Friday, April 24, 2009

Word Huggers, Write & Unite - 2.

Taking Back the Words

Okay, let’s see now. Where were we? Oh yes, the blank page. Ways to fill up the blank page.

Last post I stared at my blank page and my blank page stared back. And then we talked about the practical outline followed by first writ and decided that wouldn’t do.

So then today, I tidy up the kitchen in good order for the invisible-visitor-strategy appointment at nine. But at the appointed time my invisible guest doesn’t even show. Foiled again.

Just then the phone rings. It is Middle Daughter (MD). Now I should tell you that right now MD is temporarily off work. She loves to write and has had several small articles published. So right now, although writing time is still compressed by household tasks and child-rearing, she is most anxious to use this time, not to practice the art, but rather to write worthwhile stuff that might lead to more published works.

First she tells me once again, how disappointed she is with another highly publicized book she has read. It has her distressed and her question to me is if she is going to make valuable use of the writing time she has available, what should she write about.

Now, as a Mother, I must have an answer. As a Mother I can’t say I don’t know, although in my mind I haven’t the slightest inkling. But Mothers, no matter how old their children are, must rise to every occasion some way, some how.

As MD expresses her frustration, I scroll through the TV guide with my remote and decide if that is what the public wants, neither her nor I can fill that need with any conviction. Things like action movies without story or plot. Reality TV, yuk. Starlet carryings on – as if. This is not subject matter for our quills (meaning hers or mine).

And then I don’t know whether it is Mother intuition or primeval instinct that kicks a thought into the frontal lobe of my brain. The thought of what happened in my efforts to snag popular books in the last few years. With best-sellers on my list of wanted books, obliging neighbors were on the hunt for them. Friends, and family members too. But what happened every time? I suppose things would have been different if I had passed out written details of title and author but usually I put in my orders in casual conversation by telling them the name of the book and nothing more.

And sure they found books referencing those titles. Scads of books. But all were nothing more than comments, critiques, interpretations, or background discussions of the original books. Occasionally the original book came later. But seems to me like every bestseller had a side book, or two. “The Secret”, “The DaVinci Code”, and some other popular book about a life well-lived or how to live the good life or something like that. Can’t quite remember the title and absolutely don’t know now who the author was/is. But that is what my bookshelves are full of – not the original, but some prefix, affix, suffix, or infix.

I know you know this, but it bares repeating in this discussion. Our tribe is an opinionated lot. I either like something or I don’t. If I really like something I must find words to describe it that will create such an aching longing in a reader, that they will choke up and weep. And if I despise a thing I must find words to create such contempt in a reader, that my words will lend themselves as therapy to their own dismay. Is that not what writing should do? Give the reader an earnest emotional jerk?

So now I know what to tell MD. Rather than write anything original she can interpret, recommend, renounce, or criticize the themes, characters, plots (if there is one) in other books. I think I will do the same. We will write volumes of imaginative interpretations –some realized, some disconnected.

And shouldn’t it then happen that our manuscripts will fit the trend, and be caught up, as it were, in the tail-spin draft of the original book. And when our stuff hits the bookshelves, all those rummager-booksters looking for the latest release sanctified by “Oprah” or “The New York Times”, who find the original too expensive, or out-of-stock, will buy our sidewinders. (I’ve unknowingly bought many of those damnable side-offerings myself, and I’m certain you have too).

We will not separate out too many literal quotes from the book. It won’t be necessary and besides that will create too much risk of plagiarism or copyright infringement. But of course, somewhere on those covers of those sweet-smelling releases, still warm from the printing, there will be a visible reference to the original book, a befriending as it were.

Within the laws of freedom of expression, I believe this strategy will work. And although sharing this thought with others may reduce profit from my own book-royalties, I have too few readers to think the market will be instantly flooded. At the same time, I’m willing to share this idea for important reasons that I will ultimately explain.

In the meantime, another blank sheet will soon be full. Just give me a moment while I retrieve that best-seller from behind the dresser where I threw it with such disdain last night. Then watch me rant.
And now my final thought. You think I tell you all these things as just another tongue-in-cheek exaggerated tirade. But there you are wrong. The fact that I shared this revelation with you should make you aware there is something more to what I have just said.

And the ‘more’ there is, in the telling of this, is that I hope to create a solid revolutionary movement – a clan and cult of artful word-lovers. I know from reading your blogs that most of you agree that it is time to take back ‘the literature’ – to return it to its rightful place. Because you know, as I also do, that good literature is closer to extinction than clean water, unsullied landscapes, or chemical-free habitats in our physical world.

Besides, the water, air, etc. are in good hands. Al Gore is looking after that. Meanwhile it is up to us, the wanna-be Shakespeares’, Chaucers’, Austens’ and Brontes’ to write with might so we can take back the words, the phrasing, the emotion, and the pleasantness of a really good read.

Writer’s, fight and unite!
Blank pages are no longer in vogue!


Anne said...

Roberta, i actually think good literature is alive and well. Most of it is simply not being published. Fortunately, astute lit-lovers are smart enough to keep the books at hand that beg to be reread time and again -- which are the only books work keeping in any case. Otherwise we'd have no room for the comfy, broke-in chairs nor need for reading lamps.

Enjoy your week, my dear.

Roberta S said...

anne, your comment is comforting particularly when I take a peek at your blog. There you are on a day of leisure visiting the haunts of William Blake. 'Tis enough to renew anyone's faith in great literature. So I will keep my lamp and chair and continue to read and re-read.

Thank you for visiting. New friends are always welcome.

Pauline said...

lol Roberta - I knew you'd come around to filling that blank page with something worth reading!

Anonymous said...

Yes, very much worth reading. I try to follow your thinking and it leads me on a merry chase. I feel the same about best sellers. Keep on filling those blank pages.

Anne Partain said...

Hello Roberta, thank you for visiting my blog and commenting. Writing is such a wonderful way to express our own ideas and experience. It does me good to remember that tomorrow I may see things completely differently. :)

Roberta S said...

Thank you, Pauline. 'Twas a long rambling rant, to be sure. By the way, this new work, we are hoping to start -- we'll need some very lovely poetry as well, so you better get busy.

Roberta S said...

Hi nora, thank you for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed the chase. I've always been criticized for not sticking to my topic as ardently as I should, but thank you for letting me know it's okay for me to ramble about. If I'm going to write sidewinders, 'missing the trail' might be a good thing. As long as my deviations don't give readers a splitting headache.

Roberta S said...

Hi Anne P. I really enjoyed our visit at your blog yesterday. The clips you write are well worth reading (and applying) to life's frustrations.

Thank you for the return visit.

joared said...

Now I think when it comes to writing you are relieved of the mother responsibility for coming up with something for MD to write. Thought stimulating questions should be asked to allow her to find what her mind settles upon. Oh well, what do I know.

Roberta S said...

Seems joared, this was something I failed to address in the story despite my lengthy rant. And you are right in that observation. However in MD's particular situation the questions have all been asked (since MD was a child at frequent kitchen table discussions playfully dubbed 'mind-expansion seminars') to encourage her to find, recognize, and fulfill through her own efforts, whatever they might be, extensions of herself ruled within the context of her own heart and mind. In response she has already written much. But now her question has to do with moving outside her own experiences and tapping into market demand. That means, she is looking to ignore what some writers call 'automatic writing' (heart to paper), and bite into something that the general public will lap up.