April 23, 2019
Near and dear to this author’s heart is World Book and Copyright Day – celebrated annually on April 23. Created in 1995 the purpose of the day is to “recognize the scope of books – a link between the past and the future, a bridge between generations and across cultures.”
One of the more interesting aspects of World Book day, however, is how the date was chosen and why. The infallible Wikipedia, as it so often does, offers some insight:
“The original idea was of the Valencian writer Vicente Clavel Andrés as a way to honour the author Miguel de Cervantes, first on 7 October, his birth date, then on 23 April, his death date. In 1995 UNESCO decided that the World Book and Copyright Day would be celebrated on 23 April, as the date is also the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, as well as that of the birth or death of several other prominent authors. (In a historical coincidence, Shakespeare and Cervantes died on the same date — 23 April 1616 — but not on the same day, as at the time, Spain used the Gregorian calendar and England used the Julian calendar; Shakespeare actually died 10 days after Cervantes died, on 3 May of the Gregorian calendar.)”
Shakespeare, perhaps more than any person who has ever lived, was the most prolific of authors. He published 37 plays and 154 sonnets and today, 503 years after his death, his plays are still being performed and his written works analyzed and contemplated. Talk about staying power!
Several years ago I read a book which made the claim that every plot line ever imagined was written by Shakespeare. Modern writers, it stated, might as well give it up and quit writing stories since they cannot match Shakespeare.
To me, this was a very sad and cynical thought. Plus it misses the point about the human mind and heart and the individual’s desire – I would argue need – to pursue one’s passions in life.
When I reflect back on my earliest interests, one stands out: the desire to write. What better way to capture thoughts and the emotions of a time and place? I dabbled in fiction writing while in high school and penned a thinly cloaked autobiographical story titled “Another Lunch.” It told the story of Bernice, Deborah, and Cynthia, three friends whose singular focus seemed to be the pursuit of boys.
I would add to the ‘book’ as new adventures occurred, writing them down over the weekend, then bringing the updated story to school for the ‘real’ Deborah and Cynthia to read. In time some of the ‘boys’ and other peripheral characters – perhaps recognizing themselves in the story – also started to read the book. It was passed around like an annual at graduation for everyone to peruse.
Sadly, “Another Lunch” disappeared in the spring of my Senior year, no doubt lost in the hovel of some student’s bedroom destined to be discarded by an irritated mother who saw it as worthless.
My ‘fiction’ writing lay dormant for years until the day I walked into a novel writing class at Bellevue Community College. Taught by published author Janet Lee Carey, it was structured into two parts. The first was a 45 minute lecture on the elements of writing fiction. The second half was an opportunity for all of us aspiring authors to read a scene or two from our current work in progress.
That very first class I devoured everything which Janet shared as if I was encountering a feast after a years’ long fast. It was what happened in the second part of the class that day which confirmed for me that I was a reluctant writer who had finally found her home.
I listened to the stories which my classmates shared for critique and a voice inside my own head whispered to me, “You can write just as well as them.”
Later that day I started on my first novel, determined to find a way to complete a 90,000 word book – standard length. There was no better feeling than when, months later, I wrote the words “The End.” I had done it! But it was more than that. Writing provided an outlet for the jumble of thoughts which crowd my brain, a virtual sieve to separate the chaff from the grain.
Today I am still compelled to write. In addition to fiction, my Tuesday Newsday blog has taken on a life of its own. Now in the third year, this post is the 106th that I’ve published. For me it doesn’t matter if its novels or short personal essays (such as this one) it’s the writing that matters.
Finally, a nod to my fellow Anonymous Authors, who brighten my Tuesday mornings with their stories, critiques, and friendship: Roger, Jette, Ward, Daphne, Irene, Steve, and May.
A bit of information about World Book and Copyright day: