Monthly Archives: July 2012

RTW: Sometimes the movie really is better…

So the topic over at YA Highway’s Road Trip Wednesday today is:

 What movie have you seen that is actually (gasp) better than the book?

Well, two movies come to mind. The first is The Black Stallion. Actually, I really love this book. Like, a lot. In fact, Farley’s book (and the whole rest of the series, including the Island Stallion ones) defined a great deal of my childhood (I was a horsey kind of girl), but the movie is an absolute cinematic gem. Gorgeous to look at, it brought the relationship and love between Alec and the Black to life in just a really simple way. It’s also held up well over the years. 

The second movie I rate as better than the book is Silence of the Lambs. I remember reading the book at summer camp (horsey camp!) when I was about twelve. I was really into horror at the time and someone recommended it to me. While I was reading it, all I remember thinking is this is okay, but it’d sure make a great movie. Lo and behold, it did make a great film. And well, now we all know where the lotion goes…

Control Mastery writing

the glorious choreography inside my head
There’s a theory in psychology called Control Mastery. And in psychology a “theory” is just a way of understanding how the human mind develops, for good or ill, and under what circumstances changes in one’s thoughts-feelings-actions can occur.
One of the things Control Mastery theorists believe is that when people decide to start therapy, they may not be able to articulate what it is they want, but unconsciously, they know what they need. 
I’ve been thinking about unconscious needs in terms of writing lately. It seems there’s always much discussion about whether one is a plotter or a pantser, as if those are the only two options available. But for me, and I can’t speak for anyone else, I’m very firmly neither.
When I sit down to write, I usually have only the briefest of outlines at my sidethe main arc, a character’s motivation, the endingbut that’s it. And if someone were to ask what I was writing, I wouldn’t be able to articulate it beyond a vague, stuttering mumble. But I think I’m with the Control Mastery people on thisI may not be able to say what I’m doing, but deep down, somewhere inside of me, I know
That’s my form of articulation, I guess. Writing things down. In story form.
Control Mastery also believes that guilt is a pretty strong motivator for behavior and the source of misery for a lot of people. I don’t disagree with this, either. It’s easy to get stuck in unhappy places because of guilt. The mastery thing has to do with confronting this kind of guilt-stuckness and learning to take risks in a controlled environment. Again, I don’t think writing is all that different. It involves risk and control. It can also be therapeutic. Not always, but sometimes. 

Affirmation and the gluons that bind us

I went to the local children’s science museum on the eve of the announcement that evidence of the Higgs boson had been discovered. There, my kids and I gleefully played in the realms of both physics (flying beach balls!) and the cognitive sciences (the Tower of Hanoi). We also discussed the notion that scientific knowledge is developed through observation and inference. Not proof. 
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SubsequeIMG_0227ntly it’s been fascinating to read and watch the reaction to the Higgs boson news as an affirmation of faith in…well, physics, yes, but also in the scientific method itself. In addition to the theoretical implications, it’s been a nifty piece of cultural relevance.
[gn_spacer size=”10″]Jung had faith in a collective unconsciousa shared symbolic and deeply primal sense of being that connects people to one another. Sort of the Higgs boson of humanity. 
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Or maybe that’s love.
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Or empathy.
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Or something yet to be discovered.

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Lucky 13 Giveaway: JELLICOE ROAD

So over on the Lucky 13 blog this week, home to kidlit authors debuting in 2013, we are having a HUGE giveaway in honor of hitting the six month mark from our debut year. All participating authors are offering up one book that has been influential in their development as a writer. You can read about the contest and enter to win all the books here!

The book I’ve chosen to give away is Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. It’s a book many people told me they loved, but I had no idea what it was really about when I picked it up. A lot of what I’d heard was “it’s confusing at first, but then it all makes sense…so keep reading!” This description, perhaps meant as a warning, intrigued me because one of my favorite books of all time is John Fowles’s The Magus, where you have to slog through a hundred or so pages of really dense back story before the plot takes off. But it’s so worth it.

Man, is it worth it.

Well, the same is true for Jellicoe Road, the worthwhile part, that is. And I love the chances Marchetta took in writing this novel, first and foremost with structure. She gives a lot of credit to her readers, not by way of trickery or misdirection, but by allowing her beautiful, bittersweet story to unfold exactly as it needs to in order for us to go on Taylor’s journey with her.

Beyond structure, Marchetta also takes chances with characterization, which I greatly admire. First off, I’m not a person who thinks characters need to be likable in order to engage with a book. My response to likability, in and of itself, is essentially, so what? To connect with a character I believe one needs to empathize with them, not necessarily like them. And Marchetta builds empathy for Taylor–a difficult character–not by having her be nice or altruistic, but by putting us into her head. Through both prose and structure, we experience her confusion and emptiness and self loathing, and we come to care about this very flawed and broken girl. We also come to care deeply about everyone involved in that dark moment on the Jellicoe Road, the impact of which continues to ripple across generations the way tragedy so often does.

I think of Jellicoe Road not only as a beautiful book, but also a very brave book. It’s certainly inspired me to take chances with my own writing, which is why it is my giveaway book of choice. If you haven’t read it, I hope that you do!

So please come enter our contest. And good luck!