2016 brought some pretty dramatic changes for me, not the least of which was that I started home-schooling my 13 year old son. In doing research on homeschooling, I found several resources on classical education, including the book, The Well-Educated Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer. It’s a guide to giving yourself a great books education by reading a representative sample of fiction, non-fiction, history, drama, and poetry from all eras of human history.
In looking through Bauer’s lists, and others, I had the wonderfully exciting idea to build my own Great Books library inside my home. Because I can’t just do something simply; I always have to turn it into a project. So there is a sitting room off of the master bedroom that I currently use for sorting laundry. It has no furniture, no decor, and basically, no utility. I have piles of books leaning against the wall in cardboard boxes. It’s a complete waste of space. If I put in built-in bookshelves along the far wall, I could use them to store my great books as I acquired and read them. In the end, I would have 1) a beautiful bookshelf displaying 2) a world-class library in 3) a non-laundry-filled sitting room.
I think this is going to be my goal for 2016: A Great Books Library.
My main character, Roland, goes through quite a transformation over the course of my novel. He cleans himself up, stops acting like a dick, and quits smoking… all for a girl. He also loses a bit of weight and starts exercising. This is a painful process for Roland. He’s never exercised a day in his life.
As the author, I owe it to Roland and the readers to paint a picture of Roland’s roller coaster ride of ups and downs as he goes through this transformation. Part of me can use my imagination. I watched my dad quit smoking so I can draw from that, but I’ve never successfully quit a bad habit myself. I think it’s time to put myself to the test, all in the spirit of getting inside my character’s head.
I just saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo the other night and am now reading the book. Naturally, I was disturbed by some of the scenes I saw in the movie and will take no pleasure in reading them when I get to those parts in the book, but I understand why the author included them. Bad things happen to people in real life; to ignore them in our fiction is to bury our heads in the sand. But it made me wonder… Could I write scenes like that? You know what I mean- the gritty, horrible, sadistic, cover-your-hand-over-your-eyes-because-you-feel-dirty-watching-them scenes.
Today is Memorial Day. It’s a day of cookouts, family get-togethers, and weekend sales. It’s a day off from school, from work, from the gym. It’s a day of insane traffic while everybody comes back from the beach. It’s a day to go to the newly-opened pools, have a beer, spend time with the kids, the neighbors, the family. A day to relax.
And throughout all of that, most importantly, it’s a day to reflect on the countless men and women who will never enjoy those things again because they selflessly gave their lives for this country. Continue reading “On Memorial Day”→