The End Days

I’ve learned since 2013. I hate this “ending” period perhaps the most. A novel is essentially finished…

“Controlled chaos.” The home office, this morning. [Photo by me, 2017.]
…but it’s not “quite” (in my mind) finished.

And you take a photo of your desk and put it on your blog as you plan to return to it once more. Because it’s your “baby” and it’s almost all grown up. And you want it to be PERFECT – or at least as “perfect” as you as an imperfect human may make it.

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History: Unfollowed

Ah, Monday morning:

And less than two weeks before the inauguration of a new U.S. president who has not exactly charmed half the people in the country, we need this?

Yesterday, History on Instagram shared some “history” with us.

Good grief.

First, nothing in that History Insta-caption above is outright false. However, it is an inch deep and far from the whole truth. For that shallowness in the current climate, and what it unleashed in the post’s comments, I unfollowed.

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Message For “The Elite”

I’m home again in England from America. (As you probably know, I was born in New York.) We had a busy Christmas, with a small mob from this side of the Atlantic flying over to stay with us in the Catskills. It feels kinda odd being back here:

Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5, arrivals concourse yesterday morning. [Photo by me, 2017.]
Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5, arrivals concourse yesterday morning. [Photo by me, 2017.]

Fighting jet lag, in trying to force myself to stay awake last night I went through my Instagram feed slowly. What did I miss while flying? I checked up on what had been “going on” while I had been traveling and out of contact with you “guys.”

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In The Eye Of The Beholder

One of those year-end lists is out. I’d not heard of this one before. Clearly the title is meant to grab your attention – and it did mine.

BuzzFeed has 32 – I won’t even hazard a guess as to why that odd number is chosen – of the “most beautiful book covers of 2016”:

Screen capture of BuzzFeed.
Screen capture of BuzzFeed.

Do judge these books by their covers?

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All In Another Day’s Work

This is what happens to a writer left alone. The Mrs. is in Lisbon until Wednesday. So I have no excuse not to tear through more of the manuscript

My home office [Photo by me, 2016.]
My home office [Photo by me, 2016.]

And yesterday, I did. On the spur of the moment I decided to kill off an important character. Writing can be a “brutal” world. You can do just about anything – and surprise and shock readers.

Later, after a couple of Mad Men episodes and dinner, I ended up awake until midnight. Finally I took on a scene I’d been putting off writing: A character at a dinner, debating Thomas Jefferson.

He’s a tough man to debate. As you know I’ve tried talking to him myself. He wouldn’t give me the time of day. ๐Ÿ™‚

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While Storm Clouds Gather

It’s said writing is hard. And it is. Yet there should be some fun in it.

Engraving of the Chรขteau de Bagnolet, Paris, 1730. [Wikipedia. Public Domain.]
Engraving of the Chรขteau de Bagnolet, Paris, 1730. [Wikipedia. Public Domain.]

I have learned after three novels, and continue to experience with this fourth, that characters can come to resonate with you almost in the same ways as do real people. As their personalities become clearer to you, you begin more easily to anticipate what they will think, how they will act, and what they are apt to say, in any given situation. It doesn’t start out that way, of course. It’s a process, and it takes hold of you slowly, almost imperceptibly, much as we experience with real people in our lives – we learn more about them thanks to our increasing interactions and the passage of time.

When you get to that point, that’s when writing fiction flows at its easiest. It’s when I find it to be the most enjoyable (and you hope your eventual readers will come to feel much the same way about the final product). Suddenly characters seem to be “alive” and you are sitting at your writing desk feeling you are just eavesdropping on them and tapping away as if you are merely transcribing what they’re up to and saying to each other.

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“I really do not understand this child…”

Over in the U.S., a cousin’s daughter has been writing free fiction anonymously on various online sites. Apparently she – she’s about age 20 – receives lots of “likes” and approval. I’ve not seen any of it (I’m not even sure if my cousin has), and I know only what my cousin has told me about her daughter’s writing.

My cousin and I are about the same age. We grew up together, but had drifted somewhat apart – geographically as well as in life – in our later twenties. Thankfully, we “found” each other in a day to day manner again upon the death of my mother in 2015.

Out of the blue, she messaged me the other day frantically seeking Christmas present advice:

Screen capture of Messenger.
Screen capture of Messenger.

As you see, I went all emoji in my initial closing response.

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Who Wants To Read About A Carrefour?

Frenchwomen in books. A contentious subject. And after a tough week it provides us with a basis for some “fun” here this morning. ๐Ÿ™‚

Recently in the UK Telegraph, French journalist Anne-Elisabeth Moutet lashed out at a “cottage industry” that she asserts portrays a ridiculously inaccurate picture of life in France, and especially of Frenchwomen, as the national norm:

…there is supposedly no task we Franรงaises cannot perform at a higher level than the rest of humanity, in five-inch heels and a Thierry Mugler cinched dress while humming La Vie En Rose and cooking Poularde Albuferra for 12. In our houses you never trip over Lego bricks โ€“ only a team of photographers from Taschen setting up arc lights in the sitting room.

Major writing villains here, she says, are often American women who’ve lived primarily in hyper-exclusive parts of central Paris:

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Eighteenth Century “Conversation”

Oh, the English language. Of course we use words and phrases today often decidedly differently than our ancestors did. Usage and meanings evolve over time.

Phraseology we almost never use now was once common. If we return to two centuries ago, where as you may know I’ve spent a lot of time in recent months, there are moments when reading what is clearly English can still feel somewhat like reading a “foreign” language. You have to be VERY cautious.

You may recall I had had some “fun” earlier this year as I was first researching Conventions. To help “him” better understand me, I attempted to write a planned character a letter as we in 2016 might write to an American of the late 1700s – in his 230 year old style and vernacular:

Letter To 230 Years Ago, originally posted January 22, 2016.
Letter To 230 Years Ago, originally posted January 22, 2016.

How complicated it can become. In 1790, for instance “society” often meant one’s immediate close friends and family: “I was most happy in my society.” That usage is almost unseen today.

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Window To The World

Social media. It’s full of dangers for a writer. For example, early this morning I decided to have a couple of laughs on Instagram:

In this case, the “danger” is the “distraction.” Years ago – before I ever seriously contemplated writing – I regularly admonished my now late uncle that if he ever wanted to produce one more novel (as he repeatedly told me he wanted to), he needed to stay the heck off of Facebook.

“Don’t tell me he’s on Facebook again?” my now late mother would also shrug. “Have you told my brother books don’t get written on Facebook?”

He’d laugh and agree with us.

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