Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Living Into God's Story - Part 2

Story trumps all.

At least, it does for me.

I come from a long line of readers. My Pa loved Zane Grey. My Granny - well, Granny's den could pass for a Christian bookstore. She reads all the time. My parents and sister are avid readers. Reading is in my blood.

My mother claims that even as a very young child, I loved books (as you can see from the photo - yep, that's me). She says she would hand me a book (no pictures) upside down and I would automatically turn it right-side up. She says I did it every time. I couldn't wait to go to kindergarten because I had been told I would learn to read.

As a fifteen year old who had just snagged my learner's permit, my mother had to ban me from taking books in the car for several months when she realized I had no idea how to get around town. How would I? I never went anywhere without a book.

My reading tastes are eclectic. I read fiction (christian and secular), nonfiction, children's literature and the classics. I read historicals, chick-lit, fantasy, sci-fi, romance and suspense. I draw the line at horror -- I read for pleasure, not to have myself so freaked out that I'm afraid of my own shadow at noon.

I love Dickens, Shakespeare, Tolkien and Austen but I also love Rowling, Meyer, Clancy and Flynn.

I love books that are deemed to be the greatest of all time and also those that are scorned by the writing establishment.

(Side note: I have no idea who the writing establishment people are. I'm just working off the assumption that they exist.)

I've noticed that the more popular a writer is, the more people seem to feel it necessary to make comments like "I don't know how they've sold so many books . . . the writing is terrible."

To which I say . . . Duh!

(I know - I know. My grasp of the English language is astounding at times!)

Do they really not know? Are they so pleased with their own knowledge that they can't see the obvious?

It's simple. Some people know how to tell a great story. Period.

They might not be the world's greatest craftsmen of the English language, violating all the "rules" on every single page. The writing may be substandard, or even truly terrible. It may be that someone else could have written the story better. And this annoys some.

And sometimes it annoys me, because I've learned a lot about writing in the past eight months. I can discuss point of view, plot structure, genre and word count. I can have a reasonably articulate discussion that includes phrases like "injudicious use of adverbs" and "poor choice of sentence attributions" - phrases that meant nothing to me when I sat down and started writing a novel fifteen months ago.

Because of this new knowledge, I notice the mistakes now. I see the POV errors, the poor sentence structure, the "looseness" of the writing.

Guess what?

If the STORY has captured me . . . I DON'T CARE!

To make matters worse, if the story has captured me, I will go back to that world again . . . and again . . . and again. Drives my husband nuts. He'll see me curled up with a book and say "Are you reading that - again?"

To which I will reply, "Yes" and get back into the story. He rolls his eyes and wanders off wondering about the loon he married. The nutcase who can't seem to stay away from Narnia, Middle Earth, Hogwarts or Forks. The one who wants to visit Prince Edward Island because of Anne of Green Gables. The one who has rarely left the Southeast but has traveled this world and quite a few others while perched in her "reading spot" in the tree of her childhood yard, or curled up in the recliner while pretending she can't hear Barney for the hundredth time.

I love a good story.

And the craziest thing of all is that I'm living in a story. Me. Right now.

God, the greatest storyteller of all time has written a story for me. Well, He's written His story and I am a minor character in the plot. And like every truly good storyteller, He has no unnecessary characters - plenty of misbehaving characters, but no unnecessary characters.

Tune in next time as we continue to explore the idea of Living Into God's Story.

And hey - leave me a comment. Tell me if it's the same for you. Is it the story that grabs you or do you need a finely crafted sentence to go along with it? Do you read a book once and never return to that world or do you enjoy a repeat journey? If there's a story that captures you time and time again, tell me. I'd love to read it!


Erynn said...

YES!!! To all. I love it, and I feel the exact same way. And so does my husband, I think.

Beth K. Fortune said...

I will go for the good story any day!!!! And this story that God is writing where I am one of the characters, well, He never lets me look at the end of the book to see how it is going to end, therefore . . . I just live by faith!

Enjoying your blog Lynn!

Charity Tinnin said...

Hear, hear! I must admit that sometimes I can be one of those annoying "You misspelled a word on page 117" people. Case in point, I noted several location flaws in The Pawn (by, well, you know who). I actually had to keep my big mouth shut at the conference in fear that I would spurt out "Do you know that Hanes Mall is not in Charlotte?" I shake my head at myself. (Relatedly, I took a peak at the second edition and all the flaws were corrected). HOWEVER, I will read just about anything for the sake of a good story. You can ask Erynn. I've been known to devour middle grade books--and plays/movies--just for a good, innocent story with or without Disney-like immaturity. Anywho, I concur with everything you've said. Now, I'm going to resist the call of those authors you mentioned and try to do a little blogging of my own. :)

Charity Tinnin said...

Oh, and thanks for the reminder about my place in God's plot. What a humbling and encouraging thought!