Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Reality Surprised"

"Fiction is more than a recitation of facts or author embellishments. It is reality surprised. It shakes us up and makes us see familiar in new ways. Fiction is like wrestling with angels--you do not expect to win, but you do expect to come away from the experience changed."--Jane Yolen

The day started out with the surprise of a spectacular dawning sky on what I thought would only be gray reality on my morning walk. Then, in preparation for a day of revision, hoping to come much closer to the final chapter, I picked up one of my favorite books on writing, Jane Yolen's Take Joy, A Writer's Guide to Loving the Craft, and discovered the above quote. No better inspiration to set the stage for tweaking and tightening--wrestling if you will--with words. A day at the desk, or BIC (a term coined by Jane for "butt-in-chair"), turned out to be a fun experience. I may not have "won"--but I did come away with a number of  improvements when some of what had become familiar flipped around and wanted to be expressed in surprising new ways.

And then imagine my surprise when, in surfing a few writers' blogs, I found word about an interview with Jane Yolen at Alice Pope’s SCBWI Children’s Market Blog. Here Alice further links readers to Martha Brockenbrough who offers a great talk with this author of over 300 books and counting (and also the second author ever to join SCBWI back in 1971). On Martha's post is also a video interview, where Jane discusses writing in general and also reads from her book, How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night. It's a real treat--a "reality surprise," of its own. You might want to check it out.

All in all, a good day.

How about you? Any "reality surprised" events happening in your world? I bet there's a lot of that for those who are participating in NaNoWrMo (National November Writing Month), where--from last count--172,000 participants in this "seat-of-the-pants approach to novel writing" have signed up. The goal here is to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I didn't sign up but I cheer on those hardy souls who have!

May all your surprises this November be happy ones.


  1. I'll second that! Most of mine are the other 'not too welcome' sort. :0)

  2. Love that quote - it's wonderful! Will remember that one, thanks so much.

  3. I love that quote too! It's so true... thanks for sharing :)

  4. "Reality surprised" - I love that. To me, art has always been about shining the lens on the end of the telescope so that we can see life more clearly. If life is in the details, then art is about highlighting those details.

  5. Carole, Karen, Writing Nut--thanks so much for stopping by. Glad you liked the quote :-) It was inspiration for me, too. And K.M.--I love your idea of "shining the lens on the end of the telescope"--and the thought that art is about higlighting life's details. Thanks so much for sharing. I'll carry your idea with me...