Monday, July 29, 2013

Apologetic snow

I am doing a couple of English Lit classes this term at university. One of them is a King Arthur class the other one is Fantasy Children's Literature. I had to buy about 6 books. Over the weekend I read Charlotte's Web and really enjoyed it. I'm reading Tom's Midnight Garden and the Dark is Rising at the moment. Both are...okay. I was able to read through Charlotte's Web in 3 days without much problems. It had a flow to it. I could enjoy the story and picture the images without the writing jarring me out of the experience. If a sentence is written badly it disrupts the experience. In Tom's Midnight Garden and the Dark is Rising I could barely get into either without finding the writing jarring.

In the Dark is Rising on the first page the author described the snow as "lying thin and apologetic over the ground" Um, what? Snow cannot be apologetic. It does not think. It does not emote. A better description would have been "A paper thin carpet of white snow blanketed the ground" you know? And then the author described, one after another, what the yard looked like: That house over there was the chook shed, that square was the garage, etc, etc, etc, comma, comma, comma.

Too many commas. Too much telling not showing. Do not tell us what is there. SHOW us. Show us through the character's eyes what the yard looks like as he experiences it. Do not tell us each piece of information, boom, boom, boom, like you are reading off a list.

I have been interested in writing for about 15 years now. In the past couple of years it has become more of a passing hobby then something I would like a career out of. I have gained enough experience to know that the chances of being truly successful are slim to nil and then there's the act of writing itself. It's hard and tiring and lonely. And lately I've been wondering just how many stories I have left in me.

I have been visiting writers web boards since I was a young teenager. It has been the best education in writing I have ever had. It's been hard and painful and the people have not always been nice but they have taught me all I need to know about writing and I am finding more and more as I continue with my university degree in writing and publishing how much I disagree with the teachings of my teachers because what they are teaching keeps clashing with what I have learnt from actual writers.

These books I have to read are considered classics and yet I am finding problems in their writing in the first couple of pages. It doesn't mean they are bad books. But I am surprised that their editors let that bad metaphor slip through and left that bad description in there. One thing I have learnt from my time with other writers is how you must learn how to break the rules.

It's true that there is no "right way" to write a book. Some of the best books ever written have been ones where the authors have thrown all of the rules of grammar out of the window.

I don't know if I am going to enjoy Tom's Midnight Garden and the Dark is Rising as much as Charlotte's web. I'm thinking probably not. But that's just my own personal taste. I just can't forgive that crappy metaphor.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Here's a question: Why would a Muslim want to write about Jesus?

I stumbled across a very intriguing video online yesterday. It was an interview done by Fox News between Lauren Green and Bible scholar and religious historian Reza Aslan.

Watch the video here

Lauren Green struggles throughout the interview to wrap her mind about why a MOOSLIM would want to write about the founder of Christianity.

Mr Aslan replies, quite frustrated, that it is his job as an academic and as a professor of religion. He lists all of his qualifications and background but Ms Green is still convinced and continues to attack him throughout the rest of the interview for his faith.

She even accuses him of until recently keeping his Muslim faith a secret to which he replies that it is mentioned on page two of his book and then asks Ms Green if she has even read his book or knows that much about him at all.

They should show this video in university journalism classes about how NOT to do an interview.

Ms Green went in with a clear negative agenda. She had no intention of discussing Mr Aslan's new book detailing the history of Jesus. She was clearly threatened and confused that a Muslim would dare to claim that he could be an expert on the founder of Christianity. Surely he had to some insidious agenda RIGHT? He couldn't just expert on religion who happened to also be Muslim? Nah...

I felt really sorry for him throughout the interview. Here is a man who has devoted his life to the study of religion, has four degrees on the subject, and is a renowned writer and speaker on religion being attacked for his faith. What does his faith have to do with anything he writes? He is a Historian. If Ms Green knew anything at all about Islam she would know that Jesus a highly respected figure in the faith. Why is she threatened by him?

The interview raises the question should writers be able to write about faiths that are not their own?

Of course they should! What a narrow minded world Fox News lives in. No one should be attacked for their faith or for their opinion.