Conventions

As Today Begins…

A few things on my mind that I just wanted to mention here this morning…

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To start, too many writers I see on social media somehow seem to think that because they work hard on their writing, that people are supposed to want to read it. I have no idea from where this idea comes. What makes writing worth reading is if it is worth reading, not because you have worked hard at it.

Hard work is no guarantee of “perfection” either. Imperfections in my books discovered after publication drive me bonkers. I’d probably read that some “45 times” pre-publication, and others also saw it, and I then re-read it another “dozen” times… and yet everyone missed it. Arrgh!

[Excerpt from “No Ordinary Time: Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt: the Home Front in World War II,” by Doris Kearns Goodwin, 2000. Photo and mark up by me, 2018.]

So whenever I see the likes of that, I feel better.

The first part of that sentence I’ve encircled reads as a quotation, but it lacks quotation marks. If it is supposed to be a quotation, that means there are two typos. If it is just supposed to be a general statement sharing her way of thinking using the first person, the use of the “I” there is grammatically ambiguous and even misleading.

That in a huge-selling, popular history book.

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It does often seem that there is really no such thing as โ€œhistory.โ€ Thereโ€™s just the currently alive… generation after generation, looking back on those who once were. Too regularly it feels like all that makes us different from โ€œthemโ€ and โ€œthenโ€ is โ€œourโ€ technology of โ€œnowโ€: we have iPhones and aspirin; they did not:

[From “My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams.” Photo by me, 2018.]

And we no longer speak or write English in that style. That last ’tis a shame, though…

[Excerpt from Conventions: The Garden At Paris, on Kindle for iPhone/iPad. Click to expand.]

…for as you may have guessed, I much love reading such English.

And I find writing it, uh, most agreeable.

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Indeed “history” is in its way also always with us. The amount of hot air emanating from certain British politicos around the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union in March, particularly the heavy criticism directed at Prime Minister Theresa May’s effort to solve the unsolvable that is the Northern Ireland border, is a case in point. There is no true there there coming from any of them, just windy rhetoric.

Or we’ve all missed their solutions. Because all I suspect many British want to hear from any anti-May Conservative who imagines him/herself the reincarnation of William Pitt the Younger (ex. Boris Johnson, David Davis, Jacob Rees-Moog) facing down the continental hordes, is an answer to THIS one simple question: “What would YOU do differently as prime minister than she about the no border border problem between soon be non-EU Northern Ireland and the still to be EU member state the Republic of Ireland?”

Perhaps we are all in a way suddenly re-living the early 1800s? What’s next? Britain seeking an alliance with the Tsar of Russia and Austria-Hungary to help confront Bonaparte Brussels, and boarding US merchant ships for trading with the enemy? Ah, the good old days. War and Peace. Has the Royal Navy yet been ordered to sea to blockade the continent? If not, why not? Someone ring Admiral Nelson. And where is the Duke of Wellington?

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The thug who while reportedly loudly praising his god as he shot defenseless people at a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France, and then running off like a coward rather than meet his god then and there, has been found and shot dead by police.

[Looking towards St. Paul’s Church, on the Rhine, Strasbourg, France. Photo by me, summer 1996.]

So he has now met his god – and, wow, is that dead thug (pardon my language) f-ckin’ shocked.

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Finally, I want to finish on an upbeat note. I may have alluded to this before. But I don’t think I have ever fully expressed it this clearly.

The net is a remarkable place. I have a HUGE number of followers in India. I am greatly flattered about that. I notice many of you who follow are also writers or poets. I came close to visiting India once – about five years ago – but we didn’t make the trip.

Maybe someday.

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Take care and all the best to you for this weekend in India and everywhere. ๐Ÿ™‚