Ben didn’t give really me a Valentine’s Day present. But that’s okay. I didn’t want one. Personally I hate Valentines Day — this one particular day that when you are supposed to buy things for the person you love. The first part I detest is the buying part. The second part I detest is the social acceptance this one prescribed day is more special than any other. Not to worry, I feel the same way about Christmas.
Ben did get me a present though, but two days before, which to me was way more delightful; especially because we agreed no presents. He got it because I needed it at that moment. The moment when I was struggling to get my story right, to say what I needed to say about a certain type of woman. He bought me a book called “THIS IS NOT CHICK LIT.”
I love this book. I am walking around with this book in my hand like it is a political statement. I’m only on the fourth story; they are good, not as good as other stories I’ve read, but good. It’s what this book stands for that I care more about. Women writers who are writing about something more than:
White girl in the big city searches for Prince Charming, all the while shopping, alternately cheating on or adhering to her diet, dodging her boss, and enjoying the occasional teary-eyed lunch with her token Sassy Gay Friend.” – p 1
Chick Lit has it’s place alongside trash tv and romcoms. Fun, playful and light. I liked Sex & The City as much as the next girl. But is that it? Is that all that women are these days? Is that all they can read about? The numbers say yes… I want to believe no. There is nothing healthy about chick lit – it’s just sugar. It tastes great, but then you come down from the high and are left with nothing meaningful and feeling a bit robbed (and as a side note: too much sugar creates a perfect acidic environment for cancer cells to grow.) Literature is meant to expand us, take us to places we haven’t been, connect with deep, scary, beautiful emotions — that has always been it’s job.
I think maybe Ben bought this book for me secretly for Valentine’s Day. But this is slowly starting to look like Ben is really getting to know real me – surreptitiously getting me an anti-chick lit book as a non-Valentine’s present. Okay Bubba, you’re getting it. xo
In advertising the “big idea” is gold. In an interactive agency, it’s sometimes easy to get swamped in the execution and forget about the idea, the purpose, the creative strategy. But the opposite is also true, and there is nothing that infuriates me more than those who come up with ideas with no concept of how to execute. Because ideas are just words on paper until you make it real. And I believe that good ideas are a dime a dozen. Lots of people have good ideas. In fact I’ve had about five good business ideas in the past twelve months, I’ve had personal project ideas, like dearttc.ca, I’ve had ideas for promoting non-profit organizations and I’ve had ideas for about a hundred short stories.
But the reality is, as I plug through draft#7 of my current short story, that it’s one thing to have an idea and its a totally other thing to make it happen, to make it all make sense, to make sure it makes sense to other people who are seeing or reading it without any context whatsoever.
As Ben read my most recent draft of my story I finally broke and just told him what I was trying to say. And it wasn’t coming out in the story. He found what I was trying to say was quite compelling, when I said it out loud. But he didn’t get it in the execution. So the moral is that while ideas do matter, what matters more is how you execute it. Because an idea is nothing unless it is made into something. Executing an idea is a million times harder than coming up with idea in the first place. I could sit on my ass and tell the world I have all these story ideas, written on cue cards and in journals. Really compelling shit. But it means nothing if I don’t actually turn it into something. Something that people actually get. And whether it’s an advertising microsite or a short story it’s a hell of a lot harder than you might think.
I’ve just finished Alice Munro’s collection of thirteen stories called “Something I’ve been meaning to tell you.” There was another book I read, inbetween Eggers and Munro, but I’ll be blogging on that later. I’m not exactly sure why it’s taken me so long to discover her writing, but it couldn’t have come at a better time. Munro writes about the ordinary; two sisters growing old with a story they both lived with, a woman’s life after her divorce, a grandmother’s view of herself in the eyes of a visiting granddaughter. And yet, it is so compelling, so human. Ben and I had a couple of arguments about books when we first moved in; I didn’t respect his love for fantasy and science fiction. I tried to explain why I held Salinger, DH Lawrence, Virgina Woolfe, Plath, Joyce and Steinbeck (I could go on) in such high regard and why I considered it “better.” It was difficult for me to answer, I just knew, in my soul that these writers are unique because they look into the real, the ordinary, the everyday and find something spectacular. Something so very human.
And so with Munro. The best story by far in the book was the first, with the same name as the book. And I loved it not only for it’s storytelling, or it’s simplicity. I loved it because it taught me something I’ve been struggling with in my own writing; how to make one character know that another one may not be telling the whole truth. In one simple sentence Munro lets us know that someone could be lying. Distrust — so very human.