Writer Spotlight – Margaret Atwood

Happy Monday!

Today marks the first day of me finally sharing some of the ideas I had way back in February when I first said I planned on making different content…but then didn’t.

This “series” I guess you could say, will be focusing on various writers. The reason I wanted to make this series is that I love reading about writers. I enjoy hearing about how writing shaped their lives and the steps they wandered to become successful. So, mashing that all together in blog posts like this will not only educate me on some of my favourite writers but also give you guys quick access to this type of info! If you have any writer requests, make sure you let me know but for today, we will be discussing and exploring the life of Margaret Atwood. 

Who IS Margaret Atwood?

Image result for margaret atwoodImage result for margaret atwood books

Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Margaret Atwood is a successful Canadian writer of both prose and poetry. Writing since the young age of 5, but becoming more serious at 15, she published her first book of poetry at the age of 21 called “Double Persephone” that contrasted life and death. She completed her degree in English Literature at Victoria College at the University of Toronto in the same year as the publication of “Dark Persephone”, even going on to complete a master’s degree the following year from Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In her 74 years of writing, Atwood has published 17 books of poetry, 16 novels, 10 books of non-fiction, 8 collections of short fiction, 8 children’s books, and 1 graphic novel. It is safe to say she has been busy, exploring role reversal, new beginnings, human behaviour, and celebrating the natural world in her writing. In all of her pieces, feminism is also a major theme. Basically, Atwood is an example of the success of someone due to not sitting still. She jumps for the type of writing to the genre, grabbing ever flicker of creativity and twisting it into something no reader ever expected.

My Conclusion: Why Is Margaret Atwood So Successful?

At the end of every one of these author “spotlights”, I really wanted to sit back after analyzing their lives and try to spot what it is they did that led them to a successful career in writing. For some, it is luck, but it is clear from Atwood’s life and story that she got where she is now because of hard work. That and trying everything. She didn’t confine herself to one mode of writing, or one genre, or one type of story. She wrote poems and short stories and novels. She tried everything and kept trying until things worked. In my opinion, that is an essential part of succeeding as a writer: not sitting still. Never waiting. Never wondering. Only thinking about writing and actually writing which is the only way you end up with 40+ books published.

Interviews with Margaret Atwood:

https://lithub.com/margaret-atwood-on-how-she-came-to-write-the-handmaids-tale/

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/04/17/margaret-atwood-the-prophet-of-dystopia

Atwood’s Writing Tips:

  • Explore outside
  • Read constantly
  • Don’t listen to the critics
  • Start writing any way you can
  • Write every day no matter how awful you feel

I know this was short, but this was really my intro to writing this type of “fun fact”, biography post. I do really hope you guys enjoyed it and even learned something new. I also hope you guys decide to give Margaret Atwood a look! Personally, I haven’t read too much Atwood because only lately, has her type of work been in my interests, but I have read some of her poetry books as well as her book on writing. Some of her popular books that you should all give a try (including myself) are The Handmaiden’s Tale and Hagseed!

Anyways, make sure you let me know what you thought of this blog post below, and also don’t forget to check out my last blog post. Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: My Favourite Books of 2019…So Far

 

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@zoematherswrites

Bibliography

http://margaretatwood.ca/biography/

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Margaret-Atwood

https://www.standoutbooks.com/margaret-atwood-writing-advice/

https://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/7-tips-writers-margaret-atwood

Anthem by Ayn Rand – Book Review

Happy Thursday!

In the next few weeks, I am going to be putting out more book reviews than usual so I thought I would reacquaint myself with them by reviewing the last book I finished…which was Anthem by Ayn Rand. Why was I reading this book you ask?? Well, it was for an essay scholarship that I shrugged to and said why not? I know there is controversy surrounding this writer, but I am going to be putting that aside for the moment and instead, focusing on the actual story of Anthem. There WILL be spoilers so if you don’t mind, then keep reading!

Anthem by Ayn Rand is described as a dystopian novel set in a world where society has erased the individuality of the word “I” and has replaced it with a collective “w”, however, our main character Equality 7-2521 dares to defy society in order to regain his individual freedom stolen from him. While at first, this book was confusing characterwise because the narrative of this story is told by “we”, “our”, “they” so I thought Equality 7-2521 and all the other strange names, were collective groups of people. However, I reached the end and realized that was not the case but in reality, society had gone as far to strip people of saying “I” so Equality was only one person. This book will get you thinking about where society has been in the past and even right now, with socialism countries and all, but it also offers you the opportunity to value your individuality that we carry so easily and effortlessly without fathoming its disappearance.

While this book is very short (105 pages), I thought Rand managed to tell a story that ended satisfactorily. Anthem begins with Equality 7-2521 standing in front of the Council with dreams of being allowed into the Home of the Scholars, however, instead, they are placed in the Home of the Street Sweepers. When they tumble into a strange hole in the ground that leads to a cave full of forbidden manuscripts, later on, they read and discover all the things their society has stolen from them: the overall thing being each person’s individuality and freedom of choice. What I found interesting about the first part of the plot, is that once Equality found the cave, his goal didn’t immediately switch to the idea of “fixing the world” that they end with. The plot switched to him realizing that with all this knowledge, he might be able to stand before the World Council of Scholars and be allowed into the Home of the Scholars. It isn’t until the Council cowers at his re-invention of lightning, does he realize that will never happen. Also, by this point, he has fallen in love with the Golden One so he doesn’t need the Home of the Scholars, right? No! He can just run into the forest with her and tell himself that when his son is born, he will be a man who knows of the word and meaning of “I” while the rest of society is a massive dependent group of “we’s”.

I enjoyed this book but I do not have any plans of re-reading it…ever. I have read a bit of Fountainhead by Ayn Rand in the past, so I kind of knew what I was getting myself into with this one and I was spot on. All of her books continuously feature male characters with women being faint characters in the background that pop up every so often with no real meaning. Also, whenever she refers to being successful, Rand will write about winning the minds of men or in Anthem towards the end when Equality is ranting about his newfound discovery of individuality, it goes a little something like this:

  • “Many men in the Homes of the Scholars have had strange new ideas in the past…” – pg. 73
  • “And man will go on. Man, not men.” – pg. 104

Yes, so this book is about regaining individual freedom BUT Equality only ever refers to men as the ones who deserve and need it. Never women or generalizing to people. I guess I understand why it is like this to a point, as Ayn Rand is a writer from the 1950s and equality (haha, how contradictory since the main character’s name is Equality) wasn’t super “in” back then. (Wow, that sounded dumb when I re-read it and really sad.) But still! Jane Austen wrote female characters who were strong, independent, and intelligent, not just flimsy things meant to aid the men in the book. So actually, I take that back! I do not understand Ayn Rand’s words at all!

One thing I really wanted to touch on is Equality 7-2521 as a character. Since Equality is unable to have personal likes and dislikes and whatnot, they felt like a bland structure that every author takes to tailor their characters to. However, we do see them having conflicting thoughts to society in the beginning, and that only continues to grow throughout the story until Equality seizes the word “I” for himself. Equality was not likable or unlikable…so I do not have too much to say. They were not the smartest at times, for example, when they brought the “box of lightning” to the World Council of Scholars! Like what are you doing? They know this existed at one point AS YOU READ IN THE FORBIDDEN MANUSCRIPTS, so why are you showing them that you broke all of their laws? Whatever, it’s fine. It’s fine. One thing I did not like about Equality aka Prometheus though was how Rand revealed that the Golden One aka Gaea was PREGNANT. I hope that a few years passed since they met before she got pregnant because um…SHE WAS 17 WHEN THEY MET. Also, I think he was 21 so one, ILLEGAL and two, SHE IS ONLY 17. So yes, really hoping it was like a “five years later” thing at the least.

For me, this was a 3-star read because while I had my problems with it, the story was interesting and there wasn’t a point in the book where I looked at the ceiling with desperation for it to be over. If you enjoy books influenced heavily by philosophical elements, meaning you are fans of Camu, Sartre, or other philosophy writers, I would think about checking Ayn Rand out.

Anyways, that is all for this review and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: Cowering Through Life – A Poem

 

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@zoematherswrites

5 Goals Every Writer Should Set + How to Stay Accountable

It is essential to have goals if you are a writer, especially if you plan on going somewhere with your writing. Most important though, it is essential to actually stick to those goals because otherwise you won’t find yourself where you want to be by the time the next year comes rolling around, and trust me, it will come a lot faster than anticipated. A lot of people make the mistake of setting these massive goals and then giving up two weeks into the new year, so today I will be sharing some of my personal ideas, goals and tips centered around creating and sticking to writing related goals!

BeFunky Design

 

  1. Write Everyday – If you are a writer, you probably already write everyday. I know I do, even if it is not related to my fiction writing. Writing everyday includes writing a story, essay, blog post, or even a journal entry, really anything that relates to using your writing muscle. This is a really easy goal to make, and honestly it may be the easiest one to keep up with. Just set aside anywhere between ten minutes to even an hour in the morning, afternoon or evening and write in your journal or even a quick blog post. The point is, to be a writer, you have to actually write.
  2. Submit to At Least One Literary Magazine or Writing Contest – It amazes me how many people don’t take the opportunity to submit their work to literary magazines or writing contests, especially if it is completely free for you to do! Submitting your work to magazines is a great way to get your name and work out there and the writing world, and even possibly make some money off of the thing you love to do. If you need some recommendations for literary magazines to submit to, definitely check out my blog post where I share 10 literary magazines that are completely free to submit to!
  3. Read, Read, Read – This is an obvious one, but it is one that needs to be  enforced because sometimes we get so caught up with our writing that we forget to read. Reading helps motivate and inspire us to write, and is an essential ingredient to creating a story. Even if you are caught up in writing your own story, don’t forget to crack open a book even if it is just for 15 minutes a day.
  4. Participate in Camp NaNoWriMo/NaNoWriMo – Camp NaNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo give you the motivation (and excuse) to write during the month of July and November, and give you a reason to connect with other writers from around the world. Even if you do not reach the goal of 50k words in a month, as long as NaNoWriMo gets you to write something I see that as a huge success! So definitely add participating in Camp NaNoWriMo or NaNoWriMo to your goals for 2018 because it is such a fun and beneficial experience. it will amaze you how much of a manuscript you can get done in a short period of time.
  5. Connect With Other Writers – This had never been a goal of mine until this year, when I realized how important it is to connect with other writers. Writing is a lonely task, and if you have someone else to discuss writing with, it will make it less lonely. Also, by connecting with other writers you can share your work with each other, get feedback and learn how to give feedback too; all things that benefit and create a well-rounded writer!

BeFunky Design

When it comes to staying accountable to your goals, it is important to one, create goals that are not too far out of reach, but just far enough to get you out of your comfort zone and two, create goals that you control the outcome of. By this I mean not writing down I resolve to win one writing contest this year…because while that would be amazing, you are not in control of who the judges choose. Instead, choose a broader goal like I resolve to enter one writing contest this year. Now that is something you can control. And finally third, create goals but also create a plan to achieve those goals. It is easy to write down I resolve to enter one writing contest this year, but how are you going to actually do this? Are you going to write everyday for two weeks before the contest? Are you going to start editing three days before? These are important things to think of when writing down your goals, and it will make them so much easier to achieve when you know exactly how you are going to do it.

Ways I stay accountable to my goals are by treating myself to a reward if I write everyday for a week, or accomplish a goal by submitting different pieces of work to a few literary magazines or writing contests. If you reward yourself, you will find yourself feeling more motivated to accomplishing the goals on your list. Another way I make sure I accomplish my goals, is by setting reminders on my phone because sometimes I honestly just forget. Sometimes I need that reminder to sit down and write for thirty minutes, or sometimes I forget that a writing contest deadline is coming up. Writing it down isn’t always enough.

 

Those are some goals every writer should set and also how to stay accountable. Hopefully this was somewhat helpful to you, and gave you some ideas of what goals you should set of yourself as a writer, but if you have some more goal ideas definitely leave them in the comments! If you liked this blog post please like it so I know to make more, and also don’t forget to check out my last blog post: 10 Literary Magazines To Submit To (NO FEES) 🙂