Monday, May 23, 2011

Books: This is exactly how they work

Regular readers of Critically Yours will know I've often struggled with the darkness of my writing (I've longed for several years to write a really fun pirate book).

Writing a dark, gritty novel can be grueling. As my character despairs, I despair, and I rush to reach the end so we can both have some sort of resolution.

But anytime I've tried to write a purely fun book, I end up asking too many questions, looking under too many rocks, teasing out all of my characters and settings' dark secrets.

But this past week I had an epiphany sparked by this illustration.

Yes, this. Whether you're a writer or not, if you love books, go look at this picture.

Perfect, isn't it?

I want to wallpaper my bedroom with it.

Not only that, it speaks to the struggle I've been having as a writer. Part of why I read is to be carried off to magical lands, castles, and spaceships. That's what I've missed in my writing as of late. But I also read so I can better understand my own gritty, frustrating, and sometimes sad world, and to have someone to share it with, maybe hold my hand while we explore it together.

So here's my epiphany: why can't I create books that represent this illustration? Fantasy, beauty, and wonder, but also darkness, loneliness, and garbage. What if I wrote about both?

J K. Rowling did, Dr. Seuss did, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Libba Bray, Shaun Tan... and maybe I already have, at least a little bit, too.

I'm brimming with possibilities and really looking forward to Project Whatever Comes Next!

Tomorrow is the Taking Flight launch party (eek!); hopefully I'll be posting about it later this week, along with more Greece pics. See you then!


  1. I LOVE THAT PICTURE! (No apologies for the capitals -- I'd boldface that sentence if I could) That's exactly what my inspiration is -- that's the kind of kid I'm writing for.

    For what it's worth, the ms I have out with editors now is dark and gritty. Whatever I write, a little reality just seems to leak into it, and I can't keep a plot neat and streamlined to save my soul.

  2. What a perfect, perfect, PERFECT picture! Of course you can create books that represent this illustration. Aren't epiphanies wonderful! :)

    Have fun at the launch party!

  3. Mary: So happy to share the picture! I've honestly stared at it countless times since I first saw the link to it on Molly O'Neill's blog.

    Sounds like we're pretty similar writers! I've been really reigning in my plots lately, which is good, but I worry it's involved sacrificing some of the fantastical twists and turns that come naturally to my storytelling.

    Andrea: Oh, so glad you enjoyed it, too! It really says EVERYTHING about reading.

    Epiphanies always sound so obvious AFTER you have them! ;)

    Thanks, I'll try to have fun! =)

  4. I know what you mean. I find myself actually avoiding bad things in my novel. I'm usually to "happy go lucky" so I have your opposite problem!

    Looking forward to more Greece pictures! ;)

  5. Karen: So funny how we all have our own little personalities and problems when it comes to the writing! Wish I could have a bit of your happy go lucky sprinkled in now and then! =)

  6. What a fabulous poster! Thanks so much for sharing it. It's true--that is exactly what books did for me as a kid. Best of luck with your newly inspired projects!

  7. Lena: Isn't it amazing when someone can capture through art exactly how we feel? Thanks--here's hoping I can take this epiphany and come out with something workable on the other end! =)

  8. I came back just to look at that picture again. Yep, that's exactly how books work.

  9. Wow, that picture just says it all, doesn't it. That's exactly why so many kids and adults read. To escape all the negative things in the world and enter a fantasy land. Love it!

  10. Mary: Yep. I was serious about the wallpaper thing. Would love to get a print of it. If you follow the link, it was originally posted on a Russian blog.

    Kelly: So glad to share it with you, Kelly!

  11. I know I'm late to the party but... *love* that poster! I wish I could buy it - I'd frame it and hang it in my study!

  12. Elisabeth: Me too! It's been circulating on the web since I posted it. I saw it on Molly O'Neil's blog. Janet Reid also posted it. Too bad the original doesn't seem to attribute the artist. Too bad it's not framed on etsy! =)


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