Tag Archives: Writing

Procrastination and Perseverence

In January of this year, I declared on this blog that I’d complete a book by the end of this year. I’d like to report that I’m making great progress — in my mind. Few words have made it onto my virtual pages, alas.

We read so many grim books in my book club that we were delighted to read this hilarious, perceptive, heart-felt book in which we actually cared about the characters.

I was inspired recently to get back to work when I went to a fund-raiser for a local hospital.  (Thanks to my great friend Joy for inviting me!)  One of the speakers was Helen Simonson, an author whose first book I’d read and really enjoyed. “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” was a delightful, touching and very funny book. I could easily picture this well-drawn English village and its characters, so different from my own neighborhood in many ways, but very similar in others. My book club read the book, and it’s been one of the few that we all liked. It’s a tough crowd.

From Simonson’s website:
When Major Pettigrew, a retired British army major in a small English village, embarks on an unexpected friendship with the widowed Mrs. Ali, who runs the local shop, trouble erupts to disturb the bucolic serenity of the village and of the Major’s carefully regimented life.

Helen Simonson.

The title of Simonson’s speech was “Perseverence. ” Simonson said that it took her five years to write the book, “The first four and a half I didn’t do very much.” I’ve got the procrastination part of the equation pretty much taken care of.

Simonson was in a graduate program, and her novel was her thesis. As the deadline neared, she really got into gear. I hope I don’t wait until November to get moving. Is there anyone out there who needs an online writing partner? We can grant each other master’s degrees when we finish!  I’ll just be happy to finish. Simonson got a book deal through an agent within a week of finishing her book!

After the luncheon, I got a chance to meet Simonson, but I didn’t tell her that I was a wanna-be novelist. We’re a dime a dozen, I’m sure.

Helen Simonson’s Website.  You can find Simonson on Facebook, too.

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Filed under Authors, Books, Entertainment, Europe

It’s a Chelsea Morning

Hotel Chelsea, New York City, Print print 

I was in third grade when I decided to be a novelist.  It sounded so glamorous and important.  You and your books are studied in school.  People discuss what you were thinking, what you meant when you wrote “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”  They pay money for your thoughts!  There’s a catch, though.  To be a novelist you have to finish and preferably publish a novel.

I did pursue a writing career as a journalist, but nearly all of those hundreds of thousands of words have crumbled into dust, barely remembered the day after they were read. I never achieved that third-grade hope of writing some soul-stirring, enduring piece of work, like that of Ernest Hemingway or Jane Austen.

My novels still reside in my head and on scraps of paper and in numerous files on my computer.  I’m sure there are millions just like me. My son recently forwarded me a link on how to publish a book on Kindle.  Now, I have no excuse for not finishing the work that everyone has been breathlessly waiting for! No publisher or agent stands in my way.  I am my only obstacle. (Which so far has been a HUGE obstacle.)

One good thing is that I no longer have delusions of grandeur.  The New York Times Bestseller List?  Who needs it!  The Nobel Prize for Literature? A farce!  A Pulitzer Prize?  Don’t make me laugh! I just want to finish something readable and absorbing. My goal is to have a novel finished and on Kindle by the end of 2011. You heard it here first. Hold me to it! If you want to write a novel, join me in this goal. We can download one another’s books. We can have our own book club. (Kindle link at the bottom.)

I was looking through my zillions of photographs and came upon the above photograph, which I took from the balcony of the Chelsea Hotel, a mecca for creative people. I’m going to tack up the photo as an inspiration to write.

I took the photo in 1989, when I visited my friends Jan and Richard in their apartment at the Chelsea Hotel.  Jan and Richard are both extremely talented and creative people, so it was fitting that they should live in a building that had been a home to so many writers, artists and musicians. Among the writers who have lived there are Mark Twain, O. Henry, Dylan Thomas (who died there of alcohol poisoning), Arthur C. Clarke (who wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey there), William S. Burroughs (who later moved to my college town of Lawrence, Kansas), Leonard Cohen, Arthur Miller, Quentin Crisp, Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac (who wrote On the Road there), Robert Hunter, Brendan Behan, Simone De Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Thomas Wolfe, Charles Bukowski.  Among musicians who lived there were Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and Patti Smith. The Grateful Dead stayed there.

The Chelsea is at 222 West 23rd Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea.  The 250-unit hotel was designated a New York City landmark in 1966, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

About the Hotel Chelsea.

How to publish your book on Kindle.

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Filed under Journalism, Life, Literature, Photography, Writing

Relax!

Hammock on the Veranda Postcard postcard

Here’s a photograph I took on a recent visit to South Carolina. Can’t you just imagine yourself relaxing in this hammock with a cool drink and a book? I didn’t try it myself, because I probably would have spilled my drink on my book. But it’s a lovely fantasy.

When bloggers start posting just a photo or two or a YouTube video once or twice a month, you know they are on the downhill slide to quitting. It’s true that I’m blogging less and less often. But I’m not giving up, I swear.

Soon after I started blogging here in the Spring of 2008, I read that the average blogger lasts about two years. I don’t know where those statistics came from, but that seems about right. When I make the rounds of my fellow bloggers, I find they are posting less, too. Sadly, some of my favorite bloggers have stopped posting, apparently forever or so rarely that their infrequent posts are merely the sputters of a dying blog. Blogs take time and commitment. They sure as heck don’t make any money.

I know the world isn’t begging for my thoughts, but I do like to post about interesting subjects I find, usually about nature, travel, music and history topics. Lately, though, I’ve been enjoying a rest in my “mental” hammock. What I really want to write about is politics, but I’ve sworn not to. Wouldn’t be polite.

One fellow blogger, Shouts from the Abyss, has kept up the good fight by blogging EVERY day (sometimes twice) for more than a year!

Planetjan has slowed, too. She has a very full schedule, but she’s also dedicated to posting. She’s hilarious, so I’m always happy to read one of her posts. Her latest is Hands On Learning.

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Filed under Communication, Friendship, Internet, Life, Personal, Writing

National Grammar Day

This one-room school house once stood in Piper, Kansas.  It's now one of the exhibits at the Agricultural Museum and Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas.

This one-room school house once stood in Piper, Kansas. It's now one of the exhibits at the Agricultural Museum and Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas. Many a sentence was diagrammed here.

I partied really hard yesterday on Square Root Day yesterday (03/03/09).  After all, it only happens nine times a century.  The next one won’t happen until 04/04/2016.   However, after so much calculating, National Grammar Day today caught me completely by surprise!  In fact, I’m going to make this short to minimize my chances for a grammar goof-up.  

To learn more about how you can celebrate, click on National Grammar Day.  You can even listen to music in the Bad Grammar Hall of Fame, including one of my favorites, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones.

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Filed under Education, Humor, Kansas, Life, Personal, Random, Writing

The Strongest Links

These rock climbers are linked together in Zion National Park in Utah.  It's a metaphor for how we are all dependent on one another -- and a good excuse to use one of the photographs from my recent tour of the park!  I won't mention how crazy those guys are!

These rock climbers are linked together in Zion National Park in Utah. It's a metaphor for how we are all interdependent -- and a good excuse to use one of my photographs from my recent trip to the park. These three men are halfway up a half-mile tall canyon wall. They were barely visible. My telephoto lens didn't help much. The craziness of rock climbers is a topic for another post.....

Paula of Locks Park Farm bestowed a “proximation” award on my blog.  She explains it very humorously here.

The award is intended to link many people together who have become friends online so that we can all enjoy new friends.  It’s sort of like the blogging version of the chain letter, but nothing bad will happen to you if you break the chain.  You’ll just miss out on the fun! Okay, so it’s a little trouble. Get over it!proximade

The award seems to be translated from Spanish.  I won’t change the wording, because it has its own quaint charm.  I’m thinking “bows” means ties, for example. 

This blog invests in and believes in the “proximity,” meaning that blogging makes us ‘close’ . They all are charmed with the blogs, where in the majority of its aims are to show the marvels and to do friendship; there are persons who are not interested when we give them a prize, and then they help to cut these bows; do we want that they are cut, or that they propagate? Then let’s try to give more attention to them! So with this prize we must deliver it to 8 bloggers that in turn must make the same thing and put this text.”

I’ve been on the road for a week speeding through southern Utah, gaping and gawking at the magnificent scenery, so I’ve been out of touch. (My husband did the 1,500 miles of driving out of Las Vegas, while I had the hard task of capturing the sights on my camera….ha, ha.)  I’ll be posting photographs and my awe-struck thoughts and observations in a future post or posts.

In the meantime, I’m eagerly reading everyone’s blogs again and am thrilled to be able to share these blogs with you.  The honorees can bestow their own “proximation” awards, if they want.  Many have already earned numerous awards.  You’ll enjoy these blogs, I promise.

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Filed under Communication, Entertainment, Friendship, Humor, Internet, Life, Personal, Photography, Relationships, Travel, Writing

Philadelphia and Baltimore Fight Over Edgar Allan Poe’s Body

Edgar Allan Poe in a daguerreotype taken in 1848, age 39, the year before he died under strange circumstances.

It’s almost like a scene from one of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories –Philadelphia is trying to claim Poe’s body from Baltimore.  Actually, I may have exaggerated.  It’s only one person,  but he makes a good case.  Edward Pettit, a Poe scholar in Philadelphia, argues that Poe wrote most of his best work in Philadelphia, which was a violent place in the mid-19th century when Poe lived there.  Pettit says the city’s sinister atmosphere inspired Poe’s work. This may not do much for Philadelphia’s public relations, however. 

Many cities could make a claim on Poe. He was born in Boston, lived in The Bronx in New York City and died in Baltimore. He even courted a woman in Providence, Rhode Island.  Poe described himself as a Virginian.  He spent much time in Richmond, including his early years, and always planned to return there.  Relatives wanted to bury him in Brooklyn.  

January 19, 2009 will mark the bicentennial of Poe’s birth. Pettit will debate an opponent from Baltimore on January 13 in the Philadelphia Free Library over where Poe’s remains should finally be at peace, if that’s possible. Here’s a link to a story about the “controversy” in the New York Times: Baltimore Has Poe; Philadelphia Wants Him

Edgar Allan Poe's grave in Baltimore, Maryland.

Edgar Allan Poe's grave in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Filed under Authors, Baltimore, Books, Entertainment, History, Humor, Life, Literature, Novels, Personal, Philadelphia, Random, Writing

George Orwell Revisited

                                                                                                                                                                              Last week, I wrote about George Orwell’s new blog. Now he’s back in the news as a subject in a book he shares with Evelyn Waugh.  At first glance, Orwell and Waugh couldn’t be more different in style, interests and beliefs, but writer David Lebedoff has tied together these two fascinating British authors.  You can click on a link below for more information on the book The Same Man: George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh in Love and War.

Orwell and Waugh lived at the same time, observed a similar world and country and expressed opinions on the same topics.  Orwell is known for his dark views of a downtrodden futuristic society, while Waugh’s literary world was lush and populated with an aristocratic crowd. 

The book that epitomizes Waugh for me is Brideshead Revisited.  OK, I admit it was the 1982 miniseries, featuring a young Jeremy Irons, that first drew my attention to Waugh.  Recently, a shorter version of Brideshead Revisited made it to the theater screen.  I don’t see how it can top the first one, but I know I’ll see it eventually.  I’m a sucker for any period piece, even if it takes place last year.

If you want some reviews about the new Orwell/Waugh book go to my book club blog.

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Filed under Entertainment, History, Humor, Language, Life, Literature, Movies, Personal, Politics, Random, Writing