Archive for April, 2014

The Book I’m Not Writing

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014
Apparently attitude also has something to do with elevation gain.

Apparently attitude also has something to do with elevation gain.

I have in the last few months finally gained momentum on my third novel. Normally I’m sufficiently motivated and often disciplined that, even though I have lots else going on (like a full-time job – is this sounding like an excuse?), I manage to find time to write. At least once a week. Which might not sound like a lot but you’d be surprised what can be done in a solid day. But when it came to my third novel, for a bunch of reasons (or perhaps one big reason) I took an almost two year hiatus. So, yes, thrilled that that’s over, but what interests me now is how the novel I thought I was writing then is not the novel I’m writing now. Sure, the basics of the story are the same, as is the protagonist, but I know that directions I’m taking now are not necessarily ones I would have taken back then. In fact, I don’t need a two year break for this to be true. In the week (and sometimes weeks) that passes between writing stints, my changing moods affect not so much plot (which is either pretty firmly set in my head or takes unanticipated turns that seem to emerge from nowhere else but my typing fingertips) but the protagonist’s attitude. And, of course, as is well known, attitude is the difference between comedy and tragedy.

The Unwanted

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

unwanted book 1unwanted book 3vinny-violet-coverI went to a Rotary book sale yesterday.  Imagine a gymnasium filled with rows upon rows of books of all varieties at very low prices.  Kids’ books were not quite a penny pound but at a $7 a bag stuffed to the gills, it was about as close as you’re going to get in this penny-less world.  Adult books were considerably more but only in relative terms.  In that case, the nice Rotary folk actually bothered to count the number of books in the bag.  It was all rather depressing.  I know, I know I should have been excited at the bargains, encouraged at the queue that formed before the doors were even open, at the number of people buying books by the box.  But I wasn’t.  No matter how many books people bought, the quantity didn’t seem to diminish and all I could see were all those writers’ hard work – no matter how easily dismissed as mere schlock or formulaic – sitting there unwanted.  Not even at $2 a pop.

 

Catch-22 Déjà Vu

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Not just mesmeric but POLYmesmeric.

Not just mesmeric but POLYmesmeric.

I don’t normally re-read books because there is already too little time to read new ones.  But my book club recently chose Catch-22 and it being a classic, and remembering feeling thrilled by it when I was twenty, and fearing book club wrath, I decided to make an exception.  I did not regret it.  It gave me an almost constant feeling of déjà vu.  And sure, it was in fact a case of déjà read but I don’t think other re-read books would have left my head spinning with the same degree of recognition.  At times, I could feel myself thinking the same thoughts I had upon the first read or laughing at the same bits.  It astounded me at how little the way I see or think about things seems to have changed.  But there were also encouraging signs that I’ve not been completely set in my ways since a disturbingly early age.  Insights (and, at times, the chapters devoted to them) that at twenty seemed risky, dangerous even, now struck me, as well, juvenile, and Heller definitely is of the school of thought that if a joke worth telling once, it’s worth telling enough times that any comedy gets completely wrung dry.  But in the end, even though I was far more critical and a lot less patient with the book’s repetition, lack of restraint and its astoundingly sexist depiction women, I still found it powerful and (despite the repetition) original.  But read it while you’re still young.