Monday, January 22, 2007

Watermelon - Yuck!

Posted by Lisa

It’s mainly the taste, though the texture doesn’t help (half-slime, half-water chesnuts). And, please, please don’t post a comment saying watermelon doesn’t smell…because it does. The checkout woman who tsk-tsked me as I bought watermelon for my son already told me that. Her hair was wild for an early Monday morning. But it matched the bright blue eye shadow and glops of mascara ringing her eyes. “Everyone likes watermelon,” she told my son. She made an impression. My son asked me later if she was a mermaid. He often reminds me that “Everyone likes watermelon.”

Sometimes things are a matter of taste. I was a relatively normal child. And I’ve tried watermelon – at least once a summer. It always tastes really, really, really, really, very, very awful.

If writing were food, Amy, Hannah, Lynne, and I would generally like similar things. Just as when a pretzel is too salty, we may agree a character needs fewer blatant negative characteristics. Or when the pacing is too slow, it’s like eating a cream puff without enough flavor or zip. Ninety-five percent of the time, when three group members critique a piece of writing, we see eye-to-eye. Five percent of the time a person stands alone with her own unique criticism.

There are times we disagree, and we move forward, leaving that week’s writer to reflect. But what, I ask, does a great writer do. Lois Lowry is a many-time Newbery Medal winner for children’s fiction. In a recent (spectacular) title of hers, The Giver, twelve-year-old Jonah is singled out to receive special training to become The Giver. This challenge gives him both pleasure and pain. What if Lois Lowry had listened to someone’s suggestion that maybe the pain part should go. Then the stakes would have dropped. The reader wouldn’t have worried so much about brave Jonah who is so alone in a world of togetherness.

I suppose a great author must weigh a reader’s feedback and make her own decisions. Perhaps that’s what makes a great writer. Standing alone in a world where most people love watermelon.