Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Paradox of Writing

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who came out to the Feed My Reads and Friends Facebook Event for my hosting session Monday night. (and to everyone who supported all of the many other talented authors at the event!)

Writing is a paradox.... It is at its essence a solitary, closed-door activity. We spend all our time in alone in our heads, then holed up in a room in front of a computer or pile of paper, then maybe we open the door a crack and let a few brave souls in to the read the pages and test the waters, then it's back to being alone, editing, revising, maybe trusting a few more readers, and then, eventually, when the story is as right as it needs to be, and the timing is perfect, we yank the door off its hinges and let the sunlight- and the general public- come pouring in.

This transition can be a little akin to that moment of being shoved out into the light from some interminable time in a comfortable darkness. The author stands there nervous, blinking as his or her eyes adjust to the contrast and then either stumbles, or strides, or leaps into the opposite side of being a writer: the public life. In this world, our ideas- our characters that we love, our stories that seem as real to us as our own lives- are on display for everyone. Indeed, this is what most of us write for in the first place- to be able to share our stories, or to enlighten or entertain. After all, in the end, isn't that what writing really is- connecting?

Still, it can be a daunting, at times confusing, at times troubling, way to live. Scribbling alone one minute and then defending your work in another. Living inside the safety of your head and then living in the precarious glare of the spotlight. But no one ever said writing was easy, and no one ever said that writers were rational human beings. We just do what we do, because we can't function otherwise.

So once again, thank you to those of you who read, who sympathize, who support your authors and fellow writers, who come out and lend a hand, and connect. It is much appreciated.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Feed My Reads and Friends!

Have you ever finished reading a book and then immediately wished you could call up the author and ask them a million questions? What gave you the idea for the plot? Why did you kill off so-and-so at the end? What on earth inspired you to become a writer in the first place? Well, here's your chance! Feed My Reads is hosting a 10 day Q and A extravaganza at
https://www.facebook.com/events/574611085938855/ from October 18th to October 28th. Authors from all over the world will be hosting at the site for an hour each. I'll be at the event to field your questions and share some insight into the writing life from 5-6pm on Monday, Oct. 21 (EST US Time). Please stop by to support me and all of the other amazing authors participating in the event! Thanks!!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Everybody needs a good laugh...

Hi All! In addition to books, I've got a couple of blog recommendations this week. Be sure to check out:

Parri Sontag's "Her Royal Thighness" Blog has had me laughing out loud every time I read a new post. Seriously, you have to read this stuff....

http://royalthighness.com/author/sontags3/

Chrissy Leesy posted a Pandamoon Publishing Author's Roundtable where Pandamoon author's have answered the very important question of "What is your most embarrassing moment?" If anything, this post will remind you that authors are actually human after all. :)

http://chrissylessey.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Book Review: "Salinger"

In my experience as a high school English teacher, people either seem to love or hate J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. There's usually no middle ground; Holden is either a hero or a self-indulgent idiot, the writing is either magical or moronic, the story either speaks to a student's heart or elicits a loathing for symbolism and reading in general. This intense dichotomy is one of the main reasons why I love to teach Catcher. It's a book that demands a reaction, even if that reaction is a violently negative one.

So naturally I was excited when David Shield and Shane Salerno's new biography of J.D. Salinger hit the shelves last month. I honestly didn't know much more than the average reader about the mysterious author and was interested in knowing more. Somehow the fact that Salinger is no longer with us made it okay to finally dissect the famous recluse's life (although there were some voyeuristic guilty moments that made me wonder if the ghost of Salinger could possibly be looking over my shoulder and grimacing). I was slightly intimidated by the book's size and length (it could serve as a decent paperweight in the middle of a hurricane), but determined to make a go of it. I'm glad I did.

In all honesty, Salinger is not for everyone. The format of the book is difficult- the entire 600+ pages is a collage of interview snippets that doesn't always flow- and there were a few times when I really wished Shields and Salerno would stop analyzing every aspect of Salinger's life. While I appreciate editor's offering their commentary, I felt that these two really pushed the envelope when it came to unbiased reporting. While it might be interesting to speculate on how life influences art, and vice versa, I don't agree that every single word an author writes must come from some traumatic event in the life. That's the beauty of fiction.

So I liked this book not for its style or groundbreaking secret information, but rather because I felt closer to Salinger himself as I read about his life and his work. As a fiction writer myself, I sometimes get lost in my own head and forget that the ecstasies and woes I experience while writing are really part of the collective unconscious of writers. There was something oddly comforting in reading about Salinger's struggles. Not because I want him to be dragged, or that I want to make myself feel good by gloating over another's suffering- but because it reminds that all writers have a purpose and a vision and must learn to embrace it, no matter how slippery, no matter how challenging. J.D. Salinger has been hailed by generations as the essential American voice, but I see now that, in a dark, perhaps twistedly morbid way, he is an inspiration for the soul of a writer as well.