Weekly Musing: Quote the Raven Nevermore

This week’s musing is not about Edgar Allen Poe or ravens. Instead I thought it might be interesting to find a random quote related to writing and use it to discuss my reactions to it.

Ink and paper are sometimes passionate lovers, oftentimes brother and sister, and occasionally mortal enemies.

– Terri Guillemets

Well, yeah. That’s an accurate description of the daily struggle many writers face. When I say struggle I don’t mean it as a bad thing just that there are those days where the words come easier than others are.

When Guillemets uses the phrase “passionate lovers” I think she is referring to those glorious days when the ideas and words strike at a feverish, unrelenting pace. Those days when writing feels like the most wonderful thing in the world. When as a writer you feel like a badass and your prose is so awesome the giants of the writing world will weep from jealousy. But like passionate lovers, that zealousness can’t last forever. Those moments are far too few and sometimes after those moments of passion you realize it wasn’t as great as you thought it was.

I think that’s what the author means by brother and sister is that complimentary relationship when both brain and pen are in synch with each other. Of course this would have to be a brother and sister who get along. Or the brother and sister analogy can be accurate even if the siblings don’t get along since some days are more frustrating than others are. Or perhaps the brother and sister analogy could be a reference to the difference in right and left brain thinking. The yin and the yang if you will. Personally I think most of my writing days are like a brother and sister who get along with some give and take.

Ahh, and the last part of the quote about ink and paper can be “mortal enemies.” Oh yes that describe those days where you feel like the world’s worst writer. Like maybe the crap job you do to earn a living should be your life. Maybe you aren’t the Word God the days of passionate writing led you to believe. I hate those days. I hate it when what you have floating around in your head doesn’t make it on the page. Sometimes it’s best to just put the pen down, walk away for a bit, and do something else. Clear the cobwebs out then try again.

There are loads of quotes out there that speak to the writer. I liked this one because it was concise and incredibly accurate. Also it is quite thought provoking and I think each person who has ever written a single sentence would interpret the quote differently. Maybe a writer hasn’t experienced the fevered state of writing. Perhaps the brother/sister analogy could be interpreted in a Targaryen-Jaime and Cersei Lannister way. And maybe others don’t have to fight with the words.

Scribbling Scrivener Reads: The Rum Runner’s Woman by Mia Soul

The Rum Runner’s Woman by Mia Soul is another recently released debut novel. Set in Prohibition Era North Carolina on Okracoke Island, it is an historical romance centering around May Kaney, a nineteen-years-old a waitress at the local cafe (which is just a front for an illegal bar), and Eric Bolene, captain of the Black Heart and a rum runner (although he runs other kinds at alcohol as well).

May first meets Eric as he rows ashore to meet with her boss at the cafe. She is naturally quite smitten with him because of the way his shirt clings to his physique. Not to be left out, Eric is smitten with May in all her virginal innocence. Despite knowing it would be wrong for so many reasons for them to get together, they do anyway because their lust, and in my opinion it is lust, is too strong to ignore.

First and foremost I must disclose I could not finish this book. I got to about 50% of the way in before I threw in the towel. It just did not hold my interest.

My biggest problem with The Rum Runner’s Woman are the characters. They’re stock romance novel tropes. May is a wide-eyed, insipid, virginal, small-town girl. Her father is an abusive alcoholic but don’t worry, he’s not in the story for very long because he is killed. This of course causes the family financial hardship and threatens May’s dream of studying art in New York. Naturally she begins to view Eric as her way out because somehow she’s convinced herself she’s in love with him despite the fact they’ve barely spoken to each other.

Even though Eric is the same age as May’s mother, has a kid with his still legally wife, Red (a fellow booze smuggler), he doesn’t act like the mature adult he supposedly is. He does nothing to discourage May’s obvious and embarrassing schoolgirl-type crush because dammit, May’s a beauty and he just has to have her. He doesn’t act like a professional in his business dealings and is a cad in his personal life not only for how he treats May but also how he lays on the charm on her widowed mother (still a babe, of course, after 3 kids), and Red. Like May, he is an utterly unlikeable.

It’s not just the main characters which suffer from unlikableness. The secondary characters all seem to be obsessed with sex. It’s really off-putting. May’s boss is a nasty, perverted old man who does nothing but ogle her all day. Her mother openly flirts with Eric shortly after her husband’s death. Red’s a nutty, bisexual who seems to be good at one thing yet can somehow command her crew’s respect on her ship Red Storm.

In addition to problems with the characters, the plot itself took too long to develop and was one of the reasons why I stopped after 50%. May’s boss tries to rape her but thankfully she escapes. Instead of going home, she goes to Eric’s ship where she is discovered. Of course he doesn’t take her back home and allows her to stay on his ship even though he wouldn’t mind having sex with her despite her bruised face. At least he waits a couple at days before having sex with her after her near rape. A gentleman.

And of course May gets pregnant. This upsets her mother who insists she leave for New York right away and live in a home for other unmarried women who are “in the family way.” May lies about the father of her child choosing to name a co-worker who has a crush on her. Apparently the prudent, adult thing to do to inform the real father right away doesn’t cross May’s mind. I skipped to the last chapter just to see what happened and just couldn’t be happy with the fantasy, happily-ever-after ending because nothing up to the half I got through justified it.

Additional concerns for me crept up in the dialogue especially when Eric began calling May “little girl” and “sweet angel” either before, during, or after sex. Considering he’s the same age as her mother, it came across as creepy. May becomes petty and jealous whenever Eric interacts with her mom. The main characters don’t start getting to know one another until after they begin having sex and all their dialogue never came across as sincere or honest.

My final concern was how the romance and subsequent sex scenes are developed. As previously mentioned, these two have nothing in common and barely talk so I’m not sure how they could love each other. I didn’t find the love scenes romantic. One particularly disturbed me because despite May complaining of soreness and plainly states she would like the night off, Eric plies her alcohol to make sure she’ll sleep through the next day while he conducts a big deal. Instead of respecting her wishes, he precedes to soothe her soreness which then leads to sex. Yes, May does give consent however, just the fact Eric works his magic to get her to change her mind because he is unable to control his own desire makes the whole scene border on rape in my opinion. It was after that scene that I quickly did not want to venture further but did just to see if she’d call him out on the incident. She didn’t.

Because I could not finish The Rum Runner’s woman, I cannot give it a rating. The book was not my cup of tea despite its unique time penned a setting.