Fear in Writing: April 2011

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Roald Dahl's The Witches.  Michael Gruber's The Witch's Boy.  Shakespeare's Macbeth.  The Witches of Eastwick.  Snow White.  Harry Potter.  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.

What do all these pieces of literature have in common?  You guessed it: witches.

It occurred to me last night while reading Dahl's story to my son that there are sooooooooo many witches in literature--something that would seemingly mean similar characters--and yet they are all sooooooooooo different.  Are Shakespeare's evil sisters comparable to the woman who takes in a child and learns to love in The Witch's Boy?  Compare even L. Frank Baum's Wicked Witch of the West to Gregory Maguire's Wicked.  They are meant to be comparative and near opposites--one a misunderstood version of the other.

Magic Circle by John
"Witches" date back to the some of the earliest recorded history, all over the globe.  Witch hunts first appear in the 14th century in Switzerland and France.  And yet, with as much as we know about witchcraft and wicca, the stories depicting witches are as different as the countries in which they practice.

What does this mean?  It means there are endless possibilities.  Think of the blogfests in which you've participated or visited.  With the same subject, each entry is completely different because of its author.  Don't be afraid of tackling a classical subject or taking on an old tale.  You can leave your mark.  And always explore different authors.  You just might learn something and you will definitely read a different point of view.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Great writers, Great homes

I was shocked to find that Arthur Conan Doyle's home, "Undershaw," is in a state of disrepair and set to be converted to multiple residences.  Where are the museums?  The funds to preserve this landmark where works such as The Hound of the Baskervilles became a park of the canon?  This is the home that saw the likes of J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan), Bram Stoker (Dracula), Virginia Woolfe (Mrs. Dalloway), and "famous Sherlock Holmes actor" William Gillette (wiki).  Where are the preservationists?

It turns out, as much as they object, the money just isn't there.  And I have to wonder if the public cares.  Is it just an American thing that every piece of brick touched by famous hands is preserved eternally?  Perhaps it is only normal that homes and other buildings throughout Europe would be renumbered and recycled.  After all, there are hundreds of more years of history and less land on which those generations have lived.

Dickens House
But there are some exceptions--many, as it turns out.  The Dickens Museum is located at 48 Doughty Street, where the Victorian author wrote The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist.  A plaque resides at the 17th century home of diarist Samuel Pepys.  A home at 29 Fitzroy Square shared (at different times) by George Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolfe bears plaques for both writers.  Samuel Johnson's locale and home have been preserved.  Author Thomas Carlyle's home is even furnished in the likes of his style.
Faulkner House

In the US we have no problem marking something "historic" and setting up a foundation.  Edgar Allan Poe has a museum at his homes in Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Yorkand Richmond, Virginia.  You can visit Thomas Wolfe's house across my state in Asheville, North Carolina.  William Faulkner has his home in Mississippi,  Mark Twain in Connecticut, and F. Scott Fitzgerald in Minnesota.

Are these places important?  Do they add to one's experience of the literature?  I think so.  What do you think?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Birthdays are starting points

My baby, Natalie, is 3 today! As you can imagine, we are pretty busy making her happy and basking in the purple and pink glow of her presents.

Three is a whole new world. Three leaves the baby behind and embarks on the reality that is girlhood. Three means no more pacifier and, in Natalie's case, no more nap. Three means change.

Change is a great element to incorporate in your writing. It can be the catalyst for so many great emotional events. Birthdays, retirement, new jobs, graduations...these can all mean many things for your characters. Adding them to your story can create an explanation for emotional reactions and even a setting for cataclysmic events.

Do you include life-changing events in your writing? Do you make this a focal point for your story?

Happy birthday to my "baby," Natalie!

*FYI: I wrote this via Blogger's new 'Blog This! extension' and I really like it. Find out more here.