June 10, 2011

Friday Feature: My Favorite Thing I Read this Week and Why

The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof shit detector.  This is the writer's radar and all great writers have had it. 
Ernest Hemingway, interview in Paris Review, Spring 1958

In search of ideas for blog posts, I scoured the internet for interesting quotes on writing. My thought: when struggling for a post, insert a quote. If inspired, a post would follow. If not, I would post the quote and ask for readers to comment. Simple.

This Hemingway quote jumped out at me. I'm a shit detector in life; I don't always call people out on their shit, but I usually sense it. Too often, I excuse it. I am a softy for people's stories. If their story explains their shit, I can let is slide. (My mom is NOT going to like how often I used shit in one paragraph).

Then, thanks to two wonderful books I've read in the past year, the quote took on a whole new meaning. The Help and The Art of Racing in the Rain are great books, but they will stay with me due to the shit scenes in them. I refuse to be a spoiler, so I won't detail the scenes. Suffice it to say, characters you come to love in both books get vindication with shit.

Originally, my favorite thing I read this week and why was going to be a link to my review of The Art of Racing in the Rain at my Mom in Love with Fiction blog. A great book and my favorite reading of the week, but the Hemingway quote brought it all together.

All of this to say, I guess I'm a good shit detector in writing, life and reading!

Are you ever surprised what element of a story stays with you?


Katy Manck, MLS said...

Yeah, I have a very good 'crap filter' when I'm reading. Just hate it when someone is writing for kids/tweens/YAs and talks down to them, or has too-mature lingo coming out of a kid-aged character's mouth.

So I won't pass on junk to my readers when I write recommendations, because if a book is crappy, then it never makes it onto the 'write a review' pile in the first place. If it ain't great, it ain't showing up on BooksYALove.

Now, if I need to, I can write BS better than you'd believe. I used to tell folks that I spoke 4 languages: English, French, Texan, and Bureaucratese. Comes in very handy for grant-writing when obfuscatory prose can pad out a simple concept to the expected overinflated page-filling...

**Katy M
Recommending YA books beyond the bestsellers at http://BooksYALove.blogspot.com
Follow me on Twitter @BooksYALove

Julia Munroe Martin said...

Yes, I'm pretty good at detecting s*** (your mom can be happy with me--I can't even type it once!! :) which is one of the reasons I often read nonfiction instead of fiction. It drives me crazy when I deal with hard-to-believe story lines. And I have stopped reviewing books on my blog (I only did it a few times) because I don't want to commit to reviewing a book then turn out not to like it. In terms of being surprised at what stays with me? This happens more often with movies (which I am usually a really harsh critic of...); I'll say how much I don't like a movie, then for DAYS I'll talk about some small thing that struck me about it. Pretty funny! Great, thought-provoking post!

Tia Bach said...

Katy, good for you. By not passing on the BS, you build an honest relationship with the people who read your blog. That's so important. Kudos!

Julia, I write reviews and I have a hard time with books I find mediocre. I try to find some redeeming qualities but then discourage people from reading it. If it's plain awful, I won't publish a review (except on RebeccasReads where I review and need to).

And I have to admit I cringed each time I typed sh**, but felt the need to keep with Hemingway's theme. I cringed the most putting it on the yahoo group and Twitter, but felt silly putting sh**. Hmmmmm.

Thanks for visiting!

Jan said...

I have nothing to add to this conversation other than it's hilarious! Good stuff but still funny!

Thank you, too, for posting my blog. How sweet are you! And I said it before but I love the new look of your blog.

Tia Bach said...

Thanks, Jan. I'll pass on the comment to my dear sister. I'm so glad to have found some great friends through Blogathon! I am enjoying my blog so much more now that I have a community!

bookworm said...

I don't know if I have a true shit detector but I know a quality quote when I read it. I shared this one on Twitter.

Tia Bach said...

Thanks for the retweet! I loved the quote . . . it inspired me.

Anonymous said...

Laura says:

LOL, love this post! I have no problems writing the word "shit" when deemed appropriate, the difficulty is to avoid writing *shit* altogether. I'm a beginner writer and my shit detector is not a finely tuned machine...yet. But I'm working on it with the advice and help of experienced authors which is essential to me.
Thanks for sharing!

Tia Bach said...

Laura, Thanks for stopping by! I cringed writing it throughout the post because my mom and I do the blog together. But I think a well-timed and much-needed shit is necessary every now and again. Hope you are enjoying summertime!

Anonymous said...

I love the new design! On another note...shit is necessary from time to time. ;)

Tia Bach said...

Thanks, Nicky. And amen to that!