Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The F-Word

You may have noticed that I'm going through a decidedly un-writerly phase. These are the times when it's most important to buckle down and force the writing, of course, but it's the least fun. Any successful author will tell you that this is 99% of the deal when it comes to writing, it's what I knowingly signed up for the second I identified as a writer. So I won't complain about having the blahs today, or deflect with links and space-fillers. Instead I'll blather on until I feel I've warmed up my creative muscles. I'm not saying it's going to be pretty or any good, just that I'm going to keep going until... something.

I've been reading a lot lately, which is great. I'm most of the way through Jean Thompson's The Year We Left Home which is excellent, and I just started Aimee Bender's The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake as well. I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes. Before that I finished off yet another Elizabeth Berg, her newest called Once Upon A Time There Was You. I went through my usual push-pull with it, but I mostly enjoyed it. Not for nothing: the book's publication date is 2011, who knows how long ago it was actually written, but there's a part in the story where she actually uses the phrase "joy berries." I'm not crying plagiarism, especially since I think five people read this and they're all my relatives, but it's a mighty interesting coincidence.

My real point though is that in their own way, each of the books I've chosen recently is about family. I always marvel about how unique the treatment of family is with each author, even from book to book in their respective catalogs. It amazes me in real life as well as fiction how the concept of what constitutes family is ever fluid. The word seems inadequate as a catch-all, it can mean so many things. There are so many ways to be someone's family. I know about mine, (the one I grew up with, and the one I married into, and the one I've made of friends, the one I've made with my husband and son, and the way all the different ones overlap and bleed into each other) and I think my experience has colored how I create families when I write about them (close, loving, reasonably exasperating but always in a positive light), but it doesn't necessarily mean the family in my novel represents my own. So it's unfair of me to assume that the other authors came from families like the ones they write about, even though I sometimes do. And then I get to thinking, are all stories about family in one way or another? Probably not, but I guess I just seek them out or am drawn to them above all others.

Now the word "family" just looks and sounds funny to me, I've used it so much. So I'm going to stop. But I'll just keep thinking about it, I suppose. I'm always thinking about it.

I don't much care for "children's music." But this is an exception.

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