Saturday, June 11, 2011

Yes, and...

Tina Fey in her book Bossypants, which I've already lent out so I can't quote from, talks about tricks she learned doing improv. She'll stand on stage and her partner will say, "Hey, Mom, I just realized I'm from Mars." Instead of saying, "No, sweetheart," she'll say, "Yes, and isn't that a wonderful realization?" In fact, the rule of thumb in improv is that you don't use the word,"No." You accept any and every suggestion which is thrown at you, and move with this new body of information.
Just for fun, I started counting the times I say (or think) No to someone else's ideas, beliefs, suggestions. (I decided improv would not be a good profession for me.) Seriously, though, it hit me this week, as I was struggling with my manuscript, that one of my critiquer's ideas --to add another character's voice-- was just what I needed. When she had initially suggested this six months ago, I thought, "No way. She's nuts." If only I'd read Fey's book earlier.
So I've decided the Fey approach might be the key not only to improv...but to writing, to life in general.
Books of the Week: On A Night Like This by Ellen Sussman: The main character of Sussman's book discovers she has cancer and is going to die very soon. She is a mother of a teenager, and has no other family around. I kept thinking, "How can this story end well?" This is going to be maudlin and mushy and sad. It wasn't. While there were a few too many forays into discussions on love and dying, it was an interesting and meaningful read. One that will stay with me for a long time.
Bodysurfing by Anita Shreve: The book reads like a poem--throwing out images rather than holding my hand and guiding me in the right direction. I, at first, thought this would get tiresome. Instead, I stayed up half the night wanting to know what happened next. Shreve has a way of placing you right there in the middle of the action--and lots of it. I hated for the story to end.

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My Half of the Sky was the BookSense Pick for August 2006 as well as a Forbes Book Club Pick.

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March 2010

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