Thursday, June 30, 2005

Book Review

Flea at One Good Thing has been reviewing books lately. That started me thinking about what I've been reading.

I have been growing frustrated with the portrayal of caterpillars in modern children's literature. What? You were expecting James Joyce?

"The Ugly Duckling" gets it right. The moral is that while the ugly duckling is, indeed, "ugly" for a duckling, he's not really ugly at all - he's just not a duckling. (I hope I didn't give away the surprise ending for anyone).

Percival the Plain Little Caterpillar and its ilk get it all wrong. Several of these newer books talk about the drab life of caterpillars until they transform into beautiful butterflies. Percival, for example, is depressed because he's "so plain."

Then something wonderful happened! He became a butterfly! "And no one ever said he was plain again."

How could the apples have fallen so far from the tree?

Thursday, June 2, 2005

Validation!

A friend and I recently started a little writer's group. I had a great time at our first meeting and am looking forward to continuing it, both for the company and for feedback, but especially for her wonderful know-how about writing professionally and submitting pieces to publishers. (I know, that's a little funny coming from someone who works in publishing.)

On the other hand, I have no idea what she'll get out of it other than the motivation to write before meetings. I'll leave her anonymous in case she prefers it that way, but I want to let her know that I had a great time and want to do it again!

Tonight I went to the writer's group at the local branch of the county library for the second time. Before I went for the first time, I expected it to be a bunch of young readers. You know the type: book lovers who desperately want to be writers but just aren't. Kind of like me. I was all set to feel critical of their work. Wow. First of all, the 8-12 people in the group are amazing writers. Second, they're all published. Very very published. Third, with one exception, they're all over 50. Some are way over 50. Fourth, they're mostly men. There's one older woman, then a younger woman who's in her late 40's, then me.

I read a short story tonight, for the first time. Before I read it aloud, I had no idea how much sex was in there. Gulp. I mean, it's not explicit or gratuitous, let alone titillating, but it is sex and I was reading to a bunch of father-aged men. I had never read any of my writing aloud before.

They liked it. They laughed aloud. They praised the form, the imagery, the style, the symbolism. "This is a very accomplished piece," the leader said. These are people I don't know, whose opinions I value because I admire their writing.

"Does it need . . . ?" I ask.

"Send it off," they said. "See what comments you get back and then decide if you want to add to it. It's ready to go."

I am walking on air. Maybe I can write after all.