The Fun Quotient

Though I write about and live in the Southwest, I'm a Jersey Girl by birth, which means I'm hard-wired to love most anything Bruce Springsteen sings. This afternoon, I dragged out a CD I haven't listened to in some time called We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions.

Unlike the Boss's usual rock 'n roll, this is folk music, recorded in three one-day sessions at an old farmhouse Springsteen owns with a bunch of folk musicians he respected and enjoyed. It's that enjoyment that really shines through - these men and women were clearly having a blast making art.

Which brings me to the point of this post -- that writing ought to be a fun thing, with a thrill communicating itself from the writer's spirit to her fingertips to the printed word and finally to the reader herself. Because joy can be contagious, and we all need more of that in our lives.

Of course, making any kind of art, books included, takes lots and lots of concentrated effort, and sometimes it feels like darned hard work. But in those shining moments when the words sing through the author, writing feels like a little magic here on earth.

And sometimes, when I read as when I listen, I smile, lit up by the knowledge of a private pleasure shared.

So what was the last book you read that made you feel the author's love for her characters, her setting, and her story? Inquiring minds want to know.

Comments

Suzan Harden said…
I'm currently reading Carrie Vaughn's Kitty the werewolf DJ series, on #4 Kitty and the Silver Bullet. I can definitely tell she had a blast writing these books.

On the other side, I've loved Anne Rice since my cousin introduced her work to me over twenty years ago. There was a marked change in Ms. Rice's style after the death of her husband, and I don't mean the switch from paranormal to religious historical fiction. Her passion is definitely missing.
I've heard those Kitty books are buckets of fun.

I can't speak for Ms. Rice (many of whose books I've loved) and her latest efforts (haven't read her in a long while). But personal losses take the wind out of everyone's sails. I've seen authors who have divorced or lost a child have to take off years before they get back to writing. It's really tough because a person can't get disability for emotional wounds.

I'm reading the Stieg Larson Milennium series write now (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc.) Started off really slow for me, but after I got into the books (I'm now on the third) I can see that this was an author at the top of his game, incorporating all the expertise he'd gained in hate groups and Swedish politics throughout his career as a journalist. I like to think he was having a blast, but that's maybe because, unfortunately, he died of a sudden heart attack before the books went onto become huge bestsellers.

(Isn't that just the luck?)
Linda Rader said…
Funny, my hero in my wip listens to the Boss also. Liked your post on harlequin and followed you here.
Thanks so much, Linda! Glad you came to visit BtO, too.

And I tend to notice a lot of my protags listen to Springsteen. The cool ones anyhow. :)
I finally came to Midnight in the Garden of Good And Evil this summer, after hearing about it for years. I'd never read it or seen the movie, but I found it in a used bookstore one dank, rainy day and decided to get it and read it. I think I actually slept with it for about four months, hoping to absorb some of John Berendt's affinity for his Savannah setting. That book is non-fiction, of course, but when I think about someone who obviously "loves" what he's doing, I think of him.

Writing isn't usually fun for me, at least not this particular novel. It's more nail-biting suspense, since that's more the "genre." I get horrified by the things my characters are horrified by and sort of channel their pain. I do have fun coming up with the plotting, but often the actual writing makes me very anxious, partly because of the subject matter. I just hope the anxiety translates into something that is nail biting for the reader too--in good ways!

Oh, and revision is SO hard, and definitely not fun. That said, I can't go two days without "missing" my novel, without feeling a profound sense of loss. I guess I've fallen into the abyss.
Mylène said…
Yes, yes, yes, writing should be fun fun fun (even when you're trying to hammer out a gut-wrenching scene--especially then--or else what's the point?).

Fun is just a quicker way of saying FASCINATION.
Mylène said…
And by the by, Colleen, the last writer I read--or rather re-read--who was clearly rollicking at her desk is Georgette Heyer. Finished one of hers last night. I love going back to Heyer. She taught me so much about characterization, dialogue, pacing, color, light, speed and warmth in a book. Whenever I feel these beginning to slacken in my own work, this here literary author gal turns to the Regency Romance novel. Heyer is smart. She is funny. And she's fun.
Love that connection between fun and fascination. Very true, Mylene!

And Heyer was a genius whose books truly stand the test of time!

Suzan, have you read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle? The prose has a literary feel to it (IMO) and the story's terrific. Still not sure about the ending, but it's well worth the read. I also loved The Color of Lightning by Paulette Jiles. A little slow at the start, but then it sneaks in and grabs you. Amazing Texas history, too.