SciFridays: Jules Verne

From the Earth to the Moon

Image via Wikipedia

Jules Verne is my parent’s favorite science fiction author, and though it’s not obvious, is a partial namesake of mine (the other namesake being Liza Minnelli, which I hope is kinda obvious).

For most of my life, I didn’t appreciate my name as I should. Chalk that up to the constant butchering of said name (correcting people who think they’re pronouncing my name correctly gets really tiresome), and also that dreadful Ernest TV series/movie(s). However, the older I got, the more I appreciated my parent’s thoughtfulness in naming me. I like having an instant connection to the foundation of science fiction.

A little too recently (*cough like a few weeks ago cough*), I’ve come to admire Verne’s science fiction because his stories go a step beyond extrapolating current scientific trends to an imagined, yet inevitable, future. Verne seemed to prophesy when he wrote his stories. I mean, come on, From the Earth to the Moon? He practically predicted (or paved the way for?) the international space race that would come 100 years later, even placing the rocket’s launch site in Florida. In a world before gas-powered automobiles were invented and mass-produced, he imagined a story wherein his characters manned a rocket into space and orbited the moon, somehow navigating the gravitational field.

Of course, Verne didn’t just dump a bunch of scientific facts into his works. He wrapped them nicely into charming adventure stories, sprinkled with bits of romance and intrigue. Actually, the adventure aspect of his stories is really what hooked me to read his work, especially since several of them are similar to some of the motifs that run through my current work in progress (WIP2). Notably, The Child of the Cavern, The Propeller Island, The Aerial Village, and The Mysterious Island*, which also happened to be the main inspiration to my beloved TV series, Lost.

I’m happy to know that I have a lot in common with my namesake. Even though I’ve only scratched the surface of his life and works, it’s somehow motivating to me to know his writing journey and career. And, I’ll admit, even though, for all intents and purposes, we have no other connection other than our names, I’m oddly proud of the fact that Jules Verne is my namesake.

Has anyone else experienced this? Have you ever felt proud of a connection to someone you didn’t even know, yet has inspired your life choices?

{*I put links to these works just so you can read their summaries. And, I also thought WIP2’s alpha readers would get a kick out of it. Or not. *shrugs* 😉 }

Do You Have Any Writing Advice For Me?

 Writing Advice

I was deleting old emails from this blog’s contact form, and stumbled upon an email from a young lady stating that she hoped I was a friendly variety of writer, and asked, “Do you have any writing advice for me?”

I checked my email archives, and was happy that I wrote her back. Her question, after all, was very easy to answer, since I feel like I have to continually advise myself every day I write. My emailed response to her was this…

 I don’t really have much advice in the way of writing, since I’m still learning myself!  The best advice that I’ve read for any writer is something that Stephen King said: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” That’s pretty much all you need to know and do, especially while you’re still in school.  Read as much as possible.  Read read read.  While you’re reading as much as you can, write write write. When you surround yourself with words, you’ll be able to use them more creatively.

On my blog, I chronicle my writing journey.  Feel free to poke around there, and glean any learnings as I stumble around on my own writing path.  Though my goal is to be a published author one day, the skill/art of writing is a talent that I believe needs to be strengthened and sharpened continually.  It’s like a muscle that way.  You use it or lose it. My blog is my way of keeping myself accountable to “using” my writing skill.

Oh, one more thing: as you write, remember why you’re writing.  I truly enjoy creating stories, and I love getting lost in the creative process.  Sure, it gets frustrating sometimes, and I get tired, but in the end, I write because I love it.

…and re-reading it now, my advice wouldn’t change if she asked me again. The best part? Seeing my old words, “Sure, it gets frustrating sometimes, and I get tired, but in the end, I write because I love it,” and knowing they’re still as true today as they were six months ago.

Friendly Variety of Writer

There was one point in her email that stuck out to me that I didn’t notice the first time I read it six months ago. (Possibly because I was still amazed that anyone would ask me for writing advice, and was distracted by making sure my answer made sense.) (Also, what a great argument for letting a manuscript rest before revising it.) The young lady hoped that I was a “friendly writer.”

Of course, because I’m me, I’ve wondered all morning if she had encountered many unfriendly writers to have phrased her sentence that way, and moreover, if I lived up to her expectation of being a friendly writer.

Anyway, I didn’t write this last part to garner any words of sympathy or encouragement. Only that the realization gave me the opportunity to reflect on my writing journey and public persona, and to hope that I can be a support to my writing peers. (After all, writers provide me with books, my drug of choice, and I need to support my addiction.) 🙂

So, what one piece of writing advice do you share the most? What recent epiphanies have you had that caused you to reflect on your writing journey?

PS: One of my favorite author role models is Beth Revis, and she wrote a blog post HERE that stayed with me long after reading it.

I’m Being Interviewed

Fellow #WriteCampaign-er Michael McDuffee is interviewing several writers from the Campaign, and his latest interview is with me!

Michael: Liza, you have a very involved and interesting blog. I highly suggest that anyone who hasn’t already done so go check it out.

Liza: Thank you so much. Really. I appreciate it, since I blog mainly to keep myself accountable to my goals. So the fact that anyone else finds my blog interesting in any way is awesome to me…

Swing by HERE for the rest of the conversation! ^_^


The Writing Life

Image by Simply Bike via Flickr

{So, I decided to start yet another series of posts for the best reasons of all: because this is my blog, and because I can. It’s simply titled, The Magic of Writing—that indefinable, ineffable relationship between the writer and the muse.}

I probably shouldn’t have titled this post, “Routines” since that implies a certain healthy-ness that my writing habit does not have. Maybe “Ritual” would be more appropriate. Or, “Addiction.” Oh well.

Anyway, a running theme with all time management gurus is this: whatever goal you have, make sure you do it first thing in the morning. There are plenty of reasons why this advice is common, so I won’t get into that here. And, I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with that advice. I’m just saying it’s out there.

Well, I’ve discovered a long time ago that I’m not a first thing in the morning kind of writer. I’m actually not the best thing at anything first thing in the morning, unless you count coffee and meditation (read: staring off into space) as a “thing.” (Although, while on vacations, I enjoy morning walks on the beach. Since I live in the Midwest, this is not so much a possibility in my everyday life…) But, after my cup of coffee, putting the dishes away, and my morning ablutions, I can sit down and hammer away at the keyboard and sprint out a couple of pages before work. Then, after a day of work and other non-think-y pursuits, I can bust out more pages at night right before bed. (Actually, through a happy accident of passing out on the couch after a late night movie marathon, and not being able to get back to sleep, I found that I’m the most productive and creative between 1AM-4AM…possibly because my brain is really supposed to be sleeping and dreaming, but hey, whatever works, right?)

But, before my self-discovery, I thought I was the most uninspired, unfocused writer ever! After all, ALL the author websites that I’ve visited that have a “My Writing Process” page include waking up at 6AM to write their requisite page counts per day. I know all writers have a different process, and we all have to find out what works best for us, but I always felt “wrong” for not having a morning writing session.

Now, I have my semblance of a routine, and feel good about it. (I know, I know, I should sleep more, but sometimes, writing into the night and “dreaming” that way is WAY more refreshing to me than sleeping a full eight hours.)

How about you? When are you the most productive? What habits/quirks/superstitions do you have in your writing routine?