the original kStyle blog.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Wednesday Writing Assignment

On the farm, I feel like a little kid. I kick of my shoes and enjoy the dirt between my toes. I become greedy in that hopeful way we're trained out of: I hope I can find the BIGGEST bean; I snatch an extra handful of salad greens. A few weeks ago I heard a child ask his mom, "But why can't we pick more flowers? There are SO MANY!!" And my heart was right there with the kid, right on, let's grab huge armfuls, let's dive into the flower beds and soak in as much joy as possible. I haven't felt this sort of greedy glee in years. Have you felt like a kid lately, joyously or otherwise?


Blogger Larry Jones said...

I am loaded down with grown-up headaches and worries. One thing, though, always makes me laugh like a teeanager, and that is playing music with my friends. The pain and knowledge slide away, and I have no more worry than "...I hope we alll end this one together"

11:16 AM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Larry--sounds tremendous. I'd love to hear more about it, on your blog or here...

It's funny, though, how we think of headaches and worries as being the domain of the grown-up. Currently I'm reading "I Am a Pencil" by Sam Swope. The book chronicles Swope's experiences teaching kids writing, and it has reminded me that childhood can be frought with anxiety. I myself was kind of a nervous kid, all stomach aches and eye glasses. Now I have cool glasses and I've been to therapy for panic, so life's better.

1:45 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Not to ramble, but I will...the thing about childhood is, a child has very little control over his/her life. It can be difficult, even with the best of families and schools.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

I felt like a child just now in an all-day meeting, during the fourth hour of which I became extremely whiny and petulant, venting my frustration and boredom by making fun of people and kicking the chair next to me.

Not my finest professional moment, but it helped pass the time.

3:27 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Eric, I imagine that you do "petulant" wonderfully.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Emma Goldman said...

Oddly enough, reading makes me feel childlike in some ways. I'd never thought of it that way before, but it kinda does--I read voraciously as a kid, and I still do, to some extent. School isn't making me feel like a kid, though.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

I guess I feel like a kid every time I get really interested in something.

I think of excitement and enthusiasm and curiosity as "childlike" attributes. Grown-up culture, especially the hipsters, seems to be very suspicious of them. We prefer cynicism and irony and sarcasm. This is a serious problem.

If every time somebody says that she just loves cats or attending Star Trek conventions or doing something equally "unacceptable," she hears a voice at her elbow laughing at her...well, it's not very healthy, is it? And I know I'm guilty of laughing--Precious Moments figurines??--but it's probably worthwhile to practice not being so judgemental. At least not all the time.

Case in point: I had lunch with a friend yesterday who's interested in reading and writing young adult literature. She's helping me to realize that there are really good books in all genres, and it's ridiculous to look down on any type of book. This goes for all genres, of course--sci-fi and fantasy, romance novels, crime fiction.

(She said that she bought "Life of Pi," a book definitely marketed to adults, out of the YA section of a bookstore. It had a different cover than the adult version--and it was cheaper. Go figure.)

11:36 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

I too read so-called young adult literature. As more and more quote-unquote adult fiction seems to be about little more than language itself, or the nature of fiction itself, and other such postmodernist claptrap trappings, sometimes one goes to the other shelf to seek out, you know, a story. Or people. The complications of life, minus the self-consciousness. Truth of that kind.

Regarding categories in general, I am persuaded by the author James M. Cain, himself a victim of pigeonholing after "The Postman Always Rings Twice" and "Double Indemnity," doubtless two of the best American novels of the last century, got him stuck with the label "hard-boiled crime writer" for the next twenty years.

Genre fiction or not, his work contains more truth per page than most, in a spare, exacting style that many have mistaken for simplicity. One can say of him the best that can be said of any writer: he never wasted a word. In a 1946 essay he wrote:

"I belong to no school, hard-boiled or otherwise, and I believe these so-called schools exist mainly in the imagination of critics, and have little correspondence in reality anywhere else. ...

"If, then, I may make a plea on behalf of all writers of fiction, I say to these strange surrogates for God, with their illusion of 'critical judgment' and their conviction of the definitive verity of their wackiest brainstorm: You're really being a little naive, you know. We don't do it that way. We don't say to ourselves that some lucky fellow did it a certain way, so we'll do it that way too, and cut in on the sugar. We have to do it our own way, each for himself, or there isn't any sugar."

6:02 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Emma, yeah, me too.

Ann, I agree that the veer of cynicism/disinterest is trouble for the soul. Have you read "A Room with a View" by Forster? One of its main themes is that life should be lived, not sniffed at. And he writes beautifully.

And Eric, besides story, I find that much adult literature misses having a theme. My favorite writers are very thematic: Garcia-Marquez, Allende, Homer, Forster...

6:54 PM  

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