Frozen Writer

So many times I’ve heard people talk about how some of the best writers struggled with depression, angst, anxiety, and a variety of other psychological disorders, and that their difficulties fueled their writing. This past 12 months have been hellish for me with various health scares and concerns and I’ve been struggling through the pits of depression and anxiety.

Apparently, I am NOT in the hallowed group of depressed performers. When I’m going through a rough patch emotionally or psychologically, I do not perform well.

In fact, what comes out of me is either nothing–from being frozen by my issues–or the worst junk ever to hit paper/screen.

Does anybody else agree with me on this? I think I’ve read a couple books on writing that agree with me, but history often says otherwise.

Without a doubt, my best writing comes when I am happy, upbeat, rested, relaxed, etc. Even the dark scenes come best when I’m mentally in a good place.

What about you? When do you do your best writing? Does emotional state affect your writing ability, or put you solidly in a freeze?

Happy writing, or, perhaps, any writing? 🙂

 

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”
T.H. White, The Once and Future King

“Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?”
John Keats, Letters of John Keats

“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”
C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

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What’s So Wrong With Allegory?

May I ask what in the heck is so wrong with allegory? I feel like it’s a bad word nowadays in the publishing world. Oh, no! There’s an allegory! Keep away!

I’ve known for some time that there’s a certain prejudice against allegory. Apparently, writers are not allowed to teach any morals or lessons when writing. They’re only supposed to write to tell a story.

While I agree that storytelling, alone, should be the basis for writing, I have absolutely no problem with allegory. I think that hidden meanings and subtexts and morals should be explored. Not trodden on like it was a piece of trash.

Am I too upset about this? Probably. But I’ll warn you right now, my writing is allegorical. It almost always has a hidden meaning or is metaphorical or teaches a lesson.

Part of what got me on this rant is watching this documentary about J.R.R. Tolkien. For those of you who’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know he’s one of my favorite authors, not just for the stories he wrote, but in how influential he’s been for me as a writer.

So when one of his sons and a couple professors began talking about how Tolkien intended no allegory in his writings, and then proceeded to speak as if allegory was a terrible thing, I got a little het up.

Tolkien speaks of allegory as if the author is trying to force his opinions down your throat. Really? I didn’t know allegory could be so… violent. Are writers, if they use allegory, attempting to dominate you by their own opinions? Aren’t people able enough to make their own choices (whether or not they agree with the author’s intentions)?

I think every book has allegory of some kind. Intentional or not. Even in my own writings, I see allegory where I never intended it to be.

I understand Tolkien’s opinion about allegory, but I can’t say I agree with his rather pessimistic view on it.

What do you think? Am I wrong? Are you pro- or anti-allegory? Do enjoy reading or writing allegory, or do you avoid it like the plague? I’m hoping for a good debate on this one.

Happy writing!

“I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history – true or feigned– with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse applicability with allegory, but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.”
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

“The two things that came out clearly were the sense of reality in the background and the mythical value: the essence of myth being that it should have no taint of allegory to the maker and yet should suggestincipient allegories to the reader.
[C.S. Lewis writes to J.R.R. Tolkien on December 7, 1929]”
― C.S. Lewis
“No story can be devised by the wit of man which cannot be interpreted allegorically by the wit of some other man.”
― C.S. LewisOn Stories: And Other Essays on Literature

Top Ten Tuesday – Authors Who Fill My Bookcase

It’s Tuesday! 

Top Ten Tuesday

As has become a weekly post for me, I’m participating in Top Ten Tuesday put on by the lovely people at The Broke and the Bookish blog

This week’s topic: Authors whose books I own the most of. (Weird sentence, no?)

Here we go!

 

1. L.M. Montgomery ~ 15 books. She wrote a lot more than just the Anne of Green Gables books, but that’s what she’s most remembered for writing. If you recall from this post, Anne is my all-time favorite literary heroine, and L.M. Montgomery (with J.R.R. Tolkien) are the authors who have most influenced my own writing. Love her!

2. J.R.R. Tolkien ~ 10 books. Since he’s one of my favorite authors, it makes sense I’d own a good portion of his books. Besides LOTR and the Hobbit, he’s written and published much  more about the history of Middle Earth, as well as other scholarly books. He’s a fabulous, classical writer and I love him. 🙂

3. Cathy Marie Hake ~ 10 books. She writes historical Christian RomComs, and her books always make me laugh. I read a lot of them in my teen years, but I still love them now.

4. J.K. Rowling ~ 9 books. I own the HP series in paperback, as well as Quidditch Through the Ages, and Fantastical Beasts and Where to Find Them. An amazing imaginative genius, and her writing is so down-to-earth.

5. Jane Austen ~ 8 books. I own all of her novels, as well as some of her children’s stories, poetry, and short stories. I know many contemporary authors hate her, but she’s still one of my faves!

6. William Shakespeare ~ 20 works. I’ve read a great many plays by Shakespeare, keep a smallish book of his sonnets (that has a ton of post-it notes all over inside), and can quote a bit of Macbeth from memory. He was and is one of the best writers of all time, and he revolutionized speech, I think. So many phrases we use today were originated in his works. He’s a hero of mine, for sure.

7. Bibles ~ 15. I own a great many bibles in different translations, as well as from different time periods. I have a New Testament that’s 150 years old and in decent condition. I mentioned in this post about my devotion to my faith, so bibles and Christian books are very important. I have around 50 non-fiction Christian/Catholic books (yes, I’ve read them all). I adore history, so having old books with me is like surrounding myself with the past. And I love it.

8. Grace Livingston Hill ~ 30 books. I don’t know how many people have ever encountered Grace Livingston Hill, but she was a prolific author in the early 1900s. One of my top ten favorite books of all time, Marcia Schuyler, was written by her. Some of her books are very short, and others are longer than Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (the fifth HP book, and the longest). Another one of my author heroes.

9. C.S. Lewis ~ 15 books. Besides his seven part Narnia series, I also own the Space Trilogy, The Screwtape Letters, and many, many of his writings as a Christian lay theologian. I hear there’s a movie coming out about the friendship between him and J.R.R. Tolkien. I can’t wait to see it!

10. Mary Connealy ~ 20 books. Another Christian historical RomCom writer. (Can you tell I like historical/fantastical books, yet?) She’s hilarious! I don’t like reading depressing fiction that much (although who couldn’t use a good cry every now and then, right?), so I usually tend towards the funnier or more fantastical writers. Especially in this genre.

 

Well, there you have it! The top ten people who fill my bookcase! I know you don’t see tons and tons of MG fiction here (since that’s what I primarily write), but I do own a substantial amount of that. It’s just not enough by one author in particular to include it on my list.

What authors do you keep most on your bookshelves?

Happy writing! (And reading!)

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters on a Deserted Island

Top Ten Tuesday

It’s that day again! Top Ten Tuesday, presented by the fabulous people at The Broke and the Bookish blog

This week’s sweet topic is the top ten characters I’d want with me on a deserted island. This will be so hard to narrow it down to just ten! Urgh! But here it goes!

 

1. Legolas Greenleaf from Lord of the Rings – Not only is he one of my favorite LOTR characters, but he’s deadly with a bow and arrow, and he can sense things that mortals cannot. Plus, he’s pretty easy on the eyes, too. 😉

2. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter – No offense to Harry, but Hermione is the much more talented witch/wizard. Harry has the heart, but Hermione has the brains. If I’m stuck on a deserted island, brains is more important, and that’s a fact. (And come on, couldn’t she just make a portkey or something and zap us all back home if we needed it?)

3. John Watson from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sherlock is awesome, but John is loyal, funny, and strong. All good traits when stuck somewhere you shouldn’t be. He was also a soldier, which means he knows a lot of survival tricks. (Think the original Sherlock Holmes from the 1800s). He’d be invaluable on a deserted island.

4. Mr. and Mrs. Beaver from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe – Okay, seriously, how useful would they be? First of all, they can talk, so they’d be good company. And they’d be able to talk to any other animals on the island. AND, they can build dams and/or other log structures for shelter! An obvious choice to me.

5. Gimli from Lord of the Rings – An axe-wielding dwarf with a sense of humor? Not someone I’d cross on a bad day, but definitely someone to lighten the mood when it’s called for. 

6. Hope Ladley from Forevermore – It’s a Christian RomCom, so I don’t know how many of you have read the book, but Hope is a chipper, down-home, illiterate, itinerant cook with a donkey named Hattie who wears a large hat. It’s hilarious! Hope can cook ANYTHING so it’d be nice to have someone with a wide knowledge of cooking techniques and what tastes good. I’m talking good old-fashioned southern food, too. Mmm!!! Plus, she’s hilarious and always mangles idioms, but they still make sense when she says them. A great character, and a great person to have in a pinch.

7. Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables – Not only is she my favorite literary heroine of all time, but she and I have a lot in common. I think we’d be great friends, and it’d be nice to have someone to talk to when on a desert island. We’d both get into so much accidental trouble, nobody would believe what we’d done!

8. John Jarndyce from Bleak House – Honestly, just an all-around nice guy who would do anything for anybody to keep them happy. Even at his own expense and happiness. I adore this character, and I’d like to have him around just to talk to him about everything that happened to him.

9. The Dinosaur from Danny and the Dinosaur – This was one of my all time favorite children’s books growing up, and having a nice dinosaur on an island full of who knows what could be very helpful. Plus, he could reach really tall trees or hills if we were too short to get something that was just out of reach. Yep. A dinosaur would be super useful.

10. Anne Elliot from Persuasion – Anne is quiet, but she’s practical and gets crap done! Plus, she’s loyal and friendly and puts the needs of others above her own. She’d probably be one of the first people to think of how to make a shelter or signal for help. 

 

There they are! My top ten characters to be stuck with on a deserted island. There are a ton more that I think would be great, but these stick out above the rest. 

Who would you like to have with you? 

Happy writing!