April 2, 2012

A Writer's Life - The curtains were blue ...

Copyright by Memecenter

Don't we all remember those dreaded times when we had to read books for class (that part wasn't so bad) and then the teacher would dwell hours on one particular paragraph, literally analyzing it to death. Said teacher also managed to bore all students to death during those hours. If you ask me it's teachers like these who transform potential book lovers into book avoiders. Not to say that happened to me, but in all honesty, as much as I love reading, hold one of the books we had to read for class in front of my nose and see me doing a very good impression of the Scream mask. I'm not joking.

Authors may put a whole lot of hidden meaning into tiny little details that the reader must excavate to fully appreciate the story. Or do they? Some do, others don't. Some authors love to convey their messages through "blue curtains", others just give thought to setting the scene and oddly enough blue curtains go wonderfully well with the colorful vintage furniture in our hero's humble abode. In the end it's always the details that make the book work - from the elaborate descriptions of a place to the detailed descriptions of a character's thoughts, from the inconspicuous to the accidental straight to the obvious. A well-wrought map that composes the story.

And maybe it's just me, but as much as I love how details can eg unravel a mystery in a book - and I'm saying this as a reader and a writer - I'm not much for taking a story apart word by word. If you must, feel free to do so, but let me tell you this: Reading is about more than the forest. It's about the trees that make the forest the place it is. It's not about each and every pine needle on the forest's floor. Still the pine trees are definitely important. I obviously love analogies like this. Still, those curtains are blue for no reason.

Fun fact: While you refer to a person being blue when they are sad in the English language, if you refer to someone as blue in German, that person would be drunk! That opens up a whole new perspective for our blue curtained hero.


  1. OMG, I had to pin this! So funny. The curtains were fucking blue! So true, too.

  2. Love your post! I keep on trying to make students see, during the English Reading Club I coordinate that literature is not just about looking for a meaning in everything, literature can be read just for fun, but they mainly struggle with this idea because during literature classes in Romanian, they know they have to looking for meaning and analyze every word and quote...

  3. I always hated the analyzing too!

  4. I didn't mind analysing novels at school/uni too much. But I HATED analysing poetry. When the lecturer would ask why we thought Shakespeare had used such and such a metaphor in his sonnet I would think 'maybe he just thought the line sounded nice, maybe he didn't even know it was a metaphor'. It ruined poetry for me at school and even now I don't read much because of that.

  5. Like I always say - teachers can ruin the beauty of reading for kids that way! You really don't have to analyze every little detail, sometimes you should just enjoy the world the author created.

  6. My teachers often didn't over-analyse novels; they only pointed out the deeper meanings if they seemed obvious once you saw them.
    My problem was visual literacy. Jesus! We had to write a whole page of notes on a single scene in Atonement. I really doubt the director meant even half of those interpretations.