It’s a Frankenstein Kind of Year

I’ve been away from my blog for the past few weeks–travelling, dancing, writing, and taking care of a sick family. (Damn the flu). So this post is a little late and a little different than usual.

I’m setting a focus for my next stint of writing. How long is a stint? A year? A week? I guess it goes for as long as the fluid carries it.

This focus: Frankenstein.

Frankenstein is one of those novels I should have read ages ago. But to be honest, I’ve never gotten around to reading the book or watching the film. I’m one of those people who still thinks of the monster as Frankenstein. But in the past few weeks, everything has been pointing towards this tale. And not in subtle ways.

It started when I went to Edinburgh for a dance event. I was looking for a book to put on my kindle for the plane ride and decided to check out what was available from Winterson through my library. It’s been awhile since I read any Winterson, and I’ve been missing the thick, syrupy prose she writes. I wanted something that would inspire me to dig deeper into my writing, go beyond the genre surface I’ve been skimming lately and fall into a more intimate, literary voice. The only book available that I haven’t read yet was Frankissstein.

Here’s where I admit I wasn’t enthusiastic about it. I had no interest in Frankenstein. If I did, I would have read it back when a bunch of people in my writing group read it. I would have read it in high school. Some point.

But I was itching for Winterson’s voice, so I downloaded the book. It was audio, which is hard with Winterson because I want to reread almost every paragraph, sit and soak in every idea. But I also wanted to be able to close my eyes and rest while having a story read to me.

Overall I’m impressed by the book. Partly because Winterson makes the life of Mary Shelley come alive. I am transported to the life of a woman who was dealing with the loss of children, running naked in storms, and treasuring the body of her husband as she considered the basis of life. That is not what comes to mind when I think of Frankenstein. But it is something I can relate to. It awoke the tingling of curiosity that makes me want to reach into the classics.

I probably would have let my Frankenstein interest fizzle if the flames were not fanned further.

When I arrived home from Edinburgh, I had an email from the member of a writing group called Villa Diodati. For those of you who don’t know (I hadn’t until the week before), Diodati is the name of the villa where Byron and the Shelleys stayed in 1816, and where Frankenstein was birthed. This writing group gathers each year to share stories and develop their craft. Coincidence?

Sure, two Frankenstein things popping up together is a coincidence. But a third? The next day, in my news feed, this article from Electric Lit showed up: Bringing the Baby Back to Life: Reading Frankenstein as a Grieving Mother by Mary Milstead. At that point I was primed for more mentions of the book. But I was still shocked at how closely this identified my own leanings towards the piece.

I can’t possibly ignore three signs. In a row. Shouting for me to read this book. So it is next on my TBR list. I’ve also decided that there is something to learn in it. Something about writing and life. Pieces and construction.

Get ready for a few months of Frankenstein play.


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