Wordy Wednesday (“Let Go”)

As predicted, I got exactly zero writing done yesterday, and I missed two of my classes, due to feeling so crappy and being so far behind on my homework, since I wasn’t able to finish anything Monday.

So I’m now a good 4k+ behind on my NaNoWriMo goals, and even behind by the site’s daily word goal standards, and that rocks, but oh well. This sort of thing has happened before. I’ll just have to write my butt off this weekend to catch back up. (Anyone up for doing some word sprints with me on Saturday?)

The winning option for this week’s Wordy Wednesday is poem/song lyrics, and the poem I’ve selected for you is called “Let Go.” I wrote it a couple weeks back–as I mentioned before, I’m going through some stuff right now, and this poem talks a bit about all of that.

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I wrote the words in purple ink

the shade of notes and planning and practiced signatures

and the words were at the base of my right thumb,

angled out, the easiest position to write

let go.

Throughout the day I filled them in,

ran over the lines until they bled across my palm

my skin became a manmade bruise, tattoo spreading

until my entire hand thrummed with the words

let go.

I traced the purple letters with tired eyes,

dry and slow and itching to scratch

I didn’t touch a thing until they were a part of my blood,

transported the poison to my brain through my heart,

and the ink was an eraser against the pain,

and the purple was the symbol of starting anew,

and I forgot what I needed to forget

I forgot enough to

let go.

I scrubbed the words with calloused fingers

that once ached with age but now were young,

and my skin is pale with starcrossed lines,

a thousand more stories ready to live

with costumes, black ink, and a white paper stage

singing of how she

let go.

**********

(Look, it’s the return of the NaNoWriMo Excerpt option!)

64

 day 6

~Julia

PS. Let this “PS.” stand as a reminder that you have until midnight tonight, eastern time, to enter to win a signed copy of Veronica Roth’s ALLEGIANT either on this blog post or on my Facebook page. I should be drawing and contacting the winner sometime tomorrow!

Story Time: The Week of Book Signings

Before we begin, you should know that the mug I’m currently drinking my hot apple cider out of has Grumpy Cat on it,  courtesy my CP Kira. And it makes me unreasonably happy.

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Snapshot_20131028It’s impossible to have a case of the Mondays when Grumpy Cat already has them for ya.

Now, onto what we’re actually talking about: The Week of Book Signings! This past week I had the opportunity to attend three different book signings, which was kind of crazy considering how I usually only go to a couple book signings a year. They were for Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (SHILOH), James Dashner (THE MAZE RUNNER), and Veronica Roth (DIVERGENT). I was super excited for all three of them, and it was fun to meet them in that order, because that was also the order in which I originally read the books. SHILOH was one of my favorites back when I was about eight, I read THE MAZE RUNNER junior year of high school, and I’ve been obsessed with DIVERGENT since senior year.

*****

I went to Phyllis Reynolds Naylor‘s signing with Rebecca Cao–a fellow Wolverine writer–and her boyfriend. Phyllis is on tour to advertise the last book in her Alice series right now, and while I’ve never read those books, it was neat to see how passionate a lot of the people at the signing were, along with the broad range of ages who showed up, from little kids to college students to adults. When it was my turn to meet her, I told her how SHILOH was one of my favorite books growing up and I have a beagle now. She’s an absolute sweetheart, full of the kind of spunk that makes a person glow. I’m definitely going to have to check out her Alice series.

Snapshot_20131028_3The inscription reads “To Julia a dog lover–best wishes! Phyllis Naylor”

*****

On Thursday, my friend (and future roommate) Emily and I sat impatiently through our evening classes before hurrying off to James Dashner‘s book signing, to talk about his new book THE EYE OF MINDS. Because of said classes (and a bit of confusion with our taxi driver), we didn’t get there until after he’d finished speaking and was already a good way into signing books, but we did manage to still score the last spots in the signing line–which actually worked out quite a bit in our favor, because it meant he could just stop and talk to us when it was our turn, since we were the last ones there.

We talked to him about his books, and our majors, and other such things, and then as we turned to leave, he called out a “Good luck with writing!” and I managed a thanks with a smile, and one of the people from the book store told me to come back if I ever had a novel of my own published. I looked back and sort of laughed and said, “I’ll attempt,” because what else is there to say, right?

It was especially cool getting to meet James Dashner because I first picked up my copy of THE MAZE RUNNER at the airport as my mom and I waited for our flight home from my first writing conference, the Writer’s Digest Conference 2011, in New York City. Whenever I think of that book now, I also think of that feeling of hope, that excitement and contentment that accompanies a good writing conference–the idea that maybe I could write a great book and get published someday, too.

Snapshot_20131028_4When Emily and I purchased our copies of THE EYE OF MINDS, we managed to get one that was printed upside down. The store offered to replace it for me, but I’ve always had a thing for messed up books since they’re more unique, so I kept it. Keeping with the theme of it being upside down, James Dashner also signed it upside down for me, and joked that it’ll be worth, “Maybe like five dollars someday!”

*****

Last but MOST CERTAINLY not least, I MET VERONICA ROTH!!! I went to the signing with my vlogging partner Hannah, Emily again, and mi madre (who was awesome enough to drive us all to Chicago). You can watch a video about it on Hannah and Julia’s Vlog.

We drove out Friday evening, and then got into line to wait for the signing around 11:00 AM central time on Saturday, Starbucks in hand. The event was by far the biggest book signing I’ve ever been to–it sold out over a month ago, with a thousand VRoth fans getting to meet her and have books signed–and a good number of them were already ahead of us in line, even though the event itself didn’t begin until 2:00.

Our seats in the theater for the interview portion of the event depended on where we were waiting in line, while our numbers for the book signing itself were predetermined by when we purchased our tickets–which meant that while my mom and I had ticket numbers 220 and 221, Hannah’s ticket number was 890.

We managed to snag seats in the fifth row, center section of the theater, which meant that our view was this:

Which, you know, is a pretty good view.

Before Veronica and the interviewer–Margot Wood of Epic Reads Tea Time fame–came on, the theater kept us busy listening to an organist who had risen on a little stage from the orchestra pit to play songs from the Beatles, and Phantom of the Opera, and more. It was brilliant.

Then Margot and Veronica DID come on, and we all basically just went insane, because OMG VERONICA ROTH.

The interview lasted about an hour–you can watch it here. At the end, Veronica surprised us by bringing her brother Karl Vincent Roth on stage to perform a song with her that he’d written for Tris–listen to it here (it’s called “The Mark”). Veronica sang backup vocals for him in the live performance.

Afterward, a massive screen dropped down over the stage, and Veronica had us watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (both Hannah and my favorite HP) while we waited for our group to be called to go get our books signed (they had us leave the theater for the signing area, in the lobby, in groups of fifty). The movie finished before Hannah’s group was even called, but that was fine because she finished reading during the climax.

Also while waiting, we had the opportunity to meet Margot Wood. I professed my love of Tea Time to her, and she told me that my hair “is so soft!” (Makes sense, since my name means “youthful, or downy,” after all.)

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Some shots of Hannah, Emily, and me freaking out with our copies of ALLEGIANT:

When it was my turn to meet Veronica Roth, I managed to hold down my squeeing enough to tell her she was my hero, and she sort of just looked down with a sheepish, disbelieving but grateful smile and said thanks–exactly the kind of response I’d expect from someone as awesome as Veronica. I still can’t believe how nice and down-to-earth she is; she tried to make the signing special and unique for every single one of the thousand people she met on Saturday. It was amazing.

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After the signing ended–a good four+ hours after it began–we headed into downtown Chicago to do all the touristy things, like drive down Lake Shore Drive, visit Millennium Park and Michigan Avenue, and watch the Navy Pier fireworks.

I’ve never been to Millennium Park at night, especially towards the end of October, so it was cool seeing how empty it was–it had a bit of a real life dystopian-fiction feel to it.

My favorite part was seeing Crown Fountain (aka the “face fountains”) completely empty of people with the water turned off. The faces were still all lit up, but everything else I associate with Crown Fountain was gone–there was no sunlight reflecting off the tiles, no shrieking children splashing through puddles. The only sounds came from the street and our voices echoed between the two fountains.

Because it was the Saturday before Halloween, Navy Pier put on a special out-of-season fireworks show, which we watched from Lake Shore Drive. Afterward, we made our way to the pier itself, where we wandered and then got a very late dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. At that point, it was around 11:00 PM central time (so midnight our time) and the only things we’d had to eat that day were Starbucks twelve hours before, and then popcorn during the movie.

Understandably, we were all pretty loopy by then.

Afterward, we all crashed the instant we turned the lights out. Sunday, we got brunch at my favorite Chicago-area crepe place, and then headed for home. On the way, we stopped at a beach, which was cold but gorgeous.

A bunch of giant, flat boulders led out into a point, I think used for weather monitoring.

Emily and I climbed all the way out.

Overall, it was a fantastic weekend. Veronica Roth is an amazing individual, and I fall more in love with Chicago every time I visit.

*****

Now, special treat: In honor of meeting my writing idol (and you reading through this entire, monstrously long post), I’m giving away ONE SIGNED COPY OF ALLEGIANT to a lucky reader!

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All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter giveaway linked below. I’ve set up lots of different entry options, so hopefully at least one will work for you! The giveaway will run through November 7th at midnight, eastern time.

 Enter Here to Win a signed copy of ALLEGIANT by Veronica Roth

Sound good? I can’t wait to send you the book!

~Julia

PS. The newest/last Hunger Games: Catching Fire trailer is incredible. The end of it is so powerful–I can’t even imagine what the movie will be like.

My Thoughts on ALLEGIANT by Veronica Roth

So this is probably going to turn out being less a proper review as much as just me rambling and using bullet points and stuff, because I’m exhausted right now and probably still too close to having read the book to say anything properly coherent.

But here are My Thoughts on Allegiant. (Because I know these are quite spoilery and I don’t want anyone accidentally coming across them, I’m putting the text from here on out in white. Just highlight below if you’d like to read on.)

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As I already mentioned in this week’s Wordy Wednesday, I had a bit of a mixed reaction to Allegiant. As a reader, I adored it–all my favorite characters were there, we finally got to learn what was outside the fence, and overall, it was a pretty satisfying conclusion to a trilogy I love. But at the same time, as a writer and someone who likes to critique movies in her free time, there was a lot I didn’t like about Allegiant. Not enough to make me actually not like the book–because no, I really do love it–but enough that I think it warrants me sharing my thoughts.

Also, let it be known: This in no way is a critique on Veronica Roth. A lot of people have been terrible to her since finishing Allegiant, returning their copies of the book and threatening her, and that is NOT okay. Veronica Roth is an amazing person who has granted us access to her life and writing, and she didn’t need to do that. She has given us a gift. Just because a book doesn’t end the way you want it to doesn’t mean you have a right to be rude or downright nasty to the author.

On the other hand, you are allowed to react to the book itself, which is what I’m doing here: Reacting to and critiquing the book. Not the author, never the author. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, right? (Not that I think anyone who’s awesome enough to read my blog would be one of the immature jerks being mean to VRoth, but I just wanted to get my opinion on the matter out there. So yeah. There ya go.)

*****

One: Let’s Kill Tris

Tris’s death scene was beautiful. I adored the way Roth wrote it, and part of me really loves her for going through with killing off the protag, because most people don’t have the guts to do that (I’m looking at you, Christopher Nolan, Beth Revis, and S’Meyer, just to name a few). After being disappointed so many times over being promised a good protagonist death that never actually happened (I swear I’m not a psycho–I just really love it when people actually do what they claim to set out to do), I should’ve been happy that Roth actually killed off Tris.

But here’s the thing that stopped me from sobbing my eyes out after David the Poop Face shot her: It wasn’t necessary for Tris to die. Tris’s dying didn’t solve anything, it just caused more problems. And oh yeah, we all saw it coming that you were going to kill Tris, Veronica Roth, because YOU WROTE THE BOOK WITH TWO PERSPECTIVES.

The moment Roth announced she was doing that, everyone knew what it meant. And yeah, yeah, yeah, having Tobias’s perspective throughout the rest of the book is helpful in giving a broader view of what’s going on, but for someone with as much character blood lust as Roth, it was obvious where that decision ultimately was going to lead. And the moment she started laying the breadcrumbs about Caleb and Tris’s relationship, it was obvious even how and why it was going to happen.

Not that Tris’s death being predictable is a bad thing, per say, but it did annoy me just because, after everything that happened in Insurgent, Tris was meant to survive. Killing her in the way Roth did destroyed Tris’s previous character development, and thus her arc.

Now, I REALIZE Veronica Roth can do whatever she wants to her characters–they’re her characters. But after spending so much time teaching Tris that throwing yourself head first into sacrificing your live isn’t the only option–that she could do good in her world without dying–it felt like a slap in the face for that ultimately to be the way she went.

You finally teach the girl how to survive, and then you make her go back on that freshly learned lesson in the defining moment of the trilogy–Tris claims to have learned the lesson that her life is important, but the first chance she gets to throw it all away again in Allegiant, she runs headfirst into the path of the bus LIKE SHE NEVER LEARNED IT IN THE FIRST PLACE. Tris’s death basically completely invalidates everything that happened in Insurgent. And sure, she has that line about not wanting to leave, but how is that one line supposed to hold up against 525 pages of Tris learning to value her life in the last book.

And then there’s the other stuff: It doesn’t solve any problems. Tris can save the day without dying; because she survives the death serum, it’s not actually necessary for Tris to die when she goes to set off the memory serum. She’s already made the decision to sacrifice herself to the death serum to save Caleb, which means that once she’s survived the death serum, it’s no longer a sacrifice. Instead, her death becomes one of collateral damage. Once she’s into the lab and David is there, she has no way of backing out or saving herself, because he’s going to shoot her whether she sets off the memory serum or not. She doesn’t sacrifice herself to save her friends and family; all she does is decide to take the bad guys down with her. It’s not a sacrifice if you don’t have any other choice.

So, when it comes down to it, Tris’s death doesn’t solve anything. It’s contrived. It’s not a martyr’s death like our brave, selfless protagonist deserves–it’s the death of a person who was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Roth put David in that room for the sole purpose of killing Tris in as dramatic a way as possible, and as far as I could tell from an outside perspective, she decided to kill Tris for the sole purpose of it being the ultimate people-die-in-war scenario.

But here’s the thing: Tris isn’t just another person. This isn’t real life, this is a book series. And because of that, even if you want to kill your protag, I think you still have to follow the rules of Plot Armor to an extent. Basically meaning: Anyone Can Die applies to everyone but the main characters, and then once you’re ready to kill off a protag, you should try to make it mean something. Plot Armor, in this case, stops meaning that everyone’s favorite characters can’t die, but instead that their death should not just be there as collateral damage, but as something that affects the overall plot, symbolism, AND his/her personal character arc. Otherwise, it’s not going to be satisfying to the reader–any reader, including someone like me who relishes a good fictional bloodbath.

I think the main reason readers are upset with Tris’s death is less because she died as much as because of how she died. If Tris had actually, in dying, saved the day, it would be a whole other matter. It’s the fact that she had already survived the death serum, thus fulfilling the obligations of the sacrifice, and then died as collateral damage–just another body–that got people upset. Sure, she still set off the memory serum, thus ending the immediate conflict, but she didn’t need to die to do that. David still could have been in the room and still could have shot her, and she still could have pressed the green button, without choosing to, in the end, let go of her life.

Tris deserved the death of a martyr–someone who could have survived, but chose to save her people, what she believed in, instead. And what she got was the death of someone who had no other choice–the kind of death that should be reserved for a secondary character, not the narrator. She becomes someone who knows she has no choice but to die, so might as well take the bad guys down with her. She should have been (in my personal, flawed, ultimately unimportant opinion) someone who could live, but decided to do the hard thing anyway, because it was right.

There was no right or wrong in Tris’s death. It just happened. It didn’t matter. Two+ books telling us how Tris matters, and then in the end, she doesn’t.

(Also: I would have been more disturbed seeing my mother with a bunch of bullet holes in her than relieved. just saying. That’s freaky, yo.)

EDIT, 10-28-13: Veronica Roth just posted her reasoning behind Tris’s death on her blog, and it’s definitely worth the read. It’s interesting to see how she views her protag’s death from a completely different perspective from the one I take here, and although I still don’t think Tris’s death is executed properly, it’s nice to know how Roth DID mean for the scene to be interpreted, and it’s nice to know that she didn’t mean for Tris to just become collateral damage. (I don’t know about you, but I still really want to know why the heck Natalie had to look like a redneck’s pinata at the end there, though.)

*****

Two: One Perspective Isn’t Enough

I actually think the two perspectives worked out all right in the book, because they did bring us such a broader image of what was happening. But at the same time, I am sick and tired of people changing how the third book in a trilogy is written–adding perspectives, etc.

Authors: You’re getting annoying. Stop making this a trend. It is possible to give multiple perspectives without making all the different characters new narrators (beautiful example: Natalie’s journal).

*****

Three: Tris Loses Her Voice

This is actually less of a point of critique as much as just an observation: Tris was a LOT more mature in this book than she was in the previous two. Which I think is actually great, because it shows how she grew up throughout the series, but at the same time, maybe a LITTLE more transition into Tris’s grown up voice would have been nice. It was jarring to go from her younger, more teenager-y voice at the end of Insurgent to it being just a few days later at the beginning of Allegiant and suddenly she’s a grown up.

(Observation to go along with this: VRoth has stopped talking/acting as much like a teenager the past couple years, herself. She’s really growing into her role as an adult now–she’s begun talking down to teen readers rather than talking on level with them, in more of a super-awesome-older-sister sort of way than her previous awkward-fabulous-fellow-teenager one–and it’s been fun watching her grow up. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with her talking down to us a bit, because she is in her twenties and married and all that fun stuff. But it’s something I’ve been noticing in her interviews/videos/blog posts/tumblr posts/etc lately.)

*****

Four: Tobias is a Whiny Four Year Old

Tobias isn’t called Four because he only has four fears. He’s called four because that’s the age he stopped developing emotionally.

Seriously, Tobias stopped being attractive to me in this book. Not that he’s ever been my type or anything (I’m more of a nerdy, Peter Parker kind of girl), but I did get why someone like Tris liked him. He was strong, knowledgeable, and always pushing her to do better. Tobias was basically who made Tris who she was in this book–logical, resilient, always looking at the bigger picture rather than her own insecurities.

And then you find out that Tobias is actually the exact opposite of who he molded Tris into being.

There’s nothing wrong with showing weakness sometimes, but when you’re in the sort of situation Fourtris are in, it’s important to remember that you’re just a piece of a much larger puzzle, and you need to keep your focus on that–for someone who’s from Abnegation, Tobias is about as self-centered as they come; all he comes to care about is fixing the problems that directly affect him.

Tobias suddenly being so insecure and pre-teen-PMSing moody about the not being Divergent thing in this book made him seem less like he was weakened by the circumstances as much as that he just naturally was weak-willed and minded, emotionally immature, and a toddler lashing out at anyone who tried to help him by pointing out his mistakes.

You’d think someone who taught Tris how to be strong despite all the broken pieces in her life would know how to do the same for himself.

*****

Five: Let’s Kill Everyone But the New Characters

Anybody else notice how while Roth happily killed off Tori, Uriah, and Tris, she never even touched any of the new characters? Seriously, I don’t even understand why Nita is still alive. If anyone should have been sacrificing themselves at the end there, it should have been Nita–that would have been such a nice bit of character development, after she was so self-centered, manipulating, and idiotic with the first rebellion.

Both Nita and Matthew were such flat characters, just there to help move the plot along, I would have loved to have seen more development for the two of them, Nita especially since she ultimately was the more influential. I never knew whether or not I truly should trust Matthew, since he always was just sort of there without revealing a lot about himself. He seemed like a plant, trying to gain everybody’s trust before turning them over to David. Roth did eventually give us the bit about how he’d once been in love with a GD who died because the GPs attacked her, but it definitely felt like it was there purely just to justify Matthew helping them.

Also: Did we ever actually meet Matthew’s supervisor? Because I don’t think we did, which was weird since so much time was spent talking about him.

Also also: None of the bad guys, on either side, died. (Well actually: Edward. But he was never a figure in power, so I’m not sure if he should even count.) I would have loved to see one of the antagonist leaders go, and preferably in an inconsequential sort of way. Like if Marcus got caught by a stray bullet or something in the final battle–something super inconsequential like that–it would have been fantastic.

Also also also: I WANTED A FINAL BATTLE. ARE THESE YA ACTION THRILLER DYSTOPIAN NOVELS OR ARE THEY NOT.

*****

Six: I WANTED A FINAL BATTLE SCENE.

Seriously. Why didn’t we have a final battle. The only one who does any fighting in the end is Tris, and that’s for about point-five seconds before she gets shot.

I get that Roth was trying to give us the message that talking things out, being diplomatic rather than pigheaded, war-hungry idiots is also an option, but I don’t know. I like fiction with action. I like elaborate battle sequences and unnecessary causalities, and you should know: I am the most gentle person ever in real life. I’m a vegetarian, I regularly talk my parents out of killing spiders, and I suck at stage combat because I’m always afraid I’m going to actually accidentally hurt the person opposite me in the scene.

But I do love a good action-packed book or movie. And in a series that has depended so much on violence to advance the plot up until this point, it was disappointing for everyone just to make nice in the end. Maybe if Tobias’s group had to dodge and fight off Bureau people on their way to getting the Chicago leaders to talk things out, it would have been more satisfying for me. As it was, they kind of just did their whole half of the climax without trouble and then were just done with it.

*****

Seven: Who Needs Consistent Pacing

In both Divergent and Insurgent, Tris is caught up in nonstop plot twists and action sequences. I felt like Allegiant just sort of plodded along in comparison, giving us the occasional twist and/or burst of action to keep us going, but not enough to make it a proper page turner.

In comparison, I’d like to retract my comment in the Wordy Wednesday post about the book not demonstrating as obvious an example of dramatic structure as D1 and D2. I read most of Allegiant while I was absolutely exhausted, and I think that affected my ability to pinpoint the inciting incident and catalyst and rising action and all that. Looking back on it, it’s actually all fairly obvious. So: Ignore me on that. The dramatic structure was fine. I more just have a problem with the lack of plot twists and action sequences. (Roth says she’s matured as a writer to no longer feel like she needs to include as many of those, but unfortunately, I have a really short attention span. Which means that unless there are five different subplots and a bomb about to go off at any point in time, I’m probably not going find the book very captivating when I go to reread it. And I kind of judge books’ quality on how well they hold up in the reread. So sorry about that, that’s more my problem than Allegiant‘s.)

*****

So, I think that covers just about all of my main critique. I could talk more about some of the little stuff, but this post is long enough as it is. (If you read through this entire thing: Here. Take my love.)

The important thing to remember is that I did enjoy this book. A lot. I stayed up until 5:00 AM to finish it Tuesday night, I and I don’t do that for just anything, especially during the school year. I loved the decision to give Uriah a slow death, and I loved the action sequences that we DID get, and I think Roth described grief in a very realistic, beautiful way. I liked that she almost broke up Fourtris at one point, and as much as Tobias’s weakness annoyed me (come on, seriously, GET A HANDLE ON YOURSELF, MAN), his scene with his mother at the end, when she chose him over power, brought me the closest to tears I ever got while reading this. I enjoyed all the inside jokes and the airplane ride and the scene with the targets when they’re teaching Caleb how to shoot. I enjoyed Christina and Uriah having a completely platonic relationship, and I love the fact that she and Tobias end up such good friends in the end, since they started out not liking each other much in Divergent. I liked SO MUCH about this book–and ultimately, all of that outweighs the parts that I didn’t like.

So: Allegiant isn’t perfect, but it’s still a good novel. It has its moments. The line-by-line writing is tight and purposeful, and I am really sad this trilogy is over. But I’m also really excited that Veronica Roth is still just at the beginning of her writing career.

In the immortal words of JK Rowling, “I think we must expect great things from you, Veronica Roth.”

If the Divergent trilogy is any indication, great things, indeed.

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About to leave for Chicago for VRoth’s book signing!!! 😀 See you on the other side.

~Julia

Wordy Wednesday (“Bad Poetry”)

Okay, several things:

1) I finished reading Allegiant around 5:00 AM, and it was So. Good. SOOOO GOOOOD OHMYGOSH YOU DON’T EVEN UNDERSTAND. (Unless you’ve read it. Because then you probably do.) At the same time, though, I’m really pissed off about some parts. Because while as a reader, it was basically everything I wanted it to be, and super engrossing, and a fitting conclusion to the trilogy–as a writer, I felt like there was a lot of contrived crap going down, and some problems with characterization and through-arc, and just a general predictability throughout the whole thing. Allegiant didn’t have nearly as many plot twists as the first two, and not as obvious use of dramatic structure (rising action, climax, all that). So while it was un-put-down-able enough for me to stay up until five in the morning reading it the first time, it’s not as likely to keep me going like that on a reread.

While I honestly was not disappointed by the book, and I VERY MUCH enjoyed reading it, and I think it ultimately was a good ending to a good trilogy–I do have a lot of critique for it. And I’m kind of full-to-bursting wanting to share my opinions in more detail, but I also don’t want to give away anything for anyone who hasn’t read it yet in a Wordy Wednesday post. So look out for a book review soon, and just know not to read it unless you want spoilers, because it will be quite spoilerific.

2) I’m really tired right now. Because staying up until 5:00 AM and I don’t mix.

3) OHMYGOSH I’M MEETING VERONICA ROTH IN THREE DAYS I’M BASICALLY GOING TO BURST INTO TEARS THE MOMENT SHE WALKS INTO THE THEATER SHE’S MY HERO.

4) This week’s Wordy Wednesday is a poem I wrote a few weeks back for my hall’s Wednesday Write Night (a lot of people in my hall this year are English and/or creative writing majors, so we get together to geek out over nerdy writing things sometimes). The theme was “bad poetry,” and we had to write a poem involving both a braid (one of my I’m-too-lazy-to-actually-do-my-hair side braids, actually) and this dude named Dennis. We had about fifteen minutes to do it in, and the goal was to make it as obnoxiously bad as possible. Let me know how well I did. 😉

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Roses are red, violets are blue,

I swear this is a poem, or at least I think it is

Oh, um stew—because stew rhymes with blue, and that is true,

and that’s something I knew, because I’m stewing on the word blue

and I need a rhyme too so stew, stew, stew, stew, stew, stew, stew

Blue.

Now onto stanza 2.

You’re probably wondering who I am, because these are really interesting thoughts

And that is because I am a braid, approximately the same length as a tape measure would be

if held up to me,

and I have a pink hair tie, which is symbolic for innocence or Barbie or something

and it’s not blue, because blue is sad, and I don’t want to be sad so PINK,

Pink hair tie, beautiful hair tie, a rose is a rose is a rose and all that crap,

Who likes Shakespeare anyway, he’s not even real,

Don’t tell me what to feel

DON’T YOU DARE STEAL

THIS POEM, BECAUSE IT’S GREAT

Like a figure eight, a clean slate, first rate, bait, gait, something or other than ends in –ait

I am a braid and braids are like twisted bands of feelings,

All twisted up together into a knot just barely held together by a pink hair band,

And I JUST HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS, OKAY?

SHUT UP. I DO.

So there are these three feelings, and they are bitterness and anger and jealousy because those are all really unique and different and ohmygosh I give up on life.

Life as a braid sucks. You just hang out beside this random girl’s face all the time.

Oh, and something about Dennis. He has a hat.

********

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~Julia

College Writer Tag

Hey look–it’s the College Writer Tag!

College Writer Tag

Rules:

1. Before anything else, thank the totally cool person who nominated you for this tag, because they obviously think you’re awesome.

2. Answer the five questions.

3. Nominate four other college writers. (You know. If you want to. Completely not actually a requirement.)

*****

Questions:

1. What year are you? Currently a sophomore.

2. What’s your major(s)/minor(s)? Creative writing major. Considering double majoring in English.

3. What type(s) of writing do you do? I’ll write pretty much anything, but my favorite’s YA novels. I do a lot of action-y stuff.

4. What are your plans for after college, both career-wise and writing-wise? Not sure yet, but I’m looking to either get my MFA or try to head straight into a job in publishing while continuing to run the Chapter One Young Writers Conference. And, you know, actually WRITING as much as possible.

5. What is one thing you’ve learned about writing while in college? You can’t always just wait for the inspiration to strike; when you’re working to a deadline, it doesn’t matter if your muse has decided to take a day off–you’ve just gotta write.

*****

I nominate:

Kira Budge

Mel of The Ultimately Useless Stories of an Average Teenager

Rebecca Cao

Patrice of Whimsically Yours

 

Hope you’re having an actually-semi-decent Monday! I’ve kind of just been sitting in my room spazzing all day over Allegiant coming out tonight. (Upside: spazzing has led to an increase in productivity. I’ve gotten more homework done this afternoon than I’ve finished in the past two weeks combined. Plus actually bothered to take out my trash. And just wrote this blog post.) (Basically, waiting for Allegiant has turned me into Superman.)

Also: even if I didn’t nominate you but you’re in college and you like to write, feel free to participate in this tag as well!

Have a great evening! 🙂

 

~Julia

Wordy Wednesday (“The City Will Wake”)

Today’s the last day of Fall Break for me, and as sad as I am to see it go (especially since most of my “break” has been spent working on homework, so I barely even got a chance to relax anyway), I’m also really excited about what’s coming up. Primarily next Tuesday and the Saturday afterward.

That’s right. Allegiant–the last book in Veronica Roth’s Divergent Trilogy–is coming out. And a group of us are driving to Chicago to attend V-Roth’s book signing. Which means I’m basically going to go into cardiac arrest, because HOLY CRAP VERONICA ROTH I LOVE HER.

Snapshot_20131016

Unfortunately, before then, I do still have to go to lots of classes and do lots of homework (still working on those Spanish essay rewrites, for anyone keeping up with my Facebook page and/or Twitter). No idea how I’m supposed to focus on school with so many great books releasing this season (anywhere within hearing distance of me is a Spoiler Free Zone–I still haven’t gotten my hands on Once We Were, or House of Hades, ORRR The Dream Thieves), but I’m working on it.

In the meantime, this week’s Wordy Wednesday is a short story I wrote for creative writing class last semester, called “The City Will Wake.” Since I adore cities so much–especially New York–I wanted to try writing from the perspective of someone who doesn’t like them.

**********

            I wrap my jacket more firmly around myself and take a step into the park.

There is frost on the ground—a layer of prickly grey fur that coats the grass, which is brown and limp. To my right is a pond, its surface glossy and white. Warm yellow Christmas lights wink overhead, hung and forgotten between the maple branches crisscrossing the path. The sun should be rising by now, beyond the sky’s sheet of deadened clouds, but the park is dim and cool.

The heels of my boots click against the sidewalk. Although the city is awake beyond the trees, here the rumbling, screeching call of the taxis is a movie score it is easy to forget.

During the moment I walk to meet my friends, I am alone, like I almost always am in New York, surrounded by strangers.

My hands sweat in my pockets. I know it is better than exposing them to the dry air, but the stickiness makes them itch. My lips are chapped, my ears frozen. I wonder how many people have walked this path—how many people have felt their cheeks grow stiff with the blood and cold.

My eyes water as the wind breathes against them.

If this is spring, I cannot imagine the city coming alive because of it.

In only one week, I will get to go home, and there will be tulips and little green buds on all the trees. That is a true spring. But I cannot imagine making it a whole week longer surrounded by so much concrete. I will drown.

Felix and Caroline wait for me beside the carousel with their faces pink, eyes squinted against the wind. There are smiles tacked firmly to their lips. The grand, colorful carousel horses rattle on brass poles behind them while a woman in a dress that is much too thin for this weather passes, pushing a stroller. Felix extracts a gloved hand from his pocket and waves to me. “Good morning!” His voice is hoarse from the cold, but cheerful nonetheless.

“I think you and I have different definitions of good,” I say.

“Well ‘bad morning’ to you, then,” he says.

Caroline hands me a blue travel mug with steam rising from its lid and we begin our daily trek through the park. At first the skyscrapers are visible beyond the barren tree branches, but as we venture further down the path, the cement and brick slowly disappear behind layers of nature. It is leafless and dead nature, yes, but it is also still more alive than the buildings and the cars.

We pass the petting zoo and another pond that has a surface like frosted glass; we pass a play structure and businessmen in suits, and people who are our age, out walking their fluffy little dogs while talking on cell phones. Gradually the street lights flicker out overhead and the clouds move from silty grey to navy-tinged white. They are a second skin, hugging the sky, keeping the sun out. My toes are numb in my boots. My legs are stiff, nerves tingling, knees refusing to bend.

“I can’t wait until my internship is over.” I lift my coffee to my lips and suck in the bitter-sweet scent before taking a sip. Warmth spreads through my mouth, down my throat, comes to rest in my stomach. Caroline clucks her tongue.

“How in the world do you manage to hate New York City?”

“The same way you manage to love it, I guess,” I say. Felix laughs.

“You’ve been here for two months and you haven’t found a single thing you like?” Caroline asks. “Come on. You leave in a week. There must be something you’re excited to tell everyone back home about.”

“Yes. I’m excited to tell them I’m never going to leave there ever again.”

Caroline rolls her eyes and brushes her white-blond bangs off her forehead, but doesn’t retort. We’re nearing the edge of the park now, our office building coming into view, rising over the shorter buildings that surround it.

I take another sip of my coffee, feel its warmth in my fingers despite the wind biting against them, and turn back once to look at the brown skeletons that are the trees and the slippery yellowed mess that is the grass. Children interrupt my view as they run by, laughing and screaming in plaid skirts and ties. The clouds are heavy overhead. I wonder how different it would be to grow up here, rather than back home.

The rising sun breaks through the clouds overhead, and for a second the skyline visible beyond the leafless treetops turns from dull grey to a thousand shining colors. Beautiful. Like the concrete is not a cage to drown in, but a structure on which to stand.

Maybe in the summer it would look that way more often. Maybe like the trees, the city has not truly been dead all this winter as it has appeared to be—it has only been asleep. And spring will come eventually.

I tilt my face towards the warmth, towards the light, and there is the thought that I might miss this after all. Not the city as a whole, but moments like this. With the sunrise warm on my face and my toes numb in my boots. The air thin and dry and perhaps not full of life itself, but waiting for life to occur.

Felix asks, “Is that a smile I see on the Great Miss Farm Girl’s face?” He stops where he and Caroline have walked ahead until I catch up. His eyes are on the sunrise, too. He blows on his coffee, sending a gush of pearly white steam into the air. It seems to dance as it hovers then rises towards the clouds.

“No, of course not,” I say. “Why would I ever be smiling? That’s crazy.”

“Good, because otherwise we’d have to invite you back sometime.” He nudges me with his shoulder, and I allow myself half a grin. I hear Caroline’s steps as she walks to us, and then she stops on the other side of Felix. Together we watch what little of the sunrise is visible between the skyscrapers and clouds. It is orange and pink and yellow, melting the frost, melting the cold, bringing with it a breath of warm air that smells of soil and leaves and flowers.

Spring. Home. Soon.

“I’ll return someday,” I say.

“Yeah?” Caroline’s tone is not surprised. Felix throws his arms around the both of us and squeezes. Caroline laughs. It is easier to smile as the sunlight warms my cheeks.

“Yeah,” I say. “Maybe.”

**********

61

 

~Julia