The L Word in Letter Form

I just sent a love letter to my nephew. He is 13, taller than I am and full of muscles from sports he has been doing. So strange to think of him as a young man versus the little towheaded boy I looked after. He is being bugged by his parents and Grandmother and family friends about what he will do this summer. I remember how much I hated that when I was his age, endless nagging and nitpicking. I still hate it actually.

So I wrote him a love letter and sent it to him in email this afternoon. Just a bit about how great it is to see him becoming a man and watch him growing up and making decisions. On and on and on in that kind of way. Of couse the L word was dropped into the mix, twice I think. I mean it all and yet I dared not read it back to myself cause I’d start feeling sappy and have tears trickling down my face. Getting emotional is sometimes silly.

Anyway, write your own love letter to a young person in your family. Pick one out of the tree from some branch or other if you don’t have a young person in the immediate family. Get mushy, give them some sincere goo about life and changes and being a good person. It never hurts to tell someone the L word, even if you can’t actually say it in person.

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.

β€œ[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 . . .”

β€œIt 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?

Do You Really Want a Personal Blog?

I posted this over on the CMF Ads forum. A response to someone who was interested in starting a personal blog but didnt’ seem to really want to write too much about themselves or have a select group of the public masses read it. I’m sticking my comment in here cause later I will want to read it and remember I wrote about the nose picking thing a fourth time now. What a twit I am. πŸ™‚

I read your first post and nothing else. My first thought was why do you want to do a personal blog? Seems you are all against the whole point of a personal blog. Plus you don’t want one set of people to read it yet want to promote it to find readers. Which is it?

I’ve been keeping a personal blog since 1998. My current one started in 2004. It’s freewriting. It’s temper tantrums. It’s rants and links you want to find later but forget all about and then realize they just didn’t matter all that much anyway. I go for months without promoting my blog. I don’t write it for anyone really so what does it matter who reads it. I don’t even know why I read it some days. I’ve been through a divorce in my personal blog. I’ve been through immigration, toe lint, nose picking and the agonies of online dating. I’ve written about being very unhappy and I’ve written about the best days in my life. I write things I hope family don’t read but still I post them, daring fate. If you can’t write about all of that in your own slant what is the point? Stick to a topical/ niche blog.

I don’t hide much about who I am. If you find yourself in Barrie, Ontario you can find me there. That is a real photo of me in this forum. If I looked like a movie star I’d plaster more of them around. Having a personal blog is liberating. I don’t give my URL to anyone I know but they sometimes find it. Most of them are not Internet types so they read one post and wander off like cows grazing in a field.

I’ve had two online stalkers in the time I have been online. I have had my blog hacked once (mild stuff and once I changed the password it was over). I’ve had people go totally off their rockers when I posted about being Pagan and really go bonkers when I posted about being a Witch. Then I posted about picking my nose and I had tons of comments from people laughing along with me. That’s what a personal blog is. Throw caution to the wind, sit back and laugh at yourself.

Invent Your Creative Reading

β€œOne must be an inventor to read well. There is then creative reading as well as creative writing.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do you write a secondary plot for the book you are reading? I often do. I create whole family trees for the characters I like. I give their children names and invent a whole life for them. Then I start on their children’s children. It’s something I get from my Mother I think. She pressed upon us how important it was to continue on the family tree, how that is the real meaning of life as it seems to her. To create, grow and inspire the next generation.

What do you invent for the characters in the book you are reading? Have you ever written fan fiction?

A Writing Group for You?

I’m not especially a group person. Too much of a loner and I like to do things my own way which is not always conventional or sensible to everyone. Sometimes it only makes sense to me and sometimes I turn out to be wrong, really wrong even. But, that’s getting sidetracked. I’ve begun looking at writing groups for myself.

Generally they fall into two groups, those which are genre specific and those which are location specific. Chances are you won’t find a group which is in your geographic area and caters to your writing genre, in the same group. (Unless you live in a large city).Β  If you look for your genre it is likely to be an online group. This has good and bad points, of course. A local group will meet in person on a schedule but you may find little support and information for your genre. Don’t get discouraged, the main thing you are looking for in a group is support after all. If you can find that online or in person that is the best thing.

Do make sure the group has a set goal in mind and does keep to it. A group for coffee and conversation is nice but you need more than socializing. If you want a review/ critique of your work find out what the rules are for both writers and readers and beware of handing out your work and not getting it back or having it copied. What do they have set up and are you feeling ok to trust others with your work in progress?

Overall, stick to getting support and information. Whatever helps you to stick with your writing goals and make you feel you are on the right track. A writing group is especially good for those who don’t have support from family and friends.

To get you started, I used to maintain this Dmoz category with writing groups and organizations. I no longer maintain it but it is still a good start point.

Give a Word a Life of It’s Own

Over your life as things go well and not so well you get a unique feeling about certain words. A word can almost have a whole character of it’s own in your mind.

Think of a word which has extra meaning to you and define it. Not something easy or sappy like family, love, etc. Pick something more unique to yourself. Mine is “approve”. When I hear or read that word I always get a feeling of gooey, clinging, sticky maple syrup in a smug smile.

Ask Your Grandmother

What would you like to ask your Grandmother? My Grandparents are all gone yet now and then something comes up that I’d like to ask them. Usually about family history or how life was back when they were the young people. I’d like to ask my Grandmother about the house her first husband built her. Where was it cause I’d like to see it, if it’s still standing.

What would you ask your Grandmother , if you could?

The Marriage Arrangement

It should be an interesting day for you. You’re meeting the man you’re arranged to marry. Your family picked him, made the plans and it’s all set. You just have to show up.

Kind of backwards and traditional but you said you would go along with it. Now you’re not so sure why. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

What are some things you most hope this intended husband has? Knowing there aren’t other options at this point what really is important in someone you’re going to be spending your life with?

Barking Mad

Cousin Alicia was never the brightest light in the room. Now she has become hypnotized and will bark (quite loudly) whenever anyone says the word cat in her hearing. It’s kind of amusing for awhile. But not so much when the family gets together at Cousin Barbara’s house, Barbara being the cat lady. You’ve never seen a room full of cats become vacant so fast.

Still, you are in the will for Cousin Alicia so you feel you should do something to help her? After several trials and errors you manage to hypnotize her again. Only you can’t undo the barking command. Instead you can substitute another word. What word will you give her to bark at instead? Something she isn’t likely to hear (and bark to) or something that will be funnier than “cat”? Or both?