Saturday, January 30, 2010

If Something Should Happen - Darryl Worley

I couldn't get a version of this song to post on the blog, but you can see a good video of it on youtube.

If Something Should Happen

Buddy you and me go way back,
Camp Lejeune, all through highschool,
And before that
So I dont mind telling you I'm scared to death
The doctor's going in on the 25th
Its the same thing my daddy had
Thank God they caught it fast

But if something should happen,
Stop in sometime and say hello to Katherine
You and Mary Anne could always keep her laughing
She's going to need alot of that
Take her out to a movie
Its going to take some time before she's back on her feet
I know you think that I'll be fine and I'm talking crazy
But there's always that chance,
That's why I'm asking,
If something should happen

Little Nathan's growing up so fast
This november he'll turn 10
He wants to play quarterback
Im supposed to coach his team this fall
But I may not get to after all
He's going to need someone to catch a pass
And to throw it back

If something should happen
Oh promise me you'll take that boy out camping
Throw a line out in that water every now and then
Answer any question that he has
Maybe once he gets older,
You can sit and have that first cold beer together
And tell him a couple stories on his father
He's always known you were my best friend
That's why im asking,
If something should happen

I hope I live until I'm 80
And I get to see my son get married
And have babies
And make a million more memories with my wife
Yeah buddy I pray your right
But if its my time to leave
Would you watch over them for me?
If something should happen
If something should happen
mm hmm hmm

-Darryl Worley

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Friday, January 29, 2010

Characters - Where do they come from?

I had a crises with my story project the other day. :-P I have so many versions that reach about 12,000 words and then I turn on them and want to tare them apart. I think I've finally diagnosed some of the problems and we are working on a treatment.

My male characters clear to me, my female boring!

So, I've been doing some serious thinking. I'm making two poster boards with character sketches, pictures, and anecdotes all around the edges and the plot timeline down the middle. I'm using post-it-notes for scenes and events so I can move them around as necessary.

One of the things I noticed after this critical rethinking and remaking was similarities or oddities in my characters.
First, all my cool guys are fall and thin and fiercely loyal. They either have blonde hair or black hair and are the quite thinking types. Yes, they all have differences, but I had to shake them up a bit.

This story has been in progress for a very long time (at least five years now).
Why are my guys this way?
It's not just this story either. All my heroes are pretty much like this.

There just sort of like....Sherlock Holmes meets Erich Hartmann....

I believe that especially at a certain age, we are very heavily influenced by what we read. I guess Sherlock Holmes and The Blond Knight of Germany really hit me during this time. :-)

My sister and I got out Erich Harmann's biography last night and I was pretty amazed flipping through it how much I'd obviously been influenced.

Other assorted influential characters since the beginning of my scribbling (which pretty much started way before I could spell) include: Sir Percy Blakney, Stonewall Jackson, George Washington, the hares in Redwall, and my brothers. :-)

How weird is it all?

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

P.S. For those of you who may not love Germans in general or World War 2 aces in particular and have been to lazy to look up Erich Hartmann on Wikipedia, he was a pretty awesome German Ace.

(And it was okay because he shot down Russians, not Americans, and he was indoctrinated so he didn't know what he was doing. :-) After the war he traveled through England and America and was very sweet to everyone.)

He is the highest ranking ace ever in aerial warfare with 1,404 combat missions and 352 personal victories!
After the war he spent 10 1/2 years in a Russian prison camp, but was eventually sent home. Here's a short hunk of what Wikipedia had to say about him along with a youtube video at the end... If you couldn't tell, I do recommend reading The Blond Knight of Germany. :-)


After his capture, the U.S. Army handed Hartmann, his pilots, and ground crew over to the Soviet Union on 24 May 1945, where he was imprisoned in accordance with the Yalta Agreements, which stated that airmen and soldiers fighting Soviet forces had to surrender directly to them. Hartmann and his unit were led by the Americans to a large open-air compound to await the transfer. The number of prisoners grew to 50,000. Living conditions deteriorated, and some American guards turned "a blind eye" to escapes. In some cases, they assisted by providing food and maps.[41]

After being handed over to the Soviets, the German group was split up into groups according to gender. Hartmann witnessed widespread rape and murder of civilians. When the outnumbered Americans tried to intervene, the Soviet soldiers charged towards them, firing into the air and threatening to kill them. Order was later restored, and some of the guilty soldiers were hanged "on the spot" by a Soviet commander.[40]

Initially, the Russians tried to convince Erich to cooperate with them. He was asked to spy on fellow officers and become a stukatch, or "stool pigeon". He refused and was given 10 days' solitary confinement in a four-by-nine-by-six-foot chamber. He slept on a concrete floor and was given only bread and water. On another occasion, the Soviets threatened to kidnap and murder his wife (the death of his son was kept from Hartmann). During similar interrogations about his knowledge of the Me 262, Hartmann was struck by a Soviet officer using a cane, prompting Hartmann to slam his chair down on the head of the Russian, knocking him out. Expecting to be shot, Erich was transferred back to the small bunker.[42]

Hartmann, not ashamed of his war service, opted to go on hunger strike and starve rather than fold to "Soviet will", as he called it.[43] The Russians allowed the hunger strike to go on for four days before force-feeding him. More subtle efforts by the Soviet authorities to convert Hartmann to communism also failed. He was offered a post in the Luftstreitkräfte der Nationalen Volksarmee (East German Air Force), which he refused:

If, after I am home in the West, you make me a normal contract offer, a business deal such as people sign every day all over the world, and I like your offer, then I will come back and work with you in accordance with the contract. But if you try to put me to work under coercion of any kind, then I will resist to my dying gasp.[42]

[edit]War-crimes charges

Hartmann had gone too far with his resistance. He was falsely charged with war crimes, specifically the deliberate shooting of 780 Soviet civilians in the village of Briansk, attacking a "bread factory" on 23 May 1943, and destroying 345 "expensive" Soviet aircraft.[44] He refused to confess to these charges and conducted his own defence, which was a waste of time, according to the judge.[44] Sentenced to 25 years of hard labour, Hartmann refused to work. He was eventually put into solitary confinement, which enraged his fellow prisoners. They began a revolt, overpowered the guards, and freed him. Hartmann made a complaint to the Kommandant's office, asking for a representative from Moscow and an international inspection, as well as a tribunal, to acquit him of his unlawful conviction. This was refused, and he was transferred to a camp inNovocherkassk, where he would spend five more months in solitary confinement. Eventually, Hartmann was granted a tribunal, but it upheld his original sentence. He was subsequently sent to another camp, this time at Diaterka in the Ural Mountains.[45]

During his long imprisonment, Hartmann's son, Erich-Peter, was born in 1945 and died as a three-year-old in 1948, without his father ever having seen him. (Hartmann later had a daughter, Ursula Isabel, born on 23 February 1957).[46]

In 1955, Hartmann's mother wrote to the new West German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, to whom she appealed to secure his freedom. A trade agreement between West Germany and the Soviet Union was reached, and Hartmann was released along with 16,000 German military personnel. After spending ten and a half years in Soviet POW camps, he was among the last batch of prisoners to be turned over. Returning toWest Germany, he was reunited with his wife Ursula, to whom he had written every day of the war.[47]

In January 1997, the Russian government, as a legal successor to the Soviet Union, exonerated Hartmann by admitting that his conviction for war crimes was unlawful.[2]

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Brother Wind - Tim O'Brien

Made up my mind to go
Some place so far away, I headed west
Without a sad goodbye
No hugs or tears that way, it's probably for the best
Sent cards along the way
Said I was looking for a brand new life
I never settled down
My wanderlust would always cut the ties like a knife
Sometimes the lonesome wind
Calls out just like it knows me
And on a night like this
When I don't know where to go, he shows me the way

He knows me, my brother wind
He's lonely too and he takes me away

I always looked ahead
I was so afraid that I'd be caught behind
Followed a crooked stream
To places I'd never seen and one more highway sign
Just like some other guys
I count the hours 'til the day will end
But it's not so I can rest
For me it's the time that's best for talking to my friend

Cause he knows me, my brother wind
He's lonely too and he takes me away

Now half my life is gone
The only home I have is open road
My skin is cracked and brown
A mirror to the dessert ground and the dusty wind that blows
I never made a mark
Just scattered footsteps on the shifting sand
Whatever pushes me
It's something only he can understand

He knows me, my brother wind
He's lonely too and he takes me away

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing - David Morrell

Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing: A Novelist Looks at His Craft

By David Morrell (Ph. D)
Writers Digest Book


Readability: 9 (But I love reading writing books :-)

Read it Again: Yes! Several more times!
Recommend it: Yes, to anyone who is serious about getting published or would like to understand literature and writing better.

David Morrell is best known for creating Rambo, but the Rambo most people know isn't exactly his creation. Silvester Stallone is the underdog, the Rambo of the book is a hard, killer machine. The movies are a series, if there was a second book for First Blood there wouldn't be many people alive to play the parts.
If you brushed off Rambo and it's author as mainstream bash 'em up characters, then I challenge you to take another look. ;-)

This book is amazing for anyone interested in writing. He covers basics that will affect your writing while helping you cultivate a unique style. He digs deep into what will change your work and what will change your readers. I think he's an excellent balance between literature and mainstream writing. (He used to be a literature professor.)

Morrell also covers the basics of getting published and shares humorous anecdotes of his own experiences. He shows the doubts, road blocks, and miseries of writing and makes you still want to be an author.

A very inspiring book that will make you want to sit down and get to work. I couldn't set it down I enjoyed it so much. (But then I love reading writing books. :-)

From the Book:

"After storytelling skill and technical ability, the next quality you need is determination. I've known many writers with far better imagination and verbal talent than I have. But they never had a career because they didn't want it badly enough. They didn't do what was necessary, which was to sit down on their chairs and do the work.

Writers write.

They don't talk about writing. They don't promise themselves that, one day when inspiration strikes, they'll start putting words on a page.

They do it."

Even if you don't like Rambo, go out and buy or borrow it. :-)
Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. ~E.L. Doctorow

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Forever Young - Bob Dylan

This has got to be one of my favorite songs ever! This is also recorded on Tim O'Brien's CD Red on Blonde. I love the way he sings it.
I could only find a very bad live video of O'Brien's version, so I'm going to include that along with the Bob Dylan video. Enjoy!

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

-Bob Dylan

Sorry Dylan, you are lyric genius, but I like Tim O'Brien's voice better.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Psychology of a Writer

Dennis Palumbo was a successful writer.....but
"He became a therapist who specializes in helping writers overcome their psychological problems, and Lord knows writers have a lot of such problems; otherwise we wouldn't be writers."

-Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing
David Morrell on Writers Block

(This ties in with my other two posts- Writers and their Souls and Why do you want to be a Writer? )

Writers writing is greatly affected by their lives. When we are going through difficult, trying episodes in life, creativity will often refuse to come. We may be at a road block or be suffering from a wretched plot plan or maybe we are being hammered by so much self doubt and our inner critic is telling us to through it all away.

If you are a writer, you have suffered from writer's block. :-)

Is there a simple answer? No. But if it truly is a technical problem, review your work, if it's in your head, keep looking forward. Write, write, write! Then you can revise.

And of course, read what successful writers have said on the subject. They suffer from it too! Sometimes there really is a time to take a break, but remember when you stop, your going to have to get those writing muscles back in shape again.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Where is the Love? - Black Eyed Peas

Well, here is another very cool rap song. I haven't heard much of the Black Eyed Peas stuff, and I don't recommend them across the board. This is, however, a very neat song. I guess you could take it as a little bit to peace loving...but I think a Christian can see its cool symbolism etc... Be sure to read the lyrics all the way through. Sorry about the very strange video...

What's wrong with the world, mama
People livin' like they ain't got no mamas
I think the whole world addicted to the drama
Only attracted to things that'll bring you trauma
Overseas, yeah, we try to stop terrorism
But we still got terrorists here livin'
In the USA, the big CIA
The Bloods and The Crips and the KKK
But if you only have love for your own race
Then you only leave space to discriminate
And to discriminate only generates hate
And when you hate then you're bound to get irate, yeah
Madness is what you demonstrate
And that's exactly how anger works and operates
Man, you gotta have love just to set it straight
Take control of your mind and meditate
Let your soul gravitate to the love, y'all, y'all

People killin', people dyin'
Children hurt and you hear them cryin'
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek

Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
'Cause people got me, got me questionin'
Where is the love (Love)

Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love
The love, the love

It just ain't the same, always unchanged
New days are strange, is the world insane
If love and peace is so strong
Why are there pieces of love that don't belong
Nations droppin' bombs
Chemical gasses fillin' lungs of little ones
With ongoin' sufferin' as the youth die young
So ask yourself is the lovin' really gone
So I could ask myself really what is goin' wrong
In this world that we livin' in people keep on givin'
Makin' wrong decisions, only visions of them dividends
Not respectin' each other, deny thy brother
A war is goin' on but the reason's undercover
The truth is kept secret, it's swept under the rug
If you never know truth then you never know love
Where's the love, y'all, come on (I don't know)
Where's the truth, y'all, come on (I don't know)
Where's the love, y'all

People killin', people dyin'
Children hurt and you hear them cryin'
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek

Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
'Cause people got me, got me questionin'
Where is the love (Love)

Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love, the love, the love?

I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I'm gettin' older, y'all, people gets colder
Most of us only care about money makin'
Selfishness got us followin' our wrong direction
Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema
Yo', whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness in equality
Instead of spreading love we're spreading animosity
Lack of understanding, leading lives away from unity
That's the reason why sometimes I'm feelin' under
That's the reason why sometimes I'm feelin' down
There's no wonder why sometimes I'm feelin' under
Gotta keep my faith alive till love is found
Now ask yourself

Where is the love?
Where is the love?
Where is the love?
Where is the love?

Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
'Cause people got me, got me questionin'
Where is the love?

Sing wit me y'all:
One world, one world (We only got)
One world, one world (That's all we got)
One world, one world
And something's wrong wit it (Yeah)
Something's wrong wit it (Yeah)
Something's wrong wit the wo-wo-world, yeah
We only got
(One world, one world)
That's all we got
(One world, one world)

-Black Eyed Peas

Thanks for reading!
Miss Pickwickian

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Let the Reader Understand - Dan McCartney and Charles Clayton

Let the Reader Understand: A Guide to Interpreting and Applying the Bible
By Dan McCartney (M. Div., TH.M., Ph.D.) Charles Clayton (M.A.R.)
P&R Publishing - Second Edition

Rating: 9
Readability: 5 (I'd say 8.5 at least for a theology book, though! :-)
Impact: 8

Read it again: I'm sure I'd benefit from it
Recommend it: Highly!

This book is an excellent in-depth look at interpreting Scripture by the it's own methods as well as an overview on Biblical theology.
The Bible is the Word of God. As Christians we should seek to understand it!!! Let the Reader Understand clearly explains tools that can be used by any Christian at any stage in their study. Through careful detail this book uses Scripture to defend Christian theology and stress the importance that we be immersed in the Word.

From the Book:

"We will achieve understanding only if we submit ourselves, presuppositions and all, to the One who understands and interprets all things rightly. The goal therefore is to become, not presuppositionless, but prepositionally self-critical"

"We may only know absolute truth through God."

"The fact that truth is more then doctrine should never be used to suggest that doctrine does not matter. Without its propositions, truth not only would be unknowable and incommunicable, but would collapse in meaninglessness."

"Unless we have repented and are seeking, through the Holy Spirit, to understand Scripture, we are likely to find what we want to find."

"The Bible itself is redemptive-historical in character, it is Christological in focus, and it is ecclesiologically applied."

"We must always be ready to stand back and evaluate tradition, without necessarily rejecting it."

"Study is useless if the reader does not first submit to Scripture's author, expecting to hear God's voice and obey it."

This book has really helped my study. I can not recommend this book enough!

This is the first book to check off my list in the syllabus for Ligonier Academy's Intermediate Biblical Studies Program! Yippee!

Sorry to those you might not get excited about theology on this post! It was pretty funny when I was reading it. I kept stopping and writing down ideas for my writing or day dreaming about plot ideas and cool symbolism and meaning. Goofy? I know, but what we read is going to effect so much of what we write.

Sometimes we get a groove were we are just pumping to much out and not putting enough in. Real, solid, sometimes hard to grasp truth coming in will greatly influence your outlook on life and your writing. I was blessed by this book!

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

The Flagelation of Our Lord Jesus Christ - William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905)

Bouguereau didn't just paint pretty girls. :-) He really has a talent for facial expressions. I'll never get tired of Bouguereau's paintings.

Miss Pickwickian

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Across the Green Mountain - Bob Dylan

What ever else Bob Dylan might be, he is clearly a lyrics genius.

This song from Gods and Generals is probably one of my very favorite songs ever. If you are like me and can't stand Bob Dylan's voice I highly recommend the album Red on Blonde by Tim O'brian. It is all Bob Dylan songs with Tim O'brian's voice! Very amazing. But I can handle Dylan's voice in this song. It somehow seems fitting.

I listen to this before about half of my writing sessions. For some reason it inspires me...

This song is so cool, partly because it is part about the Civil War, and partly because it has so much other cool symbolism in it! Sorry its long. Be sure to read all the lyrics and listening to all the song! The last couple lines are my favorite.

I cross the Green Mountain
I sit by the stream
Heaven blazing in my head I
I dreamt a monsterous dream
Something came up
Out of the sea
Swept through the land of
The rich and the free

I look into the eyes
of my merciful friend
And then I ask myself
Is this the end?
Memories linger
Sad yet sweet
And I think of the souls in heaven who will be

Alters are burning
The flames far and wide
the fool has crossed over
from the other side
They tip their caps
from the top of the hill
You can feel them come
All brave blood do spill

Along the dim
Atlantic line
The rapper's land
lasts for miles behind
the lights coming foreward
and the streets are broad
all must yield
To the avenging God

The world is old
The world is great
Lessons of life
Can't be learned in a day
I watch and I wait
And I listen while I stand
To the music that comes
from a far better land

Close the eyes
of our Captain
Peace may he know
His long night is done
The great leader is laid low
He was ready to fall
He was quick to defend
Killed outright he was
by his own men

It's the last day's last hour
of the last happy year
I feel that the unknown
The world is so dear
Pride will vanish
And glory will rot
But virtue lives
and cannot be forgot

The bells
of evening have rung
there's blasphemy
on the end of the tongue
Let them say that I walked
in fair nature's light
And that I was loyal
to truth and to right

Serve God and meet your full
Look upward beyond
Beyond the darkness that masks
the surprises of dawn
In the deep green grasses
and the blood stained woods
They never dreamed of surrendering
They fell where they stood

Stars fell over Alabama
And I saw each star
You're walking in dreams
Whoever you are
Chilled as the skies
Keen as the frost
And the ground's froze hard
And the morning is lost

A letter to mother
came today
Gunshot wound to the breast
is what it did say
But he'll be better soon
He's in a hospital bed
But he'll never be better
He's already dead

I'm ten miles outside the city
And I'm lifted away
In an ancient light
That is not of day
They were calm they were gloomed
We knew them all too well
We loved eachother more than
we ever dared to tell

Thanks for reading!
Miss Pickwickian

Monday, January 18, 2010

Why do you want to be a writer?

I've been reading David Morrell's Lessons From a Lifetime of Writing: A novelist looks at his craft and recommend it, highly.

David Morrell has a very real life, practical, but inspiring approach. A lot of what he says, really resonates with the sort of writer I want to be.

His first chapter is an especially good one for anyone who is serious about getting published.
"Why do you want to be a writer?"

There are so many answers.
I thought of this cool idea, I need money, I have extra time, being a writer is cool, I want to be famous, etc...etc... These aren't going to push you through all the times of discouragement in a writer's life. Writing for money or fame is an especially bad idea. The average income of a writer in America today is $6,500! And how many hours did that take bent over your computer?

So, when I ask myself why I want to be a writer, I have a lot of answers, but only a couple that stand up in an investigation.
When I write, everything feels better. Its a creative side of me that needs to be used. Its a way to talk about deep, challenging, and confusing things. So much of our own lives and emotions come out in writing.
My most influential motivation is that I believe that the books people read greatly effect the way they think and live.
I know I have been shaped by a lot of the books I've read.
If I could influence one person the way I have been influenced by Sigmund Brouwer's Samuel Keaton series or in some way lik A Tale of Two Cities I would be inexplicably happy!

I believe that people can be influenced by characters in books and by there change. I believe writers of books, lyrics, and movie scripts, have some of the greatest power of all. When this is wielded correctly it can be one of the best life changing tools we have.

There is so much work and discouragement to writing though. What gets us through?

Is it because we have to write?
Because a story simply must be told? Do we have to put our creativity down on paper? Is this part of our image bearing? To create? To tell stories? Are writers really different then other people or is it just a cultivated difference? Is it simply a way we can let out feelings and emotions we don't want to talk about?

Do you want to be a writer?


Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Writer and Reading

"Next to an utter lack of ability, the worst flaw I can think of for a would-be writer is ignorance about literary history.

It's absurd to imagine a brain surgeon who doesn't know the history and principles of brain surgery, yet many aspiring writers assume that because words fall out of their mouths every day, they need no other qualification to write fiction.

Obviously, not everyone has the time and money to get a collage degree in literature. But lists of important literary works are readily available."

Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing: A Novelist Looks at His Craft by David Morrell

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sounds Like Life to Me - Darryl Worley

Got a call last night from an old friend’s wife
Said I hate to bother you
Johnny Ray fell off the wagon
He’s been gone all afternoon
I know my buddy so I drove to Skully’s
And found him at the bar
I say hey man, what’s going on
He said I don’t know where to start

Sarah’s old car’s about to fall apart
And the washer quit last week
We had to put momma in the nursing home
And the baby’s cutting teeth
I didn’t get much work this week
And I got bills to pay
I said I know this ain’t what you wanna hear
But it’s what I’m gonna say

Sounds like life to me it ain’t no fantasy
It’s just a common case of everyday reality
Man I know it’s tough but you gotta suck it up
To hear you talk you’re caught up in some tragedy
It sounds like life to me

Well his face turned red and he shook his head
He said you don’t understand
Three kids and a wife depend on me
And I’m just one man
To top it off I just found out
That Sarah’s 2 months late
I said hey bartender set us up a round
We need to celebrate

Sounds like life to me plain old destiny
Yeah the only thing for certain is uncertainty
You gotta hold on tight just enjoy the ride
Get used to all this unpredictability
Sounds like life

Man I know its tough but you gotta suck it up
To hear you talk you’re caught up in some tragedy
Sounds like life to me
Sounds like life

( Darryl Worley, Wynn Varble, Phil O’Donnell )

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Author You Know as George Elliot

George Elliot (1819-1880) was born Mary Anne Evans, the daughter of a farmer in Arbury.
There are a lot of reasons why we know her as George Elliot...first she preferred her pen name to be that of a man, because she believed she would be taken more seriously, second she wanted her private life screened from the public eye, and perhaps the best for us, it gave her a steady name on all her works instead of her rapid and sometimes arguable name changes.

George Elliot is by no means my favorite author. We can learn little from her personal life, besides what not to do, but she did have some excellent insights. Even if there was bias towards women novelist in her day, the world benefited from her illumination of the female soul. Some complicated ladies of the classics come close to her own characters, but they way she shows the influences, weaknesses, and complex uncertainty of several of her own heroines is genius.

Elliot's novels include Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Mariner, Ramola, Felix Holt- the Radical, Middlemarch, and Daniel Deronda. She also was a gifted translator of several works and wrote some successful poems.
Like many novelists her stories improve the further you go into her life. Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda being by far my favorites, and not just because those movie versions are done so much better. :-)

I am not an Elliot expert. I have read Middlemarch cover to cover twice, but we don't own any of her other works. I think Middlemarch is an interesting book because it follows several courtships and how they begin, how they are controlled, and how they end up. The happiest people are certainly Fred and his gal. His gal is amazing because she stands firm, and because of it makes Fred into a much better man. He becomes a real worker and real gentleman. The doctor gets what he wants when he wants it, has a pretty rotten marriage, and money troubles for the rest of his life.

Daniel Deronda has so many cool character things going on it I won't try to summarize it. The only thing that bugs me much about that one is it ends more pro Jewish then pro Christian. But I think it is an actual satisfying ending in one of those stories when you know it can't all turn out happily ever after for everyone. Everyone obviously is a better person.

George Elliot certainly has original plots. She is gifted in her portrayals of human nature and where it can lead.
One thing that is a common theme through her books is interest outside of an already established marriage or engagement. This never gets out of hand, but can make one uncomfortable. What I think is very interesting is that she always portrays it as bad and that it only leads to more badness...especially since all her own romances were outside of the guy's marriages. (She's certainly no domestic role model.)

She was obviously a confused person. Her own life reads even more improbable then her novels. There not the books or movies that you'd want to pick up for a happy afternoon, but her characters, their choices, and their consequences show what happens when we choose to follow what is right and when we choose to follow our own desires and whims. I've found her novels to bring up wonderful conversations.

George Elliot was not afraid to try and draw complex, unique, yet believable characters, and most of the time she pulled it off. There is certainly a lot of human nature and of writing that can be learned from her less then perfect life.

I'm not sure I got all my ideas across very clearly...or very quickly. Sorry about that.
Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

(Please note: We watch movies on ClearPlay so movies that are recommended may have inappropriate material.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hello - Evanescence

This song, I believe, is meant to be in relation to the singer's sister's death. I think it is very profound and does an excellent job of showing someone in grief. In general I could leave Evanescence, but I really do like this song.

Thanks for reading and listening,
Miss Pickwickian

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Characters - Likable, Lovable, or just plain Fascinating

We all know books or movies were we see a character ruin their lives...and often its a miserable character that doesn't really deserve our good opinion...and most of the time we don't give it. A few good authors have pulled off some amazing stories full of practically unlikable characters. Why? Why would we want to see something like this?

Some examples are Gone with the Wind, Mayor of Casterbridge (and other Thomas Hardy novels), Great Expectations to a degree along with some of Dicken's other characters, some George Elliot characters, several Alexander Dumas fellows, and the Bronte sisters' work....but I haven't found to many of their characters likable, lovable, or fascinating...with their irrational behavior. :-)

Here is a great quote by Lajos Egri from his book The Art of Creative Writing
"Living, vibrating human beings are still the secret and magic formula of great and enduring writing. Read, or better, study the immortals and you will be forced to conclude that their unusual penetration into human character is what has kept their work fresh and alive through the centuries..."

Seriously, point me out a cliche character in a work by "the immortals" (the authors of the classics). Yes, Dickens plots are genius, but would you read 800 pages just to see the amazing plot wrap up at the end? No, Dickens characters are what make him a genius.

Would you read Gone with the Wind to find out how terrible the War Between the States was and that the main character learns hardly anything? No. You read it because Scarlet O'Herra and Rhett Butler are fascinating, even if mostly unlikable. Would you read The Hunchback of Notre Dame to find out that the girl never learns anything and that everyone dies at the end except the people who deserve it? No...Alexander Dumas has fascinating, believable, breathing characters.
How about Hamlet? Look at any of Shakespeare's tragedies and you can see almost unlikeable characters planting their own destruction.

Something in common with all classics is their hopelessly flawed, fascinating, and sometimes, but not always, lovable characters. It is a master story teller who can paint an incredible story and make us love the unlovable.

Here is a quote that really nails some of this idea from James Scott Bell's book Plot & Structure (a must have for anyone creating any type of story). He calls the extreme of this type of character predicament "the car wreck dynamic" and refers to An American Tragedy and the life of Clyde Griffiths. This book has been labeled "the worst written great book ever." It certainly did not get off the ground by its writing style and its plot is not extraordinary (not to mention mildly depressing) so...yeah, it was its "unlikable" very not nice main character.

Anyways, the "car wreck dynamic"....
"Just as people slow down to look at wreckage, we can't resist seeing what happens to fully drawn human beings who make an unalterable mess out of their lives. A skilled novelist can make us feel that 'there but for the grace of God go I.' "

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share your thoughts on the subject.
Miss Pickwickian

Friday, January 8, 2010

Wisdom from Chesterton

  • "The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice." - A Defense of Humilities, The Defendant, 1901

  • "A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it." - Everlasting Man, 1925

  • "Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions." - ILN, 4/19/30

  • "Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference, which is an elegant name for ignorance." - The Speaker, 12/15/00

  • "An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered." - On Running After Ones Hat, All Things Considered, 1908

  • "What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but an absence of self-criticism." - Sidelights on New London and Newer New York

  • "He is a [sane] man who can have tragedy in his heart and comedy in his head." - Tremendous Trifles, 1909

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ladies with Flowers - John William Waterhouse (1849-1917)

Prayin' For You - Lecrae, I am not really in to rap music. That being said, I love this song!!!! One of the nice things about rap is you can fit a lot of words and ideas into a little bit of space. This is an excellent and humble testimony. Very cool song. :-) Enjoy!

Father God, I'm prayin' to you for somebody, who knows you Lord but just hasn't, hasn't been seein' you in the right view lately, Hear me out...

Father, I'm prayin' for a friend he and I are pretty close, and out of all my friends for this one I'm concerned the most. He say he readin' daily but he ain't really learnin'. He been in church but say that he ain't moved by any sermon. His face weak, he ain't prayed in a week, he wake up and just weep with his face in the sink Lord, you gotta help my man, I'm prayin' for him daily, he ain't sinned but it just seem as if he goin' crazy. He say he feelin' trapped, can't even head up the mall coz every lady's half-dressed temptin' him to lust and fall. He keep the TV off, videos just make him feel that he ain't really nothin' without money, girls and shiny wheels. The other day he told me that he felt less a man coz he ain't have a five-year plan or a piece of land and man it's crazy coz his family think so much of him, plus he got a godly wife who always showin' love for him but he's strugglin', even though he talk to me, I tell him what to do but he don't listen when he oughta' be. I'm scared for him coz there's people that look up to him, he got some younger siblings who been changed by what he's done for them but is it done for him, Lord don't let it be, if he don't wanna talk to you then Father hear from me, is it done for him, Lord don't let it be, if he don't wanna talk to you then Father hear from me...

Yeah, I'm prayin' for you, yeah, I'm prayin' for you
Yeah, I'm prayin' for you, yeah, yeah, I'm prayin' for you...

God, his condition is worsen since we were last conversed and I'm with him now and he ain't doin' well and this I'm certain. He say he tryna' trust you, doesn't wanna disgust you but he was in the mist of sinners and did not discuss you and just today his anxiety's got the best of him, he knows Christ but for hours refuse to rest in Him, he's not the best of men but Lord I know he really loves you and I can't understand why lately he's not thinkin' of you. People trust this dude, you could crush this dude, Father he needs more of you I pray you touch this dude, what can I say to him? I'm determined to pray for him Father empty and brake him I pray you'll just have your way with him, coz there's a change in him and the effects are strong, I pray you open up his heart before the next song and when he gets home, I pray he'll open up the sixty-six book love letter you wrote and soak it up coz he ain't hearin' You and he ain't feelin' me and God I know it's killin' You because it's killin' me and matter of fact there's somethin' else he's concealin' see, the person that I've been prayin' about is really me...

Yeah, I'm prayin' for you, yeah, I'm prayin' for you
Yeah, I'm prayin' for you, yeah, yeah, I'm prayin' for you...


Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Calling of St. Matthew - Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

What ever his personal faults, Caravaggio was one of the most amazing painters ever! We have a small print of this on our wall in our room. It is a good constant reminder of how we are called and what we are called from, besides being a beautiful painting.

Thanks for stopping by,
Miss Pickwickian

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Canto Della Terra and Bellissime Stelle - Andrea Bocelli

Andrea Bocelli has an amazing voice. :-) Here is a video of "Canto Della Terra" from 2000 and "Bellismie Stelle" from 2007. This hall in "Canto Della Terra" is AMAZING! We currently only own his album My Christmas and its about time to put it away...can't wait until next Christmas! :-)

I love the instrumentals on his album Amore and the songs are so beautiful, however some of the translations aren't particularly edifying. The acoustic guitar really adds a lot on that album I think. I also love his version of "The Prayer" with Josh Groban, but I couldn't find a good recording of it on the web. Its interesting to hear their voices side by side too to see there differences. (Especially when my sister likes Josh Groban over Andrea Bocelli!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I really enjoy hearing all the different music Bocelli does. He's has such a wide range and sings with so many different artists.

Miss Pickwickian

Monday, January 4, 2010

Writers and their Souls

Good writers, writers that write things they care or believe about are vulnerable.

If you go over the work of an author (be it novel or lyrics) your going to find some of what they've experienced, what they believe, how they've been hurt, what they want to do.....

I find it an interesting study to read multiple works by the same writer and then research their life and see the similarities. Its much more obvious with some authors then others, but normally you can see something there.

Its not a blanket statement, but I believe many authors and song writers are more reserved; the type of people who really don't go around telling people how they feel or who tell secrets very freely. Maybe that's why some of them need to write- to get things out. (That's of course only one reason among many.)

Besides the fact that they open themselves to sometimes vicious criticism on their work, writers open themselves up to speculation and a more personal type of criticism. All writing that works has truth in it and sometimes its painful.

Just some thoughts... :-)
Miss Pickwickian

Wisdom and Writing

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.
Franz Kafka

Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie.
Stephen King

Words are the most powerful drug used by mankind.
Rudyard Kipling

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it.
Anais Nin

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.
Henry David Thoreau

Truth is stranger then Fiction, but it is because Fiction is bliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.
Mark Twain in Pudd'nheadWilson's New Calendar (1897)

To hold a pen is to be at war.

I see the notion of talent as quite irrelevant. I see instead perseverance, application, industry, assiduity, will, will, will, desire, desire, desire.
Gordon Lish

You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.
Jack London