Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Right now, I'm "it."

I've been tagged. Amy blindsided me, courtesy of Mac (whom I once considered a friend).

That was a joke! I was winking there. But I've decided my blog is a smiley-free zone.

Anyway, I'm supposed to write "15 personal facts or preferences about books."

So I will.

1 - I devoured books as a child. I often read late into the night, hunched against the bedroom window, holding my book out to catch as much of the light as I could gather from the streetlight outside.

2- I loved reading about Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. That lead to an interest in books about mythology. By 10 or 11, I'd read everything the childrens' library had on Native American, Roman, Greek and Norse myths and legends. I was given a special pass to the adult library and was allowed to take out more books from there. Heaven!

3 - I was a teen/young adult in the 60s/70s. Sex, drugs and rock n' roll was happening. Mind expansion was as common a topic as the weather. I read William Burroughs, Carlos Castaneda, Hunter Thompson, Ken Kesey, Jerzy Kosinski, Samuel Delany, Philip Dick and Hermann Hesse. My mind expanded.

4 - Reading J. P. Donleavy's books crystallized my desire to be a writer. He made me laugh and think. I wanted to do that to/for others.

5 - Like many (I suspect), I went through phases when it came to genres. In a couple of years, I read hundreds of mysteries (Rex Stout was a terrific writer). Then I'd switch to horror for a year or so and devour a bunch of those. (Btw, I gave up on Stephen King about a third of the way through Pet Semetary - Mac, we need to talk.) SF & Fantasy were recurring constants. The latter makes up 90% of the books I read these days.

6 - Mordecai Richler is my favourite Canadian writer. He was witty, amusing and acerbic.

7 - Speaking of Canuck writers, for much of my life I boycotted them. I was afraid they'd be too good and I'd be too intimidated to continue writing.

8 - I'm much less patient as a reader now. I used to grind my way through a so-so book like I was running a marathon. It was important that I just finish-for-gawd's-sake. No more. I've tossed books against the wall at page 2 and page 500. Life's too short.

9 - I'm much happier talking about others' books than I am my own.

10 - I've never read a book about writing, or how to write. I just didn't think a book could tell me that. I knew how to write. What I needed to learn was how to sell it. And I found that info in Writer's Market, on online writing sites and message boards (esp. the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler) and through trial and error.

11 - The hardest part about writing a book is the rewriting after it's been sold. Suddenly, the baby that's been solely yours for years has to be shared. And strangers are advising you to give her a nose job when you think hers is just fine as it is. "Fine" they say, "but those thighs need liposection - no ifs ands or buts." Virtually every day for several weeks can be a battle of wills. You need to balance their expertise with your own gut feelings. To those waiting to sell their first manuscript and are dealing with rejection after rejection, this might sound like a problem you'd love to have.

That's true. I intend to have it again.

And when I do, I'll hate it.

12 - I mentioned earlier that I mostly confine my reading to fantasy. I'm sure I'm missing out on lots of wonderful books. But there's only so many hours in a day/lifetime and my to-be-read stack never really seems to diminish.

13 - Recently read and recommended: Dan Simmons' Ilium, Robin Hobb's Fool's Fate and Victoria Strauss' The Burning Land.

14 - Currently reading (and enjoying thus far): Neil Gaiman's American Gods.

15 -
When my book was finally, finally done - I was sick of it. I'd been living with it every day for years. I'd be happy if I never saw it again.

So of course the first thing I did when my author's copies arrived (after woo-hooing) was sit down and read it cover-to-cover.

It was goooooood.

Okay Lady of Prose. You're it.


Dawno said...

Good post!

When you finish American Gods be sure to pick up Anansi Boys and read soon after.

Off to see if Lady has written hers now. ooops almost put up a smiley...I'll need to remember this is a smiley free zone...

Mac said...

Woo-HOO! Terrific list, Frank. :) See? This meme stuff is painless, and gives you a freebie blog post. *grin*

You're a terrific writer, who regularly makes me both laugh and think, by the way.

Anonymous said...

My favorite is number 8-- I can't tell you how many not-so-good books I finished because I felt I "had" to. Isn't it a great feeling to realize we don't have to do that anymore?

Frank Baron said...

Dawno, I'll make a note and add that one to my list. And you can smiley your fool head off in responses (I do) - I just decided not to use them in my blog. Hmmm, now I'm asking myself "why?"

I think it's because it forces me to write better, to be more careful in my word selection. Smileys are terrific aids in chat rooms and on message boards when you write on the fly. But they're not "allowed" in mainstream, 3D writing. I guess I feel that blogging is real writing. I don't use them in my column either, though I've had to stifle the impulse quite a few times.


Frank Baron said...

Thanks Mac, especially for that last sentence. It means a lot. :)

Frank Baron said...

Yep Amy. I think it's a sign of reaching maturity as a reader; helped in no small part by growing as a writer. We're no longer so in awe of the word "author" that we feel obligated to wade through dreck - wondering what the heck's wrong with US because this guy MUST be good to be published. Bad books get published. I might get snookered into buying one but I dasn't hasta read it.

Unknown said...

Hi Frank! Good list. I see we have number eight in common. I confess I only read the first 3 after you tagged me, to get a clue what I was tagged for.

I need to apply your smilie rule to my exclaimations. I use them far too much and they were the topic of discussion during my last workshop, which made me even more aware.

Have a good day and stay warm.

Dawno said...

If you would just add the Technorati tag to the bottom of your post, my day would be complete...it's over at the MondayMeme thread on AW. :-)

Unknown said...

Well, since you tagged me Frank, I've been lost in cyber space! I still don't have my content showing on my page. And no word from techs yet.

You guys are just having too much fun without me and it's obvious you don't miss me...(insert happy face)

I was about to add the techno thingy when we went down. Shhhh...I think it's Dawnos fault!