Thursday, April 20, 2017

Day 1571: Reading and Writing

While it's been nearly 16 years since I was last in Kindergarten, I can still clearly remember some of my first favorite books. One in particular could probably be better described by my mother, but I remember it because it was one of two books I read constantly on a trip to Walt Disney World. The first book, which was called Up, Up and Away, or something similar, was about a rocketship...and that's absolutely all I remember about the plot of the book. Regardless, I remember reading it at dinner at The Garden Grill that trip, showing it to Chip and Dale as they stopped by the table. I also remember the mac & cheese, which, quite honestly, I could go for right about now. 

The second, and the one I remember the most, was called Chick’s Walk and was about a little chick who roamed around meeting new animals. Chick would say hello to each one, from the pigs to the cows to the alligator…wait. Alligator? Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye. (That’s how the book ends…because of course, a chick probably doesn’t want to meet an alligator.

After that, there was only one book amongst the slew of others I read: The Ghost Family Meets Its Match. It was about a family of ghosts who, at the start of the book, live happily in their ghostly retreat. Then, out of the blue, another family moves into the house, and the ghost family devises a plan to haunt the newcomers out of the building. Only it doesn’t work…because the new family is a bunch of werewolves! They lived happily ever (eternally?) after in the house after that. I must have checked out that book at least every other week for a good few years in Elementary school, and I distinctly remember making my parents read it to me until I had it memorized…and then I read it by myself hidden in their closet. Why the closet? I have no idea, but I do know that it’s the one book I’d give anything to have a copy of now that I’m older.

While I wonder if The Ghost Family Meets Its Match is still hidden somewhere in my elementary school library (even though I wore out the binding before I even left), a few other books also come to mind, like all those series I read anywhere between second grade and the end of middle school: Heartland, Warriors, Little House on the Prairie, Harry Potter, The Princess Diaries (but definitely not in that exact order). Each was completely different, but like Chick's Walk and Up, Up, and Away, they all contributed to one important element of my reading and writing: a personal style. 

We all love different books, and we all write different ways, and the way I look at it, the books we read throughout our life make up a unique recipe for our writing style, as we take little bits and pieces from things we've read and apply them to our own style. I mean, I can't say that I'm about to write a story about a chick and an alligator, but I definitely love short funny moments in my writing, and that's exactly something that was in Chick's Walk all those years ago. So reading is important, my friends, especially if you want to be a writer. 

Have a magical day!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Day 1561: Literary Parents

I was supposed to write this blog post for my Creative Writing seminar a week ago, but then life got in the way and it never happened. I did, on the other hand, think pretty deeply about the answer to the question we used as a prompt - Who are your literary parents? - and as I like to say, better late than never! 

Honestly though, I initially had no clue about how to answer the question at hand. While I've been an avid reader and writer my entire life, there isn't anyone in particular that's inspired me to the point where I'd single them out as a "literary parent." Well, I suppose, with the exception of Walt Disney and the writers behind some of our favorite animated films. And if we're citing Walt as a literary parent in regards to fairy tales, we really should be citing the writers of the original stories, and that's where things get deep. 

One could say that I don't know precisely who my literary parents are because it's unlikely anyone knows who they are. If the root of my literary background stems from fairy tales, my literary parents are sort of like those long-lost relatives someone might try and search out on the TV show Who Do You Think You Are? In the fairy tale tradition, many of the stories we know and love are simply transcriptions from oral fairy tales that were passed down through the centuries. Unfortunately, no one apparently found it important to write the names of the storytellers down, or dig up information as to where the tales came from before that, so much of the knowledge has been lost or destroyed. Aka, a tough break for those of us trying to figure out where our literary parents are. 

Of course, some of them are definitive. There are some fairy tales, many fairy tales actually, created by the author that's listed on the front cover, such as Hans Christian Anderson or modern day fairy tale writer Emma Donoghue. Plus, my writing style has certainly been impacted by the show Once Upon A Time, so you could also say that the creators, Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, along with their army of writers, have earned a spot on my list of literary parents as well, but the point still stands. No on in particular jumps out as the literary parent, and here's an additional thought as to why that may be: 

Somewhere out there, there's a quote that talks about how we're influenced by every person we meet, even if it's only a small influence or, perhaps, no apparent influence at all. I'm not entirely sure it would be fair to say that if you'd never interacted or "randomly stood next to each other and didn't even notice each other that one time" that you entire life would change, but fate does seem to work in mysterious ways. Regardless, if you apply this theory to literature, you could say that every author I've ever read is one of my literary parents, because they've all impacted me in some way. Some may have made a major impact, like the authors of fairy tales, and some may play only a minor role, like the authors of the books I read but don't remember reading in middle school, but the important part is that they all, in one way or another, have influenced my writing. 

So who are my literary parents? I'd say everyone, and while that may seem a bit messed up biologically, this isn't a science class, so who cares? 

Have a magical day!