Tag Archives: reading

Failure of Imagination

 

Image courtesy of antpkr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of antpkr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As part of my research for a book I’m writing, I am reading “The Great Deluge,” by Douglas Brinkley. I’ve actually been reading this book for some time, taking it in small bites for a multitude of reasons. One of those reasons is that it will serve as material for just a section of my book, so I don’t need to complete it within any particular time frame or bump other reading material to accommodate it. A second very big reason is that I can’t read it too close to bedtime, when I normally do the bulk of my reading, because it’s highly likely to give me nightmares.

 

The book is an incredibly precise accounting of the lead-up to the storm and its aftermath. Anyone near a television during those days who watched from safety outside of the storm’s devastation no doubt can still recall the searing images of a city devastated, many of its people stranded and losing hopeif not their lives. Brinkley, a consummate historian, tells the story with the in-depth parsing of events that only a skilled historian can achieve, while also weaving a story that draws you into its grip from the first paragraph of the first chapter.

 

A lot of blame was slung around after Katrina had moved on, and much of it rightfully so. What I can’t help but conclude—and the book makes starkly evident—is that a failure of imagination was one of the greatest underpinnings to the human consequences of this disaster. Sometimes we forget that true horror lies not just in books and movies. Or maybe we want to forget, which is why we ignore our imaginations, allowing them to fail at the very time when life—potentially our own as well as othersmay depend on it.

Writerly Collaboration

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I enjoy spending time with people, talking and sharing ideas, laughing, being outdoors, EATING, drinking wine or brew… but by nature, I’m more the lone wolf. My grandmother taught me as a little person how to entertain myself. I have enough reading materials to keep me busy a couple of lifetimes, and enough writing ideas… well, best not to jinx it.

When it comes to writing down those ideas, the words come in fits and starts, like a water faucet pulling from a near-dry well in an abandoned cabin. Maybe it’s because my day job requires that I write, that by the time I get around to “my” writing, my brain is in “hibernate” mode.

So it has been a twist to my worldview to discover that, collaborating with another writer on a story, I don’t have the fit-and-start thing going on… it’s more of a we-struck-oil gusher that I have to curb so I don’t dominate the storyline. Maybe there isn’t as much pressure having a writing partner.

For one, if you get stuck, they can get down into the weeds of a story with you and give that nudge to get you moving. Second, if you lose the thread of continuity, you have a second set of eyes to find it. Third, there’s a fair measure of accountability going on, because when I get the draft to work on, I know my writing partner is waiting… so I don’t have the luxury of trite, cliché or even wildly-creative excuse-making.

I enjoy collaborating, and our latest installment of our shared effort Two Weeks to Rites, which so far has been a blast, is now posted. Go to: http://waterfrontwriters.com/

Thanks for stopping by for a visit! Back to my wolf den…

Reading Nook

Early Eclectic Reading Nook

Early Eclectic Reading Nook

Who knew a simple reading nook could be such a draw to a diverse range of ages and interests?

I created a little reading nook for myself in my postage stamp-sized living room. It’s where my big TV used to sit, the focal point of the living room. When I canceled cable in hopes of reading and writing more, I realized that the area was wasted space. With only a DVD player hooked up to the TV, why was I still paying homage to this box?

So, the TV was removed, I reclaimed bits and pieces from around the house and made a very, very cozy area for reading and relaxing. There’s not a lot of wiggle room, but when you’re immersed in a book or magazine article, there’s generally not a lot of thrashing about.

When I first set it up, my son emerged from his man cave and informed me that I’d have to share that space. Really… more appealing than a man cave?

My sister was over for the holidays and is the harried mother of two high-voltage monkeys. She sat down and informed me she would leave the kids with dad at times and come over to sit and relax there.

And recently over at a friend’s place, I noticed he set up a replica of my nook. Imitation is, after all, the sincerest form of flattery. I also noticed how quickly I gravitated to that chair, laying claim and using the ancient code of guest treatment to my advantage.

Business wisdom says to fill a need, so I’m thinking of setting up a reading-nook shop. Just create little reading cubbies, serve coffee or tea, cookies and cakes, and people could rent some quiet space, a respite from a frenzied world. Won’t you come visit and relax a bit?

Where’s your favorite place to curl up?

Horror Reading Blitz

 

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It’s October, and like many–I love Halloween.

This year I’m working on celebrating it a different way: less candy, more reading. I’ve been immersed in the horror classics, with some Edgar Allan Poe short stories, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. I hope to circle back to more Poe, but if it runs into November, that’s okay.

I followed up my reading of Frankenstein by watching the movie that was made in the 90’s with Robert DeNiro as the monster. Not quite true to the book, but it was still a good movie. My favorite line from the book is: “Was I then a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled, and whom all men disowned?”

Poor monster! He is horrid and wretched and pitiful.

Reading horror stories makes me grateful for the warmth and safety of home–and for being human.