Friday, June 6, 2008

Permission Granted

Tom Robbins--again--has a troop of five inanimate objects as characters in Skinny Legs and All. With his assistance, the Spoon, Can O Beans, Dirty Sock, Painted Stick, and Conch attain the ability to move, to express complex ideas, to feel complex feelings. Outrageous! But a perfect example of the range that opens to a novelist not afraid to go boldly where no adult has gone before. Several blogs ago I mentioned my apprehension about a story line that I thought might be too outrageous and beyond my ability to carry off. Not now. Given the example of the Spoon and company (actually Painted Stick is the leader), I think I'm willing to try it. And this could not come at a better time, since Novel Boot Camp startes tomorrow morning. Synchronicity at its finest. I needed a nod and I got one. Not that I realized this initially. I started the Robbins book yesterday morning, and only as I crawled under the covers did it come to me that I had something to learn from him.

During lunch yesterday, my friend Cyndeth and I talked about a lot of things, but of course, part of the conversation involved books. And she mentioned the need to know a wide range of books in order to write. She described a character she had come up with and discussed with another writer only to learn that the name and several characteristics were similar to Mrs. Dalloway! She had yet to read Woolf's great novel and could have been (gasp!) accused of writing derivative stuff. Now, the truth is, yes, we do benefit from wide reading, especially in our chosen genre, but we also write derivatively every time we put words on paper or screen. We share language and human nature and inevitably the inventions overlap. I will not use Spoon et al in my proposed novel, but I will think of the great example Robbins has set for me. And be grateful. Here's to you Mr. Robbins!

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