Monday, April 5, 2010

Do What You Like

My big present this Christmas was something my mother and I had been investigating for about four months before the holiday- an e-Reader. I ended up getting a Nook, and I love it to pieces. One of the big reasons for my choosing it over the Kindle, the Sony Reader, or any of the other readers out there is because it had a highlight/note capability that let you spotlight any phrase or word you want and jot down your thoughts about it. This is a huge thing I love to do with my tangible books- all of my favorites have tabs sticking out of them and notes in the margins. When I got my Nook, I couldn't wait to "mark up" the electronic pages with my thoughts and save all of my favorite places.

But when I began to do this, I balked before my finger could hit the "bookmark" button. Nook has a capability that lets you lend out your e-books, and I suddenly got worried. What if I bookmarked a page, lent my book out, and my friend thought I was weird. Would they sit there and wonder why I had entire paragraphs highlighted? And the subjects of those highlighted paragraphs and bookmarked pages were not thing normal people would think to save.

I had this scared attitude towards marking anything in my new books until I decided to read one of my favorite books yesterday: The Dogs of Babel. This book is so poignant and well-written and hits on a lot of personal levels for me. The book entered my life five years ago by chance, at a time when I had just gone through what the main character goes through, and it really spoke to me. If you haven't read it, you should.
Anyway, so I'm devouring this book and it's making me sob and audibly gasp and at one point, shocked by what I read, I had to put the book aside and breathe. And this is a book I've read many times. As I had these reactions, I kept thinking, "That page says exactly what I thought when I was going through this. I'd really like to mark it..." but I stopped myself because if I lent out my book, I didn't want my friend seeing that I had marked that page. However, I eventually came to a realisation- this is my book. I can do whatever I want with it. And sure, maybe one day I'll show it to someone and they'll think that things I've spotlighted are weird. But does it matter if it means something to me? Why should I sacrifice saving something that speaks to me because someone else might not like it?

I say all this because it's the kind of attitude I need to adopt toward my writing. I spend a lot of time when I write thinking about what I CAN'T write because Person A or B might not like it or think it's weird or it will reveal something of myself that I don't want them to know about. It's why I like to be provided with plots that I can just develop and stem off of. But the writing I do is mine. No matter what I do, that is me on the page, in one way or another. I'm not one to base characters off of myself, but I'm there, whether it be in the dialogue, a character trait, or just simply my writing style. I want to have the courage to show this version of me to people because for better or for worse, that's what it is.

My NaNo novel, especially, delves into some dark places that I've never explored before. They're fictional dark places, but they came from my mind. My friend wants to read my novel and I really want to show it to him once it's edited, but at the same time, I'm really freaked out to let him see where my mind can go. This is not going to be an easy thing to do for me.

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