Category: writing

Second Chances

Ever struggled through a book wondering why you continue to read such garbage? Ever read the first page or maybe two and figure you just can’t stomach to read anymore? That’s how I felt about Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain. But It was all the rage. The must read. I silently stared at my writer friends while they rambled on and on and on about the sheer beauty of this book. Had they lost their minds? I managed to get through the first two pages then decided no matter how great this book supposedly was, it just wasn’t for me.

I felt so embarrassed. So ashamed. I called myself a writer, yet couldn’t stomach the first two pages of the National Book Award Winner. I never told my writer friends how I truly felt. I was ashamed I didn’t ‘get it’. Maybe I should revert back to picture books. Certainly I could ‘get’ those.

So Cold Mountain got shoved to the back of the bookshelf. The very back. And then the movie came out and I watched mainly because Jude Law is like oh my gosh good-looking. The scenery was beautiful too. And the story – it wasn’t bad. Yeah, I cried.

Then a funny thing happened. Several years later, I was cleaning off the bookshelves and found the well-hidden copy of Cold Mountain. I held it my hands for a long time, wondering if I should give it another try. I was between books so in need of something to read. So I stuffed it in my purse to take to work with me the next day. I’d try the first page again and if it didn’t click, I’d spend the rest of my lunch hour browsing the newspaper left in the break room.

But it clicked. Oh how it clicked! I finally ‘got it’. And I got it within the first paragraph, not just the page. I absolutely, totally, undeniably fell in love with the language Frazier used. The words worked together like an old married couple completing one another’s sentences. The words, the placement of¬†punctuation, the sparse dialogue. The beauty of the way everything worked together sent chills up my spine.

If I hadn’t given Cold Mountain a second chance, I’d have gone through life appreciating the beauty of Jude Law, not the language used to tell the story.

Have you ever given a book a second chance?

Coffee, Cigarettes & Writing

Years ago when I first got serious about writing, each time I sat down at the keyboard there was a “pattern”, a method if you will to the process. Coffee on the left, cigarettes on the right…and the words flowed. Page after page in one sitting. It might have been drivel but at least it was on paper.

Well, I smoked my last cigarette Oct 12 2010. As the year anniversary approaches, I feel inclined to document my progress:

1) I’m still working on the novel I started in February 2010. Three scenes away from finishing. I’ve been three scenes away from finishing for oh…a few months. I know the scenes by heart. I can recite the dialog. I can’t leave my characters hanging. I owe Gypsy a proper ending. I love him, fellow writers in my critique group love him – I can’t just let him “fade away”. But I won’t start smoking again for you, bud. We’ll work through this.

2) I still can’t breathe. Not from congestion or anything “smoking” related – but from the 20 pounds I’ve gained eating everything that’s edible. And sometimes, that’s questionable. The cigarettes and ashtray that used to sit to the right of the keyboard have been replaced with a bag of corn chips. Try chewing on baby carrots someone told me. Seriously? Have you ever actually tasted those things? But…I refuse to start smoking again. Nada. Not going to happen. I’m going to live smoke-free the rest of my life so I can embarrass my soon-to-be NINE grandkids by making all kinds of offensive old people sounds in front of their friends. Who cares? I can’t breathe so it won’t be me breathing in all those smells.

3) All the money I could have spent on cigarettes, I’ve spent on corn chips. And Mt. Dew. Voltage. Good stuff. It’s replaced the coffee that used to sit to my left.

Hang on, Gypsy. Once I find my “pattern” again, I’ll let you say all the things you’re wanting to say. Then it’s on to Book Two in the series. And more corn chips. Pass the Mt. Dew.

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