Tag Archives: books

vision

I’m back listening again to The Writer’s Almanac. It’s fun and heartening for anyone writing, whether that’s in a journal or something larger. In addition to reading a poem every day, the host, Garrison Keillor, always includes anecdotes about writers, how we fumble and fail, stumble on success or don’t. If you write to be published, there is an enormous amount of work that is completely unseen, that which is dropped, changed, rewritten dozens of times. Anyway, this quote was up on the site, and it touched a nerve.

Writers end up writing stories or rather stories’ shadows, and they’re grateful if they can, but is is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough.

I think it’s speaking of the gap between the vision and the finished project…….do you know what I mean? Is it always impossible to grasp the vision? An artist I know says she has learned she can’t control creativity. What do you think?

return to

I have old faithfuls, books I return to, books I read the way a baby sucks a pacifier. One of my pacifiers is almost any regency by Georgette Heyer. I have paperbacks of hers so old that the pages have to be rubber-banded in a heap. I love her plucky heroines, the sometimes truly witty banter between characters, the very sweet romances. There is a lot of subtle humor in character interactions, which amuses me even more each time I read it. I also reread John le Carre’s Little Drummer Girl about once a year. I love the heroine he’s created in this book, the way he describes and builds character, and the truly gripping plot. He is a master of plotting and character. I reread To Kill a Mockingbird pretty often; the underlying tenderness of the story takes me, though I find the African American characters a bit stereotyped, but what do I know. Maybe for 1930s Southern America, they are not stereotyped at all. It’s just that they’re shaded all one tone, and the others aren’t. I love Winston Graham’s Poldark Saga, the first six books. He’s a fine, fine historical novelist, and Ross Poldark has my heart, as does Demelza. I adore Dr. Naomi Ramen‘s Kitchen Table Wisdom. Again, the scope of heart in her collections of stories about people gravely ill and those who serve them is huge. It’s a wise book, too, nuggets about leading a deeper life scattered like bread crumbs. I love Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek, though having read it so many times, I now see plot flaws, but I just never mind them because I like the character of Dona and her story so much, and the marvelous dreamy quality of du Maurier’s prose. Anything I like ( I’m almost always reading), I now put up on my shelf in Goodreads. But the ones listed here are my tried and true go-back- tos for a needed mental rest. My husband doesn’t understand it, and I can’t explain it, except that they never fail to comfort me, I never fail to not like them, I never fail to be amused again or touched again…..and that’s special…….

It occurs to me that I learn a little more about writing each time I read these favorites; I learn on a level I’m not aware of…..

Do you reread? What? And why? Or why not?

revolution in books

I’m in New York on business, the business of being a published author. Borders declared bankruptcy while I’m here. Everyone in the publishing business is reeling from that. My agent thinks the day of the hardcover book may be ending. An editor friend talks about authors she represents having more e-book sales than actual books you touch. The Authors’ Guild and other organizations that represent authors are wrangling with publishers and e-book creators about the percentage of e-book sales that go to the author. It’s like the publishing world has been eating hay in the stall, while the tech thoroughbreds raced out of the gate long ago and are far off in the distance. Another agent talked about browsing in a book store, and the sales that come from that. Think about walking into one, and covers of different books luring you. How do you establish the same lure online? It’s do-able, I know. I wonder what it will look like.

I don’t think the actual, touchable book is dead. I do think we’re in a revolution of immense proportions about how we access information. Many people I know have e-readers of some kind now, even those that adore books and bookstores. Interesting times.

Me? I’ve got a foot in each world. I’m going to be doing something called a blog tour for the new book in June. The author tour, except for big names and celebrities, is dead, so I’m told. I ought to know because I did an author tour a few years ago (another blog sometime when I’ve had some wine to kill the pain). But I’ll do a few book signings in Houston. And my agent wants me to do a small video on my site (will I tap dance or sing?), and I already have skype, and I’ve just written to you online and linked to a place where you can buy my latest book.

And I’m going to the Strand Bookstore here in New York as soon as I finish this. On Broadway, 18 miles of books, so it brags. Got to go wander among some books, dream the dreams they make me vision. 

Where are you in this revolution? Do you like your e-reader? What do you miss about an actual book….if anything…..I don’t think the book is dead, and I know story isn’t….what about you?

stack

They’re sitting there waiting on me. Books I want to read. I have them in stacks by my favorite chair and by the bed. Here’s their roll call:

Lord of the Rings trilogy (afraid of this one…why won’t I start….help me out, those of you who’ve read them); Thames, the biography; Art & Soul; Ottoline and the Yellow Cat; Horses: history, myth, art; London: the years of change; Sweat Your Prayers; Good Poems for hard times; I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings; We are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For; The River of Doubt; Animal, Vegetable, Miracle; Visioning.

That’s just the stack by the chair. There are even more by the bed. When I travel, I have to take at least three books with me. And then I usually find something in the airport bookstore. I seldom read more than two of the books I bring….one always on the plane. I’ve thought about that. Why don’t I just look at the people and maybe engage? There might be something interesting I’d learn. But I can’t not read a book on a plane. And then the book gets me through the sleepless nights when I travel. And the others––they’re for security. I have to have a stack wherever I am. Sony Reader, Kindle, IPad….what about us stackers? Maybe a virtual stack is just as comforting. Is it? You tell me.

And then I have my fall back: Georgette Heyer’s regency novels. They comfort me when nothing else can. I know all the plots by heart. I don’t care. She’s never stale to me. She’s my pacifier.

What’s in a stack by your bed or chair?  It probably doesn’t matter if we ever read them, does it? It’s all about the stack. Wonder why….