One of the joys, and sometimes a time-suck, of the Internet is starting with one thing that leads to another, then another, sometimes so many places you forgot where you started.
Yeah, so am I. 🙂
So, this is how it started. I came here yesterday to put a few notes in for today’s blog. Of course, first, I checked stats. Don’t all bloggers do that? Don’t say, “no.” Please don’t say, “no.”
Anyway, while checking where folks visit from, I noted that I had a new referrer from a site called Craft Your Content. Their link took me to one of their older posts Famous Authors and Their Writing Styles.
Since I almost always hop over to a site like that. Just in case. You know, just in case my name might be there. But, seriously, I do enjoy reading about other authors, and inevitably learn something from a blog piece like that one. Sometimes it’s a little known fact about a writer. Did you know James Joyce could speak 17 languages? Have you read his books?
My college literature class had Ulysses as a must-read on the curriculum, so I, um, struggled through it. A bit of punctuation along the way would’ve improved that experience as a comma or a period gives a reader a chance to catch her breath. I used to like to challenge myself when swimming to hold my breath longer than a minute, but while reading, I prefer the normal 12 to 16 breaths per minute. 🙂
But, back to the topic at hand.
While I enjoyed reading about the other authors mentioned in the article on the Craft Your Content website, I was thrilled to be introduced to a writer I’d never heard about before. Not surprisingly, on the never-hear-of front, she’s an author of color, and like so many important people of color who are never given their due, her work was overlooked for many years. Then in the early 70s her books were reprinted.
The writer is Zora Neale Hurston born in 1891, who later became the most successful and most significant black woman writer of the first half of the 20th century. Over a career that spanned more than 30 years, she published four novels, two books of folklore, an autobiography, numerous short stories, and several essays, articles and plays.
According to her bio on the about Zora Neale Hurston page of her website, she had quite a flair for the dramatic. I loved the story of her going to a party after a major awards ceremony where she’d won second place for a short story and another for her stage-play Color Struck: She strode into the room–jammed with writers and arts patrons, black and white–and flung a long, richly colored scarf around her neck with dramatic flourish as she bellowed a reminder of the title of her winning play: “Colooooooor Struuckkkk!”
That must have been quite a moment, for her and for the others at the party and exemplifies her strength and determination. It’s nicely summed up in the following quote that’s at the top of her website, taken from a letter she wrote to Countee Cullen, a well-known poet and author writing during what is known as the Harlem Renaissance.
“I have the nerve to walk my own way, however hard, in my search for reality, rather than climb upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions.” Zora Neal Hurston
If you’ve stayed with me this far, thank you, and if you’ve followed some of those links, you can see how my quick, five-minute-tops, visit to the blog turned into almost two hours of site-hopping and writing.
Was it time wasted? I don’t think so. I learned a lot and was introduced to this terrific writer. After reading a sample of her book, Their Eyes Were Watching God, I bought the book. And it was this sample that started my quest to learn about some authors I was never exposed to in my literature classes.
Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the book:
The sun was gone, but he had left his footprints in the sky. It was the time for sitting on porches beside the road. It was the time to hear things and talk. These sitters had been tongueless, earless, eyeless conveniences all day long. Mules and other brutes had occupied their skins. But now, the sun and the boss man were gone, so the skins felt powerful and human. They became Lords of sounds and lesser things. They passed Nations through their mouths. They sat in judgment.
Seeing the woman as she was, made them remember the envy they had stored up from other times. So they chewed up the back parts of their minds and swallowed with relish. They made burning statements with questions, and killing tools out of laughs. It was mass cruelty. A mood come alive. Words walking without masters; walking together like Harmony in a song.
Did I pique your interest for this book, and others from Ms. Hurston? I hope so.
Okay, I’m out of here for the weekend. Nothing real exciting planned, but I do always make time for some relaxing coloring or puzzling. What do you have planned? Whatever it is, be happy. Be safe.