Back in October when I first returned to the blog I wrote about wanting to write again. I’ve been thinking about it these last 3 months, but still no planning or outlining. There’s no rush. More recently I’ve been thinking much more about the character I want to create.
I know no one has been here since the beginning, but when I first decided to start this blog it was called “Write me a Book, John!”. I still love that name. I created it to document my writing. It was a new, fun experience I’m glad I had. Then the blog went through multiple years of rather exponential growth. I couldn’t keep up with the comments and likes and notifications. But then things fell back to earth because I’ve had several periods of not posting. But now I’m back into the swing of things and let’s get back to the origins.
I’ve been brainstorming character names. I know everyone has their own process and some may search for specific meaning in a name. I don’t. When coming up with a name I mostly go off the sound of it. Which is how I landed on Andrew Banks nearly 8 years ago. Right now I know 2 things for sure. I want the name to be Hispanic and male. The one I keep circling back to is Joe Alvarez. But I’m not convinced. What do you think? What’s your process for coming up with a name?
Early this morning I finished my 37th book of the year. I expect to reach 40 by the end of this week. But this year’s reading has taught me one thing that’s undeniable. Robert Crais is the best crime novelist writing today.
It was the seventh time this year I’ve read one of his books. That’s an absurd amount for me to read by any single author in a given year. Going back to my college days when I was consistently in the 20-40 range several calendar years in a row, I’d never read that many by a single author. This year has been different. Mostly because I’ve actually gotten some good numbers done. So there’s more opportunity.
I’m really stingy with my ratings for books. For example, after I finished my 30th book of the year the average rating was 2.93 out of 5. That was a slight uptick from the first 25. The average rating for the seven Robert Crais novels I’ve read this year? 4.42 out of 5. I’ve rated more than half of them as 5 star reads. I talk and write a lot about Harry Bosch. Michael Connelly is right there with Crais, but in my eyes he’s just slightly behind. Harry will likely be coming to an end at some point as he’s aged in real-time. Nothing I’ve read indicates Elvis or Joe are going anywhere anytime soon. No complaints from me.
I could say more. Lots more. And I will. But it’s time for bed.
Lee Child is the author of the immensely popular Jack Reacher series. You probably know Tom Cruise was cast as Reacher in two movies, but I hope you also know he doesn’t fit the description of the character.
The series has been ongoing for more than 20 years. It’s high quality writing, but I’ve only read the first two in the series. Reacher never pulled me in like others in the genre.
But the author has jumped ship. He claims he’s done writing. Now Reacher will continue on, but written by the author’s younger brother.
This seems, well, odd. No one says Lee Child hasn’t earned the opportunity to stop writing. Other authors who have written long, popular series typically don’t just stop writing them. There are several recent examples of authors who continued writing until their death. But let’s say Lee Child is the exception. He’s done. Okay.
In mentioning the previous authors it goes without saying that if the series is still being written at the time of their death, then there is no conclusion to it. That’s what I find most annoying about this. If he no longer wants to write the series, why not finish it over a final book or two. Wrap things up nice and tight for the millions of readers he’s amassed? Oh, right. Money.
The other issue I have with this is that the mystery genre seems to be the worst at this very thing. Authors will write a series for decades and never actually finish it. Sometimes they die and sometimes it gets passed along to someone else forever and ever. Young adult series, though often much more popular than mysteries, are always finished. Literary fiction, same. But mystery, nah, let’s keep this thing going for eternity.
I hate when series or characters are continued after the author’s death. It’s never about anything other than money. I imagine the publisher fought tooth and nail to continue the series once it learned of Child’s desire to retire. I know the counter is that the series continues for those readers I mentioned, but it isn’t the same. It’s never the same.
Of all the things this pandemic has brought to mind, one that’s surprised me is about writing. For those of you new around here, once upon a time I self-published a book back in 2013.
Recently my manager at work randomly bought and read it and sometimes we talk about it during 1-1 sessions and I swear he knows it better than I do. 😂
But what the pandemic has me thinking about more recently is writing again. Again, mine was self-published and it could have been much better if I’d taken more time on it. When I originally finished I wanted to start a series. I still have that ultimate goal, but I don’t want it to be that one.
Back then I used to take a notepad with me everywhere just in case I had a sudden thought. Now that’s not necessary being home all the time, but maybe I’ll start thinking about it again.
I wrote recently about how some of my coworkers found out about my book. Over these last couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about it too.
I’m going to reread it again. I’m not sure, but this will likely be my sixth or seventh time reading it. I’ve never read any other book more than twice, and even those are rare.
But you might be wondering why I’m rereading it. I’m thinking about what I want to write next. Really thinking about it. I don’t have 8 million notes on my computer with ideas or plotlines or anything. Just an idea. But it has to start somewhere, right?
I’ve been at my current employer for almost exactly 2 years. I’m not really open with people at work. Last year one person knew everything that I was dealing with. Now it’s 3. Still not very many. And I don’t expect that number to grow. I think it’s actually shrinking. And that’s okay.
But last week I said something about writing a book. And today it seemed to snowball into this big thing.
I don’t tell anyone about it. Don’t ask me why. I don’t have an answer. It was a long time ago. And maybe one day I’ll write something new. But I don’t think I’d ever continue what I started. I’d start anew.
I want to create. To hold something in my hands that no one else had a hand in. I remember the first time I held my book in my hands. I cried. I want that again. But it’s been nearly 6 years. The time still isn’t right. And maybe it never will be. And that’s also okay.
And please don’t tell me that I should try writing everyday or something similar. I’m focused on my reading, work, and travel. That’s it.
Fun fact: most of you are recent here. When I started this blog it was called Write me a Book, John!. That was an amazing blog name. And I did. But things are different now.
How many times have you read online that “everyone has at least one book in them”? Honestly. Probably more times than you dare to admit. I know it’s plastered all over writing blogs like no tomorrow. I just stumbled across an article on Quartz that says precisely the opposite. Finally.
Only in the digital age would this be a reality. Can you imagine Hemingway telling some random guy in the street that everyone has at least one book in them? Or Jane Austen? Bradbury? Agatha Christie? I can’t. Because it’s ridiculous.
What’s worse is this mindset is embraced by so many people who really have no reason to write a book. Not talking about quality here, I’m talking about people who have never had an interest in writing until discovering this notion online that everyone with Microsoft Word should be writing a book.
I wrote one. But it had nothing to do with anyone besides myself and my reading. I had no idea this was something people blog about when I first started my writing. Four years later and writing another book couldn’t be further from my mind. My entire focus is on my career. My actual career. I’m fortunate to work for a company with nearly endless opportunity. I plan on taking full advantage of it.
I’m leaving you today. I suppose we both knew this would be the end result. But there are so many things I’ve loved about you. I wanted to let you Know a few of them.
The history. There’s history everywhere. Which means there’s ample opportunity to learn. And that’s my sole aim. To learn as much as I possibly can during my brief time on earth.
The museums. Boston is a city of museums. This of course is right in line with the history. Museums are about educating, and it seems that Boston is doing a wonderful job of educating.
Education. I’m from Houston. There are a number of universities located within the city. At least one is highly ranked among all universities in the country. But Houston simply doesn’t have the university presence Boston does. Which leads me to believe that the city is a hub for obtaining knowledge. Boston University. Northeastern. MIT. Harvard. I mean, wow. And yes, I realize Harvard is actually in Cambridge but SHH.
The diversity. Again, I’m from Houston. A city regularly touted as the most diverse city in the country. And heck, maybe it is. But everywhere I went in Boston I saw it on display. I heard more languages spoken than I can possibly count. In Houston I regularly hear two. English and Spanish. In eight days in Boston I probably heard 10.
But at the end of our brief time together there was certainly some negative. The roads. The roads here are terrible. And what’s with those weird three way intersections with no stop lights or anything? Are you asking for car accidents to happen?
But this isn’t about being negative. We had a spectacular eight day relationship. Maybe we can still be friends?
A Wannabe World Traveler
Robert Silvers was the founding editor of one of the most known book reviews. He stayed in the position of editor for more than 50 years.
I don’t know him, but I know the importance of book reviews. I’m not the biggest fan of writing or reading them, but that doesn’t mean the importance is any lesser. Books, like any form of entertainment, need reviews. The entire idea behind Goodreads is to give the everyday reader a chance to share their thoughts on books.
Take a moment to recognize how important book reviews are, and then how important it would have been more than 50 years ago to start a book review.
Look who finally got around to reading his first writing book! *raises hand*
I bought this book last year on a whim. First, Janet Evanovich sells as many books as any mystery author today. I figured her secret might just lie within the pages of this book. Second, it was on clearance at my store and I think I paid $1-$2 for it. Win-win, right? Meh. I guess you’ll just have to watch and find out!
Do you remember the first writing book you read?
This book satisfied the requirement to read a how-to book for my 2017 Reading Challenge.