Thursday, January 28, 2016

I'm Doing the 2016 Blogging from A to Z Challenge!

Yesterday, after visiting Alex Cavanaugh’s blog, I signed up for this April’s Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Participants are expected to blog about topics starting with the letter A on April 1, B on April 2, and so forth. During this month, bloggers visit one another and leave comments, and hopefully make new connections. I did the A to Z challenge for two years straight, and then I took a break for two years. When I did this challenge, I found the experience very rewarding because I got to connect with new writers and know some writers I already knew even better. I do remember visiting a few blogs and repeatedly leaving comments day after day without any reciprocation; from reading the recaps, it appears this happened to others too. So my goal in April is to seek out bloggers and writers with like-minded goals and intentions.

Are you doing the Blogging from A to Z challenge this year?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

My Thoughts on Atticus Finch in GO SET A WATCHMAN

Over the holidays, I read Harper Lee’s GO SET A WATCHMAN, something I pledged to do last year when the book came out in the midst of controversies and rumors surrounding its release.

The book further confirmed for me Lee's writing abilities. 

Before beginning WATCHMAN, I was uncertain about whether I should read the book as a standalone, a sequel, or a companion novel set in an alternate universe against MOCKINGBIRD's original setting. As I got into the book, my mind chose to lean on the book as a sequel, a continuation of MOCKINGBIRD.

The big twist in WATCHMAN is that Atticus Finch transforms from being MOCKINGBIRD’s progressive to an old man with racist views. According to Internet buzz, this widely publicized spoiler was a deterrent to reading the book for some. I was quite disappointed but not crazy shocked by the spoiler. Sometimes people change their political views over time. This is what I believe happened to Atticus. Not saying this is the conclusion Lee intended to convey, but that's the interpretation I choose. Being aware that real people can have more than one face, it isn't much of a stretch to accept that characters can be inconsistent in fiction too. 

I think the book spoiler might lead people to believe Atticus has become a racist rhetoric spewing ignoramus 24/7. The idea would make him easier to hate. But Lee also portrayed Atticus as an affectionate father to Jean Louise and the caretaker of the orphaned Henry Clinton, even helping to pay for his mother's funeral. So Lee painted a really complicated, flawed character in this new but certainly not improved Atticus that can incite endless reader discussions.

While I dislike the person Atticus has become, I don't consider him the story's main antagonist. For me, the true villain of the story is the deceptively charming community of Maycomb, Alabama. Here, neighbors bake for one another, attend church together, and seem to consider themselves respectable people, in spite of their terribly vile attitudes toward African Americans. I choose to believe Atticus in MOCKINGBIRD did start out as an idealist  but his views simply changed over time because he remained in Maycomb and sadly, allowed the town to seduce him to its way of thinking. Sometimes someone can faithfully live by one set of values but only until another party brainwashes them into assuming another values system.      

Have you read WATCHMAN? Have your political views shifted on any issue since your youth? Have you ever been an insider or outsider of a deceptively charming community? 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

IWSG: Birthdays

Today is IWSG day, a monthly event Alex Cavanaugh started to get writers sharing about their insecurities and other stuff going on in their lives.

What makes this particular IWSG post special is that today is my birthday. Birthdays, for me, tend to be a time of self-assessment. For the last few years, these reflections often veer into something like “I’m X years old, and I’m still an unpublished author. Bah.”

While 2015 had its ups, it also came with downs. Fall was especially tough and emotionally challenging. Through these challenges, I found myself better appreciating the beauty of what was around me. A few incidents, unfortunately, also opened my eyes to the ugliness in some people around me. Maybe I had to experience the ugly in order to better cherish what's beautiful.

During my student days, getting through a tough test made me better enjoy the clean crisp air outside, regardless of how I think I scored. It was just a relief to be out.

Likewise, today, rather than lamenting that I’m still an unpublished author, I just feel grateful for my family and friends (especially my true writer friends who have been so supportive over the years), that I have a 90% completed first draft of a YA manuscript, a PB manuscript in progress, a metaphorical garden of ideas, and that even though I'm not a published fiction author yet, I am blessed to work as a professional journalist.

What do you think about on your birthdays?