Monthly Archives: June 2014

When the flame of knowledge meets the flame of censorship…

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Burning books is an activity that we, as humans, have engaged in for millennium. For some reason we believe that by burning the book we eradicate the knowledge. Somehow, the knowledge survives, or rises from the ashes like a Phoenix of ancient legend. At least that is my sincerest hope.

I was introduced to the workings of a practice every bit as evil as the actual burning of a book; the effort to censor, to clean up, to make “more acceptable” to polite company and children.

When I was in high school we were given Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 as required reading. It was an intriguing book in the late 60s, early 70s and it generated a great deal of class discussion and some rather interesting papers. The most interesting paper, however, was a letter to the author.

At some point the teacher chose to read a passage out loud. We, the students, were opened mouthed. We thought, “Wow, she’s really into this!” Eventually the right questions were asked the class compared their editions (purchased through the school) with the teacher’s copy (purchased at the local bookstore) and the changes were amazing. The Keepers of Our Young Minds determined that even the word “naval” was too dramatic. Really? So, we composed a letter to the venerated author noting the pure irony that a book warning about censorship was, well, censored. Cut to ribbons, actually.

We received a reply. Mr. Bradbury informed us that the publisher had “laundered” his text without his knowledge and he was working diligently to correct the situation. In the meantime, he had enclosed sticky labels with “damn” and “hell” all over them; one for each student that had signed the letter. I’ve never hesitated to write an author since then.

Many years later, I picked up a copy to browse and found an afterword citing just such an occurrence. I’d like to think it referred to my high school English Literature class.

I bring you an excerpt from CODA by Ray Bradbury

    “Shut the door, they’re coming through the window, shut the window, they’re coming through the door,” are the words to an old song. They fit my lifestyle with newly arriving butcher/censors every month. Only six months ago, I discovered that, over the years, some cubby-hole editors at Ballantine Books, fearful of contaminating the young, had, bit by bit, censored some 75 separate sections from the novel. Students, reading the novel which, after all, deals with the censorship and book-burning in the future, wrote to tell me of this exquisite irony. Judy-Lynn Del Rey, one of the new Ballantine editors, is having the entire book reset and republished this summer with all the damns and hells back in place.”

For further information: Villanova University

No, not every written piece is for every person. However, as a race we tend to record the best, the worst, the mediocre.  We live our dreams, our hopes and our worst nightmares within the written word.  Even the basest of works can be used to show a people where NOT to go.  Knowledge is a prize to0 precious to permit the whims of the present to control or destroy it.

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Filed under Humanties for the Unbound Mind, My Bookshelf ~ Fiction

Change is the only constant

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

A good observer, Heraclitus. Writing in 500 BCE he felt that only the philosopher, the pursuer of truth, was fully alive. I, as an observer and an amateur philosopher, beg to differ. Living is often far too complex for the luxury of contemplation; and yet it is that contemplation that keeps us on the path to who we are.

Change, and no change, is something I deal with daily. It is really imperative that I at least attempt to stick to a regimental routine in order to keep my husband comfortable and less subject to aggravation. I’m about to change that routine.

It has been becoming rather apparent that a bit of “air” would be a very good thing. The lovely folks at the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association have suggested, rather strongly, that I seek some form of respite care. I really don’t face some of the problems that many do in my circumstances. My husband is, basically, quite healthy. However, when he gets focused on something, and nothing I can do can redirect him, well, it does get a bit intense. It is, I suppose, time to give us both a bit of a break.

I have found a number of helpful people in the organization. Some of whom make suggestions that are not suited to my goals. Some, however, are very much on point. With their help I have determined that it is quite possible to give my husband some time, once a week, to be with other people. Some of whom were in professional careers before they found themselves derailed by mental illness. It might just work. This week is the trial run.

That’s the scary part. Although he will insist at times that he has to go somewhere else, that he is getting kicked out, or any other number of theories that places him away from our home; he is quite frightened when faced with the possibility that I might leave him. This is a major step for both of us. Me taking him somewhere and leaving him with strangers – leaving him – all alone.

I am told that I should use the time for me, take a nap, write — do something with some sense of freedom. I’m afraid that after 3 ½ years it might take some practice. I approach this whole event with some trepidation. But I know that letting go in small ways is part of making it possible to keep him with me. I may have found people who understand that and will help me make it happen.

photo credit: Flickr CreativeCommons

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Filed under Caregiving Backstage, Personal Journeys

Second time around the block! What IS a writing process?

Image courtesy of Dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Writing Process

Well. What are the chances that I might be dinged for similar reasons almost at the same time? Perhaps it’s the season – you know, sinuses, allergies, other stuff that gets in your head and won’t let you think? So you say, “Sure! I can do that.” If you’re lucky you note it on some electronic calendar and hope you actually remember. I did. Remember that is.

One of my most precious friends, Rhonda, asked to do her the honor of joining a blog hop on my writing process. I found her through a brief mention by another lady I respect and adore, Ms. Kristen Lamb. (Who, by the way, is an uber blogger with writers as the focus). One visit to Rodalena and I was hooked forever. Her observations on life, love, cooking and everything else that can make sense to anyone of us, are each treasures to cherish. This is her rendition of how words make it to the page. So, yes, I am honored to join this blog hop and describe, as she did, a metaphor of sorts that describes me at my keyboard.

The problem, of course, is that my writing is a bit sporadic. I am at a time in my life when my career (something to do with numbers), and all the little ventures I managed to dabble in take up a great deal of my time. I have to admit, though, that when I am permitted those few hours of peace and quiet; when I bar the doors and refuse to respond to flashing lights, urgent messages and multiple emails, I do find myself in a zone. If I were choose a metaphor, I would choose that of a potter with my work a work of clay. Weather spun on a wheel, or carved on the face of a poured mold, it is the creation of something from a lump of information, or the shape of an idea that I enjoy most.

As most folks know my primary focus is nonfiction. This comes from years of research and observation. All of that information piles up in my computer somewhere until I sit down and begin the process of sorting through all of that to see what I can learn and what might be worth sharing with others. Then that information, needs to be molded into a cohesive “story” that is interesting, informs, and maybe even helps in some way. Sometimes those notes are conversations with myself. What worked, what didn’t, who helped and who seemed to make things worse and why? This is the process I used in writing my first book about learning how to cope with my husband’s dementia.

There are times when some ancient piece of literature that I wrote lingers in my files because “someday” I’ll make something of it. This is a carving exercise. Taking away the things that I questioned and now see far more clearly. Perhaps mellowing a stance that seemed so unmovable “then” and so naive now. Those bits that survive the test of time make it into the general process that becomes my working in progress.

I actually love the work of writing. But then I love reading. I find things I simply must share and things that I feel must have come from some other dimension. In any case, I build, and mold, trim, and spin again until I begin to see the shape of my creation. I hope that as more of my writing becomes available you will find humor, joy, remembrance, peace, healing and maybe even knowledge.

Now you get to meet three wonderful authors I have come to know and treasure.

Elizabeth Mueller, an author and an artist, knew that books couldn’t bite, but even though she never admitted, she was scared of them. What she didn’t know, was that one day books would be her career as a writer and an illustrator.

She started writing poetry when she was 9. Then there were stories when she was 11 that, well, are quite funny from her current perspective. It was her creative writing teacher in 12th grade that made her realize there was more to writing than life itself. That’s when she fell in in love with books.

She hasn’t stopped since, feverishly working to perfect the craft late into the night. She lives with her husband, five kids, a hyper dog, two cats, a turtle and a fish. Darkspell, a young adult Paranormal Romance, was her first novel.

You can find Elizabeth at: elizabethmueller.blogspot.com

Andrea Zug is an avid reader who loves the English language; which is a good thing when you are an author. She has been writing, mostly poetry, since grade school. While her husband was in Vietnam she started her first novel. He was wounded and sent home just three months after their daughter Michelle was born. Raising a family took precedence over writing and it was 2006 when that long abandoned manuscript was pulled out of mothballs. Lancer, Inc. was born. Her husband’s wounds were emotional as well as physical and her work with Lancer, Inc. became a form of therapy, a way to unlock buried trauma. Many of his experiences live within the pages of the series. They found that it helped him and it became their mutual passion to continue the series. Her latest book, Vengeance, takes the Lancers down a new road. Step into the world of Mike and Angela Lancer, Private Investigators…you might just like it there. https://andizugatlancersinc.wordpress.com/

Cindy Koepp, a friend, my first editor, and a wonderful storyteller. After hatching years ago in a land very far away, Cindy tried to hide under a secret identity, but she finally gave that up and started openly telling people she was an alien capable of adopting many forms. To her surprise, with the exception of one class of elementary students, no one believed her. They assumed she was joking, thereby giving her the perfect cover story.

She spent 14 years mutating the minds of four-footers – that’s height, not leg count – but gave that up to study the methodology needed to mutate the minds of adult humans. In her off time, she writes about her adventures under the guise of telling science fiction and fantasy stories, records her blog articles, and reads wonderful books in exchange for editing help. http://cindykoepp.wordpress.com/

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Filed under Stuff about Writing

2014 Writing Process Blog Hop

Copy (2) of IMG_0561So, I have this rather interesting case of sudden popularity. A few weeks ago one of my online friends contacted me and asked me to be part of a blog hop – then she disappeared on vacation and in the meantime another dear friend asked me a similar question, luckily for a different day. I am beginning to believe I am missing the gene that allows you to say “no” – even if I have no clue as to when or how I’ll make it happen. So, here I am writing about my writing, something I rarely do.

Today’s feature artist is Morgan Dragonwillow. She is the one that nabbed me for a post this week. I shall answer the questions as she presented them and do something a bit different next week. Morgan’s participation can be found here. You really should check it out. She is a sincere and sensitive lady and a truly inspired poet. I have found much of personal value in her work and she is a really nice lady to know.

What am I working on?

That is a touchy subject just now. Writing was on hold while I waded through another tax season as my “day job” is accounting. In any case, I have an open project updating my first book, Who I Am Yesterday, which is about coping with my husband’s dementia. Then I’m working on a piece he has wanted me to do for years (though he no longer remembers) about the Book of Job.

Then, recently, a friend of mine encouraged (dared?) me to join in a fiction writing challenge. I don’t do fiction. But, well, it was a friend. And I had fun! I kicked out about 20 flash fiction pieces in a month. They are all here under 30 Cubed or simply Fictional Adventures.

How does my work differ from others of the genre?

As writers we all like to believe that we have something unique to offer; and we do. No matter how homogenous modern technology makes us, we still have unique perspectives. My writing is supported by years (well, decades) of “people watching,” the trials and travails of mentoring in business and in life and the experience of being a caregiver. I deeply love science fiction-fantasy, but I also find history, philosophy and the sciences spellbinding. My hope is whatever cake I bake with this broad mixture is of interest to hungry readers looking for something a bit off the common path.

Why do I write what I do?

Published or not I have always written. I’m a pretty private person so sometimes working things out requires a conversation with my computer (or other more antiquated means) to sort things out, collect research, understand a new concept, or learn something new. I write because I am driven to organize thoughts. There came a time when other folks expressed an interest in what I was writing, and so an author was born.

How does my writing process work?

Well, that depends. If it is a nonfiction work that requires research I read. Lots. Take notes. Lots. Then store them in my Scrivener project folder. During a recent foray into fiction writing I basically sat down in front of a blank screen and, well, “went somewhere.” While I was describing “were” the story would take shape and eventually I would know who “I” was. When I write about being a caregiver I walk through the things that make things work, and the things that didn’t. Try to find the humor, and find the experiences that might help others. I guess writing for me is so much a part of who and where I am it takes all kinds of shapes.

Now, here are the lovely ladies that have been duly warned by be that they are next!

Megan Elizabeth Morales is a female who loves Star Trek, is a Netflix Junkie and loves Comic-Con. She’s a bit of a dreamer, isn’t she? One day when she was eight years old, she just started writing, and she’s never stopped since. She lives in Snohomish Washington with her parents, and is soon to be a 2014 high school graduate. She harnesses the powers of Epilepsy to expand her eccentric imagination in her novel she’s currently working on, and JK Rowling is her role model in the writing world. You can find her at a Red Robins, or at her home daydreaming about cheeseburgers, and scrolling on the computer looking at high heeled boots and regular heels.

Etta Jean was born in Sacramento, California and destined from birth to be a bard. She told tall tales while devouring the creative worlds of others until she finally had to create her own. She has seen both good and evil in her life, and her stories, like life, have no half measures. Her happy endings never come without cost, though, for she truly believes we can’t appreciate the good and the joy without the bad and the pain along the way. Her current haunt is a comfy house in her beloved hometown where she wrangles three feline fur-kids while constantly overbooking her calendar. If she’s not chained to her desk, she’s stomping through the scenery in search of equally fantastical photographs.

Lenora Rogers: The mother of three grown children, I live in Cullman, Alabama. My passion for history and the arts has driven me start all kinds of projects such as groups on Facebook and to create my own special place on a blog (lenorasculture.wordpress.com), And with the success of that blog. With encouragement from some great friends, I decided it was time to take the next step a start writing a book. It is never too late to set goals for yourself and follow them. I found that with determination, hard work, persistence and a great support system, anything is possible to achieve. I am currently working on my first novel, The Haunting of Simone, with co writer Stacey Brewer.

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Filed under Stuff about Writing