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Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Review of: "The Roads We Take"

Most of us have heard of J. D. Salinger, and the famous novel: “The Catcher in the Rye.” In fact, that novel (1951), and the author, Jerome David Salinger, who has since died (1/27/2010) at the ripe age of 91, has been a mainstay in high schools across America for what the novel deals with: complex issues of innocence, identity, belonging, loss, and connection (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._D._Salinger). But that was then; this is now.
Author, Ethan Edgewood is a new writer of the modern age, having written his first novel “The Roads We Take” (2016), and I might say it deals very much with some of the same “complex issues” of innocence, identity, and so forth, except not in high school, but as with many young people in their twenties, today. So this novel is quite frankly a very good assessment of today’s young people who are looking for direction in their lives. Probably a good read for the college level young adults, starting out.
What is different–and yet, the same–is the nostalgia, and sometimes poignant truth of the difficulty of getting through life’s lessons as a young person: either one grows, or falls short and into trouble, and that is the biggest theme of all, how taking one road can lead a way that helps one progress, or another road, that can lead the way you do not want to go. The excitement is in the trip, where two young men full of youth, restlessness, and mischief, find themselves wondering what might happen if they take a road trip and decide to give it a go.
During the timeframe of a week on the road, the reader finds out who these two young men really are, and what makes them do what they do, on which roads they plan or don’t plan to travel, and why.
Perhaps some may say the story’s been told, but one must remember, every story in the world has been told: it takes a good storyteller to tell it again. And this is what I’ve found. J.D. Salinger might have died, but he may have been reincarnated in Ethan Edgewood. If not, Ethan has a good grip on Salinger’s style, albeit, not exactly the same in semantics, syntax, and grammar, but close enough to say this author, Edgewood, knows how to tell a story, make the reader a part of that story, and makes the reader think about those thematic truths within the story, whether we’ve heard it before or not. I liked it, and I loved reading about the angst of and sometimes tormenting choices in, youth and human progress. To read it, one might find a wide ray of hope in humanity, once again.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

I have written various genres throughout my life. I've written lyrics for songs, poetry, short stories, essays, academic papers, screenplays, and finally I have written a novel.

Why do I sound like I am hinging everything as culminating activity toward the novel? because it's true. Everything writers write is only a smaller hill, mountain, to the eventual Mount Everest: the novel.

When I first began with lyrics, I learned the structure of a song. Most songs followed the same structure: (i.e., verse one, verse two, bridge, verse three, etc, and so forth). This song structure is not necessarily written in stone, but it's quite accurate enough to know when this structure was seen, it was a song, and whenever I wanted to write a song, I'd use the structure.

ONE MAJOR sonstress that I learned a lot from: Joni Mitchell

Then came poetry. Somewhat similar to lyrics, poetry had so many different structures depending on the type of poem. This is because poetry has been written since the beginning of recorded history, therefore, toward each generation, zeitgeist, historical events, etc., the poetry might have changed its structure to enhance the context of life at the time. So, there must be at least thirty or so types or forms of poetry one can use to express the content, depending on the message one is conveying or to display a historical feeling or whatever the content or subject of the poem ignites: (i.e. a sonnet would use a structure that calls for 14 lines. If an epic poem it had a different structure. If a Haiku, and so forth). Our most prevalent form today is no structure, called "freeform."
From old to new here: Keats, Arnold, Plath, & Frost:

In college I learned I couldn't just yak away on a paper. There were particular rules I had to follow, specifically that made it easier for academia to follow the reason for the writing; no fiction, like a story, but non-fiction, like a critique of a story or something other than fiction. Perhaps, for example, I want to write about the historical events going on during Shakespeare's reign (in writing). I would have rules in academia to follow how to write such an essay, and possible it could turn into a book about "Shakespeare Life and times" or something like that.

Short stories have always been fun to me, until I read articles that there were rules for them as well. It turned out I was writing more of a novelette, than short stories. My characters and the plot was too long to be short, and could confuse readers who might lose interest expecting to find a quick climax and ending. So I worked on this awhile.

Ray Bradbury

Screenplays are a bear to do! They are very much like a play, with directions for movement but of camera, instead of bodies, and close-ups, or full pan of an area, and so forth. It was kind of like whispering to someone sitting next to you while you watch a movie; it kind of takes a little romance out of it, which is why it takes a special kind of person. I like it, but I came to decide I would try a new direction because it seemed to work for the one quality I had: verbosity.

Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson SDCC 2014.jpg
Jackson at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International
BornPeter Robert Jackson
31 October 1961 (age 54)
WellingtonNew Zealand
Years active1976–present
Net worthNZ $600 million
Spouse(s)Fran Walsh (1987–present)

In fact, I went to law school for a year and STILL get joked about with my husband, remembering the first year with the Torts professor, when he wrote on my first case analysis: "You're verbose, and you drift..."  I will never forget that. However, instead of looking at it negatively for the rest of my life and throwing in the towel about writing at all, I took it to heart and decided I needed to work on this very thing, because I had a feeling it was my ticket to ride.

And it is, it was, and I believe even now, it is going to get better and better as I create all the characters, the plot and sub-plots, all the structure within my novels, starting with my first, "Taos: A novel." So, next month I will begin by my thoughts on articles I read that made me realize something special about novel-writing. I hope it helps you, too.

This is the beginning of my coming novel, "Taos."  It's not unlikely you will be wondering just what kind of book this is.

I like to think of it as a "gown-up," having not grown up until something traumatic slaps her in the face, and that is exactly what happens. She is slapped in the face with information pertaining to the case she is on.

Matilda "Two Crows" Morton is a Ph.D., Criminal Psychologist, who was just picked up by the New Mexico State Police, and she is partner and detective working the field, but belonging to the Analytics Department of Forensics. Why this is all important is because lines get cloudy when you're new, and especially when you are partnered for a reason that has nothing to do with the job, but more about who you are and what connection you have with the case.

Matilda is partnered no less with a man who more than turns her on; he turns her life around from being a secretly suicidal person, but becoming hopeful about life and love. The issue in this novel is about how traumatic information feeds into someone's journey to self-discovery and how one person deals with it.

I have been working on this novel for quite some time. I keep reading about other writers, some authors who took a long time in writing their breakout novel, and some, of course, became very famous (think of Margaret Mitchell, "Gone with the Wind,") and so I am hopeful and patient, applying every known lesson and education I am given by conventions, friends, and other authors, and editing, re-editing, and re-re-editing this 400 pg. fiction of a particular life.

I will tell you that I've read a number of authors who have claimed that it is a great help to keep a journal on the book. So I went out and bought me a notebook JUST for my novel, it being called "The Taos Journal."

Why I opened this blog was to trace steps into the world of becoming a novelist. I had written short stories, poetry, song lyrics even, and a couple of screenplays, all of which do not seem to me as difficult as this novel has. And, most importantly I have learned things along the way of writing this novel, that no one could have ever explained to me until I actually experienced it. I am going to try and blog about those little experiences. This I think is what makes a novelist a novelist, and a good one, even a great one, which is my aspiration.

Someday, we all have to leave earth, and all of us in some way want to leave something behind for prosperity, a legacy of hope, love, some kind of inspiration for the young to continue and for the old to hold on. That is my desire for becoming a writer, and especially a novelist.

I was always told I talk too much as a child. Now I talk too much but I will use that gift for my novels.

Starting next month I will share some of the things I have learned (like epiphanies) from just going through the "novel' journey.

Until next month, hang in there, make your life count for good.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

How a Writer Uses Description
by Lydia Nolan

It is not an easy thing to feel an emotion like desperation, especially when it is coupled with having a need for someone to be there with you, as if your insides are shrinking deeper inside you toward a painful black hole, like a suction from a vacuum that does not let go of what it is trying to suck inside itself. 

The Black Hole of Need

And yet, you have to not let that someone know of your need of her or him, because you have before and they do not understand such a vacancy inside. You have to endure that black hole sense of suction  that almost nearly feels like it will suck you inside out, or maybe into some kind of abyss. It makes you ashamed, and it makes you feel like a baby needing its mother's milk as the stomach pangs grow stronger; or a wounded animal wishing it could get up and run, but instead it has to wait for the hunter to put an end to it in death. 

It is painful, and also degrading to some extent, to need so much. And yet, in some way or another, all of us have wanted or needed someone so bad that we say 'it hurts." It does hurt, literally. 

It hurts because we are longing and hoping in some miraculous way that the person we long for will come and provide that sense of comfort we get when that special person comes. When they are there you want to embrace them and hope they will bring us a feeling of safety, protection, happiness, fullfillment, and comfort, again. 

But you cannot ask for such a thing because some people are worse in this need than others, and this need can make that special someone feel afraid of being sucked into your black hole experience, and they may not need you as much as you need them.

Comparing the Character's Inside Emotional State to Physical Things

It is not unlike the idea of drugs. Drugs bring into your mind a state of euphoria. So does liquor for that matter; so does smoking for some people, or food, and even sex for some. All of these comfort-induced drug, or drug-like activities can elevate according to the need factor in that person who experiences that emptiness; these inducements help to make a person feel a saturation and filling of that suction going on inside them. 

Those of us who do not need so badly cannot comprehend such an emotional state inside us, as this, so we look to others who can describe such a state to us.

A Writer's Task is to Make the Reader Grow Empathy 

Some of us merely scowl at smokers or overeaters, or near holidays we might just pity the drunk on the street, or we will look in horror at the heroin addict downtown, sleeping on the ground while we go about our work or business. 

The people who look condescending to the needy ones are those that have perhaps never felt that hole inside them, or at least not so badly, or for very long. Perhaps they were fortunate enough to have loving parents, or someone who would always be there when they needed help, or if they were hungry, or if they needed affection when they failed at some test or challenge.

But other people long for such comfort so badly it hurts always inside them, and they feel the pull of that suction at every hour in every day, and they can think of almost nothing else but to fill that void.

How Do Writers Describe Well Enough?

Okay. Now, remember: you are a Writer, and you need to describe a person who has such a need. How do you do that? Did my description work to make you FEEL it? That is the challenge of a Writer. The Writer must be ever cognizant of each character's actual emotional behavior that drives them to do what they do. If you cannot describe your character good enough, you will have a hard time describing WHY he or she does what he or she does. Good luck.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Writing a Novel, I think, is most challenging a project as all the others.

In a short story you get to tell it like you were talking to a frined, or gossiping about a story you heard. It's over pretty quickly, so you really don't have to flesh out the characters as you do in a novel: they appear, they act, they get some challenge, and they overcome it, and then it is the end. There may be an antagonist or two, but you really cannot clutter it with too many people and threads of plots, as you do not have time or space to proliferate.

In a poem, you are attempting an emotion or maybe a few emotions, but it is not a story. Yes, it takes a certain amount of talent to write good poetry, all the other poets (who consider themselves poets) are good for teaching poetry to K-12 students, but the really good poetry is left for those very special human beings that feel and express high above the usual masses. There are different subgenres of poetry as well, and it takes a number of talented characteristics to pursue such subs as well, for instance: epic poetry vs. haiku.

Then, you have chapter books, which were originally created to engage younger readers, but currently they are well suited for any reader (with a short attention span). They are like encapsulated "events" or plot within a chapter of reading ease and length, and are somewhat like "soap opera" style, so that one could put the book down easily enough and begin again for the next chapter. Like "chats" or epic poetry, it is a way to tell a story in a brief method. While it takes skill to do this, it is still less complicated than the novel.

The novel, then, is complex for the main reason: that it increases in complexity through various characters, plotlines with subplots, and structure may have a variety of goals and outcomes. It is much like trying to coordinate a massive wedding: you cannot forget which character sits where, and why they are treated as they are, nor can you forget the complexity while considering the value of each character's place in the plot, whether antogonistic, protagonistic, comically relieving, and so forth. All loose ends must be tied by finish. All ENDS must have some value to the plot. It is like trying to hold the tentacles of an octopus, with one hand!

For me, the novel is so very much as I have always found myself to be as far as expression. I have nearly all my life been an intense observer of people and their situations, their passions, and their behavior. Hence, I enjoy the complexity of life in all its "tentacles," though it is time-consuming (as far as research) and though it takes a lot of thought to place value on the many facets of life's movement.

Yes, this is only my opinion, but I think I've enough life experience and college education both, to have earned an educationed opinion here: I have been writing since I was 10 years old.

If it were not for the pompous attitudes of most "scholars," and "educators," I would have my Ph.D simply by my life's journey.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Under New Design

It's been awile since I've written in this blog. I have several blogs you see, and I wanted to redesign this one, but I procrastinated.

I have finally gotten around to redesigning it, and now I can come once again and write about what I'd like to write about on this blog, which has to do with writing of course, but particularly about writing the novel. My other blog is more a creative non-fiction project, and I talk about everything under the sun, and how I deal with it, that one being entitled by my name, www.lydianolan.com .

There are so many different genres a writer chooses to write through, such as short stories, poetry, novels, etc., and so forth. I chose to talk about the novel here, because it is one of the most fascinating writing projects to me. I will be talking not only about the mechanics of novels in general, but I will be analyzing a variety of novels written by famous and not so famous authors in various periods of time.

I hope you will comment and make me feel someone is listening, as it is helpful to hear what others may think about my critiques on certain novels, especially if you can add to it, or if you can pose a different perspective on it.

I began (in yet another blog) with reviewing books, and that is going to happen here as well, but we will be looking more at the way in which the novel itself was structured, by the author, and the technical aspects of the content and context of the novel particularly.

Of course, we will be doing some research on these novels, and we will be citing those particular scholars for support of our opinions.

I hope you will enjoy this new format, and make it a success by your contributions. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Will I Dream?
copywrite Lydia Nolan
July 29, 2014

A classic movie, called "2010"(1984) gave us an elusive, enchanting story about intelligence, and where it comes from, or rather, how it penetrates us all. Yet, the maker of such a movie has an added quality to his or her dreams, which is to be able to create a lasting memorial on others' intelligence, which, if it is successful, enhances and elevates our human evolution.

As a writer, I know it is not simply enough to "publish," for in today's market there is a hoard of published "authors" who are glutting the market, with no apparaent impression on the minds of others, except to entertain them for a period of reading....but...I guess writing stuff to entertain is what it's all about, right? Or is it?

The "classic" penetrates deeper, and only a handful of true WRITERS, know this, and strive for this one creation...that which penetrates the NOW trend and turns into a "classic."

 A classic is a story that transcends time, and employs the power of zeitgeist of the generation in which it is embedded, working its way into the next generation, and the next. It is everlasting, and helps us, whether we realize it or not, to move to a new level of intelligence...I think they call that "evolution."...

I myself, do not want to Write, just to Write, but to write something that compels thought and intelligence to a heightened,  passionate journey, inside every one of us.

The publishing of a book, with content to compel the reader to ponder about a universal theme, or a love greater than the actual words, is a love story beyond the emotional, lustful love, and a gateway into hypersensitive observation of the world around the true Writer and the true Reader... 

If I had one wish, it would be to remove the fodder, (less books, more meaningful narration) and compel the genius of a classic theme...that which lives quietly, secretly within each of us. To enhance us in our way of life, to bring liberty to what troubles us, and to foster the pursuit of true happiness. When we see ourselves in a story, an emotion, a feeling, a characteristic--bad or good--we learn. Yes, and learning can sometimes be painful, which is really the best kind. To learn with a heartfelt understanding creates in us a larger mind and soul, a larger heart for sensitivity. Why would we want anything less?

SAL-9000: Will I dream?
Dr. Chandra: Of course you will. All intelligent beings dream. Nobody knows why.
~2010 (1984).
From IMDb.com