Reissue of THE ARCHIVES

I’ve been doing more thinking about writing than actually writing, and I’ve been looking back at several things I’ve written. There isn’t much incentive to start something completely new, mostly because I have zero new ideas, but also because my mind keeps cycling the old stories and characters through my head. They still fascinate me.

So I figure that if I can revisit one (or more?) of them, it might give me more incentive to continue to write (or at least make my existing writing better), and it will make my characters shut up because they will finally get much-needed attention.

THE ARCHIVES seems to be the best candidate for revisiting. It’s a tiny story (only about 36,000 words) that I posted on FictionPress circa 2010–2011 (though it takes place in 2002–2004). In the vein of Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones, I wrote in verse, but I limited myself to one 100-word chapter per day for a year. I never wrote anything like THE ARCHIVES before; it was super short, almost entirely based on real life (many of the events are true or close to it, but the characters are composites or entirely invented), and in first-person point of view. To be honest, it didn’t even have much of a plot until midway through because it wasn’t planned, and I had no clue where I was going with it. THE ARCHIVES was more of an experiment than anything else. If I had to summarize it, it’d be something like “High school girl, dubbed ‘The Archivist’ by her peers, comes out from behind the scenes to solve a mystery.”

Somehow THE ARCHIVES became fairly popular. The readers related to the crazy high school shenanigans, and it got a lot of comments. People followed it, and someone actually remembered it several years after I’d taken it off FictionPress. To this day, I really don’t know why it was the most “successful” out of all the stuff I posted on FictionPress, especially when I put so little effort into it compared to the other things I was working on. Probably a “right place at the right time” kind of thing.

Because it’s so low maintenance and supposedly one of the “better” things I’ve written, I’ve decided to reissue it here, at the agonizingly slow pace of one chapter per day,* starting tomorrow (and I doubt I post every day, but I’ll try to). I’m not planning to change anything major, just fix typos and anything else that makes me go “WTF” when I read it. As always, comments are welcome.

*So this means that sometimes there will be two posts a day. I apologize in advance if this will annoy you.

Thursday Three #50

More recent reads, so there will be spoilers!

  1. Love Lies Beneath – Ellen Hopkins. I read this book’s sequel first (by accident) and enjoyed it only because the main character is delightfully evil (so evil, in fact, that she doesn’t realize it). This book provided more backstory on the character, so some of her evil actions from the sequel made more sense in context. There’s nothing “intellectual” about this book; it’s all about pleasure and enjoyment. And that’s fine. My brain’s fried anyway.
  2. Love Is Red – Sophie Jaff. This book was pure awesome, and (but wait! there’s more!) it’s the first in a trilogy, which is even more exciting. The novel can best be described as a murder mystery mixed with fantasy and romance, but that doesn’t do it justice. Some parts of it were a little confusing because of the writing style, but I’m hoping that the next two books clear it up for me.
  3. Day Four – Sarah Lotz. The sequel to The Three and far better than its predecessor. Lotz’s style reminds me so much of Stephen King, and in a good way. This book is far less political than the previous one, the characters are drawn better, and it’s set on a cruise ship, which is never a good place to be when a norovirus outbreak happens or when little ghost kids start wandering around. You want horror? This is some pretty good horror. I wonder if there will be a next book…

Should’ve Known Better…

SPOILER ALERT!

So I made the mistake of picking up one of the “staff picks” from the library, which was E.K. Johnston’s Exit, Pursued by a Bear. First, it’s a YA novel, and I used to read them a lot because I write in that genre. I don’t read them much anymore because I can’t stand the subject matter and the push for YA novels to be more “inclusive” and “diverse.” I doubt I’d let my son read YA until he was old enough to realize the agenda behind most of it. Not even books are safe from this culture. Bleh. Anyway.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear (named after that famous stage direction from Shakespeare) seemed like it would be good, even reminiscent of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak (a classic of the YA genre). It focuses on a character called Hermione Winters (another Shakespeare reference, although because of the popularity of the Harry Potter series, one would think that character name is forever associated with that series and therefore unusable), who’s a cheerleader and is raped at a party at cheer camp after inadvertently drinking something spiked with roofies.

This is going to sound terrible of me, but I didn’t sympathize much with Hermione. Even after the rape, she seemed so put together, so mature, and so adult. I didn’t think that was realistic, especially given what she had been through and the difficult decisions she had to make. Had I been in her position at her age, I would have completely fallen apart. I understand that the author wanted to create a strong character, but I felt like Hermione was too strong to be easy to relate to or realistic. Her parents and best friend stuck by her and supported her in her decisions; nobody really seemed to oppose her, but I think this was done because she already had enough difficulty (i.e., dealing with the rape and its aftermath).

The book’s jacket and blurb gave no indication that it would involve abortion, but it did. After realizing she is pregnant as the result of the rape, Hermione gets an abortion. It wasn’t described in gory detail, but it was just enough to make me feel incredibly uncomfortable, which was probably the author’s intent. I kept waiting for her to suddenly change her mind and not go through with it, but that never happened. My opinion on abortion is that it’s abhorrent, so naturally, I thought the author could have had Hermione consider other options before choosing abortion and being completely and totally sure of herself—much more like an adult than like a teenager.

During the course of the book, we also find out that Hermione’s best friend is a lesbian, but this doesn’t really have any bearing on the plot. I think it was done for effect, just to show that the author is “hip” and “woke” and “with it” because it’s hard to find a YA book without some kind of LGBT representation.

I read the acknowledgments, which revealed that the book was written in response to a bill to “recriminalize” abortion in Canada. The author admits she was “angry” when she wrote it, and boy, does that show. Perhaps she should have cooled off a bit before writing something with such an obvious agenda.

I will say that the book ended nicely (but may not have been terribly realistic) and gave Hermione some closure. Will I read anything else by this author? Probably not, but only because her other books don’t interest me. The writing itself was good, if a little bland, and the author used that irritating YA trope of putting everything in first person present tense. 

That will be the last time I read a “staff pick” at the library. Most of them are obviously political, but this one didn’t seem so at first glance. I was tricked. 🙂