As part of pre-release, I decided to do a photo project in which I’d post a picture on Instagram every day with a short quote from Falling Into Place. It started as just a way to count down to release, but I ended up having an incredible time taking pictures and matching them to excerpts. Falling is out in the world now, but here are my favorite pictures from #100DaysofFiP!
10. 56 Days Before Release: “It is the east, and Liz is the sun…Go east, sunshine, to the place where we first met.”
Turns out, it’s really hard to write on flowers. I didn’t have a rose, which was the flower that Liz’s boyfriend, Jake, wrote on, but I did have these…daffodils? Are these daffodils? They were such a gorgeous color, and marker/flower struggles aside, it was a fun picture to take.
9. 43 Days Before Release: “She spread her arms wide…and for a moment, she couldn’t feel where she ended and the world began.”
This is one of my favorite quotes from the book, and the shot fit perfectly. The girl in the picture is my friend Elodie—we had gone to her cabin and planned to spend the day swimming and tanning but, of course, it started raining and the temperature plummeted, so we took this picture instead!
8. 46 Days Before Release: “We have played at least a thousand games of hide-and-seek here.”
I saw a shot on Pinterest with really cool facepaint that I wanted to try out, so I bribed my sister in chocolate and she let me splatter paint all over her face. I’m really happy with how the shot turned out—especially the sense of hiding created by the vignette.
7. 28 Days Before Release: “…I just watch her, her hands…”
I took this shot mostly to play with a new color-editing app that I got, and I was pretty happy with the result. This was a case where I sort of scrambled to match the picture to a quote, and…well.
6. 2 Days Before Release: “…she tries too hard to be perfect, and here lies the final proof of her failure.”
I really like how the quote from Falling and the quote in the picture—which was just a random line I typed to try out my new typewriter—ended up fitting together. The quote is about Monica, Liz’s mother, as she sits in the waiting room hoping for good news.
the struggle of being a woman of color in the media
LISTEN THIS IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE THE ARTICLE IS ABOUT WOMEN IN TV AND THESE FUCKERS MADE MINDY KALING’S COVER BLACK AND WHITE THEY WHITEWASHED A BROWN GIRL IM SO TICKED
I’ll bet he was a barrel of monkeys at parties!
It’s worth noting that one of Nabokov’s detractors said, in glorious metaphor, that he could “hear the clatter of surgical tools in his prose." Also it’s worth noting that I can imagine many people sneering over the idea of a cage match of Nabokov vs. Stiefvater, as I write commercial supernatural fiction, and he wrote celebrated literary novels that have stood the test of time. Further, further worth noting I haven’t read the essay, so I don’t know the details of his thesis.
That said, I think what makes a good reader is defined entirely by what your goal is as a reader. It’s subjective. If you want to analyze a book’s prose only, I suppose that is a fair way to do it. But it seems like a sterile, incomplete jury.
As a writer, I spend a good deal of time crafting chapters in such a way that it’ll make the reader feel. Tears or laughter or anxiety or even simply temperature. A lot of times, I’m doing it by appealing to experiences readers have already had, throwing out a metaphor to help them climb the ladder to whatever situation I’m trying to get them to experience viscerally. I’m relying on the reader empathizing and identifying. I’ve read that readers store emotional memories from novels in the same places as actual memories, and that’s what I want: to create a story that lives in the same place as your real emotions.
So why would a “good reader” hold themselves impartial? Because an emotional reaction clouds the knowledge of whether or not the prose was accomplished? The emotions are part of the craft!
Of course, emotions are subjective — what pushes one person to catharsis can make another roll their eyes. But I still think it can be analyzed as easily as whether or not the prose or structure is any good; I think there’s as much universality in emotional resonance as there is in style preference.
Even if my goal is to read as a writer, I don’t see the purpose of holding aside my personal baggage. Instead, I come into a novel with all my biased guns firing, and then I watch the novel disarm me or not. Then I ask: how did it do it? How did I suddenly sympathize with this character; why did I start to doubt the pacing here? I don’t think I could effectively use novels as craft textbooks without coming at it as a biased, emotional reader.
Here’s what I think makes a good reader at any level:
- read all the words. If an author fails to convince you on any point and you haven’t read all the words, the first person to blame is yourself, not the author.
- look for layers. The best books say lots of things at the same time, and you can miss out on half a book’s greatness by taking every single sentence at face value only.
- be patient. Especially if you’re reading outside your comfort zone, a book can seem dull or confusing until you learn its language.
- remember that the characters are not the author.
- remember that a flawed character is not necessarily a bad character. Please, internet, please remember this in particular when reading female characters, because it’s getting a little crazy out there.
- shoot your snobbery in the head. You’re doing yourself no favors, and you’re only going to look like a shitnozzle when you look back on yourself ten years later.
ETA: I have now read the essay. And even though he does say identifying with the main character is poor reading, that’s not all that he says, and in context he’s not even really saying that. I disagree with a lot of the language of the essay, and I think it’s stunningly condescending, but I don’t know if I disagree with the heart of what he’s saying, which that in fiction anything is possible, and the good reader remembers that.
So I walked into the dentist this morning. My dentist asked me how my weekend was. I said “Good, I watched Captain America last night. I really liked it.” And my dentist says “Oh, my son is in that movie.” At first I thought he was joking but then I realized
Dr. Robert Evans
I looked it up
My dentist is Captain America’s dad
My doctor is JK Rowling’s husband.
JK Rowling’s husband has asked me if I am sexually active.
Oh wait now I get what triggers are
Yeah, see, THIS is a trigger. Something that prompts a horrible flashback that makes someone go into a literal panic attack. It is NOT something that makes you slightly uncomfortable, so can we all just stop tossing that word around like it’s nothing.
thank you Wreck It Ralph
Reblogging for valuable commentary
Also, can we talk about how Felix dealt with it? He NEVER used that word again (only once in front of Ralph, never by her), there was never any talk about how she could get over it, and in their wedding they all made plans to help her with her paranoia by recognising her fears and showing she was safe by pointing guns at the window and having extra security.
A++++++ on dealing with mental issues magnificently, Wreck-It Ralph!
Will never not reblog this when I see it