Tuesday, July 08, 2003

I can't listen to books on tape and I'm constantly amazed by their popularity. When I attempt to listen to any extended prose piece my mind wanders; I'm almost incapable of paying attention. I can listen to non-music programs on the radio as long as one person doesn't drone on too long. I used to spend (waste?) time in writer's workshops years ago, and I could never give anyone's prose my undivided attention, no matter how good the prose might be. The worst example of this was the time I was in a two day workshop taught by mystery novelist Sharyn McCrumb. After the workshop we went to the auditorium where she gave a reading of her then work in progress.

I paid attention at first, but then other thoughts crowded her out. Soon he was drowned out completely by the constant shifting narration in my head. When she was done and the rather large audience finished applauding, she came down from the stage and went directly up to me. Still in teacher mode, she started grilling me about technical stuff in what she'd read.

McCrumb: What did you think about how I handled the father?

Me: Well...uh...er...he wasn't...uhh...

She knew I hadn't been paying attention and changed the subject. I remember little of what happened next, but I quickly left out of sheer embarrassment.

After this, at other readings, I'd hide in the back of the auditorium where I could daydream to my idiotic heart's content. Now I just avoid them completely.

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