Tania's Words

here is an empty shell- a resonant shadow- waiting

Archive for reading

The cold that killed my will to write.

Welcome to the procrastination station. All are welcome.

No seriously. I finished Emma today, which means I have to read Austen’s unpublished works and letters next, but I don’t have them, and forgot to borrow them. I had already decided that once I was done with the madness of the Austen spree, I’d edit the Beach House, I should be doing that. Instead, I am listening to Muse and facebook stalking several people who would probably prefer not to be the victims of my laziness. I’m just saying.

And the thing is, I want to finish the book. I want to edit it. But I have the cold from Hades (Seriously, this is the cold that will not die), I’ve eaten approximately 900 calories (probably because I have some amazing post nasal drip that is absolutely killing my appetite), and I worked out with Maura. We did the Biggest Loser Last Chance Workout, with heavy weights. After that, really I have enough energy left over to…lay in bed and stare at a wall?

But really, I know once I get started editing, I’ll get sucked in. Its just the getting started part that sucks. I know there are a lot of missing scenes to be written, which mentally are more taxing that regular editing.  If I knew what I wanted to write in those missing scenes I would have done it when I wrote it, or edited the first two times. Sigh. I am complaining I know.  At least I have Muse to keep me company.  Plus, really, why am I putting so much effort into this book? The chances of it actually getting published are ridiculously small. The chances of anyone other than my friends (who really, probably feel like they have to read it) reading it just as small. I guess I’ll just have to enjoy the fruits of my labor alone.

At least, at the end of the day, I’ll have written a book.  Writing is the best therapy sometimes, and goodness knows I am in need of some serious therapy. Plus, I think it is especially beneficial to keep my creative muscle exercised and ready to go, in case I shall ever have any need to use it in an emergency. Like, if the only way to prevent nuclear holocaust was by writing an amazing poem in five minutes….or something.

Speaking of creativity, I went to Michael’s, aided by a wonderful gift card my father-in-law gave me for Christmas. Went mad with the promise of shiny new scrap booking tools. Shopped my little heart out. Came home and organized said scrap booking stuff.  Now, I must scrap book with them. Which should be fun as I am making Parker’s baby book. Scrap booking is much more fun with friends though, so I’ll wait until Pilar or Maura or Laura can scrap book with me. Until then,I must,  I must, I must write my book (anyone but me flashback to Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret? I must, I must, I must increase my bust….)

Some kind of crazy reading spree…

I think I’ll go for broke with this blogging business and get at least four in for the month. I think I only blogged 7 times total last year, so I am well on my way to surpassing all previous expectations. Or something.

Might I just take this moment to say that there are times when I really miss my LiveJournal? I loved my layout, I loved my little hamster, and I loved the option for what I was listening too. Now I realize I could just add that in to every post, but somehow it doesn’t feel the same. And I also realize that most people could probably care less what I was listening too when I blogged. But I do. I love being able to look back and see where I was musically at that moment. Probably because music is such a huge part of my life (not that I am a musician or anything). I just love being surrounded by music.

In case anyone is wondering, I am listening to Imogen Heap, Have you got it in you?

This week I’ve been on a reading tear. I read the Red Tent, by Anita Diamant. It was good, but at times a bit strange for my tastes. But it was beautifully written, and I loved the idea of getting to know the stories of the women in the bible from their perspective. I would recommend it with a grain of salt. I also read Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen (who else?). I loved it. Really really loved it.  It was so much less edited than the other Austen’s, I felt like I was getting to know her real voice.  Or maybe just her younger voice? Either way, I found it at times hilarious, romantic, and interesting.

Now I am more than halfway through Emma, which, after having read the other two in a week, is quite the feat, as Emma is over 400pg long. Unlike Mansfield Park, which I must say, I dutifully slogged through, Emma is a lot more fun.  I rather don’t like Emma herself all that much, but I think she is intended to be a more sympathetic or like able character than I am giving her credit for. It helps to imagine Emma as Cher in Clueless though- makes me view her actions and attitudes much less harshly.

Although I am enjoying Emma, and have enjoyed the Austen spree, I am really very glad it is almost over. I know I must read her unfinished works and letters, but Maura and I are still searching for the best version to purchase. I have been longing to read other things for a while now. But I knew that if I strayed off the path, I’d be in danger of never returning. Especially after Mansfield Park.

I’ve also been longing to get back to the third edit of The Beach House. Speaking of which, this book needs a new name, STAT. Anyone who is reading it (either chapters or those who have the whole 2nd edit), any suggestions? Hopefully some are actually reading it lol, or this plea will be all for naught. I have to get the third edit done by March, because I’ve promised to let the book club girls read it, and it is in some kind of shabby shape right now. But I’ve been thinking about it more lately, and do so want to get back to Elle’s world.

I am off to read and relax. Parker refused to sleep at Pilar’s, so he went to bed a little later and threw my whole evening off. Poor thing was screaming bloody murder. But it was made up for by the absolute cuteness of him running into the laundry room in his pj’s, finding Pilar’s broom (he loves loves loves brooms), and staring at me hopefully with tears still on his chubby little cheeks, asking in the cutest little way, “Boom? Boom?” God I love that boy.  He got another hair cut today (A Mom’s Hatchet Job Special), and he looks like a whole new boy. So much more like a little boy and so much less like a baby.  It is such a cliche, but it really goes by so fast. It seems like time just sped up a whole lot after I had him- there is so much to love and treasure and so many amazing moments to cherish, it just feels like there isn’t time enough and soon it will all be over.

On International Varieties of Ghosts and Fighting Jane Austen…Sort of.

We need to talk about my obsession with these Ghost Hunter tv shows on the SyFy channel. They are really terrible, and yet, it it like a car wreck. I just can’t look away. I think they are starting to warp my brain in a sad sort of way.  Parker was playing on the floor and he crawled into my lap to play with my hair. He was being really cute and giving me kisses and laughing hysterically. And all I could think about was…what if my house was haunted? What if my son was possessed?

The kicker is, that I don’t believe in ghosts or haunting. Yeah. I am just that suggestible. If that is even a phrase.

Anyway, I did manage to focus on playing with my baby, thank goodness. Poor little guy got four shots today, and took them like a trooper. His trip to the doctor was probably the most ambitious thing I attempted all day, other than waking up at 5:30. For some reason I am just unreasonably lazy today. I can’t even bring myself to pick up the toys in my family room. I’ve been reading Mansfield Park and watching…of course….Ghost Hunters International. Yes, this show comes in both domestic and imported flavours.

Speaking of Mansfield Park, I’ve been getting more and more into it. I have to say that I love, love, love that classics are available at Barnes and Nobles for only 5$.  The version of M. P. I have seems to have a wonderful introductory essay in the beginning, which I only skimmed. Unlike many other Austen novels, I was not remotely familiar with the story, and therefore didn’t want to ruin the storyline. Anyway, I am into the story enough that I started to jot down some reactions to the book while Dan was hogging the internet with his video game.

First, I must confess that I am only halfway through Mansfield Park, yet despite this fact, I feel the need to discuss it. So if you’ve read it or are reading it, feel free to throw rotten tomatoes at me, or just tell me what you are thinking, comment away!

I’ve heard and read that M.P. is often a lesser favourite amongst Austen fans- complaints that Fanny doesn’t do anything, say anything, excite much interest of any sort; basically that she’s pretty boring and lame.  And while I have to agree in some sense- after all Mary Crawford reminds me much more of Elizabeth Bennet (P&P), than does Fanny, I think this book is really rather interesting for other reasons.

But first I have to digress and talk about Mary for a moment. In so many ways she is so like Eliza in P&P…outspoken and a bit saucy, opinionated and yet friendly. So why do I not like her the way that I liked Eliza? It isn’t that I am in Fanny’s corner so to speak…I mean, I don’t really care if Fanny get’s Edmund in the end…but Mary rubs me the wrong way…

Now, I love a good romance. And Austen does romance so well in books like Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice, it is hard to come from reading those (and even Sense and Sensibility, which I didn’t like as well, but was also at its core, a romance), to reading Mansfield Park, where the focus is so much more broad and sweeping. Well maybe this isn’t the right way to put it. But this book doesn’t seem to be, at its core, about love or romance. I get more of a feeling that it is a broader social portrait or commentary on a microcosm of society.

Let me just remind myself that I haven’t finished the book, so I’d probably be better off leaving the generalizations aside. Anyway. I had to remark, however, that this book is interesting when you look at it from another angle (other than the romance angle, that is). Austen does so well giving us a microcosm of her world and society, of painting a larger picture with it. One thing that has struck me so well with M.P is the way she imagines the idea of “Improvement.”

All over this book are references to “improvements” of places- Sotherton and Thornton Lacey for example.  The question of what to do and how best to improve the look and feel and sense of these places is unavoidable. Take into account as well other “improvements” we see throughout the book, (turning Sir Thomas’s study into a theater for example), I found it interesting in juxtaposition with the development of the characters, who don’t seem to have as equal of a chance at improvement.

The first example of this which comes to mind is that of Mr. Rushworth, who is generally though badly of by all in the Crawford clan once they get to know him. At one point Edmund even remarks that there isn’t much that could ever really make him more tolerable, even with time. He’s basically seen and stupid and boring and…well…totally lame. And everyone is like, Oh well, he’s lame, but good thing he’s rich. Yay. And yet no one thinks that in time, he’ll develop a personality, or you know, mature in anyway.

I haven’t reached my conclusions yet, however, I think it will be interesting to see how this idea develops as I read on. The idea that landmarks and places, things which we might see as unchanging and immutable in general, can be so generally regarded as easily fixed, or repaired; while people might be seen as stamped forever into the mold they were born to. This interests me. People often seem to fall into one of two categories. Those of us who believe that people can change, and those who think that people cannot.

Now I cannot speak for Jane Austen, but based on certain evidence (One Mr. Darcy), I’ve gotten the impression that she did believe that with the right incentive or cause, people could change. So I am interested to see how this plays out through the rest of the novel.

Of course, I am an idealist, so I firmly believe that people can change. Maybe this is why I believe that Ms. Austen felt this way as well. I’ve always felt that if even only one person in the world has managed it (to change that is), then it is possible for anyone. And you can’t tell me that in the whole history of the world, this hasn’t happened.  I challenge you.

Ok, now that I’ve thrown down my gauntlet, I am off to read more of my book. Draw some more random and probably crazy conclusions that make no sense. Well, if you’ve made it this far into my random post of nonsense, congratulations! You win the perseverance award for the day.  Go you.

Does feeling it make it so?

I think it must be in the air. I’ve been reading others blogs and there seems to be a general feeling of suppressed creativity.  I think most writers (and I speak for writers because that is the only art I really know. I would say all artists, but I can’t be sure), feel this way at one time or another. As if something is rising up through them, but they don’t know what it is just yet. I can feel this today, inside. I have a story to tell, words to place. They are unfamiliar yet. I don’t know their shape or meaning.

There are times when I love feeling this way. It is a feeling that reminds me that I still have it. I still have the drive and desire to write. That there is still something tangible that I want to grab a hold of. I don’t know if all writers feel this, but I worry that one day, it will be gone. That I will wake up numb and not even realize. Not even miss it. Does that make sense?

Conversely, I dislike this feeling because it feels stuck. Static. I feel like I want to be writing something meaningful and true, but I don’t know what it is yet. And sometimes, nothing happens. I end up crocheting like a madwoman or reading some Sharon Olds and just forgetting about it because nothing comes.

I feel like I know what I want to write-  a story idea that came to me in the midst of a 4 am feeding. It might be absolute lunacy, considering my state of mind at the time. However, I’ve learned that I can do it. I realize that sounds completely hokey. But it is true. Completing my NaNo novel in ’07 taught me that I absolutely can write a book. Before I did NaNo, I was always afraid that I didn’t have enough story in me. That I wasn’t creative enough to write a whole book. Especially after years of poetry writing, during which I learned agonize over each word., when I struggled to learn the art of speaking in four words what should take 50.  Unlearning and allowing myself to use as many as possible (50,000 ideally), was a struggle, but I did do it.

Ok, so maybe my NaNo novel is no masterpiece.  In my defense, it was written on a whim, in 30 days.  And maybe I’ll never complete it, and there is a great chance that no one will ever be allowed to read it, but that is ok. Because I can look at it and know that I have it in me.I feel that I must add though, that all this talk about being a writer is making me a bit self conscious. As if others will read it and think, ” How presumptuous for her to call herself a writer.”  I’m not published, not many have read what I have to offer, and I may not even be great, good or mediocre. Does feeling something inside make it so? All of my life I have known that this is what I love more than anything. That I have the desire to write. Does this make me a writer, or is that insanity and arrogance?

Now if only I had some spare cash and a room of my own. Instead, I think I’ll go make a bottle and plot my strategy for writing during afternoon nap time.