Just finished reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Cabin Fever. It seems like children books may be the only form of literature that is not cliche or predictable anymore. Or should I say it about fiction at large? Maybe not. I don't seem to think likewise about visual media fiction for sure!
Nonetheless, after a long time, here was a book that kept me guessing - without actually consciously doing so! Without the need to analyse or speculate, or just basically "over think" as has become a habit with me over these recent years.
I think what really worked for me was that I took up the book on a lark, expecting nothing but some interesting graphics, and I don't know, just a juvenile bedtime story. I can't really say why I picked it up - except that it landed in my possession somehow, and I don't really know how to hold books I haven't read.
Oh well. Turns out, it takes a children's book to just reconnect with the joy of "reading" as from a time when I wasn't doing it with awareness and motives. Like school work. Or like being in loop of latest updates and suggested readings of literary groups. Like reading for picking up on literary styles and tools. Or even just to have read a book beforehand, if its being adapted as a movie I want to watch. Strange, but I realized as I finished up reading this book, that it had been quite a while since I last read a book just for the story. Sure, a book stays with me only if I connect with the story. But it hasn't been the driving motivation anymore, and I can't really pin down the time it ceased to be.
A lot of my recent reading - fiction and non fiction - has been plainly to "equip" myself in various aspects for the writing of my own novel. And suddenly I feel like I'm missing the point. Like I think I'm writing because it's what I want to do, and what I was made to - but not what I'm doing for real.
I do enjoy days when I get good kind of writing done. But it's been getting somewhat mechanical, and I've abandoned one too many pieces because I lost interest shortly into them. I keep thinking back to abandoned pieces, now and then when something in my routine or surrounding reminds me of related nuances, and I even envisage whole scenes playing out - but I don't seem to get them written out anymore all that much.
Even the gym song list doesn't seem to be compulsive enough - ideas sprout up, but ephemerally, often not long enough for them to materialize into words.
So back to the book. For all reasons - odd and even - I loved reading it. It seemed like a collection of disjoint diary entries to begin with. But then a pattern was starting to form. I was starting to connect with the mind of the preteen narrator. Starting to see his streak for disaster, his curiosity and observation that just reminded me how unfathomable a child's mind can be - and how unpredictable hence a story that revolves around one or more.
There were no good or bad guys. There seemed to be no need. There were situations, because the preteen central character sought them out all by himself with his penchant for plenty of "wise decisions" which (adorably I thought) quite fit in accord with his character.
One of the best thing was how the book wasn't preachy, at all. But how there were still those simple direct lines thrown in, which were suspiciously laced with a wisdom that can only be either too profound, or too obvious! Lines that didn't make you stop and ponder, but those that pleasantly stood out for you, even in a preteen story book!
Here goes my favorite - "When I was little I used to want to be an author myself. But whenever I started telling Mom my ideas she'd say my story was just like some book that was already published. I realized all the good ideas were taken before I was even born."
I think it also so happened, that after quite a while I read a book without having reviews/feedback/synopsis about it beforehand. I had no idea what to expect. No idea what the story was about. Dim as this will sound, I did not even know I was reading "one" book (Cabin Fever) from a series called Diary of a Wimpy Kid - basically I had not clue of what to expect, and I wasn't even expecting myself to expect. I just sort of picked it up and begun reading. And it wasn't until I was a good 40 pages down, that I begin to treat it as a "story" at all! One with continuity and a plot. And I guess that's what really took me back to the past, to times when reading books was like that for me - a discovery in every sense, without consciously making it happen so!
Anyway. So that's my latest update on the last book I read. If I can inspire anyone at all to go buy themselves a copy of the book and read it because it will truly feel revolutionary in a back to basics way - yes I insist you do so!
And if you enjoy it half as much - I guess I've passed on the credit of a good message!
ps: On a note of confession, it struck me I can never really write a children's book. And I mean in a sense of a lacking as a writer. Writing a children's book is like watching an apple fall from a tree and discovering gravity! Why? Because when I look at something obvious after 20+x years of my life, it is very hard to actually stop and wonder about it. Most times, it will just pass me without notice! And it is in what is obvious to an adult, that a child's wondrous imagination truly evolves. A child's mind like a clean slate is capable of being intrigued by what is routine and mundane to me, an adult. And thinking like a child again, then, is (I would say for me) impossible. That, when I plan to think like one, creatively, and weave a story of it.
And on that note, I say we adults - all ages - overrate complexity and maturity. We think a child is too simple to fathom the riddles of life, and that growing up is the process where you slowly begin to wrap around the tedious stuff - a process that is ceaseless unto the end. But look at it the other way. We constantly trade off that freshness about us, in perceiving something, anything, sans preconceived notions and sets of rules. Every moment of life somehow adds knowledge to out natural database, something that we consider "Expansive" but something that is in turn increasingly robbing us of the ability of absolute objectivity!
The discussion can run on - but I think this is where I leave it for now. If I didn't make it obvious enough yet, go get yourself a copy of the book. Sometimes, going back to the basics - at the very fundamental level - is what a revelation is about!