Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Big BIG Book

Have you ever heard writers or book reviewers say a book is big? I don't think I ever understood, exactly, what that meant.

Which isn't to say I thought it was a reference to page length or weight. I also knew the terms vast and sweeping weren't meant to describe books that span multiple time periods and continents like the Danielle Steele novels I devoured as a teenager.

Maybe (just so you don't think I spend all my time reading Danielle Steele novels) I imagined the mythical big book as something written by Tolstoy, dense with characters and themes.

Something like Anna Karenina, that uses up thousands of words and hundreds of pages to detail agrarian society, religion, the destructive force of adulterous love and the blessings of a close-knit family. In fact, I'm pretty sure all of Tolstoy's books are, almost by definition, big books.

Okay, so what's up with my current obsession over big books.

Although, I'm not anything close to Tolstoy, not even remotely in the same category that touches the same category, I'm realizing that the work in progress might be my version of a big book.

The deeper I get into that mire I affectionately call a first draft love affair, the more themes unfold and mix together in a complicated interconnected pattern.

Lately, I've been spending time at the end of each day staring out my living room window with a glass of wine, trying to piece together all the disparate issues and coax them into something where, like with any good dish, the flavors will compliment and surprise.

Honestly, the whole process is a little scary.

I'm breaking out of my writing comfort zone where themes are cozy and easily defined. It's a big jump, like the difference between having a cat and having a child. That's not a slam on cat owners, by the way, just a reference to my own twenty-something discovery that having a kitty-baby didn't fully prepare me for having an infant.

So what's happening in this new book of mine?

It deals with pharmaceutical culture, my beloved Portlandia, failed artists, mother/daughter relationships, organic and sustainable marijuana farms, drug legislation, porn culture, death, first love, poverty, big families, class separation, and quite possibly, as of my staring at falling leaves thoughts of last night, prostitution.

I LOVE this book.

And for the first time in my writing career I'm worried I might not be able to do justice to my newest love affair.

Like I said before, I'm under no illusion it will be Tolstoy. But it will be mine and hopefully I'll be up to making it everything I think it can be.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You're aiming for epic in terms of a big book. Go for it! I bet you can do it justice.

Connie J Jasperson said...

I will be first in line to read this amazing BIG book of yours! As a dyed-in-the-wool northwesterner anything that details our bizarre culture interests me.

Barbara Watson said...

Sounds big. And tough to bring it all together in a cohesive way. But with passion, it can be done.

Arlee Bird said...

A big book can be pulled off successfully if it's kept interesting and not overly confusing.

I'm doing a beta read for a friend who's written a nearly 1000 page book. He and I were discussing this concept the other day. A lot of books today are quite small and readers seem to go for those. I've just started reading my friend's book (quite good so far) but I can see that might take a while. Though in the first day I've gotten through 50 pages so maybe not that long after all.

Good luck with your "big book". I'm sure you'll do well with it.

A Faraway View

Beylit said...

Sounds awesome! It is good to break out of our comfort zones and it is good to go big. I am sure you can do it justice.

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

Sounds exciting! Good luck! I'm sure you can do it justice. :) I can't wait to hear more about it. :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

I can see a connection between all your themes. It should be quite a story.

I don't have a problem with epic stories. I enjoy them so long as the action and tension pulls me forward and keeps me interested. There were some good epics out several years ago, or what I'd call epics--Shogun fell into that category.

Write it. It's the story that's pulling on you and engaging your mind.

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Big books can be intimidating. But as long as the story is good, then it justifies the pages. I guess we'll have the opportunity to find out when you get yours finished :)

A Beer For The Shower said...

As long as it's good I don't think it would matter. We've actually got 'bad' reviews on Amazon that say, "God, I absolutely loved this but I wish it was longer." It's like the ultimate backhanded compliment. I'm glad you liked it so much you wish it wouldn't have ended, but did you have to give us 1 star to convey this message?

Jan Newman said...

You're in love! That's wonderful. Dream and write and do it all over again every day. Good luck.

ilima said...

Sounds awesome and epic. I say just do it!

Pk Hrezo said...

Kittens and infants. Love that analogy. So very true!
I think we all feel that way with our grand ideas. We worry we wont do it justice. But we still have to try, right? The real injustice would be in not trying at all. ;)

Naida said...

Sounds epic Johanna!