Anthony Trollope, the Victorian novelist, was a married postal clerk who wrote forty-seven novels, two plays, eighteen travel books, and dozens of short stories. Dame Barbara Cartland, another Brit, wrote 722 novels, averaging one book every forty days of her career. Spaniard Corín Tellado wrote 4,000 novellas.
Meanwhile, J.D. Salinger wrote four books, the last in 1963, though his Catcher in the Rye was still selling 250,000 copies a year up to his death in 2010. Sixty years (1934-1994) passed between Henry Roth’s first and second novels, Call It Sleep and Mercy of a Rude Stream. Harper Lee wrote one astounding novel, won the Pulitzer, and never published again.
Most of us are somewhere between these writers. We’re not word-volcanoes spewing stories, nor do we champion the myth of “writer’s block.” We still fall into two categories, though: waterwheels or hummingbirds.
“New Year, same world. But new garment, new birth—new person.” – Jesus (paraphrase)
Here are the top five recent posts from this year, according to page views. May your year be more than a new number on the calendar!
1. We're Made of Dirt
Let's remember, we're all Adams here. Excuse my dust, please.
2. An Inconvenient Messiah
God didn't bother becoming a man to fulfill somebody else's agenda.
3. God Gives the Increase
God, never just a cheerleader, is the wellspring of everything we can accomplish on our "own."
4. What's Write for You?
Define your own way of writing, from the chair you choose to how often you write.
5. God Had a Seventh Day - Why Not You?
Rest is vital to the creative process. No one demonstrates this better than God.
“Classic—a book which people praise and don’t read.” – Mark Twain
If you went to a normal American high school, then you probably sat through normal American litorture—that’s my horrible hybrid word of “literature” and “torture.” Maybe you listened to Faulkner’s Sound and endured his Fury, or said Farewell to Hemingway’s Arms. Maybe you read The Great Gatsby (I couldn’t come up with a pun for that). If you love books as much as I do, then you might have felt puzzled, or even ashamed, if you happened to think the hallowed canon didn’t live up to its laurels.
But isn’t it heresy to frown at the work of these dead, bearded, alcohol-tolerant men? (Yes, I know, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s face was as smooth as a doll. But still!)
The summer view from my backyard...no copyright violations here!
The Bible tells us that Creation (capital-C intended) involved six days of labor—dividing the waters, flinging the sun and stars into orbit, seeding the dead earth, and stitching together a strange little hominid named the human. After that, God took a break. On the seventh day he rested (Genesis 2:2). Isn’t that the impression some of us get from Scripture, that God was tuckered out from all the making and finally decided to collapse on heaven’s sofa?
I remember a joke from my elementary school days: “Your mama’s so fat, it took God six days to make her, and on the seventh day he RESTED!” Leave aside for a moment your joy that public school kids would be so familiar with Genesis. Realize instead that people often assume creation—whether by God directly, or by him through us—involves exhaustion…depletion…weariness…
But if God is infinite (Psalm 145:3), then how could he get tired as we limited beings do?
Behind the shed in my parents’ backyard, a cluster of purple coneflowers grows within a shelter of high grass. Despite their healthy blooms, I recently caught something gnawing at those flowers, and it wasn’t the usual rabbit (see picture at left). Tendrils of ivy have curled about the stalks and petals, blending with the greenery even as they wind tighter and strangle it.
I warned my father that he shouldn’t let those vines grow in his garden. “But they’re beautiful,” he protested.
Anthony Otten has published stories in Jabberwock Review, Valparaiso Fiction Review, Wind, Still: The Journal, and others. He has been a finalist for the Hargrove Editors' Prize in Fiction. He lives in Kentucky.
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