NaNoWriMo 2

Not as much concentration as I had last November, but hope to complete 50,000 words this year.

Guilford, Vermont Art Studio @2007

The work will qualify as personal and should be a positive challenge.


Months ago...and now

Summer is nearly gone.

I have left the country and have once more become a City Mouse.

I have articles I put in "follow up" from months ago and read slowly, and occasionally.   Today or rather this evening, just before dusk, I read a magazine article written by Mariane Pearl about Cuba.

I had several reasons why I wanted to read the piece:  I remember how distressed I was by Ms. Pearl's tragic loss.  Without much irony, I met several colleagues of Daniel Pearl just a few miles from where I am sitting now.    I realized while getting misdirected, something different than lost, a couple of hours ago, that it is September 11, and another anniversary and more memories of loss.

And I was excited to read about Cuba, and pleased that in my lifetime North Americans may once again visit the country.

Castro in the 60s

Batista in the 60s

I have some memories, not of Cuba, but of Cubans I've met or known in the years since Castro had a Revolution, and Batista was overthrown.  I have met rebels, Republicans, former Senators, and those eager to share and exchange biomedical theories and knowledge.

The former Senator I knew was a man I often had lunch with in the 60s.  He left me with sharp memories of his fierce belief that Castro would be overthrown, but only after we finished eating our corn beef sandwiches.   Yes, he had a great sense of humor.  Unfortunately, his blood was spilled before I could grasp the significance of his misdirected hopes or reach a greater political maturity. 

Years later, perhaps two decades in number, a man who looked nothing like my Senator, but who was clean shaven, slender and tall with impeccable manners entered my office and greeted me by name.   I never did understand how my name reached into the infectious disease annals of this and another communist country, or how I could graciously express my regret that I was unable to exchange research material.

It is a great loss that my Senator is gone.  It is a great loss to medical research that we were unable to exchange knowledge with the Cubans especially inasmuch as they were outstanding researchers and had first hand experience with human malaria, P. falciparum.

Mariane Pearl painted such a clear picture of her Cuba that I could close my eyes and step onto the street with her and her cousin, Julia. 


Snowed in and thinking about

Lugano in June

and trying to remember the name of a cafe and hotel when I visited.

Also remembering amphitheatres I've seen in cold and warm weather

and how "The Hunger Games" remind me of these fora.


Virginia Woolf's advice on writing

For higher resolution and complete list see here.

I especially regret my own inconsistency in journal keeping, and perhaps even a tad sorry I destroyed many of them.


Cartoonists draw out, "Je suis Charlie"

Outpouring of words, and drawings from all around the net, and these from cartoonists around the world at Reuters.

NPR Morning News mentioned this one (above) this morning.

A recent find by Mana Neyestani (Iranian)


Je suis Charlie

Before I had my first morning coffee, I had received three news alerts that a shooting had occurred in Paris at the Charlie Hebdo offices, with possibly 12 dead.

All this was quickly confirmed on my public radio station by Democracy Now, and then BBC.  The Guardian and the New York Times both had live feeds from Paris.   With so many hours difference, it was not easy to keep up with what happened when.

Georges Wolinski Desk, Courtesy his Daughter by instagram

Although I often weep at death, I have a particular sensitivity to journalists deaths, and this murder is no different.  Whether Charlie Hebdo's editors did right or wrong is not the question.

The bigger question is why "senseless killing?"

The Times just sent through its afternoon update with this headline.

Long before Theo van Gogh was killed in Amsterdam in 2004, it was clear that integration in Europe was fragile.  It remains so, and perhaps increases with time. 

It is unlikely we'll see much positive change as retribution seems to operate on a larger scale than compassion.  


All those books...and more

Writing a book doesn't mean you stop reading, but rather you might find yourself, or oneself, reading more.  In fact, many writers recommend that the best way to learn how to write is to "read."  I echo that recommendation, but also one need know which books to read and when.  Of great import is  whether you already own the book before rushing off to the bookstore to buy another.

With that in mind, I rediscovered Library Thing, when I was in Pittsburgh for the holidays and yesterday I started logging in my own stacks of books. 

After listening to Diane Rehm's hour long show on "Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant" by Anne Tyler, I went home nearly certain but in some doubt whether (a) I read it, and (b) I had it.  Thus far, I can't confirm either as I have only gotten to the third shelf of numerous bookcases with multiple bookshelves. 

When I lived in New York and Providence, all my books were alphabetized by subject, mostly fiction, but here at Little Wagner I have books in three rooms, all cradled into smaller footage and hence not so methodically housed.  The only area of clarity is poetry with a bookcase of its own in the living room. 

But even among that lot of poetry books, I have books on or about writing and nearly repurchased "Writers and their Notebooks," Margaret Atwood's "Negotiating with the Dead," and "Reading Like a Writer" which Kelly McMasters had recommended and which I had bought at her now extinct bookshop Moody Road Studios.  I then neglected the books and the shop.  I suppose I am partially responsible for not having a proper bookseller in the county as I didn't buy more than half a dozen books at Moody Road.  Sigh!

Then in the middle of cataloging the books, one shelf tumbled down on another, and now I am surrounded by books, all out of order, and screaming to be eaten as Ray Bradbury declared in Fahreheit 451:

I ate them like salad, books were my sandwich for lunch, my tiffin and dinner and midnight munch. I tore out the pages, ate them with salt, doused them with relish, gnawed on the bindings, turned the chapters with my tongue! Books by the dozen, the score and the billion. I carried so many home I was hunchbacked for years. Philosophy, art history, politics, social science, the poem, the essay, the grandiose play, you name ’em, I ate ’em.
And on this last day of 2014, with resolutions in the air and snow on the ground, I'd much rather write or eat a book in this celestial garden

Patrick Leigh Fermor summer home

then think about writing in long janes, a heavy sweater, and a vest, fluffy socks on my feet and lined Merrills.

Happy New Year to all, and to all a good day!


Save the Books: James Patterson

A petition, letters, fanfare, James Patterson's campaign to save the books, and the shops that sell them.

Check out his website


What I did in November: start a novel Nanowrimo way!

What prompted me?  Not certain.

How I did!  I qualified on November 22 with about 65,000 words.

Where is it going and how did I do it?

Taking a page from Nanowrimo winner, Pete Denison, who shared his tools at the beginning of the challenge,

I used these analog tools:

Analog tools

I was out and about when I first thought to do Nanowrimo and had an Exaclair sketchbook with me. It  is too precious for just plain scribbling so I pulled out a red Moleskine.  I've always thought "red" was energy and to complete 50,000 words in 30 days needs energy.   I also had a Fabriano A5 Misto spiral notebook that I used for scheduling and a small Midori Diamond Memo reporter which I carried around, even from room to room, as thoughts went through my head.

Books were a huge part of my creative process as those wonderful friends are characters in the novel.

And these digital tools:

I would normally have just written in Microsoft Word but at the outset it seemed to be corrupted and I started to panic.   I didn't want to buy another package, and called my not very local Mac distributor in New York City, Tekserve, to see if they could help me.   The Tech Rep mentioned in passing a downloadable program called, Open Office.  I downloaded it straight away and discovered it was easy to master.

I started to write in Open Office and quickly did import and export with Scrivener.

Winners got a discount yesterday, December 1, for this fabulous program.  I was able to cut and paste without really moving around as one would other programs and simply created a new document;  one can merge two documents with the flick of the wrist, and it keeps a count of your individual document words, and then project statistics, making it easy to see where you are in reaching your goals.

Back two years ago one of the Women's Festival in Hobart (New York) workshop presenters mentioned Scrivener, but I wasn't writing a novel then and didn't buy it.

Yesterday I got my registered copy of the program and feel I was given a gift.

I intend to edit and finish the novel before the Spring hits the Valley.

Midori bought at Jet Pens
Fabriano bought a Brushstrokes
Moleskine Red Sketchbook, options nationally
Exaclair, gifted
Scrivener at Literature & Latte