This week I have been working on stripping words out of a manuscript—one or two or three at a time—trying to bring the word count down to where the publisher would like it to be. It’s painstaking work, mentally exhausting, but ultimately rewarding.
That’s what I hope you’ll get from my Summer Update Series posts. We’re taking a look at my backlist and updating it with interesting material I’ve discovered in the last year or so. They’re little gems! So let’s get started.
✱ A year ago—in a Short Saturday post I called “Creative Writing”—I wondered if the sassy obituary was a thing. There was a spate of them there for a while in early and mid 2013, but I think the trend may have viraled itself out, like so much of our insatiable culture. The moving finger writes and having writ moves on, and all that. You could still write a clever obit for your momma or daddy or beloved pet, but it probably won’t end up on the interwebs.
That said, it doesn’t matter if it is or isn’t a thing, really. I’m all about good creative writing, and I was charmed and inspired by them. So I want to offer you two more obits, also from last year:
• Seattle-based author/editor Jane Catherine Lotter wrote her own (one of the few advantages of dying of cancer, she wrote, “is that you have time to write your own obituary”). You should definitely read it. And if it reminds you how to appreciate your precious life, so much the better.
• Wisconsin grandmother Mary A. “Pink” Mullaney, much beloved, was immortalized in this lovely obit, which has an additional benefit of being a narrative list. (I wrote about that in my post “Literary Nonfiction and the Narrative List.”) Reading Pink’s list made me laugh, but only because she must have been quite a gal.
That inspiration thing, now, it’s powerful.
✱ If you’ve been around here much, you know I have a thing for Shakespeare. (We won’t get in to what ol’ Will did or didn’t write. I’m just taking it at face value here.) I’ve written more than one Bard-related post, but you can start with “In Love With Shakespeare.”
I’m not the only person who loves the words, of course. Linguist David Crystal and his actor son, Ben Crystal, have collaborated to demonstrate “what certain Shakespearean passages would have sounded like to their first audiences, and in so doing draw out some subtle wordplay that gets lost on modern tongues” in this article and video at Open Culture: “What Shakespeare Sounded Like to Shakespeare.” I think you’ll enjoy it.
✱ Shakespeare isn’t the only wordsmith with whom I’m fascinated. I enjoy writers’ memoirs or biographies, and I’ll definitely make a vacation stop at a writer’s home (most recently the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta). Of course, the article I featured in “Here’s What I Hate About Writers’ Houses” was a little cranky about the phenomenon, but in “Author Worship” there’s a link to a much more (ahem) worshipful article about writers’ rooms.
The living space—a home, a room, and office, a desk—of creative can be very revealing, don’t you think? I have a photographer friend who has done a series of prints on artists’ studios I have pored over, which is a similar phenomenon. But I started this update to bring your attention to this: “I had a farm in Africa: 23 Famous Authors’ Homes.” Not, of course, that you need a farm in Africa in order to write. :)
✱ Earlier this year I ran a couple posts on the word meme and on memes in general: “You Keep Using That Word” and “To Meme or Not to Meme.” The question I failed to answer—and that should be of interest—about meme is this: British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins coined the word in his book The Selfish Gene (1976) to describe human sociocultural evolution. Which we have certainly seen. Dawkins talks about memes in this nine-minute clip. (And as a side note, I’m still in love with the doge meme. So love. Such word. Wow. Very meme. Much happy.)
This should keep you going ’til next week—enjoy!
* Because it’s almost summer and because I am still positively slammed with work (not a bad thing) and because slammed with work means less time to write the kind of thoughtful blog posts I want to write, I’m writing a series of updates to reconnect you with my archives. Let me know what you think.
Tweet: So love. Such word. Wow. Very write. Much happy.
Tweet: If this writing reminds you how to appreciate your precious life, so much the better.
Tweet: I’m all about good creative writing; here’s some inspiration.
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