As I'm behind with LJ, I probably won't be able to comment on as many posts as I would like, but
Congrats to all of you who did NaNo! This year I just never got started. I said I'd do Novel in 90 instead of NaNo -- then didn't even manage to make a start on that. However, now I have the essay out of the way, there's quite a gap until the next one, so I'll poke at some stories and try to get one going again. I can maintain progress while doing other things, even fairly demanding things, but I can't find enough brain capacity to get a stalled project moving and trawl through two long novels and half a dozen critical essays in order to put a coherent argument together.
Of course until I get the marked assignment back, I don't know whether I have -- put a coherent argument together, that is -- but I have to admit that I now have a much higher regard for Little Women than I did previously. Lousia May Alcott is a much cleverer writer than I gave her credit for. Also, everyone tends to look at the female characters, because, well, duh! little women, but in this essay I was asked to look at the male roles and they're much more interesting than a cursory glance would lead to you believe.
Basically, my argument was that you shouldn't believe what Alcott says overtly. Look at how she shows the characters. The showing completely contradicts the telling, and I don't think readers miss that, even if they don't consciously realise it. I certainly didn't realise it consciously as a child, but I did take the message on board subliminally.
I mean how many of you really think that Jo was happy giving up her writing and marrying Prof Bhaer? How many of you think that Laurie should have torn up his music manuscripts and devoted himself to business or that Amy should stop painting? Do I see any hands raised? I thought not. :)
The other novel I had to use in the essay was Treasure Island, but I decided that was really just, 'Yay! Pirates! Treasure! Aventure!' and lacked any hidden depths. Though it was better written then I expected and -- considering it was written in 1868 well before cinema -- it's very cinematic. It's no wonder it's been filmed so many times with another one coming out on Sky at Christmas.
Interestingly, Stevenson wrote it while he was stuck convelescing in a cottage in the middle of nowhere and turned out a chapter a morning so he could read it to his family in the evening. So not unlike a NaNo project then!