kind of went down the drain, replaced with some cliche bullshit I really was surprised to see. In the end, because of all of this, I found the ending very predictable. Not exactly a favourable end to what started as a splendid journey.

All of that said, however, the series was still a fun read. I’m glad that I happened to pick it up and that I ended up reading it.

Have any of you read Eona? What are your thoughts on it, most notably how it ended?

~Erynn

Taichiren’s Update #3

Hello everyone!

I’ve been a bit neglectful of my blog again, but for good reason. Unfortunately, I’m not quite in a position to talk about it yet… but the hope is that sometime early 2016 I’ll be able to tell you guys all about it. It’s something I’m SUPER excited about, and though I can’t really talk about it, I wanted to write an update on Taichiren’s Heart, as it is somewhat related.

So, as you may have guessed by my lack of updates on the book, I’ve finally made the decision to put it aside for now. It’s not because I don’t want to write it and more because it needs so much work before it will ever be in a publishable state (if ever), time that I would rather put into more promising projects. Of course, this more ‘promising project’ that I have in mind is what I hope to be revealing early next year!

As for Taichiren’s, I haven’t completely abandoned it over the last few months. The story and the characters drift through my mind every so often, and in August, I believe, I wrote a short story about one of the side characters, Laecsam Batede. The story is him in his years of being a young, rebellious elf who did not agree with the ways of elven society. It follows him after he has decided to go to Myrusi’s Arena, a place no elf has stepped foot in decades. There, he finds out what has kept them all away.

I’ve debated doing a bit more cleaning up on the short and giving it away, but I’ve been hesitant to do so because I’m not sure I want to get anyone’s hopes up on the series being written any time within the next ten years.

What do you guys think? Would you like to read this short story, even if there might not be any follow-up for some time?

~Erynn

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn

I really have no idea when I bought this book and its sequel, Eona. It would have to be at least two years ago now, quite some time before I moved and added them to my to-read list.

After reading hundreds of YA novels, I’ve really come to expect very little from them. Generally speaking, I find the plots boring, I don’t like the characters, and the romances more often than not annoy me. The worst part, however, is that I find a lot of the Fantasy YA I’ve read over the years are just YA with a touch of fantastical elements here and there, not really a YA story taking place in a fantasy world, like what always want to read.

Though of course Eon, like all books, had its ups and downs, I was quite pleased with the characters, the plot, and the world. I’ll start by talking a bit about the world itself, as that’s what I most often find the least pleasing about YA fantasy.

We look at the world through the eyes of Eon, who is basically a slave in a monarchical society. She has few possessions, even fewer friends, and no place in the world. Of course as her position changes, her outlook on her surroundings changes, but it’s really the evolution of that viewpoint that brings the world to life. It’s difficult to explain this without providing spoilers, unfortunately, but let me try to articulate it in a way that’s similar to what happens in the book.

Let’s say that the story begins in a small, 10×10 room. There are no windows, no doors, and no ways to speak to the outside. This is the extent on Eon’s outlook on life and knowledge about the world around her.  But then some time through the story, one wall to her room is knocked down. She can now move from her small 10×10 space and into another room that had been connected to hers all along. As she explores the additional space, she comes to suspect that there is much more to everything than she can see, and so she carefully goes about knocking down the other walls on her own.

Exploring the world like this– through the eyes of a character that really knows about as much about it as you do– was quite fascinating, and I feel that it really allowed the world to build up into something very rich and versatile. Even through the final pages of the book, where I had already guessed what the ending would be, I thought the world was beautiful through both description and discovery.

I’ve decided that I’ll save talk about the book’s characterization and plot for the post on the sequel, Eona, so I’m going to use the rest of this post to talk a bit about the writing itself.

In all honesty, I liked some parts of the writing, hated others. I thought the beginning was a bit slow (although it provided enough to keep me interested in learning more, albeit quite annoyed) and that there was a lot of unnecessary information thrown in here and there. In the end, however, the good outweighed the bad. I loved reading about the dragons, the magic, the characters, and the environment… I found that a lot of words were weaved together beautifully.

So that’s all for now– you’ll get the rest of my thoughts once I get to the Eona post.

Have you read Eon or plan to? What are your thoughts on the book?

~Erynn

The Heir

I read the first three books as they came out and honestly wasn’t too impressed. I mean, the writing wasn’t particularly bad and I liked the world it was set in, but I found the story unbelievable. It interested me enough to keep reading, though, so I guess it’s got that going for it.

The Heir, the fourth book in the series, takes a step back from the original characters in the first three books and gives us a new set to read about. I think the protagonist… whatever her name is… is a decent character, built better than all of the characters from the first three books. I don’t think she’s the best character, either, but it felt like she was closer to a real person than I expect to find in most YA novels.

Well, the novel itself is about the romance. I’m honestly not much of a romance reader, but I find that they’re a good break from fantasy when I need to read something different. I found the romance in this novel atypical, but in a good way. It’s a bunch of cliches mixed together to form something interesting.

Not much else to say about the novel. I’m looking forward to the next one though it unfortunately doesn’t come out until sometime next year.

~Erynn

Atlas Shrugged

Ugh, where do I begin?

I started reading Atlas Shrugged in September 2014. I read the first couple hundred pages relatively fast, but the further I got in, the longer my breaks between reading sessions became. I officially gave up on the book in June this year, at about 600 pages through.

The book came as a disappointment to me, especially as I enjoyed one of Ayn Rand’s other books, The Fountainhead. Like that book, Atlas Shrugged is a story weaved around a philosophical viewpoint that questions the way society is run. I won’t go into too much detail as that’s something you’ll come to understand if you read the book yourself, but personally I didn’t mind the statement the book tried to make. I thought it was very true, even in the year 2015.

My issues were with the story itself and the way the book’s philosophy was presented within it. Instead of finding eloquent ways to portray these thoughts, it felt like a really good example of the author shoving their beliefs down the reader’s throat. The characters would constantly go on and on about some philosophical standpoint and it got really boring really fast.

Plus, I found the writing very mediocre. So much redundant information and repetition. I think the book could have easily been finished at about 600 pages that I managed to read instead of the 1000 it ended up being.

What do you guys think about Atlas Shrugged?

~Erynn

Different Types of Magic

Different stories call for magic to be used for different things. Because of its versatile nature, there isn’t really a limit to what magic can do. The limits are put in place by the writer of the world, who will have decided to do so for a variety of reasons.

If you’ve read several different fantasy novels, you’ll likely have noticed that no one really uses magic for the same reasons. Some authors will make magic purely an offensive entity, where it’s used for fighting or to fend off those using magic to attack. And while this is probably the most common type of magic, it’s far from all that’s possible.

Personally, I like it most when a story allows magic to be used for pretty much anything. This means that the magic isn’t really limited by the author’s desires, but more by the physical limitations of the user, the world, and the user’s strength. When magic is used to enrich a story like that as more of an everyday tool rather than a sacred ability that’s only used when absolutely necessary, it makes magic feel more real.

Anyway, onto what this post is actually about. What kinds of magic are there?

Honestly, I don’t think you can make a list of the different types because magic in fiction is just that, magic, and it’s not really limited to anything but what the writer tells it to be. You want magic that does the opposite of what you tell it to do? It’s possible. Or maybe you want magic that can’t do anything more than grow flowers from nothing– that’s possible too.

On the other hand, you can divide magic by its use though the list would still be extremely long. An example would be like I said somewhere above, combative magic. That’s an enormous category; there are so many ways that someone could use magic to benefit them in a fight. But there are still a couple thousand completely different things magic can be used for.

Let’s see… there’s also magic that you could use to help with everyday things, like brushing your teeth, cooking, and cleaning. Or… a little bit trickier would be magic that alters your physical capabilities, so things such as eyesight, strength, etc.

If you keep the possibilities relatively normal, I mean, more or less what you’d find in our world, magic wouldn’t be as versatile as we know it to be. But as soon as you start thinking of magic in a full-blown fantasy world, what you can do with it quadruples. You’ve got telepathy, healing, flying… Magic could be somehow attuned to different elements, and there’d be people around that could start fires with a simple touch, or talk plants into growing faster. Then you’ve got the people who can make it rain, snow, or grace the world with sunshine.

You know, I’ve read quite a few books and have always loved fantasy. But even after reading a dozen or so books in the genre, I’m fully aware that it’s only a taste of what’s possible and what people have already written. Saying that, I want more. I don’t think I’ve read anything yet with an incredibly unique magic system or someone who has used magic in a completely outlandish way. I’m dying to see something that’s different than what’s considered “normal”.

How about you– what do you think about magic and its many uses? Have you read any books with an amazing magic system or know someone who has given magic an entirely new use?

~Erynn

Do You Re-read Novels?

There are hundreds of new books published every year, many of which we will never read. At least a dozen of them are added to my to-read list, which is already over three hundred books big.

I’ve been reading fifty or less books per year, and last year I read a grand total of twelve. If I ever get to the end of the list, it will be many years from now.

It’s true that a lot of the books I read I enjoy immensely. Many of the ones that I truly like I think about for days after I’ve finished reading. Even once the newly-finished-book phase ends, I think back on them from time to time.

But there’s only one book I’ve ever had the urge to re-read.

I can definitely understand the desire to re-enter worlds you love and follow your favourite character’s adventures. There are many I’d love to explore again from a different perspective, but with the amount of books out there and the new ones that are always coming out, I don’t believe re-reading books is practical.

It’s simply better to remember that world as it was when you initially read it. If you really need to jump back into the book, there are alternative ways to do it. You could re-read certain passages or chapters that you liked in particular, or visit fan forums that discuss the books.

Personally I don’t do any of this, but I’d do it before I made the decision to re-read an entire book.

That’s my stance on this, at least. I don’t plan to re-read a book any time soon.

What about you guys? Do you re-read books?

~Erynn