I’ve read almost everything Charles Martin has available. Chasing Fireflies is my favorite, and I shared what it taught me in a previous post. Maggie is his second novel – a sequel to The Dead Don’t Dance – and I enjoyed it as much as I’ve enjoyed his other stuff; Mr. Martin just writes good books.
If you haven’t read him, I started with When Crickets Cry and haven’t looked back. He writes with warmth and depth of emotion, but also with masculinity and some good old-fashioned action as well. Which leads me to the first thing this book drilled home.
1) You can write a book that resonates with both men and women. In this era of hyper-specific genres, it’s tough to find a book two differently interested people will enjoy. A book must either be violent, crass, and lewd in an effort to appeal to some form of male, or it must be sappy, conversational, and melodramatic to appeal to some form of female. (Sorry for the generalizations, but I think you know what I mean.) But in this book, along with Martin’s other works, my wife and I have found an author we both enjoy, and books we can appreciate for distinctly masculine or feminine reasons. I think it’s awesome, and it gives me hope. If I ever get around to novel writing, I’d like to think I would produce similar stories. I would love to write stories that aren’t afraid to delve into the deepest parts of us, but also aren’t afraid to include a good chase scene through a swamp with an ex-Navy Seal. Martin pulled it off in Maggie and taught me I might be able to do the same.
2) “Making it” is hard, but it might be just around the corner. If you are a writer, or someone who aspires to be, the acknowledgements section of this book are almost worth the cover price. He offers a glimpse into a season of his life when the dreamer was almost defeated by the pragmatist. He and his wife were on the verge of giving up the idea of being a full-time writer, but he rounded the bend and now he has no-name bloggers hoping to be like him one day. He allows you to see what chasing the dream meant to his wife and to him. You get to see what sacrifices were necessary and what dedication looked like. Ultimately, it was about his wife believing in him with both word and deed. Here is an excerpt,
Neither my talent nor perseverance got this book in your hands.. I’m neither that good nor that strong. The miracle of our story is not me. It’s a girl who, with a single kiss and six words, reached down beyond my fear and doubt, down where my love lives, and gave me a gift — she stood beside me and believed.
Those six words were, “You’re not a reject to me,” and I have a wife who would say the same to me. So maybe I can keep at it too.
By the way, if you are a fan of Charles Martin, you might enjoy this interview I found.
Keep Discovering Writing.