Falling in Love

A couple times in my life I’ve avoided falling in love. The first time I was aware of doing it was in 1985, which was a watershed kind of year for me: I had a breast cancer scare (that turned out to be benign); My father went into a steep decline and died; A six-year long relationship finally crashed and burned; I met the Mathematician; I started field work for my doctoral dissertation; and I saw a movie that I tried not to see.

The Eric Garden was a tiny theater on Nassau Street in Princeton, just across from the university. I didn’t often have money or time for the movies, but then one day I saw a new movie poster to the left of the ticket booth.  Recall that this was long before you could google a movie trailer to see what it was about, so the poster was all I had, but on that basis it was clear to me that this was a movie I would adore.

Look at it, this object of my reluctant admiration. I still get a flush when I see it, all these years later.

The odd part: I simply could not make myself buy a ticket and go inside. I waited until the last day of its run, and then, sure enough, I was very put out with myself for waiting.  I would have happily bought another twenty tickets and seen it twenty more times. Assuming of course my graduate school budget had stretched so far. Because I waited, it was a couple years before I could see it again, but I thought about it, a lot. 

So now this phenomenon has repeated itself, but this time with a novel. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society came out in 2009 so it has been about eight years that I’ve successfully avoided reading it. I somehow knew that I would love it, and so I stayed away from it. 

I’m here to confess that again, I was wrong to wait. I just finished it, at 2 a.m., and I’m kicking myself because now I know that The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is one of those novels that I will re-read every year. I’ll start feeling lonely for it first. Then the story will keep intruding into whatever I’m thinking about until I  give in, sit down and read it again. There are maybe six novels and just as many movies that have this ability to kidnap my attention.  

As I just finished reading this novel, I need to think about it for a while before I’ll be able to put into words why I like it as much as I do. Of course that will mean reading it again. Once or twice, at least.

perfect working chair: found and lost

intrsthl_mtos_02__16348.1405436448.500.500I’ve been looking for something like this for last last five years, at least. Ergonomic, adjustable to the nth degree, a built in, well design laptop arm. Expensive, but not completely in the stratosphere. This is the Interstuhl Mitos Mobile MS 14. And it’s nowhere to be found in this country, as far as I can tell. It may not even be in production any more.

Back to the drawing board.

 

writer’s remorse, regrets, satisfactions

Your questions, my answers (these all kind of fit together, which is why I’m handling them as a group):

Kelly D:

Of your published work, is there any writing that you wish you could take back and rewrite…anything that makes you cringe now?

mrs mj:

Who, of the characters that you’ve written, is your favorite?

carolynvt

Are there any characters in the Wilderness series that you have killed off and then wished you hadn’t because they would have fit in really well in one of the later books? I don’t have any particular person(s) in mind, I just wonder if it is common for Authors to ever think, “Darn, I should not have killed off so-and-so because they would have tied in perfectly with this storyline.”

My sense is that published authors always have regrets. I suspect that few of us ever sit down to read (or listen to) earlier work, unless there’s some compelling reason. On a couple occasions I’ve had to read from an older book, and two things are always true. First, I’ll find something I don’t like, sometimes something that makes me cringe; second, I’m usually relieved that it isn’t worse. Once in a while I’ll be pleased with a turn of phrase, or happy that the scene flows the way I wanted it to.

In my case, my regrets are always about wording or phrasing. I can’t remember ever regretting a plot turn. Which brings me to the question about killing off characters.

It’s really hard to explain this without sounding silly or melodramatic, but here it is: Characters decide for themselves when they’ve had enough. And probably for that reason, I’ve never looked back. I can’t remember ever feeling the lack of somebody who has moved on.  See? I told you it would sound odd.

As for favorite characters: I have many of them. Some are more persistent than others — a few from Homestead still make themselves heard now and then. It would be easier to name characters I never much liked. But I’ll let you guess. Except, don’t guess Jemima, or Julian. Because you’d be wrong. There are other characters I liked much less.

five things you can do to support your favorite authors: new & improved!

Talk to people about YFA’s newest book, let them know why you like it; mention it at dinner with cousin Trudy or in an email to a friend you think might like it. And if you have no friends who fall into this category, consider that you might need to get out more.

The next time you are in a bookstore, ask for YFA’s newest book, and also for one of his or her backlist. If they don’t have it, look surprised. If they volunteer to special order it, say, thank you, but (a) I saw a pile of them at B&N or (b) I’ll get it from Amazon.

Every once in a while, buy one of YFA’s books new. If you have Joe Morgenstein’s fifteen volume series of novels about a pirate with a weakness for high heels, but you got them all used, then consider buying volume sixteen, Manolo Masquerade, new. Because used books don’t really help YFA out much.

If you visit the author’s website or weblog, look for clickables. You know, “digg this” or “stumbled upon” or “technorati favorites” or “email this to a friend”- and click ’em – in moderation, but do click. Think of it as a thumbs up, much appreciated by YFA.

Concise Amazon reviews that provide balance Maybe not so much in terms of actual sales, but they do a lot to dispel that feeling that you’re shouting into an empty room.

Let’s turn this around

Edited to reformat and reformulate::

Let’s take for granted that you want a good story, plot, characters, and all that. What else makes the experience of reading a novel or a body of work more enjoyable or interesting? You can pick all or none of 1-13, or tell me to mind my own business with 14. If there’s something you’d like to suggest, please mention it in the comments. (if you don’t see the poll, hold on; I’m tinkering).

Well, shoot. The polling plugin isn’t working with the new version of WordPress, so I’ll have to do this the old fashioned way. Here’s a list of things you might like or dislike. If you are so inclined, could you tell me which ones appeal to you?

  1. maps (somewhere inside the book)
  2. illustrations (other than maps)
  3. a note from the author about how the book came to be
  4. a note from the author on the research (if there was any)
  5. suggestions for further reading that’s relevant to the book’s theme or setting
  6. a cast of characters list
  7. footnotes (this has been done in novels, specifically in The French Lieutenant’s Woman, for example)

more specifically to the author, are these things you’d rather have, or not have

  1. an author website
  2. an author weblog that is regularly updated
  3. a discussion forum maintained by the author
  4. discussion forum, but it can be anywhere and the author doesn’t need to be present
  5. author biography
  6. photographs
  7. book recommendations and reviews
  8. writing tips and exercises
  9. interviews with other authors
  10. giveaways/contests

Use the comments to tell me what you think, okay? This would be a help to me — and other authors, too.