Wednesday, February 20, 2008

There's an Interesting Writing Challenge Going Around

Here is an idea I found on "Wintersong," previously borrowed from "Grannymar" (an Irish blog), borrowed from . . . . You get the idea. This is one of those memes going around the blogging world. Here are the rules:

* Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!)
* Find Page 123.

* Find the first 5 sentences.
* Post the next 3 sentences [sentences 6-8]
* Tag 5 people

I'll skip the tagging part; that's too intrusive for me. But I decided to give the rest a try.

The book on top of my "To Review" pile, one of those books sent me by a publisher for review on one of my blogs (I don't get books from the "big guys" in publishing, of course), is Send Yourself Roses, by actress Kathleen Turner, in collaboration with Gloria Feldt (Springboard, 2008).

I'm not a fan of celebrities' or ex-celebrities' books, most of which seem to be ghost-written anyway, but after all, this book does fit my criteria otherwise: it's the life story of an older woman, and it deals, in part, with aging. O.K. The cinching factor was that I happened to see one of Turner's movies, Serial Mom (1994), on TV fairly recently. It's a funny film, but not a great one. Still, I was amazed by Turner's ability to make a monster killer almost sympathetic, in a humorous way. Turner is best known, of course, for her first film, Body Heat (1981). She also had later stage successes in Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf? (2005-2007), as well as many other roles.

Page 123 of Send Yourself Roses comes in the chapter "Hold On to the Power to Say No." She regrets the one time (according to her) that she accepted a role mainly for the money. The film was Switching Channels, 1988. Turner was pregnant at the time, the film was delayed, and "Since Michael Caine couldn't do the film in time, the producer hired Burt Reynolds." As Turner's girth increased, her co-star wasn't very understanding.

Here are sentences six, seven, and eight from page 123:

"For whatever reason, he [Burt Reynolds] immediately said to me, 'I've never taken second billing to a woman.' I excused myself, ran to my room--we were rehearsing in a hotel--and called Jay [her husband], breaking into tears, saying, 'I don't think I can do this.' Burt was just nasty."

I've not finished reading this book, nor have I written my review. I may do so eventually. There is a certain charm in entering a world very alien to my own to encounter a woman whose life has been nothing like mine.

Pick up the nearest book and give this exercise a try.

An update, February 21:

In the interest of fairness, I tried this with my own book Reinventing Myself. Page 123 falls toward the beginning of the chapter entitled "Taking a Walk." This passage is leading up to my explanation of why I prefer outdoor (fair weather) walking to other forms of exercise and to a description of things observed on a neighborhood walk:

"I'm not into suffering. Yes, I can exercise by using my stationary recumbent exercise bike or a treadmill at the local health club (there's one in my building), but that's quite boring. The bike's in my bedroom, so I do try to use it several times a week."

Not only is this one of the duller passages in the book, but it makes me feel guilty that I've not been exercising lately. I guess this writing exercise can be dangerous!

Another Update, March 18:

I finally reviewed Kathleen Turner's book on my other blog, "Never too Late!" Here is a link:

Copyright 2008 by Marlys Marshall Styne


Alice said...

Humph! I always suspected Burt was a woman hater. He's a Florida boy y'know, and when I chose one he wasn't from there!

When I was younger I loved the randomness of going to certain pages of books to read "special messages" I knew the Universe wanted me to see. I guess that's why this particular meme spoke to me.

It's fun to see where it leads, and I really enjoyed your post. Thanks for the link.

seniorwriter said...

This might be a good way to select books to read. I'll have to try it a few times more!

Kate said...

How fun...

"We do this with the wish that all of us could be free of suffering. Then we breath out, sending out a sense of big space, a sense of ventilation or freshness. We do this with the wish that all of us could relax and experience the innermost essence of our mind.

from Pema Chodron's book When Things Fall Apart

seniorwriter said...

Kate: It's fun, isn't it?