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Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Posting first Wednesday of every month YOU too can sign up HERE to find out more about the purpose of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh.

In an effort to keep these posts short and sweet, I'll be sharing an appropriate quote. 

Today's quote is from , Under the Wide and Starry Sky, by Nancy Horan, an historical novel about the extraordinary lives Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife, Fanny.

Stevenson Family with Kalakaua (PP-96-14-010)

 l to r: In Hawaii, Lloyd (Fanny's son) Fanny, RLS, King Kalakaua, and Stevenson's mother, Margaret. Around 1889.

I've always had a deep fondness for RLS. I knew a little about his life, but this novel opened my eyes to many things. Nancy Horan obviously did a great deal of research.

 Did you know he wrote Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde while near death's door? In fact, he wrote the first draft in three days. Then he decided he didn't like it, burned it, and wrote a second draft in the following three days. All this by hand, in pen and ink.

Despite battling chronic lung problems and other health issues his entire life, that often kept him bed-ridden for weeks, even months at a time, Stevenson had an incredibly optimistic and positive outlook on life.

The author, Ms. Horan, has Stevenson say this about writers who believe they need to write literary realism. "Obviously, I'm not afraid to write about cruelty or violence." (He's talking here about Dr. J and Mr. H.) "But for a writer to feed the reader great dank heaps of ugliness in the name of realism is dispiriting. And to foist such stuff on young minds? It's evil. Writers should find out where joy resides and give it a voice. Every bright word or picture is a piece of pleasure set afloat. The reader catches it, and he goes on his way rejoicing. It's the business of art to send him that way as often as possible. I have to believe that every heart that has beat strongly and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world. If I cannot believe that, then why should I go on? Why should anyone go on?"

I love, love, LOVE this.

Are you familiar with the novel? Have you read any books by Stevenson? Got a favorite?


  1. Yup, having a positive outlook and bringing light to others is important. Thanks for sharing this. I knew next to nothing about RLS.

  2. Find the joy - I love that, too.

  3. I have read that book and I adore Horan's Loving Frank as well. As for Stevenson, I'm afraid I tend to avoid the classics in favor of the quick, easy prose of today's writers. I should branch out though. I'm sure I'm missing some incredible writing.

  4. He's so right. We read to escape and find the happy ending.

  5. I've only read some of his short stories. I find his reaction against the harsh realism of his day interesting. Because without some dark, you don't really have much of a story. But leaving the reader rejoicing, that can happen even if (and sometimes especially) the hero struggles greatly but overcomes. It's the stories that leave you in the muck at the end of the struggle (in the name of realism) that are truly dispiriting.

  6. I was amazed to discover over 123 versions of Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde existed during the A to Z challenge! I dare say these movies have truly entertained over the years.

  7. What a lovely quote. I have not read this book (the biography), but would be interested to. I hate to admit it, but I did not know that RLS wrote Jekyl & Hyde. Shame on me. I really need to dig a little deeper.

  8. Amazing and interesting facts. I didn't know too much about this author, other than he wrote what became classic novels. I do have them, but haven't read them yet. He had a great attitude.

  9. I can read a little gore, but only a little.
    Writers should appreciate writing with a keyboard and remember
    the pen and quill writings of "year's gone by."

  10. We read Stevenson's adventure books as children. He was such a writer. And to hear that he wrote this book by pen and ink? That is truly amazing.

  11. I loved reading that. I had no idea he wrote two drafts for that book or that he did it in such a short time.


Your Random Thoughts are most welcome!