Or cute little cippolini onions. Or a really gorgeous tomato, bursting out of its skin. Or a purply shallot with its papery skin coming off. The thing about fresh food is that it’s gorgeous. And good for you of course, but let’s spend a little time admiring the firm white and green of bok ahoy, the cheerful curliness of dark green spinach, the luminous orange of a carrot that’s just been peeled, the deep frosted blue of blueberries, the sheer riot of nature trying to feed us, seducing us with all that color and texture. And that’s before we get to corn still in the husk (is there any prettier yellow-and-green than that?) and peas popping out of their bright little pods and the ridiculously flashy red of strawberries . . .
Produce makes me happy. I don’t even have to eat it, I just want to look at it.
The thing about telling stories is that they establish reality. Two people can tell the story of an event they witnessed and come up with completely different stories with completely different meanings because of their views of reality. (America is in the throes of this phenomenon right now; thank god for a free press.).
But telling stories is just good for us. It gives us a chance to take the unrelenting chaos of real life and order it into a form and shape that is understandable and bearable.
Telling stories is what keeps us sane. And also . . .
I ordered four actual paper books this week, which is rare for me, but it’s spring in NJ and reading by iPad in the sun is no fun. Also I wanted them on paper. I gotThe Nimble Cook, Gertie Sews Jiffy Dresses (spiral bound to lie flat with patterns in an envelope on the back cover!), and two graphic novels by Emily Carroll, When I Arrived At The Castle and Through the Woods. And then, of course, there’s the new book on my Kindle, A Natural History of Dragons, which Book Bub had for $1.99, so I had to get it. Also on Amazon for $1.99: The Goblin Emperor, which a lot of Argh people loved.
What’s new in your reading life? (Or old, we don’t judge.)
Carol asked: I have my MIL’s memoir draft. My question – Would it be a good opening for the memoir to have a “scene” of somewhat dramatic moment in her life? Then go from there. Make it a story of her story?
No. Also no, and please no. (I don’t quite understand “make it a story of her story” so I’m ignoring that for now.) Those flash forward teasers (on any narrative, not just memoir) are basically the author saying, “I know this is a really boring beginning, so I’m going to give you this to hook you, and then you’re going to have to slog through the rest.”
The question I need you to answer before I can tell you how to start this memoir is “How are you structuring this?”
K asked: And when you sit down to start a new story, do you plot out major scenes? (know them ahead of time) Or do you start with an idea and the ‘aha’ moment at the end? In other words, do you know where you’re going when you start? Or do you just start with two characters?
There are a million ways to start a book, and all of them are the right way if they work. My way is the least efficient, so please note, I am NOT recommending the following as a path to follow. It’s a grossly inefficient way of writing a book. It’s just only way I’ve got.
Danielle asked: A friend recently approached me about collaborating. I think we could be great together but she is not a writer. She is a devoted reader and I trust her judgment. . . . What advice or resources would you have for someone taking on a partner? I don’t think she’ll be interested in the grunt work but in the plotting and world building.
In your case as described, I would strongly advise not to. In fact, run away.
I think my reading mojo is off. I seem to be obsessively re-reading instead of looking at the new books I have. Comfort reading, even though the days here are now beautiful and sunny, and taxes are over, and there’s nothing stressful on the horizon except finishing my damn book. And yet . . .
What did read this week that was comforting? Or interesting? Or exciting? Or just plain good?