Friday, June 29, 2007

Why I appreciate other writers

I was beat the other night, and my husband Aaron was playing a computer game (and therefore wouldn’t have noticed if I had burst into flames, shed all my clothes, grown a second head or all of the above), so I picked up a novel for a few minutes of mental vacation. Surprisingly, Aaron asked about it. I started describing it, telling him something like how it was fluid and poetic and was an interwoven story about the lives of several women linked to two central characters, touching on theater, the biblical narrative of King David and an eccentric family life. I got all excited and began telling him about a particular writing strategy she employed that I wanted to try with a current work. In fact, I said, I have to go make some notes – and at this point I bounded out of bed and fired up my computer.

He looked at me as though I had just finished enumerating the merits of cleaning the port-o-heads at the State Fair.

Now I am unimaginably fortunate to have an intelligent, long-suffering husband who is willing to discuss with me (or listen to me discuss) just about any issue under the sun, even when I feel compelled to hold forth on my political passions at 2 a.m. But it’s at times like this that I really appreciate the connections I have to other writers. Who else gets honestly excited about parallels I see between the novel The Hours and tactics I’d like to use in my current nonfiction work? For that matter, who gets so abjectly offended at misuses of grammar, or bemoans tired plot devices, or understands why I had to ask an interview subject what color his coffee cup was or what, exactly, he said to the friend who just betrayed him? I may be overstepping boundaries to put myself in league with some of the writers I know, but I do know it’s darn refreshing to spend time talking shop.

The coffee cup, by the way, was orange with green stripes. He didn’t remember what he said in that life-altering moment, but assures me it was memorable.


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Manky said... Best Blogger Tips

I loved this post. I'm not a writer, but I can totally appreciate what you're talking about here because I get the same way when I've read something I NEED to talk about, and there's no one to tell. When I get warmed up, I'd like something more than glazed over eyes or one of those "there-she-goes-again" looks. If you've got someone who responds with questions or realizes questions are appropriate, do not let that person get away even if it means a leash or cage.

Now, I have to ask -- what was the book that so impressed you? It sounds very interesting to me.

And one more thing... since I've discovered you loathe the grammatical mistakes people so effortlessly use these days, have you noticed an over abundance of mistakes in printed books lately? Are there no editors or proof readers anymore?

Kim Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

Hey; thanks for you visit and comments. I much appreciate engaging discussion over glazed stares as well, and I feel you with the "there-she-goes-again" looks. Thankfully, I receive it (response) most of the time from my husband, although he did begin to snore the other night/morning when I was still in mid-soapbox at around 2:30 a.m. (He should know better than to pose a political question and expect a brief response.)

The book in question was Certain Women by Madeline L'Engle (a favorite childhood author of mine who I only recently rediscovered through adult fiction). I was most compelled by the parallelism between the main character's father and the tumultuous life of King David. The parallel structure is somewhat similar to something I'd like to employ in a current nonfiction project, although the subject is very different. The story is very character driven and I suspect is slightly more appealing to female readers, but since "girl books" are not typically my cup of tea, I think it must have some wider appeal.

Oh, and on the growing abundance of mistakes in print? I have most certainly noticed a spike. I'm not sure if it's because I'm more aware of them now that I'm a writer/editor, or because people are so darned lazy (you and I learned to proofread with our eyes, not Spellcheck), or what -- but I remember a long while back I found a mistake in a novel, and it was a big deal, sort of like a double-imprinted coin or some other oddity. Now, it's the norm. Ugh.