Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Once Upon a Time…

A writer friend, Barb sent me a link to a blog post, Scariness in Fictionland by Athol Dickson. These days, I haven’t kept up with information about the writing world, and I definitely don’t bother with articles on ‘how to write’. It’s not that I’m a snob and know everything there is to know about writing, it’s just that I feel writing takes practice—individual practice. If I was completely clueless about how to write a novel, short story or poetry, then I would look for some form of guidance; although it’s only bits and pieces I take and leave the rest of the lecture behind.

Since I’ve been separated from the writing world—submerged in my own work—I hadn’t kept up with what is being said out there. So this blog post by Athol Dickson really opened my eyes to writing and what some authors are saying. As he states on his blog, “I’ve seen dozens of emails from other authors who claim they strongly dislike the first person point of view.” Okay, I see we all have our favorites, certain things we enjoy reading, but for an author to commit to such a hard statement is serious. If authors begin to omit first person POV, if publishing companies put all first person POV’s in the slush pile, then we have wiped out a part of literature that’s been around since language kissed our lips.

Athol points out that this isn’t the impossible. “…the reading public came to prefer the stark and spare Modernist style of literature which had been almost universally forced upon them, not because it’s necessarily better in any way, but simply because it had indeed been so universally forced upon them…Also, it’s a well-known psychological fact that we develop habits mainly because they are more convenient.” We find ourselves becoming habitual and accepting without question. It’s easy to follow the leader—the dictators telling us what we should do, watch, buy, yet it’s, as the cliché goes, ‘killing us softly’.

- Once upon a time, a man by the name of Mark Twain wrote a story “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” using the word 'nigger’ and ‘Injun Joe’.

- Once upon a time, there were these places called book stores, where you could wander the isles and topics to pick your favorites.

The sad thing is that I could probably find at least half of the people I know never read ”The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, and that their children probably never heard of Mark Twain or even seen his picture…or any of the classics.

I had to write this post because it’s dear to my heart—my manuscript (novel) is in first person POV. It’s fine to like or dislike writing styles and genres, but writers should not be too hasty to make changes to the written word. Writing allows independent thought and creativity, so to stifle this in others would be a grave mistake. 

As much as I want change to occur in life, I also want us to keep and remember values and history that taught us about life and what brought us here. Some might think it’s not a big deal that the classics are changed or aren’t read along with any other book for that matter. Some might think it’s not a big deal that book stores won’t exist—Amazon is convenient. I say it is a big deal. It’s a big deal to starve your mind. It’s a big deal that book stores won’t exist—a place where people can socially meet—to actually have contact with others. These fundamental beauties in life should continue to be cherished. Let’s not live a lifetime and find ourselves saying to younger generations, “Once upon a time…” when it isn’t in an actual book.


  1. nice post, tot.

    hope all is well,


  2. Thanks, m. ;) Everything is good. Heading to Italy now.

    Take care and hope everyone is well on your end.

  3. Great post!! I've only read a few 1st person & really liked them & wanted to try it myself.
    Italy? You suck! *waits for pics*

  4. Hello, writer friend. Excellent post. I love your passion about all this, and, of course, I agree with the danger of group-think as well.

    I have a natural bent & preference towards 1st Person, and I never even would have imagined it's a POV that could be phased out. But then, when you assess how passe` 3rd Person Omniscient has become--a bona fide no-no according to many *cough* writing "experts"--well you can start to see how it could happen.

    Buon appetito in Italy. (Italian is my favorite type of food!)

    Barb, waiting for pictures, too :)