Friday, May 12, 2006
Sunday Scribblings #7: "The books I would write..."
I would write books that people want to climb inside of and live in!
Books about mermaids and gypsies and India; about Venice, vampires, brimstone, magic carpets, wickedness, ladies hatched from eggshells, secrets, and journeys by camel that end with a kiss. I would write about tattoos and violins and a lover with an eyepatch, about a street with a cat standing sentry on every single porch, and about a nun who can freeze your blood just by looking at you. I would write about gambits and destinies and risk, about deep, aching, hungry love and about spite, and vengeance, and murder. I would write about the summer house of the ambassador from hell, and the state dinner when the angel got locked in the loo. I would write about the lengths a young girl would go to to save the world, and the frisson of touching one’s soulmate for the first time, and the wicked, wicked things humans do to the earth, and to each other, and the beautiful things, too. And of course, of course, I would write about magic. Always.
I can’t seem to keep magic out of my stories. I don’t try. I read all kinds of books, but when I write, magic seeps in around the edges, come what may, just as when I draw, my characters grow wings without even asking permission. I think that’s a good rule of thumb anyway: one should never ask permission to grow wings but just grow them, new ones every day: hawk wings and dragonfly wings and bat wings and bumblebee wings and flamingo wings and origami wings and doily wings and cobweb wings and invisible wings that tickle people when they hug you! Try them all out.
The Sunday Scribblings prompt was “what books WOULD you write,” not “what books WILL you write,” to make is sound like a daydream and not a pledge, like fun instead of work, but I do have a queue of books lined up in my head ready to be written, and I hope that now that I’ve written the first one I’ve begun to learn how to do it, and the others will find their way out too! In the early days of trying to write this book the thing that got in my way the most was being unable to decide between two ideas, and which I should devote my time to: my witch book or my faerie book? I loved them both. I went back and forth and never succeeded in getting past the first few chapters of either. And I might have gone on and on like that forever had not some fortuitous positive feedback set me on a course to developing what SARK calls “a habit of completion.” I wrote the faerie book, and the witch book is still swimming around in my mind, and it continues to grow and stretch even in its hibernation, even as it bumps into the other books waiting their turns.
So this exercise “the books I would write,” is very real to me. In Salman Rushdie’s Haroun & the Sea of Stories there’s a kind of spigot that when turned on flows stories, and I wish that were the case with my brain, but it’s not. More like, my stories are skittish litttle phantasms hiding out in my brain, and I need to coax them out with infinite patience and trickery. Does anyone else feel like this? Do you have a shy book-stowaway hiding in your brain? At the SCBWI conference a few weeks ago the Newberry award-winning writer Karen Cushman told how she'd come to finally write her first book at age 50. She was always telling her husband her ideas for stories until one day he told her he wouldn't listen to another idea, but that if she WROTE it down, he'd read it. And thus began the journey of writing her first book! Tough love! I'm curious. As I devised this topic for this week, I wondered, how many people out there want to write a book in their lives? How many plan to? You?
To read more Scribbles (& maybe participate), go here!
Posted by Laini Taylor at 9:56 PM