Monday, February 18, 2019

You: Books to Shows

You and Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

I've wanted to talk to everyone about You after I binge-watched it on Netflix, but it's hard to find people who have watched it, read it, or both. A friend loaned me the book in October with the disclaimer that she, a fan of psychological thrillers, bought it based on the back cover blurb alone. I'm always excited to have books recommended to me, and I don't judge reading tastes, so I was looking forward to it... and read it in about a day.

As soon as I started reading, I realized the language is pretty brutal and it’s VERY creepy. Overall I couldn't put it down and sought out the follow-up, so what does that say about me?

It was very twisted but I think a lot of the language was over-the-top, and while it didn’t seem out of character for Joe, it could have been taken out and he would come off just as creepy and horrible. Some of the situations in the book seemed like they were there for shock value - or at least the language used to describe them was for shock value. It made me like the story a little less.

But the show polished up the story and took out a lot of the language and scenarios that seemed to be too much. They added some characters, like the little boy, and added some scenes that weren't necessary, but I won't pretend to understand what makes good TV. I'm sure they had reasons for adding in the kid and the abused neighbor and all the drama that brought in.

I think this has been one of my favorite book-to-movie adaptations, because even though I didn't like the book much, I thought the story was interesting, and that was really given room to shine on screen. The writing was what brought down the book, in my opinion, so having a chance to revise the story really made it better.

As I mentioned, I read the sequel and have heard that it will be "season two" of the show, so I'll definitely be tuning in for that!

Did you watch You? Did you read the book before, or after, or not at all? What did you think of the book compared to the show? I love dissecting things like this, so leave your thoughts in the comments!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Writing Habits

My January writing stats - I got a sticker for every day I wrote 2 pages.

In undergrad and grad school, I studied creative writing and wrote all the time. I'd get writer's block for sure, but often it was not being able to finish a story as opposed to not being able to start anything.

I wrote a lot the years I freelanced and traveled; I kept detailed journals but was also inspired to write fiction. Once I settled down, I woke up early every morning to walk three miles and then come home to write three pages before work.

All of that changed when I had a baby. I still wrote, but it was sporadic. Of course it didn't make things easier that I started my Masters of Library Science a week before my son was born! Most of my writing was book reviews and research papers - still enjoyable, but not too creative and not on a routine, like I used to have.

Even as my son grew older and more independent, I still struggled to write. I struggled to find the time and the energy. The silence the let my own thoughts have a voice. Not that I had any ideas to explore. My brain seemed incapable of doing anything more than writing To Do lists and budgeting money. Great qualities when you're head of the household, but not much fun, creatively.

I tried so hard to find the right creative outlet, because I was sure there were still stories inside me, somewhere. I turned back to photography, which I've always loved and has always inspired me. I tried making miniatures out of clay. I tried to launch podcasts with different formats, none of which felt right. I tried to lessen the creative pressure on myself by coloring in coloring books. Nothing helped the stories come back to me.

Last spring I pushed myself to write a poem a day. It didn't last too long, because I started with haikus just to "get it over with", and then didn't hold myself to the routine. But it still sparked something inside me. When I was making New Years Resolutions for 2019, I knew writing had to take priority. I set the goal of completing one writing prompt a week, then started mining my brain for words, phrases, concepts, ANYTHING that could be used as a writing prompt.

I have a list of prompts in a notebook. I completed one, the first week of the new year. I started another the second week, but haven't yet finished it. It turned out to be more of a novella than a short story, so I wanted to dedicate time to it. What I found, though, was that the routine benefits me more than the goal of writing some-finished-thing.

My resolution has since informally morphed to "write two pages a day". I would still like to finish a handful of short stories this year, but I'm currently more focused on establishing the routine than creating something quality every week.

In January, I wrote 28 days out of 31. I've noticed that waking up earlier helps with my creativity (I woke up early every day I wrote my first short story of 2019) and doesn't give me a chance to put off writing for the day. My goal for February is to wake up early every weekday and write, so I can't use the "I'm tired" excuse when I get home from work.