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Reading Challenge 21: A Book with a Great First Line

So there are plenty of books out there that people classify as having a great first line. But I looked over a few lists and one of those reads was a book on my list that I figured I should probably try out as an English major. And that was The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.

Though most people probably think of A Tale of Two Cities for famous lines, or just something that’s become iconic as a whole. But I couldn’t help but love the simple yet compelling nature of Plath’s first line.

“It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they executed the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York. “

Again, not overly descriptive or overwhelming, but still enough to possibly inspire curiosity. And I liked that from the start.

The book covers Esther Greenwood’s descent into madness. Between the stress of work and school and her problems with her boyfriend and her mother, Esther has a complicated and messy life at times. As she begins to breakdown the reader comes along with her on her journey.

That’s about the best I can do to summarize. It’s not a really complex plot. So with that in mind I’ll leave it there.

I picked up the book out of duty. I’d seen it on a bunch of lists of books that should be read over your lifetime. I’d also heard it called an American classic and all kinds of other things. And I’d read some of Plath’s poems for my literature classes and knew she was a renowned writer. I also will admit I figured if Kat Stratford is reading it in 10 Things I Hate About You that has to be a good sign, right?

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But when I started reading I was immediately surprised by something. With a lot of books I’ve read out of a feeling of obligation, I was thoroughly bored in the beginning. Sometimes my interest would pick up halfway through when the book became more interesting. But most often, I felt like I would never make it to anything better. But with The Bell Jar I was immediately hooked.

The first line drew me in and the simple (and yet simultaneously poetic) prose and unique story really made me want to continue reading. I found the narrator Esther sympathetic and liked her naivety. One of my professors always said an unreliable narrator is like the author and the reader playing catch over the narrators head. And I felt like I had some of that going on during the book, which was fun. I also just really enjoyed Plath’s clear wit. She made me chuckle in places, even if the story did become somber.

I saw someone review it on goodreads with a single star saying it was too depressing. Personally I feel like I’ve read books that were far sadder than this, and I though I felt terrible for Esther and the other characters, I never felt overwhelmed with sorrow over what was happening. Perhaps that’s just my own take though. I think the messages about women and their rights are still relevant today. The treatment Esther goes through is quite outdated, but it’s still interesting to see the struggles of someone who is mentally ill put onto a page, and I greatly admire Plath for being willing to share some of her own experiences. There is a good amount of racism that is somewhat concerning to a modern reader, but I think given the time period it’s at least more understandable.

Overall I’m giving this book full stars. The story is interesting and the writing is my ideal (I already know some of my followers have different opinions on what good writing is, but this is mine). I highly recommend at least trying this book.

What are some of your favorite first lines? What do you think makes a great first line?

Here is a book challenge I did not make. Click it to find the original source.

Here is a book challenge I did not make. Click it to find the original source.

Past Entries:

1. A Book You Own But Haven’t Read

2. A Book that was Made into a Movie

3. A Book You Pick Soley for the Cover

4. A Book Your Friend Loves

5. A Book Published this Year

7. A Book by an Author You Love

9. A Book with a Color in the Title

15. A Book of Poems

17. A Book that Will Make You Smarter

22. A Book with Pictures

24. A Book You Loved…Read it Again!

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Reading Challenge 7: A Book by an Author You Love

Everyone has their favorite authors. Or at least, most people do.

In the past, I remember hesitating when people ask me who mine is. In class a professor would go around the room and ask and I’d find myself frantically searching for someone in my mind. Most often I just settled with Rowling. I got a scathing look or two, but to be honest I didn’t know what else to say. Truth be told, I feel like in order to name someone as your favorite author you need to have read more than one book by that person. And I skip around enough that I don’t usually return to the same person twice, not since I was a kid at least.

However, after this past year I have an answer. Still not what I’d love to give sitting in an English class, but I nonetheless have fallen head over heels for Rainbow Rowell’s writing.

Anyone following my blog probably already has heard me rave about Fangirl, and maybe Eleanor and Park as well. Now, as an English major I cannot sit here and say “oh she’s the most fantastic writer on the face of the planet, and her prose are just fantastic!” because it wouldn’t be the least bit true. But I can say I love her stories, and that her characters never fail to connect with me, and that I have always enjoyed popping open one of her easy to read books after a long period of boring or challenging classics.

So, it came as no surprise that when Rowell announced she was writing a companion book to Fangirl, I definitely had a bit of a well…fangirl moment.

In Fangirl Rowell creates a fictional fantasy series. I know that sounds redundant but it is. If you try to find Simon Snow and the Mage’s Heir on Goodreads or at your library it won’t be there. Nor will any Google searches of Gemma T. Leslie get you anywhere. Essentially instead of picking an actual fandom, Rowell created her own…or perhaps better stated she parodied one of the most famous. In Carry On, Rowell explores the fictional fictional world she created by telling her own version of Simon Snow’s story.

Simon has been having a rough year. He just returned to Watford School of Magicks after a long summer. He’s still trying to figure out how to deal with the Insidious Humdrum, a strange being who is stealing magic from his world and happens to look just like his eleven year old self. To make matters worse, he and his girlfriend have just broken things off, and his nemesis and roommate Baz is missing. Simon is thoroughly convinced Baz is just trying to mess with him, but with questions about the Humdrum weighing on him and plenty of classes, he doesn’t have much time to think about it. That is until a ghostly visitor appears with a quest that will alter his final year at Watford.

While I initially started this book thinking “ooh a sort of take off on Harry Potter how delightful!” I quickly found that this story is really its own. Sure, a reference to the Normals or to Ebb the goatherd who’s never left Watford since graduating or to Simon’s status as Chosen One due to a prophecy might cause a few chuckles. But the story quickly diverges into its own set of adventures and questions.

I would again by no means classify Carry On as complex, but it’s enjoyable. I loved the variety of characters and thought it was particularly inspiring how Rowell creates magic based entirely on the words you choose. As a writer I cannot help but love the thought that words have power and that we give them power by how we use them. Words are a kind of magic whether we’re mages like Simon or simply Normal, there’s no denying that what comes on a page or out of our mouths can change the world.

I’d definitely advise Fangirl lovers to pick this one up if you liked the excerpts of Leslie and Cath’s writing. It was a bit different from Rowell’s other stories, though as I think most of the summaries say it’s every bit as romantic and heartwarming.

Who is your favorite author or at least an author you love? Have you ever felt embarrassed about your taste in reading? Do you think words have power? There’s a few to start with but feel free to add your own questions or comments.

Here is a book challenge I did not make. Click it to find the original source.

Here is a book challenge I did not make. Click it to find the original source.

Past Entries:

1. A Book You Own But Haven’t Read

2. A Book that was Made into a Movie

3. A Book You Pick Soley for the Cover

4. A Book Your Friend Loves

5. A Book Published this Year

9. A Book with a Color in the Title

15. A Book of Poems

17. A Book that Will Make You Smarter

22. A Book with Pictures

24. A Book You Loved…Read it Again!

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Emily Starts a Second Draft

I’m normally a great hater of editing. It’s my least favorite part of the writing process. And though I’m sure many writers will comment in agreement, I have actually met people who have said that editing is their favorite part. So, just in case, I’m clarifying that I detest it.

I’ve finished writing five novels. But in the past every time I’ve finished one I’ve pushed it to the side in favor of starting another writing project. But I’ve begun to realize how ridiculously harmful this is to my writing process, and I’ve started to understand how much I need to start trying harder if I want to ever achieve actual publication.

So what prompted this seemingly random decision? Well, there were a few different factors.

One: I took a fiction writing class and actually learned something about writing. And now I want to employ what I know and use it to make my past works better. It also forced me to actually try editing. And though I didn’t like it, I recognized the benefit on the final polished product.

Two: Three out of those five books I’ve finished were partially written in high school and are outdated in terms of my beliefs and my feelings about life, beyond just having some serious writing flaws. They contain a naiver and more confused version of myself that I no longer really like. They’re also pretty badly organized over all.

Three: Several people (I really should just say my mother here because it’s closer to the truth) have been bothering me about when I will get a book published or if I’ve even tried. And I don’t feel comfortable sending any works out without having done some serious reworking. So if I ever want to get people off my back on that, I’ll need to actually make an effort.

Four: Sad to say the person I’d cowritten four of those books with has long since moved past these novels into works that are more “mature”. And I’d have to agree with her that many of these are somewhat naive, but I think they’ve always held a lot more significance to me than to her. And…on top of that… we had a kind of messy falling out last winter which we never did anything to resolve…But even if we somehow managed to work around that, I have no reason to believe she’d ever want these stories to actually go anywhere, so I feel only minimal guilt in trying to rework these. It just saddens me to see the works that I spent so much time on having to go into a trashcan because of everything. And that’s why I’m going to rewrite this book.

I think I’m only going to have the energy to do one novel, because many of the others are more heavily influenced and would be harder to rework, and also because with the plot changes I’m making the other books likely wouldn’t be able to continue. But I want to work to make this one its own, to be a part of my healing process. And to be honest this was a huge part of my decision to finally bring back these old books of mine. To start processing everything that happened. A means of wiping a messy slate clean.  Of recognizing my works, my experiences, my old writing and remaking it. Its a way I can recognize my past rather than running from it. And it’s about reclaiming what is mine. And reclaiming has become a huge part of the book actually.

The story The Tale of the Rose (you can see the plot on my What’s in my Cup page) revolves around the duchess Katherine who becomes a pirate and struggles between living the life she loves, and living the life that is right for her people. It’s written at the end of her life looking back on all she has accomplished and her many adventures. Her stories, and those of her best friend, the famous adventurer and magician Night Hawk, have become the source of many ballads and legends and children’s bedtime stories. Her story is in fact quite the fairy tale-like in its plot with wicked stepmothers and mysterious pining princes and dark curses. But many of those accounts are actually wrong…

The new draft of the book revolves around retelling these dramatized and beautified stories. It involves reclaiming one’s own story and explaining life in its full messiness. It’s about moving past the childish innocence of bedtime stories into the real world of pain and heartbreak and suffering. And though I’m uncertain exactly how I’m going to employ this whole thing, I know I’d love to put these pieces together into my novel. At the moment I’m thinking I’ll include snippets of ballads and stories of Red Kate and Night Hawk in between the actual chapters. But I’m still working to make sure that will be effective to the book as a whole.

This is where I am now in my life. I’m moving into adulthood. I’m beginning to realize life is harder than I might have thought when I was young. My life isn’t following that little set formula of happily ever after I’d always expected. And it’s becoming time for me to reclaim my story for what it is. For its realness. For its messiness. For the fact that I am my own amazing self, with or without someone else to share that life with. My first version said something along the lines of “romance fulfills you and makes you the best you can be” my new version says “you are who you are, and no romance will ever fully complete you and until you understand your real self you can never expect someone else to.” And I think that’s incredibly important.

So what all am I going to be doing:

  1. Going through and reworking plot. Figuring out a basic sense of where the story is really going. Trying to reinstate a sense of what the book is about in general.
  2. Reworking some key characters so they fit my story better. Night Hawk in particular has been given a huge makeover, and I’m excited to see her come to a full fresh start.
  3. Outlining outlining outlining. I’m going to make a full working outline including all the things I’ve written and what I’m going to get rid of, rewrite, replace, or edit.
  4. Making a list of all sections/characters/plot points/countries/whatever else was contributed by my ex-cowriter and ensuring that these elements are removed so that the story can fully be my own.
  5. Starting to go through and doing those steps I’d listed earlier of deleting, rewriting, replacing, or editing sections.
  6. Whatever the heck else needs to be done. From here on out it’s a bit of a mystery. But I suppose if I ever do finish it will be sending manuscripts off next.

Well, I have three work in progress pieces right now that a few friends are reading. And they’d probably kill me if I stopped writing midway through. So this project might be slow in the works. But it’s still exciting for me that I can finally say I’ve started a second draft. There’s officially a “draft two” document saved on my computer. And I couldn’t be more thrilled.

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Book Challenge 5. A Book Published This Year

So you might be wondering why I went from one to five on the book challenge, but I had my book picked for this challenge come in to the library a bit earlier than I had expected, and was worried it might have to be returned sooner since it’s a little bit newer book. So I decided I’d just start skipping a bit and do some of the books out of order. Besides, the challenge said you could do that!

Anyhow, so my pick for a book published this year was The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. It had decent ratings and looked interesting to me in terms of plot.

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The story is about two sisters who live in Carriveau France during World War II. Vianne the older and more responsible one ends up having to allow a German soldier to billet at her house while her husband is taken as a prisoner of war. She struggles to support herself and her daughter as she deals with having the enemy at such close proximity. Isabelle has always been a rebel, and she decides to join in the fight with the French Resistance. The book alternates between their two stories as they struggle to figure out how to survive and fight in Nazi occupied France.

The story was riveting. I was drawn in quite early on and quickly became captivated by the suspense surrounding both women’s lives. I loved that the book held not one but two strong female protagonists, both very different, but at the same time both brave in their own ways. My sympathy was more with Vianne as I found her more similar to myself in terms of her cautious personality, but Isabelle was such an impressive character that I couldn’t help but love her as well.

My one complaint was that the writing seemed a bit lacking in a few sections. The biggest problem I noticed were sections where the writer tried to make metaphors that I just didn’t think really worked. But besides that, I thought the story was excellently crafted. Too often the stories of World War II focus on the soldiers or the concentration camps, but it was interesting to consider the lives of those left behind in the fighting, of the women and children left behind who witnessed the rounding up of the Jews in France and dealt with foreign soldiers invading their daily lives.

Anyhow, I strongly recommend this book. It had me in tears at the end, but at the same time not traumatized like some war stories. It caused some sorrow thinking of all those lost in the horrible destruction of war and genocide, but it also gave me a level of hope in knowing that even when there is evil in the world there is good that will rise up against it. A bit cheesy, I know, but I think hope is always important.

Well, on to my next books! I know at this point I’ll need to read more than one a week if I want to finish on time!

Here is a book challenge I did not make. Click it to find the original source.

Here is a book challenge I did not make. Click it to find the original source.

Other book challenge posts:

1. A Book I Own But Haven’t Read

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21 Favorite Young Adult Books

This is a continuation of the series I’d posted earlier talking about my favorite children’s books. Again, I’ll reiterate some of these books I haven’t read in a long time, but my impressions of them have stuck around, hence why they’re on the list. Hopefully in a bit I’ll have my favorite adult books out too. Also, some obviously are torn between the children’s genre too, it just depends on classification (same with my children’s post). Regardless, here are a few books I liked in the young adult genre in no particular order.

Inkheart  Inkheart by Cornelia Funke– I definitely read these as a kid, but they are perhaps a bit dark for the kids genre. I loved the plot, especially as a writer imagining the possibility of characters coming to life. Great characters, funky magic, and wonderful literary references.

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater–  More recent reads that I really enjoyed. I found these more original considering many of the teen fiction books often follow very similar plots.

Mister Monday (The Keys to the Kingdom, #1)The Keys to the Kingdom by Garth NixThese are very dark, but I think that’s part of what drew me to them. Definitely a little funky but interesting, and I really liked the hero Arthur for some odd reason, very compelling I suppose. Plus Suzy Turquoise Blue was an awesome sidekick.

The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern, #1)The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale– It’s funny how so many of these are series, however, this first book remains my favorite. I love twisted fairy tales, especially slightly lesser known ones like Goose Girl. Ani is a fantastic heroine and her powers are so different and yet wonderful!

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan– I loved the sarcastic dry humor in Percy’s tone, the modern take on Greek mythology. Of the more “popular” teen fiction series, this is definitely one of my favorites just because I felt it displayed some of the greatest level of creativity.

No Shame, No Fear (No Shame, No Fear #1)The Quaker Trilogy by Anne TurnbullThese books were perfect due to my love of historical fiction, romance, and stories on faith. I loved the forbidden love aspect between Susanna and Will, though this of course felt more real than the usual romantic drivel. Again, my memories are a bit blurry, but as a young teen I know I at least liked the first two books. As I now attend a Quaker college, I’m a bit terrified someone will think my love of these a bit shaming, but I’m not going to allow myself any as I was an impressionable teen at the time.

The Squire's Tale (The Squire's Tales, #1)The Squire’s Tales by Gerald MorrisI love Arthurian legend, and nothing is better than having classic stories retold from new points of view. The first books begin with the ever lovable Terrence, squire to Sir Gawain and then proceed to cover several other stories from Parsifal’s page, to the brother of Sir Tristan, to a brave and savvy damsel who doesn’t need a knight. They never failed to make me laugh, but they also excited in me a sense of adventure and a continued love for Camelot.

FangirlFangirl by Rainbow Rowell– My friends might kill me if I don’t add this, since they believe it’s based on my life. I agree I found many points of Cath’s life to be very relatable, and even cried once or twice. A funny coming of age story that every “fangirl” should read.

BeastlyBeastly by Alex Flinn– Again with the fractured fairy tales. An adorable love story, a clever modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and a fun and easy read. I liked the use of the modern chat-room start to this novel incorporating other fairy tales in as well. It’s one I’ve read twice, because I enjoyed it so much.

Stormbreaker (Alex Rider, #1)Alex Rider by Anthony Horrowitz– I was obsessed with these for much of my teen years. I liked the spy stories containing the reluctant yet amazing Alex. These were fast paced and entertaining, though (slight spoiler) I HATED how they ended.

Zach's Lie (Zach's Lie, #1)Zach’s Lie by Roland Smith- I remember I loved the suspense of these books! I think they’re probably one of those that bridge the children’s and young adult area, not really sure where to put it. However, these interesting fast paced books kept me reading til the end.

Gideon the Cutpurse (The Gideon Trilogy, #1)The Gideon Trilogy by Linda Buckley-Archer– Time travel novels can be fun if they’re well done. I liked these ones quite a bit since they entered into 18th century England (one of the times and places that most interested me). Thievery and adventure and two times clashing, I thought these were a fun collection of stories. The adventure in these was entertaining, though like with many fiction series, I remember being somewhat disappointed by the end.

Storm CatchersStorm Catchers by Tim Bowler This book is one of those really random one that I believe I remember most of the main details. Since it seems to be so memorable (I think I may have read it more than once), I had to include it here. Great story of mystery and suspense with a touch of surreal (ghosts and divining). It definitely kept me guessing all the way through.

Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies, #1)Warm Bodies by Isaac Morrison– I know what you’re thinking, isn’t there a movie? Yes, but it’s very different from its inspiring novel. This book is dark and odd. I liked the writing and only read it a few years ago, so it’s fresher in my mind. The movie is hilarious, but if you’re looking for a darker zombie story, look here.

Stargirl (Stargirl, #1)Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli– I had a book club on this novel once, and I remember we raised some valid points about this book’s value. It has good messages on identity, peer pressure, fitting in, and plenty of others as well. Stargirl herself is a very interesting character.

Nobody's Princess (Nobody's Princess, #1)Nobody’s Princess by Esther M. Friesner– So in case it isn’t obvious, I like stories with princesses, I like stories about Greek myths, and I like stories about women who are empowered (especially princesses)- and this one on Helen of Troy is fantastic. Definitely takes the “face that launched a thousand ships” and gives her a brand new definition. Such a great read for any fellow myth lovers, especially ones that love tough female role models.

Just One WishJust One Wish by Janette Rallison– This one is cheesy, but bear with me. I loved the cute and quirky romance in this, but also the bravery of the main character in fighting for her little brother who is suffering from cancer. Rallison has some very fun and cute romance novels, but I liked this one for the values beyond just the teen love aspect. Sad and yet heartwarming, it may be cheesy but I loved it as a girl.

Enter Three WitchesEnter Three Witches by Caroline B. Cooney– Have I mentioned my love of Shakespeare? This fun play on Macbeth takes the story from the point of view of more minor characters such as Fleance, or the author’s creation of Mary (the Macbeth’s ward). The story gave a new perspective to this theater piece, but still maintained some of its classic darkness.

Princess BenPrincess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock– Another empowered princess story. Benevolence may sound like a frilly princess, but she faces some tough challenges and overcomes them quite well. The story was quirky and fun, but also continues to promote female empowerment through the use of some classic fairy tale themes being played with.

How the Hangman Lost His HeartHow the Hangman Lost his Heart by K. M. Grant– This book was ridiculously funny. Again, old London is one of my favorite settings for stories, but this one is different than any I’ve read before. A cute and funny love story with some good action and adventure to go along. I mean what could go wrong with a main character named Dan Skinslicer?

Brief CandleBrief Candle by Kate Pennington– My first introduction to Emily Bronte. I found it funny to read Wuthering Heights this year having read this book as a young person. An intriguing adventure to be sure, and it had a fantastic twist at the end if I remember correctly. Regardless, interesting historical fiction read.

What young adult books do you love? Any good recommendations for me? I’m always looking for more as these are something I still read in my spare time.

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In Dedication to the Love of my Life

Oh calm down all those who know that I’m single and are suddenly severely worried you’ve missed something. No need for panicking. This love has been around for quite some time, and I’m not quite sure why I haven’t chosen to write about him before….or well not in great depth. Sure I’ve had a post or two where I’ve throw in his name, but it’s time he earned his own post. I’m talking about none other than my wonderful amazing and utterly lovable William Shakespeare.

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10 Things I Hate About You fits a little too well in this respect

I have a literature professor who often refers to Emily Dickinson as solely Emily because he adores her work so much, so don’t take it as too much of an offense if I do the same for my darling Will.

Will and I were first formally introduced when I was in second grade. I had no idea how much I’d come to adore him, although I remember being interested at the time by the comical spectacle of Much Ado About Nothing. We met again in fifth grade when my school gifted and talented section put on Midsummer Night’s Dream.

But nothing could prepare me for the lifelong romance that would ensue after my first encounter with an actual text.

At fourteen I was able to travel to London for the second time in my short life. I remembered before liking it, but it was December and something about Christmas magic in the air made it all the more enchanting. And after visiting the Tower of London, some interest caught hold of me and refused to let go. And between the beauty and the history and the enchantment I found myself surrounded in, I became determined to learn more of the mysterious stories which governed this mystical land. Thus, I began reading on Richard III.

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Now, besides Sir Thomas More, the most well-known account of what happened to this enigmatic king falls into the hands of my brilliant Will himself. With my obsession in mind and free-time on my hands during Christmas break, I decided to pursue the play itself to discover more. And though William makes a poor historian, he’s a genius playwright.

Many might scoff at the thought of a fourteen year old choosing to read a history play as her first Shakespeare, on her break no less. But the moment I began I knew I couldn’t stop. “Now is the winter of our discontent–” the words drew me in, created images of monstrous kings, and murderers, and innocent princes, and ghosts, and battles, and the little traditionally romantic (literary term, not in the general sense…trust me, it’s not a super romantic play), found herself engulfed in something she had trouble understanding, but nonetheless enjoyed.

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Richard III was my first. And it remains a long standing favorite in the way I believe many first encounters do. It has something nostalgic about it, a little hint of the future years of joy and tears and marvel to come. I checked out movie versions, watched them multiple times, even with commentary on a few times. It wasn’t altogether surprising I wrote my senior high school thesis on the play, exploring the propaganda affects it had on historical readers and the assumptions it still causes today.

Shakespeare plays started becoming my main Christmas gift. Our festival in my local hometown does two a year during the summer, and my parents consistently would promise we could go. I began watching as many different productions as I could, and soon had set one of my first bucket-list goals of seeing all of the Shakespeare plays on a stage before my death. Thus far, I believe I’m about a quarter of the way through. And each summer I’d sit beneath the stars and greedily watch yet another of my beloved Will’s plays, and dream, and imagine the way any young person in love will.

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College welcomed me to a class featuring my idol, devouring more than ten plays in the course of a semester, watching our theater company put on the witty and adored Twelfth Night. And I continued to realize that I had thoroughly and completely besworn myself to my Will, that each day he offered further enchantment, more and more material to adore and swoon over.

My final paper played an imitation game with his style, attempted to mimic the well loved hyperboles and phrases, earned a lovely comment from my professor on my talents at sounding Elizabethan. But that was no surprise considering how much I spent time with my Will, that my words might begin to sound a bit like his.

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I was sorrowful as I ended the course, even more so on realizing I had to return my now much revered textbook to the renter. But to be sure my romance does not end even as this small part of life has. That is the joy of loving a man on a page, that he never leaves you, that the love is undying. Isn’t that indeed what he writes in his most famous sonnet 18:

But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

And so as his sonnet lives, the love of this great man lives on with it, bits of affection and kindness and genius all tucked within the lines for me to discover each and every time I delve into the sonnets or the plays or any bit of this man’s beautiful work.

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But in all seriousness I will say this, I admire greatly the genius of Shakespeare. Though I hope I don’t come off quite as obsessed as I may have jokingly suggested above, he is probably one of the greatest founders of my writing inspiration. My last finished book picked little bits of sonnet, and suggestions of King Lear, and a touch of thought on justice from Merchant of Venice, and my latest gathers a sense of destiny and fate from Macbeth. And though I may not really love the man romantically (yes let out that sigh of relief any who thought they had a crazy woman on their hands), I do love what he does on a page and hope desperately I can emulate the same laughter, tears, and thought from my own works. It’s good to have mentors in works…maybe even to an extent of feeling some sense of love.

Who do you greatly admire? Any obsession confessions anyone feels led to give? What were some early works that inspired you in writing, in life, etc? For any fellow lovers of the bard, do you have a favorite play or sonnet?

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One Hundred Down- Hundreds to Go

This, as you may, or may not believe it, is my hundredth blog post. Miraculous right? It just makes me think back to little sophomore me starting this out as a school assignment all those years ago (alright two, but seriously who’s counting?)

I suppose in this post I just wanted to reflect some on the never-ending nature of being a writer. It’s a fantastic life. But it’s tiring sometimes. Because it reminds me a lot of having a yard infested with mushrooms…or dandelions…the moment I get one part of the job done, ten more things pop up. As a nanny it seems even more like the joy of parenthood, cleaning and then having ten more things get dirty in the next hour.

Life is like that in some ways, circular in nature. But that doesn’t make it any less exhausting.

The day I finished my first novel I was overjoyed. There was such a level of excitement, unparalleled by most of my other achievements. I was unable to stop scanning through the pages, pausing and reading favorite parts a second or third time However, I soon realized it wasn’t even close to over.

After writing comes even harder processes like editing, revising, query letters, rejection letters, and finally maybe if you’re lucky…the beautiful nature of publication.

Three years down the road and I’m still not published. I still haven’t even begun typing up letters or working back through old pieces with much energy. I have four more completed works to add to my collection, but not one shred of evidence that I’ve truly accomplished anything, at least in the traditional writer sense.

I suppose the one thing that has given me comfort recently was reading about Jane Austen.

I’m not really a lover of Jane overall. She writes beautifully, yes, but I find myself often bored reading through monotonous dinners and lengthy dances. And while I recognize Austen’s irony and wit, I fail to get the same joy many young women do over the most esteemed Mr. Darcy. However, my one small piece of true infatuation with Austen is this: she wrote her books young and she didn’t publish them for many more years down the road, and not without ridiculous amounts of revision.

It can be hard as an author to get done with one task and then have to proceed to working on another. And while I’d set my sights on trying to edit and then move to query letter stages with my last novel, I have been swept up in a senior project of writing a novella over the course of the semester which has hindered my editing abilities. But that hasn’t made me lose hope.

Life is tricky. We do things only to have more work thrust in front of us. We regularly find that the job takes more than one step, and even when finished there’s another job finished. But that doesn’t mean we should give up. It simply means we push forward with more vigor, with more hopes of continuing to improve and learn and grow.

So as I finish the mark of this hundredth post and look forward towards the more to come, I look with joy rather than dread. For there is plenty more time to come, to write, to edit, to submit, to face rejection, and to carry on in the face of hard work.

For more on author’s publishing period see: http://www.shortlist.com/entertainment/books/what-age-did-well-known-authors-publish-their-most-famous-works

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