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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Danielle asked, I'm answering...

I'm going to pick up where Danielle left off.

She asked: So why do you write or what type of book do you like to read?

It's funny, I was just out with my friend and her boyfriend and he asked me the same thing. What he actually asked was, "As a writer, when you finish reading a book what do you first think back on: the writing or the story?"

I immediately answered, "The story." Then I told him about the industry's definition (if there is one) of 'literary' fiction - the lyrical writing, georgeous sentences, blah, blah.

Me, I'm a story girl. I've read so many books that were lauded as brilliant, the writing oh-so-beautiful. And you know what? Couldn't get through them.

Yes, I have a very short attention span. Little tolerance for plugging through things. Maybe that's why I'm all about the story sucking me in. It's also probably why I won't read past the second chapter if a book doesn't grab me. I have too much to do and my free time is at a premium, so reading something I love is important to me. It's akin to spending my afternoon talking to a person I find uninteresting and trying. I hate small talk. I'd find a reason to excuse myself and leave. And that's how I feel about books. Life's too short to read books I don't love.

So, back to Danielle's question: what type of books do I like to read? Ones about real people. Their flaws. Their insecurities. Their strengths. Their moments of self-revelation. And funny. I love funny books. I'm reading I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER right now and laughing my butt off. So smart, so funny. I like authors who don't take themselves, or their characters, too seriously. Who can make fun of themselves, show their warts. Their twisted thinking. I like books with characters who could be my next door neighbors, a girl behind the counter at Target, someone I pass at a tollbooth. Books that give me a glimpse into the life of someone I might otherwise not even notice, someone who has a whole story behind a simple nametag at the Burger King drive through. A book like THEN WE CAME TO THE END, wickedly funny and insightful. A book about average people at average jobs - people who are anything but average when you put them under a microscope.

Because I believe that most people, if we spent the time to really know them, are interesting in their own little ways. It's their stories that I find interesting. Not necessarily the way an authors tells it.

And to answer Danielle's question: Why do I write?
So I can spend a little time with those people. And, hopefully, have others spend a little time with them, too.


Stephanie Kuehnert said...

I'm with you. I also love to read and write stories about real people. Like most recently I read Story of A Girl. It's just that, a story of a girl, who could be any girl you meet. It was perfect.

And funny definitely helps. I alternate between funny and tragic or light and heavy reads. I love both kinds of books, sometimes I want to sob, sometimes I want to laugh. I'm such a moody Cancer!

Danielle Joseph said...

I'm glad you answered because I couldn't agree with you more. And I loved your analogy of hating to make small talk. I used to always force myself to finish a book, even if I didn't love it. But these days I don't have the time or patience to do so, nor do I have much patience for small talk. So I say, "Keep it real:)!"