Friday, February 8, 2008

This is Fresh Air, and This is Fresh Air, and

I am a big fan of Fresh Air with Terry Gross on NPR. It's where I first encountered a book called Bird by Bird that changed my thinking about writing lo these many years ago. It's also where I heard an intelligent, funny man with a great voice (and nifty Scottish/British/Midwestern accent) talk about Sandman and Coraline and American Gods. And because of many of her interviews, I've purchased other books and CDs and DVDs over the years.

The other day, I tuned in at the office. She started with an interview with a woman who is the primary caregiver for her husband. He has MS. She's written a book about the experience and heads up an organization that works to make people aware of the issues facing home caregivers. Very interesting and moving. They went to break with Terry saying, "We'll be back after the break with more from [whatever the woman's name was]."

The break, then Terry says, "We're back with Brian Cranston of the new AMC series, Breaking Bad." Huh? The final ten minutes of the interview. Talking about the character and how it differs from the father in Malcolm in the Middle. She thanked him at the end of the interview and said, "Up next Lloyd Schwartz reviews a new DVD collection of Ernst Lubitsch's operettas."

This time I waited with interest for the quick break to end.

They played an installment of an interview with Philip Shenon, who wrote a book about the shortcomings of the 9/11 Commission. Supposed to be followed by an interview about faith as a bipartisan issue, but really followed by the end of an interview with a guy who wrote a book about the failures of the Bush Administration.

Whew. What a weird ride. I have no idea what was going on. Was it a problem from WHYY in Boston or with KRCC locally? It was ultimately amusing in a baffling sort of way.

I've felt like that reading some published books. More often with critique submissions. They start out as one thing and then suddenly switch to something completely different. It's like the author can't figure out what they want to write so they do a little bit of everything. I'm not talking cross-genre here, or having a cool plot twist. I'm talking about an abrupt shift. Starting with Jane Eyre and ending with Hunt for Red October.

Has that every happened to you? Just start writing one thing and take a left turn somewhere? Do you keep going or stop and try to figure out why it's taking that turn?

My guess is that it's actually two different books, both wanting to be written at the same time. But I've been wrong once or twice before.

2 comments:

Ali said...

Also, this example is very reminiscent of any conversation one has with Whit.

Debbie said...

Oh, jeez. You're right. I wondered why it felt familiar.