The Dreaded Question: “So where do you get your ideas?”

In this golden age of the listicle, I’m pretty sure there are a number of articles about what not to ask a writer.  Here’s a tip: if this isn’t #1, disregard the entire article.  The author clearly has no idea what they’re talking about. It’s a horrible question, because it’s an impossible one to answer.

Where do you get your ideas?

That’s like asking someone “where do you get your food?”  The grocery store, sure.  But you also have a variety of favorite restaurants, farmers’ markets, fast food joints.  Sometimes you have to drudge through your Sunday meal-prep session, sometimes you get inspired at two AM on a Wednesday and wake up your roommate with a plate of pumpkin-themed Indian dishes that you wouldn’t be scared to show Gordon Ramsay.

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Lions and Tigers and Minivans, Oh My!

The single biggest influence on any literary work is the mind of the person who’s reading it.

Most English classes would disagree with me.  The overwhelming consensus (in public schools, at least) seems to be that a work must be dissected to be appreciated: you have to understand the author’s life and the time period to truly appreciate a piece of literature.  This isn’t wrong, per se, since analysis adds a wonderful depth to literature, but I’ve got two problems with that mindset.

First, it completely disregards the reader’s reason for actually liking the book.  Example: it took me years to appreciate To Kill a Mockingbird for the racial significance.  I loved seeing a book portray a child as a human being.

Second, we aren’t actually allowed to teach kids about the author’s life or the time period, so the actual purpose is moot.


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Child of Divorce: Grownup Edition

I’ve written before about my parents’ separation and impending divorce.

Our family’s situation isn’t a particularly unique one.  Two people got married twenty years ago, spent two decades changing and growing, and discovered that they’d grown apart.  It’s impossible to tell who you’re going to be in twenty years, after all, and relationships can be tenuous things.  I’m of the opinion that this separation is for the best and hold absolutely no resentment.

It’s put me in a hard place, though.

Not that they haven’t been wonderful about it.  The whole process has been fairly painless on my end, probably helped along by the fact that I moved a thousand miles away from either of them.  But being an adult child of divorce, no matter how rough or smooth the transition, puts you in a fairly singular situation.

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Just Keep Swimming

I’m sure I’ve written about this topic a thousand times already, but I’m going to reiterate it here: the hardest part of writing is keeping your work going after the book is written.  That can apply to editing (a long and arduous trek up a Sisyphean hill) or publishing (more labyrinthian than Sisyphean) or even just moving on to the next story.  Currently, for me, it’s a little bit of the first two and a lot of a fourth option.

In other words, I’m applying for graduate school.

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Livetweet Books: Artemis Fowl #6

Warning: All LTBooks articles contain spoilers.

Every Saturday at noon CST I livetweet a book as I read through it for an hour or two.  It’s immensely enjoyable.

If you’re interested in following as I livetweet, my Twitter handle is @AlexPenname, and I have a little widget that posts my last few Tweets on the sidebar of my blog.  You can also follow the tag #livetweetbooks and the name of whatever I’m reading that week.

I was originally going to post this on Thursday, but then Eoin Colfer tweeted this:

And well, I figured I should post it early.  Happy birthday, Artemis you fairy-kissing kook.

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