Saturday, October 31, 2009

Figures. . .

Just when I'm all excited about NaNoWriMo, I get told that my gallbladder MUST come out. Surgery takes place on Tuesday. BUT! That gives me 10 days off from work to write! Now what I write may be pure shite, since I may be on painkillers. But I will write, dang it!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


We had a gorgeous autumn day on Sunday, so I took a couple pictures out front. I figure that I likely won't be paying much attention to the out-of-doors next month once I get started writing for NaNoWriMo, so it was wonderful to have such an outstanding day.

I love autumn. It is my favorite season for the fact of the remarkable beauty it shares with us.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Planning. . . .

A week to go before NaNo begins.

I'm not generally a "planner" per se. I'm more a chunk writer who lets things come as they will. However, with NaNo looming I'm finding the need to know the "whos" and "wheres" of this fantasy world I'm creating. So, I've been googling for images of some of my characters. And found out that Rupert Grint looks very much like my MC - the current Rupert (scroll to near the bottom of the link), not the younger Rupert. Who knew?

Today I am going to attempt map drawing. I've got to get my locations straight in this world I've created. I've got to know where folks are going, where they've come from and some of this world's history. A map should help. I think. Maybe.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog
by Muriel Barbery
Published by Europa Editions
Translated from the French by Allison Anderson

For some time now I've had an itching to take French lessons. I have no idea why. Long ago, in my ancient past, I took a semester of university French with Madame Maas and did not like the language. I think I felt it too simplistic and effete after the rigors of wrestling with German syntax and Russian verb aspects.

Perhaps, these 40 years later, I am more inclined to a search for elegance.

Muriel Barbery brings us two seemingly disparate characters - a fifty-something concierge for an elite apartment complex and a twelve-year-old daughter of one of the complex families. Both, however, are bitter, super-intelligent misfits who have built themselves into their own individual worlds of misery. They are both philosophical snobs, decrying the fallacies and foibles of those on the other sides of the invisible walls they've built around themselves.

I didn't like either of them much for the first 150 pages or so of their individual journals. I wanted to give them each a swift kick in the keister and wondered why I was even bothering to continue reading. But this is a book not just about redemption, but transformation. Barbery manages to weave a thin thread of hope of that transformation through her characters' misery. Just hints, but they held me through to the sad, but satisfying, ending.

I particularly enjoyed this passage on the joy of writing by Madame Michel, the concierge:
This is eminently true of many happy moments in life. Freed from the demands of decision and intention, adrift on some inner sea, we observe our various movements as if they belonged to someone else, and yet we admire their involuntary excellence. What other reason might I have for writing this - ridiculous journal of an aging concierge - if the writing did not have something of the art of scything about it? The lines gradually become their own demiurges and, like some witless yet miraculous participant, I witness the birth on paper of sentences that have eluded my will and appear in spite of me on the sheet, teaching me something that I neither knew nor thought I might want to know. This painless birth, like an unsolicited proof, gives me untold pleasure, and with neither toil nor certainty but the joy of frank astonishment I follow the pen that is guiding and supporting me.

Yup. I get that. Been there. Frequently.

And shortly after this passage twelve-year-old Paloma brings us this after a visit to her grandmother:
So, we mustn't forget any of this, absolutely not. We have to live with the certainty that we'll get old and that it won't look nice or be good or feel happy. And tell ourselves that it's now that matters: to build something, now, at any price, using all our strength. Always remember that there's a retirement home waiting somewhere and so we have to surpass ourselves every day, make every day undying. Climb our own personal Everest and do it in such a way that every step is a little bit of eternity.

That's what the future is for: to build the present, with real plans, made by living people.

So, basically what Barbery tells us through Madame Michel and Paloma is get out of your heads, break down your invisible walls, find your passion, and live life like it will end tomorrow, because it might. Not an original premise certainly - we hear it from motivational speakers ad infinitum - but Barbery presents it in such a very elegant way.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I'm stunned.


It's official.

I have clearly lost my mind.

I've committed myself. . . .

to writing a 50,000 word novel in one month.

I've joined the thousands of other loonies who do this every November.

What have I done?

How can I possibly?

What will I write?

I'm stunned.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tyranny of the Tiny

Here's another from my archives that hit me today as very appropriate for some reason.

We had a cat as a family many moons ago named Isaiah. I've spoken about him someplace, I think - Isaiah the Grumpy Prophet. He could drop you in your tracks, pull you up short with one of his dirty looks from across the room. Just walk in, he'd look at you and you felt that all the secrets you hold from other people and yourself were being laid bare in front of you and you better straighten up and fly right, sister!

He wasn't a big cat, rather small and not very muscular, and rather non-descript mottled gray tabby. We called him Tiny as a kitten. I'm not sure who came up with it, but when this would happen - the moments we suffered this look of accountability - we had a brief "prayer" we'd vocalize.
"Lord, save us from the Tyranny of the Tiny."

Perhaps we're suffering a time of walking through the little stuff - the Tyranny of the Tiny. The everyday crappiness that gets in our way. The debris of past little bits that show up like spinach stuck in your teeth.

You know, we both...and some others...have gone through a year of "big stuff." We've landed in places both physical and spiritual which we could not have imagined.... But life isn't all about the big stuff. Mostly it's about the Tyranny of the Tiny. So, I think we're in kind of a limbo energy-wise (though the RC church now says there is no limbo! Who'd a thunk?!), coming down from the mountain and assimilating the little stuff that bugs the crap out of us.

*goofy sentimental, knowing smile*
You're okay.
I'm okay.
Lord, save us from the Tyranny of the Tiny.