Monday, September 17, 2012

Quotation of the Week: On Writing

My life is all about writing.

I teach writing both online and at our homeschool co-op; this past week I just started two new classes: a discussion of my favorite novel, Jane Eyre, on Brave Writer, and my college-prep/honors expository writing class at Heritage Christian School's East County II Class Day.

And in order to teach writing at Brave Writer, I need to write informative posts, discussion questions, and respond to the students' replies to the discussion questions. So in order to teach online, I write and write.

Grading essays the old-fashioned way, scribbling notes in the margins of papers with my Waterman fountain pen filled with green ink cartridges, also involves a great deal of writing. The fountain pen allows me to write much longer without pain in my joints from rheumatoid arthritis because I don't have to press down while writing; the fountain pen skates along the surface of paper beautifully and easily.

Then I write lesson plans for my own kids once per week, besides writing to grade their work.

And of course there's the comfort of journal writing--which I love to do but seldom have time to devote to jotting down various thoughts and happenings. And blogging too--which obviously I have little time for lately as well.

I also write fictional stories that I publish online; I try to write, revise, and post one chapter per week. My most recent story is approaching one million "reads" (hits) on one website, so the stories are fairly popular. But fiction writing is my "break" from all the rest of my writing and responsibilities, but lately it's been feeling more like a chore than a welcome relief.

Plus the lost art of the handwritten epistle--how much more comforting and personal is it to receive a handwritten letter in the mail than it is to receive an e-mail--electronic mail. E-mail takes all the joy and personality out of writing to friends and family, even when one employs emoticons. A former neighbor and dear friend recently moved from our little village in Southern California around the world to the Philippines; when she left, she handed out self-addressed stamped blank cards for us to write to her. I haven't had time yet, but I do plan to get out a card to write and mail this week.

I'm reading a story online right now about a woman who wrote a soldier unknown to her during World War II as part of a letter writing campaign to boost morale. She had no idea who would receive her letter, but they bonded right away, writing letters often to each other. They had to wait nearly a month to receive a reply! In our present existence of instant gratification, waiting a month for a response to a letter would be torture. I'm sure it was torturous back then, too. But the gift of receiving such a letter: priceless.

So my life is writing, writing, writing. Writing is what I do nearly all day, and then I often stay up until the wee shall hours of the morning (it's nearly two o'clock in the morning right now!!) writing more.

And our tools of the trade: a laptop/computer if one is hi-tech, or a pencil/pen and a pad of paper if one is more old-fashioned and enjoy the ebb and flow of words through one's fingertips. And the most important tool: WORDS.

So for our Quotation of the Week, I pulled a lovely one on the power of words:

"Words--so innocent and powerless as they are, standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them."~Nathaniel Hawthorne

So enjoy the power and play of words this week whether you are reading or writing. Either way, words are powerful weapons for evil and beautiful songs of peace.

And God used words--He spoke, and the earth and everything on it was created. And He saw that it was good.... And then we cannot forget "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." God is the Word, and God's Word we hide in our hearts. 

There's no better place for it.

Have a lovely week, everyone!! God bless you!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Quotations on the Value of Reading

Now that we've started our school year, more than ever I've come to value the art of reading. Teaching literature to my own boys, to my co-op writing classes, and especially online (I'm teaching a book discussion group on one of my favorite novels, Jane Eyre, starting this week) has shown me how important the reading of quality literature is.

Over the summer, the kids and I have watched a couple of seasons of the British comedy Jeeves and Wooster with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. Taken from the Jeeves series of novels and short stories by PG Wodehouse, watching literature come to life has been enjoyable, and even our 15 year old son begged us to wait until he finished dishes so that he could watch tonight's episode with us. 

Literature is life come to life. Well-known pastor and translator of The Message, Eugene Peterson, when speaking at the Writer's Symposium by the Sea several years ago, stated that he believes that every pastor should spend the first two years of seminary reading the classics. He explained how reading James Joyce's Ulysses helped him to better deal with his congregation as he read the day-in-a-life of a very ordinary man. He advocates at least the reading of several of Dickens' works for every seminary student as Dickens' realism moves his readers to true pity and compassion and teaches us to value each and every person, no matter their station in life.

Over the summer and into the fall I've been rereading the Anne of Green Gables series by Canadian author LM Montgomery ; currently I'm reading the seventh of the eight books. These books are delightful, and truly, I think they represent the very pinnacle of English prose writing. Ever. LM Montgomery simply writes beautifully and from the heart, and her descriptions of nature are unparalleled in literature. No matter that these books are considered "children's literature"; they are some of the most delightful and masterfully-written books in the history of the English language. And as a Literature major and after earning a Master of Arts in English, I do not state that lightly.

In my Quotation Journal, which I have been keeping for eleven years now, I have a few pages of quotations on the value of reading and literature. I'll share a few with you here:

"What is reading but silent conversation?" ~Walter Savage Landor
"I do not read a book; I hold a conversation with the author." ~Elbert Hubbard
"There are a lot of people like me, people who need books the way they need air." ~Richard Marek 
"Only in books has mankind known perfect truth, love, and beauty." ~George Bernard Shaw
"Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore!" ~Henry Ward Beecher
"When I get a little money, I buy books, and if there is any left, I buy food and clothes." ~Erasmus

So enjoy reading, my friends!! I know that I do!

Happy Reading!!


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