Website Launch and Guest Blogging

So, I know I have been rather quiet lately, and that is because I am preparing to launch my freelance writing and editing business! I am currently putting the finishing touches to the website, but you can follow on facebook for updates – FB The Reader Writer

 

Website Print

Here is a sneak peak of the site which will be launching soon!

Most of my content will be moving over to the new site, so if you have enjoyed reading I’d love for you to follow along on my adventures.

 

I am still building a portfolio and would love to get a few guest blogging opportunities, I am seeking some out but if you’d like me to write for you please get in touch, here or view thereaderwriter@outlook.com. It does not need to be about books or writing, I have many interests from music, film, and food to beauty and fashion! Please get in touch!

Literary Love…

In honour of Valentine’s Day lets take a look at some literary lovers. Love, as a mysterious thing, so hard to describe is widely pondered throughout literature. There is a wealth of it to be found in, unrequited love, tragic love, young love, perfect love, confusing love, indescribable love. So here is a look at some romantic couplings, some obvious but hey…all you need is love!

sunset-hands-love-woman

1. Romeo and Juliet

A classic to begin, what is left to be said about Shakespeare’s ultimate star crossed lovers? Households at war, naive love, tragedy, and loss. Still as beautiful and tragic as it was when it was written, there is a reason they are still held up as the pinnacle of romantic love. Even if their being teenagers makes it a bit creepy to the modern mind!

Best moment –  A long one!
Juliet. Wilt thou be gone? it is not yet near day:
It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear;
Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate-tree:
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.
Romeo. It was the lark, the herald of the morn,
No nightingale: look, love, what envious streaks
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east:
Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.
I must be gone and live, or stay and die.
Juliet. Yon light is not day-light, I know it, I:
It is some meteor that the sun exhales,
To be to thee this night a torch-bearer,
And light thee on thy way to Mantua:
Therefore stay yet; thou need’st not to be gone.
Romeo. Let me be ta’en, let me be put to death;
I am content, so thou wilt have it so.
I’ll say yon grey is not the morning’s eye,
‘Tis but the pale reflex of Cynthia’s brow;
Nor that is not the lark, whose notes do beat
The vaulty heaven so high above our heads:
I have more care to stay than will to go:
Come, death, and welcome! Juliet wills it so.
How is’t, my soul? let’s talk; it is not day.

2. Catherine Barkley and Lieutenant Frederic Henry

Ernest Hemingway might not be the obvious choice when it comes to love, but Frederic and Catherine’s war torn romance, another tragedy (what does this say about me that so far all my choices are tragedies?!) is so beautifully sad and desperate. The need to cling to something, anything, just to make it through the utter annihilation of WWI is utterly heartbreaking. And try getting to the ending and not sobbing your eyes out.

Best moment – a moment which epitomizes the clinging desperation of their love

“Will you be away a long time?” Catherine asked. She looked lovely in bed. “Would you hand me the brush?”

I watched her brushing her hair, holding her head so the weight of her hair all came on one side. It was dark outside and the light over the head of the bed shone on her hair and her neck and her shoulders. I went over and kissed her and held her hand with the brush and her head fell back on the pillow. I kissed her neck and shoulders. I felt faint with loving her so much.

“I don’t want to go away.”

“I don’t want you to go away.”

“I won’t go then.”

“Yes. Go. It’s only for a little while and then you’ll come back.”

“We’ll have dinner up here.”

“Hurry and come back.”

3. Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy

Another classic but Austen’s literary lovers in Pride and Prejudice and their journey to love is wonderful. The errors, the pride, the prejudice, and of course, the happy ending.

Best moment – Darcy declares his love (doesn’t hurt to picture Colin Firth saying it either!)

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

Elizabeth’s astonishment was beyond expression. She stared, coloured, doubted, and was silent. This he considered sufficient encouragement; and the avowal of all that he felt, and had long felt for her, immediately followed. He spoke well; but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed, and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her inferiority — of its being a degradation — of the family obstacles which judgement had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.

4. Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester

I know, I know, another classic, I am obviously a complete sap for the classics, sigh! Jane overcomes so much, and despite her utter heartbreak at the hand of Rochester, eventually returns to him, blinded in the rotting corpse of what once was Thornfield Hall. But she returns to him and they live happily ever after…well it is Bronte after all, it isn’t going to be all sunshine and roses!

Best moment 

“I have for the first time found what I can truly love–I have found you. You are my sympathy–my better self–my good angel. I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wrap my existence about you, and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.”

5. Wesley and Buttercup 

Fairytale romance, utterly hilarious, and a cast of fantastic characters rounding out the wonderful The Princess Bride.

Best moment – there really can be only one, Wesley’s coded declaration of love

as you wish.gif

“As you wish.”

That was all he ever answered. “As you wish.” Fetch that, Farm Boy. “As you wish.” Dry this, Farm Boy. “As you wish.”

6. Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar

A forbidden love set among the vast sweeping landscapes of Wyoming’s Brokeback Mountain. Tragic, raw, and beautiful, another one to read if you don’t mind shedding a tear or a thousand. A moment has never broken my heart like this one can…a final act of love, when it is already too late.

Best moment

The shirt seemed heavy until he saw there was another shirt inside it, the sleeve’s carefully worked down into Jack’s sleeves. It was his own plaid shirt, lost, he’d thought, long ago in some damn laundry, his dirty shirt, the pocket ripped, buttons missing, stolen by Jack and hidden here inside Jack’s own, two skins, one inside the other, the pair like two in one. He pressed his face into the fabric and breathed in slowly through his mouth and nose, hoping for the faintest smoke and mountain sage and salty sweet stink of Jack but there was no real scent, only the memory of it, the imagined power of Brokeback Mountain of which nothing was left but what he held in his hands.

 

Broken Promises.

Look I know we’ve been here before, I won’t deny it, we’ve all made mistakes, words were forgotten and promises broken.  But I swear this time things will be different…I promise?!


 

So I know, I know, I know I said this time would be different, I’d keep on top of posting and for a little while there it really looked like I was going to.  But who knew completing my MA, moving across the globe, and starting a new career would be so tiring! I started writing and editing for Life in the Bay a great expat blog which I am hugely enjoying, as well as starting a new job which actually involves writing and editorial work! It has been a good and busy few months.

But this has all meant of course, less reading, and less writing. I have a million and one half written posts, and even more ideas. So now that I am settling into more of a rhythm in my new life I am going to try to get back to it.


Currently reading: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

harry_potter_and_the_philosophers_stone_book_cover

This has been an interesting experience. I read these first time round, and only time so far, as they came out. So there is a strange bittersweet nostalgia to re-reading them. It’s not that they have lost any of their magic, but I remember the total love and astonishment and amazement I felt first time around. And whilst I still love them, knowing what is coming, and all the hype which surrounds the now far too vast franchise does take something away from them. I remember enjoying the later entries in the series more anyway, so perhaps when I get there I will find some more of that magic and sparkle.

Don’t get me wrong, I am really enjoying finally giving it a second go, I just guess I wish it was all still new to me.

 

100 Followers!

Today I reached the milestone of 100 followers! Thank you all so much for following, I really appreciate it and I love all the interactions and comments from you guys, makes me feel really good to hear your thoughts and know that you are enjoying the things I post!

light-sign-typography-lighting

Photo via Visual Hunt

 

Books, words, and reading are such huge passions of mine and I am so happy to be able to share that with so many people who have the same love for literature and language.

Keep reading, keep commenting, let me know what you like or don’t like, want to see more of or less of.

Freedom! Dystopia. &  Normal Service Resumes

So, Sunday was thesis deadline day, I managed to hand it in on Friday and took a few days off to recover! Now I am back and will be updating a bit more regularly. Here is a bit on my thesis and the writing of it:

Thesis 1

The final week = edit, edit, editing!


Writing the thesis was a pretty interesting process, I have never written such a long piece of non-fiction before. My subject was freedom in dystopian literature – specifically Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. The basic premise being that though dystopian literature by definition is a reaction to the contemporaneous world of the author, it retains relevance and understanding through the ever present themes of freedom, free will and liberty.

Of course I have written a lot of papers over my studies but I think the reason I enjoyed the process as much as I did is because I love the books so much. The first part of the process, as with any paper I write (after reading the novels, of course) is research, research and more research. This is normally the most tiresome part, though I love the literature and getting a more in depth perspective on it some of the writing on it can be shall we say…pretty dry! But with these novels I thoroughly enjoyed this, being able to really pick apart the books and get down to such a detailed level, and having such a large word count to meet, meant no constraints on my research. So often I have to curtail my research and narrow my focus so much more as the paper required is so short, here I didn’t need to do that and I was in my element…!

For a lot of people these books are so bleak and dark that they cannot understand my passion for them, firstly, Nineteen Eighty-Four The Handmaid’s Tale particularly are just so well written that even with such depressing subject matter they are worth reading. And secondly for me, it is this presence of hope which makes the books worthwhile.

Thesis 2

Submission Time!

If the books were truly so dark, why would freedom, and the pursuit of freedom always be so present as a theme? Yes, these attempts to gain freedom, more often than not, fail. But someone tried, someone hoped enough, even in such bleak prospects, that freedom could be gained. The authors write these books as a prophetic warning, a warning which would not be worth giving if there was no hope of freedom from the chosen constraints was possible.


Nineteen Eighty-Four is probably my all time favourite book, with one of the best opening lines, and most heart wrenching endings in literature. If you haven’t read it, what have you been doing? Prepare yourself for that ending though…every time I get there it is like a knife through the heart.


“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen…” – George Orwell

Update: Thesis. Stress. Panic!

Hi all!

War is Peace

 

Sorry things have been a bit quiet, I have so many posts at the half way point but I am absolutely snowed with thesis work. In case you don’t know (I’ve been so quiet about it!) I am writing about dystopian literature, specifically Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty-Four, and The Handmaid’s Tale. 

My project is due exactly a week today so I am in the midst of collating sources, writing my bibliography and edit, edit, edit, editing! As such my brain has been everywhere and I have not been concentrating very well on my posts.

I am attempting to complete one of my posts this evening but I am not sure I will get there. So, if things remain quiet, look out for me next week when I will be free! Free to…panic about where life goes next, oh dear!?!

Insomnia Alphabet

I have huge trouble switching off and getting to sleep. It was suggested to me that I play a game in my head. The objective is, that you do something with your mind that is just taxing enough to keep it occupied (ie not thinking things along the lines of…must write blog post, make an appointment at the dentist, pay the electricity bill etc…etc…etc) but not so taxing that it keeps you awake.

The first suggestion was to count backwards from 100…though I always needed to start at 200!

Then, I read about a very similar theory, but an alphabet version, you go through the alphabet in your head and try to name a country for each letter. I started doing this, then branched out into all sorts of categories each night, as I had done the countries so much they became automatic…and thus no longer engaged my brain enough!

Categories included film titles, female solo singers, authors, children’s books etc etc. But my favourite one became 8 letter plus words, sometimes any words, sometimes on a theme. And it works really well for me…Do you have trouble sleeping? Try out a game in your head and see if it helps you out!

And just for fun…a word alphabet!!

A – Antagonistic

B – Beatification 

C – Clandestine

D – Degradation

E – Exuberant

F – Fortuitous 

G – Gluttonous

H – Homogenous

I – Idiosyncrasy

J – Juxtaposition

K – Kleptomaniac 

L – Lugubrious 

M – Monomaniac

N – Neurological 

O – Obsequious 

P – Phrenology

Q – Quintessential 

R – Ruminations

S – Simulacrum

T – Transmogrified

U – Ubiquitous 

V – Vehemently 

W – Witheringly 

X – Xenolithic

Y – Yammering

Z – Zygodactyl

Finding direction… 

Re-Reads

This blog started out as  a way to get me writing, writing anything at all, and as it turns out I’ve really enjoyed it. I never really had a plan on what I’d write about or anything like that and I’d just post whatever came to mind as it came to mind. As time has gone on my posts seem to have diversified into a variety of categories, so this week (after much fiddling) I have added categories for different types of posts, so that if there is a particular type of post you enjoy, you’ll always know where to find it.

I’m never really sure what people enjoy most, so have a read of the categories, and what they are, and let me know what types of posts you enjoy and if you have any you’d like to see more or less of, even any specific ideas if you’d like a post on it! Thanks!


In Depth/Literary Criticism

As you might expect, this is where you will find the lengthier, in depth explorations of books and writing. Whether on character, genre, or an examination of a specific theme, this is where you’ll find it. This is probably my favourite thing to post, but they take a lot longer to plan and write, so I end up putting them off until I have time often!

Suggested Reads: 

  1. It is a truth universally acknowledged that certain novels are classics
  2. The importance of studying literature
  3. My favourite characters, and how they might help me to be a better writer…

Fun (& Fiction)

Here you’ll find listicles, quotes, and some slightly less in depth stuff…along with very occasional forays into fiction – maybe I’ll be brave enough to do more of this one day!.

Suggested Reads: 

  1. A Literary Love Listicle
  2. Never Judge A Book By Its Cover…
  3. Literary Transformations: From the page to the screen

Reviews

No explanation required! Up until now reviews have mostly been within a longer article, but I’m trying out doing them in a lengthier, standalone format.


General

Just blog updates, hiatuses, nothing too thrilling here!


So, feel free to let me know any thoughts you might have, what sort of posts you enjoy, and what you don’t, I’d love any feedback!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that certain novels are classics

Enter any book store, physical or digital, and you will inevitably find the classics section. A section in which you always know exactly what you will find. The Bronte’s, Austen, Lawrence, Dostoyevsky, Dickens, Eliot, Hardy and so on. There is little variation, and little change or forward momentum, there may be a modern classics section also, but you are unlikely to see these books integrated with each other. (In light of this, no list, if you want to find the classics I’ve told you where they are, off you go!)

Classics3

Some Classics

So why then do these classics remain ‘classic’? What is it about them which renders them classic reading, go to teaching tools, go to inspiration?

First of all, and I suppose somewhat obviously, if they were rubbish, we just wouldn’t still be reading them. No book remains clearly in the public consciousness for 100, 200, 300, or many more years, if it isn’t worth reading. If you meet a fan of literature, even if their tastes lie in a more modern genre or style of writing, it is highly unlikely they will not have read/know in depth at least a good few classics. Myself for example, science fiction, fantasy, dystopia nut, will be found, multiple times a year holding a Dickens or Austen novel in my hand.

Next up, it is a cultural thing. If you miss out on the classics, you miss out on a lot of things, they are referenced in so many places and in so many ways. I was recently watching the TV show White Collar in which a main character Mozzie, makes constant little reference to moments, characters etc from literature that you could, of course, survive not knowing, but that add just a little something extra when you’re aware of them. And this is just one recent example I can think of, I often find myself using a quote or reference to a classic novel in everyday conversation. So to miss them would mean missing out.

Next, and on a similar note, to learn where some ideas and concepts we know grew up, or even in some cases began. There are only so many narratives out there, (there are millions of things which can be done with them, but really ideas are finite) anyone who has studied literature will have had the joy of studying something like, the Monomyth, or the hero’s journey, the quest narrative structure.

Monomyth.png

The Monomyth

 

Though something like this is only a guide and not every narrative with a quest or adventure fits it exactly it is still a useful tool. And what it shows us is that by reading the classics we can see the origin of certain narratives and ideas, and see how they have been adapted and co-opted into newer literature. And whilst it is not necessary to know these things in order to enjoy a modern novel, it adds an extra layer. It is always fun to spot where an idea has come from, and reading modern rewrites and seeing what they retain and what they lose is always an interesting activity. An example would be Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, described by the author as an homage to E.M.Forster’s Howards End. Personally I much prefer the original, but that’s preference and everyone is different, but reading both and attempting to match up characters and themes, and see where they join or divulge is a useful exercise not just in literature but in understanding our changing times, attitudes, concerns, and cultures.

On beauty

On a personal level, for comfort, you know what you’re going to get. With regard to my above statement that I will often be found with a novel by Dickens or Austen in my hand, I am almost always re-reading. Though I do not claim to have read all the classics, in fact there are many on my list that I really need to get to, (Anna Karenina how have I not read you?!) but there is something quite comforting about returning to a classic novel you know and love. A lot of this is to do with many of the reasons above, the way literature permeates and underlies much of our culture, its unchanging nature means you always know what you’re going to get. It does what it says on the tin!

Linked to these last two ideas, to make us better writers, understanding what has gone before, what has been done, what can be done, makes us a better writer. They fuel ideas in our minds, and further being able to make similar allusions and references to these things in our own works, makes them better. It adds depth and resonance and an extra layer. And whilst we’re on the subject of making us better writers, they are well written. This is not to say that modern novels aren’t, but in a world of self-publishing and vanity publishing, there is a lot of rubbish out there. I am absolutely all for the publishing revolution, allowing wonderful undiscovered talents who would never get a chance to share their voice, to shine. But in a world with so so many books reaching the market, it can be hard to find something truly good, well written and worth the read. In times passed it was much harder to get to the point of publication, and often times women had to use a nom de plume in order to ever reach that stage. The Bronte’s as Currer, Acton, and Ellis Bell, and George Eliot being Mary Ann Evans by birth. If it made it far enough to reach publication, it had to be good!

They’re easily accessible, this one is quite simple. I have a lot of classics, I have multiple copies of multiple classics, and so many of them cost me very little. I buy them second hand at charity shops, and specialised charity shops selling only books, I get a book, and some money goes to charity, what’s not to love!

Classics2

Just a few of my charity shop finds…

And finally, to return to the first point, because we love them! They are classics, because we love them, and we love them because they are classic. And though we may not love each and every one of them (looking at you Villette), there is a reason they remain so collectively in our consciousness, they are worth the read!

Classics1