Book Review: You Are A Writer by Jeff Goins

Jeff Goin's You Are A Writer

“Hi. My name’s Jeff. And I’m a writer.”

This is a simple sentence. Yet, its implications are very powerful. Just like with alcoholics, the first step is acknowledging what you are. The first step to becoming a writer is acknowledging that You are a writer. I am a writer. This is simple but powerful and embodies the message behind Jeff Goins’s “You Are a Writer.” 

Goins acknowledges that the information he provides is something you can find on you own through Google. However, what makes him unique is that he is familiar with the frustrations of being a writer. What he bares is not just tactical but most importantly experiential and psychological—how do I overcome my personal barriers towards thinking of myself as being a writer? How do I make a lasting impression on the world?

Think of Goin’s book as a mentor who slips out from between the pages as a fully formed apparition, sitting in front of you, and guiding you step by step through an experience he has lived and breathed.

More importantly, he promises a more appealing route; one where the gatekeepers come to you, one where you can focus on being a writer, one where you can focus on making a difference, one where you can leave a lasting legacy.

If you struggle with naming it, embodying it, and being it—a writer—read this book.

If you struggle with branding, building a platform and marketing—read this book.

If you struggle with the tactical and psychological barriers to being a writer…well…do I still need tell you what to do? Read this…

You Are a Writer by Jeff Goins.  

Disclosure: This review is based on an advanced/review copy of “You Are a Writer” provided by the author.

Happy World Book Day!

Happy World Book Day!

Happy World Book Day!

Can you believe that I never knew that a World Book Day existed until today? Crazy huh? Especially since I am suppose to be the “Literary Analyst,” I should be well aware of these things.

Anyway, I have something special for my readers today…

But before I get to it, I want to remind you all that I love books and I am guessing that you do too. Books have influenced my life in so many ways. I strongly believe that you can learn a ton from reading literature, it is infused with lessons that you pick up as you’re engulfed in the journey of reading.

Learning through reading fiction is a form of experiential learning. The power of fiction propels you to suspend belief and takes you on a journey that you are an active participant in. Experience the journey with me by celebrating World Book Day and encourage those around you to fall in love with reading.

I mentioned earlier that I have something special for my readers today. Well here it is:

I love books and I want to share my love of books and the lessons they teach with as many people as possible. So on World Book Day I want to encourage you to Subscribe to The Literary Analyst.

The 100th subscriber will receive their book of choice for free up to $50.00 USD/CA. This contest will only be running until tomorrow afternoon at 12:00pm Eastern Time. The winner will be announced on my blog as well as their book of choice. If 100 subscribers do not subscribe within the given time, sadly no one will win. But I strongly doubt this will happen.

The winner will also get the opportunity to provide a guest post about how their book of choice has impacted their life in a meaningful way. I will periodically update the subscriber count so that you can be aware of how close to 100 subscribers we are getting.

I look forward to seeing you on the other side! Subscribe to The Literary Analyst

Update April 24th, 2012: Unfortunately there were no winners for this contest. Thanks to those who participated! Do you enjoy reading my blog? Subscribe by clicking on the links above. 

photo by covs97

The Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen Heroine or Victim?

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games:  “Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor!”

Why so hungry for The Hunger Games? The masses have gobbled up this post-apocalyptic novel and movie claiming to be well fed and satisfied with the meal that is the heroine Katniss Everdeen. But once I came off the high of the starchy, greasy and sodium rich roller coaster platter of The Hunger Games and achieved mental clarity, my body desperately craved something more nutritious, something more wholesome. I began to realize that the novel itself, the movie and its heroine is a microcosm of the very Capitol that Suzanne Collins mocks in The Hunger Games. Furthermore, I questioned whether Katniss Everdeen was a heroine or remained victim to the very end.

 Already I can hear you silently cursing me and I am imagining the scowl that is forming on your face. Before you click away and try to convince me with evidence of the bravery of Katniss Everdeen and her efforts to buck the system, let me assure you I don’t disagree. The complex character drawn up by Suzanne Collins is brilliantly concocted and comes to light in all it’s glory masterfully by the actress Jennifer Lawerence on the big screen. I however question whether her bravery and skill is what fuelled her survival. And if this is not what fuelled her survival can she therefore be a heroine? Or is she relegated to something more sinister, a victim? Or something more sinister yet; another woman praised for her portrayal of being innocent, lovestruck, and privy to her emotions—everything Katniss is not and yet is.       

 What makes a woman a heroine? She is admired and idealized for her courage, achievements and noble qualities. Make no mistake, in The Hunger Games Katniss exhibits courage, this comes to light when she sacrifices her life for her sister by volunteering to take her place as tribute. Furthermore, Katniss’ love and respect towards Rue is demonstrated by their friendship and the flowers she lays around Rue at her passing, she is indeed noble. Also, Katniss’ achievements and skills are shown in her hunting and foraging abilities and how they aid in her survival. But are these the real reasons why Katniss survives to the very end? Is this the reason why she is admired and idealized?

 Enter the character of the viewers, the masses that watch The Hunger Games as they unfold and you begin to realize that Suzanne Collins is not the only creator of character, but Katniss Everdeen herself forms a persona that appeases the viewing pleasures of her audience. Do not be deceived, this book is a horror, children killing other children is atrocious. But did you find yourself being sucked into the question: Does she really love him? Oh how sweet and admirable! The awwwwwws that escaped the mouths of my fellow viewers, in the theatre, made me slightly shake as we became the character that is the audience in the novel. We became sucked into the lie that is “Star-crossed lovers” and the brutality of the violence and totalitarian power at play became dimmer and dimmer. Furthermore, the way in which Suzanne Collins writes The Hunger Games with action packed, thrilling short sentences forces you on a roller coaster ride that offers no stoppage to really think and ponder: What is really happening here? 

 Does this seem familiar? 

 Katniss is fully aware of her pandering, “I know the crowd will love it.” “I’ve got to give the audience something more to care about.” This is a bad-ass 16 year old who is a master hunter with the bow and arrow, who is fully knowledgeable about medicinal herbs, who is courageous and a fighter and yet her survival is performative and ornamental? What is worse is that she is aware of how her performance is what counts most. She is aware of how her aesthetics is what will win the audience over in The Hunger Games. 

 Why? Because in the end, even though she has accomplished so much and is a fighter, she is relegated to being a harmless innocent girl, driven by love, in order to appease the audience. “I look, very simply, like a girl. A young one. Fourteen at the most. Innocent. Harmless.” “I’ll need to look as girlish and innocent as possible.” And to boot, she doesn’t even love Peeta, although this is the story she feeds the audience. This is sounding more and more like a tragedy than the celebration of a heroine. 

 As Katniss sheds herself of the persona she portrayed to survive, she questions her identity, “I excuse myself to change out of my dress and into a plain shirt and pants. As I slowly, thoroughly wash the makeup from my face and put my hair in its braid, I begin transforming back into myself. Katniss Everdeen…I try to remember who I am and who I am not.”

 Katniss did not survive The Hunger Games because of her courage and abilities. She survived because she was able to manipulate her audience into believing the persona she and the Capitol created. She consequently played a part in numbing her audience to the horror of the violence and totalitarian power in place. 

 Suzanne collins creates a thrilling action packed ride that you, as reader and viewer, end up zipping by the horror of children killing children as you become caught in the voyeuristic thrill that is The Hunger Games. This in essence is no different than the flash, glamor and thrill that the Capitol offers to the viewers of the 12 districts. 

 What is even more tragic, is that Katniss Everdeen, the so-called heroine survives not because of her amazing abilities and courage but because of the way she looks and how she is able to emotionally manipulate her audience. For all my fellow females young and old alike, is this your heroine?       

 

 

 

 

Readmill: Making Digital Books Shareable

Readmill: Making Digital Books Shareable

Readmill’s tagline: Why make a book digital and not make it shareable?

Why indeed.

The experience of making a book your own is through highlighting, commenting, and marking the book as your territory by stamping it with your name.

Even better, is sharing the captured moments of joy, insight, sadness and connections with your friends and others who have read the very same book, an art somewhat lost with the advent of ebooks. The joy of reading is still intact, but the shared experience of reading and making a book your own is definitely missing.

How can we capture the experiences of marginalia—the fringe scribbles, comments and highlights of passages, that resonates with us in a digital space? Enter Readmill’s founder Henrik Berggren:

With Readmill you can:

  1. Highlight your favourite passages
  2. Share highlighted passages on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr
  3. Synch your books, highlights and annotations from your Amazon library
  4. Recommend a book
  5. “Like” highlighted passages from your friends
  6. See data on your reading habits

Readmill also has some other great uses that may not be so obvious:

Are you an english major? Are you taking english classes? Classmates can follow each other’s highlights and annotations as this would be a great way to see insights and different meanings arrived at by your peers. Teachers can also share their thoughts and important passages with their students.

Are you a book blogger, reviewer or literary analyst? Readmill offers a great way for you to store and share your thoughts and analysis of books that you were not able to include in your written pieces.

Are you an author? Share your thoughts on the books you have written, provide an “inbetween the pages” insight into your book. Readers love to understand where the author is coming from when they read passages in your book. I know I do.

There are many more benefits to using Readmill that you will have to find out for yourself.

I thoroughly enjoy using Readmill and if you are a reader of this blog I guarantee you will too.

Check out and sign up for Readmill by clicking HERE

 

Dead End (How To Get Through It)

Photo by Kilgub

Dead end.

 

I know you must be wondering why would I start a sentence with the words dead end, does it even qualify as a sentence? Probably not, but following the rules to make my point is not what is important.

When you arrive at a dead end you must stop, as you cannot go any further. Well duh, you must be thinking, it doesn’t take Sherlock to solve that mystery.

…And yet, you present yourself as a dead end all the time. Meaning you refuse to make yourself vulnerable to others; they become stuck and cannot go any further into knowing who you are.

This may not apply to you but I am sure that you have or had dead end people in your life. People who are brick walls that you just can’t seem to penetrate no matter how hard you try.

Conversations begin and end abruptly. The sharing of personal information is avoided like the plague, eye contact, smiles and any form of outward affection is shunned. It is strictly business all the time, every time, a clockwork mentality.

Where is the passion? Where is the excitement? Where is the drive? Where is the emotion? Where is the risk taking? Where is the raw vulnerability?

Where is…? Dead end.

Full Stop.

There is no further to go. So you simply stop trying to push forward, you may even stop caring.

If you’re the person exhibiting a dead end personality you feel triumphant, as you have abated the peeling away of your protective shell. But are you truly alive without the vulnerability?

You must be thinking…okay Ms. Literary Analyst what is your point, after all this is not a personal development blog, it is a literary blog.

I want you to think of this piece as personal development through the art of story.

Think of your favorite characters from books, movies and plays for a moment. Why did you favor them?

I can answer that for you, they had an awesome story. They unleashed who they were to the world and did not care, why? They had something they wanted to overcome and something they wanted to achieve…there were no obstacles too great.

When you are dead end you are too busy protecting who you are to really go for what you want…that requires vulnerability, openness, risk taking, and an unleashing of who you are to the masses…or simply to your family and friends.

Ever start to read a book and you could not get into the story no matter how hard you tried? Finally you abandon the book and find something else to read. The reason you abandoned the book was because you came across some dead end characters, producing a dead end story, producing a lack of interest in lifeless characters.

Do you see how the art of story can also inform your own personal development?

Authors and screenwriters alike spend countless time crafting the perfect story, plot, theme, concept etc. where characters have a passion and drive to achieve what they want and overcome all obstacles to do so.

The stories that make writers successful are the stories with characters that exhibit openness and vulnerability. A vulnerability that they recognize is necessary to overcome obstacles and achieve what they want.

What is the opposite of dead end? Well…the opposite of death is life and only you can define what is means to be alive.

I think we can both agree that putting up a wall between yourself and others may protect you from pain, risk, hurt, and being vulnerable. But it will also stop you from making the greatest achievements in your life and from people getting to know the awesome person that you are.

For the holidays, give the gift of yourself, your true, raw and vulnerable self, even for just a day. It may be the greatest gift you will ever give.

 

How Your Personal Growth Relates To Chinese Bamboo

Chinese Bamboo

Iam currently reading Aleph by Paulo Coelho and I have already gained a personal insight and life lesson that I would like to share.

What is this business about Chinese Bamboo anyway? I know this question must be buzzing around in your mind. When I first read it in Aleph, before the explanation was given, I could not make the connection. What does Chinese Bamboo have to do with my personal growth? What does a physical plant have to do with something as abstract as personal development? The two don’t seem to intersect.

But it turns out that they do. Chinese Bamboo and your personal growth have more of a connection than you may think. Chinese Bamboo spends five years in its growth process as a little shoot, the only visible aspect of its existence. However, during those five years the Chinese Bamboo is developing its root system. After the five years of being a little shoot and developing its root system the Chinese Bamboo goes through a growth spurt and overtime becomes 25 meters high.

How does this knowledge connect to your own personal growth?

Well think about the amount of time and energy that you may have put into a passion of yours, a project, a relationship; time that may have spanned for years. Does it sometimes, or all the time, appear as if you are not getting any results? As if you are only witnessing a little shoot after putting in so much time?

Guess what? It is not time for you to give up. During the time that you are putting in all your effort, energy and resources you are slowly but surely building a root system that will eventually provide results that you may not even be able to sustain.

The idea is that you must be persistent and keep at it. There is a trend in society today that everything has to be quick with minimal effort, if the results are not seen immediately it means that you are not doing enough, it means that you should quit and try something else, it means that your passion is not worth while, it means that you are a failure.

But are you a failure? Time may very well prove that you a lot more successful that you think. However, you must give it time and your maximum effort. Do not under any circumstances give up.

Anything that is worth it in life requires a lot of time and persistence before any results can be seen.

Is there a project, relationship, passion or dream that you have abandoned because you didn’t see results right away? I encourage you to once again pursue that project, relationship or passion relentlessly and put in all of your effort. Others may only see the little shoot and criticize you and put you down but you must become aware of the intricate root system that you are building and let this be your motivation to continue.