Monday, May 17, 2010

What I Want to Write

I haven't been writing much about writing lately. And that's because . . . I haven't been writing much lately. I've been freelancing more lately. Like, for money. That's important, and it takes up a lot of the time I used to spend writing creatively. (And blogging.)

It's really really hard to keep up with: raising kids, running a household, menu planning (and shopping and preparing healthy food), keeping active, freelancing during "free" time, AND creative writing.

It can be done, of course. In fact, I've done it! (Although when I'm writing busily I often let exercise and eating-in slide a little bit.) So the real reason I haven't been writing as much lately must be something else.

I believe it's because I'm still trying to figure out what to write. Write what you read! goes the standard advice. Well, I like to read lots of stuff. I've tried to write what I read, and even some stuff I don't read as much of for variety.

And after much effort I've determined that it's a real struggle for me to write
children's lit
sci fi and fantasy
and . . . mysteries. I've worked the longest at writing mysteries! I've studied really hard! I've practiced! I've loved reading these all my life! I'm an active member of Sisters in Crime! And maybe one day I'll write a mystery that I think is good enough to share with others.

But in the meantime, where the writing feels most real and most natural and most fun and most exiting is when I'm writing something a lot like . . .

Literary fiction or maybe book club fiction ("commercial fiction," I suppose, though I don't really tend to see the two as such distinctly different genres as some do). So: commercial literary fiction. I think I have drool on my chin. Upmarket fiction.

But the derision!
The pretension!
What unpublished writer could claim to be writing a book like that?!

Those books, the ones that might have stamps from prestigious awards on their covers, the ones with thought-provoking readers' guides, the ones that "use too many words" (as determined by a writer friend of mine who's all about pace and urgency and cutting out all "unnecessary" description) those are the books that really touch me, that really get me excited, that make me think:

I want to do that!

And so. I live. I experience. I feel. I read. I think. I practice. I write.

And someday, hopefully, I'll have a novel I'm proud to show others.

(Image from

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nothing to Read Here

I read a book intending to review it for the May meeting of Barrie Summy's Book Review Club. I decided against writing the review, though.

You know what everyone's mother says about if you can't say anything nice . . . ?

Well, that's not the case here. It's more like I'd be damning the book with faint praise.

And since I didn't have a really strong reaction to the book either way I'm simply not going to review it.

So I could dust off an old review, like this one of Percival the Plain Little Caterpillar.

Or I could review another book I've read recently, like Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls or Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stout.

Or I could just take a month off. I've chosen to do the latter. I'll also include a list of the books one of my book clubs has discussed:

The Tender Land by Kathleen Finneran (memoir)
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (graphic memoir)
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
Plainsong by Kent Haruf

Night by Elie Wiesel (memoir)
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Birds of America: Stories by Lorrie Moore (short stories)
House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah (memoir)
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Dangerous Life of Altar Boys by Chris Fuhrman
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Bearing Witness by Michael A. Kahn
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott
Lamb by Christopher Moore
August: Osage County by Tracy Letts (play)
Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott
Him Her Him Again the End of Him by Patricia Marx
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (memoir/essays)
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
The Women by Clare Luce Booth (play)

The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey by Alison Weir
Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Going Away Shoes by Jill McCorkle (short stories)
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
A Sudden Country by Karen Fisher

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