Time to Read?

5 09 2018


PHOTO: artsci.wustl.edu

HAVE WE EVER HAD ENOUGH TIME TO READ?
FOR WOMEN OF THE 18TH CENTURY, THE ANSWER IS A RESOUNDING “NO”

Literary history can seem full of women frustrated with their lack of time for reading. Florence Nightingale rails in Cassandra (1852) against the way women are constantly interrupted and never protected in their study, complaining that “there is no time appointed for this purpose and the difficulty is that, in our social life, we must always be doubtful whether we ought not to be with somebody else or be doing something else.” Virginia Woolf makes this frustration into the beautiful manifesto, A Room of One’s Own (1929). Few, however, seem quite as angry about their lack of time as Catherine Talbot. She rages in her unpublished journals about not having enough time, she muses on her lack of time in her published pieces of writing, and she makes time a constant theme of her letters to Elizabeth Carter.

As friends, Talbot and Carter had much in common. Neither married, both belonged loosely to what we now think of as the Bluestocking Circle, both knew Samuel Richardson and Samuel Johnson, and both were nourished to different degrees by their Christian faith. But Talbot’s situation was particular because she grew up under the protection of her father’s friend, the Bishop Secker, and was obliged to him for including her in his busy, affluent, and often very public household. The intensity of this situation comes out at one point when Talbot erupts in fury at Carter’s failure to understand that her business is of a special degree: “You suppose that when I complained of wanting leisure I had several hours. You forget that you rise three hours earlier than I am allowed to do; that we visit 18 families at from three to 14 miles distant, and 20 I believe in Oxford, and are besides eternal riders, walkers, and airers. That I have many correspondents, and cannot for my life write short letters. And with all that crowded together, at first I had scarce one hour.”

Read further @ Literary Hub





Writing Advice from a Great Writer

30 05 2018

ESSENTIAL WRITING ADVICE FROM
VIRGINIA WOOLF

“FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE, PUBLISH NOTHING BEFORE YOU ARE THIRTY.”

Who wouldn’t love to write like Virginia Woolf? (Well, some people, probably, but I’d wager not many of them are looking at this page.) Woolf was a once-in-a-generation mind, and as both a writer and publisher, she had strong opinions about what made a piece of literature great (or, more often, mediocre). Luckily for us, she wrote many of her ideas down, in some of the many essays and letters she penned over the course of her life. Below, I’ve collected a few of Woolf’s thoughts on craft and the art of the novel, as well as inspiring advice for aspiring writers and established writers alike. She is not quite as pithy as others when it comes to doling out advice—but I think her advice is all the better for it.

To write a novel, begin with character:

I believe that all novels begin with an old lady in the corner opposite. I believe that all novels, that is to say, deal with character, and that it is to express character—not to preach doctrines, sing songs, or celebrate the glories of the British Empire—that the form of the novel, so clumsy, verbose, and undramatic, so rich, elastic, and alive, has been evolved. —from the essay “Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Brown,” 1924.

Read further @ Literary Hub





INFOGRAPHIC: Who Influenced Who?

29 10 2016

influential-authors-galleycat

Source: GalleyCat





How to Write a Truly Scary Story

28 02 2015

2014-artwork-monster-fiction-writing-sketch“But what is it we are afraid of?” wrote Virginia Woolf in 1918. “We are not afraid of ruins, or moonlight, or ghosts.” Woolf was charting a sea-change in the nature of the supernatural tale, but she might as well have been asking future readers “Who will you be, and what will frighten you?”

In Woolf’s time, the gothic effects of Mrs. Radcliffe no longer frightened readers. For Woolf it was the close-to-home possession of two young children in Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. Do the phantoms exist only in the mind of the untested twenty-year-old charged with protecting them? We never know. But the governess experiences something far more frightening than a ghost: Woolf calls it “the sudden extension of her own field of perception.”

The sudden extension of her own field of perception.

Strange. Terrifying. Something we are likely to experience in our world too. A sudden glimpse of a terrain beyond our perceived limits, and nothing is ever the same again. Isn’t this exactly what happens when a reader encounters a truly disquieting short story? You feel as if a trap-door has opened and you’ve fallen through. Everyone and everything — out there in the world — looks slightly different. The line between private and public starts to blur.

Read further @ Huffingtonpost