Monday, January 24, 2011

A Piece of Work

I started sharing drafts of Glass Houses with selected friends and family members back in November. A very few get back to me within a day or two. They've finished and loved the story.

Knowing nobody in the world has anything better to do than read my book, after I didn't hear from the rest I assumed they had given up or maybe didn't like it. So I sent the draft to a few more people, and then to a few more. I'm keeping track and have now sent it to more than thirty people.

This weekend I got e-mail messages from readers all the way back to that first group. Some are busy people and it took them a while to get through the 500+ page draft. Several included detailed reactions.

I ain't gonna lie...the compliments and praise are wonderful. I know my current critics are a friendly group. Still, the encouragement and support is very gratifying.

My initial reaction to some of the readers' reactions was that I had messed up! People were not seeing the story I thought I'd written. A couple of times I even tried to argue. No, you're wrong. That is NOT the book I wrote. Maybe not, but it is most definitely the book they read.

Two things happened. I focused on the words of the book--the narrative and plot elements. I'm laser-focused on the details, not the patterns or the overall picture. Between the lines, the patterns reveal a lot more truth than I ever intended.

Second, the reader brings their own "stuff" into the book. If they have experienced something similar, they bring that in. If they haven't, that tilts the story in a different direction. Some hone in on very specific memories evoked by something they read in earlier parts of the book. Others talk about universal themes in ways that make me wonder if we're talking about the same book.

Glass Houses is like an impressionistic painting. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole. I have created a work of art. Whether it's good art or bad remains to be seen.

Thanks again for reading--the blog and the book. Keep those comments coming. It's still a work in progress though I am fast closing in on calling it done. Until then you can keep calling me...

The Crotchety Old Man


CathyB said...

As I eluded to in my comment above, there is little time for any fun stuff, including reading. I haven't finished the book. I have the PDF file you sent me sitting as a shortcut on my desktop, for easy access. I like holding a book in my hands, smelling the ink, and feeling the paper between my fingers when I turn the pages. I'm going to finish the PDF version, but I'm REALLY excited about holding the finished book in my hands. I really like what I have read so far. I am hoping to find some of those hilarious stories that you wrote about in some of your blog posts. I may have told you about this lady, but if not, you should check out Jill Connor Brown's (begin underline) Sweet Potato Queen's Book of Love (end underline) and the several books she has written since that first one. Hilariously irreverent but unbelievably full of wisdom. and foolishness. I think you would enjoy her style of writing and you'd get a good laugh or two. okay. i gotta get to work so i can pay my cable bill and keep reading and commenting on your blog. ha. see ya!

CathyB said...

p.s. i remember a post you wrote about punctuation and grammar. i agree 100%. I like my periods inside my parentheses and quotations. who went and gave somebody permission to change up all the stupid grammar/punctuation rules we had to learn as kids anyhow?

it is worse than fingernails on a chalkboard to be enjoying a great read and come across some blaring style error. something misfires in my brain and i have to walk away from the read. i just can't process it.

in my profession, we have our own Book of Style (Bible, if you will) that FURTHER messes with what we learned in school. gah.

oh. but all my complaints about the errors of OTHERS goes out the window when i'm typing my blog, commenting on your blog, or facebook-ing. after having to be dang perfect all day at my job, i kinda let loose a little bit when i am playing. HOWEVER. if you find errors in syntax, grammar, punctuation if/when you read my book.. call me, e-mail me, send me smoke signals... i want to know. every time i go back and read what i have written so far, i find something that doesn't look just right, and i change it up a little. i'm just kinda anal that way.

okay. that was a long "p.s." just wanted to say i'm with you on all that grammar/style stuff. :-)

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