Quote of the Day:
“If you are a student you should always get a good night’s sleep unless you have come to the good part of your book, and then you should stay up all night and let your schoolwork fall by the wayside.”
The Austere Academy (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 5)
I was thinking the other day when I said to myself, “I’m a sucker for a good story.” As soon as that thought ran through my brain I realized that it wasn’t the whole truth. It’s not usually the story that entrances me but the characters in the story. I don’t care if they appear in a book, in a movie, or on TV a great character makes all the difference in any form of entertainment. Even if the story isn’t as interesting or exciting as it could be, if the characters involved have been developed carefully they become more important than what they are doing. Lloyd Alexander, one of my favorite authors, has written books filled with characters who capture your attention. Years ago when I was reading the Chronicles of Pyrdain, a series by Alexander that I discovered when I was about ten years old, I made a list of attributes of his writing that made me love the books. I’ll try and find that list when I am at home and post it here. There were about a half dozen items that I had recognized in Alexander’s writing, probably because I had read this five-book series about ten times by the time I finished high school, and I still remember how satisfying it was to write them down. It was a complete list, as I remember, in that it completely described why these books were so worn from frequent handling. Often it is hard, if not impossible, to put into words why you love something so when it can be done you know that something is very special. This applies to anything – not just books, or movies, or TV. I just don’t think about movies or TV shows as much as I think about stories. They stimulate the mind in a way that nothing else can, and have a way of provoking thoughts and feelings that would never have surfaced in their absence. Can I contribute all of this to a story’s characters? Probably not, but I can say that I believe that the characters make the story rather than the other way around.
When I was in Europe I learned something interesting about the sculptor Michelangelo. Apparently he saw himself as trying to uncover the piece of art that was already inside a block of marble rather than being the one to make it into his own creation. That struck me as an approach that was probably very different than his contemporary’s ideas. I remembered this little bit of information when I was thinking about the Philip Pullman trilogy that I finished a couple of weeks ago. (Coincidentally, my dad is reading the last book right now.) I am not much of an author myself but I have written a lot of poetry in the past and sometimes I have had the feeling that, rather than me writing it, it was writing me. It’s like all of a sudden you are connected to a force or an energy that gives you the words you are looking for without any effort. When I was writing a poem and the form, the rhyming, and the rhythm came easily it made me feel as if it wasn’t just me involved in its creation. The words were meant to come together in that way and my notebook was just the medium used to bring it into existence.
Tomorrow has to be more productive than today. If it’s not I am going to be in a lot of trouble. Let’s just leave it at that rather than going into my list of things to do again. I know that topic is getting old. Tonight I think I am just going to bury myself in my most current book and get a full night’s sleep. Nothing will help me get more work done tomorrow than that. Hopefully I won’t get to “the good part” of my book tonight or else I will have to follow the directions of the quote of the day!