Oh, Readers

Coble has an interesting post about advice for writers you should check out. I have nothing to add. I think she’s spot on. Read and write the things that make you feel fulfilled and sustained.

But I have been thinking a lot about readers. It’s funny. I am really so spoiled by y’all that it makes me really pissed when things get off track at Pith. I mean, Pith should be a dream, right? Tons more people read over there, so you’d think there’s be a lot more knowledge to go around, more interesting discussions, but by and large, no. And I’ve become more… short with my attention. The second it becomes obvious that the likelihood of the comment thread just being a clusterfuck, I stop reading. And it’s not even that I don’t think there’s anything to be gained. I do believe that there was a time in my life when I would have really struggled to engage even the trolls and to try to figure out what they are saying and what motivates them.

But whatever trait that was, and possibly it was a good one, it’s gone now.  I just feel like I shouldn’t have to open myself up to that amount of terrible noise just to eventually find an insightful gem.

I was listening to Lindsey talk to her friend, Ed, who is sadly not that Eddie Arnold, who I believe is dead and had a large penis. I make no claims either way for this Ed Arnold’s penis. Probably, considering what Lindsey and Ed are talking about, and the ways I agree with them, I should delete these sentences. And isn’t that part of the shame of how blogging has changed? Or at least my approach to blogging? I mean, people, I used to tell you about my boob freckle. I keep reading these polemics about pubic hair and I have opinions about it–namely, I don’t care what you do, but if you are over 25 and you get it all lasered off thinking that there’s no possible way a full-hair cooter will ever come back into style, you forget how youth and rebellion works. Believe, especially if “old” women can’t grow it any more, that young women will take it up as some ironic, fun throwback that marks them as different. Why? Because that’s what you do when you’re young–come up with ways you think your elders are stupid and out of touch and not as free as you.

And in some ways you’re right and in some ways you’re wrong.

Anyway, just something to consider.

And a nod to the old days, which, for better or for worse, are gone.

I heard from K. today about the book and she is loving it. Which, on the one hand, is a great relief and on the other hand, yes, people who’ve read it seem to really like it, so I should maybe stop worrying about if people will like it and more fret about more tangible things like if I have Tow-head/toe-head spelled correctly and if I will ever learn when someone lies and when they lay.

But it’s funny. I picked readers like you put together a team of superheroes, each reader obviously someone who likes reading, but who brings his or her own unique skill-set and experiences to the manuscript. On the one hand, this is good. I was able to ask each person to look at certain things and make sure they rang true. And I knew if multiple people were like “Um…. I don’t know about this part” then I really needed to look at that part. But it also means that each time I hear from someone, I’m like “I can’t read this email! I can’t listen! I need a stunt double to do this for me!” because that person may have seen something no one else saw.

Like, you know, Wonder Woman can comment about the Invisible Jet, but you’re going to need Aquaman to tell you if you got the sounds of clams singing right.

So, I get nervous.

But speaking of Lindsey, the other reason you should listen to that is that, other than the gal who runs the office at my heating and cooling place, she has the most beautiful Tennessee accent. If that’s what rubs off on me from living here, that I begin to speak like the sound of it is an art, it will be worth every second.

One thing I feel bad for people who aren’t from the South about is that pretty much the only “Southern” accents they ever hear are the fake Southern accents of tv and the movies. But it’s not like that at all when you live here. Just Tennessee alone has four or five really distinctive accents. Someone from Chattanooga doesn’t sound like someone from Memphis who doesn’t sound like someone from Johnson City and none of them sound like my heating and air conditioning gal who sounds like she could fix your HVAC system and make you a pie without breaking a sweat.

Anyway, I bring that up because one of my characters is called Paw Paw, which is a term of endearment for one’s grandfather I hadn’t heard until I moved south. In the Midwest, in general, you are “Grandpa.” You might occasionally meet a “Granddad” but I feel like a “Granddad” is almost always going to be an engineer or someone who teaches you how to drink whiskey.

My nephews call my dad “Paw Paw Brent” though, which I love. My North Carolina nephew, especially when he’s kind of tired and whiny can drag it out so cute “PaWWWWW PaWWWWWWW Breyent.” My Georgia nephew says it almost like “Pawhp awh Brent.”

My East Tennessee reader thought it should be Pa Paw and we ended up having a really interesting raucous discussion about this on Twitter and again, it became obvious that the way you pronounce this varies a lot by what we might call micro-region.

So, I’m leaving it spelled Paw Paw, but you can bet, if I have to read it in various parts of the state, I’m going to ask how they’d say it and try to match it. Ha ha ha.

Shoot, this has been a meandering post. And I’m not sure how to tie it all back together so… I’ll just end here.

New Kitty is Excited

So, I’m sitting here last night, as is my way, rereading Invisible Cities and wondering why it seems like cities I don’t remember are in there now and cities I do remember aren’t and having a good laugh because that fits thematically with the book, when I hear a commotion on the front porch.

“MRRRrrorrrooooowwww!!! OOOORRRRRMMMMMMMMMMORRrrrrrrooooowwwwww!” and on and on. I’m like “Oh my god, is some cat hurt out there? Why does the meow sound so strange?!” I am in a panic. I run to the front door. I’m saying all soothing things. “Ooooh, kitty, come here kitty.”

“MMMROOORRORRRROOOOO!!” the cat his hollering from under the porch furniture.

I open the screen door and the new kitty struts out from her hiding place with a dead mouse in her jaws. She’s carrying that thing and BRAGGING ABOUT IT. At the same time. And she’s trying to bring it in the house.

Oh hell no.

I shut the screen door. But I want her to keep killing things in the yard, right? So, rather than just run back in the house and be all “blergh!” and succumb to the heebie jeebies as the situation warranted, I stood there at the door being all “ooo, good kitty. Good kitty.” while she strutted off with her trophy.