As most of you know, I homeschool and I’m religious. This means when I hang with peers, the conversation turns ULTRA conservative. Blanket statements that are clearly biased are applauded and held in high esteem. Yet I am writing a YA novel – that makes me a candidate for someday having a hand in pop culture. Something I find myself at odds with whenever I am with that group of people.
Today a friend of mine who I think is an incredible woman wrote her opinion that is sadly pretty typical of homeschooling parents, and I think it’s vile. It might shock her to know I feel so passionately that way about something we’re both passionate about — Shakespeare! We both love Shakespeare (maybe a better term is she relishes his work, I enjoy his works), we both have our children study him, we both think he’s a must for a good education.
First, you can read her entire blog post HERE. It’s a nice post on why you should make Shakespeare a part of your homeschooling curriculum. That I didn’t object to. What I objected to was her sample paragraph showing off Shakespearean quotes in which she states her opinion, “I don’t think there is an author today that can hold a candle to his command of the English language”.
Do you realize how fast that paragraph would have been ripped to shreds by the cliché watchdogs? The entire paragraph, even the notion that modern authors suck compared to the classics, is CLICHE! Modern authors have the distinct obligation to create new cliché’s for the future. In Shakespeare’s time, he wasn’t a classic. HE WAS POP CULTURE! I fell in love with Dave Wolverton when he told us that Stephen King had been dubbed the new Shakespeare.
Rachel would have died.
I am so sick of people telling me that I’m writing “twaddle” (thank you very much Charlotte Mason). While I agree that some of pop culture IS tripe and I truly, truly mean that, there are some superior books out there. The Bard focused on a gift he had. It is ridiculous to assume that no one can or ever will be as gifted. Will he always be a classic? Yes, because he wraps his stories around principles that are timeless. So do modern authors.
It reminds me of the time a kindred spirit told me that Harry Potter was a bent book and would never be in her home. I looked at her and said, “What are you talking about? A bent book means it portrays evil as good and good as evil. Voldermort is ALWAYS evil, and Harry is always good.”
“Oh no, he’s not,” she said. “He’s always braking the rules and getting away with it.”
“That’s true,” I agreed. “He is also the protagonist who must have a weakness to overcome. If he were perfect there would be no depth to the character — no inner weakness to overcome. And he doesn’t always get away with it, and in Book Five he confesses he’s been a real jerk.” (Uh – anyone relate to THAT?)
She hadn’t made it to book five. And a few weeks later, she was declaring her war against Harry Potter to some other unsuspecting soul that wasn’t armed with knowledge like I was. I just shook my head and moved on. Some will listen, and some want to remain ignorant. Some want to believe that the only use for a bookstore is to read classics, while others will only buy what’s popular. BOTH are missing out.
I’ve chosen not to hang out with those that preach “read classics only”. I’m still friends with them. We might go do this thing or that thing, but I’ve kept exposure down to a minimum. My reasoning for this (some of you might have heard me say this before) is I don’t want my writing to die by association. I can’t write when people are telling me that modern authors don’t have anything good to say. Hello? I’M a modern author! I can’t hang around people who find evil in fantasy such as, “All that witchcraft and sorcery. It’s EVIL, and it’s turning our children towards the occult!” Oh yeah, I’ve heard it all. *sigh*
Instead, I’m transitioning. I still homeschool; I’m still religious. But I’m also a mom with a future career in writing. Not sappy love stories like the ones I’ve read by local authors that have everything tied up in a bow as the couple goes to the temple to get married and everyone in the book winks. What is it with this culture and winking?? No, I write stories where evil is VERY evil and people die. I write stories where good IS good, but have to struggle to stay that way. I write fantasy, because I AM religious, and I think there’s no better way to use a metaphor to theology than that of the magical realm. Call me crazy, but I think all this stereotype crap is a matter of perspective. Give me some friends who think fantasy rocks… who thinks writing is getting better. Some friends that see a benefit for reading the old, AND the new. Interestingly, the authors I enjoy reading the most are those that are widely read.
And maybe someday, I’ll have a command of the English language like Shakespeare. There are some authors that I think already DO. But I won’t write like him, because that day is over. Modern writers write for today – just as he did. 🙂