Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Writing and Literature

True imfluence over another comes not from a moment's eloquence
nor from any happily chosen word,
but from the accumulation of a life time's thoughts
stored up in the eyes.
- Thornton Wilder
Of all the books I've read in my life the most memorable have been the classics I've read. I realize they are classics for a reason and I always understood the reason for the difference had a lot to do with the idea brought out in this poem. Literature in its greatest form requires serious contemplation over lengthy periods of time. It also requires experience. Witty repartee may make for fast, entertaining reading and it may even convince you to vote for a particular candidate in an election but it won't bring out a meditative reflection of your thoughts as true literature can- if you give it a chance!
In 2005, I spent the better part of the year, in my spare time, poring over and slowly reading J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. It is absolutely the most beautiful and descriptive English prose I have ever taken the time to read. I say that without reservation. It doesn't make me think of other literature save for a few other well-known classics such as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or perhaps Madeleine L'Engle's novels. There are others and they have definitely affected the way I look at the world. These worlds such masters write about are so very separate from our experience as humans. It is as if they visualize a world as it ought to be or should have been.
These reconstructions may befuddle some realists but for people who make a difference they are essential respites from a world which has no patience, pushing imagination aside for cruelties and so-called essentials. They make light fare of the rare moments in life such as searching for meaning, purpose and hope. If we don't have meaning attached to our lives or a specific purpose to our procession of days life is almost useless.
True literature exists to elevate us out of the humdrum existence we live and it also brings solutions to our deepest social dilemmas as well. Watership Down comes to mind as literature specifically written for that purpose. Today, classics are as rare as antique books and just as rarely read. This is a social crisis and my concern is that as a people our souls are becoming impoverished on pop media. Every source we have is to blame.
Television is everywhere. People watch videos and movies on Blackberries now instead of bringing a good book to read. There's quite a bit of literature on the web but you'd never know it. People would rather watch asinine videos on YouTube or play videogames Over the past two years I bought a small library of classics from Steinbeck, Poe, Henry James, Jack London, Hawthorne, H.P. Lovecraft, Raymond Chandler, C.B. Brown, Faulkner, Sinclair Lewis and several more. It's the best investment for my soul I've ever made. What have I found out that the rest of world has not? That my mind is more important than the latest non-event they're all clamoring to ogle, DL or text to each other. I treat my mind like my body and generally try to give it the best nutrition I can find. All the rest is just dross I can live without.
The Castle Lady imbuing you with true ardor!
Literature is language charged with meaning. - Ezra Pound

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Wearin' o' the Green!

It's that time of year again. Yes. It's time for St. Patrick's Day parading, drinking, story-telling and general merriment that is the cornerstone of the Irish way of life. Now, I have Irish on both sides of my family lines but I have yet to have savored corned beef and cabbage with a stout- I'd rather just have the Guinness, please, and leave me alone. It's only in recent years I've tried more traditional Irish fare- such as colcannon- and actually enjoyed it. There's enough Irish in me to get a rise out of me if you're mean enough and I certainly used to drink but don't as a rule, now.
I'm more Irish in the way that I speak. The funny thing is that I don't have a corner on that, being essentially American. Irish words have infiltrated the American language much more than people realize and you don't have to have even a smidgen of Irish blood in your veins to use these words almost inadvertently.
There's one right there ! Smidgen is from the Irish gaelic smidin or smitch. If you go to Ireland, however, you may find yourself in a bit of a dilemma every now and then when you engage them in conversation. You may think you know the word they're using when as a matter of fact you may have some words fly right over your American head while they have a silent laugh up their sleeve!
For instance, if they tell you that they knew you were Americans by your brogues you may think it's only innocent banter in the difference of the way we speak English. Most likely it's meant that they can tell you were Americans by your shoes! Yes, our shoes are different and brogues in Ireland are a specific shoe which are heavy and rather clunky-looking. Our shoes advertise themselves more often than not since we tend to wear sporty walking shoes when we go overseas.
If you think being Irish is keen and you say so you may get a look or two for a minute because we changed the true meaning of the word on our shores. To us being keen can mean being smart or being keen on someone can mean you really like or love them. That word as an adjective for them is from the gaelic caoine which means crying, wailing or that something is acute or piercing. Keening bagpipes are one thing- but a keening widow is often comforted at a very long wake. Personally, I think a few other European immigrants got ken mixed up with keen which is a strange but perhaps understandable misuse. They do sound very close don't they?
The words glom and glean rather sound alike don't they? When we "glom onto" someone we're being rather needy and if we glean something we're doing a type of picky choosing which irritate certain people. They use these words in a similar fashion but glom came from the Irish glam which actually means snatching, grabbing or even stealing someone or something. "Glean" came from the old Irish gaelic do-glenn (he gathers) which most likely was used originally in the most obvious sense of reaping a harvest and throwing out the bad stuff.
S l a' inte is ta'inte !
The Castle Lady

Monday, March 10, 2008

Better Than Yourself

Always dream and shoot higher than you know how to.
Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors.
Try to be better than yourself.
-William Faulkner
     I have realized most recently that in the past decade of my life I have been taking on bigger and bigger projects and undertakings than perhaps I would've thought I could handle previously. My castles book series venture is just the most recent. One interesting note is that I have risen to each challenge and manage to finish what I start because I have a true passion for what I do- whether it's starting a business, becoming an actress, publishing a book or writing a whole series of them. One sure way to ensure success is a true desire to accomplish what it is you're doing. A good example of this is when I sat down in the summer of 1999 and wrote a book on building your faith by worshipping God. I wrote the book in less than two weeks and it is about 300 KB. Once the book was written I realized that I didn't write it in traditional fashion at all. I didn't outline the book, I just named chapters and I started writing. It made me realize what I was capable of doing without forcing the issue. I was driven to write it by some unseen hand. I still look at this book like the marvel it is because I never had to alter it nor did I make any stringent revision. 
     I often wonder if this process will be repeated again. Most of my writing projects are done in rough draft- after sitting down and writing a detailed plan. Then they go through another draft where I fill in, edit, write more from further research. Then I write a third draft making sure it reads correctly, you check for clarity or discrepancies and check for mistakes on all levels. Grammar, punctuation, coherency and spelling are all a part of the process. I went through that first draft several times and the most I changed were spelling errors that were obviously just a result of my typing skills. I tend to type really fast.
     The real marvel about the book on praise and worship, though, is that I wrote a book in such a short amount of time in my first jump out of the starting gate! I can tell you that most writers would be insanely jealous over that, without exception. My passion for what I was doing was poured into the book. It was obviously God-inspired and I was a willing and capable vessel. 
     Now think about your desires and passions. What do you really like to do? Even though I've spent a good part of my life as a professional manicurist/pedicurist/nail technician it only took a matter of days to change my whole life by sitting down- with time cleared for myself- to do what I so passionately had wanted to do for many, many years. I believe that the highest your dreams aim is truly where you belong. I am not saying it won't be hard work. It may be harder work than you're doing now. It may be the hardest work you'll ever do in your life but you won't notice that because you'll be so happy that you're finally doing what feels right. Make sense? 
The Castle Lady, filling your senses with affection and hugs!    

Monday, March 03, 2008

What's really wrong with us?

I will trust a civilization
When old men
Have a wise and confidant look
And old women
Look gentle and cared for.
When the eyes of the young are diffident
And filled with hope.
I will always be saddened
By defeated old men and broken women
And the arrogant eyes
Of the young
- James Kavanaugh
      I remember Bush Sr.'s campaign many years ago when he called on a 'kinder, gentler' nation and I believe we have gone the opposite direction. Was it only rhetoric, after all ? I think so and it's certainly disappointing to find that people in general don't get along any better than before. The rise in crime is worse than ever, racial prejudice seems rampant to me and people in general really don't get along. As in everything, this call to betterment has to start with ourselves.
     I've written an inspirational day book that addresses the issue of improving your life and it was interesting that during the process of writing it my focus was more toward the world than to the individual. I realize now that when you reach outward the less you hold onto self-consciousness and you are more effective in helping the world. Think about it and it makes sense. Our nation's self-absorption is an issue that isn't going away and it's appalling to see young people following the example. When I see that a teenager has started a web site in charity toward disadvantaged or disabled people or toward tough causes it does my heart good. Something is working.
     We need more people like this, so if you see a chance to help young people along in their quest- whatever it is- please do so because you are also helping to shape the life of a champion. Encouragement of those who do daily battle with the wrongs is heroic in and of itself. So be a hero and help because we need you.
The Castle Lady will champion you with a hug !