We Have Always Lived in the Castle

When I’m asked about my favourite book I think of “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” by Shirley Jackson.

There is a Shirley Jackson award for fiction writers. She wrote more than fiction. She was an early Erma Bombeck, writing about herself and her family life with four children.

“[L]et my reader who is puzzled by my awkward explanations close his eyes for no more than two minutes, and see if he does not find himself suddenly not a compact human being at all, but only a consciousness on a sea of sound and touch . . .”

“It is only with the eyes open that a corporeal form returns, and assembles itself firmly around the hard core of sight.”

“I delight in what I fear.”

“I have always loved to use fear, to take it and comprehend it and make it work and consolidate a situation where I was afraid and take it whole and work from there.”

Have you read any of Shirley Jackson’s books or short stories?

Katy Didn’t

Susan Coolidge wrote the series of books beginning with “What Katy Did”. I read them as a kid. The part I most remember is the very start where the author overhears two insects arguing back and forth about “Katy did” and “Katy didn’t”. I picked up the books to read again. That is one of the great things about second-hand bookstores, you can always find old/ classic books.

Out of curiousity I looked up Susan Coolidge to see what kind of quotes she is known for. There was a very meager selection and most were too whimsical to really stand the test of time I felt. But, one thing she does have going for her is did and didn’t. At the end of the second book, “What Katy Did at School”, she writes:

“How much room for ‘Didn’ts’ there is in the world, I thought. What an important part they play! And how glad I am that, with all their own and other people’s doings, so many of these very ‘didn’ts’ were included among the things which my Katy did at School!”

Give a Good Critique

It isn’t easy to be a good critique partner. You have to be honest and yet stand fast when you hit a nerve and get blasted for it. It does happen.

Don’t forget to be encouraging as well as honest. Focus on the overall story and add spotlights about missed commas, over used words, dialogue, flow, spelling and grammar as an add-on (things they need to watch for). If you can write an overall impression and give not only constructive feedback but some real appreciation and compliments along the way you give the impression that it wasn’t all bad and that makes everyone happy. Well, at least they won’t be miserable.

Don’t dawdle and keep your writer in suspense or wondering if you are crtitiquing or copying. Give a prompt review and if you need more time be upfront about it. Or, don’t do the critique until you know you have the time for it.

Don’t be pressured into doing a critique if you really don’t want to. You can’t be fair if they’ve bullied you into it.

Don’t go overboard and make a book out of it. Don’t become fixated on detailing every least mistake. Set your mind on writing a paragraph or two and rather than trying to perfect them all at once.

In the Eye of the Beholder

When you take a photo you spend a little time setting up the scene as it will fit into the space you have in the view finder. That should continue into writing too. We are used to seeing movies and TV on a screen, not from our own eyes as we live our lives where the view is wider and taller. So when someone is reading a book they also expect to see the scene as if it were through a camera or on a screen. Set up your scene with that in mind. How many things can you bring into the screen and where do they fit in best?

Confused? Hold up your hands to form a box shape and see what actually fits into the space between your hands. Not as much as if you looked without looking through your hands, right? It is surprising how little sometimes fits into that square space.

20 Years Late (From a Friend’s FaceBook).

Hey mom I know that it’s late, hope I didn’t wake you
Yeah, everything is O.K., just needed to talk to you
Today I had one of those days
But I didn’t call to complain
Just to say everything that I didn’t for all of those years
You were a taxicab driver, a nurse and a maid
A waitress, a cook and a shoulder to lay
My head on to cry on, when nothing was going my way
You knew every answer without cracking a book
And I took for granted that I had it so good
And I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to say
Thank you I love you
Twenty years late

It’s funny how time passing by can change your perspective
A little while out on your own can sure make you think
I don’t know how you did it
No I can’t find one spare minute
The days run together but I don’t remember you
Ever letting us down

You were the judge and the jury when I did wrong
Been my biggest fan from my very first song
The gas in the engine that always kept me moving on
A seamstress a counselor and the one referee
That could cold stop a fight between my brothers and me
And I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to say
Thank you I love you
Twenty years late

I’ll let you go now
But I hope that you know now how I feel
Thank you for making me the woman I’ve become
I love you and I will always be your daughter
Mom that’s all I called to say
20 years late…

In twenty years what would you like to tell someone that you can’t say now? Why does time sometimes make it easier?

Moving Along…

I’m going to change templates again. Not huge news as I seem to change often enough. I’ve been looking at so many templates while trying to come up with just what I need for Word Grrls. There is almost nothing out there for blogs using b2evolution. But there are tons for Blogger, I just find more and more all the time. So of course I began to see others I’d like. More things and ideas to grab up greedily.

Still not getting far with WordGrrls but it will take actually cracking open my CSS code book and I’m still not feeling bright enough to do that. Glad to be not as sick and if I can get a day out when I’m not babysitting I would like to do something, fun for me. Fun for me cause what I think is fun others would say is boring. Silly them, what do they know.

I’d like to find a web programming book to sit on my shelf and admire. I’m looking at taking a web admin type of course though so I may be dusting off all those books soon. That would be a good thing. 🙂 Georgian College has the courses I’d like but I don’t want to take a whole two year program during the days of winter. It is available in night courses, just each course by itself. That would take a lot longer but would let me take just the courses that would actually be useful.

Update: It’s coming along. I’ve got the widgets back on and have drawn and uploaded a new header. I’m thinking to keep that cold looking colour cause it’s very wintery looking, for the season. A new background is in the works. I have not decided if it will be a photo of something (now that I’m over the plague I can get out for snow photos!) or if I will draw snowflakes. Likely I will do both and see which I like better.

Self Inflicted Argument

“Each book is, in a sense, an argument with myself, and I would write it, whether it is ever published or not.” Patricia Highsmith.

What could you argue about with yourself? Could you write a paragraph, then a page and could you argue enough to turn it into a short story and beyond? What are so you angry about that you could just write forever if you had enough time and space?

Keeping Down the Leprechauns

You finally catch that snickering little leprechaun. This time he won’t be getting away. He’s caught in a small steel cage and you’ve even got it on wheels so you can just tow him along wherever you go. He’s not liking it. But that just makes you feel better after listening to him laughing at you all these past months.

You can’t take a caged leprechaun many places without someone else wanting to steal him away and you need to have quiet to hear when he tells you the secret to his treasure. Reading a book would be a good idea but you forgot to stash one in your purse. Going to the library or a coffee shop won’t do cause he’s making way too much noise arguing and complaining and trying to trick you into letting him go.

It’s going to take some time before he breaks down enough to tell you where his treasure is… how do you pass the time?