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

Why Do You Write?

I wasn’t certain of what I’d find when I started blogging. I thought to write an initial story; polish it, edit it, re-write parts of it, and timidly make it public. I planned to use snippets, poems, and short fiction pieces I’d already posted on Facebook for most of my posts. I vowed to publish to the blog every day for a year.

When one person liked something I felt surprised.

When another re-blogged my scary story I felt embarrassed but pleased.

When I saw that another writer was following me, I followed back. I read all she wrote and commented on her posts. I did the same for the 10 others who followed my site.

In gaming terms, I was such a noob.

The real question, however, is Why did I even start writing? It’s a favorite to ask authors, besides When did you write your first story? and What’s your secret to successful writing?

I began writing seriously because I was working on a book. After spending nearly two years on WordPress I’ve learned this is not a unique situation nor an unusual reason to be writing on here. I continued writing because I felt it would help my writing overall and give me connections to people. Maybe those people would read my book one day.

Y’know, if I wrote it.

But life happens. In my case, the thick of life is happening. The book hasn’t been revisited for a while, though I felt inspired to open up another blog using my proposed title for its URL: I Didn’t Want to Be a Mother.

Also like many writers, I now feel stuck. I feel overwhelmed. I feel intimidated and lost in a gigantic pool of talent and time, without the will to paddle. I probably shouldn’t have thrown my compass overboard during that one depressive episode last year…

Until I find my North Star, or even a lost kite, tell me: what is your motivation? Why do you write? How do you keep writing?

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I lagged a bit and back-posted, but we’re counting all I wrote over the last week:
Wednesday, April 24: Wrote “Where Did THAT Come From?” after pondering about heredity and genes with mental illness.

Thursday, April 25: “The Cure for Depression: Journal, Meditate, and Pray,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.

Friday, April 26: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Bruce Goodman!

Saturday, April 27: Announced the 23rd Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. Spread the word! Enter! This week we’re doing rap.

Sunday, April 28: Re-blogged Frank Prem‘s fantastic “(what if I hear them) whistle and cry.
And posted “The Author of a Long Night,” to Charli, hostess at Carrot Ranch.

Monday, April 29: “Wilhelmina Winters, Ninety-Two.”

Tuesday, April 30: Inspirational quote by Og Mandine.

Wednesday, May 1: May Day!

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “Steal Your Kisses if You Have To,” “Me Time Just Might Be Wishful Thinking,” and an okay limerick about kids making me late.

Photo Credit:
Thought Catalog

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?

Free: dom, thinker, bird, will, hand, write; AKA How To Get Creativity Flowing

It’s been awhile since I’ve thought to pass on my (very few) gems of writing wisdom.

I’ve been a bit stumped.

So, what better subject that the one I’m sitting under? Let’s explore Some Suggestions for Getting Creativity Flowing.

1. Do all that crap you already know you should.
Do I really have to name them? Okay, okay: go for a walk, read good books, just start writing, be naturally motivated and creative and hard-working, listen to music, and take a short break and come back to it later.

At least go take a bathroom break. You’ll feel better, and avoid nasty infections.

2. Write something.
You may think I listed this as part of Step 1, and you’re right. Good job. I’ve been approaching it a tad differently lately, however, and want to specifically describe that different process.

I often think of it as “word vomiting.”

I’m a very correct, prim, prudish sort who dots my i‘s and punctuates my prose and tries to get the dang span style to look right on WordPress AS I GO ALONG. I’ve realized this anality can impede creative thought.

Nowadays, particularly when I intend to write a poem, I literally “just write.” Or, type. Or, voice-to-text.

No punctuation. No capitals or line breaks or bushy mustaches. I do, admittedly, fix words that were captured incorrectly. I just write the way the words are coming to my mind and I try to think of descriptive passages and words and light glinting from bottomless pools of hazel-green as spanning text scrolls in mirrored right-to-left in infinite white-rimmed ellipses…

I’ve realized that, since I get an odd rise out of correcting grammar, I can please both halves of my conflicting self by freely puking words out, then organizing the mess into something more sensical later.

3. Ask for an assignment.
Back in the days when my “friends” actually responded to my Facebook posts, I asked for writing prompt ideas and received four or five.

Writing prompts are not difficult to come by. Reddit (my favorite garbage heap of the internet) has an entire subreddit for writing prompts.

I give the example of my Facebook query because I was accountable to people I knew for actually coming up with ideas, writing something about a few, and posting a finished product. Someone wanted a story, and was waiting for it.

I’m not personally motivated enough for NaNoWriMo or even GetOutOfBed some days, so the exterior expectation was a good way to go. I may have taken three weeks when I said I’d get them done by the end of one, but I did it.

4. Block out the world.
Now, I never, never, never, sometimes, never encourage extreme measures of numbing, mostly because I’m a teetotaler who considers an entire bag of chocolate candies and an all-nighter to be cutting loose. That, and I have a few mental issues that are exacerbated by really pushing it.

We’re talking about removing all the distractions in healthy ways.

Kids? Pay a babysitter, or fire up the electronic one.
Annoying roommates or houseguests? Go to a café, library, or neighbor with free wifi.
You’re annoying? Read over things you wrote that you thought were great.
Can’t stop distracting? Put the phone, remote, D&D manual, controller, or talkative friend down. Tell yourself you’ll look after five minutes, ten minutes, etc.
Sick? Rest, eat right, sleep, go to the doctor, or take your approved medications.

The BEST way for me to block out and GET WRITING is to put headphones on. We have access to so much music these days. I cycle through my favorites, or suggestions from other bloggers, till something plays that is blocking, beautiful, and yet not distracting in its own way.

Having five steps would really make this entry seem authoritative and mathematically even, but I can sense my creativity is about shot. Even after following my own advice, there are times I am so drained of artistic output that I call the game before someone gets hurt.

That could actually be your Step 5: Give up amicably when it’s just not working out. I DO NOT mean to crumple up your laptop and throw it in the garbage, cry all over your pillow, tell yourself mean things, and NEVER, never return.

Sometimes, there’s a sort of resigned calm one feels at the inevitability of an upcoming event, and an acceptance of its arrival. You may not have felt your Muse, but it’s okay. It’s all right. Go do your other things, especially sleep, and we’ll come back later.