Thursday, July 23, 2015

Just Thinking...

Just thinking about how the story I am working on seems to be taking forever. I've been busy with other things and sometimes just can't get into it. But I still work on it when I can. It is in the realm of fantasy because there are some elements not seen in our world, and it is a continuation of a previous story. Maybe part of the problem is that the people are young people, rather than characters closer to my age. I sometimes do wonder how our own young people think. Finally, I'm starting to think that I've got to an age where my experiences are so far removed that people born from 1995 on have no way to comprehend the world that I have lived in. My own maternal grandmother was born in the 1860's, and she was around until I was about 8 or so, I think. Of course there were no televisions, cell phones or computers, not for many years. Those are now the framework of our lives, like it or not. I feel that I can understand other people, of various ages, having lived through those ages, but I don't think they could understand me, not having had those experiences. It is a somewhat lonely feeling. Imagine if we all lived to say, 200?  I've never been to a rock concert and I must say, I really have no desire to. I'm sure that it is exhilarating, the pounding music and electricity in the air. However, I would really prefer to sit quietly and listen to music! I love the sound of Rogers and Hammerstein, Cole Porter and many more, who wrote singable, danceable music. But if I would say that, of course, I immediately become too old to understand anything, to understand how awful that music is and how pitiful I am to think anyone could listen to it. I'm sure that this is what young people were saying to their elders through the ages. For some reason, though, I never thought that way, I liked any kind of music. I still don't much care for the way songs were sung in the 1920's - they sounded odd to me. But I understand that maybe the recording technology helped to make them tinny and maybe played them too fast. That, of course was popular music, not classical music. Anyway, this is all to say that trying to get into people's minds is not easy. I have to think about why they think a certain way. What makes something popular, why are some things hated, some things loved? Human nature, you gotta love it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Dog Days of Summer

The title relates to Sirius, the dog star and its relation to the sun, actually. I always thought of dogs lying around in the heat of July and August. Take your choice. What I have been noticing lately is nothing to do with dogs or stars or sultry days. It is how few people are good at speaking on YouTube!

I really enjoy watching YouTube to get information about various things. Some few people are really good at talking and demonstrating. I think they are better when they do have an actual object to talk about. It's when the person begins talking to introduce themselves and explain what they are going to talk about. It seems to go on and on. Sometimes they are hard to understand for some reason - I mean they either have accented English or mumble or drone. Not everybody is a good speaker. Thank goodness for those who delve right into the thing they were going to say! And a few breaks are good.

What is even worse is to be sitting in a meeting and have speakers who go on and on.....and on. The last one I recall went on for over three hours and I think that was the one that made me vow not to go to any more of this type. The chairs were metal with a thin covering and they began to bite into my posterior. Torment! Some people are just not good at public speaking. It almost seems that those are the people who get up and insist on doing it! The worst offenders just ramble on as though the audience were hanging on every word. They take a long time to get to the point. I'm the kind of person (at least I am, now,) who just wants the facts, some nuggets of information that are useful. I really don't want to hear a long anecdote about how you did this or that, or your uncle did it. Not unless you have the genius of Sid Caesar or Jackie Gleason (and they are not with us anymore.) Once schools had a subject called "Elocution," (actually before my time), but I believe this was to teach students to speak clearly and properly. A very useful trait.

It makes me think of how writers also need to "get into" their subject and not also go on and on needlessly. It's something that is called "information dumping." We are advised to write active stories. It's a gift and not every writer has it, but maybe, just maybe, we can learn to be better at it. I surely hope so. I very much admire writers (and speakers) who have mastered this.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Write as Fast as You Can

It's the middle of May and the days are flashing by. It's still colder than usual with a few beautiful and a couple of hot days thrown in.
It occurred to me lately, as I am trying to finish some work, that for a writer, the writing itself is what is important. It fulfills us.
Maybe too many writers get slightly hung up on whether or not they are or ever will be "published."
As though some company somewhere is the measure of your worth. I suppose it tries to be that. But keep in mind, that publishing companies have their own agendas. They are not there to stroke egos - they are there to make money, pure and simple. If there is a topic or trend that is hot, then that is what they want. Of course, they are also looking for good writing. Looking for topics their readers want and will buy, because readers are important people.
So, writer, press on! Go on your way doing the best you can, to the best of your ability. Hone  your craft. Understand how to tell a story that people want to read. This is your job. If at some point, your work gets published, then hooray! Good for you! But don't let the fact of being unpublished throw you or deter you from working.Unless you want to quit. No shame in that, either. Or maybe sometimes, you've said all you are going to say. Fine, good, sayonara! Be happy.
Writing is the thing you love, or have loved. Joy in it. Give it your best.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Erin Go Bragh

St. Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland and is buried in Northern Ireland - before Ireland was divided. It seems that there is peace there now, for which I am glad. The years of terrorism from the IRA and the response from militant Protestants were hard years. So many innocents were killed from the bombs laid to make political points. By and large, Ireland is a modern, peaceful country, both North and South. I lived across the street from a Catholic family who were quite well off and sent their children to private schools. At the time I lived there, things were quiet, but then in the late sixties it seemed all hell broke loose with IRA involvement. Northern Ireland is an area where many citizens have Scottish heritage. But of course they are Irish, too. This is hard to explain, sometimes. Northern Irish are Irish, but they are British subjects and have British nationality, unlike those in the Irish Republic. As far as I know, this didn't bother anybody, North or South - unless they were involved in political activity.
So, I lived in Belfast, a lovely area in an attached house with a good sized garden. My father worked as a foreman in the Belfast Ropeworks, which is now defunct. It was near the Harland and Wolff shipyards. Most of the family on both sides lived nearby, either closer to the shipyards or like us, slightly out of town in a suburban setting. I have a lot of happy memories of my childhood. In spite of the fact that most of the time, World War II was raging around us. There was some bombing and the town was full of "Yanks." My cousin married one and became a war bride.
I have gone back once but now all my aunts and uncles have passed away and some of my cousins also. Nevertheless those who are of the next generation still live and work there. Maybe I will get the opportunity to go back one more time. To see the Mountains of Mourne which sweep down to the sea.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Martin Luther's Legacy

Well, time certainly flies like a bird or maybe a jet plane - a rocket ship? Anyway, Martin Luther King's day just passed, and I thought I'd make a comment. When I was going to Hunter College in the early 1960's, I started attending in the evenings and that year, (I'm not sure whether it was 1958, 59 or 60) the evening newspaper staff including yours truly, hired an ancient bus and trucked on down to Washington DC to support Martin Luther King's march. I'm not sure if that was the march where he gave his famous speech or not, but I do remember walking with the others in neat, orderly groups. We were all dressed as though we had come from work, our usual garments.

Our old bus had broken down on the way so I think it took us about 10 hours from NY to get there, but get there, we did. I'll never forget the faces of those African American riders on the bus - we were a mixed group. They were so grateful for the support, because in those days, it was a time of real racial inequality, unlike the manufactured riots of today, which are political stunts on the backs of people in real misery.

Peaceful protest - it was a beautiful thing. I just wish we had more leaders like Martin Luther. I think he would have tears in his eyes today at how the progress he started has been damaged. But I know there ARE many community leaders who are like Martin Luther King, who work tirelessly to make things right in a peaceful way. They just aren't out there on the news or the Internet promoting themselves for gain.

I hope people ask themselves, when they see these individuals, who benefits? Who are the real leaders?