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.