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Go Set A Watchman

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I’ve been dragging my feet writing this post and just as I suspected, the hype, hoopla, and reviews of Go Set A Watchman have settled down, if not gone away altogether. As they should.

Imagine if Universal Studios got their hands on one of Steven Spielberg’s 8mm teenage attempts at filmmaking. Now imagine if they took one of those movies, burned it to DVD, and sold it as “Steven Spielberg’s Lost Movie.” I’m not sure it would sell well. I’m pretty sure it was never intended for public viewing. Maybe some die-hard fans or curiosity seekers would buy, but most of us would continue to enjoy the massive body of quality work he already has out there.

Harper Lee and her original publisher never intended Go Set A Watchman to see the light of day. It was a rejected draft, that inspired and eventually became To Kill A Mockingbird. Unfortunately, Harper Lee didn’t have anything else out there. She became this elusive, mysterious person living under the guidance and protection of her close relatives. The world wanted more.

Harper Lee’s sister, Alice Lee – an Alabama lawyer, took care of most of her legal affairs. She passed away in November of 2014. On 3 February 2015, Harper Collins announced they had acquired the manuscript and the rights to publish Go Set A Watchman.

Despite the reports that Harper Lee was thrilled to have her book published, I can’t shake the feeling that a wrong was done.

These are the reservations I carried with me as I read the novel. Since I distrusted the acquisition of the draft and motivation for publishing, I was also less inclined to believe that the publisher left the manuscript as they found it. Therefore, it is hard to review or comment on a novel surrounded by so many questions.

I can only share my impressions….

~ At times it reads like fan-fiction. (My first reaction when Hank, who was never mentioned in TKAM, shows up as Scout’s love interest.)

~ There were discrepancies in some details that indicated a need for more editing such as: references to the house they grew up in, and the time-frame of Cal’s departure from the household. (this would support the claim that they published it “as is”)

~ I don’t “buy” Scout as Jean Louise. I’ve read other reviewers who claim that the character reads exactly as they would have expected Scout to be as a grown-up, because it was just like her. That is precisely the problem. How many of us act just like our 6,7,8 year old self? I certainly expect Jean Louise to have the spunk and personality of Scout, but so often in the book, she acts like a petulant child, rather than a mature young woman.

~ It tries too hard to be a racially controversial novel with Jean Louise/Harper Lee constantly moralizing to the readers. TKAM reported life, as it happened, through the eyes of a child. We heard and saw the clear message and injustice in the world without petulant speeches.

All this being said…am I glad I read it? Absolutely.

In the author/publishing world this book was the biggest news of the year, and I choose to be relevant. And…despite my complaints, there were parts where I lost myself in the story and fully enjoyed Harper Lee’s prose.

Even as Go Set A Watchman falls off the bestseller lists and turns up on dusty shelves in used bookstores, it has given us an invaluable glimpse into the life and work of a writer. We have seen what usually remains hidden…the first envisioning, the first ideas, the first completed draft of a novel that through many revisions and reworkings became the Pulitzer prize winning book To Kill A Mockingbird.

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Posted by on September 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Almost Famous

When I began to pursue writing, my dad gave me some advice, “you need to be able to be found.” In order to build an audience who would read my stuff, I needed an on-line presence.

So I googled myself…and I discovered that my name is extremely common…and a rising music artist popping onto the scene who shares my name means that the first ten pages of a google search are mostly devoted to her.

Recently someone tagged me on twitter and instagram saying they were enjoying my “musical stylings.” @kathryndeanofficial jumped in to correct the mistaken identity. (What makes her any more official? I’m also officially Kathryn Dean. I have a drivers license, social security card, and passport to prove it.) 😉

Coincidentally, I am also a musician. Okay, so I’m not exactly famous unless you count the autographs I signed as a member of the Iowa State Fair Singers, but I’ve been a singer most of my life. It fascinates me to see the commonalities in interests and professional pursuits that many Kathryn Deans share. (An interesting takeaway from my google search)

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Kathryn Dean (official)                                                  Kathryn Dean

(In the first picture, I clearly have my stage makeup on)

Another Kathryn Dean I am often mistaken for is a producer/production manager who has worked on many popular movies, most recently Winter’s Bone. I receive emails from enthusiastic crew members hoping to work with me on my next movie. They send accolades and resumes. I was kind enough to respond to many of them informing them they had an incorrect email address. But recently, one thorough applicant included my email and the real producer Kate Dean‘s email.

I now had a place to forward all of these misdirected emails. Or better yet…

I quickly wrote her saying how nice it was to finally “meet,” and promptly offered to be her assistant and vet all these applicants I received. I haven’t heard back with a job offer…yet.

Apparently I am being found. Unfortunately, I’m not the Kathryn Dean they are looking for. As John Green penned, it appears there truly is an abundance of Kathryns.

So, I’ve decided to try out new names. Authorly, writerish names like Ann, or Jane, or Virginia, or Joan. Have you ever noticed how many successful authors are named Ann? Lamott, Patchett, Rice, Bronte, Radcliffe…

Ann Dean, Anna Dean that has a nice ring to it.

Never mind there are 73,000,000 google results for Anna Dean…and one of them is already a published novelist. I knew it was an authorly name.

I suppose it best to stick with my given name…and maybe spend less time on google and more time writing.

~Just to be clear, I’m honored to share a name with all of these accomplished women, but it couldn’t hurt to include my middle name in my byline. 😉

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2015 in Humor

 

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Wildflowers Photography

Here is my latest article: Soul of an Artist

If you haven’t heard of Joy Prouty and Wildflowers photography, your life is not complete. Click the link, read the article, follow her blog, find her on instagram…She is a true artist and a lovely person.

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Photos by Kielen Simons

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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New Year, New You?

I love all of the advertising and personal betterment goals this time of year. I’ve been invited to join countless Facebook challenges, and everywhere I look is a discounted gym membership or diet program. It makes sense, to be health conscious after Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s feasting, but if I haven’t disciplined myself towards these resolutions already in life, Jan 1, 20whatever will not be the magic date.

Last year, I wrote a post titled I make No Resolutions and I stand by that…mostly. I guess to be completely honest, I make private resolutions. Rarely do I need to wait until January to find areas to improve, but I suppose the New Year feels like a fresh start. So I set my reading goals, my writing goals, my fitness goals, my spiritual goals, and my family goals, but rarely share them with anyone. They aren’t resolutions. They are goals.

As I see the years tick by faster and faster, I realize that in order to make forward progress there needs to be constant evaluation and goal setting. In my teens, it was easy to see where I would be in ten years…college, then job, maybe family. In my 20’s and early 30’s I was raising young children. Now, where I am in ten years depends very much on the goals I set now. My family is growing up, and before I know it my primary responsibilities will be moving out and setting their own goals — one always hopes.

So as I head into 2015, I will not resolve to never eat sugar again, hit the gym every day, or never raise my voice…resolutions I know will be broken before January 3rd. But I will set goals to read more, write more, pray more, and love my family more knowing that these are achievable daily decisions that not only improve my life, but the lives of those I hold most dear. When New Year’s eve 2015 rolls around and I reflect back on the year, I know the time will not have been wasted.

I wish the same for you.

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Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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NaBloPoMo: Fail? Maybe not…

So…this is the end of National Blog Posting Month. And like all aspects of personal discipline, I didn’t quite reach my goal. But, was it a total failure? I think not.

FOUR THINGS I LEARNED from NaBloPoMo:

1. My blog is not a daily diary.

I don’t propose to have a daily purpose or daily recording on my blog. It was not natural to me to start a blog, “Day 12 of NaBloPoMo….” Therefore, I didn’t do it. The days when I really felt like I had nothing to say, I published content I was not proud of. So at some point I said, “Enough!” and didn’t post anything unless I wanted to.

2. I enjoy writing everyday, but don’t enjoy the pressure to publish everyday.

There were many days this month where I wrote and didn’t publish. If I had it to do all over again, I would be tempted to join NaNoWriMo. Then I would be increasing my word count and writing discipline without the pressure of people seeing it until I was ready.

3. I need to find a focus and purpose for my blog.

Publishing on my blog would not have been as difficult if I had a roadmap. I admire bloggers who have a schedule or theme such as Monday Matters, The Wednesday Word, Fun Links Friday, etc. I’m still searching for exactly what my blog will be, but this month has helped me see what it is not.

4. The more you write the more people read.

Those of you who have been blogging for a while might think this is a no-brainer, but I was surprised at how much my traffic increased this month. The more content and categories you have out there, the more chances for people to come across your blog. Also, publishing regularly gives my followers something to read and shows them I’m serious about my blog.

All in all it was not a total waste. I appreciated the pressure to a certain degree and the encouragement to write more regularly. I also enjoyed the NaBloPoMo community. Thanks for all your support!

Looking forward to next year.

In the meantime…I plan to keep writing. 🙂

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Branding…or how to fit myself on a business card

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I attended a business networking event today. Not because I have a business to market, but to hear a friend speak.

The networking part of the seminar encouraged business card trading, and when we entered, we placed business cards in a fishbowl for prize drawings. Only one problem with this – I have no business card.

How does one narrow an identity down to 3.5 by 2inches. What do you include or leave out? I have many jobs or identities. The only one I get paid for is teaching. Does that make teaching my business and therefore should go on my business card? (I don’t see many teachers exchanging business cards.)

But many facets of my life or identity are not professional like: mom, pastor’s wife, writer, singer, and so on. These are just as much a part of who I am.

So the question really boils down to branding. What is it about myself that I am trying to market?

To keep it strictly professional, I could say Teacher/Writer. But then I feel the need to qualify…English Teacher? Writing Teacher? Blog Writer? Aspiring Writer? Despairing Writer? (Just kidding on the last one)

(Incidentally my husband often accuses me of overthinking things)

Attending the seminar today made me realize that I needed branding. And if I was serious about being a writer, I needed to claim it and not qualify. I am a literature teacher. I also teach writing which means I study and practice the craft with my students, and write on a regular basis outside the classroom, therefore I am a writer.

Maybe I can fit everything else in fine print around the border, just to be completely honest about who I am.

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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NaBloPoMo – Just as hard as I thought it would be

So, I’ve missed a day…and published some posts I’m not proud of. This challenge may not be for me.

The purpose of my blog is not random daily content, or a web diary, but more a place for vignettes, book reviews, and musings on life. If I have stories to share or a piece I want to write, I’ll post it. Trying to come up with something to post everyday means you guys don’t get my best.

However, this challenge does have its positives. I’m thinking about writing…and practicing writing everyday. Even yesterday I started two different posts, though they never made it to publish. The discipline of this challenge is beneficial and forces me to think about my blog going forward. Whether I want to have some focus or plan or just continue to post as inspiration strikes.

I just picked up Amy Poehler’s book, YES PLEASEHere’s what she has to say about writing:

Everyone lies about writing. They lie about how easy it is or how hard it was.

They perpetuate a romantic idea that writing is some beautiful experience that 

takes place in an architectural room filled with leather novels and chai tea. They

talk about their “morning ritual” and how they “dress for writing” and the cabin 

in Big Sur where they go to “be alone” —blah blah blah. No one tells the truth 

about writing a book. Authors pretend their stories were always shiny and perfect

and just waiting to be written. The truth is, writing is this: hard and boring and 

occasionally great but usually not. Even I have lied about writing. I have told people

that writing this book has been like brushing away dirt from a fossil. What a load of sh**.

It has been like hacking away at a freezer with a screwdriver. 

I couldn’t agree more.

and I love her.

I’m pretty sure we are twins separated at birth…we’re the same age and both blonde, so it must be true.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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