Friday, September 28, 2012
Braving The Mighty Amazon
Close behind are the books on writing, that promise to help us write heart-breaking books, breakout books, breakaway best sellers.
I may just have all of them, now. At least, all of them so far.
Most dangerous of all is the seemingly harmless orange button that reads, "Buy now with 1-click."
You can see that I have 1-clicked many times. I've succumbed to temptation, and I have failed to shield my young. My oldest son was the first in the family to buy a Kindle (is it wrong to envy your children's toys?), and my youngest was answering "The Call of Cthulhu"* on his Palm Pilot long before Jeff Bezos made an app for that.
I've trekked the forests, mountains and oceans of Narnia with both my sons. My eldest continues to tempt my three-year-old grand-daughter with new books every week.
My youngest, when he was three, used to catch me sinking into a chair with a cup of coffee for a break between chores. The moment my bottom hit the cushion, he would grab a blanket and a book, and say, "Let's get cozy here!" Could you resist? I couldn't. What better way to spend time than to read a good book with a child? And then to read it again.
One of his favorites was "Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch. He loved every word, including the part where the mother crawls through her grown son's apartment window so she can hold him and sing the song again. I knew we'd crossed a threshold from which there was no turning back, the day my son stopped me on that page and said, "Wait! That's sick!"
I knew just as surely that something special had happened, the day he surprised me with this, at age eight:
We were driving in the car, going home after a long day, when he said, "I figured something out today about stories."
"Batman can't be too strong."
"He can't? Why not?"
"Because if he's too strong, the Joker wins, and the story's over too soon."
"And if the Joker is too strong, then Batman wins, and the same thing happens."
It's terrible, the way I brag, I know. But wasn't he right?
Here's the thing: Both my kids are readers, but neither is tempted by books about writing. Even my youngest, who at such a young age figured out one of the great rules of writing, that villains and heroes must be evenly matched - even he feels no desire to break the bank over every book that promises to take his writing to the next level. At least not yet.
I just know there's a lesson here, and I think it is this: The books that will teach you best about writing novels are novels.
That ought to cut the dangers of the Amazon in half, right?
It should. But it probably won't.
But since we're talking about our children this week, why not spill your stories? We love kids. And we love to read what you have to say.
*Back then, when my son said, "I'm really getting into Lovecraft," a friend thought he was reading sex manuals.