3/22/15

Words in its many different forms

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March madness, full of little sleep and a lot of tests. By now calming down because third term just ended, and fourth term is about to begin at exactly 8:30 am tomorrow. Which gives me some time to write about this month’s TCWT prompt:
“What are your thoughts on reading or writing books in non-novel formats? Are there any you’ve particularly enjoyed?”
If you asked me what non-novel formats that I’ve written in my eighteen year lifetime, I will give you a list. And on that list will contain a variety of items like blog posts, personal essays, short stories, six word stories, poetry, a script, a failed web diary for a character of mine, and more. It’s certainly not everything under the word-filled sun, but it’s enough for you to get that I’m a pretty curious writer who’s willing to try almost anything.

Now if you asked me which non-novel format that I enjoy writing the most, the obvious answer would be short stories. Because the characters just come to me, not bothering to go through the questionnaire process. The time length usually doesn’t take days and weeks for me to sift through. And it’s easier to finish writing than most of my novels. Plus, there isn’t much of a structure to it, like villanelles and sonnets, other than the typical beginning, middle, and end.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t like writing in other non-novel formats, like poetry, personal essays, six word stories, and informal essays*. But after writing a lot of poetry in my literary writing class, it’s becoming a bit tedious. While personal essays are mainly for school and looking good for colleges and scholarships, depriving me of the personal part of the essay.  However, I do admit that six word stories are fun yet hard to write, because I’ve never really been a concise writer. And writing informal essays usually takes me hours to complete. But it’s worth it, after trying to find a way to piece all the little puzzle pieces of my mind together in a more or less clear way.

*When I talk about informal essays, I mean essays that address a certain topic that isn’t my life, and uses first and second person pronouns. An example of informal essays would be the monthly critiques of Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens that I have to do for English.

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Now, let’s move onto reading non-novel formats, because that’s the fun part. Especially if it adds some deeper meaning to the book, history lesson, or television show that I’m currently reading, learning, or watching. Which happens a lot (aka all the time) in English class. In eleventh grade, before my teacher made us read any of the assigned novels, he would make us read short stories and poetry that relate to the time period of that novel. For example, when we were about to start modernism, he made us read one of Ernest Hemingway’s short stories, “Hills Like White Elephants”.

This was a particularly frustrating story to read because the characters are intentionally vague about what they’re talking about. Which fits the title of the story, because they’re talking about the white elephant in the room. So it makes you feel like you’re intruding on something private. And it isn’t until a lot of guessing that you later find out that the white elephant is abortion.

And it was clear from the start that they were talking about a white elephant, because the setting continually mentions the hills as being white. Which ties back to the title, “Hills Like White Elephants”. The setting also ties to how modernism uses setting as a symbol, a lot, especially seen in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (the book we read for that unit).

Now in my senior year of high school, my English teacher is making my class read various essays, to help us understand the books that we were reading. And some dealt with nineteenth century attitudes towards race, which made my stomach churn, threatening to make me vomit at what I was reading. However, this helped me better understand Joseph Conrad’s novella, Heart of Darkness. Other essays talked about Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel, Crime and Punishment. And another one was about “The Composition, Publication, and Reception of Our Mutual Friend”, which was by Robert L. Patten.

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(The Boofer Lady is one of the
illustrations found in Our Mutual Friend)
Speaking of Our Mutual Friend, it’s by Charles Dickens. And back in his time, he would publish his books in monthly serials. Which was basically much one literary comic book** put out each month, for so and so months till that whole book was finished. And for Our Mutual Friend, he would publish roughly thirty-two pages each month from May 1864 to November 1865. And each monthly dealt with a variety of subjects from social commentary about the poor to the harmful effects of money. Which Dickens deftly writes about, by using a variety of techniques, like word choice and occasionally going into second person. Easily twisting my emotions and thoughts into this giant tangled web filled with frustration for certain characters and a small hope for others.

**It was more words than illustrations.

Now, I could continue on talking about other kinds of non-novel formats, like how it’s frustrating to read Shakespeare’s plays because of the confusing language. Or how I used to read a lot of graphic novels and manga when I was growing up, particularly Babymouse and Kitchen Princess. Because the pictures were well drawn, food was involved, and it had a good story to it. Or how beautiful some poems are because it’s about the experience, with no special meaning added to it.

But then there would be no ending.  And as L. Frank Baum once said, “Everything has to come to an end, sometime.”

P.S. Don’t forget to check out the other lovely bloggers who are also participating in the blog chain:

22nd – http://from-stacy.blogspot.com/ [You’re currently here]
[They'll announce the topic for next month’s chain.]

And now the weather:
Clint Eastwood by Electronic Swing Orchestra
~ Stacy N.

2 comments:

  1. Wow, this is a pretty complete list! I've only heart of Our Mutual Friend (very recently, in fact, from a review at The Quiet People) and I read Heart of Darkness in my English class, but I'm afraid I didn't like it very much. Beyond blogging, I don't do much of a non-novel format, either. Still, it looks like you're well involved with the many other formats that are out there to explore!

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