I took my son out of town this weekend which gave me a perfect excuse to visit Barnes and Nobles. I stopped myself from skipping through the doors. Our town has a small independent bookstore, decorated in homey blue and metal. Not somewhere I want to browse books. I guess I’m shallow like that. The browsing experience means as much as the books. I discovered this about myself during a discussion about the rise of the nook and Kindle. I am one of those stalwarts that can’t imagine cuddling up with a computer, especially since my favorite place to read is in the bathtub. There’s far too much room for disaster.
It’s also about the feel of books. I am a Taurus, after all, and our sense of touch runs our lives. I take the slip covers off hardbacks because I prefer the feel of pressed cardboard. My favorite? The covers with a grainy texture, reminiscent of older books. And smooth pages in between. It’s almost religious.
There is much discussion about the eventual phase out of physical books. I think I’ll become a book hoarder so that I’m ready.
With that bit of opinion off my chest, I discovered two things today.
1. I no longer have an interest in reading books on the craft of writing. I browsed the entire section and picked out seven that I hadn’t already purchased. While sipping on bitter coffee (the bitterer the better), I read pages from each chapter and put them aside. Not that I don’t appreciate and respect the authors willing to give their advice. I owe many of them gratitude. But I’ve read the advice. And read the advice. And read the advice.
But it’s time to settle in and use it. I know the skills of writing a scene, making description real, choosing the right words, bringing characters to life, and so on, and so on. It’s time to stop reading advice and start listening to myself. I call that progress.
2. I love Paulo Coelho. Of the 4 books I purchased, I started reading “11 minutes” tonight and couldn’t put it down. His style reads a little discordant from flowing verse I’m used to, and he doesn’t attempt description, which I miss. What I love about Paulo Coelho is his honesty. “11 minutes” is an analogy for women in the dating world. I admire his bravery for tackling women’s prostitution of themselves for a chance at love. I am in awe of his ability to see the world through a woman’s eyes and keen to his take on love. (I have my own opinions on love, but that’s not what this blog is about.) While the whole book is a metaphor, from what I’ve gathered thus far, he states opinions with straight-forward honesty throughout, instead of trying to disguise them with symbols and hints.
Exactly what all the writing books tell you not to do, I might add.
For many years I’ve picked up this book, read the back cover, and put it back down. It just wasn’t where my head was at. Today, I felt the need to buy it, as if it’s soul spoke to me because it had a lesson. Lesson? Don’t afraid to be honest in your writing. Don’t be afraid to lay your opinions on the page in a straightforward manner because maybe, someone browsing through the shelves at Barnes and Nobles will pick it up, read the back cover, and need a lesson.
There were many books I put back today. I’d have to resort to a life of crime to pay for each one that caught my eye. Like “The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales” by Bruno Bettelheim. (I wish my name were as cool as his.) I almost regret not buying it. But that’s not where my brain is at.
Where is my brain these days? I’ll be honest. I don’t know. Thoughts have been moving faster than piranhas’ on a goldfish. Sometimes they bite, sometimes they don”t. Things are changing and I’ve given up trying to keep pace. I’ll wait until the waters calm and try to make sense of the bones.