Tag Archives: Blackbird House

Attack of the Procrastinator

One of my worst fears is that my procrastination will prevent my progress as a writer. It can be distressing for a writer to have a deadline looming over his/her head, but it is an occupational hazard. For most of my life, I have used deadlines and due dates as a way to push myself to write better. Procrastination is one of the worst detriments because it convinces you that you have the time and energy to get the job done later rather than sooner.

My confidence somehow enhances the more I wait to get my paper written. It defies logic that waiting until last minute will produce a good quality anything. As illogical as it seems, I follow it foolishly. This is my second critical paper for the practicum semester, and what appeared like an easy paper turned out to take a lot more time. I read Blackbird House  in plenty of time to complete the paper.

However, I am four days from the deadline, and only 2 pages into my critical essay. Am I worried? No way! Should I be? Probably. At this point in my academic/writing career, I should know better then to waste my time not finishing the paper. At the same time, I know I’m not necessarily wasting my time not doing my paper. Since I finished the book, I knew what I would write for the essay. I just haven’t been able to execute the whole thing. So, I’ve been spanning the work a little each day: brainstorm, outline, and actual then writing. Two pages down and around 3-5 pages more to go.

If I keep up a pace of 1-2 pages a day, I will finish it with time to spare. Is it procrastination to span out the work day-by-day? To me, it’s an unconventional way to get my paper done with a busy schedule. Maybe without Facebook and the allure of watching Man vs. Wild on Netflix, I’d be able to concentrate a little more. Hopefully, the procrastination will kick my adrenaline in gear to get my work done in time.

How does your procrastination attack you while writing? Does Facebook creep up every ten minutes? Do you search for activities to avoid doing your work? Share the ways you struggle with procrastination!

Happy writing/reading!

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Blackbird House, Oh how I long for you!

I recently finished my second book requirement for graduate school, and I am so excited to write this paper. Usually, a mix of fear and curiosity it what strikes me when I must write a paper for school.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy all writing, but when a grade attached there is bound to be some anxiety.

With the disappointing feeling I received from my first critical paper, I am determined to do better this time. I think the hardest part about any English assignment is the book. It doesn’t matter if the essay is 5 or 25 pages long with an annotated bibliography. If you can connect with the book on any level, especially a deep one, then the essay is going to be of a much better quality.

Alice Hoffman's Blackbird House: Member of the Ballantine Reader's Circle. It sounds important so I included it.

However, it doesn’t mean that liking a book with produce a great paper. It’s the connection to the character or the story that wills you creative mind to come up with more insightful ideas to add to your writing. So, when I read Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman in three days I was itching to get my paper started.

One of the most appealing aspects of this book lies in its format. Initially, Hoffman wrote one short story (the second to last in the book), and was convinced to write the other stories to create the collection. The placement of the stories is so interesting because it is logically make sense, but to the reader it is an adventure. She compiled the stories chronologically beginning with the first family in the 18th century.

Knowing this, you would think the reader would have a good grasp on what was in the next story. Instead, there is a sense of wonder that befalls the reader as he/she flips through the stories. Will the next story be a new family or will it continue the lives of the ones I have already attached myself to? It is impossible to know what to expect unless you have read the book before.

In addition, the aspect of the stories that draws you in is Hoffman’s use of place. Place is one of the most vital pieces of a story, and Hoffman invokes the place (Blackbird House in Cape Cod) in a magical way. Identical to the way nature writing uses place, Hoffman utilizes place as a foundation for connecting to the audience. She treats the Blackbird House and the coastal area as characters drawing the reader into the story.

When you experience the Cape, you think of the salty air, the gossip of local women, and the welcoming feeling of nature all around you. Hoffman brings the coast to life with the imagery of place, and the subtle use of fantasy. She weaves together the lives of families decades apart through this one house.  I am still sh0cked at how easily Hoffman drew me into the life of the families living on the coast. Maybe it’s because I have a desire to travel or a love of nature, but she captivated my attention with every story. Usually, there are one or two stories in a collection that I don’t favor. This collection has none of those. The only things missing from this collection were the lulls or boring spots that might appear in writing. Someone once told me: When you’re reading good writing, you won’t be able to finish it without going back and finding out the author’s name. It is that urgency that notifies you of good writing.

Since I already knew who the author was, I had a parallel experience understanding the good quality of her writing. While browsing the list of her other books, I found that she had written a book I read a long time ago. My terrible memory doesn’t allow me to remember the authors of many books I read in the past. Yet, the impression left after reading her book  Green Angel was so similar to this one that it lead me to my aha moment. The moment where you realize you recognize this author for his/her ability to connect to you no matter what they have written. While Green Angel was a children’s book, the voice of Hoffman spoke to me in a powerful way.

I could have qualms about the book such as the stories all ending without me wanting them to, but those are qualms that will stay silent. As a writer, I am so proud to be in this profession with authors like Hoffman. I went on to research her other books, hell-bent on reading all of them. She is not my favorite author (yet), but I have become a fast fan after being reunited with her work. I would suggest her work to any with an affinity towards nature or any use of fantasy. She has a well-rounded use of imagery and dialogue, with descriptions that paint a picture immediately in your mind.

With my positive review, I look forward to writing this critical essay. It’s not just because I enjoyed the stories. I paid more attention to what made the book special rather than forcing myself to look deeper into the book. I just hope my other two assigned books move me as much as this one.

Happy reading and writing, readers!

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