I’m inching toward writing a new book. I need to keep my mind off queries and onto something that excites me. I am developing the main character, a fourteen-year-old girl in 1965 and I want her to be a creative thinker with a healthy vocabulary. She’d be a reader, right?
In an effort to get into the mind of this girl, I gathered some of the books she would be reading and wondered how they’d affect her. These are books I read and loved at that age so it’s a chance to revisit old friends.
I had the books stacked in front of me and I reflected on the titles: Catcher in the Rye, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Lord of the Flies, among others. They’re classics and timeless. I mean, sure, Harper Lee only wrote one book. But it was To Kill A Mockingbird. Catcher in the Rye still sells around 250,000 copies a year. What would that be like, to write a story that spans generations of readers? I read beautifully written, wonderful new stories all the time, books that may become the new classics.
When I was much younger, I tried my hand at art. (Didn’t we all?) I sketched a lot; drawing animals and people and flowers and whatever was in front of me. Everything came out looking like a cartoon. I can do great cartoon dogs and bunnies and horses. When I try to draw people, they come out looking like something out of the Archies Comics. Which is not to say that’s a bad thing. But it isn’t fine art.
I wonder if my writing is like that? I may aspire to write something dramatic and deep and poignant, but what if all I produce is the equivalent of drawing cartoons? I suppose I could live with that. Cartoons are art, too. And some comics certainly can be considered classic. I know what I want to do, always, is tell a good, fun, readable story.
Then there’s my obsession with age. My age, that is. Every year I get older. Does that happen to you? It seems to be moving faster now. I do the math. How many books can I write in X amount of time? Is there anything near a To Kill A Mockingbird in me?
I always tell people what I truly want from publication are readers, lots of readers, enjoying my book. What I realized was that isn’t all I want. I want immortality. Then age doesn’t matter, the eventual end to it all doesn’t matter.
Artists are kind of like vampires — we suck every experience to the marrow and we can live forever. If I have to live forever as a cartoon artist, then I will strive to be the best cartoonist I can be.