Tuesday, September 09, 2008

writing and reading and other misc. stuff

We went to the 5 Browns concert today, me and Dan (since it was his birthday). It was nice to see the cousins before the show, and the show was fantastic. I had almost forgotten how much I like well-done classical music. It feeds my soul. Good music (and theirs was) is like a good kiss--you can get lost in it and forget even that your body exists. Dan loved the concert, too, almost leaping from his seat before intermission (that's all we could stay--he was waiting for his birthday cake and presents) to applaud when Gregory played the piano with his foot and hollered in the song. I highly recommend their show--it's a lot of fun.

Anyway, I resolved to fill the house with classical music again, like I did before I had kids, because it soothes and calms and feeds my soul, and (and this has always been true) makes me feel like a queen, instead of a pawn, in my life story. Music speaks to my soul in a way that not many things can.

Anyway, I mailed out a full manuscript last week to an agent in California. Today another agent requested it--mercifully by email so it didn't cost me almost $8 for shipping again--and I sent it right away. So the novel is not forgotten. I opened the file before I emailed it to make sure I had the right one, and I read some and liked it a lot. I guess that's a good sign.

I've had writer's block since I finished it. I ought to work on the one set in Vegas, since we're here, but I want to work on the retelling of an arthurian legend as a mystery, but I just can't get myself to start. Normally when that happens, I fill my days with quilting, but we only just found my sewing machine, and I have no place to set up any of my quilting stuff, and I can't even find the lap quilt or the thread to finish it with. And there's always that question of if we're leaving here in a couple of weeks, do I really want to get a quilt going? It's a lot of mess to have to take out and then re-pack. But with no quilt and no book to work on, I've been doing a lot of wandering the house.

I did install a swamp cooler, which works fine. It would work better if the house fan didn't keep coming on and sucking all the cool air up into the attic and spitting hot air down into the house. Very annoying. It's on the list of things to talk to the landlord about (along with the cats, which have started coming indoors again, and other things).

I have been reading the Oz books to the kids, and having a great time. Especially since we took a small sidetrack--Baum wrote a trilogy of "Trot and Cap'n Bill" books, the third of which is also an Oz book. We decided to read the whole trilogy in order, instead of just reading the Oz book, and it's been really fun. I'd never read them before. I highly recommend the Oz books. Some are heavy on the catalog of creatures and places in Oz aspect of the stories, but others are wonderful, engaging plots, with fantastic characters that are a lot of fun. If you read the books in order in a short amount of time, the inconsistencies in the world-building are glaring, but make sense when you consider that Baum never set out to be famous for the books and tried to end the series more than once.

I also read the Chronicles of Narnia finally. I know. I should have done it years ago. I read "The Lion, the Witch, and the wardrobe" when I was a kid, but I wasn't into heavy fantasy, so after "prince caspian" I gave up. They're short, though, and were sitting there when I was bored, and I read them--and really enjoyed them and will probably read them to the kids. Like most traditional fantasies, the books were a little tedious for me at places. Well worth it, though, and the spiritual messages in them were much appreciated the week I read them.

I also started reading the Book of Mormon again. I just couldn't make myself start over at the beginning, so I started with the last book and am reading the chapters in order, but the books in reverse. And this time through, I found the literary structure of the whole work not only appealing, but downright beautiful (and so tragic!). Since I consider the Book of Mormon a work of scripture primarily, I'd never looked at it as a work of literature, but that really struck me this time. Mormon was a literary genius, although I doubt he considered himself such.

I was also struck by the story that's told and re-told throughout the book of small families journeying to what is promised to be a better place, although they have never been there, and how they struggle and suffer but keep going, always finally, after years of trouble, settling down on a pleasant beach only to be told they're not there yet. So they build boats and pack everything up and leave, praising God in the darkness and the storms and hoping for a better place. And He does eventually bring them there. It's kind of a work and suffer and work and suffer and willingly give up paradise to work some more and then hold on tight because God will carry you through to the end if you don't stop believing in him when the seas get rough kind of story.

I guess I relate because I feel like we had settled down on our beach, and now we have to let go of our paradise, and build a boat, and push off into the ocean. I hope we eventually get to that kind of a "promised land", too.

And that is the power of great literature--it sticks to our ribs like a nourishing meal, helps us sort through our lives, and, hopefully makes them richer and fuller and more worth living. Just like music. The benefit of the great literature also being scripture is that it can guide, comfort, heal, direct, and also give us hope and faith as well.

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