Writers: What Influences And Inspires You?

I’m at last getting back to work now that the house move is largely finished. You may recall that I’ve written previously that I managed to get through BOTH The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. (Author Herman Wouk is now 101 years old!) Written in the 1960s and 1970s, both massive novels (over 1,000 pages each) were famously adapted for American television in “big” productions in the 1980s and were huge hits.

But like too many other novels, I’ve felt those television versions, while they had their moments, didn’t really do full justice to the books. Yet maybe it is unfair even expecting that they could have?: the books are of an incredible scope and complexity. It’s almost as if the words “novel” or “book” are insufficient to describe them.

"The Winds of War," by Herman Wouk. [Photo by me, 2016.]
“The Winds of War,” by Herman Wouk. [Photo by me, 2016.]

One fault that can be found with them, however, is their scope is so gigantic that reading them can feel at times like trying to wade through an encyclopedia…. only suddenly to find yourself in the next chapter joining fictional characters trading barbed comments and sexual innuendoes at a formal dinner. That said, they also have some great characters and too many memorable bits to begin to recount. They are amazing writing efforts.

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From The 17th Century Roof Space

Well, I got through sorting out all of the major furniture. Everything makes some “sense” now in the new house. All that remains are boxes here and there – and there are still quite a few.

But the weekend is approaching, and it is starting to look like our home. Having again had enough of unpacking late yesterday (and while the Mrs. was once more away in Lisbon on business for two nights), I decided to pull out the DVD of all DVDs: Casablanca. (I know, I’m a devil when home alone!)

Photo of a scene in Casablanca on DVD. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Photo of a scene in Casablanca on DVD. [Photo by me, 2016.]

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Our Varied Heritages

Ancestry.com is after me again. This below is from an email I received this morning:

Screen capture of Ancestry email.
Screen capture of Ancestry email.

A few years ago through Ancestry, I found one of the ship manifests that included my maternal great-grandmother as a young adult sailing to America. She had traveled with about a dozen other people of varying ages, all from the same village in Sicily. My great-grandfather was in America already, awaiting her arrival.

She was born near Syracuse (as was he). She departed Messina, stopped in Naples, stopped next in Marseille, and from there journeyed to New York’s Ellis Island. It was typical for the time and their nationality.

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“Retro-Fittings”: Not Creativity In My Book

We have learned that Star Trek’s “Sulu” is to be “re-imagined” as gay. Believing that to be “right…for our times,” Guardian writer Ryan Gilbey is clearly pleased by that writers’ decision. Interestingly, however, LGBT activist, and original “Sulu” actor, George Takei, is clearly not:

Screen capture of the Guardian, July 10, 2016.
Screen capture of the Guardian, July 10, 2016.

Mr. Takei’s disapproval obviously disappointed Mr. Gilbey and quite a few others:

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Tell It To Elizabeth I

The contest to be Conservative party leader in the House of Commons, which almost assures succession currently to the prime ministership, has now come down to a choice between two women. So it is almost certain now that the United Kingdom will have its second woman in that highest government office. You may also have read about the debate in British media set off this weekend over comments made to The Times newspaper by one of them.

Both women are in their 50s. Andrea Leadsom, challenging presumed frontrunner Theresa May, stated to the paper that she, Leadsom, has “a very real stake” in the future of the country because she had children. (May and her husband did not.) Leadsom doesn’t attack May directly, but if you listen to the recording of her observations, Leadsom’s inference is plainly obvious: she holds that she’d be a better prime minister because she has had children:

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“In My Life”

We’re off later to see what will be our latest house starting on Friday. Another moving week ahead.

As I told my dad the other day on FaceTime, “It’s in Hertfordshire, which is pronounced Hartfordsheer.”

“Is that near Midsomer?” he joked.

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When “They” Spoke “Olde English”

I loved Cas Blomberg’s post: “What do you like in a story?” She lists the sorts of things – her personal “likes” and “dislikes” – that should make any author think. As her take would apply to any reader, it is worth reading her post in full.

This “dislike” naturally grabbed my attention:

Difficult language — Victorian, Venusian, the Tyk’gkt’der language, etc.

“Victorian?” Uh, oh. Well, I’m not using “Victorian,” but I’m definitely employing what might be termed “Georgian” and “early American independence” – the later 1700s mostly – in Conventions.

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To “The Honorable Ezekiel Gilbert”

Yesterday’s post was depressing. The present day isn’t exactly doing it for me lately. I thought let’s have a retreat to the past for this one….

Main entrance. George Washington's Mount Vernon. Virginia. [Photo by me, 2011.]
Main entrance. George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Virginia. [Photo by me, 2011.]
But naturally there were troubles back then, too. Moreover when it came to communicating with our representatives back in the U.S. as to what we abroad were witnessing, there wasn’t even email! And we definitely couldn’t “@” them on Twitter!

We would have sat down and composed an ink-splotted letter by candlelight that we hoped might get to its destination in two or three months if we were lucky….

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As Nationalist Walls Go Up Still Higher

This is quite a serious post. There is no levity in it. Based on what I’ve seen – we’ve all seen – in the last week and a half, I simply want to say this.

United Kingdom voters, as you probably know, voted on the 23rd of June by 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the European Union.

That EU referendum, we all also know, has bitterly divided politics here in Britain.

It’s decidedly one thing flinging insults at total strangers you disagree with – “insane,” “idiots,” “racists,” “Hitler,” “old white trash” – on social media. But this? We’ve discovered friends of ours – she, a non-British EU national and staunch “Remainer,” married to him, a British national and vocal Brexit “Leave” supporter – are practically on the verge of divorce over the referendum’s outcome.

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