I was in my Scriptorium (study) writing my second novel when the doorbell broke my train of thought.
It was my Long Lost Cousin (LLC), who I hadn’t seen for a few weeks. I almost thought he was going to become “long lost” again after we have been re-united!
I ushered him into the lounge.
“Hi cousin, what have you been up to lately?” he asked nonchalantly.
“Well, I just finished posting my current blog.”
“Oh, I was going to ask you how you come up with your blog stories? They are very interesting.”
“Well, I try to write blogs that are relevant and topical, about issues that affect people. I create a character with a problem that puts them in conflict with themselves (in their mind) and others. Then comes the narrative and dialogue tension. I try to help the character through their problem (through research) which is interesting information for the reader. I inject some humor, but there is always a serious side to the story. I do all this in about 500 to 600 words!”
“Boy! Cousin, that’s a terrific recipe for a short post.”
“I think so,” I smiled.
“I notice a few classics on your bookshelf. What is a classic, anyway? And what makes them interesting to you?” LLC looked pensive.
“You are full of questions today!”
“Yes, I feel like expanding my brain today!” LLC said laughing.
“Not so long ago, I met an interesting fella at a literary lunch. He told me he had read many of the classics in literature in his life and he talked constantly about them.”
My cousin looked very interested in my tale.
“This chap held all of us at the table spellbound! When we mentioned a book he would tell us the deeper meaning of the story in his opinion.”
He was better than all the speakers that day!
“This chap whet my appetite to do some study of the classics myself. And the first question I had, was just like you, what is a classic?”
“Well, I’m glad I asked an intelligent question,” smiled LLC.
“Shall we have a drink, cousin? Whiskey on the rocks?”
“Oh, that sounds great.”
I brought our drinks and we both savored our first sip!
I continued, “A classic is a written work that is TIMELESS and TIMELY! They’re NOT stale and dusty as some people think. Many of us have grown up with these stories but really didn’t understand their deeper meanings.”
“So cousin, reading the classics will help us understand history better and make it come alive.”
“That’s exactly correct. The classics have insights in them that challenge us, today and tomorrow!”
“So, the ideas in the classics are timeless and topical.”
“Right cousin, hence, Shakespeare is for “all the ages!”
We both pondered that thought while we took another sip of our drink.
“What are you into at the moment as far as studying the classics?”
“At the moment I’m into the American classics. Reading these books is like a window into the culture of the time the author was writing in.”
“So, you will learn a lot about America?”
“Right on, cousin. The American classics are the STORIED past of the country.”
“What will you be reading about?”
“I’ll be reading about the Salem Witch Trials, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Gold Rush, the Great War of 1914-1918, the glitzy 20’s and the depression 30’s. Stories of human experience in these times, so we understand them better.”
“So, they will supply you with the “inside” story.”
“Yes, they will because the events will appear to us through the author’s writing, as the dynamics of living people in the stories, rather than facts and dates that people memorize!”
“It all sounds very interesting. I think I will get into the classics.”
We both finished our whiskeys.
“Yes, by all means get started on the classics. You will learn so much. For example, the decline of values after WW1 and then the Great Depression come to us in the descriptive writing of Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Steinbeck. These authors speak in their moment and give us understanding of the past that echoes right up to the present!”
“I can’t wait to get started.”
“Good for you, cousin. Enjoy the world of classic literature.”
There was a moment of silence as if everything we were discussing was sinking into our minds, like a sponge!
“Someone once said, “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say!”
“Hey! I like that quote,” said LLC as he was leaving.
“One final thought before you go:
WHEN YOU READ A CLASSIC, THE AUTHOR TRANSFORMS HISTORY INTO UNDERSTANDING!”