Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Playing Along

Michelle at Magical Musings is doing this today, and since I'm a sucker for blog links, I'm going to play, too. (In case you aren't a "sucker for blog links," become one by clicking on the "this" link, as well as "Michelle at Magical Musings.")

Here are my answers to the request at "this" link:

  • What book(s) made you a better writer? Writing True, The Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction, by Sondra Perl and Mimi Schwartz.
  • What book(s) made you cry? Wow, that's a tough one. Gotta go with Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper and of course, Little Women (need I mention the author?).
  • What book(s) made you laugh until you were in tears? All of Christopher Moore's books. Every stinkin' one of them.
  • What book(s) made you feel like you could conquer the world? The Artists' Way by Julia Cameron.
  • What book(s) have you read three times or more? None. Twice, yes, but three times, never.
  • What book(s) kept you up all night reading? Back when I could read at night, it was Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin and (blush) Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls.
  • What book(s) do you want to read again? Nicole Galland's Fool's Tale.
  • Any other recommendations? Women of the Silk by Gail Tsukiyama.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Hat Trick, a/k/a, The Threesome

My life has turned into the Rule of Three, having just realized that I have begun to read three books and have three Epics In Progress. All begun, none ended. I'm left with three choices each, but I already know which Epic In Progress I intend to finish. I'll rephrase that. I know which one I'll finish first.

Still, out of the three books I've tried reading, I need to pick which one to sit down and finish. It's just that I'm not that into them.

I'm not divulging titles or authors. Suffice it to say, they're all well published authors, one a prolific writer for decades. They just haven't kept me rapt, and I have to wonder what these authors would think if they knew their books didn't pull me into finishing them. Isn't an important element of novel writing to create a story that rivets me to their pages?

So often we hear the phrase, "Must have a great opening hook." Well, that's all well and good. I don't disagree, but, there better be something after the hook to keep me on the line, and I think that's the problem with all three books. Brilliant openings, but not enough to keep me attached, or anxious to get back to the book. And then I wonder, is it me or is it the dress? Maybe I'm just too preoccupied with other things and just haven't taken the time to assert myself into their pages.

But still...isn't it every writers' goal to create a world that pulls in the reader to the point they never want to leave it? Or maybe it's that after several published books these particular authors just didn't care. Is it possible I'm reading their "dog" editions? I've heard that many authors put out a "dog" every so often. Could it be I wandered into the dog pound without realizing it?

I digress...

Here I sit with three unfinished books, a parallel to my three unfinished Epics. The difference: My Epics will keep the reader right where I want them (she says with an evil cackle). And my Epics are unfinished because, well, just because, that's all. No disclaimers. They just aren't finished yet, and I'm not dead yet, so, they'll get done before then. I do plan on being a published author before I meet my friend, Reaper. And when I'm on that publishing roll I intend on keeping away from the dog pound. You know what they say, when you lay down with dogs, you wake up with a bitch.

But it is a bit odd that I have this threesome going...

Anyone else out there feeling the eerie parallels lately?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Reinvention: The Other Side of Me

Tennessee Williams' name was formerly Thomas Lanier Williams; he dropped the first and middle names, adopting the name of a state where he didn't live (he originated in Mississippi, which would have sounded weird). Thereafter his art soared to a new level, or as Gore Vidal stated in a new introduction of The Judgment of Paris, "An entirely new and splendid writer had spun his way out of what had originally been a moth's chrysalis."

Vidal himself did the coccoon mambo, further stating in the introduction, "My first novels were written in what I called 'the national manner'; as flat literal naturalistic style. Then I came to write this book (The Judgement of Paris)."

In shedding his old style, his career spanned decades, still writing to this day.

As I read the intro to Judgment I saw myself there, my style a blend of what I thought worked and what I'd learned from others. My days of direction and focus slowly diluted to ones of aimless meanderings.

Recently by choice I quit writing, knowing that I was going around in circles, which always leads to the same conclusion. My gut said it was time to quit; my heart said, "But you'll be back." After letting life have its way with me the past month and a half, which included suffering the loss of my dog, dealing with a new home and the stress of selling the old one, I felt the cocoon fold around me.

While in chrysalis I found a new direction - grew new wings. But rather than leap into the air blindly, I'll slowly unfold and let the breeze take me through what's to be. And although I'm a few weeks out from sitting down and actually diving back into my Epic In Progress, I'll do so with a clean slate and strong wings - no crumbs for the hungry inner critic to savor.

I have my support systems in place; they know who they are and never left my side throughout (special thanks to Edie, Erica O, LaDonna, Marcia & Nancy) - wonderful writers who've supported me through my journey to limbo and back. I'm fortunate to know this special group of talent.

No regrets - that's my life and there's nothing I'd change.