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by Joy
Rated: 13+ · Book · Writing · #932976
Impromptu writing, whatever comes...on writing or whatever the question of the day is.
Free clipart from About.comKathleen-613's creation for my blogFree clipart from About.com

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Marci's gift sig
Thank you Marci Missing Everyone *Heart* for this lovely sig.

I've been blogging all through my days without knowing that it was blogging; although, this isn't necessarily the only thing I do without knowing what I'm doing.

Since I write on anything that's available around me, my life has been full of pieces of scribbled paper flying about like confetti. I'm so happy to finally have a permanent place to chew the fat. *Smile*

So far my chewing the fat is on and off. *Laugh* Maybe, I lack teeth.

Feel free to comment, if you wish. *Smile*

Given by Blainecindy, the mayor of Blog City
Thank you very much, Cindy, for this honor and the beautiful graphic.

*Pencil* This Blog Continues in "Everyday Canvas *Pencil*

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December 27, 2013 at 6:27pm
December 27, 2013 at 6:27pm
First, I have to say I love all writers. I know from personal experience that their work is the result of blood, sweat, and tears, no pun intended to any musical group. I know they are probably the nicest people walking the face or the earth. But do they all understand what a critique is?

A critique or a review is an analysis and an evaluation of a text. To critique means evaluating both the negative and positive aspects of a piece.

In a critique of a fictional or non-fictional piece, a short summary is important, but it is not the main feature of a review; although, sometimes you have to write the entire summary to prove a point or show that the ending has a flaw, especially in a novel’s review. Although a critique helps the readers to gain an understanding of the text, it also shows the personal viewpoint of the reader/reviewer. As tastes differ, so do people who are nice enough to offer their opinions.

In my opinion, greatest benefit of being a Writing.com member is the achievement of accepting positive or negative reviews equally, because in Writing.com, serious people who write reviews or critiques do it to help the members, and our writers take or leave the suggestions of fellow writers, still accepting and respecting the reviewers’ ideas.

It isn't that way, everywhere else. Because I have a good customer-merchant relationship with Amazon, I post my reviews for the books I have read on their site, and Amazon has been very gracious.

Not so felt a first-novel author and her friends of the last book I reviewed a few days ago. I bought and read her book that had received all five stars, but from my point of view, the plot of the story had several holes in it. Moreover, I found the story to be extremely melodramatic and not thoroughly researched. I gave the book three stars and showed what I thought to be lacking. Plus, I repeatedly used words like, “I felt” I believe” etc., to show that what I wrote was my personal opinion.

The comments I received from the author’s friends were shocking. One of them even accused me of being disrespectful to the author, among other things. But then, I received a comment from the author herself. It was polite enough, but it showed that she was extremely disturbed. So I deleted my review. Far be it from me to disturb a new author.

This experience made me appreciate even more of what I have come to love about Writing.com: This community’s give-and-take that makes better writers of us in very many ways, but especially in respecting others' opinions and taking negative and positive criticism with equal appreciation. We learn here to take what we can use from each review and disregard what does not help us.

In Writing.com, we all learn from our mistakes, be it in writing or reviewing, and this learning shows in the works of the WdC authors who publish their work.

Review on, Writing .com members. You're the best! *Poseyr* *Heart*
December 21, 2013 at 4:37pm
December 21, 2013 at 4:37pm
The longest night of the year is tonight.

I’ll take a deep breath and start, as this is a scientific explanation. At 12:11 p.m. EST today, on December 21, the sun appeared directly overhead along the Tropic of Capricorn, at 23.5 degrees south latitude. With the Earth’s North Pole at its maximum tilt from the sun, locations north of the equator saw the sun follow its lowest and shortest arc across the southern sky. For the next six months, the days will grow longer as the sun spends more time above the horizon.

But then there are other explanations, too.

In Vatican, the solstice has to do with the Egyptian obelisk relocated to the center of St. Peter’s Square. From what I heard, mistakenly or not, the obelisk is lined up with the rising Sun as a signal of the Winter Solstice.

In Stonehenge, the sun passed through the stones after rising, at the ancient stone circle of Stonehenge, a few hours ago.

In my family, it is my daughter-in-law’s birthday. So the winter solstice is a joyous one for us.

Also, the winter solstice cannot be defined by the length of the day and night, as the length of either the day or the night is the effect, not the cause.

What can one do on a long night like this, if a person like me does not like watching TV all that much? Actually, just now, my floating fingers wrote TV as TB, which I corrected, but this made me think that my mishap had to be some kind of Freudian finger slip. (Don’t you get a dirty mind!) I meant I avoid TV despite my hubby’s urgings. Sometimes TV feels as nasty as the TB-short for tubercle bacillus.

I like to read and write, but that goes without saying, for anyone on this site likes to read and write as well. One other thing I like to do is to listen to old songs again and again, for their meaning, beauty, and perfection. And because the loud scratchy music doesn’t drown out the beautiful human voices in them. And maybe because they evoke a nostalgic feeling of longing, which also inspires me to write or read.

During the NaNo month, I did most of my writing in the wee hours in absolute silence. At that time, I could have used a long night like this one tonight.

So whatever you do, wherever you are, I hope you make good use of long evening hours of the season.

Happy Winter Solstice, everyone! *Smile*
December 10, 2013 at 6:35pm
December 10, 2013 at 6:35pm
Had Emily Dickinson lived, she'd be celebrating her 183rd birthday, today.

And I bet the medical or scientific professions and the media would take her apart inch by inch. I can just imagine some of the dialogue:

"She's suffering from some serious depression. Imagine shutting out people from her life!"

"But her work shows she's intelligent. She must be different. Should we suspect her? Maybe the government should sent a drone to monitor her."

"A woman like that shouldn't be left too alone to fend for herself."

"There is something wrong with her. I wonder if she's an autistic savant?

"She is rather successful though, wouldn't you say?"

"Could be, but she still may have Asperger's syndrome or Rett syndrome or PDD-NOS, or some disintegrative disorder."

"We should put her on Thorazine or Prozax or Paxil or Cymbalta or...or...something."

But I'm so glad she lived...And Thank God and the Poetry Muse that she left behind "a few crumbs" of herself.

"Hope is the thing with feathers

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me."

And who can forget the envelope poems scribbled on the backs of the envelopes?

“In this short Life
 that only-merely-lasts an hour
How much – how  little – is 
within our 

December 10--Happy Birthday, Emily Dickinson!

December 1, 2013 at 6:22pm
December 1, 2013 at 6:22pm
Twas the Day After Thanksgiving
all through my house
not my pen was stirring
not even my mouse
for NaNo was over
and I took cover
in leftover pies and sloth
whirling around my laptop so like a moth…

Well, this ditty just about covers it. All the emptiness after NaNo, the way my characters are still haunting me, for they felt so real this year, and the heavy, full feeling inside my stomach and heart… All because I don’t consider writing work; I consider it a gift I give to myself. So when something is finished, I sort of feel sad until I get just as excited about a new project.

Thus on the end side of my 2013 NaNo story, my flailing story begins. But a light at the end of the tunnel...I am starting to write in my blog again. Some reviews are on the horizon, and a years-old promise to myself: to finish the half-cooked novel Under the New Moon in my port.

For the book I need to finish, I must start reading those old five chapters and get myself interested in those characters and whatever they meant to tell me once, although they have long lost their voices. I can’t predict if they’ll find their old voices when they awaken in their cryonics tombs or if they will they gain new tones. Even if I wouldn’t dare bank on the results, it will probably be more of a process-based process than a results-based process. I mean, my hope is, the process of writing will make those characters become real again.

You lose some…you gain some…
October 21, 2013 at 11:17am
October 21, 2013 at 11:17am
Due to NaNo Prep and real life issues I have neglected my blog for a while. So here are some tidbits:


Before artificial light was bent to our will, most people would retire shortly after dusk, sleep for four or five hours, awaken for an hour or two, then drift back to sleep again until sunrise. During the in between awakening, they would have a snack or read or write in candlelight. Some even dropped in on their neighbors.

Although I was born several decades after electricity was invented, I wonder if this practice is etched in my DNA, because I usually wake up at night and listen to music with earphones or get up and read. Then I go back to sleep. This is the same with my husband, and come to think of it, it used to happen to my grandmother, too. *Laugh*


Why Love? Some blame it on our jelly-fish neurons.
I didn't make it up, so don't sue me. *Wink*
To tell the truth, I'd like love to be of spiritual origin or due to some attraction between souls, but then, who knows!



--Writer Brings in the World While She Keeps It at Bay--


I so agree with her stance. After all, she is a writer and not a street vendor.

From my angle, I hate it that writers have to go all over the place spreading their wares and acting like salesmen.

On the other hand, I do understand the need for this, but I wish some other solution could be found other than book tours and the need for the writers to go on talk shows and malls and bookstores to drum up business. If the book is self-published and the author enjoys the give and take, this is fine, but this practice has been continuing for decades as the result of established publishing companies pushing the authors to advertise their own books. It was said that if you didn't take the matters in your own hand, the book wouldn't be sold.

I am sure many writers do feel like me and are inconvenienced by the travel and time-spent. Chances are most writers would rather stay at their desks and work on their next book.



My take on this is: Things never happen the way we predict them. Granted, it may be even worse, but I bet it will turn out to be different.

Talking for me, am I glad I won't live 100 years more, if not for anything but fish is just about the only meat product that puts me among the carnivores. *Laugh*


False Threat!

This is the sign in the parking lot shared by Barnes&Noble's, Sports Authority, and Office Max in Jensen, FL.

I understand the part of the sign that says "Customer Parking Only, but what I am curious about is the writing under that. "All others will be towed at owner's expense."

I would understand it if they would say something like "Cars left after hours will be towed." Since they didn't, I am wondering how they will be able to decide which car does not belong to a customer, because this is a big parking lot and customers buzz in and out like bees. *Laugh*

September 14, 2013 at 12:29pm
September 14, 2013 at 12:29pm
Now that November is just a month and a half away and the NaNo Prep has only fifteen days to go, I figured I’d start on the research. Getting a link from Buzzfeed gave me the idea of getting started with heartbreak. I don’t know, yet, what I’ll write about for this year’s NaNo, but I bet it will include some heartbreak somewhere.

A heartbreak is painful; we all experience it at one time or another, and often, several times over. It is, sometimes, a faint ache, and other times, a huge throbbing, raw wound. We feel sad, lost, empty, alone, and angry. Some of us withdraw from friends and family and have a hard time going through the daily routine. Our work suffers; we lose sleep and appetite; we feel hopeless.

Just as the “Time heals all heels” saying, time also heals or diminishes the heartache somewhat. To heal better, seeking support from loved ones or a therapist, not expecting from oneself to bounce back immediately, appreciating every small step on the way to recovery, and staying active helps. Also, we must refrain from unhealthy behaviors such as getting drunk, engaging in casual sex, withdrawing from people, and beating oneself up. And all this applies to our characters, as well. *Wink*

According to an ABC News broadcast, heart-break   affects people physically first on the adrenal glands that churn out cortisol and adrenaline and cause all kinds of havoc in the body, starting with high blood pressure, stomach problems, breaking down of the immune system, skin problems, and hair loss.

But what it does to the brain is the most interesting. Rather than try to summarize it, I’ll quote the whole thing-from psych-central  , which mentions mainly the heartbreak from a lost love-because this may help me and other writers.


It's like clockwork: Your eyes hit that photo of the two of you and--boom!--awful stomach pit. You feel sick, yet you can't look away. That's because the moment you saw his face, blood started rushing to your brain's pleasure center, the ventral tegmental area. These are all the good times talking.

The command center for craving and longing also lights up. It demands attention--one reason you're obsessed with driving by your ex's house, stalking his Facebook page, or trying to replace him with some other satisfier (welcome, merlot and Ben & Jerry).

But rejection also sends blood flow to two other areas: the secondary somatosensory cortex and the dorsal posterior insula, both involved in producing physical pain. That's why you may feel achy all over, not just in your heart.

Initially crowded out by the above responses, your left prefrontal cortex slowly starts to light up. This part of your brain is responsible for reassessment and evaluation--the one saying, Maybe it's for the best. A mere whisper now, this signal will get stronger as time goes on.”

The Buzzfeed link that gave the idea of researching heartbreak to me was about fifteen authors’ quotes on heartbreak. The link is: Author-Quotes  

I typed the quotes for referral, if an occasion should arise in my novel or as prompts for any future project.

Here are the quotes:

"Perhaps some day I'll crawl back home, beaten, defeated. But not as long as I can make stories out of my heartbreak, beauty out of sorrow."

Sylvia Plath - From The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

"The heart was made to be broken."

Oscar Wilde - From De Profundis

"It is sheer good fortune to miss somebody long before they leave you."

Toni Morrison -From Sula

"There is, after all, a kind of happiness in unhappiness, if it's the right unhappiness."

Jonathan Franzen - From Freedom

"The saddest thing about love, Joe, is that not only the love cannot last forever, but even the heartbreak is soon forgotten."

William Faulkner - From Soldier's Pay

"You can't keep a cool head when you're drowning in love. You just thrash around a lot and scream, and wear yourself out."

Margaret Atwood -From The Robber Bride

"You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive."

James Baldwin

"Hearbreak is funny to everyone but the heartbroken."

Jeffrey Eugenides - From The Marriage Plot

"I feel like someone after a deluge being asked to describe the way it was before the flood while I'm still plucking seaweed out of my hair."

Norman Rush - From Mating

"The greatest tragedy of life is not that men perish, but that they cease to love."

W. Somerset Maugham - From The Summing Up

"An agony. The exit like the entrance - but reversed. A palindrome: gut-tug

Lorrie Moore - From A Gate at the Stairs

"Perhaps this is what the stories meant when they called somebody heartsick. Your heart and your stomach and your whole insides felt empty and hollow and aching."

Gabriel Garcia Marquez - From Collected Stories

"The beauty of the world has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder."

Virginia Woolf - A Room of One's Own

" While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You mist wait till it be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it."

Samuel Johnson - From The Life of Samuel Johnson

"Hearts can break. Yes, hearts can break. Sometimes I think it would be better if we died when they did, but we don't."

Stephen King - From Hearts in Atlantis
September 13, 2013 at 5:50pm
September 13, 2013 at 5:50pm
Two days ago, I had a checkup, and Dr. Bromberg politely suggested that I lose one or two pounds. “Not too much,” he said. “Just a tad. One or two pounds will do.”

I am not obese by any means; at least, I don’t think so. *Laugh* But what I wear has become a little too fitting lately, and I agree wholeheartedly with my doctor; however, when someone suggests weight loss, I automatically get preoccupied with food. And you know what happens when one gets preoccupied with food…*Wink*

An article "Food in Writing, which was also a newsletter once, I wrote for the same reason of curbing my food obsession. I find when I obsess about anything, writing about it satisfies my gluttony. Okay, maybe just somewhat.

After the Doctor's advice, either by chance or synchronicity, I saw a link on FB to a B&N article that said the book “Eat, Pray, Love,” aside from being made into a movie, had become a popular title for some restaurants.

In this article, other derived titles from literature as restaurant titles were: Eat, Prey, Love // Lord of the Fries // Their Pies Were Watching God // The Scarlet Pumpernickel // The Catcher in the Rye Bread //Gone Grill //Wuthering Bites //The Old Man and the Seafood//Bridget Jones’s Dairy.

Encouraged by further fantasies on food, I conducted a search for the names of dishes that were inspired by people in the visual and stage arts, music, and literature. It seems most of the food was named after its creator-chef, others after dignitaries who frequented the chefs' restaurants and after political leaders and war heros. I noticed two chefs, Ranhofer and Escoffier, took pity on the people in arts and named some of their creations after them.

The list below is the result of the search, which is mostly from Wikipedia.

While looking at this list, another idea hit me: The items on it might serve as prompts, as each one has a story to it.

Now, if you want to use those dishes and the story of their creation in your fiction or other writing, you’re welcome to it, but I suggest you do a lot more serious research. As I said earlier, this was Wikipedia, mostly.

And let’s hope this entry curbs my again-awakened interest in food. *Wink*

Here is the list:

Eggs in a Mold Bizet – Georges Bizet (1838–1875), the French composer of Carmen and other operas, has a consommé named for him as well as these eggs cooked in molds lined with minced pickled tongue, served on artichoke hearts.

– named for painter Vittore Carpaccio. So named due to the similarity of the color of the thinly sliced raw beef to the red hue Carpaccio was known for.

Caruso sauce – for Enrico Caruso

Chateaubriand – a cut and a recipe for steak named for Vicomte François René de Chateaubriand (1768–1848), French writer and diplomat.

Chaudfroid of chicken Clara Morris – Clara Morris (1848–1925) was a popular 19th-century American actress, specializing in the period's emotional dramas. She became something of an overnight success when she debuted in New York in 1870, after growing up and working in Ohio ballet and theater. She had an active career until taste in drama changed in the 1890s and she turned to writing. Ranhofer named this dish for her.

Veal pie à la Dickens – probably around the time the popular novelist Charles Dickens (1812–1870) was making his second visit to New York, in 1867, Charles Ranhofer created this dish in his honor at Delmonico's. Ranhofer also had Beet fritters à la Dickens on the menu.

Salad à la Dumas – Alexandre Dumas, père (1802–1870), noted French author. Apparently a favorite of Charles Ranhofer, there are also timbales, stewed woodcock, and mushrooms à la Dumas.

Cherry Garcia ice cream – Ben & Jerry's homage to Grateful Dead leader Jerry Garcia (1942–1995).

Chicken sauté George Sand – George Sand, the pseudonym of French author Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin, Baronne Dudevant (1804–1876), a major figure in mid-19th-century Parisian salons, had several dishes named for her, including fish consommé and sole.

Timbales à la Irving – Washington Irving (1789–1859), the American author, given Charles Ranhofer's penchant for honoring writers with his creations, is the likely source of the name.

Flounder Jules Janin – Jules Gabriel Janin (1804–1874) was a somewhat eccentric 19th-century French dramatic critic. A good friend of Dumas and Berlioz, Janin wrote several novels; the best known is perhaps The Dead Donkey and the Guillotined Woman.

Sole Jules Verne – Jules Verne (1828–1905), the French novelist, had several dishes named after him besides this, including a sauce, a garnish, grenades of turkey, breasts of partridge, and meat dishes.

Poires Mary Garden – Mary Garden (1874–1967) was a hugely popular opera singer in Europe and the U.S. at the start of the 20th century.

Peach Melba – Dame Nellie Melba (1861–1931). Chef Auguste Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel in 1892 or 1893 heard her sing at Covent Garden and was inspired to create a dessert for her, and which he named after her.

Melba toast – Dame Nellie Melba (1861–1931), Australian soprano, née Mitchell, took her stage name from her hometown of Melbourne. In 1892–1893, she was living at the Savoy Hotel in London, which was then managed by César Ritz and Auguste Escoffier. During an illness, the singer favored some extremely dry toast which was subsequently named for her. Around this same time, Escoffier created the dessert Peach Melba in her honor. There is also a Melba garnish (raspberry sauce) that is an ingredient of Peach Melba.

Bisque of shrimps à la Melville – when the great American author Herman Melville (1819–1891) died in New York, he had been almost forgotten for decades. Charles Ranhofer, however, remembered him with this seafood dish.

Beef tenderloin minions à la Meyerbeer – Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791–1864), the influential 19th-century opera composer, is honored by this dish.

Poulet sauté Montesquieu and Plombière Montesquieu – culinary tribute to the philosopher and author, Baron de Montesquieu.

Potage anglais de poisson à Lady Morgan – Lady Morgan, née Sydney Owenson (1776–1859), a popular Irish novelist, was visiting Baron James Mayer de Rothschild in 1829, when Câreme created this elaborate fish soup in her honor.

Mornay sauce – diplomat and writer Philippe de Mornay (1549–1623), a member of Henri IV's court, is often cited as the name source for this popular cheese version of Béchamel sauce. The alternative story is that 19th-century French chef Joseph Voiron invented it and named it after one of his cooks, Mornay, his oldest son.

Mozartkugel – Salzburg, the birthplace of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791), is also the place where this marzipan/nougat-filled chocolate was created c. 1890. Also in the composer's honor, Ranhofer created "Galantine of pullet à la Mozart" at Delmonico's.

Lamb cutlets Murillo – Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682), the influential Spanish painter, was apparently a favorite artist of Charles Ranhofer.

Selle d'agneau à la Paganini – Niccolò Paganini (1782–1840), Italian opera composer and brilliant violinist, has this lamb dish named after him, probably by Charles Ranhofer

Pavlova – Anna Pavlova (1881–1931), Russian ballerina. Both Australia and New Zealand have claimed to be the source of the meringue ("light as Pavlova") and fruit dessert.

Eggs Picabia – Eight eggs well mixed, lightly salted, cooked in a half-pound butter over a very, very, very low flame. Named by Gertrude Stein in her The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook after Francis Picabia (22 January 1879 – 30 November 1953) and his recipe.

Sole Picasso – this fruity fish was named after Pablo Picasso. The dish consists of fried or grilled sole and warm fruit in a ginger-lemon sauce.

Lamprey à la Rabelais – François Rabelais (c. 1484–1553), French monk, turned physician, turned famed writer and satirist, was honored in this dish by Delmonico's chef Charles Ranhofer.

Tournedos Rachel – from singing in the streets of Paris as a child, Swiss-born Elisa-Rachel Félix (1821–1858) went on to become known as the greatest French tragedienne of her day. Her stage name Rachel is used for a number of dishes—consommé, eggs, sweetbreads, et al.—many created by Escoffier. In New York City, Charles Ranhofer created "artichokes à la Rachel" in her honor.

Salad Réjane – Gabrielle Réjane was the stage name for Gabrielle-Charlotte Reju (1856–1920), a French actress at the start of the 20th century. Escoffier named several dishes for her, including consommé, sole, and œufs à la neige.

Rigó Jancsi – the Viennese chocolate and cream pastry[5] is named after the Gypsy violinist, Rigó Jancsi[5] (by Hungarian use, Rigó is his last name, Jancsi his first, called literally 'Blackbird Johnny'). He is perhaps best known for his part in one of the great late-19th-century society scandales. In 1896, Clara Ward, Princesse de Caraman-Chimay. The Princesse de Chimay saw the charming Rigó Jancsi, first violinist playing Hungarian Gypsy music in a Paris restaurant in 1896 while dining with her husband, Prince de Chimay. She ran off with Rigó, married him, divorced him, and later married two other men too.

Sarah Bernhardt Cakes – French actress Sarah Bernhardt (1844–1923). The pastry may be Danish in origin. There is a Sole Sarah Bernhardt, and a soufflé. "Sarah Bernhardt" may indicate a dish garnished with a purée of foie gras, and Delmonico's "Sarah Potatoes", by Charles Ranhofer, are most likely named for the actress.

Schillerlocken – two quite distinct foods named after the curly hair of the German poet Friedrich von Schiller (1759–1805). One is cream-filled puff pastry cornets; the other is long strips of dried, smoked shark meat. Ranhofer named a dessert of pancakes rolled up, sliced, and layered in a mold Schiller pudding.

Lobster cutlets à la Shelley – Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822), the great English poet, drowned off the coast of Italy. Charles Ranhofer remembered him with this.

Shirley Temple – the classic children's cocktail of club soda, grenadine, and a maraschino cherry was invented in the late 1930s at Hollywood's Chasen's restaurant for the child star Shirley Temple (1928–). A slice of orange and a straw is suggested; the paper parasol is optional.

Chicken Tetrazzini – named for operatic soprano Luisa Tetrazzini, the "Florentine Nightingale" (1871–1941), and created in San Francisco.

Van Gogh potato – artist Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) is commemorated by this potato developed in the Netherlands in 1976.

Fillets of Brill Véron – Dr. Louis Désiré Véron (1798–1867) gave up his Parisian medical practice for the more fashionable life as a writer, manager of the Opera, paramour of the actress Rachel, political influence, and pre-eminent host of lavish dinners for the elite. Véron sauce accompanies the brill.

Lamb chops Victor Hugo – the renowned French author, Victor Hugo (1802–1885), is commemorated with these, and with fillets of plover.

September 8, 2013 at 12:17am
September 8, 2013 at 12:17am
Generally speaking, a respectably descriptive passage contains specific, well-observed details, as well as a character’s motivation, thoughts, feelings, and possibly memories.

Of the above, details add color and believability to any writing. Most of the details we know either through observation or we have researched them. To use them according to what the writing requires, we rearrange them sometimes.

This much, I’m sure, we all know. *Wink*

What I want to put in this blog, however, is a list. A list someone sent me via e-mail. When I looked at it, I laughed because I have used almost all those items on it, as most of us have.

I don’t know why people go around making weird lists like this, but the reason for making this list was to find out what kind of details were inside the first two pages of several published novels.

Most of the items are generalized, more or less. Yet, it is still a list, and I love lists.

Here is the list:

bodily fluid—sweat, tears, urine
reference to sex or to death
something sinful or painful
a color
a physical feature
a personality trait
mention of nature
anything with a brand name
body parts
city, state, or street

Next time, I have a story idea but I don’t know how to start the story, maybe I’ll take a peek at this list. After all, the books that contained one or more of the items in their first two pages were published by serious publishers, I was told.

Anything that helps! *Laugh*
August 19, 2013 at 12:03pm
August 19, 2013 at 12:03pm
Inside our covered porch, the ground is cement, except for a tiny patch of soil the size of a small closet. In that patch, there was, still is, a nice tropical plant and a rose bush, but lots of weeds and ferns had grown in it, as well.

My very thoughtful son took out all the top layer of soil, stones, weeds, and what have you, covered that place with black plastic, and piled sand, pebbles, and tiles on top of it. He left the rosebush and the tropical plant in the middle. I put several pots of plants on the tiles, and that space looks great now. This morning, I was watering those plants in pots when I saw this tiny little weed, a three-leaf clover, peeking from the corner of the cement, just at the edge.

Annoyed, I picked it out. The nerve of that weed in my nice space, right? But it was such a dainty, little thing, and it came out with its roots and all. I didn’t, couldn’t, throw it in the thrash, so I potted it.

I’m now looking at it and thinking what right we have to say what is a weed and what is a flower. “It's a living thing, a weed, really, and it does contain spirit of a sort. It's really an ancient vibration,” said Steve Lacy, the sax player.

After all, as far as ancients go, aren’t I one, myself?

Then I thought of us, writers. The way we delete our works, the way we crumble paper or send the files to the recycle bin…Shouldn’t we give a chance to our weeds and try to cultivate them? Sometimes, we give up just too easily.

August 10, 2013 at 12:53pm
August 10, 2013 at 12:53pm
One of my favorite TV shows is Newsroom on HBO, probably because it is somewhat close to writing and reading---like what we do here in WdC. This dramatic series, in its essence, is a political one, but it also touches the ideals of journalism.

Journalism is the flag bearer of democracy and upholder of the justice system since it is, or rather, was believed to be honest, fair, and brave in gathering, reporting, and interpreting events and information of the current times. No matter how fair and just the Atlantis Cable News is made to reflect the tenets of journalism in the show, my guess is, TV reporting has been undermining the integrity of journalism. If not so, how Fox News or MSNBC still could be alive and thriving, and even leading the news media?

Reporting and interpreting the news does have its ethics code, even if it is voluntarily embraced by the newsrooms of TV channels and newspapers.

Only in autocratic governments can the news be controlled, but what happens when the owners of TV and newspaper companies are autocratic and self-serving also? My fear is, this is what is now happening at the time here or probably in most free democracies of the world, as the candid reporters are given the cold shoulder, or worse, put in jail.

I guess I am reflecting here a general distrust of the news media, but I read and hear these types of comments all the time. “I don’t listen to news” “They all lie!” “News media is taking sides, and not my side,” etc., etc.

One of my sons does not believe in the US’s news. He only reads the Guardian from UK, but then, I pointed out to him that he is limiting himself. As for me, I read and listen to all sides, and from time to time, consult world newspapers. Still, I don’t think I have the unadorned facts as they occur.

What happened to those times with Walter Cronkite, "And that's the way it is"?

Nowadays, we are unaware of “the way it is.” Moreover, we all get caught up in the flavor of the week, the most titillating tabloid-like news, wrongly titled public or human interest stories, latest murders, insider trading, or sexual or financial misconduct by celebrities and government employees.

What happened to “seek the truth and report it”?

What happened is, “seek the truth” became "do not report it exactly, but adjust it to favor the owners’ or a certain news company’s ideals and ways of looking at things," and worse yet, “lie about it” or “cover it up with the toothsome, seductive, ravishing, distasteful flavor-of-the-day news.”

I think our freedom-of-speech amendment in the constitution is being taken for a ride, and it is impaired, stained and lead toward a total wreck. Just like the crimes committed in the name of God.

July 30, 2013 at 12:21pm
July 30, 2013 at 12:21pm
Yesterday in the GD forum, when stating my goals for the week, I wrote one of goals as: A hand-written letter to a friend.

Nikola answered me in "Re: Goals"  :
“I so miss handwritten letters! I had one childhood friend who never was interested in computers. We wrote each other every few months. She passed two years ago. I cherish the letters that I held on to.”

Although I couldn’t answer Nik back in the GD forum, I so appreciate her feelings on the subject, and what she said made me think on the virtues of handwritten mail.

It is true, when someone passes away, one of the most cherished things we have are their letters. Try leaving back your e-mails or text-messaging, when even the e-mail addies change! Not that I don’t appreciate all those. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here on the internet writing this blog entry.

Coming back to hand-written mail, sending a letter is the next best thing to meeting a friend face to face. Moreover, this meeting is preserved as long as the receiver wants to hold on to it, for through the ages, people have expressed their thoughts, their feelings, their gossip, their altercations, their insults, or their gratitude through hand-written letters.

Those born after the seventies will never know the times when all, or practically all, communication depended on letters. Letter writing, at one time or another, was considered a talent. Those who wanted to send impressionable letters asked others for help. But those are not the types of letters I want to talk about, but rather the personal ones where the expression of language reflected the writer’s normal everyday speech.

After my grandmother passed away, I found a whole box of letters she had kept. Some were from her first beau, all tied up with a pink ribbon. Others ranged from friendliness and special occasion greetings to hostility through mail. Most of the letters were from people whose existence I never knew about.

In my much younger days, I met people who had fallen in love through thousands of letters sent between them. When my cousin broke up with her out-of-town boyfriend, my uncle had to bring heaven and earth together to get back her racy love letters, in case their content could be used against her or they could fall into wrong hands and compromise her happiness later on in her life.

During my jr. high years, I had penpals around my age from other countries, with whom I communicated through hand-written mail. At that age, even earlier, I learned that something tangible from my world traveled to theirs and vice versa.

This tangible component is created when the pen and fingers touch the stationery and leave thoughts, ideas and feelings on it. Afterwards, the saliva seals the envelope. (As an aside, after watching the Seinfeld episode in which George’s fiancée dies of envelope-glue poisoning, I have been using a drop of water in a dish. *Laugh* )

Then the letter goes in the mail, taking with it something palpable from the sender’s life. When the letter arrives its destination, it is carried inside as a highly honored, invited quest.

When we write personal letters, we feel free to use stereotyped phrases and sound words that imitate speech or special phrases that we share with special people who will be the receivers, our words reflecting the purity of personal expression and spirit of the occasion when there is an occasion.

After having said all that, because I hate talking on the phone and texting passes me by, I admit to reverting to e-mail whenever I can because it is so much easier and I can write faster.

But fortunately for me, I have four friends left, old-timers who reject the computers and internet and barely allow phone calls. One of them is in US about 1300 miles from me; the other three live overseas. None of them mind it when my handwriting goes askew and the lines in my letter either slant high up or way down, *Blush* as I could never write on a straight line on an unlined paper.

I am grateful for these friends because, now in my old age, I find that a handwritten letter has a million times the emotional value of any e-mail. *Smile*

July 20, 2013 at 8:51pm
July 20, 2013 at 8:51pm
“If you have to read, to cheer yourself up read biographies of writers who went insane.”
Hahaha! I found this quote on the net.

Truth is, in retrospect and close examination, real life is driving me insane, not writing. If someone goes insane writing, it might be because she received some weird rays from her computer, or wrote in a notebook with pen and got poisoned with ink, or ate the mouse (not the animal), as mouse action especially in Windows 8 can drive a person insane.

But let me stick to the quote for argument’s sake. Let’s see what can drive a writer insane, without even going into the business aspect of the craft such as rejections, agents, publishers etc.

1. Writer’s block: I don’t know what I can write on this subject because –don’t kill me but- I don’t really believe such a thing exists. On the other hand, it must have because so many writers complain about it. I mean, one might come to a standstill in one aspect of his writing, but he can write other things, like a letter, a list, rewrite a paragraph –his or someone else’s- or a story he knows, write a review, complain about a part or a person in his life, etc. If a writer can write anything at all, how can he complain of a block?

2. Putting the story on paper or in a word file: This happens to me a lot. I plan something in my head. I live with it for a few hours, even go to bed thinking about it, but then, when it is all written, the thing’s a flop with no hope of resurrection. EEEEK! Sometimes I go ahead and post it (if entering a contest) or delete it altogether. What could drive me insane is the amount of emotional investment and time on that &^*! project.

3. Staying focused on one piece: This too is among my pet peeves. Why is it that when I am on a project, thousands of other ideas pop up for other stories, poems, articles, etc.? I can’t just stop and take notes all the time on all those other ideas. Well, sometimes I do, but only to find out later that either the idea has sung falsetto or I have noted down a flimsy skeleton that can’t hold flesh later on.

4. Real life butting in: Aarrgh! Just when I sit down to write, someone needs me for something, some crisis pops up either with the house or the family, someone makes too much noise, someone just wants to talk to me and I can’t say no because I love them etc. etc…

5. Research problems: I think I have a great idea but it needs research with several fine points, but I can’t get them on the Google or any other search engine, and for deeper research, I need to hear from an institution or a person who is an expert on the subject and the whole thing may take days, even months, and I am never that patient. Then another twist in this: I get the precious info on that fine point only to find out it has no bearing on my story and I have wasted precious time going after an idiotic chase. *Rolleyes*

6. Putting on weight or running the risk of disease: Yes, that is a writer’s problem. It comes from applying one’s seat of pants to the seat of the chair for long hours at a time and forgetting the walking or gym regimen, thus running the risk of poor health and getting a scolding from the doctor. At each visit, my doctor asks: Have you been getting enough exercise? One of these days, I’ll really go insane trying to answer that question.
Come to think of it, hunger and having to go to the bathroom in the middle of something I’m so into can drive me insane, too.

With so many things that can drive us insane, I wonder how many of us has stayed sane after giving our years to writing. Honestly, I can’t vouch for myself. *Laugh*
July 17, 2013 at 10:58pm
July 17, 2013 at 10:58pm
After writing about Superman the other day, my mind began to tease me with Tom Mix. This mind is unruly and naughty as a mind can get; moreover, I have an annoyingly persistent one. For decades, even yoga and meditation could not tame it; so, what else could I do but give in to it.

The human Tom Mix was an American actor, a western megastar who died before I was born, but the comic-book Tom Mix was a real cartoon cowboy, a U.S. Marshall, a Captain in the army, a commando, a sheriff, and a man who single-handedly saved the day, and we in our childhood memorized his adventures in every single comic book that was published periodically. Was it weekly or monthly, memory fails me, but we were his fans and adhered to his cartoon adventures religiously. Any issues missed would have to be made up by borrowing from others.

Although all the suspense and thrill I felt is only a memory and I can't even tell the plot of even one issue, I know Tom Mix's horse was a special one. I think its name was Tony or Lightning, but I might be mixing its name up with another comic book hero's horse, as comic books for us were the TV episodes of the times, and secrets like the secret salute, secret handshakes, and such added to the limelight of our childhood days.

I know I made my mother worry. Having a tomboy daughter was the last thing she wanted as she herself was a pretty woman who loved high fashion. She'd rather have a child who loved frilly hats and white gloves. At times, she forced those things on me, but her persistence was met with my temper tantrums. Truth is, after all that trauma, I never wore frilly hats and white gloves, not even in my wedding.

I also abandoned my Tom Mix addiction as soon as I entered my teens and discovered Elvis, whose singing motions annoyed the grown-ups. In hindsight, however, my love of fiction began with Tom Mix and earlier with the Comtesse de Segur books, with the misbehaving Sophie and her cousins, which my mother read to me. I guess Sophie's stories were my first introduction to Chick Lit.

But Tom Mix was my own doing despite the resistance of the grown-up females, my first rebellion against the mind-set of society concerning young girls. Probably that's why I still remember Tom Mix with affection.

July 15, 2013 at 11:30am
July 15, 2013 at 11:30am
“Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!”

He first appeared in 1933, as The Reign of the Superman, a short story from Science Fiction: The Advance Guard of Future Civilization #3, an amateur produced magazine published by Jerry Siegel. a high school student at the time. At the time he was a bald, telepathic villain bent on world domination, rough and aggressive. Siegel later turned him into a hero.

Over the years and many publications and screen appearances, Superman’s character still can be considered a stereotypical hero but with several character traits. Nowadays, he’s brave, kindhearted, moral, just and righteous, even mild-mannered unlike his original form. He’s now a better developed hero with an alter ego and a love interest.

Although avoided in literary fiction, stereotypes are used in many stories, and they are often necessary. Detective stories in series, such as in Sherlock Holmes, usually start with a stereotype and although the character’s essence stays consistent, some development still occurs in him as the series progress.

Thus, in most fiction, characters born as stereotypes can be improved, through creative process, into somewhat rounded ones. This is perfectly acceptable, especially in short fiction. For a short story, several overdeveloped characters would take too much space on the page and would even be boring for the reader, because in stories with several characters, all characters cannot be unique, lively, and memorable.

A novel is different, however. Even in a novel, not all characters should be as well developed as the protagonist and the antagonist. For example, if a reader’s attention stays with a secondary character more than the protagonist, that novel can be considered a lopsided flop.

When the character we create seems to be one-sided or stereotypical, I suggest for me and for anyone else, to write a few scenes and vignettes, off-story, putting him in different situations other than the situations in the story. For example, we can send him shopping, to movies, to his mother’s house, to war, or give him some childhood memories, a serious altercation with someone, or a disease or impediment.

As in everything, proper balance is the key, and the reason I wrote this entry has to do with being afraid of stereotypes--since I fear them myself; however, If we come up with a stereotype, we can develop him to the degree that he’s an acceptable character.
July 7, 2013 at 6:40pm
July 7, 2013 at 6:40pm
Most any notes I took, the lists I made, the characters I created were all over the place: In a quiet café, in jam-packed Starbucks, at the beach, in a car (but not while I drove), in a plane, in a restaurant, in the bathroom, in a room full of people all talking at the same time, etc. Yet, when it comes to writing something worthwhile, I need and crave the absolute quiet. That’s why I do my best work, after midnight, after the TV is turned off and after everyone sleeps.

Having said that, I have a great respect for the writer who can write anywhere just as well and he doesn’t enforce his needs on the people around him. He must have a deep secret nobody knows. It is among my priorities to find out about that secret and impose it upon myself. Or else, I’ll either continue producing faulty work or will keep on making lists and taking notes.

Not that I don’t write at all. I write everyday actually, in notebooks longhand or in my computer, and using whatever thingamajig is handy. In truth, I fill my prescribed quota (prescribed by me as 500 words a day) and then some, but what comes out is mostly laughable. I look at it and wonder who the heck wrote this crap and where did all my studying for so many years go.

Another thing is, when the TV is on--and it is always on and hubby wants me in the same room with him—I find myself typing what the TV is saying instead of what’s in my mind. Heaven forbid I venture to write something so new and different, hoping for a work of genius or at least a work with some competence. It will probably end up being the stupidest thing conceived in any homosapien mind. Lucky that we have Word programs that can erase stuff.

I recall, in the olden times, we wrestled with white-outs and some weird strips to use with the typewriter. (Yes, I’m that old!) Although I miss the typewriter from the whatever-you-wrote-stuck times, I’m grateful for the technology of today, even if it is so boringly outrageous at times, especially when charms bar acts like a mother-in-law’s tongue, which is another thing I shouldn’t say, since I am a mother-in-law. And at this point in this entry, I’m finding myself way out of track.

Luckily, it is one of those days when I don’t lack the courage to say/write something utterly ludicrous. After all, the TV is on, and it is talking about the solar-powered plane that finished its journey. I guess, it is a hint that I should finish this entry, too, before I really go off-course, and start talking about my next-door neighbor’s new and so-called modern metal roof that is reflecting the sun into our eyes and itself becoming an eyesore in the neighborhood.

Oh well, this is what happens when I write in a crowd.

July 3, 2013 at 4:24pm
July 3, 2013 at 4:24pm
Everything has an inside and an outside. Inside is hard work; outside is seductive.

For example, would you rather clean your home or go for a walk in the park? Most of us try do both because both are needed in necessary doses.

If stayed just on the outside, we'd find the outside to be tempting but also eventually dangerous and its allure fleeting. If we stayed only within ourselves, we'd have sharp insights, but we'd eventually give in to melancholy, loneliness, and depression.

Writing demands the writer's inside and outside together, but the inside job comes first. It is in the inside where the most provocative and important work is done. It is from the inside that we first commit to writing.

The undeniable pull we writers feel is the door that opens to motivation and staying power. On the other hand, the fantasy and mystique about what it means to be a writer during the first stages or the desire for outside acclaim is something to be cautious about because it only leads to disappointment and lowers the enthusiasm eventually. Struggling only for the glamour part is risky; even if, rarely, it can push a few writers forward and lead them into temporary popularity and, if lucky enough, inflated financial success.

After we start writing and end up trying our hand at it for a while, it is a good idea to stop playing it safe and making ourselves vulnerable. That is, after learning all we can learn of the craft, and then, going inside, monitoring and searching within every thought, every feeling, every motive, every dream, every plan, every fantasy, and every action we take, planned or unplanned.

This recharges the creativity and pushes us into the bravery of discovering our real selves. If not for fame and fortune, this courage of knowing oneself is worth every crumbled paper, every half-written text, and every rejection note. In other words, we end up writing in service, in service to ourselves and in service to others.This comes after we find the courage to scan our inner vista and decipher the interior life. Only then, we may say we are a true writer. Tough, isn't it!

And after having talked big for so long, the question to myself is, do I do all that? Truthfully, the answer is, no, not all that, not all the time, but some of that some of the time. There are moments when a part of me feels like a slave, and I find my writing so trite that I can cry. But then, at the end, I cannot not-write.

I may write an entire book or a small piece, only to realize that it is not the book or the piece I wanted to write. Yet, it may have some qualities, and what's in it may sound true for other people. This has happened to me many times over.

I think, the big lie is "Writing brings outside success." Fame is fine because it can be encouraging, but inner victory's value is incomparably greater. When we face our insides, our dark side, our unexamined values, joys, pain, and torment --without lying to ourselves--and take those apart, and reach to their cores, things that use to bring fear won't scare us anymore, and we understand the origin and center of our joys.

Then, for some writers, with practice, something miraculous happens. The words flow so powerfully and so fast that the writer feels he or she is taking dictation and cannot type fast enough.

Doing, scrapping, and re-doing, until the work runs us ragged, adds to the energy and familiarity with the writing process, as writing itself can be a powerful meditation practice that may lead to deep spiritual happiness, and I wish that for all my friends. *Smile*
June 30, 2013 at 8:26pm
June 30, 2013 at 8:26pm
Everyone has a different quest.

For me, quest means searching for meaning, or oneself, or something of importance, with or without being conscious of it. I think most of what I can call quest is done unawares.

Some people are luckier than me, as they are very sure of their quest. For example: Hilary Clinton's quest is amusing herself by using her hair. No, I am not making it up. She said so herself: "I'm undaunted in my quest to amuse myself by constantly changing my hair." Remember she did this by going all over the world as the secretary of state.

Whereas Martin Luther King thought most people's quest is not-to think. I'm not putting words in his mouth, Heaven forbid. Here is the quote: "There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think." Now, here, I won't let the truth stare me in the eye. Half-baked solutions, at times, do the job without worsening my arthritis.

Then, William Shatner uses the word quest to sell his books (!): "If you read my books, especially the Star Trek books and the Quest for Tomorrow books, you'll see in them the core theme of the basic humanistic questions that Star Trek asked." And no, again. I'm not a Trekkie. In my defense, I only liked the original series. But I digress.

Back to what I wanted to talk about: the pattern of the Quest.

Quests require great labor and energy on the part of the heroes, because they need to overcome numerous difficult obstacles, plus they travel a lot. No matter from which angle you look at it, a quest is something different for each person. It can be the Quest for the Holy Grail or walking the El Camino Santiago or going down the Mississippi River with Huck Finn. Or it could be space travel for amateurs with money like Richard Branson, the billionaire, and Justin Bieber, little boy singer. Well, power to them!

Quest is also a plotting tool. According to Professor Thomas C. Foster: The real reason for a quest story is self-knowledge. A true quest story consists of five elements.
1. One who is or will be on a quest, with or without his knowledge
2. A place to go (or an aim to reach)
3. A stated reason to go there
4. Challenges and trials en route
5. The real reason for the journey

There you have it. An outline for most any fiction piece. Doesn't this make almost all stories quests? And all stories writers' quests?

Maybe, but some journalists' and magazine editors' quests may differ a bit, as they like to fool around with their computer screens: "The thing is, I have a zillion apps, and I'm always looking for the perfect arrangement for them, so scrambling my home screen is part of that eternal quest." Susan Orlean (of) NewYorker

If anyone thinks writers and journalists are mixed-up people when it comes to quests, they should take a look at what programmers and makers of apps have as their quests. Don't these quotes from a blog called Programmer's Quest illustrate this situation?
*Bullet* "The Space Complexity of a Binary Search Tree (BST) = N + 2 N (2 pointers for each data_element)
= 3*N"
*Bullet* "For example, "linked list" which use 1 pointer per "data elements" will amount to the "Space Complexity" of SizeOf(data_elements) + ((Number of data_elements) * SizeOf(Pointer))."

What, what, what?

And another thing: when they say "parent" they don't mean their mothers or fathers. Go figure!
June 28, 2013 at 6:17pm
June 28, 2013 at 6:17pm
The year is 1960. My friend and I are sitting in front of my grandmother and her grandmother, who have also been friends all through their ages, as we listen to a story told by my grandmother. It is about some mischief that these two women and their circle of friends got into when they were our age.

My friend's grandmother cuts in. "But it wasn't so. You remember it wrong. This is what happened." She takes it on herself to tell the real story, her version.

Then my grandma interrupts. "No, you're wrong. That happened when..." And she takes the story to a different time and place.

At the end, my friend and I double up laughing at the several different versions of stories--recalled, speculated, or patched-, without realizing how much richer we've become with the storytelling of these two old women.

This is only a memory of mine no matter how recalled, speculated, or patched it is, but it is an example of my family's kind of an oral storytelling.

Oral storytelling -I learned later- had been around all through the history, since olden times before today's contraptions, before books, before writing was a concept, and probably before the wheel was invented and Prometheus stole the fire from the gods.

Some of Prometheus's sparks must have sneaked into the voices of all storytellers, as their stories have been the prime entertainment in ceremonies and in the evening when the families or the tribe gathered around the fire. Even in our day, campfire stories carry a bit of those old flavors.

Oral stories are collective enterprises with ever-changing nuances enhanced and preserved in narrative form. They are not only stories for passing time but also are part of a system for preserving a group's beliefs, customs, and history for passing from generation to generation.

We come across oral story traditions in practically all continents' and cultures' narratives. Some of those tales are told in a plain fashion; others are enhanced by the storyteller's style, his or her enunciation, voice, expression, and diction. Some of the stories are told with the accompaniment of musical instruments or singing.

Most of the stories' plots are made up to serve as teachings to the younger generation; others reflect the real life events of the tribe; still others are told for titillation, with sensational passages and characters and the storyteller withholding important and exciting information until the end of the story to create suspense and tension, a popular tool still in good use by today's writers for the craft of fiction.

Several of those stories have been developed into written words and gospels, later. Others are still told around campfires.

Here is a tale from Chippewa Indians about the demigod and cultural hero Wenebojo.

Wenebojo and the Cranberries

Wenebojo was walking along one day by the edge of a lake and saw some high-bush cranberries lying in the shallow water. He stuck his hand in the water and tried to get them, but he couldn't. He tried over and over again to get those cranberries. Finally, he gave up trying to stick his hand in the water and instead, he tried to grab them with his mouth by sticking his head in the water. That didn't work either, so he dove down into the water. The water was so shallow that the little rocks in the bottom hurt his face. He jumped out of the water and lay down on his back on the shore holding his face. He opened his eyes and there were the berries hanging above him! He had only seen their reflection in the water. But he was so angry that he tore the berries off the tree and didn't eat any, and he walked away.

From Wisconsin Chippewa Myths and Tales and Their Relation to Chippewa Life by Victor Barnouw

June 24, 2013 at 12:48pm
June 24, 2013 at 12:48pm
Recently, I read and reviewed a WdC Writer’s novel both here and in its Amazon page. I felt the book was well-written, in careful detail, and with great scenes and characters to fit the story’s time, which was the Depression Era.

What grossed me out was not the book or the writer, but some of the reviews for it by uninformed readers on the page in Amazon. Some readers expected the male lead to fit what we expect from males according to today’s understanding. Unreal!

There is a term for the faux pas of pushing present-day understanding into past events. Historians use the term and fear its application and the results of it; that is, most of the time. The term is Presentism.

The fear of presentism is a real one as its usage in serious writing creates a distorted understanding of the subject matter.

For more on the subject:

For the fiction writer, presentism can be used, however subtly, but it may complicate a story and may contribute to loss of effective story impression and the story’s trustworthiness. In a convincing story, the characters and the story are imagined but are better represented in real time, even if the story is a time-travel one.

Surely, one can do what one wants in fiction. There is even a book of fiction that shows the Third Reich as having won the World War II. (Heaven forbid!) It was that writer's choice. Our writer preferred to stick to the facts of her story’s real time, and I applaud her for it. Truth is, all stories are written about the past or as occurring in the past. As times change, the world, opinions, perceptions, interpretations, and cultural elements also change. Why is this so difficult to understand by the readers!

I personally love to read what is objective and accurate, and true to the story’s purpose, and I think no writer should be made to worry about any reader presentism.

June 14, 2013 at 5:08pm
June 14, 2013 at 5:08pm
Maybe there is something more to longhand penning than computer composing. Not as a literary piece or as the first draft of anything fantastic, but as any writing sweetened by time like any wine standing in the cellar for a hundred years. Come to think of it, even hieroglyphs should amount to some good cash these days, whether we can read them or not.

For instance, Sotheby’s London is (will be?) offering Beckett's Murphy for a hefty amount of green. The draft is handwritten in six ordinary note-books, between August 1935 and June 1936, in Dublin and London, while Beckett was undergoing psychoanalysis. This original draft is titled Sasha Murphy. It is said that Becket doodled inside the note-books here and there and wrote and rewrote the opening sentence at least eight times. Still this draft of the book is a far cry from its printed version.


So my question is: why did my son’s math teacher, way back when, called my husband and me for a conference, i.e. complaint, showing us his notebooks inside which the kid doodled animal pictures on the margins? My kid was acting like a genius and no one knew! But then he must have taken after his mother who also drew flower pictures on the margins even in an earlier era, during dinosaur times. With one exception, the mother was a very good student and she didn’t draw complaints from her teachers; the son was not. On the other hand, Einstein wasn’t a good student either. But I digress.

Anyhow, whenever I try to write longhand nowadays, my first draft is useless. For the simple fact that I can’t read it myself afterwards. The text looks like a modern abstract drawing with lines, words, and scratched black blobs everywhere. If you add to it the gridlike doodling in the margins, executed while I force my brain, the text becomes a goner. I might as well bury it and put a headstone on it that says, “Here lies what Joy meant to say!”

Oh well, my offspring will have to deal with it. No first drafts of anything on auction at Sotheby’s. Their mother is in love with the computer.

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