I have always been very proficient with the language arts (in English, anyway). Back when I was in grade school, when we were not dodging pterodons and velociraptors we took a lot of standardized tests in nearly every even-numbered grade. When it came to reading, writing, spelling or the like, I was usually at or off the high end of the scale. In later life, I did a lot of writing of a
“journalistic” nature: articles and columns for a variety of local newsletters and parish bulletins. In the mid-1980′s, during the heyday of employee newsletters and newspapers, I was a staff member of The Factory Street Journal, our factory newspaper. I did editing, proofreading, page layout (when the person who usually did the layout was away) and, most importantly, wrote articles and two columns (one consisting of puns and shaggy-dog stories and one on computer-related topics). I even won corporate writing awards for two successive years for installments of my computer column.
I’ve made a couple of abortive attempts to write a larger work and now I’m trying something new, something I’m calling a “webnovel.” Basically, it is a traditional novel being released in a serial fashion. There is great precedence for the serial approach: most of Charles Dickens’s work was first published serially in London newspapers and Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle did the same thing with Sherlock Holmes. The “new” twist is using the WWW instead of a newspaper as the publishing medium. Click on the link to the right to see it. Be sure and read the FAQ!
High school and college rather killed my enjoyment of reading, however, as we spent much time and effort looking for hidden themes and symbolism. Read a book as a story and enjoy it? No way!
Apparently books only existed to deliver symbolism and hidden themes and if you were not interested in finding them, there was something wrong with you. At least according to my teachers and professors so for many years I read little more than technical material. ThenI discovered John LeCarré and his novels of moral dilemma set against the murky world of international espionage. Did not take me long to read everything he had written to date and now I wait for each new biannual book release with much anticipation. I have also started reading classics like Jane Eyre and am enjoying them immensely. Links to the right as usual. Thousands of public-domain eBooks at The Gutenberg Project have allowed me to put months of good reading on the Nook Touch I got for Christmas.
In a similar vein, English classes (and my mother’s attitude) killed any desire I might have had to read poetry, I was totally unaware of “moden” trends in poetry or even of Emily Dickenson. Then, my sophomore year in college, I needed on more English class to complete College requirements and the only class that fit the rest of my schedule was a poetry class. It could have been horrible but the professor was the late W. D. Snodgrass who had just won the Pulitzer Prize for his poetry collection Heart’s Needle. Amazingly, I ended up taking a great interest in more-recent poetry but put my new-found interest aside while finishing my Physics degree, going to graduate school, raising a family and pursuing a career. It has recently reawakened and I find I am rather fond of Lisel Müller, Tony Hoagland and the late Charles Bukowski. My on-line friend Savannah Houston-McIntyre is a pretty good poet as well. Links to the right so you can discover them for yourself.