Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Love in Camelot

I try to read books from many different genres because I don’t want to limit my reading pleasure to just one type of literature. A year or so ago, fellow writer Joyce Scarbrough got tired of my criticism of romance literature and challenged me to read one of her books. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed her YA novel once I propped my motorcycle boots on the coffee and started to read. Over the weekend, I found another delightful YA novel by Janice Hanna entitled ‘Love Finds You in Camelot, Tennessee.’ I liked Ms. Hanna’s book for all of the usual reasons, but I was especially enthralled by the fact that this novel could easily have been a recap of what happened to me in 1976 while celebrating the national bicentennial. Hanna’s novel involved a group in a small village near the tourist resort of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The villagers decided they needed to tap the tourist dollars by staging the musical Camelot in their village. The description of the wonderful, yet quirky characters that staged the production, brought back memories of our adventures in producing something similar at our local state park. The fact that no one else was doing anything to celebrate the bicentennial caused the news media to focus on us. Rather than the three thousand or so that we anticipated, two hundred thousand showed up as estimated by a local television station that viewed the crowd from their news team’s helicopter. I still get sweaty think about it . . .

. . .which brings me to the point of this post. All of us are familiar with the axiom, ‘write what you know,’ which is very good advice. Ms. Hanna’s experience of working with a drama group while she was in college spawned the wonderful tale she used in weaving the plot for Love Finds You in Camelot. Having a very similar experience– but with less imagination– I did not write about the amazing events that held us captive during that magical summer.

So here is my observation. Many of those things you have done, or observed, or wrestled with, have the potential of becoming a lot better book than spinning your tale from whole cloth. After more than thirty years, my experiences in writing that musical and helping perform it are still fresh in my mind. What about the things that have happened to you that you have never acted upon? A flat tire on a dark, rainy night, organizing a political canvas of your neighborhood, what about your friend’s marriage to the right mister wrong? I’ll bet you’ve got a million of them waiting for your next bout of writer’s block. I’ll be looking for you on my next trip to the bookstore, and I know you won’t disappoint me.


The Belle in Blue said...

My best friend recently told me that she was going to have her character set her alarm clock for 7:12 am because that's what I did and she thought it was hilarious. Everything is fodder for books!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Joe,

I agree with you. I often mix fact and fiction together and get faction. It makes for a much more real and authentic book.

Jacqueline Seewald
STACY'S SONG--YA coming of age/romance novel
TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS--historical romance