At The “Breakpoint”

I don’t normally do more than one post a day. But the stark difference in the subject matter between this one and the previous one is such that I could not combine them. And I wanted to make sure I posted this as well.

Yesterday afternoon, unaware of what was going on “out there,” I had been working as usual. Also I took a break which included not only making a coffee, but listening to Soundcloud while doing so. Marion Claviรฉ has a beautiful voice:

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In Our Times

Since about 1750 (after the Reformation, the Civil War, Cromwell, and battles over the succession to the throne), other than during WWII, Great Britain has generally been a pretty safe place. It had some “highwaymen” and street thuggery, but even that was patchy. (In 1800, it also had several dozen offenses for which hanging was still commonly applied.) And there has been the occasional, isolated “political riot” – such as the “Gordon Riots” in London in 1780.

Because of the patterns of life, centuries of rural habit, and the static world most were born into, lived in, and died in, there was little public violence. Great Britain has not suffered from extended periods of political instability and the terrorism that usually stems from that – save for that which emerged from Ireland in the 1960s, and which had a clear political goal. What happened yesterday on Westminster Bridge is a relatively recent phenomenon – but one we are now seeing all too regularly in various places.

For us as Americans, in 1777 Morocco was – informally – the first country to recognize the newly independent U.S. A friendship treaty was officially signed in 1786, and that treaty remains in place even today. The first foreign property the U.S. Government owned would not be in London, Paris or Amsterdam, but was the U.S. Consulate in Tangier, which is now on a register of U.S. historic places.

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The Young Man On “The Fringe”

There comes that moment when you are finished writing for yourself, and you have to share the total of your effort. I’ve reached (and possibly even passed) that point now. Last night, Conventions went to she who has been a wonderful “critic” since I began this writing endeavor in 2013.

So she has the “biggest” book of all. As I say in the email to her, March 31 – as I note in the sidebar – is unfortunately probably going to have to give. But hopefully only a few weeks at the most.

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Springtime

Sunday’s postย on loss and grief was quite serious, I know. I appreciate you having read it. As I have had some time to reflect on my feelings since posting it, interestingly I have found a bit of relief in my own words.

And spring is upon us:

Where would writers be without their families and friends to provide them with material? When I fictionalized my mother and my uncle, they were still living. Both died just after I’d essentially finished writing Distances in September 2015.

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When You Experience Grief…

I lost an aunt a couple of weeks ago in New York. I’ve never mentioned her here. She was the widow of my other uncle – my mother’s and my novelist uncle’s younger brother. He died at 48 in early 1994.

My aunt had been ill for a long time. I hadn’t seen her in about 5 years. I last spoke to her just after my mother died in 2015.

Yes, the beard is off. The major reason it is? She who is dearest to me, revealing: "It's as I imagine kissing a brush might feel."๐Ÿ˜œ . Okay, it's Friday and given previously I've put up paintings of lovely eighteenth century ladies, why not a handsome bloke of that era?๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธIt's only fair.๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿ–Œ . And how about an *unbearded* man? This is American diplomat William Short, painted by Rembrandt Peale in 1806, when Short was age 47.๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ . #humor #humour #painting #USA #France #diplomacy #Europe #travel #expats #classical #history #art #writing #authors #photo #photography #beards #Hertfordshire #England #novels #fiction #romance #writing #writersofinstagram #authorsofinstagram #fun #Friday #weekend

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My writing is a form of release. (As is social media.) It’s a means to try to get away. It has proven especially important to me in the last couple of years.

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Haste Ye Back (To Rothesay)

On Monday, the Mrs. had airline business in Scotland, west of Glasgow. Somehow in all my years here, I’d managed never to have visited Scotland. So I joined her – and grabbed some photos over the three days there:

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Worried Novelist Walks Through Hitchin

Almost there. Actually, “there” is one of my multitude of tiny problems. 130,000 words and at the point where major changes are essentially impossible, I’m fussing now over single words and individual – but not quite exactly what I wished they were – sentences.

It is that maddening creative moment when you the writer are down to the level of anguishing over the likes of “I’ve used ‘there’ too often in those two paragraphs.” Or “Rather than three sentences, perhaps make it one sentence joined together with semi-colons?” Or “That is supposed to be ‘at’ not ‘as’. Spell-check missed it! Ugh!”

As you get “there,” you also need to pause, breathe, take an extra-moment or two, and maybe see some ducks:

Because it is difficult not to think “Eh, there be monsters out there…” I find I am increasingly consumed with worry. As I correct issues of “as” that should be “at,” I confess even to having moments of despair. “All of this effort,” my mind races as I look yet again at the screen, “and what if it stinks? I may have to jump into that water in Hitchin town center. But I suspect it may not be deep enough…”

To be a writer is to be forever in some self-doubt.

The last thing I’ve been doing is daydreaming about conquering the universe…

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Viewed From This England

We’ve been watching the political-melodrama U.S. TV series Madam Secretary. But you don’t need to know the details of the program to get this post. I thought I’d use it as a basis for some “fun” today – it’s Friday – mostly due to the episode we just saw and because, as you probably know, my wife is English (and we have been married for, uh, quite a few years).

In that episode from its 3rd season, the U.S. Secretary of State’s twenty-something spoiled, mouthy, annoying pain in the neck for the previous two seasons and now continuing to be so apparently daughter has returned to Washington recently after a summer in Oxford with her English fiancรฉ.

In the kitchen, unexpectedly she gets all emotional and reveals to Mom (the Secretary of State, I repeat) that she was like wow really unhappy with her English husband-to-be when they were in England. Suddenly, she announces she doesn’t want to live there. She says she hated the place.

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“De Certains Droits Inaliรฉnables”

As you may know yesterday was International Women’s Day. Being a man, I thought I should best be “quiet.” My piling on with my male opinion was hardly necessary.

From the International Women’s Day web site.

Now that we are here the day after, I thought I would offer simply this:

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From France To England (Again)

Well, that’s all for the latest France visit. I no longer know how many times I’ve been in the country. I’ve lost count.

If you have never been there and ever have a chance for a trip, don’t hesitate. I would suggest, yes, see Paris, but also make sure you get away from there and find a part of the country that is NOT Paris. And, above all, if you are American, don’t worry: trust me: the French do NOT hate Americans!

By coincidence, returning to Geneva airport on Saturday we ended up with the same woman driver who had taken us to the airport last year. And she remembered us. We had a great chat once again over the hour and a half between La Clusaz and the airport.

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