The other day, I went to the store in search of notebooks. Why notebooks? Because I’m weird and hand write all my books. There’s just something magical and immensely inviting about a blank page and the smell of ink.
Of course, being me, I couldn’t resist looking at all the books. Target being Target, there weren’t as many books as the local bookstore, but there were plenty enough to keep me enthralled for quite a while. And hidden among the books, on the bottom shelf, I found this one.
It doesn’t look like much, I know, and frankly, it looks boring. But that’s the best part. It’s an amazing book. (In my opinion) And honestly? I can’t believe I found it.
I remember when I was first introduced to this book, almost four years ago now. It was the first week of tenth grade English. My teacher handed out this thick stapled packet, printed front and back, with each side holding two pages. The class collectively groaned. We were told to read and annotate it. It was our first time hearing the word ‘annotate’ and we had absolutely no idea what to do. “Just underline the important stuff” was something along the lines of what we were told to do. Followed by, “We’ll discuss how to annotate after I see what you think it means.”
I expected the packet to be boring. But no! Far from it! It was the first chapter of Foster’s book and I found it interesting. Mostly because I have always hated how English teachers want you to find symbolism in everything. Being a writer, I’m not entirely convinced we don’t over think things, because I sure don’t put that much thought into what everything means. But Foster’s book made me think. Maybe we authors do include all that symbolism. Maybe some do it intentionally (like Toni Morrison), but maybe some do it subconsciously. Maybe when we write a scene, we unconsciously include rain, for example, because somewhere in the back of our minds we know that rain symbolizes renewal or sadness. Looking back at some of the scenes in my books, I laugh at how many times this is true.
It’s very interesting how Foster dissects writers and why we do what we do, but it truly is an amusing book. And when I saw it in the store, my mind immediately flew back to that tenth grade English class, where I proudly turned in my very marked up packet, and to my filing cabinet, where I keep it still. When I saw it, my self-control flew out the window and I just had to buy it. For memories, for old time’s sake, because it was a really good book, and because it still is.