Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Serious summer-reading gratitude

One silver lining of being on the mend from knee surgery (there have been several, surprisingly) is a windfall of reading time. Among the titles I finished: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner, a contemporary young adult novel set in Tennessee. One of the three leads is high-school senior Travis Bohannon who obsessively reads the Bloodfall series, a riff on Game of Thrones.

Later in the novel (mild spoiler alert!), Travis' friend Lydia arranges for him to meet the Bloodfall author, G.M. Pennington. The 'G' is for Gary; the rest is a pen name. Gary and Travis hit it right off, and I want to share a slice of their dialogue. Over ice cream, Gary asks:
"Are you a writer, Travis?"
"Oh no."
"Why not?"
"I mean... I can't write."
"Well, have you ever tried?"
"No."
"Then of course you can't! Writing is something you can learn only by doing. To become a writer, you need an imagination, which you clearly have. You need to read books, which you clearly do. And you need to write, which you don't yet do, but should." (221)
Zentner crafts a short, sharp sentence to show how Gary's advice transforms Travis: "Exuberant purpose filled him" (224). Those are words I've already felt proud to wear on my best days as a teacher. The same words now thrill me like Travis, freighted with imagination and books, eager to offload more in writing -- as I've begun to do these last five months thanks to Two Writing Teachers and...

6 comments:

  1. Brian, thank you for sharing that wonderful quote and the book. The words, exuberant purpose filled, float to my mind this morning as I just finished a slice and feel refreshed. Best of luck to you as you continue to heal.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love that line, "Exuberant purpose filled him" (224). Best sentence I've read in a while.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have The Serpent King on my summer reading list! I'm trying to write a novel (emphasis on trying); and now that I am 49,000 words in, my exuberance is waning. How do authors arrive at a plausible conclusion?!?!? What if this novel never finds an ending???? Perhaps The Serpent King will be a good diversion to get me back on track.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have The Serpent King on my summer reading list! I'm trying to write a novel (emphasis on trying); and now that I am 49,000 words in, my exuberance is waning. How do authors arrive at a plausible conclusion?!?!? What if this novel never finds an ending???? Perhaps The Serpent King will be a good diversion to get me back on track.

    ReplyDelete
  5. So glad you joined us Brian and the summer awaits for more "Exuberant purpose"
    Bonnie K.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow! Thanks Brian. This is such an inspirational quote. Like others before me, The Serpent King is on my list. Now I'm really interested in reading it. I'm also testing the waters for this writing business.

    ReplyDelete