Crawling Towards the Finish Line
Ten weeks and one-hundred thousand words later, I’ve finished my book. Oddly, it was an anticlimactic experience. I penned the final words, texted my wife: Done, and napped on the couch, which was followed by a lonely night of reading and sipping on fermented beverages. It was exactly what I needed. The process was fulfilling but hard, crammed with sweat, elbow grease, and scotch.
What’s next? I’m relaxing this week. Well, not entirely—I still have my day job. When my editor returns from vacation on the fifteenth, we’ll start the difficult process of editing and revising. The manuscript is due to the publisher by September first (here’s to late night cramming!), so we still have a long and unpaved road to ascend.
I’m aware that my rabid fan base is eagerly awaiting a book review. I apologize that I forced all six of you to wait. I probably won’t write any full reviews of my summer readings, but I will share with you what I’ve read and why. As a side note, it’s true: reading cultivates writing, which, in turn, facilitates reading. It’s a circle, a brilliant and clear circle.
I started the summer with Robin Hobb‘s Tawny Man Trilogy, which includes: “Fool’s Errand,” “Golden Fool,” and “Fool’s Fate.” I won’t lie. I’m a geek and I like fantasy. Hobb’s style has a way of drawing me in before ever-so-subtly slapping my brain. Her characters are both real and complex, in a way that compels you to rethink your own relationships.
I, actually, have a theory about Hobb’s style. She writes from the first-person perspective, which, I believe, has the power to seduce a reader like no other perspective. In third person—what I assume is the most common—there’s a brick wall between reader and narrative. I am aware that I’m standing outside and peeping through the story’s one smudgy window, watching events unravel. But in first person, I’m handed the keys that unlock another’s mind. It’s a big responsibility, but one that Hobb deftly handles. As the narrative unfolds, I am a participant. When I read Hobb, I’m rewarded with the experience of crawling inside the mind of another human being. And, when you’re writing a book, it’s pleasant to escape into the mind of someone else and forget—if only for a time. Hobb is a good writer and a better storyteller.
Next, I tore through Geoffrey of Monmouth’s classic, Historia Regum Britanniae or “History of the Kings of Britain.” Written in the twelfth century, I found a clear, concise, and engaging history. So what if it’s not true. It was awesome, like, from Troy-to-King-Arthur and the founding-of-Britain awesome. If you’ve read The Iliad, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid; Dante, Chaucer, and Milton; and dabbled in Teutonic Mythologies only to ask yourself: “What next?” Monmouth, that’s what. Read it.
I also read “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. There’s a reason it’s a classic. Her ability as a writer is staggering; her conclusions, to me, were a bit nutty. But, hey, it’ll make you think. Oh, and if you’re wondering, the recent movie “Atlas Shrugged: Part I” stunk. It was weird and felt like watching illegally funded propaganda.
Lastly, I read Lev Grossman’s “The Magicians” and “The Magician King.” These are fun, one-sitting reads. Unlike Ayn Rand, they will not make you think—not in the philosophical-academic sense—rather they will whisk you away to a gritty and all-too-often real, though phantasmagorical, New York. I recommend these for anyone on vacation who doesn’t mind heaps of expletives—hysterical, hysterical, expletives.
For now, my lovelies, that’s all.