What I Learned from Cavenaugh Lee

Today I am a bit distracted. My best friend is here. We’ve eaten cupcakes and now I’m suffering a bit from a food baby. So many of my favourite things happened today. But I have to head to work soon so I’ll go ahead and crank this one out.

Save as Draft was a pleasant little rom-com novel. Writing style aside (it read a bit like my *fictional* 12 year old sister’s overly dramatic text messages) I learned a few things.

1 – You can write even when you’re amazingly busy. Apparently Ms. Lee started working on this novel whilst working at a law firm. She still pretty actively blogs (click on this, if for nothing else than to experience the title banner). Anyway, she managed to construct a novel and get it published while working a full time job. That is impressive. And I now have no excuse since I spend most of my days watching Mad Men and reading odd books.

2 – Novelty works. The presentation of this novel was key. It reminded me a lot of Something Borrowed (mostly because of the sort of people it was about) but the presentation of Save as Draft saved me from feeling as though I was reading something as banal as I was. Again it was that voyeuristic thrill of reading someone else’s emails and text messages that provides the novel with it’s unique flavour. Plus the cover of the novel, you know, it was a major selling point for me.

3 – Chick Lit is easy to write. This might seem a little mean but I feel like most chick lit these days needs these elements: a whiny lead character, two best friend sidekicks (one saucily crass the other basically a nonentity), over the top sexual details, and an odd relationship with parents. Lather, rinse, repeat. And you’ll have a best-seller on your hands. This story-line and the details were not earth shattering. Just pleasant.

So, these are the things I learned. If you missed it, yesterday I wrote a post over at http://www.kellenfreeman.net about Love Wins. Never fear, I may copy it over here in a few weeks. See you on the flip side.

Btw this movie comes out tonight at midnight and I’m very excited but I have to wait until tomorrow night to see it

One Day

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Summer Reading – Save as Draft

Save as Draft by Cavenaugh Lee

This was another discovery from my first perusal of Inkwood Books. I was drawn to the cover because I am a Mac. Occasionally I’m attracted to mindless fluff chic-lit reads. The last book I read that fell into that category was a severe and utter disappointment. I’m more about saying positive things, or structurally critiquing the books that I read, but I have absolutely nothing good to say about Something Borrowed. So, viewer, or reader beware.

Unfortunately, I do not have quite the expendable income to keep up with how quickly I read books, so I forgot about this book for a few weeks. Then I remembered it and requested it from the local library. It was supposed to be part of my Beach Reading stack (which would have brought the grande total up to 9), but Anna Karenina was particularly irking me and I decided to pick up Save as Draft. It’s told in snippets of emails, texts, and tweets. Novel idea, eh?

The premise is something about being a single, young professional in Atlanta, braving the treacherous world of online dating. Okay, I know what you’re thinking: That sounds like the most cliche premise for a story ever. And you’re correct. But it’s fun.

For 317 pages the reader experiences the voyeuristic thrills that come from reading someone else’s emails, albeit fictional emails. Most of them are short. And there are important little details hidden in the email/text message formatting that make the reading go by so much quicker. I cannot stress how simple a read this was. Once you get the hang of noticing the pertinent information it becomes an exercise in pleasant skimming.

The characters do not extend themselves much outside of rom-com convention. Though most of the “supporting cast” is married or divorced, so there’s this bipolar representation of love. The main character is often annoyingly optimistic about love whilst her “wiser, more experienced” friends know what love is actually like. That trope became a little annoying. I don’t know, I’m just tired of characters complaining about not having sex anymore, or losing the fun and spontaneity in their lives. It’s like that dialogue from When Harry Met Sally when Meg Ryan talks about not ever “flying of to Rome on a moment’s notice”; it’s only charming the first 100 or so times.

The Acknowledgements at the end reveal that Cavenaugh Lee wrote at least part of this book as catharsis. I’m sure each of us has at least one relationship that we would love to fictionalize and rewrite the ending over and over. Sometimes you find yourself wondering if you’re better off that it ended, or if you should have stuck it out. We writers are lucky enough to “write what we know” which means playing these relationships and scenes out over and over until we get them just right. Unfortunately, it’s too late to save the real life version most of the time.

Anyway, there are some great moments in this novel. And the one thing it presents PERFECTLY is how modern dating has become so impacted by the technology we use to communicate. I mean Jane Austen put Mr. Collins in Pride & Prejudice so we know that completely awkward suitors have always existed. But there’s something about reading an awkward suitor’s attempts via poorly punctuated and spelled emails. Definitely creates a comedic result.

I think that’s what I enjoyed most about this novel – the presentation. It’s cute and serves a purpose. The format is slightly experimental and silly, but fun. I wonder how many times I’ve put “fun” in this blog post? At least one of you has now scrolled back up to count, so you can tell me. It’s a pleasant starter novel for Cavenaugh Lee. I don’t think I’ll be waiting in breathless anticipation for the sequel, but I am curious as to how she will continue (and perhaps expand upon) the novelty of the presentation of Save as Draft.