Monday, June 11, 2007

Good News and Bad News

I just finished rereading (or re-listening) to the vampire novels I mentioned a month or two ago - Twilight and New Moon. It is a rare audiobook that I can actually listen to more than once, mainly because I'm a pretty fast reader, and audiobooks are such a time commitment in comparison that I'm usually bored within an hour. The exceptions so far have been the Harry Potter series and the Wheel of Time novels, both of which deserve a reread/listen when a new book comes out.

So the fact that I'm rereading these vampire novels, and only two months after I first read them, is a sign of just how enjoyable they are. The plots are decent, but the real draw is the characters - just like in Harry Potter, you feel like you know them personally. I polished off the second book - New Moon - on Saturday, and afterwards didn't want to jump right into another book, I just wanted to savor the one I had just finished. Does that sound weird? I wished that there was more to read, more adventures and awkward situations to see these characters in. And I didn't want to leave them behind while I started a new book. So I listened to music on my ipod, a rare occurrence, and spent the weekend enjoying Edward and Bella and reminiscing about their books.

I was in Wal-Mart on Saturday thinking about this topic, when I realized just how cool it is that someone could create something that sticks with you so long after you've finished it. I love my reality shows, certainly, but I couldn't tell you the names of the people who won the Amazing Race last year, or any of the Apprentices after the first one. They are entertaining, surely, and fun while it lasts, but tv shows rarely have the staying power that good books have.

And the emotion that a book can dredge up, it's amazing! I don't tend to watch many scary movies, because they tend to be more gory than truly suspenseful, but I could list a pile of books that kept me awake at night. Just last night I was reminded of the book "The Prestige" which was many, many hours of mediocrity followed up by 5 minutes of PURE TERROR!! Just remembering the scary part of this book that I haven't read in months scared me enough last night to have to listen to something calming to distract myself!

So there I was, in the baby section at Wal-Mart, when I had an epiphany. I want to be able to write something like that! I want to be able to write something meaningful, that stays with people, that strangers would read and find some enjoyment, or meaning, or emotion. Something that moves people. I've learned, over the last few months, that I really like writing this blog. Ryan is going to chime in here with a big, fat, I-told-you-so, because he had been encouraging me to try writing for years. Yes, yes, you are a prescient genius, remind me to call your 1-900-PSY-CHIC line the next time I'm buying lottery tickets.

I don't know if it is purely the ego boost that I get when someone tells me that I said something funny in my blog that makes this so much fun, or the emotional release to be able to whine about life to someone other than my husband. Maybe it's giving proof to how challenging life can be as a mother that makes me feel better about those challenges. Whatever the reason, I get a huge kick out of writing this blog, and I realized this weekend that I'd love to learn about how to be a good writer.

College so far has been no help in this matter. If I was writing a research paper, then yes, they've taught me well. I can write the heck out of a research paper. I totally kick research papers' butts! I'd post them for you, except that I doubt even the professors that assigned me all of those papers were really all that interested in what I had to say about gasoline taxes, euthanasia, or the problem of evil, just some of the topics I've had to write about recently.

Community development classes are of little use either. They do offer a creative writing class, but it is taught by Anita Stansfield, a local celebrity and best-selling author of LDS romance novels. I mentioned her books in an earlier post, she's the author who had a bale of hay fall on a main character, paralyzing him from the waist down. The cheese factor there was so high that it was the last time I read any of her books, which even before the hay bale incident were only good enough for time killing anyhow. It was that book that made Ryan first tell me that if she could write that drivel and get published, surely I could do better. So while I might owe her something, I don't think she's necessarily the person I want to learn the art of novel writing from.

Back to college, then, to see if they can teach me something other than the difference between footnotes vs. endnotes, or MLA vs. APA citations. And bingo! The perfect class - Creative and Imaginative Writing! I have long said that I have very little imagination or creativity, so here's the class that promises to bring all of that latent imagination right out! And here's the good news - the class actually meets a humanities requirement that I need for my ever-elusive Associates degree. I'm 10 classes away from my A.S. degree, and that's after going to school for the past 3 years. I'm looking at 6 years total to get my 2-year degree, so I don't have a lot of time to be fooling around with classes that don't count. (Although I suppose you could say that if it's already going to take forever, what's an extra year or two?)

But here's the bad news - the class is only offered during the day, Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays from 1-1:50. Goodness gracious, could they make a class any more inconvenient for a non-traditional student? Maybe we could meet every day for 15 minutes at a time? I recognize that I'm not necessarily their target student, but give a girl a hand here, please. I have the same problem trying to take required science classes - the only evening classes are meteorology or astronomy, two of the least interesting topics imaginable. (Oh, and Oceanography is available online.)

So now I'm trying to decide if this is something I could learn on my own from a book or if I should try to figure out a baby-sitting situation for Zack and Darcey for 6 hours a week. Unless I can somehow convince Ryan to start taking 2 hour lunch breaks every other day, my guess is that I'm going to have to go another route to learn this subject. Learning from a book isn't all that hard - it is basically what taking an online class is, except there's a teacher to give you feedback. And since books got me into this mess in the first place, a good writing book might be just the right answer.

All right, here's your reward for making it through another post. Yesterday was Darcey's church debut, and man, was she something! Our ward has not had a baby born in almost 2 years, so I had people practically yanking her out of my hands! She got passed around the pews, and when she sneezed during the Sacrament, when it was all nice and quiet in the room, I think 4 rows of people turned to look.

When Zack saw her in her dress and headband, his first reaction was to gasp and say, "A princess!!" I think the headband equalled a crown in his mind. He repeated the comment later that night when I was taking her picture. Out of the mouth of babes ... I kind of think she looks like a princess, too.


Ryan Simmons said...

I TOLD YOU SO! But at least this is the good kind of 'told you so'!

Drake Steel said...

I've been trying out Twilight. It sounds pretty good but I don't get the depths of attachment that you have. But then again that is the beauty of art, it hits different people different ways. I wonder about best seller lists and "classics." Its like someone's opinion of what great is but some of my favorite books are these nothing books that have not even made it off the ground-best seller wise.

I also love the idea that you have put forth of changing someone's life through your writing. My favorite thing to do writing is to make something that could be discribed badly and writing in such a way to as to make it at least understandable if not enjoyable to read.