Category: about me

Bucket List Authors

My husband and I were discussing the concept of “bucket lists” the other day, and I have to confess, I don’t really have a bucket list of grand things I’d like to do before I die. I’m lucky enough to have traveled to Europe twice, and I’ve been to a bunch of U.S. states, and other than going to the British Isles, there’s nowhere I’d regret not seeing. I have no desire to sky dive, or run a marathon, or get a tattoo. I’ve eaten pasta in Italy, ridden in a gondola in Venice, been to Times Square, and I already play the guitar. So the popular bucket list items don’t cast any spell over me.

But in reading this interview with Neil Gaiman over at the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy blog, I realized that I do have a “bucket list” of sorts. It’s not a list of things I’d like to do before I die; it’s a list of authors I want to read before I die. These are authors that I’ve always been intrigued by — that I’ve always planned to read — but for one reason or another, I’ve never gotten around to them.

Such as Diana Wynne Jones (who was mentioned in the Gaiman interview). She’s just the sort of novelist that I would want to read and it still amazes me that I never have. The titles alone are alluring: Witch Week, Howl’s Moving Castle, Dark Lord of Derkholm, The Ogre Downstairs, A Tale of Time City. Why haven’t I read any of her stuff??? She’s on the bucket list.

Next is Agatha Christie. I was a huge fan of mysteries as a kid — so much so that my parents got me a subscription to the Alfred Hitchcock Magazine when I was ten-years-old — but the grand dame of mystery fiction somehow never ended up in the reading pile. She’s definitely on the bucket list (and I just downloaded one of her books to my kindle).

Graham Greene is another bucket lister due to several reasons:

1. He was Catholic and wrote about Catholic themes (though in an awesome way, not in some lame, preachy, bad-art kind of way). I am also Catholic, so I’m keen to read him.

2. He wrote screenplays for The Fallen Idol and The Third Man, two of my favorite British films from the 1940s.

3. He also wrote film reviews, so I feel an affinity for him as a cinephile.

4. I need to read more non-fantasy/sci-fi fiction and his books all sound interesting.

Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books are also on my list. Mostly because my husband loved them as a teenager, and they meant a lot to him and I want to share that with him. But also because I once had an old copy of McCaffrey’s Dragonsinger that my aunt gave to me but that I never read. I started to read it once, but then I put it down (for whatever reason). And then I lost the book. And yet the cover art has always haunted me and seeing it takes me back to cold November days at my grandmother’s house (which is where my family lived for awhile) when I was only nine or ten, and I lived and breathed fantasy adventures, role-playing games, King Arthur, and Tolkien, and my aunt and uncle would come over and we’d order Chinese food and play the Dark Tower board game.

I wish I still had that copy of Dragonsinger. And I plan to one day read Anne McCaffrey. She’s on the bucket list.

Finally, I feel like I really need to read some Tolstoy. Anna Karenina sounds more appealing, but I’m down with reading War and Peace too. I’ve often heard he’s one of the greatest novelists, so I’d like to see for myself. Plus, I like Russian stuff.

I’m sure I’ll think of more bucket list authors, but for now, if I died tomorrow, these are the ones I would regret not reading.

Why I changed the blog title

Mostly to align with my twitter. My name is listed as “Jennifer M. Baldwin” on twitter, and my little description is “Fiction Writer. Snappy Dresser. Old Movie Obsessive and Garage Rock Connoisseur. Nerd Queen,” so I added that to the blog as well. Just trying to be consistent across all my platforms, or whatever.

Being a writer

I have always been one. Or at least, I have always remembered being one. I still have notebooks from childhood that contain stories I wrote. I remember composing a story in fifth grade about a drop of water and his adventures spent going down the drain (there was quite an episode involving the blades of the garbage disposal). After an epiphany in 11th grade, I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter and devoted a great deal of time and money to studying screenwriting in college. I even moved to Los Angeles for a brief period in order to pursue my dream (turns out, L.A. is fun to visit, but I didn’t want to live there). My love of movies, however, landed me a few freelance jobs, writing about classic films. I actually received payment for my writing (which, however small it may have been, was still pretty awesome). And despite my swerve into a career in teaching (high school English, yo), I still consider myself a writer. I have always been one and I always will be.

But now I’m doing something different. I’m actually committing myself to the goal of become a fiction author. It’s the thing my fifth grade heart always wanted, but somehow over the past twenty years, I let it slip out of my head. I let other jobs, other goals, other types of writing seep in, but now, finally (and maybe it took starting a family to realize it), finally I’ve decided that I really should do the one thing I’ve always wanted to do: Write books.

So now I’m here — as a way to connect with others, as a way to document my journey, as a way to make sure I stick with it — and hopefully over the next several months, I will go from being a writer who is trying to write a novel to a writer who has written one.

What will follow on this blog are things related to my novel, things related to my writing process, things related to my life, things related to the things I love (mostly, but not limited to: science fiction, fantasy, comic books, new movies, classic movies, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, theater, folklore and fairy tales, language, J.R.R. Tolkien, Harry Potter, music, theater, and magic). My hope is that this blog will keep me honest. I say I’m a writer; now all I have to do is write.

© 2018 Jennifer M. Baldwin

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