Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why do we need books?

Why does the world need books?

      When I answered this question last week, I wasn’t thinking of books as objects, I was thinking of literature, specifically. When Jenna responded, she mentioned that this question deserved a discussion of it’s own; so now I’m starting that discussion by looking at why the world needs books - not merely writing or literature, but the books themselves.

I don’t own an e-reader: a kindle or a nook or whatever other brands have come out. I don’t like reading from a screen enough to want one and I don’t need another thing to plug into my cigarette lighter. But apart from that, I don’t own one because I really like the feeling of holding a book. I like the texture of pages - thick, cream-colored journals or barely there Bible pages. I like the scent of books, old and new. Books give us something e-books can’t: a sensual connection to the words. I’m not anti-technology, I love blogging and facebooking, I like the ability to connect to people across the country quickly. But I don’t have an emotional connection to my laptop like I do to my books, I can’t fold down page corners and write in notes in my margins. I think we need books to continue connecting our minds to our senses and to have something meaningful that lasts when technology fails.

Any thoughts?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving..and the discussion

It’s Thanksgiving. And yesterday I was busier than I am today, baking the pies and tarts and bread for today. This morning we had apple pastries with caramel sauce and whipped cream for breakfast, with black coffee to cut the sweetness. The turkey is ready to go in the oven, but it’s a bit early yet, so I have time to post the discussion I failed to write yesterday, which is another list, longer than last weeks, in honor of the holiday:
1. If you could escape into just one story, what would it be?
I think it would be … I really don’t know. I don’t think I want to escape completely into any story..

2. What book do you think should be mandatory for writers?
I don’t really like the idea of any book being mandatory, I think reading in abundance should be, but not any specific book…If I had to choose, I’d lean towards Tolstoy’s Human and Divine collection, there is so much that is universally good in those stories, which might help in giving direction.

3. What movie do you think should be mandatory viewing for writers?
..again with the “mandatory”..but I would push Babette’s Feast or Pan’s Labyrinth on anyone. I would also push Serenity on anyone, but not necessarily because it would help with writing, just because I’m obsessed.

4. Do you ever take drugs, smoke, or drink to ‘encourage’ your imagination while writing?
No. But I loved hearing one writer (I wish I could remember who) say that after reading Hemingway, he announced to his class that he wanted to be an alcoholic when he grew up ( so he could write like Hemingway..

5. Why does the world need books?
I’m stealing this directly from the website that gave me this list (and Hemingway) “ make things truer than if they actually happened.”

6. What part of the process do you find most difficult?
Editing. It’s not at all based on mood and inspiration, but on discipline, and I’m lacking a lot of that discipline. That said, I think editing is where most of my writing goes from pathetic to likeable.

7. What books have scared you the most?
As far as books that freak me out, I had a little, old book written in German that terrified me for no known reason. I couldn’t read it, and it always seemed to be turning up in new places, I hated it, but it took me a few years to actually get rid of it. A part from that, I really can’t think of one, though I’ m sure there were a few that gave me trouble sleeping..

How about you? And Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Weekend Tea

My mother gave me the tea the came with her tea set, a British ‘weekend morning tea’. I drank it Saturday morning with cream and a bowl of oatmeal. Delightful. The house is all out of order from our days at home doing nothing. It’s nice to do nothing some days. Saturday we went nowhere. I made whole wheat bread and set ciabatta to rise, I threw a bowl, edited a poem and read with my feet tucked up on my rocking chair. On Sunday, we woke early enough to eat before Liturgy and still keep the fast. We had eggs, bacon, coffee, bread, and butter in the cold pre-dawn.
After mass, and still full from breakfast, we watched the frosted ground soften and my husband began making a nativity set while Yarrow chased Luba with her tiny broom and I filled my mind with herbs and tinctures. We ate bacon tuna melts with leftover creamy potato-broccoli soup for dinner, with Yarrow refusing everything but avocado and croissant. She would eat avocados forever if we had enough of them, washing them down with heavy cream until her fatness made the burden of clothes impossible.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Discussing Lists..

Because I love lists, I’m stealing this week’s discussion straight from Spinning Straw Into Gold:
Three things that have made me a better writer..

1. Honestly, and not just in an attempt to tie in to last weeks discussion: obsessing over writers I love. Picking them apart and analysing the text. Jenna’s right when she says analysis is supposed to influence and encourage us. It does, and who better to find encouragement in that the stories I can’t live without! Analysing them, specifically is a way to focus in on what is so attractive to me about certain authors. It also helps me realize when my own style is being over-run by a new favorite, so I can step back and re-evaluate.

2. Blogging. I know I don’t edit nearly enough here, and that my spelling is embarrassing, but I really do think that blogging itself, as well as the community I’ve discovered here has improved my writing, and encouraged me to keep at it. It’s like having constant, but not at all overwhelming pressure to perform, just a little bit; to reflect just a little bit more than usual, and also to open my writing up a bit more for criticism..which is something I’ve always had trouble doing.

3. Living Intensely. Life itself, with all it’s joys and sorrows, really is the best teacher. Nothing forces me to write honestly and passionately more than deep pain or overwhelming happiness, and each day I live I learn anew how many experiences are beyond my understanding. This opportunity, to learn and suffer and grow as a person as well as a writer is the best formation we have, and I’m grateful as I learn to take my life and form it into many tiny pieces of beauty.

What about you? They don’t have to be different, we can agree. Or maybe there is something else entirely for you?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Elections and the Exhausted Fan

I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m nursing a post-election hangover..
Not because I stayed up late to hear the results come in, I didn’t, we went to bed before eight last night actually, though the pigs woke me up at 12:30 (I’ve no idea why, I think they were mad that their water froze) -just in time to feed the stove and hear the election results. I’ve got a hangover because ‘election day’ is so full of emotion for everyone around me. So many people pinning their hopes and dreams on one person. Facebook is full of argument and exultation.

I’d like to keep it light today. Jenna’s post last week was delightful! Reading about Jenna’s Harry Potter fandom always makes me want to go to one of the fan conventions, I know I wouldn’t really belong, but I’d like it if I wasn't alone. Jenna, if there’s ever one on the east coast, you can stay with us, and we can go together. I won’t think or say anything snarky, I’ll just enjoy myself.

Jenna mentioned textual analysis in her post on fandom. Analyzing the texts we love is a big part of loving for many of us..(and not just in literary fandom, my husband and I have talked for hours about various hidden beauties in Firefly!) So when we analyze how often to we critique? Or is it just all affirmation (for me, it is mostly affirmation..I like to defend my favorites, even against my own mind). But occasionally, I’ll be tough. I think. Maybe…hmm..I can’t really think of a time, but I know they exist. I’ve thought that Tolkien should have had longer appendices, that he could have included more of the daily-life of the various races, that he might of added more history..nothing that actually would have increased the popularity of the books, I’m sure, but things I would have preferred. Textual analysis of my favorite books is almost always submissive to The Fan Instinct, but it is a delightful aspect, and the language of Tolkien allows me to analyze as I would myth or hagiography, instead of fiction - dorky, I know, but absolutely delightful. I like grand themes and minutiae, I like character histories, but not too much information. I like mystery too.

How do you analyze your favorites? What aspects do you find most intriguing? How does it develop your relationship to the text?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

All Saints

The day always feels like vacation. A chance to catch up with old friends. A time to apologize for missing feast-days and thank under-appreciated ones for secret support. And it is a day of preparation. A day to look forward at the new-born month with eagerness. There is so much potential here! I may have spent my October in a many colored haze of leaves and earth and dark skies, but November is here, and it demands a different rhythm - a bundled, reflective, and slow-moving rhythm. I’m drinking less coffee these days and remembering to feed the stove, even during the day. I’m wearing bright colors outside and lighting the lamps in early evening. The days are shorter and darker.

I’m planning sewing projects for the month: a wool skirt for me, a cushion cover for the rocking chair, pillow-cases, and curtains. Easy projects with straight lines while I learn to love working on my beautiful machine. I’ve similar plans for my kick-wheel: easy projects: sake cups and soup bowls, while I fall into the rhythm of kicking and working, working and kicking again. Hard work, but worth the effort - like everything in life.