There are a lot of writers out there.
There are fewer published writers.
There are even fewer published writers who are so talented you simply cannot ignore their brilliance.
Then there is that elite group that writes such fabulous stories, such deft prose, that if you are not careful, will make you want to quit writing all together because never in your life could you fill an entire novel with the quality they seem to fit into every sentence.
Can you tell I've been reading Niel Gaiman?
I don't know how he does it.
My husband and I have taken to listening to books on tape together at night after out kids go to bed. It's way fun. Two nights ago we finished the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. (Which I personally think hit its high point in the first book and it's low point in the last, had a very disappointing ending, and still managed to be one of the best books I've read in a long time.) So we needed a new book and my husband pulled out Stardust by Neil Gaiman. (You really should check out the link. His page currently has a picture of him holding up this tomato with a tail. Trust me, it's funny.:) )
Oh-my-goodness. I am stunned and amazed. I sat there listening to his words and it's not your typical literary experience. It's . . . I don't know . . . quirky. But quirky in such a brilliant way!! This is what people mean when they say that you can break all the rules you want, so long as you do it well.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Neil Gaiman does it well.
This is the first couple of lines. They belong to Neil Gaiman, not me, and I got access to them via amazon.com . . . (Is that enough of a disclaimer?) Oh yeah, Fair Use.:)
"There was once a young man who wished to gain his Heart's Desire.
And while that is, as beginnings go, not entirely novel (for every tale about every young man that ever was or ever will be could start in a similar manner) there was much about this young man and what happened to him that was unusual, although even he never knew the whole of it.
The tale started, as many tales have started, in Wall."
I was hooked.
Why? No scene, all exposition, third person omniscient narrator. All things you should not start your book with according to many, many professionals. In fact, the first scene continues with more of all three of these rules being broken. And you know what? It just keeps getting more and more interesting. I can't wait for my kids to go to bed tonight! (Can anyone say Nyquil? . . . Kidding! Kidding! I would never drug my children! Even for Neil Gaiman.:))
Anyway, in the absence of any news to share, I thought I would share this recommendation. Try Neil Gaiman. Check out his book of short stories, Fragile Things. (As many of you know, I have an almost worshipful awe of people who can write short stories because I, quite frankly, cannot. Actually, I think my favorite short story ever is Stephen King's "Theory of Pets" which you can find in his collection Everything's Eventual. I actually have a copy of it on tape with Mr. King himself reading this story aloud. Aaahhh!! My second favorite is "Boys Enter the House" which you can find in Rick Moody's collection Demonology, but only when it is read aloud. Seeing the words jumbled on the page in the format he decided to use make it look messy and unorganized. But read aloud (by him and in person, of course;), it flows like a poem. Incredibly beautiful! . . . but I digress.) And if you like fairy tales at all, go find Stardust. It was published eight years ago so I bet your local library has it. I'm all of about 30 pages into it, and I can already tell you it's going to be a great book.:)