Thursday, March 21, 2019

Old Books

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From High School on, I've enjoyed exploring literature, not necessarily because I cared for the antiquated storytelling that made such reads a slog, but for the expertise and care with which words were used, the history of the times the books were authored, the lives of the authors themselves.

Finally, while conducting research for Blackbird, a story that takes place in the late 1800s, whose main character is a lover of fiction, I was forced to read a few of the books I had neglected on my shelf.

Jane Eyre: surely one of my "new" favorites. I've seen every movie version I could get my hands on, so I was surprised the book continued to hold my interest and win my heart.

Wuthering Heights: I tried. I really tried. So many people speak well of this novel and its characters, but I despised each person I read about. They are all deplorable humans. If there is a likable quality about any one of them, I did not find it. So, forgive me, I was unable to finish. Why do people speak of being in love with Heathcliff? He's an abusive bastard who deserves to be thrown in prison for beating dogs and women. (I will not debate this matter.)

Great Expectations: Who isn't fascinated with Miss Havisham? Again, I had seen as many movie versions as I could find (Helena Bonham-Carter was born to play Miss Havisham, just saying), and given my past experience with Dickens' novels (David Copperfield, ugh), I fully expected to make it halfway through and finally throw in the towel. Not so. I made it to the finish line and enjoyed each leg of the journey.

Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope: made it through two pages, decided the opening was a character-build that the author should've kept in his private notes and ditched the thing. Blech.

So, as I dive back into revisions of Blackbird, I must yet again inundate my brain with Victorian verbage. Books on my to-read list:

* Elizabeth Gaskill's work
* George Eliot's novels
* Hard Times by Dickens (read in college, need to read again)

And I guess there's no harm in going back a bit further and (re)reading some Jane Austen. She is my favorite, after all.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Reclaiming Courage

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Getting back on my feet. Had a hard blow last summer. It stopped cold my capacity to work on Blackbird, a novel that deals with heavy themes. Recharging at last and trying to decide if now is the time to resume.

With resuming comes big questions:

* Do I move the setting to 1800s Egypt? Some other locale?
* Do I continue with the antique voice or revise to something more myself?
* How much of the original vision to I keep? How much must go?
* Have I learned to balance family and God time with writing? Or will I revert to obsessive behavior, excluding everything and everyone else?

I'm clearly gun-shy, on many levels, for many reasons. But I can't sit on my hands forever. I gotta jump back into the arena.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Pollinating the Mind

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Currently reading The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Loving it so far. Reading a well-crafted piece of literature feels like breathing in sunshine after a stifling rainy season. It stimulates the cells and opens the senses.

Monday, March 4, 2019

The Fundamental Nature of Story

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One of my favorite concepts to explore is that of the universe and everything in it being created with a spoken word. What a glorious, gruesome, fantastic, and frightening story we are part of. To make sense of it all, we turn to our storytellers. We are made of story. We need it like air. Or we suffocate in the heartbreak and the chaos.