Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Magic of Fiction

(Eliza Knight, today's guest blogger, is our chat guest on December 5. Remember, comments are very welcome!)

I want to thank The Writer’s Chatroom for inviting me to blog with you today, and to visit your chatroom on Sunday, Dec. 5th. I’m really looking forward to talking with all of you about writing, reading, and my own tales. I write romance, time travel and historical fiction. I love to create worlds and I like to think I specialize in escapism. When I was thinking about what to write today, I kept coming back to one thing—how much fiction is and isn’t a part of our lives.

When we are younger we are taught to read. We sit on the circle carpet in the classroom and listen to the teacher or librarian read us stories. Our teachers ask us questions about the stories, we learn how to make a plot web, characterization charts, and write our own stories. So much energy is put into creating fictional stories and reading fiction when we are younger, and then it slowly fades away.

We enter high school where reading the classics and poetry is in the curriculum, but more emphasis is placed on research papers and essays and dissecting the creative works of great literary talents. And I truly mean dissecting. We aren’t able to enjoy the pieces because we’re too busy tearing them apart. I didn’t LOVE reading Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, until a few years ago when I picked it up and just read it. I didn’t dissect, just enjoyed it.

The same goes when we enter college and take the core classes, lots of papers to right, lots of reading—but textbooks, resources, journals, etc… The enjoyment of reading is somehow lost.

When we finally graduate from college, our reading consists of work related items, and then because we’ve spent the whole day staring at a computer, journal, reports, etc… we veg out in front of the television.

What happens to the magic of fiction as we grow up? How is it some people retain the essence that is exploring a fictional world and some people do not?

I have three young children myself. They love to read. We take weekly (sometimes more than once a week) trips to the library. We create stories. I’ve read to them since they were infants. My husband loves to read, and obviously I do too. But I hadn’t realized until speaking with a friend the other day that this—children reading—isn’t the norm. Not all children love to read. My friend asked me, “How do you get your kids to love reading?” I stared at her blankly because it had never been any other way. I didn’t try to make them like it, it just is.

But what’s the difference?

I’ve always loved to read and I’ve always loved to write. And there have been times (see the college experience and day job experience above…) where I’ve not been able to read too much fiction, but I’ve always been drawn back to it. Since my husband is also a natural reader, is that why our children love to read? Because it is inherent in our house which is filled with close to a thousand books? Is it genetic? My parents love to read. And come to think of it, my husband’s parents also read.

Fiction is magical, it is escapism, it is world-building. When we read we imagine ourselves in the book, we imagine going through what the characters go through. We make a connection. We enjoy the journey. We like to see good triumph evil. We like to see people happy. A problem solved. A good scare. The genre you read doesn’t matter—but the act of doing so gives you satisfaction. We learn from reading—whether we realize it or not. There are several studies that have proven mental stimulation (reading, games, crosswords, researching, etc…) boosts brain power.

So if reading is good for us, makes us smarter, gives us pleasure, takes us away to another world—the world the author has created—why don’t more people do it?

Why do you enjoy reading fiction?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

William C Hammond

(Guest blog by next Sunday's chat guest. See our Schedule page for more info on Bill.)

Hello, I am looking forward to chatting with you all this Sunday evening. It's a rare opportunity to discuss not only my books, but also what lies behind the books. For example, how I made the decision to jump into the black abyss of writing historical novels in today's challenging publishing environment.

I can't say I didn't know better. I have been in the book publishing industry my entire career. I knew how imposing the odds were stacked against me. Still I persisted. Why? What motivates writers to ignore those odds and push ahead come-what-may?

If my experience should entertain you, wonderful. If it should inspire you, all the better. But I can promise you we'll have fun chatting together on Sunday.


Bill's Virtual Tour Itinerary:

11/8 The Old Salt Blog www.oldsaltblog.com text interview

11/9 Writer's Chat Room www.writerschatroom.com tour announcement

11/14 Writer's Chat Room www.writerschatroom.com live chat & hardcover giveaway

11/22 Book Chase Blog http://bookchase.blogspot.com review

11/22 Amazon http://tinyurl.com/283l9nj review

11/22 USNI http://www.usni.org/store/books/fiction/love-country review

11/22 Library Thing http://www.librarything.com/work/10489064 review

11/22 Book Blog Ning/Historical Fiction review

11/22 Curled Up www.curledup.com review

11/24 I Just Finished www.ijustfinished.com review

11/29 Our History Project www.ourhistoryproject.com review & text interview