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Monday, January 24, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'Be The Candle, Or Be The Mirror'

A Writer's Moment: 'Be The Candle, Or Be The Mirror':   “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. ” – Edith Wharton Born on this day in 1862,...

'Be The Candle, Or Be The Mirror'

 

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. – Edith Wharton

Born on this day in 1862, Wharton grew up in New York City and began writing poetry and fiction as a young girl. She even attempted to write a novel at age 11 and had her first work published by age 15.

Despite that, her Upper Crust Society family discouraged her from writing and publishing because they didn’t think it was either “ladylike” or worthwhile.   But after marrying, she pursued it anyway and went on to publish 16 novels, dozens of novellas, 85 short stories, 3 books of poetry, and 9 nonfiction books.  In 1921 she won the Pulitzer Prize for The Age of Innocence, and in 1927, 1928 and 1930 she was a finalist for the Nobel Prize.

Her novella Ethan Frome and her novel House of Mirth are widely studied in American literature classes in high schools, colleges and universities around the world, both for their realism and their portrayal of the times and places in which she lived.

Wharton loved life and writing about it and said it kept her young and vibrant.  “Life is always a tightrope or a feather bed,” she said.   “Give me the tightrope.”
 
 

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Saturday, January 22, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'Wheeled, Soared and Swung'

A Writer's Moment: 'Wheeled, Soared and Swung':   January 28 th will be the 36 th anniversary of the explosion of the Challenger shuttle.   In the disaster’s immediate aftermath, Presid...

'Wheeled, Soared and Swung'

 

January 28th will be the 36th anniversary of the explosion of the Challenger shuttle.  In the disaster’s immediate aftermath, President Ronald Reagan addressed the nation and used the closing lines from the poem “High Flight” as a tribute to the 7 astronauts who lost their lives.

The poem was written by American aviator John Gillespie Magee, Jr., who died in 1941 while serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force in England.  Impatient for the U.S. to assist the British, he signed up to fight for Canada and was killed in a mid-air collision after a dogfight with German fighters.   Lines from his poem are printed on his tombstone in Lincolnshire, England, where he was buried with full British honors.  He wrote the poem just weeks before his death and sent it to his parents in a final letter home. 
                                                                                John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

   For Saturday’s poem here is “High Flight.”

High Flight
 "Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
- Put out my hand, and touched the face of God."

Friday, January 21, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'Engaging & Satisfying Young Readers'

A Writer's Moment: 'Engaging & Satisfying Young Readers':   “Every published writer suffers through that first draft because most of the time that's a disappointment.” – Rebecca Stead    ...

'Engaging & Satisfying Young Readers'

 

“Every published writer suffers through that first draft because most of the time that's a disappointment.” – Rebecca Stead  

But Stead’s second drafts definitely have had a “wow” factor.   Her novel When You Reach Me won the Newbery Medal, the oldest award in children's literature.  And her book Liar & Spy was named for the Guardian Prize as the year's best children's book released in Great Britain.

Stead - born in Jan. '68 - grew up in Manhattan and turned to law for her work.  But after working as a public defender she moved to writing after the birth of her two children, doing her first book First Light to entertain her oldest son.   “I asked myself what it was that I wanted from writing and where my connection with books began,” she said, “and the answer to that question was definitely in childhood, because that's where my connection with reading began.”

When You Reach Me was recently named the 11th best children’s novel of all time in a survey by the School Library Journal (the only 21st-century work among the top 20) and Newbery judges noted, "Every scene, every nuance, every word is vital both to character development and the progression of the mystery that really is going to engage young readers and satisfy them.”  
 
 

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Thursday, January 20, 2022

A Writer's Moment: Developing The 'Long Threads'

A Writer's Moment: Developing The 'Long Threads':   “Whenever you're writing a book or creating a movie or a game, your first task is to get the reader/audience/player to suspend disbel...