Friday, August 20, 2010

The Writer Within

How is your Friday? Mine is as well as can be. The kids are playing at the Y, I've got a few hours free in which to write (and am wasting? it with blogging, I suppose). But I have to get the juices flowing somehow, and this is as good as any other way.

Recently, I sent off the first fifty pages of my second draft to my agent (Laura Rennert, who I whole-heartedly admire). It's in her queue, which makes me half anxious, half excited. You see, I think it's pretty good. Am I over-confident? Right-on? Blind? I won't know till she reads it and lets me know what she thinks. My critique partner likes it, and she's honest, so maybe it is good--for a second-draft.

And now, a glimpse inside Amber's head...

The Writer: Ugh. I have to write the next scene. Or the rest of this last scene. Can't remember exactly where I left off.

The Reader: But didn't you just write two days ago?

W: Yes. So?

R: And you've already forgotten?

W: No, I haven't forgotten. I remember exactly what happened. I just don't remember what I was feeling, exactly. I mean, I know what I was feeling...but the feeling isn't active within me at this moment. And how can I write without filling myself up with the same feeling as before? It'll be false. It'll be inconsistent.

R: First; you're really weird. Second; just re-read what you wrote last time, try to get yourself into the "mood," which is silly anyway, and then re-imaging what was going on, and what will happen. Like you always do.

W: Yes, I've always done it before, that way, but what if this time, it doesn't work? I'd have more success with Sudoku. Unless I get a really hard one. Then I have to cheat.

R: You are so pathetic. Listen. You've paid good money to have this time to write. You will burn in hell if you do sudoku instead.

W: So then what do I write?

R: The next scene.

W: *whine* But I don't know what happens next.

R: Yes you do. It already happened. You're going to re-tell it. Simple as that.

W: But this part is all new. It wasn't in the first draft.

R: It already happened. Re-tell it. Stop this silly blogging and Get. To. Work.

W: I guess we know now which one of us wanted to be the Air Force Officer.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tender Morsels

Yeah, I know, I didn't blog about the conference. It was great. I meant to blog, but seriously, life got busy. And now I want to get straight to the point:

Have any of you read Tender Morsels, by Margo Lanagan?

So I got a Nook, which I adore, and this was the first book I bought to read on it. And as I began reading, I was drawn in immediately (which is good) and thrown into disgust (both good and bad). If you've read it, what did you think? There's no doubt that Ms. Lanagan knows how to write. She uses such beautiful prose, all the style which I adore....lyrical, poetic, emotional, and she gets right down to the grit of what's going on using these "powers" with words. She toys with us. She makes her characters real, and we care for them, and hate them, and all of that.

But (there had to be a "but," right?) although the story gripped me, and I cared about the characters, I never fell completely in love with any of them. And I think it's because she jumps around between them so much, switching the point-of-view rapidly, going from first-person to third and back and forth all the time. It works because she knows how to vary the characters enough that you recognize right away, most of the time, who it is you're viewing the world from. But it tore me from their hearts, and I never quite got attached. There were only a few characters I wanted to stay with, and one of the biggest deals with me for a book is that the character "stays" with me long after I've put it down. Sometimes months, and in the case of some great characters, years. By the time I was finished with this book, I was ready to be done. I was disappointed in the ending, to say the least, and that might have had something to do with it.

So I am distraught. I can't tell if I liked the book or not. There's no denying it's well-written---beautifully written, no less---but it's harsh and it's difficult to follow sometimes and, well, all the things I said above. I am thankful for having read it, of course. It's a great study on POV (maybe one of the best). It's flushed out, and the world-building is complete. The characters are whole (except the ones that aren't supposed to be).

When I finished, I felt as if I'd been having a very long, drawn-out dream that was half nightmare and half beauty.*

And maybe that's what Margo Lanagan intended. It very well might be.

If you've read it, what effect did it have on you?

* FYI, if I had read this when I was in High School, I would have worshipped it. What a difference a decade (and then some) makes.