“When anybody asks, 'What are you writing about now?' if I try to reply, the book-in-the-works sounds so idiotic to me that I think, 'Why am I trying to write that puerile junk?' So now I give up; if I could talk about it, I wouldn't have to write it."
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet


As Long As We're On The Subject ...

Monday, May 24, 2010

I came across an interesting blog post as I was scanning through my Bloglines feed, looking at old posts that I had marked to be read at a later date. This one had been waiting for quite a while as it got lost in the shuffle. I thought it was interesting in light of what I said here. Pretty much the same thing, only much better spoken. Also I'm not nearly as much of a book snob as this guy, which proves my point that I'm really just a recovering wanna-be.

Thank You, Nick Hornby; or, Confessions of a Recovering Literary Philistine



Ditto To Myself With A Slight Twist

Friday, May 21, 2010

Remember what I said here? Well, as I was writing that, I realized that it applied to writing too.

As I mentioned back in January, I've been really wishy-washy about finishing/editing my NaNoWriMo novels, and had finally settled on completing my first NaNo novel. Well, I'm going back to wishy-washy ... sort of ... just a little.

I wanted to write that novel for several reasons, but I think they are the wrong reasons, at least for now. I may go back to it someday, but for now, I'm changing courses. Feel free to slap me if I do this more than 3 more times in the next year.

I think I can stay on track with the novel I've decided to write. It's actually a re-write from scratch of the second novel I wrote for NaNo since I lost that one in a devastating hard-drive failure just days after NaNo 2006 was over. I've had some really fun ideas playing around in my head, so I started a new Scrivener file, got myself organized, and wrote for about a half hour before bedtime last night. Pitiful, I know, but I've got the weekend to make up for it, in between gardening, yardwork, laundry, etc.

But at least I'm taking my own advice and reading writing what I want – nothing stuffy, toffee-nosed, or even particularly inspirational. Just pure, good fun.



Read What You Want

Saturday, May 08, 2010

I have a confession to make.

I'm a bit of a book snob.

Actually, it's worse than that. I'm really a wanna-be book snob, which means I'm just a poser.

I'm a poser book snob. It's sad.

But I have come to realize that maybe being a book snob isn't all it's cut out to be. Don't get me wrong – being a "snob" about certain things is noble and good. Take, for instance, grammar. Grammar snobs are, in my opinion, noble and necessary forces for good. Without grammar snobs we would have no one to keep the world from collapsing under all the "is-ises", "a whole nothers", and "I seens" that threaten us daily.

But book snobs, while they may serve a purpose, have a tendency to get out of control. If the snobbiest of book snobs had their way, the world would read nothing but Henry James, Rudyard Kipling, and Kurt Vonnegut – and Henry James would be questionable. (By the way, I have never read Kipling or Vonnegut and I was not impressed by the one Henry James novel I read, which proves unequivocally that I am only a wanna-be book snob.) I happen to love certain classics, and there is a reason many of these are classics, but what about the not-so-classic books?

What makes a book a "good" book? For a long time, any time I picked up a book that might be classified as romance or chick-lit, I immediately went into apology mode. "I'm just reading this because I need something a little lighter than my normal fare right now," I'd say. Or I'd excuse myself with, "A friend recommended this, so I really should read it." And if I enjoyed the book, I'd say, "Well, it's no Jane Austen, but sure, I enjoyed reading it anyway – you know, for a change."

Of course, the irony is that Jane Austen and Henry James were the chick-lit of their time, but since they have endured the test of time, and because their use of the English language is so superior to our severely devolved English language, they are now considered serious literature.

The truth is, while I adore Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, and Charlotte Bronte, I have read many modern chick-lit novels that I enjoyed (shocker!) just as much. (You might want to sit down before you read this next sentence.) I even enjoyed the Twilight series. Yup, you heard right – the series by Stephenie Meyer – with vampires – and teen angst – I devoured all four of them in a matter of a few weeks.

So what makes a novel a "good" novel? I suppose that question would have a different answer from every person who answered it, but I think my answer would come down to this: A good novel is one that engages your interest. It doesn't have to inspire meaningful conversation or deep introspection to be good. If it engages your interest, entertains you, makes you laugh, cry, or just want to read more, it might be a good book.

This doesn't mean I'm equating or even comparing Stephenie Meyer to any of the great classic authors. It also doesn't mean that I think everything on the shelves of the big box book stores these days is good – there's a lot of crappy writing being published that should never see the light of day, especially when a lot of good authors are waiting to be published. All I'm saying is that it's okay to read something simply because you enjoy it.

Or maybe I should say that it's okay for me to read something simply because I enjoy it, since I'm really writing about me. I'm sure you're not a wanna-be snob like me.

So from now on, I'm giving myself permission to read what I want, guilt-free. If I want to pick up something shallow, I'll do it without making excuses. Billerbeck, Kilgore, Carobini, Meyer, Vanderbilt and Dayton, they're all fair game, with no apologies. Chick-lit, sci-fi, fantasy, it's all acceptable reading material, as long as I enjoy reading it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go do a little light reading.

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