Friday, April 30, 2010

Name That Poet #7

Let's try for this one, a poem by another great contemporary American author. So, name and title, if you can guess.

They were women then
My mama's generation
Husky of voice--stout of
With fists as well as
How they battered down
And ironed
Starched white
How they led
Headragged generals
Across mined
To discover books
A place for us
How they knew what we
Must know
Without knowing a page
Of it

Good luck to all! The time has passed..... And the answer is: Alice Walker

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New Age Reading Habits

As a teacher, I've found more and more evidence of a behavior that has me both frustrated and a bit angry. I see these young adults struggling to sustain even a modicum of attention to reading. Now, I know some of you will question: aren't all teens restless and constantly moving from one task to another? Well, yes they are. And the revelation as to why (or at least a major part of that reason) boinked me on the head with a great big DUH! and cried, "It's all that new-age technology, dummy!"

It made sense, even if I didn't like what I was hearing. Kids have the attention span of an ant, or at least a good many of them do. I've watched them cruising the Internet, switch web pages as quickly and often as my hubby switches channels on TV. With all that glowing glitter and glitz shining and speeding in front their eyes, what hope is there for plain pages with black print, and line after line of literary prose? Several paragraphs into page one, give or take a few, and they are nodding off, floating away, their minds totally gone from the book in front of them. If you don't believe it, read these words from Mark Dykeman: "There's no doubt that the way we read
Web pages, and our on-line content preferences, have a major impact on what we read, how long we read, and how attentively we read when on-line." THE EFFECTS OF THE INTERNET ON READING HABITS

You mean it's not just the kids? (Seriously, do you think adults are immune to all that the Internet has to give? Not to mention all the video games out there to amuse us.) Well, welcome to the new-age technology. And it's not going away.

Okay, so after this rather lengthy intro, I'm going to go to where I was heading in the first place. After all, this is a blog about writing.

If reading habits have changed, does this mean what you write should change? Should authors be thinking in terms of what will appeal to those attention-deficit readers? And how exactly should they do this? Well, you can write that action-packed, fast paced adventure. Or use the let's-make-chapters-short-and-sweet format. Two or three pages tops, then you're on to the next. Just ask James Patterson. It works for him. Maybe shorter novels to appeal to the e-reader crowd could be your choice. Is the idea driving you crazy, yet? It almost sounds like giving in, doesn't it? I mean, the idea of writing an instant soup version of what could otherwise be the next masterpiece, like a Hemingway or Steinbeck or (place your mentor author here) seems sacrilegious.

Well, let's face facts. If you are writing to get published and sell books, you have to appeal to the market. However, if you write for art's sake, and publishing isn't your prime objective, then stay the course. Write what you want, how you want, and of course, how MUCH you want. Just don't expect MY students to read it! Seriously, it's a difficult decision, deciding what will sell, what editors, publishers, and agents will like. Then again, nobody said it would be easy, did they?

So, do you think readers have changed their habits? Should writers change along with them? And how do feel about what you write? Let me hear your thoughts.

Name That Novel #17

It's been quite awhile, my dear blogging friends. But now I am back on to bring you more Name That Novel intrigue. So, let's see what you can do with this classic. Title and Author, if you please:

"My father had a small estate in Nottinghamshire; I was the third of five sons. He sent me to Emanual College in Cambridge, at fourteen years old, where I resided three years, and applied myself close to my studies.... I laid them out in learning Navigation, and other parts of the mathematicks...."

Good luck to all!