Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I Keep Them Guessing

It’s natural human behavior. We like to put people and books and reading habits into categories.  In some ways it has advantages to perceive an author as a romance writer or a thriller writer or a magazine writer or a nonfiction expert or a collaboration expert or a children’s writer. It helps the author reach a certain audience and build that particular audience. 

For example if I review a certain type of book, the publicist will figure that I love those types of books for their future authors. That type of guess work might be correct or it might not. Also editors like to have certain authors they will call or pick for certain tasks—mostly because of a great experience with a particular author in the past or the author’s reputation.

I’ve never fit very neatly into these types of categories or this type of thinking. I’ve written in a wide variety of genres and types of books. I’ve written for a variety of magazines and for different age groups. There is something innovative and exciting for me to try and reach a new audience. I like to keep my options open and keep people guessing (usually wrong) about what types of books I will be reading.  I believe there are some definite advantages to reading broadly and having a broad base of information and experiences in the publishing world.

Several weeks ago I caught the last ten minutes of Meet The Press and the guest was Naomi Wolf, who is described as a feminist and a social critic as well as a bestselling author. I had never read any of her previous books but the program discussed her latest book, The Treehouse, Eccentric Wisdom from My Father on How to Live, Love, and See. She writes about her well-known poet and teacher, Leonard Wolf who is now in his eighties and uses a treehouse and some key points of his classroom teaching as a means to talk about different parts of life. Since both father and daughter are writers, I determined there would be a bit of wisdom for writers in these pages—and I was right in my speculation.

I’m going to take the next few days and write about some nuggets which I gleaned from this book. “Be still and listen. Leonard believes that there is always guidance from an inward voice and illumination from an inward light…So I thought considering my dad’s first lesson from his class notes, everyone needs at crucial times—especially in times of flatness or crisis—to stop; to be silent. To go to a treehouse.” (p. 37 & 38) There is great wisdom to wait and listen to the still, small voice.


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