What’s Your Story’s Worth??

I was folding laundry while I watched TedTalks on Netflix this morning.  I’ve learned if I want to be productive with the TV on, I can watch TedTalks or an episode of Hoarders.  If I watch TedTalks, I learn something new.  If I watch Hoarders, I want to throw out everything in my home.  Both shows seem to increase productivity when I’m stuck doing mindless, boring housework, more so than if I put a movie on.

Anyway, the TedTalk featured Paul Bloom: The Origins of Pleasure.  (Here’s the link below.)

Paul Bloom explained that much of the value of an object comes from the object’s origins.  For example, a simple sweater from a thrift store is perceived to have less value than the SAME sweater if it came from a movie star or a famous person.  A painting created by a famous artist has more value than a forgery, even though the forgery looks identical to the original painting.

I’ve seen this in my own life.  My hubby purchased two boxes of chocolates and gave them to me.  He bought them both when they were on sale.  One box was eaten rather quickly.  The other box was savored over the course of several weeks.  I opened up both boxes within minutes of each other on the same day.  Both boxes were delicious!  Chocolate.  Yum.  Yay hubby!!  What were the differences?  Why did I value one box more than the other?  Why did I savor the second box of chocolates but not the first?  Well…the first box was just good chocolate.  The second box had a booklet with a story for each piece of candy.  The first box of chocolates was probably better quality with a higher percentage of cocoa powder, but it didn’t have an elegant story about Marc de Champagne, or Swiss mountains, or Parisienne ladies.

As I’m folding t-shirts, I thought about perceived value and how it affects me as a writer.  I read something on a Facebook post the other day.  Several writers were commenting on the length of time it takes them to write a string of words.  One of the commenters mentioned it took them weeks, perhaps months to write a single chapter.  This person commented that they wished they could write faster and cited other published authors who are able to create large volumes of work within a short period time.  This simple wishful comment immediately brought on a slew of sour grape remarks about writing quality versus quantity.  The general perception seemed to be that a book written quickly over the course of a few weeks couldn’t possibly be as valuable as one written over a longer period of time.

Here’s my hypothesis:

I know some writers are more proficient than others, but wonder if you took the SAME well edited book and told one group of readers it took you 3 weeks or less to write this story, and told another group it took you over a year to write the SAME story, would the book’s value change?  I think…yes.  I’m not sure what this change in perception would look like in dollars and cents, but I think readers who were told they were reading a story that was written rather quickly would feel the book had less value, even if the quality and editing were superb.  All things being equal, value isn’t necessarily based on what is seen, but on its origins.  A forged painting may appear indistinguishable to the original artwork, but it doesn’t have the same origin story.

What does this mean to a writer?  I think a writer can both help and hurt their writing by sharing their origin stories, be it on a blog, a Facebook post, or inside the book itself.  Based on my hypothesis, I think you can take the same book and change the story’s value depending on its origins and what is shared with the reader and what is kept private.  As a writer, I think we can impact our work in many ways, especially on our media platforms.  If nothing else, it’s something to consider.

Have a great day!  JH

Third From the Top

Quote

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Third From the Top.”

Today’s post is inspired by a prompt.  The third sentence from the third post in my reader came from blog Eleventh Stack.  Their original post was titled Little Golden Memories.

 ” My first memory of having a favorite author whose name and work I knew well is definitely James Marshall. ”  ~Ginny

I’ve been an avid reader for almost as long as I can remember.  My love of books started when I was quite small.  My mom would read to me each night, books written by Beatrix Potter, Johnny Gruelle, and Beverly Cleary just to name a few.  They inspired my imagination with worlds where anything was possible.  Kittens dressed in pinafores, dolls earned candy hearts, and mice road around on motorcycles.  As a child, I was oblivious to the writers; I only saw their characters.  As an adult, I envy the minds that could create such marvelous stories!  To this day, I enjoy reading books written for children and young adults.

http://www.amazon.com/Tale-Tom-Kitten-Peter-Rabbit/dp/0723267774/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1427308293&sr=8-4&keywords=the+tale+of+tom+kitten+by+beatrix+potter

My world is filled with bills, housework, and the everyday stress of living, but is that all there is?  No!  Not when I can slip away for a few minutes or longer, to imagine places filled with Puddle-Ducks and maybe…a bit of magic!

Have a great day!  JH

Book Club Meeting: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

I’ve always wanted to join a book club.  I have no idea why.  When I think of Book Clubs, I think of sweaters, coffee, and cats.  Lots of cats.  Unless the cats are wearing the sweaters, this is imagery is probably false and cliche.

sabrina editor

Anyway, thanks to my current jobless dilemma, I finally had time to go to my FIRST book club meeting.  No cats.  No sweaters.  I did drink coffee.  My local library sponsored the event.  Yay!  Unfortunately, there was only two of us there: the librarian and me.  Don’t get me wrong, I still had fun, but the event was anticlimactic, compared with the vision in my head.

We read and reviewed the YA novel Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver.

*Warning: No vampires or sparkles.  LOL

http://www.amazon.com/Before-I-Fall-Lauren-Oliver/dp/0061726818/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1426860335&sr=8-1&keywords=before+I+fall

The cover didn’t do much for me.

Considering it’s published by HarperCollins, I would have thought they’d go with something more professional and less I made this myself with my camera phone.  Maybe that was the look they were going for?  If so, I am NOT their target audience.  If it wasn’t on the library’s book club list, I wouldn’t have bothered picking the novel up, let alone reading it.  However, I’m glad I did read this book because I LOVED it!  Not only that, I’d recommend it.

The characters seemed shallow to me at first.  Chapter One sets up the book, so have faith.  The book wouldn’t work without it.  I was amazed how much the characters grew, especially the main character, Sam.  I want to give her a hug.  Can you do that with a fictional character?  Sure!  There were a few sniffles from me towards the end of the book.  It’s different than anything I’ve read before.  Sam repeats the same day, over and over.  She learns and grows over the course of the book.  I would recommend this book to anyone, but especially young girls ages sixteen and up.  I think there’s a lot of life lesson’s that can be gleaned from Sam’s experiences.

If anyone else has read this book or if anyone else has a YA book they’d like to recommend, I’d love to hear from you!

Have a great day!  JH

Four Years? A WordPress Reality Check

anniversary-2x

I’ve been blogging on WordPress for FOUR years.  Four years?  That’s what WordPress says.  It’s a WordPress Anniversary.  Woo hoo!  Let’s all celebrate with jazz hands.  Should I be taking WordPress out for dinner, or should WordPress bring me flowers?  Maybe we should let this anniversary slide, like Flag Day or Washington’s birthday.  It doesn’t feel like four years have passed.  It seems shorter, much shorter.  It makes me think, what have I been doing all this time?

I started this blog to promote a series of books I planned on writing.  If you read anything at all about self-publishing and Indie Authors, that’s where the road to self-promotion starts.  Blogging.  Tweeting.  Facebook.  The road to Hell.  It all starts with social media.  There’s a bazillion different media platforms out there, and as a fledgling writer trying to pull yourself out of the muck of obscurity, you’re supposed to be somewhat fluid in all of these and more.  In reality, it reminds me of high school French.  Four years of learning, and all I can say is, “Bonjour!”

More than four years ago, I had a plan.  I had dreams.  I was going to write at LEAST a novel a year with some short stories in-between.  Ha!  No big deal, I thought.  I poured through books like I drink my coffee, the carnage of empty mugs and dogeared paperbacks overtaking my modest home.  If all of those authors could write novels, so can I!  I’m a reader with a small margin of talent and an abundance of snark.  How hard can it be?

Here’s the deal:

The actual WRITING of the novel isn’t nearly as difficult as getting your BUTT in the CHAIR!  I think just about ANYONE could write a novel if they could just do that.  In my mind, I’ve made a thousand excuses for my lack of writing productivity.  Work.  The weather. Laundry.  Dishes.  The cat needed me to throw his ping pong ball across the bathroom again.  You know, the usual, just…STUFF!  Some of it has been legitimate.  Most of it is a matter of not being disciplined enough to keep my butt in the chair long enough to get my words written for the day.  “I’ve got a mortgage, not a muse.”  Yes, Jim Butcher.  You’re right!  But then, something shiny comes along and I’m plodding down a road paved with Kitten Videos and Facebook advice.  It makes me want to scream!  I’m the only one keeping me away from my goals.  There’s no one to blame.  I’ve got a hubby who asks me almost daily, “Did you get in some writing today?”  He’s not a writer, but he gets it.  He gets me.  Butt in the chair: that’s what makes the words pop out.  One flipping word at a time.

Have I learned anything else during these four years?  Any pearls of wisdom to share?  Sure.  I’ve learned I don’t like reading books with this formula:

Don’t do this!

  1. Girl meets boy.
  2. Girl drops everything and falls in love with Boy.
  3. Gratuitous sex.
  4. Conflict.  (Perhaps a love triangle.)
  5. Boy realizes that, YES, he must rescue said Girl.  (Afterall, she did drop everything for her hunky, hunky guy.  Or an anvil dropped on her head.  There was gravity involved somewhere.)
  6. Even More Conflict.
  7. Resolution with lots of gratuitous sex.  (And jazz hands?)
  8. We all live happily ever after and skip off into the sunset.

I know it’s all be done before.  EVERYTHING.  Original ideas are hard to come by.  But if I read one more I-need-a-hunky-hunky-guy type of story, I think will take up darts just so I have something to throw.

That’s it!  That’s all I’ve got.  Happy Wednesday!  Time to celebrate with a package of saltine crackers and jar of peanut butter.  JH

Empty Shell St. Patty’s Day Ramble

I’m at home, jobless, and I feel like I’m floundering.

SAMSUNG

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be a stay at home parent.  Let me just say, I think you need more organizational skills than I currently possess to do it justice.  I’ve been writing, but not as much as I thought I would.  Cleaning, but my home’s looking rough around the edges.  I’m filling out job applications, but not finding anything full-time…  It’s safe to say, this staying at home stuff isn’t much to brag about.  Maybe I’m doing it wrong.  I like schedules and consistency.  Perhaps I’m better at managing other people than I am at managing myself.

On the plus side, I spent an hour cleaning up my front yard while listening to the faint sounds of Irish music wafting over from the local brew pub on the next street over.  So bizarre!  A couple of weeks ago, there was two feet of snow on the ground.  Now I’ve got daffodils popping up.

SAMSUNG

Now that the weather is warming up, perhaps I should be spending more time outdoors.  (Helps keep the depression at bay!)

Take Care!  JH