art / novel / writing

Aren’t I too old to crash a party?

So, I pick up this tiny flier down at IF+D. More of these fliers were on the counter at the coffee shop around the corner. And I realize that this Books & Beer event is a night that my husband and I will be kiddo-free. Books and beer! What is it exactly? I’m not sure. Maybe the author is going to be there? Who knows, but I’m all for supporting another writer and getting out for the evening.

Ah, silly me. Turns out it was a book group. Of course it was a book group. And everyone there were friends, had read the book, and all under 30. Luckily they were polite and said my husband and I were welcome to join them. Since I hadn’t read The Gone Away World, I didn’t have much to say. At a what seemed like an appropriate amount of time, I made our excuses and left.

Listening to them talk about the novel though was interesting. Gave me an idea what stands out in a story, what readers have trouble sorting out, and what they took special note of (it would be a kick-ass movie!). Just imagine one day if you are published, a group of young people could be sitting around discussing what you meant by this plot twist or with that character. It is enough to stop you from writing all together really. So don’t think about it too much.

10 thoughts on “Aren’t I too old to crash a party?

  1. Not overthinking sounds like a great idea to me every time I hear it.

    I just … never manage to actually do that. But I think, in my sadistic little mind, a bunch of kids sitting around pontificating significance into something which bears none MIGHT drive me to add something just for that purpose. You know … to tease them and make them spend more thought than necessary on it.

    That’s … yeah, I’m not well.

    • But these young people were enthusiastic. I didn’t get the impression they’re were being snobs or showing off. They truly enjoyed the book and liked pointing things out to each other. I didn’t read the book (obviously) so I couldn’t say anything, but I liked listening to their takes on the story. The story sounded a bit crazy with lots of stuff to wonder about.

  2. Actually, I like the idea of people sitting around discussing my book. It would mean first, that I’d published a book (!) and that second, they cared enough to read it and then talk about it. Maybe the trick is to picture my ideal book-group readers, and imagine them cheering me on as I write a book they really want to read. I tend to do that anyway- imagine who my ideal reader might be- but a whole book group, wow!

  3. So do you think you’ll be joining a book group?

    I think the notion of people sitting around analyzing my writing is funny. I’ve thought that since Sophomore year HS English class. I have always believed that the people who sit around and analyze what the writer could have possibly meant (when the writer never said) probably have no clue and would be appalled if they really knew what was going through the writer’s mind. I think writer’s often just want to tell a story, and it seems like so many people apply so many other meanings to it.

    • I won’t be joining the group because I can’t commit to meeting regularly and I hate being told what to read. But I had a nice time. They were interesting and smart. The book seemed really rich with ideas and crazy things to figure out. I can only hope to have such a group talking about my book one day.

  4. I think I’m with Sarah on this one. Imagining a group of readers who think enough of my story to want to share/discuss/debate those thoughts with other readers can be a pretty good motivator. As long as I don’t see every one of those readers as a bearded silver-haired fifty-something neurotic white guy from NJ. 🙂

    The idea that people in the group might see something I didn’t put there — or mean to put there — well, I don’t know. It doesn’t bother me a lot. It’s actually a sort of compliment that they thought about it that much. I like talking about books, and I like hearing what other say. I’m always being knocked out when somebody says a passage reminds them of another book the author (or a different author) wrote, or they like the way the author brought in a reference to some legend, or whatever. I think to myself, Dang. S/He’s right — why didn’t I see that? (Or, sometimes, Dang. I wish I knew enough about that legend to have picked up on that myself…!)

    I don’t think I know everything that I’ve put into a story, any more than I know all my motivations for writing in the first place. If someone’s honestly finding stuff in it that I didn’t mean to be there, more power to ’em. The transaction between writer and reader, by way of the story, feels best to me when I know it’s two-way. If they’re seeing way too much, or not seeing enough, that might just as well say to me, like, “Wow, John. You really dropped the ball THERE, didn’t you?” Writing’s too hard, and careful readers too smart, for me to believe I’ve controlled every last aspect of the “thing” that is writer+book+reader.

    • Exactly. Amazing to have people so enthusiastic. I just felt stupid at the group since I’d misunderstood the point of the evening. They were super polite and everything, but clearly I was crashing. Ooops. And if we are lucky and stick with it, some great group of folks will talk about our books one day!

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