Tuesday, May 09, 2006

more about MEEEEEEEEEE

You might say I'm taking the easy way out for this post and I guess I am. I wrote a piece for MJ Rose's Backstory blog and it is up there right now for a couple more days. But instead of sending you there with a link, I am going to paste it right here. The assignment was to talk about the book and how it came to be written, not how it was published. So here's what I said:

Becky Motew's Backstory
Long before I ever wrote a word of COUPON GIRL, I knew the title. I sold direct mail advertising to small business owners in Worcester. Buy one, get one, baby. Pizza guys, dry cleaners, wallpaper hangers, chiropractors--all of them were my customers. An old boss of mine said getting a mailing together was like ushering a herd of cows through a doorway. At ten in the morning, I might have been helping a pet store guy clip a parrot's toenails. By eleven I might have been shivering in the bowels of a car wash, taking a look at a defective pump, and by two, giving a formal sales presentation in a stockbrokers' boardroom. Don't wear your bathrobe under your coat is my best advice.

What did I learn? Mostly that every person has a story and some of them are really long. Others are quite surprising and you wonder if you should call the police. Most people just want someone to talk to, perhaps to share the intricacies of their "prostrate" problems, or their marital difficulties or vengeful feelings about the coffee shop next door. Some just want to know when lunch is. I knew I was going to write this book and I knew I would never ever lack material.

But also during these years I had been very active in community theatre and I wanted to write about that too. Could I do both? I decided I could.

I spent at least ten years in various acting groups (though it may have felt longer to the audience). I had never been satisfied with other renderings of amateur theatrics, including the movie Waiting for Guffman, because they all made fun of it. I did not want to do that. Perhaps I should amend that statement. I wanted to show it the way it really is, including but not limited to bizarreness, extreme addictive qualities, and the eternal suspension of disbelief.

If you've ever sat through the Dream Ballet in Oklahoma!, you know what I'm talking about.

I had written two unpublished books earlier, one called COUPON MURDERS which wasn't unlike the eventual CG, only it had a murder in it. Yikes, those are hard. I wouldn't want to write another one. Okay, let's put a dead body in a dumpster. Yeah. That’s good. And in addition we'll have the main character's purse be in there too, in the dumpster with the body. That will really implicate our girl and people will think she did it. Man, I am clever. So then this niggling question starts: how did a woman lift a dead body into a dumpster by herself? OH MY GOD I DON"T KNOW. This is a very queasy feeling to have when you're clicking along a hundred pages in. See? Don't try this at home.

After that experience I wrote a "serious" book. I labored over it. It had a complicated plot and flashbacks, multiple pov's and a prologue. Almost everyone who read it asked, "Is it a satire?" NO. IT'S A SERIOUS BOOK. WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME THAT?

And so I realized I'm not meant to write books like those. I'm meant to write a book like this. Why, I asked myself, would I write anything else? The authors I’ve loved and admired since I was a kid—write comedy. If you are a gazelle, then good. Embrace your gazelle-ness and may god go with you. But if you are an armadillo, don’t try to imitate the gazelle.

Do your armadillo thing. Suck up those ants. You'll be much better off and hopefully you won't end up as road kill.

COUPON GIRL is a comedic novel. Visit Becky Motew's website and blog.

3 Comments:

At 7:56 AM , Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

Thanks for that - I enjoyed reading about the book and gaining a little more insight into it and you. I tried to go to the magazine story you posted last time, but our computer's on a bit of a go-slow and i didn't get to it. But I will try again sometime ... Are you back to earth again yet?

 
At 9:14 AM , Blogger Becky said...

yes, definitely back to earth.

I leave for Arkansas in two days to be with my 92-year-old mother and 90-year-old father. That will bring me down to earth.

b

 
At 3:27 PM , Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

Wow!! Yes that will be some trip! ... I look forward to hearing about it!! Thanks for dropping in on my blog. Have a fun trip to Arkinsaz!! No. I know it's really Arkinsaw! (Just a non-American joke there!)

 

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