Monday, September 8, 2014

LETTING GO OR GETTING A GRIP?




Adult novels are about letting go. Children’s novels are about getting a grip.—Tim Wynne-Jones

An interesting thought, but isn’t the reverse just as true? Isn’t part of every adult novel about the MC struggling to get a grip? On their relationships, their job, their addiction of choice. In the same way, doesn’t the MC in a children’s novel have to let go of something in order to gain something else? Even the stubborn pigeon reluctantly lets go of his dreams of driving the bus to focus on the possibility of driving a fire truck. 

Then I read Wynne-Jones’s quote again and wondered if I hadn’t missed the point. I needed to think about where the MC in each of these types of novels is on their life journey. Children are just starting out on this journey. They are learning the ropes when it comes to dealing with relationships, responsibilities, and the sometimes cold, hard realities of life. The challenge is getting a firm enough grip on those ropes to clamber up them into adulthood.

Adults, on the other hand, have (for the most part) learned those ropes. Learned them so well, in fact, that they have added walls, and facades, and a plethora of rules to keep their death grip on those ropes from slipping. Now the challenge becomes discovering how to let go of those constraints or risk hanging by those same ropes.

So, are adult novels about letting go and children’s novels about getting a grip? I’d say “yes.” What are your thoughts?
 
 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

THE MANY LIVES OF A READER


It is not true we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. –S. I. Hayakawa

 

I’ve always believed that reading was a doorway into other lives, other worlds, but I’m not sure I ever really considered the implications of that until my friend Marie entered a nursing home. Active all her life and still doing volunteer work at 90 some years old, Marie now has limited mobility. To many in her situation, this would mean a life, a world, defined, for the most part, by the four walls of her room.
 

But Marie is a reader. And that reading knocks down those four walls. With a book in her hands, Marie faces the perils of a Montana winter while homesteading, foils the raiders of a vast airship, or soars dragon-back to fight another insidious threadfall. She inhabits bodies that walk, that run, that jump from windows or out of the way of oncoming traffic. She lives in the present, the past, or the far distant future. Transported by reading, she can be anyone and travel anywhere. And that beats the hell out of where you can go with a wheelchair or a walker.
 
 
 

Friday, July 4, 2014

LOST IN READING?

Elend: I kind of lost track of time…

Breeze: For two hours?

Elend: There were books involved.

― from THE WELL OF ASCENSION by Brandon Sanderson



Two hours is nothing! Put a good book in this bookjunkie’s hands and I may not surface for days at a time. Well, except for things I can’t get out of—like work or sleep. Luckily, reading while eating is just bookjunkie efficiency in action. I do draw the line at taking a book into the shower or bathtub, but only because I haven’t discovered a good water-proofing method. I have heard of listening to audiobooks while sleeping, but I’m not convinced it’s as restful as true sleep. I like sleep.

I also like my job. So, tempting as it might be, I resist sneaking in a chapter when no one is looking. I’d end up like the character in the quote, losing track of time. Nor do I read that book on my breaks. Same reasons. Breaks are for books I don’t mind reading in bits and pieces. And remember, I work in a library. When not helping patrons with their various questions, I have collection development duties on the adult side plus duties on the children's side that include our weekly toddler/preschooler story time. In other words, between research, book reviews, and the books for story time, there’s very little work time when this bookjunkie isn’t reading. And while it’s not that good book I can’t wait to get lost in again, but it does take the edge off the craving. Kinda like nibbling on appetizers while you wait for the main course to be served.

 

Friday, June 13, 2014

FIGHTING THE REJECTION BLUES

“Every rejection is incremental payment on your dues that in some way will be translated back into your work.”  —James Lee Burke

I must not consider a rejection as personal. It’s a memo to my muse that there is still room for improvement in my work. My job is to apply it like fertilizer in order for my writing to grow.

“We will not allow rejection to beat us down. It will only strengthen our resolve. To be successful there is no other way.” —Earl G. Graves

I am allowed to be sad after receiving a rejection, but not for days on end. Instead, I must plunge back into my work. Many famous writers had their work rejected for years so I’m in good company.

“Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil – but there is no way around them.” —Isaac Asimov 

When we are learning to walk, we think nothing of falling down again and again. We just get back up and try again. Lord, give me the tenacity of that toddler when it comes to my writing.

“A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.” —Bo Bennett

I must remember that a rejection is one person’s opinion—not a rejection by the masses. And as one person’s opinion, I can heed or ignore it as I please.

“Rejected pieces aren’t failures; unwritten pieces are.” —Greg Daugherty

While unwritten pieces cannot be rejected, neither can they be read and enjoyed. And I admit that I am one of those egotistical writers who wants her words to be read. And enjoyed.

“Failure is success if we learn from it.” —Malcolm Forbes

Did you ever burn your toast? I bet you didn’t keep on burning it.

“No one put a gun to your head and ordered you to become a writer. One writes out of his own choice and must be prepared to take the rough spots along the road with a certain equanimity, though allowed some grinding of the teeth.” —Stanley Ellin

Just be sure your dental coverage if paid up in case you end up needing a set of dentures.



Tuesday, May 27, 2014

THE RIGHT WORD

Mark Twain


“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
― Mark Twain, The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain

   
 
A lightning bug is a glow in the dark. Lightning sets the skies on fire.

 
You can squash a lightning bug. Lightning knocks you on your butt.

 
Lightning bugs interest us. Lightning leaves us gobsmacked.

 
 

Your turn.

 

 

Monday, May 5, 2014

BOOK MAGIC


 
“I believe in the magic of books. I believe that during certain periods in our lives we are drawn to particular books--whether it's strolling down the aisles of a bookshop with no idea whatsoever of what it is that we want to read and suddenly finding the most perfect, most wonderfully suitable book staring us right in the face. Unblinking. Or a chance meeting with a stranger or friend who recommends a book we would never ordinarily reach for. Books have the ability to find their own way into our lives.”
― Cecelia Ahern

 

I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me. I’ll run across something in my reading and suddenly books are falling into my hands that touch on this very topic. No, it isn’t that everyone is suddenly jumping on the bandwagon to write about a hot topic. I’m referring to those esoteric topics that take us down an unexplored fork in the path. Let me give you an example.

 

I mentioned I have a book at work that I read on my breaks. I’m currently reading THE POSTMISTRESS by Sarah Blake. The story alternates between a small Cape Cod village and London, England during the early years of WWII, before the United States officially joined the fighting. One of the main characters is Frankie Bard, a broadcast journalist working with Edward R. Murrow in London during a time when German bombs made survival a dicey prospect. The Brits, however, are a stoic lot and rally round the motto: Keep calm and carry on. Not easy to do—especially in this situation—but not a bad frame of mind for any of us to strive towards when faced with stresses large or small. Which brings us to the other book.

 

The second book is a middle grade novel I just finished: WONDER  by R.J. Palacio. One of the main characters here is Jack Will who spends his fifth grade year discovering the ups and downs of friendship. What makes Jack’s case unique is that he has befriended, Auggie, the new kid at school who has some serious facial deformities. Serious enough to freak out most people when they see him. Serious enough to label him “the plague” and avoid touching him at all costs. Jack and Auggie both have English class with Mr. Browne. Each month Mr. Browne writes a precept (a rule to live by) on the board for his students to consider and write about. At year’s end, he asks the class to send him postcards during the summer with their own precepts. The precept Jack Will sends Mr. Browne? Keep calm and carry on.

 

There it was. Like dots in a connect-the-dot puzzle, the reference in each of these books to that same phrase suddenly connected me to a deeper understanding. Standing alone, Jack Will’s precept was a nice thought, but without having read that same phrase in relation to the London bombings, that’s all it would have been. Coincidence, you say? No, book magic.
 
Update May 10: Many thanks to my friend Audabee for the link to the original motto.
 
 
 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Poetry Break


NEW BOOK
Who can resist
An inviting tale
Flowing across crisp pages?
 
 
 
READING
Cover opens.
Pages turn.
Reader held captive
As story unfolds.
 
 
 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Room Without Books

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
― Cicero



   
This would never be a problem in a bookjunkie’s house. We are more likely to hoard books because you never know when you might want to read them again. And we do read many of them again. But that’s a post for another time.

Growing up, our house was never bookless/soulless nor was it ever in danger of being so. My Grandma Nell was a reader. And a teacher before she married. I wonder now if books were her time-out from being a farmer’s wife and mother of nine children. Did she slip between the pages whenever she had a moment to call her own, losing herself in the people and places waiting there? My father was the youngest of those nine children, so I was still quite young when Grandma Nell died. Too young to ask questions like that.

What I do remember are the boxes of books that came to live in her room; books salvaged from the closing of the small, rural school down the road. Those books drew me like a sleuth to a mystery. Cracking the code of reading opened their covers, spilling their secrets into my mind and heart. I became addicted to reading. I became a bookjunkie—craving my next book like a druggie craves the next fix. To this day, if there are no other demands on my time (or when I want to ignore those demands), my nose is in a book. And you will find books in every room of my house. Yes, even the bathroom. When it comes to books, I’m definitely a multi-tasker.  
 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Welcome Friend


As you might have guessed from the lack of content, this is blog still in its formative stage. Please remain patient while it pulls itself up and takes its first steps.