I have placed myself, accidentally at first (deadlines) and then quite intentionally after the first few days, under a rock. No tweeting. No blogging. No proper engagement in bookish discussion of any sort. Why? I find that when I'm hearing everyone else's voices, it's really hard to hear my own. In business. In books. In life. Creative ideas can sometimes come about in wider discussion with a group (many a great idea came about from Twitter confabs) but I'm finding that lately I really just want to be alone with my thoughts, with the books that I'm reading and, well, that's it. I believe this used to be completely acceptable social behavior for writers but social media has made that far less so and I've gotten many inquiries about what might be wrong with me that I'm no longer tweeting 100 times a day.
What's "wrong with me" is that I've been reading and writing a ton. And I need silence to do it. I'm trying to maintain it as long as possible before the creative bubble bursts.
What sorts of things might cause it to burst? Oh, you know, the LA Times Festival of Books that begins in a few hours. I'll be attending the book awards this evening and I feel like I'll be creeping out of my bubble and re-entering society after a hiatus. It's not as dramatic as all that but in some ways, it kind of is. I fear the light will be harsh and my not yet fully formed ideas will melt in its glare. Ah, well.
I've finished two books that I would like to say much more about soon, but I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you to read them now so we can discuss them together because, well, they were great:
- The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson - Seriously, achingly good. This is a novel about dreams not realized as well the disappointment that comes from reaching them only to learn the hoped-for satisfaction in attaining said dreams doesn't actually accompany them. It's funny. And real. And sad. And good. It also spans several generations and I'm often not down for novels that span generations (a significant failing of mine as a reader, I know) but this surprised me by being so good I was tricked into not noticing the generational span. More to say on this book for sure, but I'd love to know your thoughts on it.
- West of Here by Jonathan Evison - It's tricky when you know a writer and you read their book and they know you are reading their book (Hi Jonathan!) and that you are taking your time doing so. You hope to hell it's good because, if it's not, fuck. Awkward as hell. So I entered this agreement tentatively. And it has that generational thing so, you know, I was worried. But: wow. I've just finished it and my thoughts are not fully formed yet. That said: some of the great bits are obvious, like how Evison introduces so many characters in a way that is seamless and does not require that you flip pages back and forth trying to sort out who is who. This was done so well it made me giddy. The less obvious and possibly greater bits have yet to fully coalesce in my mind, but I'm unabashedly digging the echoes from the past to the present (the dreams of settlers 100 years ago vs. the realities of that settling in present day) and how the decisions we make today will affect future generations. Plus other great things. Like characters that make you smile in a not trying too hard way. And the juxtaposition of people with fierce determination against those who'd rather coast and how that plays into dreams realized and not. A few parallels with Thompson's novel, actually. Though I suspect that's just because I read them one after the other so that's bound to happen. Anyway, more soon. But I'd love it if you went out and bought this book immediately so we could discuss it.
Now on to the Festival of Books.