Romantic Words, Reading Slowly, and Moldy Potatoes

From Problems of a Book Nerd:

I think I need to read The Fault in Our Stars. But not yet—not, at least, until I've finished this:

I am this far:

Originally, I'd intended to blast through it and have a review up Wednesday. Upon opening it to the first page, though, something rare happened: it struck me that I ought to slow down and enjoy this final new Wheel of Time—and, to my surprise, I realized that I can do that, if I try. At least, till the suspense finally gets to me.

To be fair, I could meander through it and still have a review by Wednesday if I dropped everything else. The problem is, I'm having too much fun writing my own book. I owe much of that enthusiasm to Christie. Thank you, Christie. <3

Along the recovering-enthusiasm lines, here's a writer's link for the week: Kiersten White on raising the rent on the destructive little voices in your head:
But occasionally something slips in, destructive, seeping, something that collapses your space in around itself until it is small and huddled, looking inward instead of outward....
The voices dominating the space, ringing around in it, are not your own, but that makes them all the more powerful, louder still. And the very worst ones, the cruelest and hardest to ignore, sometimes sound just like you.
Kick them the crap out.
Not until the fourth or fifth time through this post did I realize she wasn't necessarily talking about writing. The reason being, probably, that nearly every negative voice in my head this last year has had to do with my writing of a certain 2009 NaNoWriMo novel. (Obsessive much? That's the prerogative of the artist, I suppose.)

It's not something I blame on any one person, or any one reason. It's like my memories of working in customer service. I remember two things: 1) the people who went out of their way to be friendly—the ones who came in regularly, the ones who made me laugh, the Spanish guy who, after forty-five terribly difficult minutes of trying to figure out what was wrong with his software, said, "I am very, very pleased with you"—and 2) the people who went out of their way to be nasty, who, like the one moldy potato in the sack, could spoil a week's work in ten minutes. The big man who got in my face, while his wife stood by and watched, and cursed me out because, after ten minutes of measuring, he determined that his picture was framed a hair off center—that memory still gives me a rush of adrenaline jitters.

After a couple of years of reading loads and loads of industry blogs and going through lots and lots of critique, I've caught my mind clinging to a few exceptionally affirmative comments, yet allowing a handful of negatives to taint huge portions of my work. It's hard to know what to do with negatives when you value truth. Is it going to be impossible to sell something of that nature in this market? Was that reader right to suggest that change, even if it doesn't quite fit with my vision for the story? Does the likelihood of drawing certain criticisms matter?

At some point, moving forward requires making a judgment call. Either lay it aside as 'a learning experience' and try something new, or accept challenges and even the certainty of making mistakes and fight for what is good in the work. I'm choosing the latter. There's something damn good in that book, something worth fighting for, and I will see it become the best it can be.

End of manifesto. For now.

Random customer service memory: an extremely loquacious patron who got angry because our water pitcher splashed on his expensive shoes. He bought us a new one and handed it to me with a sheepish look and "It's yellow. It matches your shirt. And your teeth."

It's collapse-into-giggles hilarity to me now. But I have brushed with whitening toothpaste ever since.


  1. I get the "Real" and "Always" referents, but not the "Okay" one. What is that referring to?

    One that I'd add to this list is "You're weird." Anyone know where that's from? Hopefully, this will make up for my not knowing about "Okay"... :o)

    And I'm all for savoring a slow read, Jenna, even though that means that we all need to wait longer to read your always excellent and informative review. Happy reading!

    1. It's from The Fault in Our Stars, if I read the original post right. Which is why I need to read that book. I didn't get that reference either! :)

      "You're weird"--no idea! But now I really, really WANT to know. Where is it from?

      And thanks. I'm enjoying taking my time with the book. I stayed up till midnight with it last night and am now about a quarter of the way through. :D

    2. Since no one else has stepped up yet, I guess I'll have to tell you and break the suspense.... It's from the movie "Donnie Darko," and is a sweet compliment given to Donnie by Gretchen.

    3. Aww! Maybe it's a nerd thing, but I could see that being a lovely compliment. :) I've never seen the movie, but might look into it.


  2. Christie is the best, isn't she!

    I'm glad your writing is so enjoyable right now! And I really don't thing sell-ability ought to be considered in writing..I mean the public is so fickle..you can't rely on them to like or dislike anything! But I can see how a comment like that could sow uncertainty in the entire value of everything you've ever written :(

    I loved the customer service reflections! You should have a whole post dedicated to them! My favorite of my own is the woman who misheard me and decided my name was 'Peggy' (I know, I really have no idea how she came to Peggy). It got so bad I gave up correcting her. And then, I cut my hair! She came in.."Oh dear, what was your name?" I told her. "Wendy, so nice to meet you, Wendy." and wandered away..I think she just gave people whatever name she thought they SHOULD have.

    ..I'm devastated by the 'romantic' words. That IS a problem for me. What's wrong with the world, Jenna?? :)

    1. Peggy! And Wendy?! Those aren't ANYTHING like your name, or any form of it that I can think of. She must have been more than half deaf. ;)

      As for the romantic words, have you ever read John Green (author of The Fault in Our Stars)? He's pretty literary for a YA author. Half of me totally thinks you would like him, and the other half isn't sure at all. I'm kind of curious to see how he put the romance in "Okay", though I'm also terrified of reading that book because I know it'll be an overflowing bath of tears.

      I must admit that 'Always' is more about forgiveness for me than romance. 'Real'--for all my angst toward The Hunger Games--is awfully tender in context. ;) But yeah, there should be some really purple-prosy romantic words and phrases, but the stuff I'm coming up with off the top of my head is entirely plebeian. Like "Shut up. Just shut up. You had me at hello."

      Maybe it's that so many of the literary novels are tragedies. :P

  3. I think so..but then, maybe so am I - my least favorite customer interaction was when I misheard "will you go to dinner with me?" as "Can I return my dining table?" ...embarrassing, to say the least..and resulted in my most committed stalker. (I don't really inspire commitment in most people, thank goodness).

    I'll check out John Green, at least to tell you which half of you is right..and, because I'm looking for something new :)

    You might be right about the romance..I'm trying to think of something better..but I don't know how many people would agree with "Coffee" as *the* ultimate in romance ;)

    1. HAHA. That sounds a little terrifying.

      And now I need to know how "Coffee" is the ultimate in romantic words. Though I admit that I look forward to Lou saying it every Saturday morning, and have many warm feelings toward him when he does. ;)

  4. "The Fault in Our Stars" is awesome. I've been a vlogbrothers fan since 2008, and became a fan of John's writing after reading "Paper Towns". I gave a copy of TFiOS to my best friend, my mother, and my little brother after finishing it, because a) I thought they'd love it (which they all did) and b) because I wanted real-life people with whom to discuss it.

    1. I've heard only glowing reviews of it! One of these days...

  5. Can you explain to me where is from : "always" and "real" from the quote? Thank you.

    1. "Always" is from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. "Real" is from Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, the third Hunger Games book. Hope that helps!


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