Confession: I Dog Ear Books

Oh, book art. What would I do without you?

Oh, book art. What would I do without you?

I dog ear the pages of books. I do it to save my place or to mark a favorite section. I also have about a million bookmarks, store-bought, friend-made, receipts from foreign countries, train tickets, cool pieces of paper or ribbon, and anything else that can conceivably be used as a bookmark. But sometimes I dog ear instead, because sometimes that’s what feels right.

I write in the margins. Marginalia is one of my favorite words. Isn’t it beautiful? I bracket my favorite passages and underline beautiful sentences. I draw hearts and sad faces. I often wish I could keymash. Sometimes “asglkhasgl;akhsglaks” says more than real words can.

I bend paperbacks when I’m reading. I leave them open page-down on a table when I get up for a moment. I don’t see it as breaking their spines. I see it as breaking them in, like shoes you’re going to rely on for years, shoes that will take you places. I relish the long white lines on the spines of well-read books.

And you know what? I feel no shame.

All the time, I see people talk about how horrifying it is to do such a thing to a book. They could never do that! It’s disrespectful or hurtful. And that’s fine. If your method of showing love to a book is to keep it pristine, I respect that.

But I believe that books should be interacted with. I love going back to a book and seeing all the little things left behind by me or another reader entirely. What did that last reader (even past me) love and hate? What did they have to say? Where did they stop reading? Which page corners were so often folded that they’re almost coming off?

It’s a journey, just like the story. Well-read and well-marked books are one of my favorite things. I would like it it other book-lovers would stop acting like dog-earing pages makes me some heathen. I’m an avid reader, just like you. I just read a little differently.

Note: This post was originally posted on my Tumblr, but this topic has been on my mind and I decided to edit it and post it here.

And now a quick writing check-in. From 1/23 to 1/29 I wrote 5090 words, with two zero days. Both stats are way better than last week. Let’s hope that’s not a fluke.

Figuring Out the Blog Thing

lit cit blogsI’m new to this whole blog thing, so I’m still trying to find my footing. I’m still trying to figure out what belongs on my blog. One thing I’ve decided is that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to just have a pure check-in post every Wednesday. I want to track my progress, yes, but I think I can do that and make a post worth reading.

I started thinking about this because last week, my literary citizenship class started. As part of it, we’re reading Chuck Sambuchino‘s book, Create Your Writer Platform. One of the many great pieces of advice he gives is that you have to have something to offer your audience, whether it be advice or entertainment or whatever. There has to be something. The problem with the check-ins is that you guys aren’t getting a lot out of it when that’s all there is to a post.

It’s such a little thing and it seems like it should have been obvious to me, but it wasn’t. So I have to wonder – what other little things am I doing wrong, or not doing to the best of my ability? I’m sure I’m not utilizing my social media to its fullest, but what exactly am I missing?

That’s kind of why I wanted to take the literary citizenship class. For a long time, I was one of those writers that just said, “Oh, no, I’m not good at self-promotion. That’s why I need an agent.” But the publishing world is changing, and it’s incredibly valuable to be out there in the world and for people to know about you before you even get a book published. Still, it just seems slimy to go around saying, “Hey, read my book!”

This is where the literary citizenship class truly speaks to me. It’s not about shouting into the void and hoping someone hears you. It’s about learning to become part of the literary community, and how that, in turn, builds your audience. Our mantra is: Be interested in what other people are doing.

You might notice that this ties in pretty well with one of my writer’s new year resolutions about how I want to be a better blogger. Sure, I’m getting good at posting regularly on my own blog, but I don’t go and read and communicate with other bloggers nearly enough. I also don’t tweet with other writers as much as I used to. Facebook’s one of the few places where I have a pretty solid footing.

I need to learn to build off the foundation I already have – Facebook and regular blog posts – and launch myself into the writing community. I need to go out and participate and get involved in conversations. After all, why should people listen to me if I’m not willing to listen to them?

I’ll wrap up with the new and improved short writing check-in. From 1/9/13 through 1/15/13, I wrote 1229 words, which is down from last week. I had one zero day – down from last week. I’m starting to see the impact my classes are having on my writing, and it’s really making me feel the need for a routine. Let’s see what I can do.

Writing Check-In 1/9/13

Sloth-Eating-Cecropia-720299I successfully submitted my story, “A Few Bruises Between Lovers”, to the Dell Award. I’m not sure what to do with my writing self now. (I say as if I don’t have a million short stories and novels to work on.)

Okay, Check-In time!

W 1/2: 270

Th 1/3: 765

F 1/4: 0

Sa 1/5: 0

Su 1/6: 240

M 1/7: 0

T 1/8: 953

Week total:  2228 words (down from last week)

A few too many zeroes there, huh? I’m really going to have to find my writing routine and stick to it. I might be talking about writing routines in more detail on Monday. Maybe you guys can help me figure this stuff out.

Writing Check-In 1/2/13

SLOTHWITHCARROTAwhile ago, I started doing this thing on my Tumblr called 500 Words a Day, where I tried to write 500 words every day and to keep myself accountable, I’d post on Tumblr how many words I’d written that day. I’m still trying to do it, but my writing groove has been off and even when it’s on I forget to post about it.

I’m adding an extra step of accountability here, and when better to start than now, at the dawn of a new year? Every Wednesday, I’ll post my totals for the last week of writing starting with the previous Wednesday. For example, this week’s check-in is as follows:

W 12/26: 622

Th 12/27: 393

F 12/28: 497

Sa 12/19: 156

Su 12/30: 501

M 12/31: 443

T 1/1: 270

Week Total: 2882 words

My data will be kept track of by that handy WordTyrant app I talked about in my Apps for Writers post. I’m going to continue to try for 500 words a day, if not more, but more importantly I’m just aiming to write every day and get myself into a routine.

Another note: For these totals, I’m only including what I write in the realm of storytelling (be it fiction, creative nonfiction, etc.). I will not include the words from my blog posts.

If you’re keeping tabs, I’m starting to actually have something that looks like a regular schedule for this blog. Just One Thing on Sundays, a writing post on Mondays, Tuesday Reads, and now the check-ins on Wednesday. It’s almost like I’m becoming a real blog, huh?