Sunday, January 7, 2018

Reading for Content

Good Sunday evening.

Well. We're a week into 2018. I've finally stumbled back to the blog. So, to begin: Happy New Year!

I last blogged on Christmas Eve. Two weeks have passed. I'll attempt to catch you up on the highlights, the most important of which is the absolute glorious home run Trey hit with this year's (rather, last year's) Christmas gifts for yours truly. 

We spent Christmas Eve at Trey's parents' house, Christmas morning at our house, Christmas midday at my Aunt Donna & Uncle Bryan's house, & Christmas night at my parents' house. I'm exhausted all over again just typing that, & the memories flooding me make my stomach hurt I ate so much within that twenty-four hour period. I of course took a few pictures, & that went something like this:

Trey handling things at his parents' house while I no doubt was in a food coma on the couch.

Reagan is seven years old so you'd think Trey & I would have our Santa game down by now, but you would be wrong. The only thing Henry asked for was trains. He loves, loves, loves trains. Compared to Reagan's highly specific requests, a handful of trains would've seemed kind of lame, so Trey hauled this enormous, elaborate train table home that we did not even open until around eleven Christmas Eve. I think it was around one in the morning when I decided to document the event.

Christmas morn (pictured in some of the photos is the above mentioned train table) . . . by the way, our kids didn't wake up until around eight-thirty BECAUSE THEY ARE AMAZING. 

Okay now onto my stuff. About a week before Christmas, I was in bed reading my book one night . . . my book as in the one I wrote. Since its publication in August of last year I had yet to sit down & even look at a copy. I just didn't have the time, & I wasn't ready to read any of it again anyway . . . &, and, I knew, despite my own efforts & the efforts of a handful of wise people, there would be inevitable mistakes, & I just didn't want to see them. 

Anyway, a handful of times I'd come across something (a comma error, a spacing error, etc.) & I would groan or make some other unpleasant sound. Trey turned to me & said something like, "Every book contains errors. Just let it go." 

Little did I know, when Trey made that statement there was an error-laden book wrapped under our tree. Trey, in what was probably his greatest gift-giving move ever, bought me a first edition, first printing copy of The Sun Also Rises. As I believe I've explained on the blog before, The Sun Also Rises is Hemingway's most sought after first edition because when it was published, Hemingway was a nobody on the literary scene, so they didn't publish many of them (around 5,000) not knowing if anyone would read the man's work. 

Here she is:

The joy doesn't end with The Sun Also Rises (though if you've read the book you may feel that way . . . haha, see what I did there?). 

In another move that caught me completely by surprise, Trey got me a signed copy of Paullina Simons's The Bronze Horseman. It says: To Anna, Merry Christmas to a wonderful writer in her own right. Best of luck, Paullina Simons.

And yes, I noticed & appreciated that Ms. Simons took the time to use two different Christmas-themed sharpie markers. 

Also worth mentioning is my new Keurig. She is stunning. My former Keurig (my first Keurig) is still working after six years, but I can't take a chance on her dying on me & not have another Keurig in the house ready to go. 

I don't really want to but let's move along & stop discussing my gifts. I do think Trey earned a gif or three though:

Naturally I carried my prize with me to my Aunt Donna's when we journeyed north for Christmas lunch. I wanted to take a pic of my Papaw holding it since he was born the year it was published (that's 1926 for those of you in the back who don't pay attention).

After I snapped this photo below my Papaw was a little confused; he asked if the book was for him, at which point I yelled, "No, Papaw, no!" Then I promptly took the book back to the car & tucked it safely away from the messy children & all the people who might spill their drink or something equally appalling. 

More Christmas Day merriment: 

Christmas Day: A story in three photos: 

Christmas sunset outside my parents' house: 

I didn't take many photos at my parents' house because I am closer to forty than thirty & lack the stamina I once enjoyed. 

While Trey & I poorly planned the Christmas Eve / Santa / toy assembly ordeal this year last year, I have to give us props for our post-Christmas cleanup. The day after Christmas, I rose at a decent hour, dressed, & left the house to prepare for what was to come in the week ahead. I had book club Thursday night & needed to buy a book for our annual Christmas book exchange, &, and, I had to buy a lot of groceries because Trey & I invited our families over the Friday after Christmas to eat moderately good food (the only kind I cook) & play Trivial Pursuit. Since Trey was home, I took advantage of the day & ran all my errands; it was probably the most I've ever done the day after Christmas . . . & then I hauled the kids to my parents' house for a sleepover with Aunt Jessica & cousins Maisie & Michael that night. 

Spurred on by the looming threat of visitors at the end of the week, Trey & I managed to clean up our house & deal with the aftermath of Christmas that anyone with young children knows is daunting. There are new toys to assimilate into your already toy-saturated house, everything needs batteries, boxes are absolutely everywhere, & inevitably someone screams, Next year, we are not buying anything; we are taking the kids to a shelter & they will donate half of their stuff!!!

 I am attempting to carry the industrious spirit of the last week of 2017 into this brand new year, & I begin with my reading habits. I fell off the book club wagon last year, & I deeply regret this. I am going to try my best to read every word of every book we read this year. They made it easy on me in January; January's book is Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. 

I'm going to take a timeout now & say this: I began this post with a lot of pictures & a lot of thoughts. I've shared most of the pictures; I've shared few thoughts. I'm going to have to save at least some my thoughts for later, for purposes of time (mine & yours, dear reader). 

In the queue: thoughts on Little Women (the book club's December read), thoughts on C.S. Lewis (I'm currently reading The Screwtape Letters with the seniors & reading Mere Christianity for book club this month so the chances you'll soon read about Lewis are incredibly high), & finally, I have a few thoughts inspired by the mistakes in the original printing of The Sun Also Rises

As I read through my book over my Christmas Break (my book as in Dear Miss Moreau), I kept telling myself to read it. I wrote it first & foremost because I wanted to read it. After reading it countless times & slogging through a few rounds of editing it, there were times over the last few years I just hated the book so much. Now that there is an actual copy of it on my bookshelf, I thought the weeks I was on Christmas Break might be a nice time to sit down with a hot cup of coffee & read it. I thought it might be enjoyable, even relaxing, to read it in its finished form because the work is done; there is no one to alert if I see an error. I did read some of it, but I was honestly combing for mistakes. It wasn't relaxing. At all. 

Fortuitously, a few days after my mostly frustrating experience trying to read my book, I was handed a copy of The Sun Also Rises that is more valuable than most other copies of the book. I've thumbed through my beautiful copy of The Sun Also Rises a few times. It's just lovely. I never thought I'd hold one in my hands, much less own one. It is valuable because it was printed when few people outside his immediate circle of friends & family knew who Ernest Hemingway was, & no one could be certain anyone would read his novel(s). It is also valuable, oddly enough, because of the mistakes it preserved, mistakes that were edited out of later editions of the novel when the demand to print more grew. My copy tells the same story as every other copy of the novel, but in one instance stopped is spelled stoppped. That extra P is worth a lot of money now, nearly one hundred years after the novel's original publication.  

I suppose what I'll leave you with tonight, & what I'll begin the year with, is this thought: Unless you are an English teacher or an editor & are paid to highlight mistakes, read for content, not for errors. When you meticulously dig through a book line by line, sentence by sentence, in most books you absolutely will find errors. I spot them all the time in books that are published today, books published by huge publishing houses who pay countless editors to catch mistakes (editors who, unlike those who worked on Hemingway's novels, have the benefit of spell check). When I see an error, I just keep reading. It never, ever detracts from the story . . . except of course if it is a book I wrote, & then I die a small death inside each time I see an error. 

Stories are more than the misspelled words & spacing errors & comma splices they contain; people are more than their mistakes, too. Take off your editor's glasses, ignore the extra P in stopped, & don't miss the story because you're so mired in the errors. These are words of wisdom from a Grammar Nazi humbled by the publication of her own novel. 

A thousand thank yous to those who've read it, told me you loved it, reviewed it, bought it as a Christmas present, &—& this will never, ever not take me aback—asked me to sign it. If I acted like a junior high student unsure of where to put her hands, well, that's how I felt when you asked. Today I signed one that will be gifted to a nineteen-year-old English major (I suspect she may enjoy it); a few weeks ago I was told a reader gave her copy to her eighty-five-year-old mother to read, & both women enjoyed it. Eighty-five is outside my imagined audience when I wrote it, but I still feel this is a great victory. I appreciate everyone's kind words, & I will write you favorably into my next novel if you share your kind words not only with me, but with Amazon. There are two things you can do for an author whose work you enjoy (& both cost you nothing but a few seconds of time): tell people you enjoyed their work & review their work on Amazon. Paullina Simons owes me a small fortune. Almost weekly someone tells me they read & loved The Bronze Horseman because, as you know, I never shut-up about it. 

A few housekeeping tidbits to close: Since Reagan was born I've watched little television outside college football &, during a handful of snow days back in early 2015, I binge-watched The Gilmore Girls because Trey couldn't make it to work due to icy bridges & with his help, the binge was possible. Long story long, over Christmas Break I watched many episodes of Fixer Upper. I have a pretty serious crush on Joanna Gaines. I'm telling you all this because it is possible you'll soon be reading a blog or four about changes in our home. We are seven days into this year, & I've already bought a new rug online. 

Also, please take time to cheer for the Georgia Bulldogs tomorrow night. Aside from buying a new rug, there's no better way to begin a new year than to watch Nick Saban lose a title game. Every year I have a long talk with myself about continuing to blog . . . but the same things continue to happen: I buy rugs, I despise Nick Saban, I read books & need to talk . . . it's the cycle of blogging, I suppose. Here's to another year. 



  1. ....I love love to read your writings & I, also, ordered a new rug online!! AND, I my 17 yr old son is very blessed to have you for not one, but, TWO classes this year!!