Posted in books, random thoughts, writing

Clean Cup! Move Down!

Ok, that line isn’t in the book, it’s from the Disney movie Alice in Wonderland from 1951. But it is from the tea party scene. With the coming release of the Tim Burton movie, “Alice in Wonderland” many of us are feeling some Alice-fever. Based on this idea, Gypsyscarlett has posted a very intriguing list of six authors, 3 male, 3 female, she would invite to a tea party. Although whittling the list down to only six was almost physically painful, here are my six who made the cut:

1. Lewis Carroll. The man himself, the inventor of the Mad Tea Party, would be the penultimate guest at such a soiree. And of course he’d have to finally explain why a raven is like a writing desk.

2. Jane Austen. You had to see that coming. So many questions about her books, where she got her inspiration, how many of her characters were based on real people, why she had Cassandra burn her letters after her death. Her insights into human nature and emotion blew me away. For a country parson’s daughter to achieve what she did while living the stifling sort of life an unmarried woman in early 19th century England was condemned to is nothing short of miraculous. Why do we lose so many of the great ones so young?

3. Virginia Woolf. Another trail-blazer. I’d love to have her and Jane Austen in the same room. Honestly, the woman is an icon, what more can I say?

4. Isaac Asimov. His visions of the future are still the basis for movies, research, books, you name it. The inventor of the Three Laws of Robotics (1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; 2. A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law; 3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law) will hopefully govern the behavior and development of robots as they become more and more human-like in the future, as I have no doubt they will.

5. Jack Kerouac. We have to have one wild child. I want to hear more road stories, in his beautiful prose. The man sure had a way with words. Charles Laughton, who did one-man reading tours, included a selection from “The Dharma Bums” that makes you stop whatever you’re doing and listen. As Mr. Laughton said, “Not too bad for a beatnik.” Another one we lost way too soon.

6. Edith Wharton. Her novels gave us a glimpse of life among the wealthy and privileged and what the consequences can be for those who somehow fall outside the lines in late 19th c – early 20th c New York. I would love to know what she really thought of her peers. And I’d like to settle the question of whether Lily Bart’s death was suicide or an accidental overdose.

So those are my picks for a tea party, although I could see this lasting well into the night and the drink eventually turning to sterner stuff.

Now, who would you invite to tea?

Posted in writing

Focus, focus, focus

As much as I love blogging (for one thing it makes me want to sit down and write, and I will try very hard to think of something to say), I’ve noticed that since I’ve started my blogs, all my writing energy is going to the blogs. I’ve kind of forgotten about the other things I’ve been working on. Maybe it’s the novelty of the medium for me, or maybe it’s just easier than writing fiction. After all, it’s easier to spout one’s opinion than to invent a universe. I suppose it all comes down to self-discipline. I tried to adhere that old rule of “Never a day without 500 words” but I can’t seem to stick to it.

Mystery writer Lawrence Block made an amusing observation in one of his books (or was it a magazine article? I’ll dig it up later) that “Most writers will go to great lengths to avoid being in the same room with their typewriters.” Obviously that was written some years ago before the invasion of home computers, but I still think it’s true. I tend to push my writing time to the bottom of my priority list, as if it’s too self-indulgent to usurp the position of the laundry, or cleaning the cat box on my list of things to do. And honestly, if the cat box isn’t clean, it’s hard to think about much else! ‘Cause, yeah, wow. Virginia Woolf declared a room of one’s own to be essential for the writer. I have a house of my own, but that’s almost the problem. Maybe I just need to give up the idea of the house in the suburbs, and get a small apartment in the city where I won’t be distracted by the idea that I better go mow the grass, or prune the shrubs, and so on.