Some of you readers may already know this, but I had one of my short stories published as an podiobook (podcast audiobook) through the Untold Podcast. (You can find the story, titled Cat, here.) Because of this awesome occasion, I decided to talk about some of the inspiration for that story, what themes I was trying to convey, and how I tried to make the story the best it could be. So, if you haven't already, you may want to listen to the story (it's free, after all) and then come back here and read the inspiration behind it. Or, if you prefer to do things backwards, you can read about the story and then listen to the story itself. One warning, however: there will probably be spoilers ahead. Fair warning.
What is the point of art? To teach? To guide? To explore themes through story?
Is it to take a reader to a far-off land? To show someone how the world looks through my eyes? Or is it a way of letting someone enter my mind?
Is this what literature can do? Can it allow us to enter into the mind of another, to truly see the world through their eyes? To see the thoughts they have, to feel the emotions they feel?
Yet, thoughts are not gleaned from a place of skepticism. Stories are not understood from a place of pride. Emotions are not felt from a place of judgement.
Learning descends on the humble. Emotion visits the compassionate. Understanding visits those who listen.
How can this be done? How can I learn to appreciate art? How can I understand what the artist wishes to say? Through submitting to what the artist creates.
A Star Wars novel will not approached in the same way as a classic. A comic book should warrant a different approach than a Dostoevsky novel. Submit to what the author offers and accept what they give.
How should I do this? By being unafraid of what the artist offers. I need not agree with what I am given. I merely listen to what the artist offers. Through this place of acceptance and humility, I am able to connect with the other. Able to learn from that which is not me.
That will not happen if I am haughty. That will not happen if I am superior to the art I intake. It will only happen through submission.
Over the last few weeks, I've been getting ready to dive back into Kitten Mysteries book 3. I've taken a bit of time off with school and general procrastination, but to get myself back into the tone of the series I decided to re-read the first two books. Thus far I've read the first one and decided to do a book review and talk about what I thought of the first book I published. This is the first time I've read the book since publishing it, so it will hopefully be interesting to see what I think of it.
The first thing I noticed is that it's kind of slow. There's a lot of running around without really getting anywhere until the climax. Though, maybe that's because I kept finding the terribleness and feeling generally anxious about how 'bad' the book was. The prologue, at least, felt well written to me (though some descriptions were a bit unnecessary). However, with its darker tone, the abrupt shift into the first chapter's goofy feel made the read a bit awkward. A reader told me that this book is a strange combination of a children's mystery with a dark thriller. So, take that as you will.
While speaking of unnecessary descriptions: the pasture numbers and the directions and the general running around is way too confusing. Even me, the one who knows the landscape that I wrote about, kept wondering what in the world was going on. That kind of stuff should be left up to the imagination or, at least, described in a much more complete sense rather than just randomly mentioning things. I've heard from my readers that the map in the back of the book helped, but that's still something I have to work on. I hope I did better with that in the second book, but that's a different book review.
Another thing that struck me is that my writing is pretty unpolished. It's like an excited kid telling a story, lots of jumping around and talking and stuff, and then a brief bit of description to help (or confuse) the reader. I need to work on making my exposition either more interesting or more relevant (maybe I'll do a post on that later).
Normally, in a book review I would talk about the theme here. With this book there's not a whole lot of a theme, though there is one section which I'm proud of (I'm not sure if that's in a cheesy sense or in a good sense, though). One character talks about how perfection is not innocence or naivete; rather, perfection is an encounter with and a rejection of evil. I guess other readers will have to make up their own mind whether that's a theme actual presented enough in the book to be worth talking about.
The last thing about this book is this: even with all those previous quibbles, I still feel it's one of the best books I've written. It's fun, it's not shoving a moral down my throat (though there is still one there), and it sets up stuff for the rest of the series without making it seem like a set up novel. Though, there are definitely some spots that push it away from being an entirely standalone story. Still, I think it's par for the course for a kid's book (not sure if that's a good thing, though...). I'd give it 3.5 to 4 stars, though I must admit I'm probably somewhat biased.
Anyway, enough of my rambling: what did you think? Have you read The Missing Kitten? If you have, comment below! Or tweet me @Jesseorice. Did you think my review was fair? Or has this review shown that you'll never read The Missing Kitten? Comment about that! Basically I'm just asking for interaction because I get bored just typing on a screen all day. With that said, I guess I'll type at you next week! Bye.