To Be Literary or Not To Be…

When this month’s topic came up, “Literary Love”, I scratched my head for a number of days trying to decide what to write about.  Literary Love? Love of the literary?  But…but…I like fun books. Genre stuff. Thrillers. Books with serial killers. Romance with mushy, guaranteed happy endings.

So truth be told, I don’t feel all that qualified to have a discussion on “literary.”   I read the required reading in high school.  But when it comes to enjoyment, I go straight for the genre books.  And I’ve been told year after year that “commercial” fiction and “literary” fiction are not one in the same.  Okay. Fine.  I’m good with that.

So I decided to look up the dictionary definition of “literary” and look for a loop-hole instead.  The first definition that popped up is: pertaining to or of the nature of books and writings, especially those classed as literature.

jeannie_youngThe nature of books or writings.  To me, that means back to the basics.. back to the beginning.  My love of books and writing came when I was just six years old. (That’s me to the right, at about that age.)  I sat down, write my first short story that I was supposed to read out-loud in Sunday school.  I remember the day I wrote it. I remember how I scooted up to my little, white Princess study desk.  I remember when I wrote The End and dropped my pencil.  I jumped up, papers in hand and ran down the carpeted hallway to my parent’s room to share my joy.

From there, writing was not only a part of my life, it was a part of me.  I wrote my first book in 7th grade — or rather, during seventh grade.  My teacher at first tried to admonish me, but then she said, “You’re writing a BOOK. How can that be bad?” and let me write in class instead.  Whether I wrote journals, fiction, poetry or something else, writing and books have always been a part of my being.

But that moment — when I dropped my pencil on my desk at the age of six was a moment that changed my life.  It was the day my love of all things literary — of writing, of reading, of books — was born.  That feeling was pure joy, one of those pure “Yes!” moments that come so rarely in life.   All my life, it felt like a natural thing that I discovered that love at that age.  Now, as a parent, it marvels me. My son is seven years old, and it amazes me to think that the things he loves today just might stay with him for his entire life.  Mine certainly has.

What about you? When did your moment of “Yes!” –about anything–come around in your life?

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About Jeannie Ruesch

Jeannie Ruesch is an author of historical romantic suspense, a graphic designer, a mom and an avid fan of popcorn. Her next book, CLOAKED IN DANGER, comes out January 27, 2014— “...larger-than-life characters, a vivid and believable setting, heart-pounding romance and just the right amount of mystery. Don’t miss it! It kept me reading deep into the night.” — New York Times Bestselling Author Brenda Novak

13 thoughts on “To Be Literary or Not To Be…

    • I have been so lucky in my teachers. While I’ve had the curmudgeons, I’ve also had a sprinkling of really, truly amazing teachers who gave me something invaluable. My 7th grade English teacher (who was sort of ditzy, fun and bigger than life) gave me belief that what I was doing was GOOD, worthy and completely doable.

  1. That’s so cool, Jeannie! I’d be curious when your love of design and art came along. If I could build a personal timeline, it would show that my love of art predates everything–but my love of art in books came right along with it. The love of words was there all along, lurking in the shadows, but didn’t come fully into the light until much, much later in life.

    • Hi Lisa! My love of design actually came later in life, while I was on the quest for the “day job.” I was working in the computer tech industry (Silicon Valley, what can I say) and noticed that what I was most jazzed about working on revolved around making things LOOK good. So in my mid-twenties, I got my degree in Computer Graphic Arts and the day job went from there. My love of words was definitely my first love, and I think everything wraps around that. It all boils down to communication for me — getting the right message across, evoking emotion — words and images are my outlet to do that. So here’s a question — if you had to choose only one, which would you choose??

    • It was such a great feeling at such a young age, wasn’t it? When I finished that first story — it was only a handful of pages (probably 3) but it was MINE. It was a fully formed story, with a beginning and an end. I have a lot of pieces of memories from being a child, but this one is one of the ones that stands out in bright, bold colors.

  2. I LOVE how your teacher encouraged you to write. That’s so wonderful. And, personally, I think labels like “literary” and “commercial” are silly. Words on a page … are “literary.” Period. 🙂 (Just the labeled “literary” words have more syllables)

    • I do, too. The labels make it seem like one is better, more valuable, more “important” than the other. That one book, because it’s literary, will have more effect than the one that talks of love or murder.

      I learned to love history through historical romances. I learned to be fascinated by psychology in part from books about serial killers and why people do what they do. There is so much to be found in ANY book. Heck, even the books I read to my son have great lessons to learn. A book is a book. Period. (Just like you said.)

  3. In the fourth grade, we were given the assignment of writing a short story (with drawn pictures for each page). I don’t know if this happened to everyone’s story, but my teacher made a copy of my “book” for each classmate, complete with laminated cover and ring-binding spines. I was so proud, so happy. I knew writing would be something to bring me great joy. I also remember writing a poem in the fifth or sixth grade. My teacher wrote the poem up on the chalk board and made the whole class copy it into their notebooks. I was pretty proud of that moment too. 🙂

    • What great moments! To have your work showcased in such a way… that’s huge. And I think the more we’re encouraged as children to look at our creative work as not just great and fun, but with potential and possibility, the more open we’ll be to whatever we want to do.

  4. I wrote my first short story way back around the same age; during a summer program my elementary school ran for us toddlers. They had science clubs, math clubs, etc. But I chose the Short Story Workshop for Kids, or whatever it was called haha it was so long ago. But I remember when I wrote my first short story, even though it was only a few pages, I remember the feeling I got when I saw the words splayed on the paper. And it was definitely a big fat YES. Unfortunately I never really had anyone that encouraged me to write, so that’s awesome you did 😀

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