Sunday, April 17, 2016

Book Review: Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood

Some writers don't read while they work. They use the excuse that they don't want their writing to be influenced. But influence has long tentacles. You can be influenced by something you read months or even years ago. I need to read to prime the pump. Not only do other authors influence me, they also teach me. And I need to learn to develop my own voice. I need to read, I need to write, daily. It's a deep hungry. Writing is my voice. 

I wrote this after reading the third chapter of Cat's Eye. Can you tell that Atwood is influencing me?

The artist in Cat's Eye is staging a retrospective of her work, but by way of vivid memories she shares a retrospective of her life.

What stands out for me in Atwood's work is her use of language. 

It is poetic...
We are survivors, of each other. We have been shark to one another, but also lifeboat. (p. 17)
I hadn't yet encountered the foreign hairpins left in the bathroom like territorial dog pee on snowy hydrants. (p. 190)
It is political...
An artist is a tawdry, lazy sort of thing to be, as most people in this country will tell you. (p. 15)

Atwood is teaching me how to weave the senses into narrative... 
 Around me is the scent of newsprint and floor wax, the bureau drawer smell of my itchy stockings mingled with that of grimy knees, the scratchy hot smell of wool plaid and the cat box aroma of cotton underpants. (p. 59)

And as I read, I am learning to develop my own voice.

"Scene from my outside writing area"
Photo by L Dyck

On her head is the felt hat like a badly done-up package that she used to wear on Sundays. (p. 358)

The felt hat she use to wear on Sundays is on her head--like a badly done-up package.


A felt hat, she use to wear on Sundays, is balanced on her head--like a badly done-up package.

Does she influence me?

Yes, but many things do.

Swallowed by my eyes. Bent, stretched, blended, transformed by my brain. Pouring out of my pen. 

Next post (Sunday, April 24th approximately 5 p.m.)
For a Warmer World:  What makes you tick? What is your narrative? When you share your truth it makes the world stronger. If you're scratching your head over all this don't worry just (please) read my next post.

"Bim:  my inside/outside reading and writing buddy"
Photo by L Dyck

Sharing my author journey...
This week I've been learning how to start chapters. I've learned that...

it's very important to start strong with a scene that develops the story and drives the plot forward.
On the related (or the same) topic, you may be interested in reading this oldie but goodie on writing transitions (link)