Is Classic Literature All It’s Hyped up to Be?

Perhaps I’m odd, but I love many classic works of literature. I trust the rating that a piece is a classic, read it, appreciate what earns its title, and try to acquire a good copy for our home library. I feel that almost all are written well and/or demonstrate some extraordinary aspect that sets them above other literature.

Then again, some classics are boring.

Some are wordy.

A few have something that ruined the book as a favorite for me -and I do not speak of glaring grammatical sentences.

One of the first classics the public education system forced me to read was Silas MarnerThat one is in the Boring category, its primary failing. Even to this day, I do not know a redeeming characteristic of it. If one wants a good bite of rambling sentences, there’s James Joyce. If one needs historical literature, there are many alternatives. A treasure hunt? What about Treasure Island?

Silas Marner could also win for wordiest, but I’m more inclined to bump the phone book-sized The Three Musketeers to that position. To be fair to this assessment, I have not yet successfully gotten past the first third of the novel. Not even whilst I was on bedrest with my second pregnancy and had nothing better to do than stare at the walls and hope my previa moved was I able to get through it. Many, many classics are horribly wordy, yet the words are valuable. They are worth it. Instead of Three Musketeers, try The Count of Monte Cristo.

Last but not least is the failing category I am most interested in discussing: some thing that really bothered me in a classic. Sometimes in these cases, people hyped up the book. Others liked it; it’s acclaimed; it’s a classic. Surely it must be good, right?

One of my top entries in this grouping is The Great Gatsby. My criticism? I could not relate to any of the characters. At all. They were so unreal in behavior, thought, and action that I could never get into the story.

A second is The Screwtape Letters. I love C.S. Lewis. I wanted to love everything he wrote. As I read this famous work of his, however, I felt disappointed. I realized I expected Screwtape to be more insidious, more clever, more devious. Perhaps my experiences have been with a smarter and more subtle fiend?

A third and final classic for my chopping block is Wuthering Heights. I’m not a romance fan, in case people didn’t know, but I do read stories with romance in them. I like Jane Austen, for example. Wuthering Heights seemed far-fetched, perhaps. Mostly, like with Gatsby, I had little interest in the characters.

In retrospect, much of the reason I’ve found distaste with some classical literature is that I had to read them. That’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem, though, because I doubt I’d have chosen to read them on my own.

Also, disliking a classic can have its benefits. Before The Grapes of Wrath in my senior year of high school, I’d never fallen asleep whilst reading.

As always, I am curious what others think. Are you a defender of all classical works to the bitter end? Are you one to agree with me, and nit-pick a few for failings? Do you not care so long as you can watch Colin Firth dive into a pond?

As my mother says, “Inquiring minds want to know.”

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—————-

I most certainly did not get wordy this week. Here’s what I did:
Wednesday, May 22: Wrote “If You Could Be Any Mythical Creature, What Would You Be?

Thursday, May 23: Nothing.

Friday, May 24: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations, again, to Bruce Goodman!

Saturday, May 25: Announced the 27th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is epic book or film series. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, May 26: “The Gatehouse,” in response to Sue Vincent‘s prompt.

Monday, May 27: Answered Peregrine Arc‘s prompt with “The Cell of Snares.

Tuesday, May 28:  Also nothing.

Wednesday, May 29: Today.

I also posted some at my motherhood site. I wrote “Mom, What Can I Do?,” and “Happily Ever After Is Possible, but It Requires an Epic Journey.”

 

Photo Credit:
Image by klimkin from Pixabay

 

© 2019 Chelsea Owens

Picture Books Are Always in Season

“So …have you read King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub?”

“No.”

“Hmm. What about The Stinky Cheese Man?”

A sound of polite, incredulous aversion comes from the backseat. “No….”

I’m driving my male horde home from elementary school, plus the three children of a family friend. Their children and mine share a few interests, the main one being a love of reading.

The older girl pipes up, “We don’t read picture books.”

Her sister: “Yeah; I’m reading chapter books now.”

Which is fine, of course, seeing as how she is in second grade. She is the baby of their four children and they are all precocious. The only boy has already moved up a grade and is 2-3 grades ahead in mathematics.

Still….

Our Books

“I love picture books,” I say. “There are a lot of really good ones out there, so I like to go back and read them again.”

“Yes, that’s true,” the older girl acquiesces. I often feel I’m sitting at a British tea party with her, although she’s midway through fourth grade.

My boys, meanwhile, are each immersed in reading something educational like Captain Underpants or Magic Pickle. I’m not a fan of the graphic novels, but am fine with their perusal if mixed with a range of literature. That, and graphic novels include everything from less-than-desirable illustrations and potty humor to really well-done works like The Cardboard Kingdom.

I drop the friends off. Their mother comes out for a quick chat. “Your girls say you don’t have any picture books around anymore,” I say, in a friendly way.

“Oh. Yeah.” She laughs. She’s extremely intelligent, an excellent quilter, and one who does not seem to mind being a stay-at-home mother. I’m always in awe of her. “I unintentionally donated ours to the classroom and haven’t replaced them.” She sighs a bit, which is usually her way of segue. “They don’t really seem interested, so I probably won’t.”

To each her own, of course, but a little bit of me cries inside to hear it. Like my music preferences, my reading tastes cover many genres. -Except romance. Ugh.

Besides that, my collection of books is …sizeable. When I read Fahrenheit 451 in school, I wanted to be the old lady with the enormous library. I would feel torn between saving myself or my books. I …have a bit of a problem with control whenever I shop the book department in thrift stores.

D.I. Books

After a recent thrift store trip.

Which leads me back to picture books. I love picture books. I cannot imagine not having any in my house. I read to my children from them, and then from novels as they age (time permitting).

I also enjoy reading to other children. Last year I offered to read to my son’s fourth grade class once a week, to give the teacher a few minutes of preparation time at the end of the day. What did I read? The Jolly PostmanThe Sweetest FigBark, George; and Oh, Were They Ever Happy!

I remember visiting with the teacher once after we finished up. “Thank you for coming in every week,” she said. “It gives me time to get ready and I really appreciate it.”

I smiled. “Oh, you’re welcome.” Then, I hesitated, knowing most of these kids were beyond the target age for the books I shared. “Are you okay with me reading picture books? I know they might be a little young for them.”

“Of course!” she said. “They love them! I don’t think they’re too young for them at all.”

Our Picture Books

Most of our picture book library.

You may think I will ask whether you agree or disagree, but I know you are all smarter than that. Instead, what are a few of your favorite children’s stories? They can be picture books, graphic novels, beginning chapter books, or Harry Potter-sized novels. Which do you love, and why?

—————-

After fondly reminiscing, read what I posted this past week:
Wednesday, April 3: Encouraged cathartic ranting over bad bosses in “Just Another Perk of Working.

Thursday, April 4: “The Cure for Depression: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.

Friday, April 5: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Molly Stevens!

Saturday, April 6: Announced the 21st Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is parodies of famous poems. PLEASE ENTER!

And, answered Peregrine Arc’s writing prompt with “Smells Like Reanimated Spirits.

Sunday, April 7: “Olympic Achievement,” a poem response to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt.

Monday, April 8: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Nine.”

Tuesday, April 9:  An inspirational quote by Jodi Foster.

Wednesday, April 10: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. Highlights were “Just Don’t Buy It?,” “Moderate Momming,” and “Bedtime, a poem.”

 

Photo Credit:
Me

A Tree Falls in a Forest; Does the Reader Hear It?

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Once there was a small stream winding through the forest. It wasn’t too small a stream, of course. It ran all year, even in the dry seasons. And, at some points, it did grow smaller -say, when crossing between the narrowing walls of tree roots or over rough patches of mud. Meanwhile, farther along, the small stream widened out to what some geographers would classify as a river. This widening was due to a relief of pressures and an allowed broadening of its capabilities.

No, I do not intend to write you the rest of the story of the stream. There is no literal stream. Obviously, there is also no mud, tree roots, or even geographers.

I brought up waterworks in order to discuss an important literary element: metaphor. We’re hardly selective here, so I’ll include metaphor’s semi-cousin simile and his friend hyperbole, too. In case you ask, however; allegory, parable, and analogy are not invited. Sorry, guys.

I love metaphor. And, I hates it. *Golem!* *Golem!*

That is: when someone is giving a lecture, lesson, or speech and starts metaphoring, my mind goes wonderful places with their relationships. In fact, my mind goes very far afield of where they usually intended and somehow I’ve taken the examples to more interesting locales.

Also, I am very good at giving people on-the-spot comparisons in order to make my point. I told someone I had never met before that her English Cream Golden Retriever was “like when you put brand-new towels into the dryer and pull out a big, fluffy, warm ball of lint and you just want to hug it.”

Yeah… I did. And I wonder why I have few friends.

And, yes, that was simile. Sort-of. I told you they were cousins.

Back to metaphor: this good can also be evil. Besides very obvious over-the-top tropes like characters always speaking in clichés and a poet telling us that each flower in the garden is a dragon, horse, unicorn, etc. to the point that we don’t even know that he was speaking of gardens in the first place–

Too much can be a bad thing.

I also think that metaphor, simile, and hyperbole have a better place in making a conversational point, or in writing poetry, than they do in longer works of fiction.

What say ye? Agreed? Disagreed? Still winding through mud and you’ll get back with me once you hit the valley?

—–

While you’re pondering (or meandering), here’s what went down in the past week:
Wednesday, January 2: “Not Your Average Blogger’s New Year’s Post,” in which we discussed obscure unique talents.
Thursday, January 3: “Skinwalkers, XLVII.” This may have been back-posted. 😉
Friday, January 4: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Yay, again, Ruth!
Saturday, January 5: Announced the eighth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. ENTER IT.
Sunday, January 6: “When the Stakes Are High,” a flash fiction piece for Carrot Ranch.
Monday, January 7: “Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-Eight.”
Also, “Toddler Trouble” at my mothering blog.
Tuesday, January 8: Inspirational quote by Pablo Picasso. En español.
I may have had a difficult weekend, and thereafter wrote “Hello Depression, My Old Friend” at The Bipolar Writer Blog.
Wednesday, January 9: You made it to today!

Eric Muhr

I Finally Donned the Sorting Hat

I remember when Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone was first published. My former sixth grade teacher said to me, “There’s an excellent book that’s just come out on the market. You have to read it.” She has good taste, strong opinions, and more than a little experience with literature.

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It was she who read our class The Turbulent Term of Tyke TylerThe Log of the Ark, and The Wheel on the School. She allowed us to pick our own spelling words to be tested on and held us to a self-chosen monthly book-reading quota. In her classroom I read nearly every book on her shelves -and that’s saying something.

Knowing this, I read the book she recommended. I loved it. I read the others as they were released as well, pouncing upon them as soon as I could.

I know there are many to whom the series is not so impressive. My own husband has only read the first one. He and his sister began reading the second together, and he hated Dobby so much he hasn’t continued from there. One of my college English professors told us the Harry Potter books were only ‘good;’ not ‘great.’

I also know there are many to whom the series is life. They know the characters, creatures, spells, and trivia by heart. They know which floor of Hogwarts one might find: the Room of Requirement, Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom, or the entrance to Slytherin’s common room. Those Potterheads’ greatest wish is that they will get a letter in the mail announcing them as accepted pupils to the greatest school of witchcraft and wizardry…

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If I had been introduced to the series after its popularity, I’m not sure I’d be so fond of it. Hype and popularity ruin a thing for me.

Whether or not that’s the case, I will admit to falling more into the admirer category than the hater one. I’d love a wand and magic powers, yes; but much of my love for the series is Anglophilia. Blame my ancestry, perhaps. For that reason and the …insanity of the die-hard fans, I hesitate in admitting my affection.

So it is that, last night, I finally took an online quiz to determine which house I would be in. I did not get a song sung by a hat nor a voice in my ear; I instead answered a few questions regarding personality.

Out of curiosity, have you a guess to which I was assigned? I had. It wasn’t what I expected.

I definitely had two that I preferred not to be placed in. -Which is another thing I still do not understand about Potterheads. If you’ve read the series closely and if you are such fans, surely you would not want to publish to the world that you were placed in Hufflepuff. Right?

Everyone says Hufflepuff are a lot o’duffers. -Hagrid

Back to me. I’d like to think that I’d be sorted into Gryffindor. I’d like to think that maybe I’m less brave now because I have more self-preservation as part of being a mother, so that would be a possibility at the age of admittance (eleven years old).

But really, I was even quieter and more self-reserved then -unless someone ticked me off.

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So I’m in Ravenclaw. ‘S probably right. And, that result’s better than the time I took the Which Disney character are you most like? at Disneyland and was given Maleficent.

Inspirational Plagiarism: a Dialogue

“I really want to write something.”

“So…”

“I know; I know. ‘So, write something.’ If only it were that easy.”

“It is. You just-”

“Just WRITE something. If it’s so easy, you do it.”

“I have.”

“Oh?”

“Yes.”

….

“What?”

“Where is it?”

“Where is what?”

“Whatever it is that you wrote. Supposedly. I mean, you said that-”

“Oh, that. Yes, well, it’s …thing is…”

“Well?”

“Computer crash last week.”

“Computer crash.”

“Yes. Tragic. I’d just finished up the 53rd chapter, too.”

“Fifty-three chapters?! Now I know you’re making this up.”

“Hmph. You’re just jealous because you can’t think of something to write.”

Neither can you!

“Of course I can. Didn’t you just hear that I wrote fifty-three chapters?”

“Says you.

And J.K. Rowling’s agent. He said they wanted me to send off what I had.”

What?!”

“Unfortunately, that e-mail also was lost in the crash.”

“Obviously….So, what were the fifty-plus chapters about? Hmmm?”

“Oh! Erm.. ah.. it was a fantasy novel.”

“Go on.”

“Well, I can’t give everything away.”

“Sure, sure. Just tell me the synopsis you sent to Rowling’s agent, then.”

“I’m sure you’re not really interes-”

“I am.”

“Well.. it was a sort of ..hmm… a mashup of classic story lines. …You know: a bit of boy-coming-of-age meets a girl-who-discovers-she’s-magic story…”

…..

“It’s true! Julieng –yes– Julieng is nearing adulthood and discovers a dragon egg buried beneath a red wall that …erm… Eil-ent -um- Eilent’s uncle built near her family’s cauldron on a pig farm and they must join forces to stop the ..evil …overlord who came back to life because of a ring.”

“A ring.”

“Uh-huh. And the ring was lost behind a false wall ..erm.. in an upstairs room about a hundred years ago that ..uh… Jules’-

“Julieng?”

“Yes -Juleng.. Julieng’s stepbrother’s half-sister’s cousin made with magic powder that takes them between worlds. …I had a bit about a lion -or maybe a witch. -Hmmm, maybe it was a wardrobe-”

“A wardrobe?”

“Or, maybe it was a vanishing cabinet. I can’t exactly remember because that was back at the start of the book, see, and I was to the part where they …ah found Queen Guinevere with one of the knights..”

That’s it.”

“That’s what? Hey -where ya going?”

“To write.”

“I thought you didn’t have anything to write …”

“I didn’t, but a recent conversation inspired me.”

“Oh?”

“Yep. I just hope the publisher doesn’t think it’s too tame of an idea…”

“Well… you know what Abraham Lincoln said.”

“No, what?”

There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope…

“Smart man, that Lincoln.”

“Yup. Like me.”

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Oh My Flippin’ Heck!

Lately, I’ve been thinking about swearing in literature. I’m concerned about whether the exclusion of cussing in my written words might be seen as inauthentic or inaccurate.

As writers, we need to convince our audience that a scene happens. The characters are real, even if they can conjure a blue flame or fly on a dragon. The character conversations also need to sound humanoid so that readers follow it.

You may be wondering what the big deal is, since I probably talk or listen to talking all the time. Right? Well, the ‘big deal’ is that I am not around a lot of colorful language. A lesser-known fact about the LDS peoples I am part of is that they/we don’t swear. I kid you not.

In overhearing a group of teenagers at McDonald’s the other day, I heard plenty of, “I know right”‘s and “What the heck?”s but nothing stronger.

My children will sometimes pop out a, “Holy crap!” (surely picked up from their father), and said paternal figure sometimes gives me a reprimanding look.

When I type or say, “Gosh dang it!” I really say it. There was even a point in my life at which I could count on one hand the number of times I swore. Then I turned 15….

In my mind, I take the high road. Classic literature and timeless works also do not contain much in the way of low-class utterances (Mark Twain aside), particularly those aimed at the children’s market. The books I enjoy most have little cursing, plus only allusions to sex or violence instead of First-Person Agony.

Do you, the other writers out there, feel swearing is necessary? Can two people have an adult conversation without it?

 

Think about it and let me know. Meanwhile, here is my Week in Review:
Wednesday, November 21: The Truth About the Holidays, my crotchety old lady post, plus a weekly review.
Thursday, November 22: Happy Thanksgiving!
Friday, November 23: Winner of The Second Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest announced. Congratulations, Babbitman.
Saturday, November 24: Beginning of The Third Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest (please enter!).
Also, Everyone Feels This Way?, a ‘poem’ about social anxiety.
Sunday, November 25: Re-blogged the announcement about Susanna Leonard Hill’s children’s holiday story contest.
Monday, November 26: Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-Three,
and Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Price Tag over at my motherhood site.
Tuesday, November 27: Inspirational Quote by Stephen Black. He’s a mean old miser humble, inspired person who is mean mean mean has great thoughts and observations.
Wednesday, November 28: This post. 🙂

The Stages of Being a Writer Reader

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I read a book recently.

Whilst reading, I noticed I was mentally composing questions or reprimands to the author.

Did you really just do that? Why’d you make her go there?

This is a change from the reading mind of my childhood; the time when I completely absorbed into a story, lived in the world, and watched the characters walking about. I’d surface from the last page, blinking at supposed reality, but not really entering it till all memories of Narnia or Yorkshire or The Enchanted Forest dissipated.

And then I’d pick up the sequel.

Looking at both ends of my experience, I’ve realized a path, a journey, a progression in my reading.

At first, in the child years of absorption, I was a toddler at Disneyland. Everything was beautiful, exciting, without flaw, and controlled by adults who handled all the details so all I had to do was have fun.

After that, the pleasure of the thing was ruined by high school English teachers. They insisted on an analysis of why every ride was fun, what the motives of the costumed characters really were, and what else Walt Disney meant by his questionable “It’s a Small World After All.”

In college, I moved on to read about the underprivileged workers at Disneyland. Who was the real ‘power’ behind what powered the rides, how could we feel exactly as he felt, and why must we be part of the hedonistic problem?

Between then and now, of course, is Mom Brain. With limited cranial capacity, I’ve had to read non-fiction to plan the amusement park trip so that every else could have fun. I got to ride a few fun books, but always followed up with the self-help variety once guilt kicked in.

And today we’re also here: a year after dedicating myself more fully to the idea that I can write, that I can create something like Disneyland.

Eventually.

Right?

So I’m mentally yelling at other authors about their design. Typical.

I wonder when I’ll get to the point of recognizing constructions or anticipating smart-sounding elements like ‘rising action.’ Will I ever be invited to Club 33?

I probably need to read some more. Has anyone else noticed a change in how s/he reads? Do you still enjoy reading?

Wilhelmina Winters: Fifty-Five

“Mina, bring the bag,” Rob ordered. Wil scrambled to her feet and took off down the hall. He looked down at Cynthia, who nodded at him as cheerfully as she could manage. She was trying to suppress another round of coughing, fairly successfully. Rob nodded in return, ending the sort of conversation only those who have lived and loved together for so long can have.

Wil returned with Cynthia’s hospital bag. Rob gripped her shoulder in gratitude, and looked into her eyes. They were wide and full of emotion. “I’m going to get my things. Will you please text Jakob?” Unlike Cynthia, Wil always needed more instruction than a nod and a smile. Rob pressed his cell phone into her hand, and flew down the hall faster than Wil ever saw him move.

She stared down at the screen of her father’s phone. The scratched surface dimly reflected her dark outline. “Wil,” Cynthia whispered. Wil’s eyes shifted to her mother’s, though her focus was obviously elsewhere. She blinked, and slowly returned to the living room, the couch, the drawn face before her.

She needed to text her step-brother. They needed to go to the hospital.

Rob returned, just as Wil finished. She looked up at her father, and he sighed at the distraught confusion on his daughter’s face. He itched to run his hand along his jaw, but both were occupied with his things. Instead, his right hand jangled the ring of keys it held.

“Get your things, Mina,” Rob said. He cleared his throat. “Your book, maybe.” He thought to mention the letter, but decided against it. Wil took another hurried trip from the room, and Rob quickly stooped and retrieved the envelope and papers from where Wil had cast them to the floor.

When Wil returned, clutching her paperback novel and father’s phone, she found Cynthia alone. Her mother was still seated, shuffling her feet awkwardly into her shoes. Wil quickly dropped what she was holding and kneeled to help slide her mother’s heels into the simple gray loafers.

The apartment door blew open. The cold dark of winter afternoon framed Rob’s hunched, unkempt frame before he came through and slammed it back closed behind him. He came quickly to the couch.

“Get your things, Mina,” he said again. As Wil sat back out of the way, he reached forward to unhook the IV bag. Holding it upright in one hand, he leaned the opposite shoulder down to his wife to help her stand.

Cynthia laughed -a mistake, as usual. She coughed and coughed, her body’s jerking motions transferring to Rob’s stocky frame. The apartment fell eerily quiet in the small pause after she finished.

She looked up at Rob. She smiled, an expression that widened slightly at his mirrored response. “I was going to say, ‘I don’t need help to stand up,'” she said, nearly laughing again.

Rob nodded, then helped her to fully stand. He still held her bag. He looked back to his daughter, and Wil hurriedly grabbed the discarded book and cell phone. She looked around the floor, wondering at what else she was missing.

“Let’s go,” Rob said determinedly. They headed out of the apartment, into the great empty echoes of the encroaching storm.

 

Continued from Fifty-Four.
Keep reading to Fifty-Six.

Wilhelmina Winters, Fifty-One

Wil’s eyes scanned the page without absorbing any of the words upon it. Her mind was with her ears: anxiously straining to hear movements from her parents’ room. All seemed quiet, but her father was not the noisy type.

She carefully adjusted her position on her bed, attempting to make it look as though she were comfortably reading and had not just landed after a hurried rush down the hall. Being further into the book would help, but she had to read it for English class and didn’t want to skip ahead.

Wil sighed. The few sentences she’d managed to swallow had not given her many hopes for its content so far. She’d expected more from a book with a title about killing. So far, the author had written about two kids in a boring town with a father for a lawyer who didn’t like it. One had a broken arm, but they blamed Andrew Jackson for it?

She heard the door at the end of the hall open. “To heck with that,” Wil whispered, then flipped the book open to the middle and pretended to be absorbed.

Her bedroom door opened to reveal her father, tiredly blinking in the light. Wil looked up and pretended to be startled.

“Dad!” She said. “What are you doing home?”

Rob rubbed his hand on the side of his gruff face, gathering thoughts for words. “I didn’t sleep last night, so I called in sick.”

Wil couldn’t ever remember him doing that, unless he was so sick he couldn’t get out of bed. If he didn’t work, Rob didn’t get paid. She looked at him in surprise.

“I, uh,” Rob began. He was still rubbing his face. He looked unsure about what to say. His eyes looked around Wil’s room, at the book she was holding. Finally, he met his daughter’s gaze.

“Cynthia and I want to talk to you,” he said. His eyes looked at her sadly, then turned to look toward the living room. “I’ll go see if she’s ready to talk.”

Wil sat up and moved to follow him. “No, no,” her father gestured tiredly. “You wait here. Keep reading your book.” He smiled a bit, then left.

Wil heard his slow tread down the hall. He was much quieter without work boots on. She turned the pages back to the beginning, where she’d actually been. Low mumbling (her father’s voice) answered by higher, softer pitches (her mother) was picked up by her left ear. As usual, a coughing fit began.

Subconsciously, Wil tensed up. She tried to tune her surroundings out and tune her reading in. Jem? Dill? Wil thought. Who named these poor kids?

“Wil?” Cynthia called from the living room.

“Coming, Mom!” Wil answered. She closed the book gratefully and rolled off her bed. Straightening her coat, scarf, and hair; she realized she still had her gloves on. Hopefully, her father hadn’t noticed. She slipped them off and put them into her pocket, then headed down the hall.

 

Continued from Fifty.
Keep reading to Fifty-Two.

The Very Worst Missionary

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I haven’t been able to read an actual, physical book since…

Let’s see: how old is my youngest? And, how long was his gestation period? Divide by four, carry the two, add a year… Maybe we’d better go with a very safe date. When did the Berlin Wall fall again?

This uncultured gulf has been due to children, children, and housework. Lately, however, I’m pleased to confess that my free reading time has been spent catching up on the blogs that automatically fill my inbox with 45 daily posts.

Yeah, yeah. I know I need to cut back. I can stop anytime I want. It’s my life; my choice.

What does this rambling have to do with the title of my blog post tonight? It’s called “setting the scene.” For; I found out about a woman’s blog, and accompanying book, whilst reading through the Fractured Faith site. I think.

Point is, I read one post by Jamie Wright about how to edit the swearing in her published book and was laughing audibly (for you, M). Right there, on the spot, I ordered her book from the Amazon. After it arrived, I read it non-stop. You know, between feeding, cleaning, avoiding work, writing, sleeping, conversing, and living.

It took me a few days, but Jamie Wright’s book was FREAKING HILARIOUS.

Allow me, if you will, to quote some of my favorite passages:

“God will not be swallowed like a pill to cure herpes of your soul so you can run in a field of sunflowers with your hot boyfriend.”

 

“When you struggle in your forties with things that wrecked you at fifteen, I don’t think you’re supposed to say so out loud. It makes people uncomfortable.

“Everyone loves an underdog, but we prefer our stories of wrestling and redemption to be told in the past tense: I was depressed. I had anxiety. I felt insecure. I slept around… We’d rather hear from drunks when they’re sober, our depressed when they’re happy, our sick when they’re healed. We want to see wild horses broken and to believe in the hands that tamed them, because most of us hold our own dark places of wrestling with unbridled messes in our souls that sometimes spill over into life, and we desperately need to see that maybe we too can overcome the things that are ruining us.”

 

“The past lies beneath our beliefs like the soil of our soul. It’s the wet clay and dry bones and clumpy dirt, the grit and gravel, the small stones and loose sand, and the petrified turds that the adult formation of our faith must rest upon. Your history is like an inheritance, a patch of land that, though you may not have had much choice in its early cultivation, belongs solely to you.”

As you can read, she’s a conversational storyteller with an attitude; but one who says some deeply profound things in a relatable way.

This was worth the cost of actual purchase, plus more. You should get a copy, too.

Fair warning, however: if you are a prudish sort in terms of language, buy the book and follow her guide for editing. She’s unapologetic about some very common cuss words, but you’ll be able to black out the most egregious.

And, frankly, she makes it very clear that you can take her as she is or, simply, not. I consider myself very prudish over cussing, but found her profanity fit perfectly well with the dialogue of the writing.