Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Stay hungry. Stay foolish.

(that's a Jobs quote, btw)

Steve Jobs resigned as Apple CEO today, possibly because of his health. Taken from his official resignation letter, he says, "I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come."

This, coupled with a few emails I've gotten from readers and aspiring writers over the last few days, has made me really pensive. So I'm going to quote Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford commencement address below:

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

You only have one life. Don't spend your precious days working at a job to please your parents, or at a job you hate in exchange for some financial security. Believe me, I understand--I still regret not majoring in art and I almost went for a career I would have hated. I know the urgency of a roof over my head and food on the table, but my life's work should never be something I don't want to do. Do what you have to do to survive, but never lose sight of your real goals. Never get lost in the maze of Security. As Steve Jobs says, you have got, you have GOT, to find what you love. Life is just far too short to be spent otherwise. It stuns me every time I stop to think about how much Jobs has achieved in only 55 years of life. I hope that I'm able to achieve even a sliver of that.

If you know that you'll regret pursuing an accounting degree instead of a creative writing degree, pursue the creative writing degree. If you want to be an artist instead of a doctor, then be an artist. Be brave. Have faith. Do it. You only get one shot at life.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Trend Labels kill organic instinct

Once I'm told about a trend, I can't ever go back to "unknowing" that it is a trend. And that is extremely frustrating. Why?

Because when I'm writing BEFORE I know about All The Trends, the reasons why I choose to do certain things is organic and instinctive. I can guarantee that to myself. I wrote Legend as a YA before I knew I was writing it as YA. I wrote Legend as a dystopia before I knew that dystopias were The Thing. I wrote Legend with a male 1st person POV before I was told that a 1st person POV is a trend in YA and a male POV is not a trend in YA. So when I'm told that dystopia is a trend, I feel like I've sold out. When I'm told that male POV is NOT a trend, I feel good because I think I'm going against the grain. And then I feel frustrated.

Every time I find out about a trend, I feel something taken away from me.

Because AFTER I know of a trend, I feel like future writing decisions I make are forever influenced by that trend, regardless of which side of the trend I fall on. For example, if I now choose to write something purely from a female's POV, I will always think to myself: am I writing female because it is a trend? Or am I choosing it because that's what I want to write? Am I adding romance between my characters because it is a trend, or because I genuinely see the romance between those characters? Am I writing YA now because it is a trend? My brain becomes this feverish list of trends, no matter how hard I try to "unknow" them.

Male POV = not trend
Female POV = trend
Romance = trend
Ethnic main characters = not trend
1st person POV = trend
3rd person POV = not trend
Present tense = trend
Past tense = not trend
Dystopia = trend
Historical fiction = not trend
Paranormal = trend

This is a bad, bad way for me to think. I want to write an ethnic main character without thinking that I'm choosing it because I want to buck a trend. Once, I could be sure that I chose these things strictly because I wanted to write that way; now I can never be sure. Am I subconsciously influenced forever by knowing of these trends? I greatly dislike that feeling, because it takes away my Organic Instinct.

I want my Organic Instinct back.

I want to be able to write a paranormal story from the 1st person point of view of a gay Chinese girl without hearing all these whispers in my head that say, "You're following a trend! You're breaking a trend! You're following a trend! You're breaking a trend!". I like writing boy POVs. I like writing 1st person POVs. I want to pick what to write without feeling guilt (following trend) or pride (not following trend). I want to pick what to write simply because I want to write it.

So if there's a new trend going around, please don't tell me! I don't want to know that it exists.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Legend is in the Wall Street Journal today

(Reposted from my deviantArt blog)

There are 2 different articles about Legend in the Wall Street Journal today! The first is in their print edition and also online under their subscriber content, and the 2nd is online at their Speakeasy section. There's some extra information about the inspirations behind the book as well as other tidbits:

Online article: ‘Twilight’ Producers, Penguin Are Betting on ‘Legend’

Print/Subscription article: Penguin Puts Marketing Muscle Behind 'Legend,' a Dystopian Debut

I wanted to say major thanks to reporter Barbara Chai, who was such a delight to talk to. You are amazing!


Also, Legend has now sold foreign rights for Complex Chinese and Dutch! My family members in China can now have an edition they can read, which makes me all kinds of happy.

In other news, I've been writing the beginning of Legend 3 and am discovering all sorts of new things about what it's like to write the final book in a trilogy. Legend 2 (which is still undergoing revisions) was way, way, WAY harder to draft than Legend 1 was. In fact, I'd say the first book of any series must be the easiest one to write....and the second one is the hardest. I'm still afraid of Book 2. Man, it pwned me so much. It's STILL pwning me.

Legend 3, though, is an interesting beast. Writing it is, again, completely different from writing the previous two. Book 2 is a lot of character fleshing-out, digging deeper into the personalities and motivations of the characters that were introduced in #1. #3 is so far all about Tying The Loose Ends. Getting everything that's been wandering about in #1 and #2 back together and tied together into one thick string is a much bigger challenge than I guessed. I suppose it's sort of like writing #1 in reverse--where #1 is about starting off with one thick string and then branching it all off into multiple little strings. Much of the challenge I'm hitting is being able to think of the right plot scenes to match the tying of loose ends. What scene can be used to start tightening up two or three individual strings? That's pretty much all I've been mumbling to myself lately. I take notes at the gym, at restaurants, at the laundromat, everywhere. And then I toss them out and write new ones. I'm so glad no one sees me working at home. People would probably think I'm nuts, walking around in my PJs, mumbling to myself and running my hands through my messy hair until it looks absolutely incomprehensible.

I've never ever tried writing a book 2 or 3 before in my life. I've had practice writing book ONES of stories....I mean, all the unpublished manuscripts I wrote before Legend were all book ones of stories. But this is the first time I've gone farther than the first one. And man, it is a serious learning experience.

Also, still pinching myself. Most days, I still can't believe everything that is happening. Today is definitely one of those days. <3