Thursday, May 28, 2009
homesick. (a letter)
He started back, and begging pardon, protested that he never read novels.—Jane Austen (about Mr. Collins, who else?)
(Dear fiction, Dear everything in the best part of the library, Dear everything I haven’t been reading…)
It has been such a long time, I know. So many weeks since I’ve had a novel to read, too many days since I’ve dragged some poor book around, anxious to get to the finish, curious about the characters, laughing over dialogue…
Something’s happened to me, something unaccountable: I have completely lost my appetite for reading fiction.
I know that there are people who don’t care about novels, who don’t read fiction, who aren’t concerned about this sort of thing—what’s abnormal about not reading fiction?
But it’s different for me—I’ve been reading at least one novel, and, um, sometimes four at a time, for as long as I can remember. Even when I was taking three lit classes at Calvin (yes, three!! I loved it!), I still was working through a novel on the side. (It took me forever to finish, but I was still reading…)
So what’s happened to us, fiction? Where did you go? Is it because I’m writing a novel, is that it? And yet, that doesn’t make sense. I don’t completely buy it. All those writing books shout at me to keep reading (something I never thought would be a problem), so clearly, I should still be seeking you out.
Besides. Don’t chefs eat? And fashion designers wear clothes. So why can’t I muster up an appetite for fiction like I used to? Why am I barely reading at all?
Fiction, I miss you.—jl
Friday, May 22, 2009
guaranteed to be cheaper than graduate school.
Live deep instead of fast.—Henry Canby
Having just passed my third graduation anniversary (what?), I decided to share a bit of my post-Calvin wisdom. (Obviously, this is a short post… ha ha ha.) So. Ten things I’ve learned since graduation:
1. Even three years out of college, some people will think you’re still in high school. I haven’t yet learned how to deal with this gracefully. (I’ve gotta lower my voice somehow.)
2. Asking “so, where are you from” isn’t nearly as exciting as it used to be… not that it was ever a spine-tingler…
3. Novels? Yeah. You don’t write your first one in a year. Or two. Or… oddly enough… three. I’m hoping year four is amazing. (It will be.)
4. It’ll take longer than you think to readjust to suburban life.
6. But I still don’t miss dining halls. Sorry. (Though Quesadilla Night will forever hold a place in my heart.)
7. Self motivation is a rare art.
8. “Idealist” might not be a bad word.
9. The best things in life really are free. Next best costs about $1.60.
10. Growing up will always be weird. (Thank you, Ben Folds.)
Congrats, new graduates!—jl
Saturday, May 16, 2009
in which the cast is missing… again.
If I appear ridiculous, it is because our language is deficient.—James Boswell
After months of decent writing work, it seems that my stamina, my ability to stay sitting at my desk, is shot to pieces.
I blame the travel bug, which has been gnawing at my brain all week. It happily tunnels through all my plot notes, character ideas, and brilliant description (assuming it was ever brilliant to begin with), and instead offers me visions of Otherplace: crepes by Notre Dame, sojourns through Norway, Japanese noodle carts.
I don’t know if my characters are disgusted with me, and have just stopped speaking? Which forces me away from my desk again and again…
Or are they listening to the travel bug even more than I have? And now they’re spread across the continents. I’ll have to go find them, one by one, in Morocco and Panama and Belgium. Irritated with their author, they’ve decided to circumnavigate the globe, in search of better adventures than they’ve gotten on the page, poor things.
If you’re reading this, oh characters of mine (who have probably tried to get as far away from me as possible, and certainly wouldn’t be reading my blog!), then come home quick. Yes, even if you haven’t yet seen the Pyramids. Because drafting starts again on Monday!! Part Three, that monster of plot and conflict and development! It all comes crashing in on Monday morning, and if you’re not back yet, then I don’t know what will happen.
Perhaps the narrator will entertain us with a selection of knock-knock jokes.
Or something even worse.
So come back, come talking, come grumpy and angry and hostile as you are, because Monday will put all of us through our paces again. (And show me your pictures when we’re on break. Bring me a keychain or at least a postcard as well…)—jl
Saturday, May 09, 2009
a week in ten moments
me, looking up at mosaic work in the St. Louis Basilica
Whew! What a week! We can pack a lot in seven days, and I haven’t caught my breath yet.
Instead of the full saga, here’s our week in ten glimpses:
* Crepes again last Sunday, yum. My brother-in-law recommends Nutella + banana for the filling: Voila, the perfect crepe.
* Falling asleep to thunder and rain.
* Fighting off a sinus infection (or some kind of mystery virus) and almost winning ... so far.
* Absorbing the accents of our visiting Australian cousins, enjoying their stories and conversation… I could listen forever!
Friday, May 08, 2009
why i write
Leaving Borders last Saturday afternoon, feeling philosophical about how many millions of books there are out there, and how long (LONG) it takes me to write a single one, musing about competition, industry, marketplace…
And then this: a man walking in, then a huge intake of breath. “There it is!” he gasped to his companion.
I don’t know which book it was, catching his eye, but I wish I could bottle that mixture of wonder and anticipation when confronted with books.
I think it would keep me writing for weeks on end…—jl