Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I should really be blogging more

          One of the reasons I haven’t blogged in a while is that I’ve been writing, obviously not here.  I’ve written two more books in the Merged Worlds series that I’ve mentioned before.  Except I’m not putting them into ebooks just now, they’ll sit on the shelf as I write the three more that wraps up that period of the series.  Meanwhile, I was polishing a book in the new series in that world that picks up ten years after the early series ended.  Sorry, I’m not giving any hints since the couple of people who read them like to be surprised. 

          This later series is told with new characters, of course, and a different POV. The first book is wrapped, the second is halfway, as with the first series I’m doing a parallel set of characters in other books.  That second character’s first book is halfway.  I don’t know how other writers do it but the stories have already gone through from cover to cover in my mind.  I just need to get it all down on paper.  Yes, it’s true, I write on paper first.

           Call me old fashioned but it’s also one reason I can write this blog, I have shelves full of real paperback (and hardcover) books, so I can look back to see what influenced me.  [Downside to having a lot of old paperbacks… they grow fragile].  Actually, I do not have a copy of every book I’ve ever read.

          This time it’s… well, see if you can guess it, if you’ve read it.

          ‘It was a dark and stormy night.’ – yes, that’s the first line of the book and, no, the author is not Snoopy.

         Do you remember Charles Wallace?  How about Meg?  Do you recall what a tesseract is?

         Copyright was 1962, my paperback copy is from 4th printing in 1973, and it has been reprinted several times after that.

          I’m wondering if the admonition against starting a book with that sentence is because Madeleine L’Engle did it so well. 

          Yes, A Wrinkle in Time… do you remember when? 

          Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit are such an interesting trio.  And then there’s the Happy Medium.

            A missing scientist, a physicist, and then his really bright children go on an adventure to find him. 

            It’s a fun book, but the interesting thing is that it shows how to mix the elements of science, science fiction and fantasy all together using iconic elements and well drawn characters to come up with a story that really says more than its parts.  Love is the emotion that frees all captives, that’s also part of her story.

          But do you remember IT?  He called himself a happy sadist.

          This is the first of a trilogy that Madeleine wrote and I enjoyed all three of them.   Years later I read more of her books and it seemed that her ability to portray emotions and tell a story improved.  Maybe it was me, but of course we always hope that the authors we love improve as they continue writing.  Those first books were blocky and obvious, using names that told you what was what or who, but that worked exceedingly well for her.  Was it the time of the writing, the period, the 60’s? 

              I was reading a how-to-write book that mentioned the evolution of language as something we need to pay attention to, to be relevant (maybe it was someone’s blog, sorry).  It’s such a truism, though; we need to be relevant when we write.

              Looking back at the books I’ve mentioned so far, most fit in the era they were written but the stories surpass that aspect… as long as we can translate the tenor of the writing.  I’m a sucker for a good story.  If I get grabbed I just go with it.  Suspension of disbelief again, but it’s more that I want to believe in the story; I want to go to the other world, other city, other time or reality.  If the writing doesn’t catch me, the style or voice or whatever, then it’s not going to work, I can rarely force myself to read a book I don’t like.  I don’t finish reading a book just because I started it or bought it or whatever.  My problem, as a result of this, is that I can’t figure what it is that I like about a book.

           Okay, that might sound confusing, but here’s an example…

           The Host, by Stephanie Meyer… I read the Twilight Saga, and enjoyed it (the last book was best) so I thought I’d try this science fiction tale.  I bought a copy but I was busy and let it sit, I was listening to books on disk as I drove to work at the time and listened to The Host… I was like… this is good.

          So, I read it.

           Yeah, it was good.  I was still listening to it, so I read it again.

           I might have read it once more before asking myself what was it that had me reading this book again.

           I decided to read it once more but this time I was going to pay attention to the aspects that grab me, hold me, keep me or… sorry self, by the time I got into it again I was into it and couldn’t think of what parts were doing what to keep me there.  It’s not like I don’t know what held me, it was the relativity of the characters… I related, but why?  I have no idea.  It was just a good read.

          No, I do not read every book four or five times in a row, at the time I was trying to focus my own writing to where I wanted it.  (Usually I read favorite books every couple of years although that practice has fallen off as I write more)   I believe that for all the years I’ve been writing I’ve improved my voice.

         It’s best if I stop here for now… I’m trying to compose a letter in real life.