Over the long weekend, I read Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells. I had seen the movie already, but the book is so much richer (and the movie left out what I thought was a significant plot point). Wells’s writing was quite lyrical at times, and quite “Bayou blunt” at others. I liked the mix, as well as her varied use of perspective and technique (3rd person, 1st person, past, present, letters, flashbacks, etc.). I mean, she basically broke every rule in the book, but she made it work. Once again, it’s a good lesson to trust your instincts as a writer and do whatever it takes to tell the story in the best way possible for that story.
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, for those of you that don’t know, revolves around mother-daughter relationships, and the strength of female friendships. Two of my favorite themes! So yes, it gave me a lot to think about, both in terms of my own life and in terms of two of my manuscripts, Twenty-Somewhere and The Good Daughters.
Since I can’t lend all of you the book (I borrowed it myself — thanks, Ingrid!) I’ve got some other reading for you to enjoy instead. For the writing crowd:
- “Make It Easy” by Nic Brown
A tool to ease the writing process doesn’t cheapen it. What I found was, the less laborious the task, the more exciting the prose. Ease of entry doesn’t necessitate weak narrative or language. It ended up meaning the opposite.
- “The Truth” by Jenny Zhang
We will always have opportunities to tell stories that are meant to comfort, to delight on dark days when light is needed, but where else and when else, if not in our fiction, are we going to tell the stories that comfort no one, the stories that we often don’t tell out of love or pity or compassion or simply because it is unpleasant?
And for fans of Stieg Larrson’s “The Girl Who…” series:
- “The Girl Who Fixed the Umlaut” by Nora Ephron
Lisbeth Salander was entitled to her bad moods on account of her miserable childhood and her tiny breasts, but it was starting to become confusing just how much irritability could be blamed on your slight figure and an abusive father you had once deliberately set on fire and then years later split open the head of with an axe.
12 responses to “Writerly Wednesday”
I love the Divine Sisters of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. I should go back and read it again.
Never read it, but maybe I’ll add it to “the Japan list” :p
Y’all definitely should!
All of those books sound fabulous. I’ve never read the Ya-Ya Sisters book, but I’ve seen the movie and loved it. I guess I should read the book now, huh? :)
I may have to check it out at the library. The other books also appear to be good reads. My books to read list grows ever longer…
I think you’d really like it!
Well the others aren’t books, just short online articles. So you could read them now, and quickly! :)
Dang! That last book sounds intense. In the best of ways, of course. :)
I read ya ya for bookclub years ago and loved it. So, the movie not as much.
One of these days I am going to read a book that you suggest for writing. Today, from the library, I checked out Stephen King’s book on writing.
I had an English teacher who had ALL these rules to “good” writing, one of which included never having two people talk in the same paragraph. Then I started seeing all these “bad” rules in published books! So I guess I just realized that good writing is more about the quality of the work, than keeping true to all the rules.
Anyway, I love Divine Secrets! The movie was incredible & the book even better.
The last link is to a parody of the Stieg Larsson books, and it’s just short and amusing. But yes, the Larsson books ARE intense.
Haha, I can totally see you as a Ya-Ya. California instead of Louisiana, but still.
I hope you love On Writing! I thought it was fabulous. I love the mix of advice and memoir.
“good writing is more about the quality of the work, than keeping true to all the rules.”
Precisely! I think that’s tough to remember when we’re in the midst of all this online information and advice, because then when we’re writing we start thinking, Omigosh so and so said never to do this, and so and so hates that. So Ya-Ya really helped remind me to forget about so and so. :P
Don’t get me started on Rebecca Wells, I just wanted to say that those books (Ya-Ya books and Little Alters Everywhere) were based on my home parish (Rapides), where Wells grew up. Back in college when it hit the big time there was a rumor going around on campus (LSU-Alexandria, Alex. being the stand-in for Thornton) that a copy existed where the real names of the people, places, and landmarks were written in. Who knows! I guess most people I know down here HATE them because it’s such a bad representation of the area/the people? Plus, well, LAE paints such a different picture of Vivi…anyway, like I said, don’t get me started. ;)
Do people there think it’s a bad representation? I didn’t think anyone came off poorly… But! I can definitely see how people are more attuned and sensitive to how their area is represented. I’m sure I would be more critical of a novel set in Houston than I would of one set in, say, St. Louis.