Thursday, April 30, 2009

Nom Nom Nom, Chomp

Writing with a puppy on my lap, attached to the desk, and a retriever circling for attention. I have a scrape running for about 8 inches down my neck and collarbone, running the course of the necklace that the puppy was attached to previously. Heat and humidity prevent open windows, but the books are still open.

Lately, I've been doing lots of reading about reading and writing (and puppies), but my favorite so far has been Francine Prose's "Reading Like a Writer." Her writing is conversational in the sense that she reads more deeply than I do and comes up with insights and understanding like a good friend waving from the middle of a pond with an interesting new find from the bottom. Even if you're not as strong a swimmer, you're still happy to sit on the dock and listen to her talk about what she's found below.

I've discovered that my favorite "how-to" books share this sense of enthusiasm, this acceptance of the crafting and submersion in the same that certain books on writing ignore. These books shout at the reader--you can write a bestseller!! Cut to the chase!! Ignore everything but the action!! These are the same writers who fail to understand the difference in the experience of reading and the experience of playing a videogame or watching a movie. Oddly enough, I'm not sure that the suggestions are very different, but the understanding is.

I believe the puppy just learned that chewing on an unbalanced object, like chewing on the retirever, is a mistake. Sometimes the gate you're chewing on falls on you with a clatter. He moves like a ballet dancer enpointe when he's trying to get past the secure puppy gate. I'm sure that soon his ability to leap will surpass the gate's ability to stretch. At this point, the retreiver won't be able to snooze by the gate and watch the show without risking the show jumping straight upon his head.

The next book on my list is "Words Overflow by Stars," in between "Spindle's End" and two Tolkien books, one discussion of his use of light imagery and one a series of essays by authors whose experience of the LOTR trilogy brought them to writing or to SciFi & fantasy. Again, it's a conversational and quick book, something that one doesn't necessarily admits to reading, but does for the reassurance that Actual WritersTM worry about measuring up but that they fling themselves upon the barricades willingly and without fear. Kinda like Merlin and the puppy gate.

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