🇺🇸-born, 🇬🇧-based, novelist.📖 Writing, travel, culture and more. Always holding "auditions" – so be careful or you may end up a character in “1797”…and perhaps an evil one.🎭 (And why do I suspect some of you might like that latter in particular?)😂
While I scroll that platform and post there at times, and will occasionally link to tweets here, I have largely fallen out of love with Twitter. Using it has ceased to be fun. It is in fact now a dangerous place for ordinary people.
[Screen capture of Twitter.]
It’s not “2010” any longer. Then Twitter was still mostly a limited number of “ordinary people” disagreeing with each other (perhaps strongly) about this or that, or even having a laugh. However, starting particularly with the 2011 “Arab Spring,” when “ordinary people” were tweeting what they were seeing of the rebellions, news organizations started really to notice it and it began to be seen as more than just another “social media” site.
Three years ago I posted about how he had been visiting Beirut. I enjoyed his programs when I saw them on occasion. However, I will be honest and say I was never a huge fan of the now late Mr. Bourdain.
There was something not quite “right” about him and I could never put my finger on what bothered me when I watched him. However, I realize now what it was. The way too often he carried himself reminded me too much of another New Yorker I knew and loved.
Our current US president, the current French president Emmanuel Macron, and their spouses, dined at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
It is no secret that this US president evokes wildly negative feelings in many. [Full disclosure: I did not vote for him.] However, whatever one’s unfavorable opinions of him as a man, as well as of any of his domestic policies, note that there he is, yet again, with the president of France. Previously, President and Mrs. Macron had lavishly hosted this US president and the first lady in Paris in 2017.
Shortly after their arrival in Washington D.C., Macron and his wife, Brigitte, also took an “informal” walking tour of Washington D.C. landmarks. They even snapped selfies with tourists – most of whom were probably Americans – at the Lincoln Memorial (click the photo for the full CBS News video):
I like Instagram. In comparison, I have about had it with Twitter; but I won’t delete my account simply because it is a useful point of contact – many readers expect a Twitter account. But I rarely any longer interact in “opinion-sharing” terms with anyone I don’t already “know.”
Why? Because Twitter is now largely little but a cesspool of insults, bigotry and vulgarity even from people who should know better. It’s soul-destroying to scroll through. For example, a tweet like this beaut (which I will not reproduce on my site here) from a journalist with 64,000 followers: she can summon up no more literate way to offer up her opinion than using the “F” word in full (twice).
Yet in fairness there are also those times we may still stumble on mostly reasonable discussion on Twitter from “ordinary” users.
Notice the carefully employed weaselly question mark – to allow themselves future wriggle room and blathering cover. (“We were merely asking a question.”) Note this as well: the word “seems” appears three times within the editorial. Also peppered throughout are gaseous words and phrases such as “echos,” “appears,” and “not sufficiently.”
Currently there is something “unseemly” too in the paper “seeming” to attack her “apolitical” stance. (Marie Claire magazine has done much the same.) We are in the midst of the entertainment sexual harassment/abuse revelations. Most of the victims were young women assailed by powerful men capable of shattering those women’s careers.
It can be rather intimidating to discover the likes of that. Indeed there are those times as a writer when you do ask yourself, “Maybe I should give up on this?” When I feel that way, I remind myself of Toni Morrison’s observation: “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”
Everyone who writes also knows we will be reviewed and that of course not everything we’ve done will impress everyone. Some negatives will be quite scathing. That’s also the business.
Much is being revealed about the predatory sexual behaviors over the years of a famous and extraordinarily powerful film producer. If you are new to this story, or have seen only fragments of it (and shouting on social media), I would recommend – yes, really – reading his Wikipedia page. It is being updated about this it seems hourly.
And now, questions are also being asked by some as to why no one “spoke up” about him before:
Le terrorisme est l’usage de la violence envers des innocents à des fins politiques, religieuses ou idéologiques.
You probably don’t even need a translation: it’s the use of violence against innocents for political, religious or ideological purposes. Many add the important clarifying caveat “unlawful” violence and “intimidation”, so as to separate it from “lawful” violence and “lawful” intimidation. (A police officer pulling you over for speeding is an example of “lawful intimidation.”)
I note that definition from French Wikipedia because our English word “terrorism” today comes down to us from that French word. Its initial use was in revolutionary France in 1794 – during the worst of “la Terreur” (“the Terror”):
Le mot « terrorisme » est attesté pour la première fois en novembre 1794, il désigne alors la « doctrine des partisans de la Terreur », de ceux qui, quelque temps auparavant, avaient exercé le pouvoir en menant une lutte intense et violente contre les contre-révolutionnaires.
As you may know, I have spent a lot of time recently “in 1794.” What that above means is “terrorism” described believing it was appropriate to “terrify” any “counter-revolutionaires” into falling into line with the new revolutionary government. The means to do that included not just threats and imprisonment, but also politically-motivated murder – including by guillotining, shooting, and drowning.
[Artist unknown. Marie Antoinette’s execution in 1793 at the Place de la Révolution. Wikipedia. Public Domain.]
My cousin (my late novelist uncle’s son), his wife, and their three sons have lived for years in Newtown, Connecticut. The boys did not attend Sandy Hook Elementary School: the town had four elementary schools; they live on the other side of the town; in age succession their sons had attended one of the other schools, with his youngest at the time of the December 14, 2012 massacre still elementary school age. However, I recall in the aftermath my cousin telling me that his youngest son was friends with one of the murdered boys.
[Police arrive at Sandy Hook Elementary, after the shooting on December 14, 2012. Voice of America photo. Wikipedia. Public Domain.]
All we really know nearly five years later is the Sandy Hook mass murderer was a disturbed 20 year old man who had taken a gun belonging legally to his mother, shot her dead in her bed, and later that morning burst in and started opening fire on staff and pupils at the school. While there are certainly theories, insofar as I am aware despite a lengthy investigation law enforcement has been unable to establish precisely why he may have killed her and subsequently attacked the school.
I got stuck briefly while writing yesterday and took a break. (I’m working on that short story, which it seems is now evolving into a short book.) Something made me pick up Distances – it sits in paperback (with my others) on my desk within easy reach. I opened it to a random page and began re-reading.
Maybe I was subconsciously looking for new inspiration? Or perhaps I had felt an urge merely to re-read something I had written that I had not re-read in some time? Maybe I just need a therapist…
[Photo by me, 2017.]
Regardless, I don’t know exactly why my mind went to it.
Well, another week is upon us. Another Monday. However, today is a bit different for me: It’s my birthday!
[Yet to be opened birthday presents! Photo by me, 2017.]
My presents there? All of Mad Men and The West Wing on DVD!
Apparently, I share the same birthday (but definitely NOT the birth-year) with Beyoncé. Long before she was a star, when I was in school I hated my birthday. It coincided every year with the opening of the new school year.
I know I’m lots older than some of you. I am also sure that under-21s are not usually readers of my books; and I know that few of you reading this are under-18. But I do know some of you of ages 18-30 have read my novels and are probably reading this post, so you weren’t school age that long ago and naturally may relate to this.
Two things to remember in historical fiction writing are these:
1) Who is telling your story?
2) What could characters know in their time?
For example, if you are composing a tale set in 1814-15 seen through the eyes of the wife of a blacksmith living in northern England, likely you will not have much about the Congress of Vienna.
However, in 2017, we have newspaper opinion columnists:
[Screen capture of the Washington Post, July 31, 2017.]
I have not seen Dunkirk yet. But one does not have to have done so in order to react to the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen’s assailing the film’s historical accuracy. Specifically it is, in his words, “deaf to history.”
Hello from rural Pennsylvania! On Saturday we flew over to the US as you saw yesterday if you follow me on Instagram. In explaining, I had a bit of “1700s” fun in describing the journey in the English of that era:
We’re here mostly to see my father and to spend time in the Catskills. The Catskill Mountains are about 150 miles north of New York City and have been one of my favorite places for years. I think of them now, in a real sense, as “home.”
This issue had also been on my mind for a few days, leading me to begin composing this post while on the flight to JFK. You may recall I wrote the other day that I aim to be detached and non-judgmental of my fellow Americans at home. I do so because I feel foreigners are more likely to listen to me as an American, which is why I think hard on what I am about to say when it comes to what we are as Americans and why.
As you may have seen, CNN is caught up in a social media controversy. One of its reporters unmasked and confronted the pseudonymous originator of a “meme”/”gif” that sees U.S. President Donald Trump standing next to a wrestling ring and suddenly smashing to the ground – World Wrestling fashion – another suited man whose head has been replaced by the CNN logo. The “gif” attracted CNN’s attention due to the fact that Trump himself tweeted it on July 2:
As a romantic fiction author, I could not resist addressing this here. This NYT article is primarily about a survey regarding attitudes when it comes to people interacting and socializing with those of the opposite sex . . . who aren’t their spouses:
For once my views (lunch appropriate, dinner/drinks less so) place me squarely in the cultural mainstream!https://t.co/XXEUvgYS2q
It being Twitter there as well, quickly matters moved into snarks about old men who aren’t as hip as (“modern”) younger guys who can – of course! – be just friends with women. There are the expected points raised too about men needing to get over themselves; that not every woman is after them. And more.