An Outlandish Sunday

After attending an anniversary dinner and dance, I woke up at 9 and immediately made coffee. Most of my morning involved drinking said coffee, and continuing to read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. My friend C dropped off her copies of the books, and it allowed me to re-read the first one. I read the novel a long time ago with bits of detail still sticking in my head.

When I worked at McNally Robinson Booksellers in 1997, the book continued a strong print run, people asked me breathlessly about the next book, and I put Ms. Gabaldon in the same mental file as Jean Auel. It’s basically a file for authors with meticulously researched books with no release date. I even put ol’ George R.R. Martin in this category as he also doesn’t go by publishing timeline.

(Digression: Let’s give these writers a bit of a break, shall we? I think any writer putting that much care into their work deserves some cut slack.)

I stood at the farthest cash register in the semi-circle known as point of sale. It means the line forms at the centre, then disperses to an open clerk. I stood at a semi-open spot, and this lady came with a rather thick paperback. I politely informed her the line formed in the centre. Her response?

She (literally) threw the book at me. That book was Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

I saw the cover as it whizzed past my head. I recall thinking I should really read this book. I had friends who read it, loved it, and hoped one day James Alexander Malcolm McKenzie Fraser would one day incarnate in actor form. I remember reading the book, hearing the names of proposed actors, and thought do they have enough actors in Scotland to cast this thing?

*Cough* I was wrong *Cough*
I believe the midlife crisis I ordered just arrived.

Mr. Heughan comes from the same clan as Mr. Armitage. You know, clan momma-raised-you-right for lanky sweethearts. While the show brought renewed attention, one fact caught my eye in some author interviews. Diana Gabaldon wanted to learn how to write a novel, and figured the only way to learn was to write one.

While I breeze through novels, I thought this time I would pay careful attention to what page the action kicks up a notch, among other things. I attended my fair share of writing workshops, and one thing they always say-read. It’s hard with my hamster brain, but I managed to gently call it to the present as I read the novel. At the same time I remembered the sheer joy of just reading a barn-burning novel. I pay attention to the right use of sentence fragments, the way things flow, the details used to describe setting or character.

It’s T-minus 20 days until National Novel Writing Month. I hope to not just get, but actually hit the mark with something I can revise. Here’s to paying attention and fingers crossed.

4 Replies to “An Outlandish Sunday”

    1. Remember when we said it’s good they didn’t do it 15/20 years ago? They would have just cast some empty-headed actor looking the part. People don’t realize it’s one thing to ‘look’ the part, quite another to actually personify the role. It’s what Diana Gabaldon saw on the audition tape, although she wasn’t all that sure about him.

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