Characters, Fiction, Novel, Read, Voice, Writing

Books that haunt you

I don’t know why, but lately I’ve felt the urge to re-read Empire Falls by Richard Russo. I have three books I’m reading right now, and many others in the queue, but I’m haunted by Empire Falls. I enjoyed the book the first time around, but I wouldn’t have ranked it as one of my all-time favorites, and yet now I’m compelled to read it again. Something new must wait for me within the pages.

I don’t claim to be widely or well-read in the classics, classics-to-be, or even recent best sellers. To be honest, I can’t always tell you how books find their way onto my to-be-read list. Perhaps the booklist fairy adds them according to my previous reads … sort of like Netflix recommending movies to me. Some automatic entries are books by favorite authors … a new Anne Tyler due out the end of this year, YAY! And I do jot down names of books that friends suggest, or I see while reading blogs, or hear mentioned in writers’ groups, but many of these I never finish. Reading tastes are personal. The book has to resonate with me.

I’m not in school, I don’t review books, nor do I have time to waste, so I only read what appeals to me … what speaks to me.

And sometimes a character’s voice echoes back years later, prompting me to restart the dialogue. Among the voices that speak to me most loudly, but in no particular order, are:

  • Celie’s in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple
  • Scout’s in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Maggie’s in Anne Tyler’s Breathing Lessons
  • Mason’s in Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist
  • Ivy’s in Lee Smith’s Fair and Tender Ladies
  • Eleanor’s in Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House
  • Sayward’s in Conrad Richter’s trilogy, The Trees, The Fields , The Town
  • Julie’s in Robert Morgan’s Gap Creek
  • Ninah’s in Sheri Reynold’s Rapture of Canaan (and probably Kenny’s in her newest The Sweet In-Between)

NOW … won’t you please share with me your list of books that haunt you?  Maybe you’ll help me discover a new favorite.

Characters, Critique, Editing, Fiction, My Books, Novel, Revision, Voice, Writing

Pollen, point of view, and people

It’s raining pollen here. Seriously. You can stand in my yard and watch it shower down around you, on you. My lovely red car, parked in the driveway, now has a fine yellow-green tint. Needless to say, I’m taking my allergy med.

I’m working on honing my deep-third point of view skills. I’ve already edited the first couple chapters to deepen Meredith’s pov, and I’m using it for Jalal as I write more in Part II. I found that I’ve always thought in deep-third, but revised it to just limited third as I typed. So now I can stop censoring myself. What I can’t stop is rewriting my first paragraph! I have seven versions so far, none of which sings to me. Or maybe I’ve gone deaf.

My bigger problem is that my critique partners were less than thrilled with the introduction of my third main character. So now, I’m trying to figure out how to revise that. Late last night, I finally realized a part of the problem. This character’s personality has changed from my original conception, but I failed to remove all traces of the former, causing a conflict with her current incarnation. She’s a great character and she’s exactly the right person to come into Jalal’s life at this point, but her introduction was clumsily executed. It’s back to the keyboard—eventually. For now, I’ll have to slam a few hundred Wii tennis and golf balls until I’m inspired. I’d rather play Bejeweled, Twist Text, or Candy Cruncher, but I really should exercise more than my mind. Really. I should.

Fiction, Voice, Writing

Silent all these years

Sometimes I hear my voice and it’s been here, silent all these years. –Tori Amos, 1991

I know I have a voice. I hear it speaking to me, but I’m not sure I’ve captured it in my writing. I have all these writing rules stuffed in my brain and I fear they mute my voice. Also, within dwells Ms. Perfect who yammers away, not only reciting those rules, but harassing me for not following them to the letter. (She’s a comma addict, by the way.) I’m perfectly capable of detecting other writers’ voices. Some enthrall me, some I never want to hear again. My only hope is that by the time I’ve finished this novel, I will be sure of my own. Then, I can rewrite as necessary to let my voice sing loud and clear.

Does your voice reign free?