I have a confession to make. Well…maybe more than one confession. I truly hope this truth I’m about to spew out to the world at large won’t be held against me, but I’m willing to take that chance.
You see….I’ve tried. I’ve really, really tried. But I cannot bring myself to sit down with something that is known as a “classic” and profess to enjoy it. I’m a simple minded gal. I like a nice love story, some hot sex, and the occasional thrill of suspense thrown in now and again. So I told myself, if I can read a book or two every week, what’s a little classic like “Pride & Prejudice” or “War and Peace”?
I admit, I was and am smitten with the theatrical version of “Pride & Prejudice” (the Keira Knightly one). I’ve watched it more than a few dozen times – can recite most of the dialogue by heart – so really….how hard could one little British literary piece be to read?
In one word…brutal. Freaking brutal.
Please do not misunderstand me; I fully respect the works of Austen and Dickens and the others. But when I have to re-read an entire paragraph two or three times just to figure out what’s being said, I quickly find myself wandering off into la-la land, composing my grocery list in my head.
As I said, I’m a simple-minded gal.
I did somehow manage to finish the book, although I was so relieved when it was over that I found myself happy dancing all through the house. Then I got this bright idea….I’ll attempt to work my way through the classics one by one. I mean, what could be more brutal than “Pride & Prejudice”?
Anything Shakespeare, apparently.
Once again, I found myself watching a “classic” – “Great Expectations” – in lieu of actually reading it. In fact, I was SO enamored with the story that I watched every version I could get my hands on. Then I downloaded the book, opened up Chapter 1….and soon I was snoring.
I’m an embarrassment to writers everywhere.
How can I possibly call myself a writer, an author, and yet I can’t manage to find joy in the beautifully written words of the great ones? I’m not a stupid person (at least not today), and I didn’t go to college, but I consider myself a learned person. I pay attention to the world around me. I somehow managed to raise two kids without scarring or harming them in any way. I’ve held long term, decent jobs. And yet you put “Grapes of Wrath” in front of me and somehow my brain decides to go on permanent hiatus.
I’m an embarrassment to myself!
I remember in high school I read “Wuthering Heights” (yes, I’ve seen the movie too), and I recall getting about half-way through it before I started to wander. I’m pretty sure I finished it, but I’ll be damned if I can tell you what happens at the end (cheating and pulling facts from the movie is just lame, so I won’t do it).
I’m not giving up. I am on the hunt for the great classic that will hold this simple-minded gal’s attention. I have my sights set on “The Raven”, because I’m told Poe is a genius. That he may be, but I have my doubts that even Poe will be able to keep my inept mind from wandering.
I’m not sure why I have this driven need to read these great works. Do I believe it will make me a better person? No, not particularly. A better writer? Probably. It’s fair to say that I’m not exactly the next Austen or Dickens. I write contemporary romance. Simple stories with great big love on every page. I write heartache too, but nothing I pen will every compare to the angst between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth.
You know what, that’s absolutely okay. I like my stories. Hell, I love my stories. My characters are people I’d like to hang out with, drink a few glasses of wine with, spend a lifetime getting to know. Isn’t that what we strive for…to write people like you and me? People who are flawed…scared…angry…broken. Human.
Austen and Dickens and Poe may have written amazingly crafted stories, but at the heart their stories are just like mine; tales about people experiencing life.
For a simple-minded gal like me, that’s perfectly okay.
PS. In case you’re wondering, since I first crafted this blog post (two or three months ago), I’ve yet to actually start reading “The Raven”. Apparently I need to confess that I’m also a procrastinator (rolls eyes at self, searches for wine glass).