Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Sunday Salon: The Balance of the Reading and the Writing

This has been a week in which my reading and writing lives have been battling for my time - and the writing one has come up the winner.

If you're among those hanging with me on Facebook, you may have noticed a few references to a writing group that I've recently joined. Since moving here in August, I've been pretty isolated.  I work from home, so my interaction with the outside world is limited. And since my big goal (a.k.a. perennially recycled New Year's Resolution) is to finally get a first draft (at least) of this novel written, I thought that finding a writer's group here in the Pittsburgh area would help me out with my social isolation and my writing ... whatever.

A couple Google searches later, I found myself in a not-too-far-away library with some other kindred spirits, and after a few meetings of getting to know them and their style, they're getting the first 10-15 pages or so of the novel in progress at our next meeting. (I'm somewhat nervous about this, but I also know this is absolutely what's needed at this stage. I need to know if this thing has potential.)

So, I've been editing and tweaking and revising and polishing this week - until the wee small hours of 2 a.m. for two nights - and the result is something that I'm feeling pretty good about. It's also something that's taking me back to 1995, so I'm spending a lot of time Googling things like popular songs from that era and also reliving a time I had kind of forgotten parts of - in more ways than one.

But I like this feeling.  I like where this is going a lot. We'll see if my new friends do.

I'll need to spend a little more time reading this week because I'm on the TLC Book Tour (my second this month, a first for me) for This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman. Isn't that cover gorgeous? I must say, I like it so much better than the hardcover. This one is about the aftermath of what happens to a modern day, middle-class family when their 15 year old son forwards a sexually-explicit video that an eighth grade admirer sends to him, and which then goes viral. I've seen some mixed reviews, so I'm eager to find out what this one is like.

As for the reading, I only finished one book this week - and that's a misleading statement. I'd checked American Bee: The National Spelling Bee and the Culture of Word Nerds by James Maguire out of the library several weeks ago and got about 3/4 through it before it was due back, without any more renewals.  I finished up the last 120 pages this week.

I've never seen the documentary "Spellbound," which follows eight (I believe it's eight) students as they prepare for the National Spelling Bee in 1999. From what I hear and from what I've read of the reviews, this book is similar as it profiles the top five contestants as they strive to become the 2005 National Spelling Bee champion. Maguire definitely did his homework with this book, as he spent considerable time with each speller and the families, as well as the professionals responsible for putting on the annual Bee.  He provides a history of the event itself and a lesson on the English language itself.  And believe it or not, there are even people who protest the National Spelling Bee!

Because somewhat of a word nerd, I enjoyed American Bee, even if I found parts of the book to be repetitive. I also kind of wanted more of these big words like tonitruous and jamrosade to be defined, perhaps in a footnote at the bottom of the page.

You know, so I could impress my writer friends (and you) by dropping one or two of them into my novel-in-progress.

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Lisa Gradess Weinstein said...

1995 - that's when we worked together at ACS, seems like a lifetime ago!

Lisa Gradess Weinstein said...

1995 - that's when we worked together at ACS, seems like a lifetime ago!

Shieldmaiden96 said...

Do see Spellbound if you get a chance. It is fascinating.

Alison said...

Very excited to hear more about your novel! I think a writing group is crucial. I'm not writing fiction, so I don't know how different that is, but to get anything written, I desperately need my writing group. I hope yours is a great source of support and accountability!