I love to read. I can get emotionally invested in a book three lines in, and occasionally I will spend an entire day sitting in my living room reading. Earlier this year, I read a 400 page book start to finish in one day (which, while not unheard of, was uncommon to say the least).
However, I have found that I don’t really enjoy reading short stories. I recently read Duck by Stephen Parolini on my Kindle app, and while I thoroughly enjoyed it (and highly recommend it), I finished it way too fast. I loved the main character, Thomas, and I was left wishing for a longer picture into his life.
It just felt so…unfinished.
I like to lose myself in a book. I’m currently reading John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, and I find myself wishing I could sit and have a cup of ng-ka-py with Samuel Hamilton. I think that I like reading so much because I tend to see the characters in my books as my friends, and I enjoy going on adventures with them. In the same way that listening to “Livin’ La Vida Loca” instantly takes me back to being 11 years old and going shopping with my girlfriends for matching t-shirts, the nostalgia that I get from reading (and especially rereading) books makes me feel all warm and cozy inside.
“It’s like a long book that you never want to end. And you’re fine with that because you just never, ever want to leave it.” – Pam Halpert, The Office.
I get so invested in the characters that I never want the book to end. I just want to continue being a part of their lives for as long as possible. I want to settle in, burrow down into the covers, and live each day through and with these fictional creations.
And my writing reflects that sentiment. I spend so much time in the day-to-day lives of my characters, really fleshing them out and getting to know them, that the plot kind of falls to the way side. I have these individuals that I love and know so well, but I’ve written 50 pages about them and NOTHING HAS HAPPENED. Perhaps this is why I like John Steinbeck so much? He’s rather heavy on character development and lacking on moving a story forward. I remember my favorite chapter from Grapes of Wrath was an early, very short chapter about a turtle crossing the road. Steinbeck literally spent four or five pages discussing in great detail this little reptile’s trek across the street. The detail and descriptions are so effortless and perfect.
My favorite book of all-time, in case it wasn’t obvious, is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. In fact, my pen name is partly derived from the heroine of To Kill a Mockingbird and one of my all-time favorite literary females, Scout Finch. One of my favorite parts of the book are Lee’s descriptions of the fictional town of Maycomb:
“In rainy weather, the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square. Somehow, it was hotter then…Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.”
Isn’t that just beautiful? It makes me wish that Harper Lee had written more novels after To Kill a Mockingbird. Her imagery is just so spot on, and her characters are unforgettable. There have been a lot of great dads throughout the history of literature, but Atticus Finch takes the cake. I’ve literally read this book more than twenty times, and it just keeps getting better.
The thing is, I’m realizing that if I’m ever going to FINISH a story, it’s almost going to have to be a short story, because I can’t seem to get it up enough to properly flesh out all the characters and story lines bouncing around in my head. I have a few stories that I’m currently working on, and I’m excited about them. I know I don’t get on here much and that it’s hard to keep current with me, since I can be so hit or miss in terms of consistency. But I feel like something great is around the bend. And if you love literature the way I love it, I think you’ll be excited about what’s coming, too.