Thursday, June 18, 2009
Being invested in what you write
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
It has been a long time since I've read Sharyn McCrumb.
I've read all her ballad novels so far, and loved them. I liked some of the other books she wrote, but for me, there is nothing like the ballad novels.
I think that's because she is invested in what she writes. She doesn't write just to sell books, but to preserve history, to make people's stories accessible to more people. She has a meaningful story to tell.
I can't remember the last time I was touched by a book quite as much as I was touched by the story of Grandison Harris.
That book made me go back and look at my own writing. Whatever was good about The Body in the Record Room came because I was invested in the story. It dealt with people whose story I wanted to be told.
The value in that book didn't rest in its being a bestseller (or even a large seller). It came because those people deserved to be remembered.
All the characters in my novel were fictional, but, to me, they represented a whole host of people in mental institutions in the 1950's. I knew a few of those people. Their stories and their situations needed to be remembered.
There are hundreds of thousands of people writing now. The Internet, print on demand (the number of those books is growing exponentially), and other technology gives many people more of a voice.
How many people are throwing that voice away by thinking in the old ways, by trying to write the traditional Great American Novel or bestseller?
I think we can do better. I think we can write about what truly moves us. We can tell stories we believe need to be told.
That's what The Resurrection Man taught me.