School Is Hampering My Writing Career

Here’s the deal, readers.  I want to write.  I really do.  I want to work on my latest project day in and day out until it’s done and I can finally say I’ve finished at least one draft of a novel.  But here’s the other thing: I’m a teenager.  I’m still in high school, and as such I have other responsibilities.  Six hours of my time is spent every day at school, and then in winter I have swim practice for three more hours, and then I have homework and on the weekends, like now, I’m trying to study for the midterms that are fast approaching.

Readers, my question is this: how do I find the time to write when every second I spend actually writing just feels like it’s pulling me away from the work I’m legally obligated to do?  Seemingly, the only solution would be to have a set schedule for homework and writing and keep the two separate (not to mention stop going on meaningless Internet sites when I’m supposed to be doing either).

Maybe I’m just feeling stressed lately, what with all the tests my teachers want to fit in before the holidays and aforementioned midterm study-guide-making and whatnot.

The truth is, though, finding time to write is always a big problem for me during the school year.  During the summer, sure, I can spend hours with my characters, but I can’t just spend my summers writing.  I have to write more often if I want to get better at it.

And that means balancing school and writing more effectively.

Readers, this is a short post today, and I realize it’s not up to my usual standards of quality.  Sorry about that, but I have a parting question for all of you who are still in school: how do you find the time to write when you have other obligations that take up your daytime hours?  I’d love to hear some of your strategies while I try and figure my own out.

Happy reading!

It’s Going To Be Tense

Get it?  Tense?

*crickets chirping*

No one?  Oh, come on.  It’s literary humor!

…Okay, okay, I admit that was a bit unnecessary.  But it was my way of awkwardly introducing today’s topic.

The question is: past or present tense?

Books have traditionally been written in the past tense (he said, the dog jumped, I sat).  Lately, though, I’ve noticed a trend in young adult literature, which is that increasingly, books are written in the present tense (he says, the dog jumps, I sit).  I first noticed this with The Hunger Games, which is probably no surprise to you readers if you’ve been with me for a while.  (If you haven’t, I LOVE The Hunger Games and talk about it WAY TOO OFTEN.)  This series is written all in present tense, which I think helps to put the reader in the middle of the action and gives an increased sense of involvement with the story.  After all, we don’t live our lives in past tense, right?  Although you could make the argument that technically we live in present progressive tense…

Spanish class: killing all my arguments with basic grammar lessons.

This is a really good book. I think the second one is out now, too.

Anyway.  Since reading The Hunger Games last summer I’ve noticed this trend continues with other books.  Divergent, another INCREDIBLE dystopian novel, is written like this.  So, I think, is Matched, although I don’t own that one so I can’t make sure.

But here’s the strange bit: all of these novels are dystopian.  Readers, if you’ve read any present-tense non-dystopian novels, please comment and correct me, but for now I’m going to go with the assumption that ALL PRESENT TENSE NOVELS TAKE PLACE IN THE FUTURE.

When I think about this, it actually makes a lot of sense.  I mean, books written in present day or in the past can be said to have already happened, so naturally you would use past tense.  But novels like Divergent and Matched happen in the future.  They can’t technically be said to have “happened” yet (I say “happened” with quotations because they’re fiction and thus will never actually happen).  Therefore, it would make sense when writing the novel would be to put it in present tense, as if you’re writing it as it happens.  Past tense, to me, would just sound strange for something that is set in a future time.

At least, that’s the argument I came up with when wondering why exactly authors would choose to do this.  Another reason could be aforementioned placement in the action of the story, or even because that’s just the “thing to do” nowadays.

Does this make sense to you, readers?  Or am I just mindlessly babbling like always?

I’m sorry if the latter is true.  It’s just that I’ve had this on my mind for a while, especially since I love this type of novel so much.  I feel like I need to finally get this out there and get someone else’s opinion on it.  So, readers, please, fill up that comment box with your thoughts.  Am I going crazy?  Or are dystopian books nowadays simply destined for the present tense?

Here’s another thought: should present tense be used at all?  I think it’s an effective way of getting a story out there.  I’ve even written in present tense.  I personally like it, but maybe not all of you think the same way.

Okay, so I did a Google search some extensive, in-depth research into this matter, and I found this article, which names at least two older books (Jane Eyre and Bleak House) that use present tense at least in part.  But as far as I know, these two don’t use it all the time, which is what I’m mainly concerned with.  But still.  Good to know.  And here’s another site that also deals with the subject.

Happy reading!

UPDATE: Liam, whose blog is This Page Intentionally Left Blank, has informed me via the comments that there ARE, in fact, modern-day books written in the present tense (The Mother-Daughter Book Club).  Thanks for clearing that up for us, Liam.

Yes, I Know I Have No Life

How do I know this?  Because the most stressful thing in my life right now is the amount of books I need to read.

Yeah.  It’s ridiculous, I know.

Not *that* kind of Riddikulus.

Anyway, that’s why I don’t have time for a super long post today.  You see, I’m determined to get The Fellowship of the Ring* finished today, and I still have about 150 small-type pages to go.  Thank goodness for three-day weekends.  This book is going to keep me busy at least for the rest of today, and then I have homework and my post for Teens Can Write, Too! that’s due on the 18th…

Like I said, stressful.  But I think I can manage.

I'm not blonde, get the point.

Why am I rushing myself to get this book read?  Well, for one, I’ve been on it for about a week now and made little progress.  And two, Inheritance comes out November 8th (!), which means I’m going to have to reread those books before that.  And I can’t do that because I’m reading this trilogy first.

Being a book nerd is so hard sometimes.

Okay, I just need to calm down.  Open the book, log off of Panem October, and get this song out of my head.

I can do this.

Happy reading (I hope)!


*My thoughts on the book so far?  Quite good, for my first real immersion into epic fantasy, but a little too much description for my taste.