Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Monday Musing

Thus ends Hell Week, with a three-hour car ride ahead of me to visit folks we haven’t seen in some time, which will be nice, except for the expected rain. When I return, the crowds that packed the area for the baseball Hall of Fame’s induction weekend should have subsided–it was pretty crazy, let me tell you, I don’t think I’ve seen the area this crowded since Cal Ripken, Jr. went in. Another little bit of revision work is done, which hopefully will get POWERLESS back out on sub very soon. I dipped my toe back in the water of another project before I had to get back on the revision horse and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.

Last week, when I was looking for something to read, I picked up our old copy of The Grapes of Wrath. I’d forgotten how good this book is, and how good Steinbeck was. Funny, when people ask over on AW about dialect and whether to really pepper their dialogue with it, I usually suggest they do it sparingly, as it often annoys me. The Joad family and all the people they encounter say ‘somepin’ and ‘meetcha’ and ‘jus’, and it didn’t bother me a bit. I guess you can forgive almost anything when a story grabs you. It’s also interesting to look at this story in light of what’s going on in the world today, and the growing gap between rich and poor. At one point, Ma Joad says, “If you’re in trouble or hurt or need–go to poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help–the only ones.” While not strictly true–there are plenty of caring, generous rich people–studies have shown a growing distance between the haves and have nots, not just in wealth, but in social interactions and empathy. Steinbeck captured this very effectively.

I’ve had a truly bizarre spike in number of visits to the blog this month. Can’t explain it. Something similar happened last August as well, which brought with it a rise in spam comments, until I disabled anonymous commenting. Last night, I received 16 spams to the e-mail linked to this blog in a 40 minute period. All the spam is the same (I think; I don’t open it), offering me “Safe & Fast M.A.L.E.-E.N.H.A.N.C.E.M.E.N.T.” (Euphemism mine). Hey, anyone remember what happened to this guy? Haven’t seen him on the TV in quite some time.

That’s about all I’ve got for today. Hope you all had a nice weekend.

5 Responses

  1. Glad you should be able to slow down and enjoy yourself a bit more now!
    I ended up turning off anonymous comments a couple of years ago – spam is sooooo annoying!

  2. I've gotten quite a bit of visits this past month, too. I was kind of hoping it was due to some of my advertising, though. Of course, I'd rather see my sales spike–haha! All in due time, right? I keep telling myself that anyway.

    This weekend I discovered I have a fan. One who has read BOTH of my books and says she'll read anything I write. Another reviewer said I was an "Awesome Author." Reading stuff like that can really make you walk on air (and help to ignore the not-so-great reviews).

    Hope your upcoming trip is nice. I'll be going to my family reunion this weekend to see all my NJ cousins. It'd be nice if it were ONLY a three-hour trip. Instead, I have nine to look forward to. But that's fine. Meeting everyone is worth it.

  3. Good luck on your sub! And, yes, The Grapes of Wrath is one of my favorite all-time novels. True, I don't really notice the dialect in that novel so much. But I recently read another book, a YA called Blood Red Road, and the dialect in that drove me insane. I don't know what made the difference in why one would bother me and one wouldn't. Sincerity of the character's speech perhaps? I have no idea.

  4. I know what you mean about dialect in books – it can be annoying. But with certain books, when the story is sucking you in, it can become invisible. Using it sparingly is good advice.

  5. -Jemi–I hope I can. You know how easy it is to find new things to make yourself crazy with.

    -Stacy–Congratulations on your fan! What a nice feeling that is! Nine hours is a long time in the car, but I'm sure you'll have a great time.

    -L.G.–Yeah, I read an Elizabeth George novel from five or six years ago that was like that–it wasn't a bad book, but the dialect drove me to distraction. Yet I love it in Grapes and I never had a problem with OWEN MEANY'S DIALOGUE BEING IN ALL CAPS IN THAT BOOK! Go figure.

    -Jennifer–agreed. Steinbeck was not sparing, but he still made it work.

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