Thursday, October 27, 2011

truth in fiction

a friend of mine [oh, hi, jenni] just asked her blog readers what our opinions were on age recommendations as a part of a book review.

and it immediately got me thinking about a related subject. how much darkness is okay in a novel? how many bad words? how much sexual innuendo or content? consider the following:

-we read A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS in my neighborhood book group and a few of the ladies took offense at the ugliness in the novel and suggested we should only read books published by DESERET BOOK.

-another friend brought back a few books i had loaned to her and said she just couldn't finish them because of the language in them. books i love. a friend i love.

-i told casey anne (who is 12) that she couldn't read a book because of the content until she was older.

-consider this excerpt from NORTHERN LIGHT by jennifer donnelly:

"it seems to me that there are books that tell stories, and then there are books that tell truths...the first kind makes you cheerful and contented, but the second kind shakes you up...why do writers make things sugary when life isn't that way...why don't they tell the truth? why don't they tell how a pigpen looks after the sow's eaten her own children? or how it is for a girl when her baby won't come out? or that cancer has a smell to it?...why doesn't anyone tell you that?"

my first novel is the sugary kind. in my current project, i am attempting to tell truths. MY truths. the emotional truth of addiction and prodigality and shame. and there is drug abuse and swearing and ugliness. and i've wondered why i have that all inside of me and why i feel a compulsion to write it down. because i also believe this:

everything we read stays with us, effects the level to which we can recognize and respond to the spirit. when we spend our time with filth, we lose that precious influence. i think this is a good and valid reason for censoring what we read and what our children read.

HOWEVER—and this is a huge however—i think the written word is at its most powerful when it contains truth. and how can you show the power of redemption, of forgiveness, the triumph over darkness and the beauty of returning to the light if there was no mistake made? no darkness followed into? no pigpen mired in? what power would the parable of the prodigal son have been with no prodigal and only the faithful son that stayed home at his father's side?

my favorite books will always contain a bit of that darkness, a bit of that rawness and grittiness because it makes the resolution that much more bright and beautiful. and to me, true.

Monday, October 10, 2011

oh, HELLO.

It's a sad story with a happy ending.

School started, I had scheduled, uninterrupted writing time everyday, and the blog fell by the wayside. Writing my new work-in-progress has been emotional, spiritual, and such a different experience than writing DYING LIGHT. The process has left me feeling vulnerable, exposed, and one hundred per cent sure that I am meant to be writing this. (And I've only written the first five chapters or so.)

Since my last post I've had an emotional breakdown (which happened, embarrassingly during writer's group at the Barnes and Noble cafe, right next to the knitting group), a bout of weird depression in which I woke up crying from my dreams all night long, and a recommitment to living a spiritual life dedicated to doing what the Lord wants me to do, and not the things I want to do (though on my best days these are the same thing). I don't think it's coincidental.

And the happy ending? I hope to be blogging more frequently. Here's a playlist that I have on repeat over and over. I know I've already shared some of these songs, but so what. They're awesome and I'm reminding you of them. I'm happy to share, if you email me.

Also, if you haven't already purchased Ben Howard's album on Amazon, you should do it now.

1. Old Pine / Ben Howard
2. London [Live on the Thames] / Ben Howard
3. Gracious / Ben Howard
4. Half Moon / Blind Pilot
5. Tonight Is The Kind Of Night / Noah & The Whale
6. Right Before My Eyes / Cage The Elephant
7. Out Go The Lights / Spoon
8. I Turn My Camera / Spoon
9. You, Me, & the Boatman / Quiet Company
10. Fairytale Lullaby / Bombay Bicycle Club
11. Rinse Me Down / Bombay Bicycle Club
12. Shuffle / Bombay Bicycle Club
13. Lights Out, Words Gone / Bombay Bicycle Club
14. OK Pal / M83
15. 1957 / Milo Greene
16. See You / Benjamin Francis Leftwich
17. Dont Stop (Color On The Walls) / Foster The People
18. Pumped Up Kicks / Foster The People
19. Helena Beat / Foster The People
20. If You / I Dream In Colour
21. Punching In A Dream / Naked and Famous
22. Block After Block / Matt & Kim
23. The A Team / Ed Sheeran
24. Fresh Blood / Eels
25. Milk Honey / Beatsteaks
26. Cheap Comments / Beatsteaks
27. Crystalfilm / Little Dragon
28. Until We Bleed (With Lykke Li) / Kleerup
29. Vultures / Jess Mills
30. Sail / Awolnation
31. A Real Hero (Feat. Electric Youth) / Drive College
32. Pouring Rain At Dawn / Jayhawks
33. Santa Fe / Beirut
34. Lost In My Mind / The Head And The Heart
35. Winter Song / The Head And The Heart