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Saturday, May 21, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'These Make Humanity'

A Writer's Moment: 'These Make Humanity':   “Love, hope, fear, faith - these make humanity. These are its sign and note and character.” – Robert Browning   Som...

'These Make Humanity'

 

“Love, hope, fear, faith - these make humanity. These are its sign and note and character.” – Robert Browning

 

Some writers say love is a major influence on how and what they write, but in Browning’s case it was THE influence in his career.  Languishing as a middle-of-the-road poet at best, he fell in love with Elizabeth Barrett, one of England’s most prominent female writers in the 1840s.  Their love fired his writing and led her to write her famous love sonnets, highlighted by the well-known "How do I love thee?"  Disinherited by her father and rejected by Elizabeth's brothers, the couple moved to Italy where they lived until her death from tuberculosis.  Her work, particularly the love poems, placed her among the all-time leading poets.  For Saturday’s Poem here is Barrett Browning’s, 

 

           How Do I Love Thee?


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Friday, May 20, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'At Least Be A Nuisance'

A Writer's Moment: 'At Least Be A Nuisance':   “The optimism of a healthy mind is indefatigable.” – Margery Allingham There’s a saying about crusty old journalists that they have ...

'At Least Be A Nuisance'

 

“The optimism of a healthy mind is indefatigable.” – Margery Allingham

There’s a saying about crusty old journalists that they have “ink in their blood,” but it’s a phrase that also applies to the genteel and light-hearted Allingham, who was born into a writing family.

Writing steadily almost from the time she was first in school, Margery was the daughter of two well-established newspaper writers who probably thought nothing of the fact that their daughter was already considered accomplished in writing before she reached age 10, when her first plays were being performed in schools.

Ultimately this British born writer (on this date in 1904) focused on crime and mystery writing and created one of the most well-known crime detectives of the mid-20th Century, the sleuth Albert Campion.  Ironically, Campion was put into her first novel almost as an afterthought, but he was such an optimistic and interesting character that her publishers demanded more stories that would focus on him. 
 
With that encouragement and her creative and imaginative mind, Margery went to work and wrote nearly 30 novels with Campion (who many thought to be her alter-ego) at the center of all the action.  (If you haven’t read any, I highly commend them to you – they are terrific!)
 

Allingham died at age 62 from breast cancer but ever the optimist, she laid out ideas for several more novels “just in case they’re wrong and I’m not really dying,” bugging everyone around her to keep the faith and help her keep writing.   
 
As she noted just a few days before her death, “If one cannot command attention by one’s admirable qualities, one can at least be a nuisance.”
 

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Thursday, May 19, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'Everything Becomes Copy'

A Writer's Moment: 'Everything Becomes Copy':  “ My mother wanted us to understand that the tragedies of your life one day have the potential to be comic stories the ...

'Everything Becomes Copy'

 “My mother wanted us to understand that the tragedies of your life one day have the potential to be comic stories the next.” – Nora Ephron

 
Best known for her romantic comedies, Ephron was a journalist, essayist, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, producer, director, and blogger (I think that about covers every type of writing, but of course she didn’t Tweet, so maybe not).

If ever there was a “family of writers,” it would be the Ephron family.  Born this date in 1941, Ephron was the oldest of four girls who all became successful writers, and both of her parents also were writers – so it truly may have been in her genes.  Her sisters Delia and Amy are also screenwriters, and her sister Hallie is a journalist, book reviewer and novelist who writes crime fiction.

She also married a writer – and a quite famous one at that.  She and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post (and Watergate reporting fame) were married for a dozen years and had a son, Jacob, who also grew up to be a writer.  In fact, he wrote and directed the HBO production about his mother’s life,  called “Everything is Copy” -- pretty much how Nora looked at the world.

 
 Nora Ephron
Successful in almost everything, she was nominated for three Academy Awards for Best Writing for Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, and Sleepless in Seattle.  She won numerous awards for When Harry Met Sally, and if there had been an award for best original scene it definitely would have been for the one where an older woman sitting in a restaurant watching Sally tells the waitress “I’ll have what she’s having.”  
 

Ephron, who died of cancer in 2012, said this about writing women’s scenes:

“I try to write parts for women that are as complicated and interesting as women actually are.”
 
 

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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'It's the Paperwork That Counts'

A Writer's Moment: 'It's the Paperwork That Counts':   “If people ask me for the ingredients of success, I say one is talent, two is stubbornness or determination, and third ...

'It's the Paperwork That Counts'

 

“If people ask me for the ingredients of success, I say one is talent, two is stubbornness or determination, and third is sheer luck. You have to have two out of the three. Any two will probably do.”  Fred Saberhagen  


Born on this day in 1930, Saberhagen wrote science fiction and fantasy, and is most famous for his Berserker series of short stories and novels.  He also was one of the first writers to put together a series of vampire novels in which the vampires (including the famous Dracula) are the “good guys.”  “I used the same tools that make any writer good,” he said, “plus a cheerful willingness to suspend belief.” 
 
A native of Chicago and a Korean War veteran, Saberhagen worked for Motorola after the war.   His first novel The Golden People came out in 1964 following a series of successes with magazine articles and short stories.  He said he was “filled with ideas” and just felt the urge to write every day.  “Ideas are everywhere,” he said.   “It's the paperwork, that is, sitting down and thinking them into a coherent story, trying to find just the right words that can, and usually does, get to be a writer’s labor.”

Still writing “serious science,” too, he served as editor and writer for all Chemistry articles in the Encyclopædia Britannica from the late 1960s through              
 the mid-‘70s.  But, from that point until his death in 2007 he only wrote science fiction.

As for advice to aspiring science fiction writers, he said, “The advice would be the same as for any kind of fiction.  Keep writing, and keep sending things out, not to friends and relatives, but to people who have the power to buy. A lot of additional, useful tips could be added, but this is fundamental.”

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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'The Part of Your Brain That Dreams'

A Writer's Moment: 'The Part of Your Brain That Dreams':   “The first time I can remember thinking that I would like to be a writer came in sixth grade, when our teacher Mrs. Crandall gave us an e...

'The Part of Your Brain That Dreams'

 

“The first time I can remember thinking that I would like to be a writer came in sixth grade, when our teacher Mrs. Crandall gave us an extended period of time to write a long story. I loved doing it. I started working seriously at becoming a writer when I was 17.” Bruce Coville

Born on May 16, 1950 in Syracuse, NY, Coville is the author of more than 100  kids’ and Young Adult fiction books.   First published in 1977, he started seriously writing 10 years earlier but had trouble “breaking through.”  While waiting to publish that first novel, The Foolish Giant, Coville was employed in a number of professions including toymaker, gravedigger, cookware salesman, assembly line worker, and elementary school teacher working with 2nd  and 4th  graders.

“I loved teaching,” he said.  And for a time he thought that was going to be his life’s work.   He said he talked to kids about what they wanted to read, and it sounded a lot like what he also liked to read when he was a kid.         
 
 “I read books that made me laugh but also made me shiver in terror. I wanted to make books that made other people feel the same way.”   Coville has been honored with the Empire State Award for Excellence in Literature for Young People, given by the New York Library Association for his life’s work.   
 
His advice to aspiring writers is "keep looking everywhere” for ideas.   “Ideas are all around you - everything gives you ideas,” he said.  “But the real source is the part of your brain that dreams.”   
 

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Monday, May 16, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'Hope We Never Lose Memory'

A Writer's Moment: 'Hope We Never Lose Memory':   “We use the word 'hope' perhaps more often than any other word in the vocabulary: 'I hope it's a nice day.' 'Hope...

'Hope We Never Lose Memory'

 

“We use the word 'hope' perhaps more often than any other word in the vocabulary: 'I hope it's a nice day.' 'Hopefully, you're doing well.' 'So how are things going along? Good I hope.'  'Going to be good tomorrow? Hope so.'  Memory is valued, and I hope that we never lose memory.” – Studs Terkel 
 
Born this day in 1912, Louis “Studs” Terkel was an author, historian, actor, and broadcaster who won the Pulitzer Prize for his book on World War II, The Good War. Besides that book, he is probably best remembered for his other terrific book Working, unbending optimism about life and the goodness of people.
  
WFMT, the radio station which broadcast Terkel's long-running interview program, preserved 7,000 tape recordings of Terkel's interviews and histories.  After his death in 2008 at age 96, The Library of Congress announced a grant to digitally preserve and make available those recordings, which it called "a remarkably rich history of the ideas and perspectives of both common and influential people living in the second half of the 20th century." 

  
Louis “Studs” Terkel

"For Studs, there was not a voice that should not be heard, a story that could not be told," said Gary T. Johnson, president of the Chicago Museum of History, the initial recipient of the recordings. "He believed that everyone had the right to be heard and had something important to say. He was there to listen, to chronicle, and to make sure their stories are remembered."
 
 

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Saturday, May 14, 2022

A Writer's Moment: The Best Moments

A Writer's Moment: The Best Moments:   “If you get simple beauty and naught else, you get about the best thing God invents.”                                        – Robe...

The Best Moments

 “If you get simple beauty and naught else, you get about the best thing God invents.”                                       

– Robert Browning

 
  Photo by Dan Jorgensen
  
"The clouds gathering."  
 
Looking west from the Colorado prairie near Fort Lupton toward Long’s Peak.  As a writer, whenever I find myself stuck, I know I can always turn to nature to provide the necessary inspiration for my writers' moments.
 
 
 

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