Random quote of the day:

“Because of the workshop and the M.F.A. phenomenon there’s much too much revision going on. Revision can grind a good impulse to dust.”

—Billy Collins, The Paris Review, Fall 2001, No. 159

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”

—Dolly Parton, Twitterfeed, February 17, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“I’ve never looked through a keyhole without finding someone was looking back.”

—Judy Garland, interview, NBC TV, March 16, 1961

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Courage is ten, nine is the ability to escape.”

—Azerbaijani proverb

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star.”

—G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

It’s taken me a long time to realize there are people who love to read but who don’t give a damn about how a thing is written. Yeah, I know, should have been obvious with one browse of bestseller books—but, somehow, the concrete realization of this fact  managed to elude me. Of course, not all bestsellers are badly written. Many are quite well written, in fact. But now and then someone comes along like Stieg Larsson or Dan Brown or Stephanie Meyer or E. L. James who are really atrocious at narrative but still manage to concoct a compelling story and capture that certain something in the zeitgeist that has people flocking to them.

Full disclosure: I am again attempting to read Stieg Larsson’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and this time it seems to be sticking, but I have bounced off Larsson and these other writers. I probably won’t try the others again as there seem to be diminishing returns and too many other things I’d rather read. The thing is, as I have been struggling with my own writing, I have also been struggling with my ability to read fiction. I keep bouncing off of books, even well-written ones, even those by old favorites, and I’ve been longing to become immersed in something. I’m far enough past Larsson’s tell-not-show and long infodump opening that the mystery of Tattoo has had a chance to hook me, so I may actually finish this book. No guarantees, though. It’s been the first part of December since I finished anything, even rereads of old favorites. (The last was Deborah Harkness’s Times Convert, the follow-on book to her All Souls Trilogy. It was meh, but I’d loved the other books and wanted to catch up on the characters.)

My writing and my fiction reading have always been connected. One feeds the other, even if what I’m reading has nothing to do with what I’m writing. Being immersed in someone else’s world for a time helps stimulate the mystic place in my brain where my own singing starts. I can’t help thinking that if I cure one symptom it might help cure the other.

I’m still writing almost every day, and it’s still mostly like pulling teeth, but I do plant butt in chair. Most days it isn’t much more than 500 or so words. Some days I’m blessed by 1000 or so. Today, all I managed was 250. But the important part is sitting my butt in the chair, opening the file, and doing something.

So, readers who don’t care how a thing is written. It’s all good. People should like what they like regardless of nerds like me who care about those things. I once had a friend who absolutely refused to read when he was younger, even though it caused him problems in school. He was a bright, imaginative, funny fellow but he just hated reading. Then one day when he was in high school a perceptive teacher shoved a science fiction book into his hands. He was intrigued by the premise and started to read. From that moment on, he became a voracious reader of science fiction and fantasy. He always had a book in his hands. He did confess to me, though, that he often skipped the descriptive parts and dialogue tags and read just the dialogue so he could get through the story faster.

And therein hangs a tale: there are many people like him. Not only do they not care how a thing is written, they want to get through the story as fast as possible to find out what happens. No savoring. They don’t really care about “the art of story,” that immersive feel of a book. It’s a mystery to me why they read at all—but again, that’s not for me to decide. People should be allowed to like what they like and how they like it, and no one—well-meaning nerd, politicizing authors, crusading literati, anyone—has the right to tell them otherwise.

There are no shoulds in reading. Only what gets you through the night. And the book.

 

 

Random quote of the day:

“Art is not made to decorate rooms. It is an offensive weapon in the defense against the enemy.”

—Pablo Picasso, Les lettres française

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

I’ve been feeling sorry for myself the last couple of days for various reasons. Just this morning I was lying in bed doing a “poor me” routine in my head. I eventually told myself to put a sock in it and get over myself. As I swung my legs out of bed I noticed a stamped envelope sitting on the floor next to the bed that I’d swear wasn’t there before.

Let me back up a bit first before going there.

A few nights ago, I had a dream about my cousin S. We had a “misunderstanding” not quite a year and a half ago and haven’t spoken since. I love her and regretted things were that way but I didn’t know if I should contact her. I didn’t know if she’d welcome contact. So, I took the easy way out and stayed silent. It’s not as if I have a lot of relatives left in this world. I’ve got really good friends, for which I’m very grateful, but not that many relatives left that I’m close to. Oh, there are legions of cousins and even a niece or nephew or two but I hardly know them. They’re virtually strangers. But S. has been in my life most of my life. This dream reminded me of that.

When I got up the morning after the dream I did a lot of thinking. I very much believe in dreams as messages, both from the deeper core of who we are and from that part of us that is connected to the larger universe. I thought this dream might be something of the latter. I thought I had to reach out, but I wasn’t brave enough for an email and most especially not a call. I texted S. and asked how she was doing. She texted me back and we chatted a bit. No mention was made of the misunderstanding (for which I am grateful—not that brave) but at least we talked and were friendly.

I really don’t want to lose contact with her. I really want her to know that she means a lot to me. Maybe I’ll work up the courage to say/do more later, but for now I’ve done what I could.

So, that envelope on the floor this morning. I recognized it before I picked it up and it did startle me to see it. Inside was a letter from my aunt, S.’s mother, who died of breast cancer some years ago. She wrote it while going through chemo and although she did have a lot to say about how miserable she felt, her pluck and sense of humor also came through strongly. She faced that trial with courage. It did give me some much-needed perspective.

The thing is, as I said, I don’t remember it being there the night before. And coming as it did so closely on the heels of that dream about S.…It was too much of a coincidence for me to pass it off as coincidence. I had pulled some books out of the bookshelf near the bed yesterday that hadn’t been moved in quite some time, so maybe the letter had been tucked in with them—although I can’t imagine why I would put it there. It was a precious letter to me. And, anyway, I only put that information here in the spirit of full disclosure and for those who need the comfort of coincidence to get them through the day. For me, it was no coincidence.

Now, what was my aunt or the universe was trying to tell me? That’s a bit murkier. Was it a rebuke for not contacting S. before, for the misunderstanding, for not having the courage to communicate more? Was it a thank you for doing what I had done? Was it reinforcing the “get over yourself” for feeling self-pity? Was it a reminder that I needed to finish that story based on my aunt? Or was it just a general “hey there”?

I’m afraid figuring that out is beyond me at this point, though I’ll work on it. That’s the thing about “communications.” They are often quite murky. It’s part of our process to figure them out on our own, I think. We learn more that way, I guess. But dang.

Maybe the message is as simple as don’t take things for granted. Don’t take this life for granted. Get on with what you’re meant to do in this life and be good to the people you care for because it and they can be taken from you at any moment. Use the gifts you have been given. That’s the true mission for any of us in this world. That, I believe, is what the Universe truly requires of us: use it or lose it.

Random quote of the day:

“I myself find the division of the world into an objective and a subjective side much too arbitrary. The fact that religions through the ages have spoken in images, parables, and paradoxes means simply that there are no other ways of grasping the reality to which they refer. But that does not mean that it is not a genuine reality. And splitting this reality into an objective and a subjective side won’t get us very far.”

—Niels Bohr, remarks after Solvay Conference of 1927, quoted in Physics and Beyond by Werner Heisenberg

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Everyone is a bore to someone. That is unimportant. The thing to avoid is being a bore to oneself.”

—Gerald Brenan, Thoughts in a Dry Season

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Next Page »