Tuesday, September 4, 2007

More . . . on writing of course.

I finished A Wrinkle in Time. I loved the concept about fighting darkness and how artists are people who have done this over the years - well, them and Jesus. Now I'm reading this book, Gilead, because I've heard it recommended more than once, and well - it won the Pulitzer Prize. I don't think I really know what a Pulitzer Prize is because I was surprised to find myself reading a book that had actually won it.
In Gilead, the writer says that when you write, "You feel you are with someone." I never thought of it that way. I thought I wrote to feel alone. Or at least, to thoroughly explore ideas with only myself listening, because myself is so agreeable and encouraging toward my ideas. Even this blog, which has proven to have a reader here and there, (hi, Mom!), I usually begin it with one sentence in mind. I think to myself, "I love Thursdays." And then I think, If I keep writing about Thursdays will I eventually hit on the ultimate meaning of life and perhaps solve all the world's problems and my own mood all at once?
I was alone for a couple of hours yesterday. And I just love being alone sometimes. The quiet is so restorative. But in those moments I always wonder if I only enjoy being alone then, because I don't usually have to be. And then I worry about getting old and my children moving away and my outliving my husband, as wives tend to do, and I wonder if I will hate being alone in those days. How typical of me to add the bitter to the sweet.
Anyway, even though I thought I wrote to be alone, I think I was wrong. I write here because I'm trying to matter. I write in a journal for my children because I hope they care one day. I write books because I want someone to read them. And even my journal - I'm not just writing to my future self. I think deep down I hope one of my children's children's children - you know.
I haven't read very far into Gilead yet. But it's a lovely book. Just a bunch of wonderful thoughts written lyrically and woven into a story. And I've been thinking that if I could write just one book in a lifetime that was so worth reading, I'd feel proud. "You feel you are with someone." I think maybe that is true. At least, when I write, I think I'm hoping someone would want to join me there, eventually.


Amy B. said...

I really liked this book. I would like to read some more of this author's writing.

I am remembering right aren't I? It is written from an older man's perspective?

Anonymous said...

Right - he's writing to his much younger son. And I just looked her up. She only has one other novel written and it was published 20 years before Gilead! It looks really good too and more in the genre I would like to write, so I've got to look it up. It's called Housekeeping.

Lori said...

I never made it through it. I will admit that I was trying to read it while Evan was in the hospital & it might have been too much to do at that time. I probably needed something more escapist. (Although I read "A Thousand Splendid Suns" & "The Kite Runner" during those days!)

Anonymous said...

I'm borrowing it from Lic who didn't finish it either. Also had too many things on her plate at the time. The style is praised very poetically on the back of the book but it's also the part that can bog you down I think. It's basically a really long journal entry. And now that I know two great readers who "didn't make it through it" I'm totally getting the Pulitzer Prize thing . . . that's the kind of book I expect to get those. Kind of like controversy wins the Oscar.

Anonymous said...

I finished the whole book! But mostly because Tony Fajkus told me it had taken the world by storm and by surprise - and that he thought I could have written it. I had to read it then.

Frankly, I got bogged down by the lack of chapter divisions. I love to read, but I need some white space so I can occasionally come up for air.

And I met a Pulitzer Prize winning author once. He was born in Hannibal and went on to be a journalist. He was pretty normal :)

Matt said...

I enjoyed the book too. I did finish it, although I found the last 5% of the book hard going. I think the reason the book works despite its unusual format is that it takes us inside of the character, into that honest place past ideas and judgements--the storytelling place. It certainly is not escapist reading--and I do like escapist reading at times. I've never been one to read something because I ought to!

I can relate to writing because you are trying to matter. I sometimes want desperately to write something important. Then I remind myself that it is the everyday, commonplace things that are holy, that matter. It is my grandfather quietly helping his older daughters care for his younger who would not listen to him directly. It is a smile for a stranger or making a misbehaving child laugh instead of yelling at them.

So I write to make sense of the world, to find my way back from worrying over the big things to trusting that, as I write down the small things, meaning will come.

Oh, dear. I'm writing an essay. Sorry. I'll stop now.

Molly said...

I love to join you in your world every chance I get.

*k8 said...

or have you heard the quote, "we read to know that we're not alone"...? i like that one :]

and... i don't know if you've heard about our ms l'engle's passing... but i heard that :(