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So you’d like to write a novel. Then here’s Dr. Lamb’s prescription: take two aspirin and lie down till the desire goes away.
Just kidding. Truth is, if you’re really a writer, you will write, no matter what. And if you’re not, well, I hope you’re at least a reader. Writers need readers and readers need writers, n’est-ce pas?
But I brought up the subject because an aspiring writer, a young girl, teenager, asked me the other day how to go about writing a novel.
get out of my yard
In a couple of years, if I’m lucky, I will disembark from the good ship I’m in my Fifties and book passage on the SS Lord, I Can’t Believe I’m in my Sixties. I try really, really hard not to be a “why, in my day” curmudgeon. For example, I’m OK with current popular music. I don’t actually listen to it, of course…everyone knows that the best popular music of all time is “classic rock” from the late 1960’s to the early 1980’s. But every generation has its own soundtrack, and every generation thinks its own music is the best. So more power to the current crop of pop artists, and to the whippersnappers who listen to them.
one less egg to fry
My mama loved the Lifetime Network. Back then it had the advertising slogan “It’s television for women.” Mama would eagerly tell me about the latest movie she had watched always leaning in at the end and saying conspiratorially “you know, it’s television for women.” She said it in that same lowered tone that was used to describe “down there.” Down there was her pseudonym for the entire area of the body contained in underpants. Thong underwear would have thrown her for a loop.
bubba still rules
For years, people in Georgia have been concerned that by having 159 counties, many of them small ones, government is too costly and inefficient.
Meanwhile, the people who control those counties, the big landowners and the timber companies, are pleased as punch about owning property in smaller counties. After all, it’s a whole lot easier to control government when you have just a few voters than it is in the larger counties, where a diverse and educated population sometimes votes slackard politicians out of office. You don’t see that happening often in the smaller counties.
Local government once was worse.
For years, there’s something that we Americans have urgently needed to see. If now isn’t a teachable moment – what with the spectacle of the Republican presidential race before us – I don’t know what would be. We can begin with Trump as a flagrant piece of a much bigger picture.
Consider what it means that the British parliament lately debated the question of whether Donald Trump should be banned from Great Britain. Britain, perhaps the United States’ greatest friend, our “special relationship” for the better part of a century. And Donald Trump — the front-runner of one of America’s two major political parties…
Seven is a lucky number, but three’s a charm.
I’ve been told that the brain can’t keep track of more than seven things at a time. I’ve tried and it is really difficult to view seven fish at one time in the pond. I ended up counting them by size and then adding the groups to account for my dozen. There are now fewer fish. I don’t see all the birds that come for a meal.
Anyway, I remain convinced that the brain has to be exposed to any new information at least three times before it sinks in. That may well be a default to prevent attention overload.
satire on the campaign trail
Iowa City, Iowa – Climatologists swarmed into Iowa Saturday hoping to avert a cataclysmic rise in global temperatures if GOP candidates are allowed to continue traveling across the state discharging billions of cubic feet of BS into the atmosphere.
Scientists said the immense discharges of the gas during the GOP debates and early months of the campaign for president are the prime reason 2015 was the hottest, and by most measures, the most unpleasant year in the history of mankind.
In an earlier post I mentioned that I had, via Christopher Hitchens’ essays And Yet…, discovered Henrich Heine (whom I had never heard of) and Edmund Wilson (I had been aware of him thru Gore Vidal so re-discovered). Well, I have now spent more time with HH and can report that that guy (1797-1856) was a cinematic writer, one who in turns can inspire one to pen and to despair (at one’s own feeble efforts). We have the handy word master to apply to folks like that…
on the campaign trail
Iowa City, Iowa — Fresh off a bruising debate with Donald Trump, Texas Senator Ted Cruz said he is left with no choice but to carpet bomb Iowa.
“That state is as threatening as ISIS because it could destroy America by not allowing me to be elected president,” said Cruz during a campaign stop with his two young daughters who were working the crowd asking for donations and posing for pictures with complete strangers who gave them candy.
This presidential campaign has been special. It’s the first one that has made me sick to my stomach. It’s been embarrassing to say the very least. There’s been minimal civility or coherent, consistent thought on either side. Pointing fingers, shouting, few specifics, and all too often foul language just don’t hack it for me. Nor does the occasional suggestion of possible legal action for past “activities.” As an American, I’m mortified, especially by the front runners on both sides. I wonder how they got to be the front runners? I really cannot understand.
gun totin' stoopid
Standoff continues. Patridiots not budging, holding firm on demands of more clean underwear and Febreze. Feds yet to show up or give a damn.
No shots were fired again today to the deep disappointment of the Yee-hadists within the Patridiot’s compound. “We are at serious risk of not being taken seriously” one Patridiot exclaimed. “Christ, they may think we’re some sort of hippie, peace-nik group if there ain’t a little blood shed soon” another one complained.
“Now I know how Davy Crockett must have felt before any of the Mexicans showed up at the Alamo.” claimed Burfurd T. Mudflap.
When George W. Coggin of Greensboro, N.C., and Pawleys Island, S.C., set out to trace his relatives’ military service in the Confederate Army, he little dreamed the trail would lead to finding black kinfolk. Coggin is white.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, the book that grew out of this journey into the past is Abraham & Jeremiah Coggin & The Montgomery Volunteers, published recently after years of research by Coggin, a retired lawyer, who with his wife Carol have a home in Litchfield Beach at Pawleys Island. We all met one day when I was out walking my dog, the late Dro Lamb, canine extraordinaire and companion supreme.
She began to write down her thoughts each day as her son prepared to go to war. He had suggested they each keep a diary of their activities so he would know what his mother did each day while he was away. She followed the war closely through media reports, writing significant events into a small note book alongside her daily activities, her fears and thoughts. The diary was surprisingly frank about the recurring nightmares which were centred on her son’s inability to help in times of her need.
satire on the campaign trail
Stepping up his birther attacks on Ted Cruz, Donald Trump is demanding proof of the Texas Senator and GOP presidential candidate’s DNA and has hired Ancestry.com “to prove, once and for all, he is one of us.”
“I look at the guy and I think a face like that can’t possibly be a real American,” Trump said in a Thursday press conference. “And he doesn’t look Canadian either, which is where he was born, and his father was a Cuban?
“I mean, this guy’s family tree is monkey bars!”
gun totin' stoopid
KRAZYVILLE, Ore. Community leaders were sent in today to help the Yee-hawdists who have taken over bird watchin’ from the commie, big-gubment liberals at a Federal reserve in Oregon.
The local sheriff David Ward stated “we had to send someone in with a scissors to help because the I.Q.s are so low they would have died trying unsuccessfully to open the snacks we sent in.” A reporter for the Oregon Sentinel interviewed one of the Tali-banjo who said they couldn’t seem to figure out how to open the Zip-Lock bags containing the S’mores…
For this new year, I have decided to skip making resolutions and pose some nagging questions instead. These long-unanswered questions demonstrate more staying power than resolutions do anyhow, so here goes:
- What happened to the United Nations’ peacekeeping role around the globe? How did the United States of America get saddled with the job – and enormous expense – of global policeman? Only a few years ago, an international crisis called for a peacekeeping force composed of member nations of the UN. Now nobody mentions it. Why?
familiarity breeds content
On the flight from Dulles to Dublin I sat by a woman returning from Las Vegas, where she had attended the World Freestyle fight between Conor McGregor, Irish Featherweight Freestyle Champion, and Brazil’s Jose Aldo. It took you longer to read that sentence than the fight lasted. Eyes brimming with enthusiasm, she told how Conor defeated his opponent in 13 seconds. For this triumph he was paid $500,000 but fifteen million more were set to roll in. I thought it an expensive trip for such a brief contest…
bernie with gutman
Outsider in the White House reviews the various campaigns Bernie Sanders has been involved in, those he overwhelmingly, sometimes unexpectedly, won and those he dismally lost. Interestingly he uses his 1997 reelection campaign as something he is “currently” working, to which he returns again and again from excursions off into earlier campaigns. He obviously won the 1997 campaign but the details and outcome are used in the book to build a sort of advancing suspense, interspersed with the other campaigns. He certainly uses the form to lay out his political philosophy. The “White” is added to the title, for the book was originally published in 1997 and is updated to 2015 for his presidential run.
better’n pissed on?
A new University of Wisconsin poll found that 100 percent of Republicans are pissed off at everything.
That includes puppies and sunshine, said researchers.
“There’s just so much anger out there, so much disillusionment – I don’t know any other way to put it, but everything just pisses them off,” said Jed Williamson, the lead researcher on the poll that surveyed registered Republican voters nationwide.
a masterful performance
During the holiday season, we hope you (and I) get to hear and sing one of our favorite hymns, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.” Somehow it reminds me of Christmas.
The stirring hymn was written in 1907 by Henry Van Dyke, a Princeton University professor of English, who was also a Presbyterian minister. His inspiration was two-fold: the beautiful Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts, and the fourth stanza of Ludwig Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
the great equalizer
The Boy Scouts motto of “Be Prepared” was drilled into me as a kid – “Be prepared in Mind” and “Be prepared in Body”. I never forgot that instruction as it followed me around the world. In German-speaking countries I was told “Allzeit Bereit”, in France “Toujours Pret”, in Italy “Sii Preparato” and in Spain “Siempre Listo”. But the one that was easiest for me to remember was “Always keep your ass covered”.
As I get older “Be Prepared” and “Keep your ass covered” has taken on a new meaning.
We are all aware that there is often a big difference between reality and wishful thinking, both in life and advertising. Case in point, dental implants. You’ve seen the ads on television and the unwelcome blurbs on your computer. Both stress that it’s the wave of the future, quick and relatively affordable. After a failed root canal and the resulting extraction, I opted for an implant – thinking the procedure sounded better than the alternative which would, at the very least, do damage to the surrounding teeth.
in the name of religion
Balm for the afflicted. Opiate of the masses. Fairy tales. Myth. The deepest truths.
Religion is a lot of things.
In today’s various wars – the War on Terrorism, the Culture Wars, the Jihad Against the Great Satan and the Little Satan, and the ever-popular War on Christmas (!), religion is a key element, if not the key element. Religion inspires us to do and be our best – but through so much of history, religion also has inspired us to kill and hate one another.
My wife was tickled the other day when a friend sent us a large basket full of crackers, peanut brittle, chocolates and a round container of “Sonomajacks, Gourmet Garlic and Herb” cheese wedges. Her curiosity turned to pure delight when she turned the container over and discovered it was from a cheese factory in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, where her grandmother Frieda used to work on a kind of Lucille Ball-assembly line trying to keep up with the small bits of cheese coming at her on a conveyor belt.
’tis the season
The Irish poet Medbh McGuckian writes about subduing “the disquieting existence of others” in her poem Drawing Ballerinas. Seeing through eyes she describes as “unnerving sparks of matter,” she brings to life another view of the feeling of anxiety, of worry, a knowledge that something is about to pass in this world of disorder and disillusionment. The anxiety may be more than just a feeling. It may be real loss, not just of home and land, but of innocence.
File this under the heading of Best Laid Plans, the kind that “gang aft agley,” as Scottish poet Robert Burns warned in his philosophical poem “To A Mouse.”
My wife usually shops for a Christmas tree with a scrutiny normally reserved for my shortcomings as a spouse. She also insists that I proffer an opinion on each candidate, after which she makes up my mind which tree to get.
This year it was going to be different. To help a charitable cause, she bought a Christmas tree online. That means she bought a tree sight unseen.
My nine year old grandson asked me last week, “Granny, what was the best Christmas you ever had?”
Without hesitation I answered, “It was the Christmas when I’d just separated from your grandfather and moved into a different house a few days before Christmas. Your Daddy was 14. My three youngest sons were still in school, one was in college and one had left home. I’d put my last penny down on the house. We had no money at all. In those days we didn’t have credit cards and I never borrowed money.