Friday, May 28, 2010

The Wrong Word in the Right Ear

Sometimes its the punch that sneaks in under the laughter. I'm thinking of the past few months in terms of a bad 80's video--spinning in circles in tight white sheets scrawled with the same words over and over until the character finally loses the sheets and gets out of the concrete basement and finds the rest of the world (symbolized by wet neon reflections). Completely lame, right? And, of course, much harder to do in real life where it's less easy to see that you're stuck.

For that reason, I'm glad that I've been on a bit of a reading kick lately and that B&N actually had a copy of Scalzi's Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded last week. Hanging out on the bottom shelf with a white cover that jumped out from all the other florid sci-fi titles was a single copy that I snagged and have been reading in between a stack of how-to-write titles and various other task-based intrusions.

While it was funny and snarky and enjoyable from that perspective, it turns out that it was also riddled with the kind of advice and clarity of thought that shakes you out of the kind of repetitive mantras in which it's easy to get stuck when you're dealing with situations like losing your job and reaching a creative plateau. I've never been good at taking that step back or in taking advice from my nearest and dearest (or taking the time to appreciate them) and it wasn't what I was expecting to find in a book that I bought primarily for humor value.

Since I was already enjoying it, I was more open to all of it--even the difficult parts. It's not something about which I want to get maudlin, because that's not the way I felt after finishing it. Instead, I felt all shaken out and straightened up and set out by the door to get on with it. I'm pretty sure that it wasn't intended for that purpose, but it was apparently what I needed at the time.

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