Thursday, April 23, 2009

Vacation Writing

This week of vacation is different than most of my previous vacations the past few years. This year, I'm not re-editing my novel. I have one copy of it out in the world and I will send others out either this week or soon after. (Of course, I've said that before.)

Instead, I've been working on stuff around the house and feeding and diapering children. But I should also get a chance to restart my new manuscript, begun in November. No guarantees, of course, as children will demand all sorts of attention and I'm willing to give them a lot.

Are you writing daily?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rereading Is Like Falling in Love Again

I recently began rereading John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath — right after finishing John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things for the second time in three years. Of course, this isn't the first time I've reread something. I've read John Irving's The World According to Garp numerous times. (And what is it I seem to have for books written by people named John?) But it's interesting to go back to a world, an era, a setting that was familiar once and becomes even more detailed and nuanced again.

In the case of The Book of Lost Things, I had been singing the book's praises so much that I initially worried it might not be as good as I'd remembered. But I loved it once again. A coming-of-age tale set against well known fairy tales and laced with grim battles that would keep young children stocked with a month of nightmares, TBOLT vividly traces the path of an angry boy through a world of his fears and fantasies. Connolly, a gifted writer, can choose words that linger like a scar. And when one faces man-like wolves and crooked men that personify evil, that gift gets ample use.

Steinbeck was one of my first "adult" loves as far as literature goes. While some teens were discovering J.D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield, I was getting enwrapped in Steinbeck's simple declarative sentences. I'd forgotten where Grapes began; in my mind it was the scene of the "land turtle" that gets flipped onto its back, a symbol of the traveling Okies struggling to survive both the Depression and the Dust Bowl. And while I've been reintroduced to preacher Jim Casy, I'd forgotten how he recalled his trysts with the girls after preaching them into a fervor. (After all, it's been decades since I read this work.) But it's still the same gritty, difficult era that I remember and which still catches me surprised.

Perhaps saying that rereading a book is like falling in love again is going too far, but it's certainly enough fun that such dreams and sentiments are within the realm of possibility. And that's what good fiction provides.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Toes in the Water

I don't really have time to type this, but for those who've asked in the past about my completed novel (in italics because I know a novel is never finished until it's published), I have sent it to a friend who is an agented writer. He offered to take a look at it and consider passing it along to his agent.

I don't really expect anything to come of this, but at least I have sent it out with the intention of getting it to an agent. So I am celebrating my having done this ... not with actual Champagne but in my brain it is the first step in a long walk.