Weekly Photo Challenge: Waiting

September 15, 2017 — This week’s photo challenge is waiting.

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Read a Classic Novel in Less Than a Minute

September 11, 2017 — Ours is a fast-paced world where everyone wants instant results.

If you’re into classic literature and the old-fashioned way of reading by the fire slows you down too much, here’s something that will help you finish a story faster than the Evelyn Wood Speed Reading course.

A site appropriately named Book-a-Minute offers ultra-condensed versions of classic novels, bedtime stories and science fiction stories that you can read — not by fire light, but at lightning fast speed.

My favorite … The Collected Works of Virginia Woolf.

Better not let the kids know about this one. Teachers would probably hate it more than Cliff Notes.

A Writer’s Challenge

August 28, 2017 – Ever heard of the term lipogram?

For someone who has written most of my life, and who has worked in the communications field for the last 20 plus years, it was a new one on me. However, this week I learned that a lipogram was a composition from which a writer systematically omits a certain letter or letters of the alphabet…on purpose…as a challenge.

An example of a successful lipogram is the novel “Gadsby”, a 1939 novel from Ernest Vincent Wright. The novel contains more than 50,000 words, but none of them include the letter “e”. That’s quite a challenge considering the “e” is a common letter.

Another type of challenge is writing extreme short fiction, known as flash fiction. Typically, flash fiction tells a complete story in less than 1,000 words, but many authors have challenged further. Legend has it, for example, that Ernest Hemingway won a bet by writing a six-word novel: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Those words tell a complete and tragic tale. Author Margaret Atwood joined in the fun and penned: “Longed for him. Got him. Shit.” That six-word novel tells a different kind of tragic story.

As a writer, I enjoy challenging myself, but I’m not ready to tackle a full-blown lipogram, unless I choose to omit the letter “x” or perhaps “z” or “q”. Any other letter would be too mind boggling. I do, however, tackle flash fiction from time to time, but haven’t yet captured the passion or drama of Hemingway or Atwood. Although I did accept a WordPress challenge a few years back to write a complete story with no more or no less than 50 words:

“The raincoat did little to keep her dry. She hadn’t bothered with an umbrella; rain hit from all sides rendering it useless. Perhaps the storm would wash away the fear that clung to her like ivy wrapping around an old tree. Giving in, she let the rain wash over her.”

The story isn’t as vividly clear as the six-word novels above, but I will forge on. Mark Twain was right when he once apologized for writing a long letter to a friend, explaining that he didn’t have time to write a shorter one. Brevity takes time.

The Test of Time

August 21, 2107 – This week marks the 77th anniversary of the movie “The Wizard of Oz.”

As a classic movie fan, it’s one of my favorites, and I love finding opportunities to watch it on the big screen. Unlike some older movies, it is as relevant and popular today as it was back then; perhaps even more so, since it wasn’t a box office hit when it was released. However, after 77 years, families still gather to watch the story of Dorothy and her three friends finding their hearts’ desire.

It has me wondering what other entertainment icons can stand the test of time?

For movies, “Casablanca” springs to mind, along with “Citizen Kane”, although the latter is not one of my favorites. I have to give honorable mention to anything by Alfred Hitchcock, and to the wonderful family movies made in the 1960s and 1970s such “The Sound of Music”, “Mary Poppins” and “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”.

When it comes to music, you have to include Frank Sinatra on the list, or anyone in the Rat Pack for that matter. They are still wildly popular today. You could also include The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan in the mix because their music still has a strong audience, even though many of the songs are 50 years old. How many people do you think will still listen to Katie Perry or Justin Bieber 50 years from now?

As for literature, you can always include “The Catcher in the Rye”, “Jane Eyre”, “Pride and Prejudice” and “The Bell Jar”. Classics will always be pushed on students, although they probably won’t appreciate them until they are adults. For popular literature, the first book that comes to mind is “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret”. Young girls will surely continue to read that wonderful story in future, and as shown above, only the cover will modernize. In addition, something tells me the Harry Potter books will stick around for a long time, too.

What else do you think will continue to be popular years from now?