Tuesday, February 22, 2011

First Loves Never Die

If I hadn’t finished reading the book two weeks ago and had all that subsequent time to anticipate our discussion this evening, perhaps I wouldn’t have been so disappointed.  Last month, I hadn’t had time in four days even to skim the novel for my first book club meeting, though during the discussion, I desperately wished I had.  So I voraciously devoured this month’s selection, having been proverbially “hooked” after the first few pages.  How could I not be, when it was a death-defying, weather-related incident? 

But our discussion, I thought, left much to be desired.  When I wanted nothing more than to talk about the narrative voice, and the level of emotion conveyed, and the matter-of-factness of the work, it just turned out to be a series of questions like, “Remember when this happened?  What did you think of that?”  Or, “Do you think today’s generation would respond the same way?”  Or, “I thought that one part was so funny,” which isn’t even a question at all, or even a prompt. 

It reminded me of a Bible study I once attended, where the leader would read a passage, or even a single verse, and then lazily ask the participants, “So, what do you guys think about that?”  Nothing deep, nothing probing, no diving board into a multi-sided, thought-provoking exchange.

In any case, tonight, people seemed more interested in talking about a certain relative who was similar to the main character, rather than the characters themselves.  But, startlingly enough, it was during this part of the “discussion” that I made a great discovery.

I think I’m still a writer.

While everyone was talking about Grandma So-and-So, or Grandpa What’s-His-Name, my head starting spinning with novel ideas.  No, not new ideas.  Ideas for novels!  Stories!  Who knows, maybe even screenplays!  I once fancied myself an up-and-coming screenwriter, imagining the day when, dressed in vintage Gucci and with a magnificent, 1920s brooch bedazzling my upswept hair, I would accept my first Oscar for best adapted screenplay.  Yes, my first Oscar.

So these stories suddenly started coming alive to me, never mind the fact that these women had only spent a fleeting moment to mention them.  And the notebook I had brought to take notes of our discussion suddenly became my makeshift “idea book,” and tomorrow, when Shiloh wakes, I will go upstairs and get my real Idea Book, and I will copy these new novel ideas.  And someday, when I need material for my fifteenth novel, there they will be, ready, waiting.

And ready, waiting, right now, is a halfway-decent novel that I began to write about five years ago.  I shall consider it a great accomplishment if I add even one sentence tonight, for it shall be the first sentence of fiction I have composed in years.


  1. Maybe there is a more academic book club you could join. Also, Matt mentioned the other night about a writers club that a friend of ours is in. I guess it is based in Dayton. I can get the info if you are interested.

  2. Oh...and that's great that it got you thinking of all kinds of ideas. At least something good came out of what sounds like a pretty mediocre book club meeting!

  3. Isn't it thrilling when the tiniest phrase sparks?

    Patrick and I were at Books&Co a couple of Sundays ago listening to Chris Bohjalian. He said he knows he's got "the book" when that light bulb goes off and discrete moments come together as a story. Then he goes and writes the book.

    Best piece of writing advice I've gotten lately? "You have to let the cold water run a bit to get to the hot." Welcome back to writing! :)

  4. Lynda, that is a much nicer way of saying, "You have to write a lot of crap to get something good." Thanks! :)

  5. shows how much of a writer that you are that you, not only read for the craft, but you want to dissect the craft at a book group meeting! LOL ;) You need to either find or create a book group/critique group that'll do just that. I'd love to join!