Where are the road signs?

As of today, after completing a total of four blog posts in one month, I have zero comments. ZERO. Is anyone even reading this damn blog? Probably not. I’m inspired anyway…

…by the painfully-hilarious memoir Julie & Julia by Julie Powell. In case you are a not a connoisseur of movies or memoirs, this book has been optioned and made into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams and it’s coming to theaters on August 7…as in, tomorrow. I’ve been reading the book for the last week, and it is poignant and comical. It is based on a blog, also created by the author, that was started in August of 2002 as a part of a project she titled The Julie/Julia Project. Julie Powell decided to spend exactly one year completing all the recipes in Julia Child’s famous cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Even though I rarely cook and cannot speak french to save my life, I adore this book because it showcases our own innate sense of determination when we are on a slippery slope to our wits end. Something that starts out as a way to pass the time, a way to fill dead space (and by “dead” I mean useless and agonizing, not empty) turns out to be a saving grace for Julie’s life and marriage. One of my favorite lines thus far is made by Julie’s husband, Eric, as she reveals to him the odd satisfaction she has begun to get from mutilating lobsters on behalf of her cooking project: “By the end of this”, he says, “you’ll be comfortable filleting puppies.” I have to admit that my own husband was none too pleased with my reaction to this line; he was nearly asleep and I laughed so long and hard that the mattress shook and snorts emitted from my half-closed nostrils. This, I believe, is the mark of a fine writer, indeed.

It’s amazing to me the things that we, as humans, find to fill our time, and even more amazing that sometimes they end up being what we’ve been looking for. I believe God plants those ideas in our heads and lets us take the credit for His creativity. I think He’s been trying to say to us all along “This is what you should do, trust Me, it’s a good idea” and all the while we’re walking around in a numb daze going “Whatever shall I do with myself?” Julie’s blog proves that, sometimes, salvation comes in the strangest forms.

For me, writing my novel has been a sort of healing process. I can now look back on particular memories, see them on paper, and think “There they are! Out of me and onto the page!” It’s gratifying. I don’t have to carry them around with me anymore and feel sad that they’re over. I can move forward into something better. Which is what Julie did.

Now if only someone would read my blog, too.

Published in: on August 7, 2009 at 5:57 am  Leave a Comment  

When fiction, well, isn’t…

I realize that only a few days after starting this blog I abandoned it for more than a month. My apologies to all (and any) of you who read. I don’t think I’m quite up to par yet, and I might just be typing this for an audience of one, but I apologize nonetheless!

Today I want to ask the question: what if what your writing is fiction, but not? I have been working on a novel of my own for eight months and it is strongly based on my life in college. It revolves around a long relationship I was in (most of which is true in the book) that ended and the realization that something better comes along when you least expect it (based on the relationship between my now-hubby and I, also mostly true). But so much of it is set amongst the huge group of friends that my hubby and I had, ten of us in all. We were together ninty percent of our time and, as would be expected with the dynamics of male/female relationships and myriads of personalities, there was DRAMA. There were also some of the greatest moments of my life. Much of those relationships are inspired by the real people; however, they are far from the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.

My dilemma is that I often find myself wondering “Should I say this?” or “What if so-and-so thinks that?” I get too worked up about the idea of using reality to create fiction so my writing suffers TERRIBLY. How many writers put themselves through this kind of unnecessary torture? Erica Jong said it best when she wrote in her memoir Seducing the Demon: Writing for My Life that writers don’t write about things that are not important to them; therefore, the very fact that what I experienced in college is being turned into a novel means that I loved it so much it’s worth putting down on paper. I like to think of it as a gift to my friends. I want them to relive some of the better moments (and some of the tough ones, too) that we shared together. I want them to know how much I love them, even if my writing isn’t wholly true. They inspired me, as life should inspire a writer, and I hope to make a living at it.

So what would one call this type of novel? Creative Non-Fiction (one of my favorite classes in college)? Fiction? Roman a Clef? If I’ve learned anything from Anna Wintour and The Devil Wears Prada, it’s that fiction is a dish best served cold. Everything is fiction once it’s written down on paper. The truth is relative when it comes to being an author. My perspective would very greatly from all of my friends. But does that make it any less worthy? I think not. I just hope they feel the same!

Sippin’ on some java,

Wendi

Published in: on August 1, 2009 at 3:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Age is nothing but a number

Hi Everyone!

I’ve been meaning to write sooner, but this week has been quite chaotic…

…speaking of which, I have had a chance to read over some of my MOST favorite books, two of which were written by Sharon Creech: Walk Two Moons and Absolutely Normal Chaos. These are just a few of her published works, and they are written in the voices of thirteen year-old girls. They are truly incredible pieces of literature. Yes, I said incredible. The reason being is that Creech has realistically portrayed the “absolutely normal” chaotic voice of a young teenager and made it sound like it was written by said teenager, not a middle-aged woman trying to sound like a teenager. Even at the age of 23, I enjoy both of these novels over and over and over again. Walk Two Moons is in the voice of a girl name d Salamanca Tree Hiddle, and it revolves around the story she tells her grandparents while on a wild adventure with them to find her mother. It’s a heartbreaking story, really, with more than a generous sprinkling of hilarious moments. It reminds me of my own friendships, my own heartbreaks, all the questions that I ask, and how important they are to my growth. Absolutely Normal Chaos is sort of a prequel to Walk Two Moons, but not really. Mary Lou Finney is the narrator, as the book is actually written as her summer diary, but Mary Lou Finney is also a minor character in Walk Two Moons. Creech stated that she wrote Walk Two Moons with a very different outcome in mind, but eventually the story became what it is and, boy, am I glad it did: it won a Newberry Medal in 1995.

What attracts me so much to these two novels is that they give credit to young people for being, well, people. For having emotions of their own, and voices that need to be heard. In 1 Timothy 4:12 (that’s in the Bible, just in case you were wondering) Pauls writes “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity”. That’s a pretty heavy responsibility, but I don’t think children and young people are given enough credit for their wisdom. We should pay more attention to what they have to offer.

 
I have kept a journal, pretty steadily, since the age of eleven. Although much more was written in my early years, I have stacks and stacks of notebooks crammed with my adolescent thoughts and they are quite similar to Salamanca’s and Mary Lou’s. I questioned everything, but stood firm on what I believed. I was Romantic in nature and totally idealistic, even though I could see that most people were not. I had dreams and fears and love and anger and it was one hundred percent real.

This is why books like Harry Potter are so important to our culture (let’s save the religious discussions for another day): they give voice to a forgotten generation. They remind adults that it’s fun to be a child and, better yet, it’s more engaging, more exciting, more hopeful…more real. Shouldn’t we all be a bit more like that?

Published in: on June 20, 2009 at 12:52 am  Leave a Comment  

You Know You Do It: Judging Books by Their Covers

Have you ever walked into a bookstore and been drawn to the section of literature that looks like it just exploded out of an Easter egg factory? No? Well, maybe it’s just me…but to continue the subject of “chick lit” (a title I find even more funny now considering my Easter egg comment…ya know…Easter…chick…ah, I think I’ll stop now) I firmly believe that those marketing execs know what they’re doing. Anytime I see a new girly book displayed, the cover is splashed with an eccentric array of pastels, plus a girl or two chatting/applying makeup/shopping, etc. I feel compelled to pick them up because, let’s face it, we totally judge books by their covers. If we didn’t, books would hardly get sold.

Even as a writer, I hope that the cover of my book is girly, sweet, and somehow sentimental. Is that wrong? Too often I feel that because I call myself a “writer”, I am subject to fitting inside a box where I’m only allowed to wear glasses, frumpy dresses, and spit out a dozen SAT words a day. I like pink! I still watch Disney! I jump in rain puddles! There, I said it…

So I think this is why most “chick lit” has been generalized and is subject to scrutiny, more so than other genres. It’s the age-old sentiment that women can’t be serious if they’re silly, or smart if they’re beautiful (or blonde), or literary if they’re romantic. In reality, it takes a talented person to capture a reader’s attention for more than 15 minutes (according to Google, this is the average attention span for an adult…imagine being a children’s book author!); therefore, any author that can do so shouldn’t be too hard on herself, even if her book cover is detailed with stick figures downing Cosmopolitans.

See for yourself:

book4                book 3              book1

 

 On the subject of coffee, I have finally tasted some of a bag I purchased a few weeks ago while visiting a college friend in Panama. Just like everything else I tasted there, the flavor is much more intense, which makes for less sugar (and fat!) and an overall better cup of coffee. It’s less processed (as everything outside American borders is) and it actually stays fresh longer! Whoda thunk? What’s your favorite blend?                                                         

Have a great weekend!

Published in: on June 12, 2009 at 10:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Apparently, I’m just another blog…

…but I don’t intend on stopping there.

Before I introduce myself, I’m going to jump ahead a few steps and introduce this blog. My original intention was to one day start a coffee shop/bookstore with the same title, but it turns out that I am not as creative as I thought, as there are already two coffee shop/bookstores in the U.S. and Scotland (and probably more) with the same name; thus, my decision to create a blog. I couldn’t let the name go to waste, now could I?

I have to say that I am in love with anything artistic, whether it be music, writing, painting, photography, or dance. I am fascinated by creation and our own need to create and so this is how my blog has come to exist. First and foremost, as the name suggests, I want to discuss literature with a random sampling of coffee (i.e. favorite drinks, new brands, interesting places to get said favorites, etc.).  I’ve found that most coffee shops are conducive to writing, so it’s best to automatically link them together. I can’t have one without the other. As far as literary topics go,  anything that has been written about or published is open territory.

Now on to the introductions:

I am 23 years-old and I hail from metro-Atlanta. I was born and raised 40 minutes from the city, but I have traveled enough to know that I don’t want to spend the rest of my life here. No disrespect, but the world is just too big to ignore. I got married last November to my best friend (and constant source of humor) and we live everyday learning what it means to have a life together. I have been saved by grace and, thus, am learning what it means to live in such freedom. I am currently working on my first novel, but I can’t say too much about it or I’ll jinx the entire process.

To get things started, I’ve been reading a good deal of “chick lit” lately and I have to say that I’m quite impressed by the genre. It’s a gigantic leap from the Harlequin romance novels that my grandmother used to have heaped in a basket by the couch when I was growing up. I remember staring at the Fabio-esque covers as an adolescent, wondering what was hidden just beneath the fluttering fabric of the long-haired muscle men who carried the damsels in distress off to safety. I think I’ve got it figured out now…but I digress…

“Chick lit” is a huge market right now, and rightly so, in my limited opinion. Most of the authors that I’ve read are smart, quirky, witty, and cathartic without leaning towards the steroetypical “emotional” female writer brand. Lauren Weisberger, Sophie Kinsella, Cecilia Ahern, Sharon Krum…all of these women portray women as people who are hilariously complex, and more than a bit independent, without sacrificing their need for romance. If (okay, when…when…) my manuscript is published, I would be proud to stand among these writers and call myself a “chick lit” author.

More on this subject in my next blog, but what have y’all been reading? Who are your favorite “chick lit” authors and why?

Thanks for being my first readers! Stop by again soon! =)

Published in: on June 12, 2009 at 6:45 am  Leave a Comment