Writing About Genius: Discussing Authors on a Blog

I tolerate Garrison Keillor, but I am not sure how much I like him.

While I am impressed that he can write a two-hour show each week (and that is an accomplishment, make no mistake), I never found his fiction to be very good– comforting, yes; good, no. When planning for a trip to Italy with my wife, I picked up a bunch of his novels for all of the driving from tourist site to tourist site.  Well, on day two of the trip, I gave his books to another traveler, and picked up some new books at a bus stop… Yeah, that says everything right there.

So why do I bring up Mr. Keillor? Frankly, I don’t think he helps the image of English majors and readers on his show. English majors (and I will include librarians with us since they get attacked as well) in his opinion seem to always live a life of illusion, false grandeur.  Making us almost something to be pitied or laughed at… and they laugh every week.

Yes, English majors really don’t serve much of a purpose in the economy, no business manager has ever demanded an HR department to hire a new English major. When it comes to the American dream of moving up ladders and finding success, English majors are on the outskirts; because, honestly, our dreams are different.

Yes,  I really don’t think that Keillor is fair to us English majors, since I truly believe good readers have a stronger sense of humanity and a greater understanding of the importance of life (and our limited time alive) than those that don’t embrace reading. We aren’t rich, but we live our life to the fullest (doing typically what we love), and all of that can be attributed, in my opinion, to a love of stories.

What are stories but a celebration of life? What are stories but a continual lesson to look at your time here on this planet as something to be cherished with each decision having meaning?

Whenever I write about an author here on my blog I usually try to focus in on a few things:

  1. I try to tell my personal story about the author. Yes, I like to feel that readers should feel somehow connected to their authors; since the authors and their readers are sharing a bond through the story.
  2. I like to discuss the connection of the author to the community, be it in the literary culture or the culture as a whole.
  3. I like to explain why they are important artistically.
  4. I hope, and pray, I inspire a reader of my blog to pick up one of the author’s works.

Number 4 is the most important one in the list to me.

I think in our congested writing marketplace today the great writers and works can be lost, forced to the cheap paperback items at the front of the story, or printed into badly-designed hardcovers that may look impressive on a shelf, and yet have ugly or too-small a font inside for actual reading.

Also, I am sad to note, that many in our culture (readers, non-readers, writers, and non-writers) don’t show the respect for the classic works that they should, or honor the achievement of those authors.

Would you spray paint over the Mona Lisa? Of course, not. But would you write Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? Think about it.

Also, it seems often these days when I read current writers (published and self-published), I can sometimes tell that they aren’t readers. How? Because they miss opportunities that a well-read person would not have missed.

It takes years of study and observation to be a good painter, it takes years of training and study to be a skilled dancer or choreographer. Why does everyone think it is easy to be an author? Is it because we all think we know how to write since we learned basic sentence structure in high school? It’s not enough, it will never be enough to be an artist.

Okay, I’m ranting… I don’t like to rant, but literature is important to me. It inspires me and I hope it inspires you as well.

Jane Austen inspired me to create my novel  A Jane Austen Daydream, Dante inspired my comedy radio series The Dante Experience, etc. Would I have created these works (and others) if I didn’t know these writers, read their works?

Probably not.

Since I’ve started this blog, I’ve written on a few authors. Here are links to some of my personal essays on authors.

I hope in the future to tackle other authors.

But the thing is, I would love for other writing blogs to do the same. We need to take back our authors, our literary ancestors, put them back on their pedestals. Celebrate the artform, cherish the books that make English majors, English majors.

Okay fellow readers, here is my burning question, what authors would you like to write about today?

If you liked reading my article (and maybe my book in process, Permanent Spring Showers), why not check out some of my published books? I had two novels published in the last few years, My Problem With Doors and Megan. You can find them via my amazon.com author page here, or as an eBook on Google eBooks here.  Thanks for reading!

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6 responses

  1. Pingback: My Writing Journey: Unbridled Genius « Reading 'En Vogue'

  2. Yes… so true… the market is much saturated with underrated quality of books. Books have become nothing more than a profitable commodity while literature floats in the sewers. I suppose that’s what you get when marketing and finance are the main aim of publishers. It’s all very sad really.

    Looking forward to reading your essays and I’m happy you followed me on Twitter, thus allowing to discover your lovely blog!

  3. Pingback: Love me (do) | Life as Improvisation

  4. Pingback: Writing About Writing About Writing About Writing « The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

  5. Pingback: The Folio Society: Celebrating Literature « The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

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