Thursday, March 3, 2011

Is that a book in your purse, or ...?

I get panicky if I'm caught in a situation where I have to wait (riding a bus, standing in a long line) and I don't have a book. The need to carry a book has been the single greatest factor contributing to my increasing purse size.

When I do have a book (usually) and I manage to pull my nose out of it (not often), I marvel at the people who aren't reading. How is all that waiting time not driving them totally insane? And I feel a warm kinship with the people who are reading. This morning I was especially tickled to see a woman carry her open book into our office building. She continued to huddle over it while in the elevator, and then dawdled outside our office hallway door, still reading. I guess she had reached a good part. What a nice inspiration to start the day!

A totally separate point - a quick flag for you writers. The Glimmer Train bulletin has a nice short essay on the crux of short stories from Melanie Bishop, a writer and professor. The core element, as she puts it, is "a happening" - ie, something happens.
"One can't, for instance, just describe what he/she had for breakfast and call it a story, even though eating breakfast is a human experience."

John Gardner suggests that short fiction should have a transformative experience that illustrates a revelation; Flannery O'Connor says that all writing is ultimately about the mystery of the human experience and our unique manners that bring us there. I'm sure both would agree that something has to happen. It seems obvious, but crafting a narrative arc in a short space is a challenge.

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Princess Nijma

Princess Nijma