Friday, October 7, 2011
And when the story is being written and rewritten, somehow this first reader sits close by, not literally you understand, but in the reader's mind. Like when you are writing something really funny, part of the pleasure is making this first reader laugh.
So, I like this idea. But the trouble is, I've never been able to decide: who is this one person I'm supposed to be writing to? Sometimes I think it's my sister because she was there growing up with me in a small town. She would get the references to the steep hill going out of Wiarton and at the base of it, the beer store that always caused a lot of traffic congestion. She would laugh at my jokes.
But sometimes it's not her at all. Sometimes it feels like I'm telling the story to my neighbour who doesn't know anything about Ontario or snow or growing up in a small town. But she knows birds and I'm writing about birds so she's my first reader.
Maybe I'm not monogamous.
I'm reading Elizabeth Hay's fabulous novel, Late Nights on Air. There's this scene where Gwen asks Harry about his imaginary listener (both of them work in radio.)
"That person you pretend you're talking to when you're on air?" She looked up. "Who is it?"
Harry smiled, "My imaginary listener? He's a man in his sixties who comes home tired from work and he goes down to the basement to his workbench and builds model boats. And while he's doing that he listens with rapt attention to me."
Whether you have one kind reader, or a cast of kind readers, or an imaginary reader, I like the idea. It keeps me writing. It creates an intimacy I don't think my writing would otherwise have. I think I take risks knowing that I can hang onto this reader's hand and they'll yank me up again, dust me off if I fail.
Now...back to writing.
Monday, August 1, 2011
The best example of this is Alice Munro's Lives of Girls and Women. I keep it on my desk at all times.
The character Del starts off as a nine year old just as you want to do. Del narrates the story and by the end she's about eighteen or so. So right away, it's a good model to show the developing narrator. It is told in first person, but 3rd is fine too if you're doing that lovely "limited third person" which is so close to first person.
So all lights are green. If you could just pay close attention to what Munro is doing in terms of narration, everything will be cool. It's a combo of young girl and this "other component" let's call it "the narrator." First, let's look at the young girl's voice. Here's an example from Lives of Girls and Women.
"Can you write?" said Uncle Benny to me, at his place, when I was reading on the porch and emptying tea leaves from a tin teapot; they dripped over the railing. "How long you been goin' to school? What grade are you in?"
"Grade Four when it starts again."
"Come in here."
He brought me to the kitchen table, cleared away an iron he was fixing and a saucepan with holes in the bottom, brought a new writing-pad, bottle of ink, a fountain pen. "Do me some practice writing here."
(Okay so the scene continues like that. Now let's look at a bit of narration).
He could read very well but he could not write. He said the teacher at school had beat him and beat him, trying to beat writing into him, and respected her for it, but it never did any good. When he needed a letter written he usually got my father and mother to do it.
Okay, notice the adult narrator voice never intrudes over top of the child voice. The vocabulary stays in a nine year old's grasp. The child is in reporting mode. So where is the wisdom coming from? Ahh, that's coming from the author/narrator. It's really subtle but what the author/narrator chooses to focus on is the key. The author/narrator is focusing on a serious topic: literacy.
So, in conclusion. The voice is the nine year old child's. The author's voice never intrudes -- only her wisdom, only her sensibility if you will.
Don't know if this helps you, but I hope so!!!
Sunday, July 17, 2011
1. Go to Amazon.com
2. Put the author's name into the Search: Laurie Elmquist
3. Click on the book you'd like to purchase: My Mother's Dress.
4. On this page, you'll find details about the book such as a product description and editorial reviews. It's a good idea to read these so you know what you are buying. My Mother's Dress is a single essay (5000 words).
5. At the right of the screen are three options. (You will choose the third!!) The first is Buy it Now. The second one (scroll down) is Sample a Selection. The third option is: Read books on your computer or other mobile devices. (This is the one you want to click on to get the FREE app.)
6. You will see a list of options:
- GET KINDLE FOR PC
- GET KINDLE FOR IPHONE
- GET KINDLE FOR BLACKBERRY
- GET KINDLE FOR IPAD
- GET KINDLE FOR ANDROID
If you want to read ebooks on your computer, it's the first one.
There's lots of reasons why you might want to sample the experience of an ebook without the expense of buying a Reader. This blog tells you how you can be up and reading for as little as the price of a book -- 1.99 for My Mother's Dress (smile!!)
I hope this blog entry is helpful.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
What if the ice on the lake isn't as solid as my narrator thinks it is? Or a question like this: What's the worst thing my narrator could do? Remember that novels do not take place on an ordinary day. They pull together all the extraordinary bits in a year or ten years and distill it into something full of tension and intrigue, and yes....even in a literary novel. Especially in a literary novel.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
I'm already hard at work on my second one, My Mother's Dress, which will be published by the end of the summer. I'm hooked on the idea of presenting them as ebooks. I like having input into the cover concept. I like seeing the books for sale on Amazon. I've been working on them for the last ten years, so it feels wonderful to publish them.
I hope you enjoy the books.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Parrots only bond with one other person (usually it's another bird but a person will do). My father brought out the best in our parrot. He could flip the bird over on his back and tickle his belly, he could get Lapa to dance an old-man shuffle, and he could get him to talk and imitate the noise of the vacuum.