Friday, April 27, 2007

Confessions 5 - I hate Christopher Paolini

I hate Christopher Paolini.

While not recognizing the photo, you may recognize the name. Mr. Paolini is a New York Times Best-Selling author for the Inheritance Trilogy, the most famous of which is Eragon.

You may remember a few years ago when this book came out and it was apparently a big deal. I read it. It was not.

I was introduced to Mr. Paolini through Oprah. She was doing a segment on teen authors, and I was watching it from my home television, seething with jealousy.

I am now going to make a generalization. You are free to agree or disagree: ...Fantasy sucks. The vast majority of fantasy and science fiction novels are badly written and cliched and follow the same plot over and over and over again.

(Ironically, another teen authoress featured on that Oprah Show did a successful series on vampires. Vampire stories also suck. Even Interview With A Vampire, when it comes down to it, sucks.)

This is my personal vendetta against fantasy and science fiction writing. I don't expect to be hassled about it. I know there are exceptions to the hideous rule, such as the well-known and quickly-declining-in-integrity Harry Potter books, or the Dealing with Dragons series, which was comedic and heart-warming. And lets not forget the classics (Tolkien, Pratchett, Adams, etc.), but even they have their moments.

But this is not about my hatred of those genres. This is about my hatred for Christopher Paolini.

Hate is a strong word. Mine is composed of anger and envy. While previews for the movie Eragon were showing, I took to changing the channel every time one came on. I forbade my family to see or support that movie in any way (alas, as I am a dependent teenager they have done little to respect my wishes, and in fact tonight I shall commit the treasonous act of purchasing that blasted film for the enjoyment and corruption of my little sister).

Why, you may ask? I'll tell you.


1) First and foremost, he's a cheater. He did not submit his book to literary agents or publishing houses, he did not wait in agony for MONTHS for a rejection letter before sending his manuscript out again. He did not go to literary conventions and attempt to make contacts who would be interested in reading the boring and terribly-written novel of his.

NO, I say! He did none of these things. He is nothing like the rest of us.

His family owns a publishing company. Without having to earn the right in any way, he published his book and began distributing it.

Aha, but you may say... if he is so terrible, why then the success of his novel?

Oprah. Plain and simple. Oprah did a segment on teen writers, and as he was one, he got to go on. This led to his popularity with the general public, who is known for having bad taste.

2) As mentioned before, his books are terrible.

Anyone who has read Eragon, or attempted to read Eldest (I say attempted because I myself, a staunch believer in not abandoning books once you have started to read them, had to put it down due to sheer passionate annoyance) can back me up on this one.

Paolini took the low road. He created a /very/ cliched character: a special, talented, attractive boy with a mysterious past who is mistreated by his family and then made fabulous through magic.


A basic plot summary: The Cliched main character, whose name is Eragon, discovers a dragon stone, watches the dragon hatched, and is now its caretaker. He fights off bakers or something of the sort, and takes an old man and the dragon with him on a journey to stop some dark force spreading across the land. There is a race against time, some more bad guys, some fire, a little blood, and then a magical and beautiful elven princess who is heroically rescued from prison as she is the leader of a rebellion camp (go figure).

The plot continues in that vein but I can't continue because it's too painful.

Anyway, I don't like his writing. He also sounds like he swallowed a thesaurus, and then puked it all over his 'script.

In conclusion, don't take any of this too seriously, as someday I shall probably have to eat my words.

Am I envious? Of course. I'm envious of any writer who has success, particularly those who do not /deserve/ it.

Does Christopher Paolini deserve my envy? Of course not. He has done nothing remarkable and his work will not be remembered past this generation.

...At least... that's what I tell myself.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Confessions - 4

The most harrowing thing about being a writer in your teenage years is The College Question. Do you settle for something 'practical' (i.e. cheap, in-state, close to home) with a practical major (read: business), or do you study what you /really/ want to... English, English Lit, or Creative Writing.

Well folks, this is my confession:

I have been accepted to college. I will study Creative Writing at the largest private liberal arts school in the country, Columbia College Chicago of Chicago, Illinois.

That's my personal college triumph. What's yours?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Cost of Shipping

Yesterday I finished printing off my manuscript (as I ran out of ink SEVEN PAGES before being done), and ran it down to the local post office.

I took $40 dollars with me, but it turns out that shipping for 2-3 days with special handling was only $7.50, and only an extra 50 cents to get one of those scanner sticker things that will then alert you to the fact that your package has arrived.

Just a little detail, in case you were wondering.

Also, for all you young and inexperienced writers out there, here real quickly is how to properly address a manila envelope, because -confession- I still forget sometimes.

Taken from Nursing Advocacy

The above picture demonstrates how to properly address the manila envelope. Your name and address goes in the upper left hand corner, and the sendee's address goes in the center. Do not put stamps or anything else on it, as they will do this at the post office.

Now, there's one more important detail (this is the one I'm always forgetting): The main opening (you know, the one with the lickable sealers and that strange metal contraption) MUST BE on your right hand side and facing the table as you address the envelope. like this:

Hope that was helpful!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Meredith Maran

Because, in paranoid-Savannah-world, every April 17th is my death day, I have stayed home to avoid school shootings and bus accidents, yet still may be done in by choking, electrocution, and serial killers.

If you can get a hold of the April 2007 edition of More magazine, flip to page 209 and read the story of Meredith Maran.

Or, just visit her website.

She is an inspiring lady with an amazing story, which includes her first book being published at age 18, and raising goats at the age of 17 in Taos.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Confessions -3 The Gloating Stage Part II

The letter below came at the exact perfect time. I was very upset that day, and had just woken up from a nap designed to let my brain process several troubling issues of the moment, and then I went downstairs to where the computer was and...

There it was. The letter I had been waiting for four two months.

I had just been complaining in my head because, as the author of the book, I intimately know its details, and have been with it so long and seen so many bad drafts of it that my general opinion of the thing is, though I love it to death, that it sucks.

Which made the arrival of this email all the more sweet.

And now we shall briefly discuss what to do when you get good writing news, part deux:

As is true for most young writers, winning some form of acceptance is not only a good thing for the mood and ego, but a chance go totally push it in the face of those who thought you couldn't do it, or in general don't like you.

Unless this can be done with the utmost tact, I highly recommend against it.

Once this kind of news gets leaked to a few people, say... your favorite teacher, word gets around. You can even stage it so you tell said teacher in the beginning of class when other students are around. This makes it look like you only wanted to tell the teacher, but other students overheard, and then you get to talk to them about it.

Like I said, word travels. You would much rather have the person you want to impress hear it from someone else and have to ask you about it than tell them yourself and be thought of as stuck-up (forgive the colloquialism), wouldn't you?


Begin a mailing list of people who wished to be informed of your career progress. I've got four teachers on mine. Teachers love to stay in contact with their ex-students and see what's going on in their lives; chances are you won't be intruding.

Teh Letter

For all of my fictionpress readers out there, what my contact said about WW:

Hi, Savannah! Greetings from New York. I’m sorry it’s taken me so very long to get back to you about your fine novel. For a while, I was forced to focus intently on the completion of my new book, [Book name protected by Savannah], which is coming out in about three weeks. As you know, completing a book is so much harder than starting it. After that, the hectic pace of writing/living/traveling/crisis management at work has made it almost impossible for me to focus on anything that I might read for pleasure.

And speaking of pleasure, that is exactly the word to describe my feelings as I make my way through your lovely, magical novel. I was prepared for something well-written and rather dramatic, but not for the depth of insight, the futuristic vision, and the poetic command of language. To say that you are a prodigy is not an over-statement, but it actually doesn’t do your work justice. This would be an accomplished work of art for one of any age and experience. I am still reading it and savoring its genuine originality, but I can tell you right now that I do believe it is worthy of being circulated, read, thought about and published. If you would please send me a new, fresh copy of the work, I will send it to a few people that I know in the business here. The first is an agent who has a good feeling for young talent and is among the most aggressive people I know. His name is [Name protected by Savannah], and he works at a big agency here. He would eat his young to get a good deal. If [Name] likes it, he will be very helping in making sure the right people see it. The other person who I believe would be interested is my fiction publisher, [Name also protected by Savannah]. She is a very cool person and always interested in edgy, new things. I think she would see the value not only in your work to date, but also in all that you will do in the future as well.

Anyhow, I felt that enough time had gone by that I truly owed you a note, particularly since there are so very many good things to say. I know I don’t have to tell you to keep writing. You were born to that job. I’ll keep reading and doing whatever I can to help you on your road.

[Savannah's Contact]

Comment to be later added

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Quotes from Working in the Dark

I read the book Working in the Dark by Jimmy Santiago Baca and Adan Hernandez, and here are selected quotes pulled from it:

(NOTE: Most of these are probably fragments of sentences, because I only pulled the good parts. So try to take in the imagery and ignore the context.)

While the president’s son in the Rose Garden snares a butterfly into his net and rips off its wings.

Ocean moaning in her blood vessels.

My heart is a cow’s tongue slowly licking a block of ice.

Poetry sits in God’s chair when God is absent.

I reach my bladed hands into the haunted heart of the woman made lonely by her beauty, because she is too beautiful for men to love her soul.

And when I finish a poem I measure its authenticity against their hearts’ reality and their imagination. The voice of poetry runs steadily and faithfully in the veins of all children.

My ears and arms become pollen sacks where butterflies and bees pollinate in language.

In the poem I plant my seed and lick the birth-film from each vowel.

My dove self is eaten and my wolf self growls.

The privilege of poets is that they can become all things in the act of creation, everything –and nothing.

And gently bit her lips.

I have failed many times to water the tree that grows in the heart.

I want to embrace all of life, the beautiful and the ugly, to sit with cowards and warriors and listen to them all.

Each true poem is the pear-handled pistol you point at your heart.

Let poetry be your open space that you transverse with courage.

He can sing the most hidden secrets of the heart. And these are gifts from God.