Recharging the Creative Batteries

We lived, as usual, by ignoring. Ignoring isn't the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.  -the Handmaid's Tale

In Nov 2015, I ate breakfast with Margaret Atwood in a lovely restaurant in Gatineau Quebec.  Okay... well, to be absolutely truthful: I ate breakfast NEAR Margaret Atwood—at completely different tables—and didn't speak a word to her out of fear of intruding on her peaceful morning with friends. But I was close enough to have thrown a hashbrown at her (and I didn't) so that has to count for something.

I've only read one book by this fantastic Canadian author: The Handmaid's Tale. It was prescribed reading for me at university and I was an instant fan. I'm not sure where I'd first seen a picture of Ms. Atwood, whether I'd seen an interview with her as a part of that English class, or whether there had been a photo of her on the back of the book that I read twenty-something years ago, but her iconic wild gray hair made her instantly recognizable to me when she walked into the restaurant and I was like a giddy fangirl.

I took it as a good omen that I saw her, even though we never spoke. Like a chance spotting of a double rainbow, or seeing 12:34 on the clock. I determined in that moment that she was my writing good luck charm and I made a silent writing wish (from afar) on her fantastic hair. (#NotAtAllStalkerish)

I was back in the Ottawa-Gatineau area for a single night this week, facilitating an event for work, and I was looking forward to using my commute time to catch up on some good reading and recharge my creative batteries. I'd just purchased a book I had high hopes for as it was an urban sci-fi with a strong female lead and I'd see some strong praise for it in the Twitterverse. I finished the book mid-way through my homeward flight and while it had been an enjoyable read, I hadn't really connected with the voice as much as I'd expected. In fact, I'd found things a bit forced and inconsistent, which was a real disappointment (to the point where I'm questioning whether or not I'll bother to purchase book #2 in the series).

Reading this newer book had been a battle of trying to lose myself (unsuccessfully) in the story while my inner monolog was running in constant critique-mode, highlighting all the ways I would have written the story differently. But in some ways, that spurs me to write more myself. Kind of like deliberately staging a home that's for sale in a very neutral and sparse style to trick potential buyers into thinking of all the ways they would put their own touches on the décor if the house was theirs. But finishing the book early left me with another hour of "me time" and no plans on how to fill it. And as I browsed lazily through the contents of my eReader, what should my eyes happen to drift to... but The Handmaid's Tale.  

This is my third time through the novel and, unlike the struggle I experienced in reading the other book, I'm drinking this one down like good wine. The only time my inner critic happens to notice the nuances of Margaret Atwood's craft is to bask in its glory. This woman is a literary genius and I am joyously lost in the wit of her words.

As I said, to date I've only read one of Ms. Atwood's books. I think that's something I'm going to have to remedy.

Men are afraid that women will laugh at them.  Woman are afraid that men will kill them. -Margaret Atwood



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