Why? Is the puzzled look I get when I explain I am about to embark on the annual A-Z blog challenge again. My friends have seen me through two already and still do not get it. To be fair they are not bloggers, or even writers, yes I have friends who are not writers:) They do not understand the buzz from achieving a set number of blogs in 26 days all constrained by the letter of the alphabet. They don’t understand the challenge of setting oneself a theme and having to find a blog to do with, say, that pesky Q or the terrible X. Of course one doesn’t have to set a theme but I do because it is another challenge and it wakes up the creative juices something wonderfully in Spring.
My first attempt had a fair amount about my travels during a long life and how they tied in and connected with other parts of my life, a few were about cats , gardens and archives, not a complete theme then! Last year I tried world building, an aspect us writers are always concerned about, but the world I built was the one we live in now and this led me from neolithic times to the future and was such fun to do.
This is the great point I think, the A-Z is such fun to do. Getting one’s own blogs out on time, then hoping through as much of the list as one can (and the list grows each year) and reading others – what a variety of blogs can be found.
So this year, what to do? Reading I thought, go through a few of the thousand of books I have read over half a century of reading. Impossible! I had to concede, as the list of important books, important to me that is, grew like Jack’s beanstalk ever upward. Now what? Well I was stuck at that point for many a week and while I was stuck I wandered to the shelves and located some of my favourite books, my childhood books, those that took me through my teens and youthful adulthood, those who went travelling with me. I pulled out new and old and curling up began, as every compulsive reader will do, to dip into, read, ponder and think about them.
Bearing in mind I had to fit each blog to the correct letter of the alphabet I realised that a different theme was emerging, not just my favourite reads but the many changes over that period, in the culture, the world and Universe. I was amazed at how well some had held up over time and how others would surely have fallen by the wayside if I hadn’t been a pack rat born of a long line of pack rats.
Language, style and acceptability were showing up huge differences none of which I had been aware off, as I had moved seamlessly through the 20th century into the 21st, absorbing the changes as I went. Some genres such as science fiction of course would have changed, after all those go way back and I had read Verne and Wells. From the long beautiful descriptions of the Victorians to the equally enjoyable sharp sparse prose of today. It has been a fascinating journey back through my life.
Many of these treasured hoarded books of my life have been through four or five floods (being dried out under the sun’s rays – not good for colours or covers- and anything up to ten house moves. They are many of them dull of colour, tatty of interior. A good make over desired but never to come. The pages are spotted with age, the smell is no longer of new leather and crisp paper, instead there is must and dust, river odours and excitement. Some have my childish scrawl declaring ownership, stains of orange juice,(my favourite read was a new book and a Jaffa orange!) A few hold together still, by the slenderest of stringing. Ugly, plain, battered and forlorn many of them appear to be, but they are so full of memories they are all beautiful to me.
This year, come the beginning of April, I begin a journey through my life of books and reading. Many of the books were written decades, maybe centuries ago and as such reflect the age they were penned. They may well be matters that are not today considered political correct but I will not be apologising for the matters, these were the books I read and were the books that helped to shape me. I will try not to quote what I know will cause offence to many but I do not know what will cause offence to all, so please bear with the general spirit of the theme. Books are always a reflection of history, I accept the style and language of writing change as our culture changes but I do not accept that the books themselves should be changed – be brought up to date with views now. How do we learn how society improves(or not) if we meddle with the original and whitewash history – there lies the path to the Ministry of Truth (and lies)
For all my fellow A-Zers and readers of blogs – have a happy blast of an April