Writing Wrongs

July 17, 2006

Over on Romancing the Blog, there’s talk of the book from your childhood that defined your reading or writing habits for the rest of your life? Or a book you’ve never been able to forget.

Oh, sure. We could be here all day.

Growing up, I absolutely loved the Betsy-Tacy books. They’re not as well known as the Little House on the Prairie series. I have to admit upfront that I grew up in the town where Betsy did (Deep Valley is actually Mankato, Minnesota). I lived in the section of town that the books described as “Little Syria,” and had a weekly paper route where I delivered papers to Betsy’s, Tacy’s, and Tib’s old houses. And even in junior high, I thought that was kind of cool.

So maybe I’m biased. I liked Betsy better than Laura Ingalls. Betsy wanted to be a writer and she actually wrote, which impressed me. But she always made her heroines perfect, and even at a young age, I could tell that this didn’t make for an interesting story. Certainly Betsy, with all her flaws and imperfections, was far more fascinating.

I remember wanting to tell her to stop, that wasn’t the way to write a story. Hence, I learned characterization.

I also loved the Trixie Belden books. In fact, I still have in my possession (well, not in my possession, it’s at home) my Trixie Belden fan club card. No joke. I’ll have to scan it one of these days.

Again, making the obvious comparison: Trixie to Nancy Drew, I liked Trixie better. Show of hands. How many of you were annoyed by Nancy’s obvious perfection? Yeah. I thought so. Me too.

I so wanted to be a girl-detective. But immediately, I knew that it wasn’t practical, so I dreamed but never really schemed (that sound you hear is my mom’s sigh of relief). And really, Trixie & Co. did some pretty risky things--relatively speaking--in the name of solving the mystery. But that was part of the package. I understood that this was the story world, and in the story world, it was okay for these things to happen.

And thus I learned suspension of disbelief.

I could go on--and just might--about other books that I loved and that inspired me. Just wait. I think I have a week’s worth of blog posts about this.

Charity Tahmaseb wrote at 10:54 a.m.