Reaching the Halfway Point

Hi Everyone,

I’ve finally reached the halfway point in my manuscript. It’s so hard to describe how I feel about it. On one hand, when I scroll through the pages I feel like I’ll never be able to do it all again. On the other hand, I feel like I can’t possibly already be halfway there. I think  I’m kind of afraid of reaching the end, having to cut everything that doesn’t need to be there, and then finding myself all the way back at square one. I know that the real challenge is going to come after the first draft is finished.

First drafts are free to do whatever they want. Finished manuscripts are rational, and cut-throat. First drafts know that they’re not good enough, and they’re fine with that because they know they can improve. Finished manuscripts are anxious that they’re still not good enough at their best.

Although I’m a little terrified, I’m still so extremely excited at the prospect of actually finishing the first draft of this story, and I’m trying not to overthink the whole process. In four days I will be flying off to my residency in Iceland, to finish this thing once and for all. Wish me luck!

I hope you’re all having an amazing 2017 so far.

Yours sincerely,

Tamara Drazic

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The Good Kind of Rejection Letter

Hi everyone,

I’m sure you’ve seen the news about J.K. Rowling posting her rejection letters to inspire writers to never stop submitting. It really does help to soften the blow of a rejection when you see concrete evidence of famous authors being rejected over and over again before making their big break. Today I woke up to another rejection letter in my inbox, but it actually put me in a great mood. This one, unlike countless others I’ve received before it, has just a tiny hint of hope–an undertone of validation. I’ve blanked out which journal sent it to me just for privacy, but it’s a journal that I’d be overjoyed to be published in one day. I thought I’d share my rejection with you to remind you to look at every step forward as a success, no matter how small. Here it is:

Dear Tamara Drazic,

Thank you so much for submitting to ************. We have read your work with interest, and although we are not accepting it, it did come close. We would love to see more work from you, so please feel free to resubmit during our next reading period.

Again, thanks for sending us your work. We hope to read more from you soon.

Assistant Editors

************

As writers I think it’s so hard to not sink into the everything-I-write-is-rubbish mindset, so it’s important to pick apart your rejection letters and find the positives inside them. Often you’ll just get a standard declined, but when you do get something more, hold on to it. Being rejected is just another thing you have in common with the writers you admire, after all.

Happy writing!

Yours Sincerely,

Tamara Drazic

Thursday Quotables: “Behind the Beautiful Forevers”

Hi everyone,

I’m taking part in “Thursday Quotables” this week! It’s hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies, and it’s basically an activity that gets readers and writers to share their favourite quotes from the books they’re currently reading. All the contributors then link up to create a treasure trove of priceless quotes, and a whole new to-read list.

books0212tharoorThis week I’m reading “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” by Katherine Boo. It’s a beautifully written book of non fiction that explores life in a Mumbai slum, and it has some incredible quotes, particularly in Abdul’s dialogue. Here is one of my favourites, where Abdul is convincing his parents not to marry him off:

“I hear of this love so often that I think I know it, but I don’t feel it, and I myself don’t know why,” he fretted. “These people who love and then the girlfriend goes away-they cut their arms with a blade, they put a cigarette butt out in their hand, they won’t sleep, they won’t eat, they’ll sing-they must have different hearts than mine.”

He told his parents, “You don’t hold a hot iron in your palm, do you? You let it cool. You think on it slowly.”

I haven’t quite finished reading it, but I’m definitely planning on writing a review once I’m done. Let me know in the comments which quotes from which books have stayed with you long after you finished reading them; I’d love to hear them!

Yours sincerely,

Tamara Drazic

Book Review: “A Visit From the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan

a-visit-from-the-goon-squad

Think old school rock n’ roll. Think corrupt music industries, secrets, bands, friendships, family relationships, and the strange interconnectedness that music brings us. “A Visit From the Goon Squad” is best served in an off-beat laneway cafè with a side of soft electric guitar.

I haven’t read many books that have affected me quite like “A Visit From the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan did. If you haven’t read it, I highly suggest that you go out and pick up a copy right now. If I had to say what the book is about, I’d say it’s a satire on the music industry, but there is so much more to it than that. It reads almost like a collection of short stories; I’d heard about this before I started reading it, and it kind of put me off. I love reading individual short stories, but the thought of reading a whole collection back to back kind of exhausts me. Despite this, I thought I’d give it a go, and I’m so glad I did.

Each of the segments pretty much stands alone. So much so that the opening story, “Found Objects”, was published in The New Yorker as a short story back in 2008. When you read the book all the way through however, it really does feel like a novel. The stories interweave in just the right way – not too much, not too little. The crossovers are hidden in the minor characters, as the individual stories slowly reveal each character’s backstory until you realise how they’re all connected.

The book starts out following Sasha, a kleptomaniac who works for Bennie, a music producer. The subsequent story is then told from the point of view of Bennie, and so begins an intricate web of character relationships that spans years into the past and future, all the way until the epic, spec-fic ending. I’ve never come across a novel that brings together different genres into a literary work so flawlessly.

“A Visit From the Goon Squad” has a kind of melancholic, almost doomsday mood to it, but this is balanced out by the sharp humour and truly believable and lovable characters. The characterisation is so subtle but so precise, and when I finished reading the last page I felt like I’d lost touch with my childhood friends.

If you like stories about artists, families, music, and human nature, you should definitely add “A Visit From the Good Squad” to your to-read list.

Yours Sincerely,

Tamara Drazic

What I Read in 2015

Hi everyone,

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! I recently got back from a trip to Hawaii and am staying with my parents back in Cairns over the Christmas break. Seeing as New Years is fast approaching, I thought it would be a good idea to write a list of the books I read this year, ranked from most hated to most loved.

. Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs – Hated the writing style, hated the characters, hated the glorified and blatant racism and sexism.

. Divergent, by Veronica Roth – I can totally see why this is popular, but I think I’m a little older than the target audience.

. The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Richard Flanagan – I know it’s a Man Booker Prize winner, but I just didn’t like it. Some of the descriptions screamed “I’m trying to win the Man Booker Prize!”

. Mockingjay,  by Suzanne Collins – I just wasn’t a fan of this one, although I did enjoy the first in the trilogy.

. The Odyssey, by Homer – I fully appreciate the brilliance of this, but it wasn’t exactly a page turner.

. We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart – I loved parts and hated parts of this book. It was definitely suspenseful.

. A Place Called Here, by Cecilia Ahern – Really sweet story, although it was a little hard to get into and the characters were inconsistent.

. The Tempest, by William Shakespeare – Brilliantly written (obviously), but I just didn’t enjoy reading it that much.

. The Bridge to Holy Cross, by Paullina Simons – I much preferred the first book in the trilogy, but I did like the ending.

. Love, Rosie, by Cecilia Ahern – I really loved this book for some light reading.

. The Empathy Exams, by Leslie Jamieson – Entertaining book of essays, loosely revolving around the topic of “Empathy”.

. The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion – This book was easy to read, and I fell in love with the characters.

. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky – I think I read this in one sitting. This is the kind of YA that I like.

. The Beach, by Alex Garland – Suspenseful, different, and great settings, although for some reason it took me a long time to get through.

. The Bronze Horseman, by Paullina Simons – This book is such a page turner – I read all 700 pages in about a day, and it made me cry a lot.

. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen – I’m surprised that I had gone so long without reading Pride and Prejudice. It definitely is a must-read.

. The Rabbit Back Literature Society, by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen  – This is probably the strangest book I have ever read, but I loved almost everything about it.

. The Old Man and The Sea, by Ernest Hemingway – Hemingway’s iceberg principle is so obvious in this 100 page novel about a man and a fish. I loved it and definitely want to reread it in 2016.

. Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine – The first book of prose poetry that I’ve ever read, and definitely not the last.

. Ariel, by Sylvia Plath – This book of poetry gives me goosebumps every time I open it. I’ve read it about four times this year.

. A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan – This book really affected me – I had to sit quietly for a couple of hours after finishing it. It made me laugh, cry and feel completely numb all in a couple of hours.

. Pale Fire, by Vladimir Nabokov – I don’t always know what he’s doing, but Nabokov is a genius. He has a way of making the sentences sound like music.

. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt – I’m sure this book isn’t the best written in the list, and there are definitely things about it that I don’t like, but somehow I knew after reading the first page that it would be in the top spot. This book makes you feel so left out. It makes you want to be liked by the characters and study the classics and walk around in the snow. I still think about the story all the time, even though I finished it months ago.

So that’s it, the list of books I read in 2015, rated from my least enjoyed to most enjoyed (not necessarily worst to best). I’d love to hear about your favourite books of 2015 in the comments below.

Thanks for reading,

Tamara Drazic

 

 

 

Favourite Book of All Time

I want to start by saying a big thank you for being here. This new blog is dedicated to all things writing-related. I plan to update you on my new projects, literary salons, publications, favourite books and things I learn along my journey to becoming a working writer. There’s a lot I want to say about this topic, but I think telling you about my favourite book is a good place to start. This book, in my opinion, has the most perfect opening ever written.

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. The opening sets up the exact feeling of obsession that runs through the entire novel. It makes you feel ridiculously uncomfortable, and it makes you question your morals. The sentences sound so good together that they almost read like poetry, and each character is extremely complex. If you haven’t read it, please do. You won’t regret it.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my first post on this new blog. I’m really excited about it, and can’t wait to write lots of content over the coming months.

Until next time!

Tamara Drazic