Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon – Midway & Beyond

I have survived more than half of the read-a-thon so far. I was nearing the halfway mark on City of Glass, by Cassandra Clare when I had to pack up and go out again for my semi-monthly writer’s group meeting. Since I am supposed to be working on a writing goal this month, I figured I shouldn’t skip out on this.

While I was out and about earlier today taking my boys to their soccer games, I got to read a few pages of the ebook I started prior to this challenge – Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman. I read a bit more of this while I ate dinner, and I am close to finishing this book.

I also had to take a little mini-break this afternoon, and laid down with my eyes closed for about twenty minutes or so while I listened to This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein. I was a little concerned I would fall asleep, however, so I didn’t let myself get too comfortable.

I have been able to keep to a pretty normal meal schedule so far, though not particularly healthy. Things could get interesting later as I head into the wee hours. I’m still feeling pretty good so far, and I feel pretty confident I can make it through this event. Though, I do wish I was a faster reader, and could get through more books than I’ve been able to so far today.

Recap of what I’ve read so far today:
Numbers Chapter 3, by Moses – 1 page
Down Cut Shin Creek, by Kathi Appelt & Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer – 55 pages
City of Glass, by Cassandra Clare – pages 1-178, 178 pages
Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman – pages 224-270, 34 pages
This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein – 35 minutes/20 pages (approx.)
The Silver Chair, by C. S. Lewis – pages 110-121, 11 pages
Total pages: 299

I missed the mid-point survey, so I’ll put it in here:

1. What are you reading right now?
City of Glass, by Cassandra Clare and Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman.

2. How many books have you read so far?
I finished one and read/listened to parts of four others.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
I’d just like to finish the one(s) I’m already working on!

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Just soccer games and writing group meetings. Nothing major! No, the real interruptions (the unplanned variety) have been all of my own making – checking the blog, Twitter, Goodreads, etc.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon so far?
I don’t think I’ve really been surprised by anything. Disappointed in my page count, perhaps, but not surprised.

Six more hours to go. What are you reading?

On Narnia and Where the Wild Things Are: C. S. Lewis and the Importance of Influence and Collaboration for Writers

When I set about reviewing the book, The Magician’s Nephew, I wanted to know more about the author, C. S. Lewis. I learned some interesting facts about this prolific writer, and I thought, why not share what I’ve learned. However, when it came time to actually write up a little biography of the man, I was overcome by one thought: what could I possible share that hasn’t already been shared a hundred times? My only answer that is I can share my own thoughts on what I learned about C. S. Lewis.

There were two things that immediately jumped out at me when I started my research. The first thing I found interesting was learning whose writing influenced that of C. S. Lewis. The second was his involvement in a group of writing men from Oxford that included none other than one of my personal writing heroes, J. R. R. Tolkien.

Influence

In his early childhood, Lewis loved the books by Beatrix Potter with the talking animals that dressed in human clothes. Along with his older brother, Warren, he created a world of his own called Boxen populated with fantastic creatures, and complete with its own intricate history. These writings were published after Lewis’s death.

In his later writings, Lewis attributes his Irish heritage as one of the greatest influences on his work. His early work in particular draws heavily on Irish mythology. He discovered a liking for the work of W. B. Yeats. He wrote in a letter, “I have here discovered an author exactly after my own heart, whom I am sure you would delight in, W. B. Yeats. He writes plays and poems of rare spirit and beauty about our old Irish mythology.”

This made me think about who I would consider to be influences on my own work. If I really spent some time on this, I could come up with a large number of writers who had an impact on me as a person, and who inspired my own writing. I don’t remember much of my very young years, but a few exceptions have survived into adulthood, most notably, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. I don’t remember specific attachments to these books, but I find in them an endearing sense of wonder and adventure.

Growing into adulthood, I found among others, The Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Both of these stories feature young women who grow up to become writers, which inspired me to seek out my own voice as these women had done.

At some point I discovered fantasy novels, and while I don’t remember for sure what I read first, The Lord of Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien was certainly the most significant. Here I discovered something I hadn’t found before in books. I could create whole worlds from nothing. And this is what I wanted to do.

Collaboration

The second part of what impressed me about C. S. Lewis was his writing group, called The Inklings. This was an informal group of hugely prolific writers which included Lewis’s brother, Warren, J. R. R. Tolkien, Owen Barfield and Charles Williams. They met together regularly, critiquing one other’s work, and inspiring and challenging each other. Lewis’s character Ransom from his science fiction series, the Space Trilogy, is believed to be based on Tolkien.

What I get from this, is writing is not a solitary endeavor. Writers, like any other human, need the social interactions of other humans, especially other writers. I know I am at my best when I have the energy of other writers to spur me on. Some of my most productive writing sessions have come during National Novel Writing Month at live write-ins when there are dozens of other writers working furiously alongside me toward the same goal.

I’ve also been involved in two writers’ groups where we’ve met together on a regular basis. Encouragement, motivation, inspiration, accountability. A significant amount of the work I’ve completed is a direct result of working alongside other writers. Writers do better together.

C. S. Lewis published more than thirty books, from fantasy and science fiction to poetry to theological apologetics. He wrote about what interested him, spurred on by the encouragement and challenges of other writers.

C. S. Lewis titles I’d like to read:

  • the Chronicles of Narnia series
  • the Space Trilogy
  • The Screwtape Letters
  • Mere Christianity

Read more about C. S. Lewis here.

The Magician’s Nephew: a Review

541346_515751555101767_565697047_n

I started my 2016 Reading Challenge with The Magician’s Nephew, by C. S. Lewis, which is the second book on my list as I didn’t yet have the first one, and I just couldn’t wait a moment longer. So, on a Thursday, a work day no less, I chose to begin reading the one book I was supposed to read in a day. It took me all day, reading on breaks and between fixing dinner for my children and putting them to bed, but I did read it in a day.

The Magician’s Nephew is the story of Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer. The two young children meet one cold, wet summer in London and begin a friendship that will carry them through some wild adventures. They travel to another world, encounter a wicked witch and embark on a journey that will test their new friendship.

C. S. Lewis wrote a charming, childhood tale that takes the reader on a wild, magical adventure to other worlds. The main characters, Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer are typical curious and adventurous children. Lewis portrays well the innocent, yet self-centered nature of a child as the two new friends explore, play and fight with one another. Despite the trouble they manage to find, both of their own making, and that of others, love and friendship win out in the end.

Little Digory Kirke is the true hero of this tale. Pulled from his country home and thrust into an unfamiliar and unfriendly city, Digory manages to find friendship and hold on to a childlike innocence despite the wickedness of the adults around him. Faced with choices no child should have to make, he proves that good can overcome.

Originally published in 1955 as the sixth book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, The Magician’s Nephew, is really a prequel, and probably not meant to be read as the first book. When the books were reprinted in 1980 by Harper Collins, they were reordered at that time to a chronological sequence. But many, perhaps most, Lewis scholars feel this was not the author’s intention. You can read the debate here and decide for yourself.

Lewis wrote from an omniscient narrator point of view. There is considerable authorial intrusion with the narrator often breaking into the story to speak directly to the reader. Some might find this too intrusive, but for the most part, I felt this gave a sort of storyteller feel to the book. For the most part. Meaning there were a couple of instances where the intrusion was a little disruptive.

Over all, I enjoyed this book, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series. Though, I think I will go back and start with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Maybe I can talk my boys into reading it with me.