** my apologies for the wonky formatting; no idea why or how it is not doing it’s usual thing.
It has been forever since I have posted – my last post was well before Christmas, and here it is already March Summer in Texas. No idea why my muses had temporarily abandoned me, I just haven’t had anything to write about. But I have been reading, a lot. And I’m trying to assimilate – is that the right word? – the difference between good writing and bad. Assimilate is not the correct word. I’ll think of the perfect one later. Anyway, I have read some astonishingly bad stuff, or tried to – I mostly put a book down and walk away if it irritates me too much. Here is an example of really bad, from The First Shot (Lieutenant Kane – Dedicated to Death Series Book 1) by E.H. Reinhard:
“I pulled out my notepad from my suit jacket’s inner pocket and wrote down the husband’s phone number as the captain gave it to me.”
Really? It was crucial to the story that I know he pulled the damned notepad from his suit, jacket’s, inner, pocket? And that the captain, who was the only other person in the room, so was the only one who could give him the number, needed to be referenced as the purveyor of said number? I got so het up over this sentence, I almost stopped there. But I persevered. Until I got to this sentence:
“I left Rick in the lab and took the stairs up to the third floor. I walked to my office, unlocked the door, turned on the lights, and grabbed a seat at my desk. I tossed my keys into the rolling drawer of my desk and glanced over at the wall clock—a couple of minutes past seven thirty.”
Oh.My.God. This author was sending me into a coma.
Several years ago, I read that, when writing, you give the important bits of the plot more detail, and the less important bits less detail, which, at the time, seemed like a revelation to me (I told my niece-the-creative-writing-major this, and she looked at me with such pity in her eyes, I just cringed), but, apparently, this author had not read the same So You Want To Write A Book book. I never did find out who the murderer was.
That is a lie. I skipped ahead and read the last few pages. Spoiler Alert: the police officer did it. (Like you were going to read it anyway, after these previews. Please.)
On the other hand, sometimes I come across jewels of writing. My daughter and I were recently reading the same book on a trip we were taking together. She had recommended it, and I always love her choices in reading. She reads thoughtful, non-fiction books, while I usually read escapist fiction. Here is a great quote, from No Baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love and Wandering by Clara Bensen. The book is about the author and her companion’s 3 week vacation in which they took absolutely nothing but her small purse, and just…traveled. It is a great book. The writing made us both laugh, smile, point out sections to each other, and, even better, consider.
by Tony Hoagland Listen Online
On Friday afternoon David said he was divesting his holdings
in Stephanie dot org.
And Cindy announced she was getting rid of all her Dan-obelia,
and did anyone want a tennis racket or a cardigan?
Alice told Michael that she was transplanting herself
to another brand of potting soil
And Jason composed a 3-chord blues song called
“I Can’t Rake Your Leaves Anymore Mama,”
then insisted on playing it
over his speakerphone to Ellen.
The moon rose up in the western sky
with an expression of complete exhaustion,
like a 38-year old single mother
standing at the edge of the playground. Right at that moment
Betty was extracting coil after coil of Andrew’s
through a verbal incision she had made in his heart,
and Jane was parachuting into an Ani Difranco concert
wearing a banner saying, Get Lost, Mark Resnick.
That’s how you find out:
out of the blue.
And it hurts, baby, it really hurts,
because breaking up is hard to do.
Isn’t that wonderful? Especially the “extracting coil after coil of Andrew’s emotional intestines” part. Ouch. We have all experienced that pain at some point, but only Mr. Hoagland expressed it so we remember just how excruciating the pain was, and explained it to us. That right there is good writing, dammit.
And, finally, an author recommendation, someone who does know how to write, and has just written his second, very intense, enthralling novel: D.L. Young. His books are about a future post-secession apocalyptic Texas. Interestingly, the protagonists in both his books are young women. I do try very hard not to gender-type, but I have rarely found a male who writes a woman character as well as he does. Indigo is his first novel, and his second, Soledad, is just about to come out – I had the privilege of reading it before it’s publishing date, thanks to Important People I Know – my brother-in-law, who is a friend of Mr. Young. These are books that I became immersed in, and felt the dusty, hot, west Texas wind pummeling me as I read. The house needed cleaning, and I was so tired my eyes felt like they were bleeding, but I had to read to the end. Great books, highly recommend. If I knew how to put a link in here, I would, but I know y’all know how to Amazon.
Find them, buy them. Then thank me, because I’m all about the praise….
Postscript: I typed this entire post with a sticking C key. Writing is hard.
Post-Post Script: Hah! Assimilate is the correct word! I rock. Go me.