Dining on words

“…they had a moment’s glimpse of glittering plate-glass and rich morocco, and the magnificent motor-car, immense, breath-snatching, passionate, with its pilot tense and hugging his wheel, possessed all earth and air for the fraction of a second, flung an enveloping cloud of dust that blinded and enwrapped them utterly, and then dwindled to a speck in the far distance, changed back into a droning bee once more.”

The Wind in The Willows, Kenneth Grahame

When I started Wind in the Willows to my kids, I knew that I would probably like it. I like literary classics, and almost everything I like to read myself is British, so I’ve been looking forward to reading this one. After plowing through the Cat in the Hat and the Magic School Bus books so many times, I feel like I have gotten a kind of reward now that my son is willing to sit and listen to a book like this. What I didn’t know is how incredibly fun the language in this book would be.

My son was won over by the animals and the map in the beginning of the book. My daughter is a bit young for this one, but she is slowly warming up to this book. But I sit and read with a big grin on my face, because almost every line is an indulgence in language. It’s like a little feast for those who like to dine on words.

I can’t help thinking that Kenneth Grahame was laughing while he wrote this book, and that he shares Mole’s excitement when he discovers the river on a brilliant spring day, because he is excited by all these terrific words he gets to write.

I could be wrong. He may have been slaving at his desk and making himself miserable trying to think of the next phrase.

But I doubt it.

Too Big to Fail

NB – old post

I have been fretting over my novel for a while, making little progress, writing new scenes and new plot lines instead of fixing what I already have. I realized at long last that this is because the finished book I have in mind is not only a best seller and a literary masterpiece, but also innovative and life changing. Just a tiny bit ambitious, don’t you think?
I am reminded of something Donald Miller wrote in Searching For God Knows What?. I am not going to go look up the actual quote right now because I was supposed to start making dinner half an hour ago, so I will summarize. He says that a radio host once asked him in an interview why he wrote a book and he responded with great honesty, “because I want people to like me”.

Me too.

And this, fortunately, makes me realize that I have in fact been agonizing over how to write a book that will please other people. And although I wouldn’t want to write a book that everybody hates, it’s much more interesting to try and write a book that satisfies me.

Not that I will actually accomplish this, because I always find fault with other people’s books, and I mean books by really good writers. So from a certain point of view, I’m already going to fail. But maybe I can write a book that embodies things that I love. Or I can try, at least.