Monday, July 30, 2012

The book I never forgot

When I was about nine or ten I saw this book in a book store and the cover just called to me.  Girl in the ocean with a dolpin jumping over her head.  Sold!  Don't ask me why exactly.  I've always had a thing for marine mammals.  I've always had a thing for girls who look magical.  And even though there's nothing in this photo that screams that, I somehow just got this from the cover.  When I finally read the book I was right about it too.

My first attempt at this novel was a fail.  I was a bit too young, I think, and the prologue explains this deep mythology of the novel in a lot of detail that I couldn't wrap my brain around at that age.

Then I read the whole thing when I was twelve.  Then I read it again.  This means something because I AM NOT good at re-reading books.  I'm the same way with movies.  But this book I absolutely loved.  It had everything I wanted: a strong female protagonist, a new world, a journey to another new world, romance.  Then most of all, the relationship between the main character, Sand, and her dolphin friend, M'ridan.

When I turned thirteen my world changed.  I didn't want to read.  I didn't want to do much of anything except maybe dance (I was dancing at this time in my life) and most of all, hang out with my friends.  I still read the books I had to for school but that was it.

Still, through all that time this book stayed with me.  When I would write in my journal as a teen, play around with short stories or dream one day of writing books, I would always come back to Strandia. It imprinted itself inside me and when I look now it's still there.

The interesting thing is that when I finally read this book as an adult, about seven years ago, I didn't love it like I did before.  I've got my BFA in creative writing/English Lit since, I'd read a lot more, and I guess there were things about the pace of the novel that jarred me.  I felt there was a lot more telling than showing.

I was surprised, but not upset, because this whole experience taught me a valuable lesson about writing stories.  It taught me that a book can still move you if it has all your favourite ingredients, even if it isn't prepared as well as it could have been.

That's not to say that Susan Lynn Reynolds (author) didn't do a lot of things right in this novel where the writing was concerned (the book won the Young Adult Canadian Book Award).  What I'm suggesting is sort of another example of what I talked about in the last blog.

I don't believe in destiny, but I do believe that you attract things to you and certain things will will show up in your life to teach you a lesson when it needs to be learned, to speak to you when you need to listen. You may not learn the lesson until years later, but the universe knows what it's doing.

One thing I've learned, despite how I feel about Strandia now compared to then, is that I'd be a different writer had I not read this book.  I'd have written something else instead of this.

That's the next draft ready to be read.  And maybe it will never be published.  Maybe it will never see more than the few readers I'm giving it to now.  What matters is that I'm not giving up on writing and even if it takes me another ten years to publish something and another ten novels, what I've written here will inform everything else after, just like what I read does.  Strandia included.

I'm off to Hawaii for some work next week and will have some fun pics when I return.  In the meantime, why not think about some of the people, books, art that has informed your life?  Where would you be without it?  And why did the universe choose to show it to you exactly when it did?  I think it's a question we can all ask ourselves about every single thing that appears in our life, a lot more than we do.

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