“Writing gives you the illusion of control, and then you realize it’s just an illusion, that people are going to bring their own stuff into it.”
— David Sedaris
I haven’t read anything by David Sedaris yet, but I love this quote. Sometimes I wonder if a lot of writers write because they like being in charge – the world they’re creating in their story is completely within their command. Personally, I like being in control, both of my real life, and my writing life, but sometimes that control can be elusive. When I do school visits, I always tell kids I’m a writer because I’m very nosy. I like to know things about people and what motivates them; if I don’t know something, I can always make up a story that answers my questions. The idea that an author’s version of his/her own story can only completely exist within the author’s mind, because each reader brings individual experiences to the reading of the book, really made me stop and think. Maybe authors have less control than they think! Food for thought…
I’ve been reading lots of middle grade books lately. Gossamer, by Lois Lowry, is fascinating and the type of book I’d never be able to write. In this book, she explores dreams and nightmares in her usual incredibly imaginative way. Just finished Leo and the Lesser Lion, by Sandra Forrester – it’s set during the Depression and has the kind of characters you get to know intimately; people you continue to think about after you’ve finished the book. Also read Neil Armstrong is My Uncle by Nan Marino which is set in 1969 and also has 3D characters who seem like real people. One of the main characters is nicknamed Muscle Man McGinty – this book made me laugh out loud in parts, but it’s also poignant and insightful. When I visit schools, I tell kids that, to me, reading is the most essential part of being a writer which usually seems to surprise them.