Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A book snob braves the library summer reading program

I brace myself for what's coming. I love going to the library, I really do.

But when I take my 5 year old twins to the library to pick books for their summer reading program, their book saavy (or lack of it) makes me cringe.

"Can I pick a book?" "Can I?"

"Of course you can." I mustn't dampen their excitement about books.

They get into the library and dash to the children's section. It's a race. They grab the first book they can reach and run back to me, brandishing it with glee.

"I want this one!" "This is my favorite!!!!"

THEY HAVE NOT EVEN LOOKED AT THE COVER.

It makes me shudder every time. They cannot read, I should forgive them. But they could at least look at the cover! 

I do not normally consider myself a book snob. I will give just about any book a one-chapter shot. But these books - random books about worms, or dirt-biking, or fire safety - I know my twins will ask me to read these to them EVERY NIGHT for the next week.  Why, oh why couldn't they pick a fairy tale? Or something with magical mythical beasties? Or at least a classic Margaret Wise Brown or Arnold Lobel book that reads like a kid lit slurpie, good stuff easy going down?

But this week Twinner (of the Twin and Twinner set, or sometimes we call them Peat and Repeat), picked a simply AWESOME book.  She made her usual mad dash for the first book she could get her hands on, but this time a sympathetic librarian foresaw my plight and placed this wonderful book front and center.

Fairytale - check. Mythical creatures - check. Fun to read - check. Snarky twist on the Sleeping Beauty legend? OH YEAH.

Snoring Beauty is about a princess that gets turned into a sleeping dragon. A very loud-snoring sleeping dragon. The poor prince who has to wake this monstrosity with a kiss!!!  (But don't you love her nails?)  The kids didn't have to beg me to read this to them every night, I was begging them! "Do you want to read Snoring Beauty one more time?"

End of Story.

So, I'm taking a blogging break for a while, summer vacation and all that. The plan is to get a lot of writing done, too. I had an idea "breakthrough" on a manuscript that I had to shelve last year because of major plot issues (YA historical fantasy: Handful of Scars). And moral  issues, too (it's a long story). But anyway, after months of marinating ideas, and working on another first draft in the meantime, the solution finally presented itself.

I took a stab at the first chapter rewrite, and it nearly paralyzed me. I hate first chapters! It's so complicated, getting all the required ingredients in there. I tried one opening that fell flat, and then I tried another.  I finally got something written and edited enough that I was happy with it.

Then I re-read it a couple days later and groaned. The rhythm is all off! The wording feels stiff. Everything feels rushed. The voice isn't original. GAH!!!!!  Why do I put myself through this torture????

I saw a writing quote a while ago, I couldn't remember it exactly, but it was something about how seeking perfection is the writer's worst enemy.  I tried googling it, didn't find the exact one I was looking for, but I did find some other great ones:

Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything. - Eugene Delacroix

Perfectionism is the enemy of creation. - John Updike

I'm off to get the second chapter re-written. And then the third. For now I will stop worrying about that paralyzing first chapter. Pushing on. Just keep writing. Just keep writing. 

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed to the point of paralysis?

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