Mix Tapes and Ephemera

“Drawing is still basically the same as it has been since prehistoric times. It brings together man and the world. It lives through magic.” – Keith Haring

I’m working on a new novel right now. Two kind of. One is slowly, horribly, painfully eeking its way toward the final stages of revision before it moves on. And the other is just a little zygote of a thing, floating. It’s all goo and slime and memory.

The one that is almost done, much like Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb, is fantasy. It’s action-y science fiction-y sort of chewy stuff built around a band of street kids and one messed up game of chess.

The other is not. The other is real, or as real as I can get to being real without completely yanking down the veil. It’s about something that happened in high school, most specifically my falling off a waterfall and cracking open my head and almost dying. And it’s about love. Right love. Secret love. Unrequited love. You know….love.

You’d think that would be the easier book to write. But it’s not. And it’s not because I don’t know these characters and it’s not because I’m not dedicated or focused. It’s because the REAL is harder than the fake. Even though I’m faking 50% of the real.

The weirdest thing about it is that I have to do research. And not just digging through my old journals or jogging the memories of my old friends. But in other books. Books like My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr. And The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary  E. Pearson. Books that talk about things that are too hard to talk about. And I guess I need those books because, in many ways, this is hard to talk about.

And I’ve been thinking a lot about Keith Haring. About glyphs. About representation. And that strange crossroad where the truth and the lie intersect and the continue on down the road, around the bend, and out of sight.


See the thing is, it’s not about writing nooks. Or getting up early. It’s not about long walks ruminating over character names or how to write the perfect kiss. It’s about reading. Reading. Reading. Reading so much that suddenly you learn how to do what they do. It’s about osmosis.

Take it from a professional (of which I am not):

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Read. Really, I can not begin to describe all the times I’ve met people who tell me that they would love to write, if only they could find the time (as if writing were a hobby, although given the quality of much of what is published, I sometimes think it is!), but if I talk to them at length it quickly becomes clear they do not read. That’s like wanting to run a marathon, but not wanting to run. Reading is the only way to learn how to write. It can’t be taught, exactly. It has to be absorbed.

Bolding mine. That’s from an interview with Ms. Freymann-Weyr, whose work my husband introduced me to. Many many good things have come to me in exactly the same way. He’s rather keen and terribly perceptive even when he pretends he isn’t. The whole thing can be found here: http://teenbookreview.wordpress.com/2008/03/10/interview-garret-freymann-weyr/

So yeah…read. Everything you can get your hands on. Read. Before writing, just read. Then read some more.

That’s the end of my public service announcement.

By Ally Malinenko

I live in Brooklyn which is good except when it’s not which is horrid. I’ve been writing for awhile, and have some stuff published and some stuff not. I don’t like when people refer to pets as their children and I can’t resist a handful of cheez-its when offered. I have a burning desire to go to Antarctica, specifically to the South Pole so I can see where Robert Falcon Scott died. I like to read books. I like to write stories and poems. I even wrote some novels. You can read them.

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