I started and finished George Orwell‘s Animal Farm a couple of weeks ago, through a library loaned audio book, but am just now finding the time to write about it. Have I mentioned the I love the ecollection from the library?
Anyway – Animal Farm. GREAT book! 4 out of 5 stars on my Goodreads. Apparently most of America read this early in life, but it was never required reading during school for me so it took me a little longer to find it. It’s a very quick story which I could see appealing to younger crowds for the simple reason that it focuses on a group of farm animals that revolt and create their own farming community. However, there are so many societal and philosophical questions throughout the book, both subtle and some not so subtle, that I found myself taking notes on my thoughts. It’s the first time I can remember a book, which wasn’t required reading, stirring such a reflective mood.
I’ll use the next few posts to review my overall thoughts, some of which may seem more of a rambling than anything else since I’m not sure I actually found any conclusive feelings to any of the themes I found within the book. Themes such as
For those interested in watching a film version, here is a classic animated version of Animal Farm.
More to come…
I’ve allocated every minute of my reading over the past three weeks to The Wise Man’s Fear. I know its been three weeks because the library only allows you to borrow ebooks for 21 days before they’re returned, and today is the day its leaving my Kindle.
I don’t want to give any final judgment on the book, but as of today I have been very happy with it. Book one, The Name of the Wind, was Outstanding! This one is also very good, adding depth and back-story to many of the characters introduced in the first book while introducing several new, diverse characters. That character development, along with learning more about the rules of ‘magic,’ have easily been the best parts. The time Kvothe spends at the University had me staying up late, falling asleep with my Kindle on my chest.
My only struggle with it has been the question – where is this going? I had thought it would again follow the timeline of the University, with conflict and diversity intertwined. I’m now 600+ pages into it and there really isn’t any main conflict, although many of the small conflicts had me completely absorbed. The book has taken an interesting turn into political intrigue, which I have to admit has been a good twist, but beyond that I don’t know…
Since I’m someone who struggles to commit to a book for more than a couple of weeks, I’m going to add a chapter or two from Close to Shore in between longer stints with The Wise Man’s Fears. We’ll see which I finish first.
I spent the majority of this past week thinking of what I hope to accomplish in 2012, both with my writing and life in general. Some people make one resolution and try to stick with it throughout the year, but I’m more of a list person so I’ve made a list. Yes, I included everything from my list.
So far, I’ve already made changes to Mad Hatter Miscellany which should help me be a more consistent blogger. It had gotten to the point where I was putting in a ton of time researching what I wanted to write about. I wanted it to have a definite focus and eventually found myself with tunnel vision. Going forward, it will continue to have a creative-writing focus, but I will also allow myself to go off on tangents. You may see a post about a great short story followed by comments on investing.
I am about halfway through a new short story that I’ll be submitting to publishers as soon as all my revisions are done. Wish me luck!
Lastly, thank you to anyone and everyone out there who take the time to support the writing community. Most writers hold day jobs and hone their craft in their spare time, so taking the time to comment on a post or leave feedback in Amazon on one of their short stories or novels goes a long way.
Happy New Year and here’s to a great 2012!
It seems as though everyone I know has been sick recently and I woke up a little under the weather myself. Sinus headaches are the worst, especially when you wake up with one. Here’s a poem from Thomas Hardy dedicated to all those who have struggled with something similar.
A Wasted Illness
Through vaults of pain,
Enribbed and wrought with groins of ghastliness,
I passed, and garish spectres moved my brain
To dire distress.
And quakes, and shoots, and stifling hotness, blent
With webby waxing things and waning things
As on I went.
“Where lies the end
To this foul way?” I asked with weakening breath.
Thereon ahead I saw a door extend –
The door to death.
It loomed more clear:
“At last!” I cried. “The all-delivering door!”
And then, I knew not how, it grew less near
And back slid I
Along the galleries by which I came,
And tediously the day returned, and sky,
And life–the same.
And all was well:
Old circumstance resumed its former show,
And on my head the dews of comfort fell
As ere my woe.
I roam anew,
Scarce conscious of my late distress … And yet
Those backward steps through pain I cannot view
For that dire train
Of waxing shapes and waning, passed before,
And those grim aisles, must be traversed again
To reach that door.
Tonight, I’m a bit tired and because of this I’ve decided to let Walt Whitman take over Day 3. Plus, just look at him… Wisdom flows from the tips of his crazy eyebrows.
“This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body… . The poet shall not spend his time in unneeded work.” Walt Whitman
In one of his most noteable lines from the preface to Leaves of Grass, Whitman throws out a challenge to break the mold. Create your own path and embrace the differences in the world, especially those who may not fit into what society considers the norm. Don’t settle for the answers you’re given, challenge yourself to find out more. The more you understand life, understand yourself, the more beautiful life will be.
~ The Hatter
Today we’ll touch on friendship. Amid all the great quotes out there, I believe this one speaks to exactly what I wanted to express.
“Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch’d, unfledg’d comrade.”
– William Shakespeare
Without going into unneeded amounts of discourse, this quote is for my friends. If you’re able to keep the friends you grow up with, that you experience life with, give everything you have to doing so. The bond that you build is not easily broken. These are the friends that you may not talk to for months, or perhaps years, but when you do finally get together you start off like you didn’t miss a step.
New friendships are important as well, as life situations change, but I wanted the focus of this to be on ones from early in life. Do not lose sight of those friendships you already have.
To my friends… Cheers!
~ The Hatter
While perusing the Writers Digest website, I came across their poetry blog, Poetic Asides by Robert Lee Brewer. The blog regularly has guest posts with great advice and information, and Brewer does a decent job of leading writers with weekly writing prompts. You’ll see your typical amount of Writers Digest product placement for their magazines or books, but not in a way that distracts from the real intent of the blog.
The main reason I’m sharing this is Brewer’s March 1st post. Poetic Asides holds a Poem-a-Day (PAD) Challenge in April that is open to anyone. The guidelines can be found here but in short, here are some details:
While I have no illusions of making the top 50, submitting 5 new poems by May 5th based on the prompts should be do-able. I will do my best to remember to post my submissions on here as well to get your feedback.
Let me know if anyone else out there will be taking part in the contest. I’m interested in seeing how much interest this contest creates and would love to read other writers’ submissions.
Cheers and Happy Writing!
~ The Hatter
I’m always on the lookout for new authors with interesting backgrounds. Today I found the website of Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1)
His website has a self-written bio plus a blog and interview, all of which are fairly humorous reads.
I honestly spent over half an hour reading every page, comment, and blog entry on his website. Although I haven’t read his book, yet, I found that I really like his style. Not only does Patrick’s photo remind me of Zach Galifianakis of The Hangover fame, but his bio makes him seem like a guy that everyone has known at one point or another – that directionless college partier, with the tossled hair and rumpled shirt that he may have had on for a few days straight. A career student in his early days, he spent nine years before he was forced to graduate by his University.
Unfortunately his book tour doesn’t bring him very close to home but either way I’ll be reading his work in the near future. I’ve added his website to my blog roll but you can also access it by clicking Here.
~ The Hatter
Today, while I was researching the life of Thomas Jefferson with a particular focus on his poetic appreciation I came across notes on his Literary Commonplace Book. Wow… how did I not know about this phenomenon?
Apparently, sometime during the Renaissance it became popular to collect favorite verses, thoughts, prayers, or even recipes in what amounted to be a scrapbook. Eventually, the well-educated were urged to do so during their college years. Thomas Jefferson began his at age fifteen and continued adding to it until age thirty. Other famous authors such as Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Mark Twain kept various types of commonplace books. They could range from basically a journal of scribbled notes and ideas, like Twain’s, to a more familiar scrapbook of pasted newspaper articles, like Thomas Jefferson’s.
I’ve never been one to make use of a journal, even though I do think they are a great creative writing resource, but I can honestly say that seeing how the commonplace books were used throughout history has really inspired me. I’d love to hear if others are using commonplace books and how you got started.
Also, if you’re interested you can read my full article, Thomas Jefferson – President and Poet, by clicking Here.
It’s amazing how much a broken ankle is a perspective changing event. Suddenly, I can’t go outside by myself for fear of slipping on the ice. All the small things are now so much more time-consuming and difficult. I now understand why elderly people will fight tooth and nail to keep their right to drive. Mobility means so much in this world.
Since I have so much free time and the lack of mobility to do much with it, today I’m going to bring back a past-time from my creative-writing days. People-watching. Not in the sense of making fun of people but in a more constructive way.
Here’s the process. Go to a comfortable place with a fair amount of public present – i.e. a coffee shop, mall, etc. You’ll need a notepad and a pen or a laptop. Coffee shops are generally my favorite because the clientele tend to stay longer than what you might get in other public places. Find somewhere comfortable to sit and then just look around.
Take in your surroundings. Make notes on the background sounds, smells, overall atmosphere. Then take a look at some of the people around you. Find someone who catches you as interesting. This will be your character. They could be very similar to you or you could be complete opposites. You’ll find that the type of person you focus on will change every time you do this.
Once you’ve found your character, you have two main options on how to write. You can try to put yourself in their shoes, making their story as realistic as possible for this person. Or you can just write, using the real person as a starting point but not worrying where their story takes you. Now write. Write their background, their life, why they’re in the coffee shop, anything that helps explain who they are. Spend at least 15 minutes continuously writing, with no pauses. Don’t stop short though, if 15 minutes isn’t enough just keep going.
Once you’re done, relax and give your character a name. Then put your pages away and don’t look at them for at least a day. This will give you some separation before you do any revising.
If any of you should happen to do this, let me know how it goes. I’ve always been a huge fan of people watching and really enjoy taking it this extra step.