Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Last Monday night, we all listened with rapt attention as Mildred read from her work in progress. We had just come to a very tense part when the door bell rang and we all jumped. It was only Susan's new next-door neighbors coming over for a drink, but it sure had a strong effect (far better than at least one or two of the films we watched during the visit, so kudos to Mildred).

That's the wonderful magic of writing -- having such an effect with only the words on a page (or, in this case, words in our ears): The power to transport the audience to another world, another time or just another mind. The best stories have an impact that can last a lifetime. What stories are still in your head from childhood? What story changed your life in some important way? Good questions on a hot summer day.

I've sent off the latest story on its first journey; we'll see what comes of that. Another had come back with a rejection and I'll have to review emails to recall where it's been, so I can send it somewhere new (I've been bad about keeping the database updated). As one of the other writers repeated this past weekend, if you can do something other than write, you should. If you cannot, you deal with the endless rejections as best you can and keep writing.


Chuckie58 said...

"What stories are still in your head from childhood? What story changed your life in some important way?"

Though I hardly read sf anymore, I remember reading it in the 60s and being profoundly affected. Andre Norton had an especial influence. It opened my mind to the wider world and other ideals.

I'm so keeping my fingers crossed for High Plains Lazarus!

CL said...

First it was Poe when I was in the sixth grade. Then it was Lovecraft when I was in high school. Sam Delany is another who I remember...especially his story "Nova."

Recently (a couple of years ago), I read the graphic novel "Stardust" and keep thinking back to it. It was a good story.

Now it's a movie and IT'S ALL WRONG! Don't know if I even want to see it. Now I know how Harry Potter fans feel about the movie adaptation of the books.

C. Margery Kempe said...


The trailer makes it look like a completely different film. Apart from expanding a few bits (yes, the airship pirates) and curtailing a few others (no Tori tree!), it's the same basic story. A review's coming shortly!

Both of yes:

I love hearing these early influences -- some of which I knew, some of which I did not. I already wrote about Shrieks at Midnight and now and then about Alice in Wonderland (and Through the Looking Glass), which I think may have had the greatest and longest lasting impact on my life. As an adult, Beowulf and Njal's Saga have it hands down.

But there are lots of stories that linger in my mind from childhood that I have not gone back to revisit, fearing some of the magic may be lost, such as ALL of Walter Farley's books, Fog Magic, Bradbury's SF, S. E. Hinton. There are so many more that I have re-read with great pleasure: The October Country, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Catcher in the Rye, and yes, Poe and Jacobs and Austen.

All kind blessings upon Ms. Seltzer and Ms. Shapiro from 6th and 7th grade, for that macabre reader (can't recall the name) and all those "adult" books the latter thought us worthy of reading.

We had a conversation touching on that topic at Pi-Con, how kids will self-censor things that are "too old" for them. My first reading of A Clockwork Orange did not capture the whole of Alex's pleasures with music and violence. But I found the language was magic and I had to read and understand more.

Thanks for the crossed finger, Chuckie. Hey, you never know (that's the official NY lottery slogan).

C. Margery Kempe said...

Oh! and P.L. Travers -- I did finally pick up a copy of the first Mary Poppins book with the cover I remember, but I have no idea where it is at the moment. I want to re-read it now that I know so much more about Travers herself and her interest in world mythology.

CL said...

Oh yes....Shrieks at Midnight. How could I forget that!? Read it a million times over when I was in grade school...the beginning of my life-long morbid fascination.

I read your review...So, you think Stardust is worth seeing? I'm a little apprehesive...

C. Margery Kempe said...

I definitely think Stardust is worth seeing. I enjoyed it. I picked at it a lot afterward, but I did enjoy it. Unless you want absolute faithfulness to the book (which would be impossible unless you make a LOTR length film) I think you will enjoy it.

I have to admit, I didn't think the book was that great. The art certainly was -- can Vess draw an ugly line? I don't think so. But the story is slight if enjoyable. There are a few more humorous moments than in the book (e.g. the De Niro sequence and the brothers fighting) but largely it is much the same. Go -- if you hate it, you can blame me.


The Queen said...

"...Stories still in your head from childhood?"...what a great question!

I'd have to say the 'Complete Sherlock Holmes', 'Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass', all the Oz books, Hugh Lofting's Dr. Dolittle stories, Jules Verne's books, the D'aulaire's rendition of Greek and Norse mythologies and anything illustrated by Maurice Sendak, esp. 'In the Night Kitchen' and 'The Juniper Tree and Other Tales by Grimm'.

As a teenager, I read so much and such a variety of subjects that nothing in particular stuck in my head...which should be no surprise to those who know me.

C. Margery Kempe said...

"the D'aulaire's rendition of Greek and Norse mythologies"

The Norse collection stares at me from my bookshelf right now. I didn't read it though until I bought this copy at a used book store near where Gene's folks live in northern Wisconsin.

Myth and folklore -- great, powerful stuff!