Friday, February 02, 2007

Friday 20

In an introduction to a collection of poems I've been reading by Robert Browning, Horace Gregory complained of the poet's "heartiness", in that it "conceals the cold heart, the inarticulate loneliness -- the wish to be Oh, so friendly -- so homespun, so eager to call everyone by the first name -- and beneath it, a deadly chill." He also compared Browning's strength of personality to a will that would not give in, a wholesale insensibility to poetic art, and (shudder) the act of shaking hands with an American.

Robert, you bad man.

Horace Gregory continues to slam Browning through his intro for another ten pages before he finally shuts up and Browning's work begins. Gregory's venting is pretty mild stuff (circa 1956) compared to what's written about authors these days, but it's obvious that Gregory considered himself way above Browning.

I can't say I agree. Robert Browning was an interesting 19th century poet who wrote some kickass verse. One of them, Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, inspired Stephen King's Dark Tower books. Browning is remembered more for being married to Elizabeth Barrett, as well as being the subject of many of her love poems. Of particular note, #43 from Sonnets from the Portuguese, which starts off with one of the most famous lines of poetry in history: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I know there's more, that's just what I can think of off the top of my head.

20th century intro-writer Horace Gregory, on the other hand, I'd have to look up. Never heard of the dude.

Someday we will all be gone. I know that when I buy the farm, I'm leaving behind a body of work that can speak for me. Whether it will or not is up to the readers of the future. Chances are very slim that mine will; only a few books have that marvelous ability to carry their authors's voices for decades or centuries. The cool thing is that writing always levels the field; everyone has the same shot at becoming a Browning.

That's all the writer philosophy I'll inflict on you for this week. Any questions out there for me?

Storm update: A band of storms and tornadoes that came through our area during the middle of the night knocked out our power here, but we're fine, and so are our families. Please keep the victims of the storms in your thoughts and prayers; one of the major retirement areas was hit pretty hard. I'll check in and answer questions today when possible.

48 comments:

  1. Lleeo2:38 AM

    Well, old Gregory can tear Browning apart all he wants--but that's not going to make him any less famous. It's a literary critic's job to look at a text with a critical eye, and many postermodern critics are now simply looking at the text itself and ignoring the author completely. Gregory's review tastes strongly of pettiness.

    I just started a course on 19th century literature this semester and there were some incredible poets during this time period. I'm doing Byron's "She walks in beauty" for an essay and reading Shelley's Frankenstein. Man, I swear that woman knew or had contact with half the population of Romantic poets during that time! Not to mention the fact that her mother wrote one of the foundational novels of feminism.

    Question: Is it possible to fake your way through a scene involving bigwigs from the corporate business world of CEOs who make more money than small countries? Half the time I don't know what these corporate types do to make so much money--but I was hoping to make a scene I'm writing for a fanfic at least semi-realistic. I started writing it and every angle I tried was so vague it was impossible to keep going.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, how many more years am I going to have every poem I've ever memorized stuck in my head taking up valuable grey matter real estate? "I love thee to the height and depth and breadth my soul can reach when feeling out of sight to the ends of Being..."

    No wonder I can't remember what day it is. My brain is full. TGIF, PBW.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Never been into Browning, but there is something about Emily Dickinson's brevity and paranoia.

    Anyway, I do have a question of sorts. As the sudden parental unit of three small children, I am finding it incredibly difficult to create writing time. I get up earlier and earlier - finding my before school mornings overflowing with laundry and cleaning, leaving no time to write - and stay up later and later - finding my post-bedtime evenings crammed with preparing the house/kitchen/bathroom for the morrow, getting hubby out the door to work, and spending a few quiet minutes conversing with my own daughter before I pass out from utter exhaustion. The time between is filled with the needs of small children, especially the three year old, an assortment of appointments, visitations, errands, homework, cooking, and the act of simply running a household of six, let alone keeping my marriage intact.

    Since I'd really like to keep my remaining five hours of sleep time (1am-6am) and my marriage, do you have any tips on writing in the presence of small children? If they're awake, I average six interruptions while writing a simple four sentence email. If they're asleep, I'm struggling to keep the house and the rest of my fammily from falling into utter chaos. How in the world can I write a book?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous9:05 AM

    Is there an unspoken rating system for publisher's? I ask because I've noticed a vast difference between how character's express themselves, from saying she/he curses, using the actual expletive, or something softer like 'oh barnacles'. I find myself laughing at the incongruity, and losing the scene in my mind's eye. Should I stay away from certain language even if it makes sense for a character? I can't imagine a life essence stealing demon saying 'Oh shucks'.

    Thanks for all that you do. You are an inspiration, and humorous, too.

    My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the storm. Hope all is well for you and yours.

    annmarie

    ReplyDelete
  5. I can't imagine a life essence stealing demon saying 'Oh shucks'.

    Huckleberry Hound the Demon...

    *G*

    Sorry, couldn't resist

    ReplyDelete
  6. "I love thee to the level of every day's
    Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light."

    No, that's not the next line, but it's my favorite. Makes me all squishy inside.

    No questions. Just sayin' hi. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. We've been watching the coverage of the devastation in FL and my heart goes out to the families of those hardest hit. I'm so glad you're safe.

    I love Browning. Meeting at Night is one of my favorites because of the wonderful, subtle imagery it conjurs. I've lived by the sea most of my life and this has always spoken to me. You can almost hear his heart accelerate. :-)

    ***

    The gray sea and the long black land;
    And the yellow half-moon large and low;
    And the startled little waves that leap
    In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
    As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
    And quench its speed i' the slushy sand.
    Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
    Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
    A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
    And blue spurt of a lighted match,
    And a voice less loud, through its joys and fears,
    Than the two hearts beating each to each!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hey, glad everthing is okay over there! I had a question, but I forgot it in the excitment of last night's snow, so I guess I just stopped in to say hey! and Glad you're okay!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Personally my favorite poems have always been Keats' "Upon First Reading Chapman's Homer" and Shelley's "Ozymandias". I love poetry in general, but those two always make me want to stand up and declaim. As much as I would declaim, anyway.


    And, to Tambo: Stick in there. I know it can be bothersome when they interrupt you every 5 seconds for something, but, really, that's better than them hiding from you isn't it? Later, eventually (though when that happens is up to you), you can teach them that while it is ok to interrupt you, please try not to do it unless it is an emergency. Of course, you'll then have to define what an emergency is. That's a whole other thing.

    I kind of had to do that when I was working from home for a few days. The kids were coming to me for this and that. Finally I had to tell them "I know you're happy to show me things, but I need to work. If you can wait, please do."

    My kids are older than 3, though, so YMMV. The 3 year old might be feeling particularly clingy. Is he playing in another room and finding all kinds of excuses to come into the room where you are working? My son can be like that, too, but what helped with him was I told him to bring his toys into the room where I was and he could play quietly right by me. He was happy with that. You could try that.

    Regarding laundry and such: how old is your oldest? Can she help with any of these? Maybe make folding laundry something the two of you do while talking? It might not seem like a big deal, but if you only have to fold half the laundry and _still_ get to talk to your daughter, that helps the time crunch elsewhere.

    I know it can be overwhelming to go from 1 to 4 in 60 seconds, but it's doable. And, eventually, it won't seem quite so overwhelming. Once again, stick in there. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. For the 3 year old...I meant she, not he. sorry.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Just curious how the e-book challenge reads & critiques are coming.

    ReplyDelete
  12. SandyW2:31 PM

    My favorite no-longer-trendy poet is Steven Vincent Benet. To truly understand the American Civil War, read ‘John Brown’s Body.’

    Tambo, I’ve been following the story of your family. I think once the girls get used to things and feel a little more secure, it will all settle down. In the meantime, what worked when my kids were small was to set aside time when they were only to interrupt with serious emergencies. A serious emergency was defined as anything involving blood or smoke. ;-) It worked for us.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Steven, our daughter is seventeen today, and we're trying really hard not to make her the built in babysitter and indentured servant for the three little ones (8, 7, and 3) who are our nieces. They've been here for Relative Guardianship for about 3 weeks now and came from a home with no bedtime, no homework, no chores, no schedules, no beds, no vegetables, no structure or limits at all. When mom & dad are too stoned/drunk/wasted to care, it's a whole different life moving into a home with limits and consistent rules. We're all having to adapt.

    Anyway, it's getting better, slowly day by day. I'm just really frazzled. It's not just the kids, it's the endless appointments - we're due in family court at 3, my second appointment today - home visits, social workers and nurses and legal aides and all these stacks of forms to fill out... Hubby works midnight til 8 am so he has to sleep sometime, and our daughter's a HS junior in the midst of preparing to take her ACT test. And it's her birthday. God only knows how I'm gonna pull that off. lol

    ReplyDelete
  14. I do understand not wanting to make her responsible for the other three. Just wasn't sure of her age.

    And I've been following the story on your blog so I had that information. :) That's why I said _eventually_ - even if eventually doesn't come for several months or more.

    I did kind of ramble in my post, so if it appeared that I wasn't aware of the situation, I'm sorry. I was just tossing in ideas.

    But good luck with all the scheduling. This, too, shall pass. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Tambo: When are Hubby's normal hours to be awake but not at work? Can you work your own schedule around to be asleep when he is home -- and can watch the little ones -- and writing while he is at work -- and presumably the little ones are asleep? Adjust to provide enough overlap so that you actually see each other once in a while.

    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I would be forever indebted to Browning even if the only thing he ever wrote was "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came." I love Stephen King's Dark Tower saga. You know how when you read something good, or see a good movie, and you say to yourself, "Man, that was awesome. I need to write something good like that," and then you go sit down and write? Well, the Dark Tower books inspire me to write more than anything else.

    ReplyDelete
  17. PBW, Glad to hear you're all safe. We're holding you all in our thoughts.

    (Blogger has been rejecting me all day. Let's hope this works.)

    My question is (And I'd love anyone's comments on this)what do you do when you've written the detailed outline, done the research and then realize you have a gigantic hole when it comes to your protagonist's motivation? (Yeah, you'd think I would have noticed THAT sooner.)

    This is my first attempt at an adult mystery and I can't find one logical reason my protagonist would be involved. It puts her life in danger and her kid's.

    Does anyone have any suggestion for working out motivation after the fact or should I just start eating my body weight in chocolate now? (Okay, I may have already started that.)

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm commenting a lot today. heh.

    Darlene, the first thing I thought of when I saw your comment was: make it so that she's in GREATER danger if she doesn't figure it out.

    Maybe she got involved when it wasn't so dangerous but now that she's involved, she can't get out unless she solves it.

    How? Dunno. That's your job. :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Darlene: What Steven said. Raise the stakes. Throw the protagonist's beloved mentor in jail. Blow up her house. Kidnap one of the kids. Keep ramping up the pressure until she has no choice but to get involved.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Just wanted to say I just got your Way of the Cheetah book and I think it's wonderful. I had a couple of questions about it but they've flown out. I'm sure I'll remember them at 3 am or something. *grin*

    Darlene: I have a WIP with the same issue. I found I had the wrong person as protagonist. Who really IS motivated here? That might be the one to go with.

    Just a thought.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Ooo, PL. I think you're on to something. Maybe I do have the wrong protagonist.

    And I could up the stakes as well. Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I spent so much time looking at this sucker today I totally lost perspective. Okay, and maybe that sugar rush didn't help either.

    If this one gets published I promise I'll send PBW a stack of copies to give away.

    ReplyDelete
  22. So glad you're ok -- you were the first person I thought of when I walked into the snack bar to buy coffee this morning and saw the destruction on TV. My next thoughts were for everyone else affected.

    Tambo -- {{{{hugs}}}} You're doing great. It'll come.

    Darlene -- Good luck; I don't think I have anything to offer except I'm looking forward to seeing the finished product.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hey PBW, I hope you still have power. I was glad to hear that you'd made it through the storms okay. I hope you don't have a lot of clean up to do.

    Tambo, good luck with the new family. They are lucky to have you, and things will settle down as they get used to routine and stability. :o)

    As for Browning, am I the only one who likes "My Last Duchess"?

    And you can't talk about 19th century poetry without mentioning Matthew Arnold,
    "Ah, love, let us be true/ To one another! for the world, which seems/ To lie before us like a land of dreams,/ So various, so beautiful, so new,/Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,/
    Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;/ And we are hereas on a darkling plain/ Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,/ Where ignorant armies clash by night.
    Have a safe and happy weekend everyone.
    Ann

    ReplyDelete
  24. I know, I just realized I forgot the endquote. Oops. It needs to go after "where ignorant armies clash by night" (awesome image isn't it- in a scary sort of way- that standing on the beach in England, they could hear the fighting going on across the channel in France). Off to go start writing. Good night.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Are people *still* bashing Browning? That's so 1950s.

    Browning wrote some dumb clunkers, like every writer. "Cavalier Tunes: Marching Along," comes to mind.

    But his monologues by Renaissance figures are glorious and subtle insights into layers and layers of complex character: the corrupt, lecherous, grudge-bearing, half-senile churchman in "The Bishop Orders his Tomb at Saint Praxed's Church Rome, 15--". The high-spirited, life-loving artist monk of "Fra Lippo Lippi". The searing meditation on life, mortality, the brevity of beauty, and the great age of Venice in "A Toccata of Galuppi's". And, of course, "My Last Duchess".

    Why on earth pick someone too silly to appreciate Browning to write an introduction to his works?

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi,

    These are a few of my favourites:

    "Remember" by Christina Rosetti:

    Remember me when I am gone away,
    Gone far away into the silent land;
    When you can no more hold me by the hand,
    Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
    Remember me when no more day by day
    You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
    Only remember me; you understand
    It will be late to counsel then or pray.
    Yet if you should forget me for a while
    And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
    For if the darkness and corruption leave
    A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
    Better by far you should forget and smile
    Than that you should remember and be sad.


    "Warning" by Jenny Joseph:

    When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
    With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
    And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
    And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
    I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
    And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
    And run my stick along the public railings
    And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
    I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
    And pick flowers in other people's gardens
    And learn to spit.

    You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
    And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
    Or only bread and pickle for a week
    And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

    But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
    And pay our rent and not swear in the street
    And set a good example for the children.
    We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

    But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
    So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
    When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.


    "When You Are Old" by W. B. Yeats

    WHEN you are old and gray and full of sleep
    And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
    And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
    Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

    How many loved your moments of glad grace,
    And loved your beauty with love false or true;
    But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
    And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

    And bending down beside the glowing bars,
    Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
    And paced upon the mountains overhead,
    And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.


    "Anthem For Doomed Youth" by Wilfred Owen:

    What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
    - Only the monstruous anger of the guns.
    Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
    Can patter out their hasty orisons.
    No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
    Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, -
    The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
    And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

    What candles may be held to speed them all?
    Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
    Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
    The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
    Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
    And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.


    And finally...

    "Let Me Die A Young Man's Death" by the excellent Roger McGough:

    Let me die a youngman's death,
    not a clean and inbetween
    the sheets holywater death,
    not a famous-last-words
    peaceful out of breath death.

    When I'm 73
    and in constant good tumour
    may I be mown down at dawn
    by a bright red sports car
    on my way home
    from an allnight party.

    Or when I'm 91
    with silver hair
    and sitting in a barber's chair,
    may rival gangsters
    with hamfisted tommyguns burst in
    and give me a short back and insides.

    Or when I'm 104
    and banned from the Cavern
    may my mistress
    catching me in bed with her daughter
    and fearing for her son
    cut me up into little pieces
    and throw away every piece but one.

    Let me die a youngman's death,
    not a free from sin tiptoe in
    candle wax and waning death,
    not a curtains drawn by angels borne
    'what a nice way to go' death


    I hope you enjoyed the above as much as I have.

    Cheers

    D.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Ann,

    If I recall correctly, my husband loves, "My Last Duchess."

    ReplyDelete
  28. Lleo wrote: Question: Is it possible to fake your way through a scene involving bigwigs from the corporate business world of CEOs who make more money than small countries?

    Sure. All you have to do is a little research reading and then let your imagination run with it.

    Half the time I don't know what these corporate types do to make so much money--but I was hoping to make a scene I'm writing for a fanfic at least semi-realistic. I started writing it and every angle I tried was so vague it was impossible to keep going.

    If you haven't read up on the subject, then big money corporate types are going to be hard to write. Start searching business news sites and read articles on the movers and shakers -- often they'll include details of the directions they take and deals they land. Don't look for the obvious ones, either -- Bill Gates and Donald Trump may get a lot of press, but they're not half as interesting as someone like Terry Lundgren of Federated Department Stores.

    Once you've done your research reading, apply that to your story. Your corporate types should do business the same way their counterparts in real life do. You can create composite characters and their backstory by drawing details from the careers of half a dozen or so real people.

    Imagine, for example, a corporate mogul who started his first business with his wife in their garage and used the profits to invest in mobile phone technology before it was hot. Maybe he avoided sharing the huge profits by divorcing his wife and giving her a pittance settlement before he went global. He then buys a cable television network, on which he stars in an entrepeneurs's self-help show focusing on how to gain control of their companies, get rid of partners, protect themselves from hostile takeovers, etc. Eventually he becomes a billionaire guru/prophet to every business control freak in the world. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Charlene wrote: Yes, how many more years am I going to have every poem I've ever memorized stuck in my head taking up valuable grey matter real estate?

    I know what you mean. If God is taking requests, I'd like to forget my locker combination from middle school, the entire song "Honey" as performed by Bobby Goldsboro, and the final pages of Cold Mountain and Hannibal.

    No wonder I can't remember what day it is. My brain is full. TGIF, PBW.

    Hang in, lady.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Tam wrote: Since I'd really like to keep my remaining five hours of sleep time (1am-6am) and my marriage, do you have any tips on writing in the presence of small children?

    This is going to sound weird, but learning to write with children around is like marrying someone and discovering they snore: in time you get used to it, or find ways to live with it, or (through trial and error, mostly) you find something that helps them stop snoring. Usually it's a combination of all three.

    With two babies in diapers and a husband with doctor's hours, I learned to write in spurts, very fast, whenever I had a moment to spare. I also gave myself the opportunity to write anywhere: carried notebooks around with me and kept them in every room in the house; I also kept a voice recorder in the car to dictate notes when I was out running errands. I asked my husband to take the kids off my hands every night for one hour so I could write, too.

    If they're awake, I average six interruptions while writing a simple four sentence email. If they're asleep, I'm struggling to keep the house and the rest of my fammily from falling into utter chaos. How in the world can I write a book?

    One thing that's really important: your family needs to recognize your needs and help out when they can. If they're putting this all on you, or you're taking all the responsibility and not delegating (which is something a lot of women like us do) then you need to have a family meeting and set down some new ground rules.

    Another thing I learned during the the diaper years was how to organize my housework as well as my writing time. Every day of the week I straightened up as I walked through the house, and I thoroughly cleaned one room. I kept the kid clutter confined to one play area (always their bedrooms, because if it was a disaster I could shut the door.) Kids are highly trainable; even when mine were only toddlers, taught them to pick up their toys before they went to bed.

    Sometimes you can't get used to it, and then you're going to have to find an alternative. One of my friends had so many problems writing while her little ones were around that she hired a babysitter to come in three mornings a week and went to a bookstore cafe to write. She got in only twelve hours a week, but she did two books a year that way until the kids were school-aged.

    There is no quick fix-it, Tam. It's going to take time and patience and some creative problem-solving. Talk to your family, too; they may have some ideas I haven't covered.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Lleeo1:22 AM

    Thanks for the practical advice, PBW. ;) I'm glad you're okay in hurricane country! ^_^

    And I feel for you, Pam. Tyring to write with so many other things going on. But I have faith that you'll be able to figure out a way that works best for you. One of my professors wrote her PhD thesis on an ironing board while at home with young kids. When asked how she did it, she explained: "You have to learn to be comfortable to live with a certain amount of chaos." ^_~

    ReplyDelete
  32. Annmarie wrote: Is there an unspoken rating system for publisher's? I ask because I've noticed a vast difference between how character's express themselves, from saying she/he curses, using the actual expletive, or something softer like 'oh barnacles'. I find myself laughing at the incongruity, and losing the scene in my mind's eye.

    I can be fairly profane when it serves the story, but with the exception of Christian fiction publishers, I've never had an editor ask me to wash a character's mouth out with soap. :)

    Some category romance lines seem to do what you're describing, and I think that's more of a line/style issue: they may feel that readers of sweet romance with no sex don't want to read any sort of profanity in the story, and ask their authors to adjust their dialogue accordingly.

    I'd say the best way to rate a publisher yourself is to look at the amount of profanity that exists in what they publish. If you're seeing nothing but euphemisms and soft-serve language in a variety of books, it's likely the senior editor has a problem with profanity.

    Sometimes it's the author, too -- I never intended to use any contemporary profanity in the StarDoc series because I felt that it would make as much sense as me using medieval curses the next time someone cuts me off on the highway. To serve the story I did have to resort to a mild "damn" or "ass" now and then, but overall the series language is almost as squeaky-clean as what's in my Christian novels.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Shiloh wrote: Huckleberry Hound the Demon...

    You know, John and Marcia could use a pet....lol

    Selah wrote: No questions. Just sayin' hi.

    If only we could fit a table and a tea service in this comment box. :)

    ReplyDelete
  34. Nancy wrote: We've been watching the coverage of the devastation in FL and my heart goes out to the families of those hardest hit. I'm so glad you're safe.

    Thanks, Nancy. On Friday some friends and I took some food and water up to one of the churches in the strike zone that is serving as a feeding center for the homeless. There is no church building left, and most of the victims have only the clothes they're wearing, but they were already clearing a spot and setting out chairs to hold Sunday services. You can take everything from people but their faith and hope.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Jason wrote: I had a question, but I forgot it in the excitment of last night's snow, so I guess I just stopped in to say hey! and Glad you're okay!

    Thanks, Jason. I'd be happy with no more tornadoes for a few decades, but I don't envy you that snow. :)

    Steven wrote: I kind of had to do that when I was working from home for a few days. The kids were coming to me for this and that. Finally I had to tell them "I know you're happy to show me things, but I need to work. If you can wait, please do."

    Thanks for the advice, Steven, and I agree -- talking to the kids and setting some basic ground rules for the workday often helps a lot (assuming they're old enough to understand.)

    ReplyDelete
  36. Jill wrote: Just curious how the e-book challenge reads & critiques are coming.

    (Crossing my fingers as I type this) If all goes well, and I catch up with my work schedule today, I'll start e-mailing them out tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Sandy wrote for Tam: I think once the girls get used to things and feel a little more secure, it will all settle down.

    I have to second this. Kids find security in routine and structure; it reassures them in ways that words can't.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Tam wrote: I'm just really frazzled.

    I don't know why. Becoming an instant caregiver to three distressed children is something we all do every day on our lunch hours, in between proving we're more powerful than a locomotive and leaping tall buildings in a single bound.

    Be kind to yourself, lady.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Rob wrote: You know how when you read something good, or see a good movie, and you say to yourself, "Man, that was awesome. I need to write something good like that," and then you go sit down and write?

    That's the bonus of being a storyteller -- the unbroken chain of inspiration that defies everything, even time, to fire up the next generation of writers.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Darlene wrote: My question is (And I'd love anyone's comments on this)what do you do when you've written the detailed outline, done the research and then realize you have a gigantic hole when it comes to your protagonist's motivation? (Yeah, you'd think I would have noticed THAT sooner.)

    That's the internal editor kicking in, and it's a very good thing to happen now. Imagine how you'd feel if you had an entire manuscript written and only after you wrote The End recognized the flaw.

    This is my first attempt at an adult mystery and I can't find one logical reason my protagonist would be involved. It puts her life in danger and her kid's.

    Motivation is different for everyone, but it sounds like you have to raise the stakes. A mother won't endanger her children, but she will go to great lengths to protect them. Or, to go in a different direction, maybe a story element needs to be modified. A mother of young children might not get involved in the situation, but an empty-nester might.

    Does anyone have any suggestion for working out motivation after the fact or should I just start eating my body weight in chocolate now? (Okay, I may have already started that.)

    In a life-and-death scenario where the protagonist is not a complete airhead, the stakes have to be just as dire as the consequences, i.e. desperate people are driven to do desperate things. From what you're describing, it sounds like the internal editor is telling you to up the anty or fold.

    Beware the flimsy excuse as motive, too. I recently read a book where the protagonist working out some childhood trauma issues was the only motivation for a very drastic, life-threatening scenario. I just didn't buy it -- as much as I was emotionally damaged by the mythos of the Tooth Fairy, I don't think I'd go after a soul-stealing dentist demon. I'd call the cops and let them face the evil drills.

    ReplyDelete
  41. PL wrote: Just wanted to say I just got your Way of the Cheetah book and I think it's wonderful. I had a couple of questions about it but they've flown out. I'm sure I'll remember them at 3 am or something. *grin*

    Thanks for investing in WotC. Weather permitting, I'm here answering questions every Friday, so if you remember them stop in.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Darlene wrote: If this one gets published I promise I'll send PBW a stack of copies to give away.

    (whimper) I'm afraid that's against my cast-iron blog policy of not accepting any giveaway copies. Keeps me honest. :) However, if you give me a heads-up, I will purchase the book, and link to any contest you have on your website for a giveaway.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Jean wrote: ...you were the first person I thought of when I walked into the snack bar to buy coffee this morning and saw the destruction on TV. My next thoughts were for everyone else affected.

    Thanks, Jean. It was such a strange morning. I drained the batteries of my cell checking on family and friends and passing along messages to the clan; only got online with the wireless long enough to send two e-mails before we lost that, too. I totally forgot to call NY and let them know I was okay until around noon when we got the generator running. To save power, I ended up sitting in my car making calls with the phone plugged into the charger.

    ReplyDelete
  44. "That's my last duchess
    Hanging on the wall."

    Chilling and beautiful. Gregory found those grapes too sour by far. Thanks for reminding me, Ann.

    PBW, glad you're OK. Florida just keeps taking it on the chin, but keeps coming out for the next round.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Ann wrote: Hey PBW, I hope you still have power. I was glad to hear that you'd made it through the storms okay. I hope you don't have a lot of clean up to do.

    Thanks. We came through it with no damage, although I have to recheck the roof struts and the seals on all the windows (the winds got pretty extreme at one point.)

    ReplyDelete
  46. John wrote: Why on earth pick someone too silly to appreciate Browning to write an introduction to his works?

    Not sure myself. The need to explain away, micro-analyze and defame dead writers often seems like the foundation of academia.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Darren wrote: I hope you enjoyed the above as much as I have.

    Rosetti is one of my favorite poets -- thanks, D.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Carter wrote: PBW, glad you're OK. Florida just keeps taking it on the chin, but keeps coming out for the next round.

    One of the pricetags to living in paradise, I'm afraid. Thanks, Carter.

    ReplyDelete