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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In our own little worlds, we're all gods

I'm not sure if this is news anywhere else other than Britain, but the press are having fun with author Julie Myerson and her new book, The Lost Child, about her teenage son's cannabis use and how it has affected her family. Her son, who is now 20, has told the press that while he read a draft of it, he does not agree with much of what the book contains; he says "What she has done has taken the very worst years of my life and cleverly blended it into a work of art, and that to me is obscene". (Here's the father's side of the story, if you're inclined.) Initially scheduled to come out in May, Bloomsbury has decided to bring the book out early. Myerson appeared on a BBC news show the other morning and, after much dithering about the content and whether it was necessary to publicize a very private experience, said "people shouldn't judge until they read the book." Fair enough, and rock on, sister. Content aside, you've engineered a PR campaign sure to put you at the top of the nonfiction bestseller list. And likely ruined your relationship with your child forever.

At one point in an interview, Jake Myerson says of his mother: "She's a writer and like a lot of writers she is wrapped up in her own world - even if the worlds they are creating aren't quite true, they become true to them anyway, and I wasn't prepared to let her world colour mine any more." An impressive observation for a teenager, and it haunts me as a writer who might breed one day. Writers are wrapped up in our own worlds, where we play god, we get to control everything. The book I'm working on now deals with power, aggression and the negative impact of this on the psyche, and I do have to psychologically remove myself from being inside the story before dealing with the real world. This imbalance, teetering between the dreamworld I'm desperately trying to put into words and the smack of daily life, is difficult to sustain. I can see how it might ooze into family life if a writer isn't meticulous in his/her ability to switch off. (Though we can't ever switch off, really; the story is always in the background, humming, like a refrigerator, closed for now but you know what's inside and can't help planning meals, wondering if you're out of milk, etc.)

In other booky news, two literary agents hosted “QueryFail” on Twitter. Numerous editors and agents took part to expose some of the more ridiculous letters they have received, and the site JacketFlap put together a list of delights. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the number of people out there trying to write books, then I read lists such as this and am thankful that I'm a few steps ahead of the masses.

3 comments:

Erik R. said...

Great fridge analogy.

That's an interesting story about the mother writing that book. I hadn't heard anything about it.

KP said...

I wonder if she'd get this sort of treatment in America, where we're all about shedding light on personal experiences.

(Ralph) Ashby Barnes said...

I hear Springer calling.

The most news about the UK over here was the Gift-Gate episode with the Obama and Brown families. John Stewart had some fun with PM Brown's speech to Congress