50 Books- The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Oh, it is such a relief to be reading books I am enjoying.  I knew when I took this on I would have some books I disliked, but it is wonderful that so far, the bulk of the books have been ones I can consider pleasant.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Where did I get the book and how many pages?

This 295 page digital copy was found on a free book app on my ipad, the same one where I read Ulysses.  Just as a small spoiler, I have a few other books coming for this app.  I have been trying to get a link for it together, but seem to be having trouble locating it again.

Have I read this before?

I had read the first thirty pages or so a few months ago, but had not finished the entire book.

What do I know?

Before the first reading I only knew a few things from seeing the movie, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  First, the painting ages, not the man; second, I was absolutely certain it was The Portrait of Dorian Gray.  It has been rough constantly correcting myself on the title

What did I think?

I am torn with this book.  There are some genuinely good parts, where the writing and the story seem to mesh perfectly to draw you in and keep you reading.  The obvious homoerotic beginning, wherein the men who will or could become mentors to Dorian Gray wax on about his youthful beauty seemed a bit long to me, but also set up the desire for him to stay flawless.  The first moment where he notices a change on the painting, and all of the implications for his life.  The truth of the painting; it not only holds his youth, but every mark that would be on his soul.  These parts are wonderfully written, brilliant, and thought provoking.

Then there are parts where I can’t help but stare at the book in disbelief.  It seemed to me as though the juiciest bits had been left out.  I know it is a sign of the time when it was written, but it was disappointing.  Instead of following his downward spiral, the book talks about the rumors spread about Dorian Gray, but even the rumors are vague.  You hear about people dropping him as a friend, and the supposed horror, but it is all speculation.  Perhaps that is intentional, to allow the reader to insert their own horrors.  I personally would like a few details; I don’t need them all, just a few more to show the progression from his first act of cruelty to the worst and final act.

I think this book would be a fascinating read if it was written in a more modern style.  While there is much to enjoy already, I think a version written where less time was spent discussing the beauty of the man, and more time was spent on his actual progression into a man who will do unspeakable acts would be wonderful.  Unfortunately, I fear a modern version would actually be a mindless action movie where he uses his new ability to not age to become a superhero.  Sort of like the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but without the rest of the league.

Should you read this book before you die?

As torn as I am with the book, I will recommend adding this to future reading lists.  The problems I have with the book are those of style, and everyone has a different preference for the books they read.  I think the commentary this book makes on a preoccupation with beauty, and the prejudice that creates is fascinating.  No matter the rumors that were made against him, people were still not completely convinced they could be true because Dorian Gray was just so pretty.  I also think it is an interesting statement on what human beings are capable of; when the story begins he is a very attractive and innocent 17 year-old.  However, as the story unfolds, there is little of that person left, except the image that was once captured in a painting and is allowed to live on through a twist of fate.  It is more than a work of science fiction or fantasy, it is an interesting psychological statement, and one that deserves consideration.

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So, of course, I am still reading away.  As promised last time, I am currently working my way through The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, which will be followed by The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells.

Happy reading everyone!

Being Original

Today is a great day, which means I am willing to share something not so great.

Over the weekend, my husband decided that he was not going to wait until February to buy me a graduation present.  Since I spend so much of my time working on my computer, which was slowly inching closer to death, he decided we would drive 2 1/2 hours to buy me a nice new one.

It’s amazing.  The battery lasts longer a half hour, the internet does not randomly disconnect, and I have not yet had the system turn off while I was in the middle of working.  Sure, there are a few quirks to get used to, such as a different keyboard making me constantly misspell words, but overall I am very happy now.  I almost look forward to doing my homework because it means I get to play with my new toy longer.

All right.  I spent a minute bragging, now it is time to even out the universe.

The more I dive into the world of writing, hoping to one day be able to turn it into something that could be considered a career, the more I am forced to put myself out there. I know it is strange, but if I expect others to read my work, I need to let them actually READ my work. I have to open myself to critique and be willing to listen and actually consider their words in my future work.

Critique is one of my least favorite parts of the creative world. I know many people tolerate it, and some even love it, but I am one who hates it.  So much of myself is put into my writing, it is hard not to take it a little personally when someone insults it.  I’m working on it, but I am who I am.

As part of working on my hatred of critique, I have begun working on beta reading for another author, hoping that being the one responsible for giving the tough love will help me accept both perspectives.  Giving the critique is not easy either, and it shouldn’t be expected to always be what a person wants to hear.

The other large part of my working on my issues, is learning to share some of the critique and accepting not only that is was said, but also looking for elements of truth in the commentary.  I’m not going to share every piece of criticism I receive, because I expect to receive quite a bit over time.  Instead I thought I would share the worst thing that anyone has said about my writing.

A few months ago, I decided to work on my short story writing a little.  I know it may come as a surprise, but I tend to be a bit wordy, making short stories a difficulty for me.  It was a weakness I wanted to work on, so I put myself out there a little, wrote something up and put it into an online group to get a little feedback.  The first comment told me my story was ‘not very original.’  They then went on to say my topic had been done many times, in very similar ways, and there was nothing special about this particular story to make it stand out.

Now I might be taking it  little personally, but I have to say I think ‘not very original’ is perhaps the worst insult that can be given to a creative work.  If they had said derivative, I might have been able to take that in a constructive manner as it is possible I meant to make others think of specific other works.  To say not original instead implies that the author is incapable of thinking of something new or creative.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect every idea I ever have to be the most brilliant I have ever had, or to be completely incomparable to anything else.  There are 7 billion people on the Earth; it is reasonable to assume that at least one of them has had an idea similar to mine, and perhaps they might even do it much better than I could. However to not only say something is not original and them tear apart additional elements of the work is going a bit far for basic critique.

(Insert calming breaths.)

Sorry.  I know I am taking it personally again.  I had to wait a while to write about this one, and apparently I am still not calm and rational about it.  This critique hits hard, partly because it feels personal, but also because it is not constructive.  Telling someone their idea is not original, or any other general statement of quality, is simply stating you don’t like it.  There is no suggestions for how to make it better, which means it is not actually helpful.  Now if they had said ‘your idea is similar to many others, perhaps you could change something in the way you tell it’ or anything else, it would have turned into constructive criticism.

I know, I know, I am starting to get worked up again.

So, now it is time to make me feel better.  What is the comment you have heard (to you or someone else) that got to you?

50 Books- Frankenstein

 

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Only six weeks in, and six books finished.  Ugh, I feel like I should be much farther! I can’t tell if it is simply because I am only beginning or if I should actually be farther, but I suspect the later.  Some of these books are a little harder to tackle than I thought, and many of them are much longer.  I’m sort of glad that I decided to keep a page count as well; even if I end up reading a smaller number of books this year than normal, I think I might just even out in page count.  Of course I have never kept a yearly book count before, so I’m not sure how many books I read on a normal basis, only that I used to have books I would finish in one day occur more than once a week.

Oh well, moving on.  For anyone who is new to this feature, I am working my way through a list of 50 books you should read before you die in one year.  This is an attempt to learn more about writing, feel more cultured, and have the bragging rights next time I am in a crowd of literature nerds which comes up much less often than I would like.  If you want to see the whole short trip, start here!

 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Where did I get the book and how many pages?

I cannot remember exactly when and where I purchased this book.  I’m pretty sure it is one of the books in my collection I ran across in a BX bookstore on a base somewhere and put aside to read at some point.  I am certain however that this book has 213 pages, so at least I am sure of something today.

Have I read this before?

I meant to, but never got around to it, like many of the other books on this list.

What do I know?

IT’S ALIVE!!!!!

Sorry.  It had to happen at some point here.

I actually have never seen the classic movies (unless you count Young Frankenstein as a classic.)  Mostly what I know is the common knowledge from movies.  Frankenstein is the Doctor, not the monster.  The fire adverse monster is made in a lab, gets out, and terrorizes people mindlessly.  There are many different versions, but the common monster look is the tall, lurching, green guy with stitches  randomly across his skin and bolts in his neck.

What did I think?

I don’t even know where to start.  This book leaves me speechless.  Seriously, while reading I did a lot of grunting at my family and waving them away since they were interrupting my reading time. 

This book is so much more than a tale about a mindless killing machine.  In fact, reducing it to that is insulting.  This book is about the pursuit of knowledge and scientific achievement.  It is about a man who works to achieve greatness and is driven mad by the results.  It is about the outsider who is desperately trying to fit in, and is angry that they never will. 

This is considered to be one of the greatest horror novels, but to me that seems to be a bit simplistic.  This is not just a horror story; this is a story that delves into the psychological and philosophical.  This shows the devastating results that can occur when one acts without forethought.  Frankenstein examines the ideas of man, and God, and creation in a way that makes sense; it is not some far away concept, it is relatable and understandable.  Even as the monster kills, you understand his actions.  I could even find a level of sympathy.

I know I am not necessarily making sense as I ramble on.  I honestly do not know how to explain why I found this book to be so amazing.  All I can say is it spoke to me, and I am glad I listened.

Should you read this book before you die?

Read this book when you are making a hard decision. Read this book when you are questioning the humanity of man.  Read this book when you want to think.  Read this book when you want to feel better about your own decisions.  Read this book when you have messed up. 

Just read this book.

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I almost feel a little breathless right now.  I wasn’t expecting to add any new books to my personal top ten or even my top fifty, but I fell deeply in love with this book.  Not only am I glad I read it, but I am sure I will read it again.

Unfortunately, I must move onto the next one and hope I can find something that gives me even a fraction of the joy I found in this one.

As I said before, or at least as I meant to say before, after Frankenstein, I am moving onto The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.  I have no picture, since I am reading an ebook version.  I could give a picture of my ipad, but somehow I don’t think it will have the same punch.  After reading about the picture, I pan on a trip down a river with Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.  Hopefully after a couple of these shorter books I will have the energy to tackle another long one.  This is definitely a marathon, but it’s not my first.  I know how to take the pain.

Happy reading!

Wandering

It is an unfortunate truth that I go through periods of extreme writers block. 

No, that’s not quite right.  Writer’s block usually indicates to me that I have part of the plan, but I can’t quite make it work.  It isn’t a problem with generating ideas or even finding words to write.  It is a complete hopelessness. 

I become struck with the overwhelming futility of my efforts.  Very few people are able to make careers from creative pursuits, and I become instantly certain I will be one of those who cannot make it work.   Nothing I ever write will be good enough and all of my ideas are absolute crap.

On a regular basis, I force myself to plug away and churn out something; it doesn’t take away the problem, but it is better than nothing.  So far, the only real fix I have found is travel.  I take a trip, even for a couple of days, and do not write, or even think of writing.  When I come home, I am refreshed, invigorated, and what is more, inspired. 

It may be no secret that I am currently in one of my low points, which may explain the skipped posts, and posts that I fully admit could be much better written.  I am fortunate enough to also have a chance to take a vacation next month, as soon as we can decide where to go.

The original plan was a long drive through Italy, however we are reevaluating the original plan as it was full of potential problems that were already stressing me out.  Now, we are discussing where we should go instead.  There is a part of me that would love to go back to Scotland or Ireland again, maybe hitting North Ireland this time.  We have also discussed Romania, Greece, and Spain.

I am now seeking advice.  If you could go anywhere in Europe to find inspiration and fun, where would you go?

To Self Publish or Not to Self Publish

I have once again hit that point; a story has been finished, edited, beta read, and edited again.  It is time to make a decision, to either put it away in the dark to never be heard from again, or bring it out and work on publishing.

This is not the first time I have done this.  Last time, I went through the process of putting myself out there, only to realize I was not quite as ready as I thought.  I’ve attempted to learn from my mistakes.  Not only did I ask for more advice and editing notes, but I actually took them into consideration, even when they were not what I wanted to hear. I am working to not underestimate the advice of others who have been down this road, either successfully or unsuccessfully.  I’m working on my research, targeting goals, and basically just trying to get it right this time.

I have also been dragging my feet. 

I know in retrospect my last attempt was riddled with problems that come from inexperience.  Anything great that might have come from my original attempts, would have been the product of extreme luck. Knowing what went wrong does not make it any easier to consider the possibility of going through the fear and rejection process again.  And I know, it might be different this time, but I used a lot of hope on the first time around; I don’t have as much as I should this time.

Before beginning the potentially soul crushing process again, I have been considering my options. 

My hopes have so far rested on the possibilities of signing with a talented and well connected literary agent, who will then sell my book to a large publishing house, who will naturally push my book hard and help me to become successful.  I had not counted out the possibility of self-publishing, it was more of a back up plan to. 

The more I learn, the more I realize that both options are difficult, and neither necessarily fits within my dreams. First of all, signing to an agent is difficult.  I could attempt to bypass the agent, however publishing houses are not necessarily any easier to sign with, particularly without an agent.  I have also learned how much of the help I thought might come standard is unlikely to happen.  It is not that agents and publishers don’t want their authors to be successful, but the bottom line is simple; they have many authors, and spend their money where they think they will get it back.  They are the business side, and they must think that way.  Publishing with a large publishing house will require a lot of skills I do not currently possess.

Of course, self publishing requires even more work.  I have complete freedom over my choices, both creative and business.  I could have my novel out tomorrow, and another one out the day after that if I could write fast enough.  Everything I want to do, I can choose to do.  However, I am completely responsible for the editing, formatting, promoting, well, the everything.  The entire success or failure of the novel would rest on me and me alone.  It’s just a bit of pressure.  Additionally, messing up a self publishing debut, could kill a career in both self and traditional publishing. 

I continue to do my research on both sides, but unfortunately there are very few well researched and informative articles that give a honest and fair portrayal of both sides.  Self published authors often discuss how their way is the future of publishing and even attempting any other options makes you archaic and boring.  Established, traditionally published authors might talk about how all authors need the support of an agent and publishing house to be successful, and their success does speak a little to their expertise.  While both sides make incredibly skewed arguments, they also make valid points.  Self publishing opens writing up to those who are the creative force behind the business; without writers, there is nothing to publish.  However traditional publishing lends support and knowledge about the business to those who either have no experience, or don’t have the time to both write and do the entire work of a large publishing house.  I know I don’t have enough time to do everyone else’s job, not if I expect to do anyone’s job well.  Authors need the experience professional agents and publishers bring to the table.

So what does this mean for my current novel?  I have no idea.  I guess I can only do what I can do; look for help, but not give up on my dream, even if I end up doing it alone.

A Writer

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I’ve had a few off weeks, weeks where I have hardly had a desire to write.  I know the stories are still there, I just seem to have lost my way of getting them out into the world.  I’m in between steps in my writing currently.  I can’t bring myself to finish what has been started, to edit what has been finished, or to send off what has been edited.  I am lost in everything I want to be, everything I could be, and everything I feel I should be, I am losing who and where I am right now.  Then, as I searched for some inspiration to write a post today, I found this reminder.  If I want to think of myself as a writer I have one fundamental action to perform; I must write, not just think about writing.

50 Books- Ulysses

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Ulysses by James Joyce

Where did I get the book and how many pages?

This is unabridged at 783 pages.  I bought this book at the PX, not realizing I had a copy on an app on my iPad already.  I like having actual books at times, but I kind of wish I hadn’t spent money on something I already owned.  In the end I found the iPad app version to be easier to read, even if it was actually longer at 1090 pages. 

Have I read this before?

I thought I might have, and then I realized I was thinking of The Odyssey, which I am pretty sure is completely different.

What do I know?

I know nothing about this one.  The description on the back is all about it having once had a federal ban on the book. 

I thought about it a little, and a few pages in, I decided to look up the book online and see what it was about, and learn why it was banned.  According to Wikipedia (since I was looking for a quick answer, not something I could cite in an academic paper) Ulysses was banned for obscenity.  It is the story of a man named Leopold Bloom on one day in Dublin and is considered to be a brilliant example of writing human thought and modernist literature.

Because of the way this book it written, I did refer back to this posting in Wikipedia occasionally to keep up with what was supposed to be happening and when.

What did I think?

There is a sliding scale of intelligence in the world, and a person’s reaction to their own intelligence. 

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This scale of course has no scientific basis that I am aware of, it is simply my own observations. 

We’ll begin with those who are a bit dim, but they are okay with that fact.  They know there is a lot out there they do not know, and they either do not care to learn, find it funny that they are dumb, or are confident enough in themselves to be willing to ask questions when they want to learn more. 

Slightly above them are those who are dim, but they are angry.  They don’t like not knowing, maybe they are jealous of those who do know or simply do not want others to know they are not as intelligent. 

Right in the middle of course is the average person.  They know a decent amount, and know there is much they don’t know.  Maybe they admit it sometimes, maybe they don’t, it all depends.

Next comes those who are smart, but they are not confident enough to show it.  Maybe they think they are not as smart as they really are, or maybe they are afraid of showing they are not as smart as others think.  Sometimes they are angry, but mostly they are careful.  They don’t want to slip up and reveal the truth, particularly if the truth is their own lack of intelligence.

Finally, there are those who are smart, know they are smart, and aren’t afraid to show it.  They aren’t afraid of not knowing something; in fact something new might excite them, since it gives them the opportunity to learn.

I’d like to think I am a reasonably intelligent person, but I am probably actually average.  On a good day, I fall between the average and the smart but unsure person.  I don’t always like to admit when I don’t understand something, mostly because I don’t like to ruin the illusion that I might be smarter than people think.  The years of blonde jokes from Kindergarten through High School may also be a factor here.

All of that being said, I didn’t get this book.  Hemingway recommended that an author write drunk, edit sober.  I think Joyce never sobered up, and definitely never edited.  Beyond the horrid punctuation, making much of the conversation hard to follow, there are at least 20 different writing styles throughout the book, as well as random lines in other languages.  I’m pretty sure I recognized French, and maybe Irish and Latin as well, but I wasn’t sure.  It is possible this is a brilliant work, but I think it is more likely this is what they monkeys produced when they were trying to write Shakespeare.

I don’t want it to seem as though this book was completely horrible.  There were parts that were actually good and enjoyable to read.  They just weren’t as plentiful as the parts that didn’t make any sense.  Generally the only parts that were consistently readable were the portions where someone was doing or imagining something sexual.  There was no story arc, no exciting events happening, just an average day where a man goes about his business and thinks about sex and death.  For any writer who ever fears what too much exposition will do to their novel, they should read a few pages of this book and think a bit on what happens when you forget to add the action.

The worst part of this book was its ability to make me not want to read.   I have not had a day of my life since first grade where I did not want to read.  Knowing Ulysses was waiting for me, I dreaded reading.  It got to a point where I was making deals with myself to push through a few more pages.  I had several nights where I would sit to read, look at how many pages I had left and calculate out how many pages I HAD to read in order to finish this book in a reasonable amount of time.  (100 pages a night will have me finished in a week, but 75 pages is only 10 days, and means I can stop reading 25 pages earlier tonight!)  It was depressing, having my book no longer be my friend.

Should you read this book before you die?

No.  This is not a book to be read while sitting in bed with a cup of tea.  This is a book to be studied.  There is so much going on, and so many things to focus on and understand, you need to take your time and pay attention.  Don’t think of this as pleasure reading, think of it as a learning experience.  Read this when you have someone to discuss it with, even if that someone is in a chat room somewhere.  Reading it straight through on your own, as I did, might work for some people, but I wouldn’t recommend it for most readers.  Wait to read this one until you are actually ready to make the commitment.

 

 

Now that Ulysses is over, I can finally get into the next book, Frankenstein by Mary Shelly.  I have been looking forward to this one, but it could just be because it is not Ulysses.

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After Frankenstein, I plan on tackling The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.  I don’t have a pretty picture of this one, as it is a book inside an app, but I hope you will trust me that it does exist.

Happy Reading!

End of Story

Every now and then I am reminded how entirely new I am to the writing community.  Sure, I have been writing on my own for years, and have spent the last two years at home focused on writing, but I have not spent much time reaching out and connecting with other writers.  Now that I am branching out, I am learning there are controversies that had not even vaguely entered my realm of awareness.  It is almost frightening, knowing these issues are out there, because occasionally I am quite viciously attacked for something I was not aware was a breach of writing protocol.  (Though I should note, most people are rather polite in their corrections.)

One of these recent missteps of mine came during a read through.  Several writers are submitting an opening chapter, and giving each other notes, something I am sure is a regular occurrence around the world.  I typed my chapter, sent it in, and waited for my notes.  The first note I received was a very adamant, almost angry comment that I should NEVER put two spaces after a period.

This surprised me.  From my very first typing class (on a computer) my teacher was very clear that you always put two spaces after ending a sentence.  I’m not sure if they ever really told us why, it was just what you do, and just like any other writing or grammar rule, we did it because we were told to.  Now after over twenty years of typing, double tapping my space bar at the end of a sentence is so ingrained I don’t even notice I do it anymore.  It has become almost as automatic as capitalizing the first word of a sentence, or hitting the tab key for paragraph beginnings.  To suddenly hear it was wrong, shocked me, and naturally sent me into a research frenzy.

As soon as my husband came home, I asked him how many spaces he thought were correct and received the same answer I had been taught, two spaces.  When my daughter, currently in middle school came home I asked her the same thing and was told ‘I don’t know.  Nobody cares, one I guess?”  Apparently she was spared the typing teacher who cared enough to make you redo the entire thing, even if you could have just gone through and added spaces.  So far, it looked like it might have been a simple result of a generation gap.  I don’t consider myself excessively old yet, but at some point between my education and my daughter’s education, they changed the rule.

While my family was there to answer my immediate questions, they were not exactly experts on the argument.  I took to the internet, and began searching.  I wasn’t certain I would find the answer, but I knew I would find angry people who were certain they were right.  At least I would walk away with both sides of the argument.

One of the first articles I found was written by a person who was clear that two spaces is wrong. Seriously, I didn’t know the space bar could elicit such an emotional response, but this person knew one space was right, and everyone else needs to keep up with society. Anyone who dares to use double spacing is, in the author’s eyes, amateurish and ignorant. While they were definitely wrong about it being an inarguable point, since there was clearly an argument, it gave me a little insight into the point of view. Writers Digest and a person known as Grammar Girl seemed to agree, even giving the same story.

According to these sources, the double space rule came from the early use of typewriters where all letters were given the same amount of space no matter their size, known as monospaced type. The double space rule was done, to account for the way the letters looked on the page and give a break between sentences. However, it is argued now, with the use of many different computer fonts, which offer proportional typesetting giving each letter space based on size, there is no longer a need for the second space. Simple enough, right?

Being a person of a balanced nature, I needed to know more, and proceeded to look for the other side of the argument. It only took me a minute to see that not only was there another well written and clear argument in direct opposition of the first, but that the one space argument may not even have all of the facts correct. According to this article the double space standard was not a result of monospaced typing, but came long before that and was always the industry standard. As they say, the single space rule only began about 60 years or so ago as a result of a publisher working to save pages and money by reducing the technically unnecessary spaces that spread a book out a little longer. Agreeing with this article is the American Psychological Association, whose APA formatting standards are used in many published papers for Social Science subjects as a way to cite sources.

What it seems to come down to is readability. Both sides are certain that a particular number of spaces between sentences makes a work easier or more difficult to read. Some believe two spaces is too far, and breaks up the reading in an awkward and unfortunate way. Others believe that one space makes things too close, making the reading run together. Neither side can cite a source giving a readability study and a conclusive answer. Really, it is a matter of taste meaning we may never have a conclusive answer as to what makes something easier or more pleasant to read. I’m not sure if I have ever noticed the difference as a reader. I focus on the words, not the spaces in between.

Writing this post, I intentionally switched from double spacing to single spacing part way through, and it was almost physically painful to only do one space.  The habit is there, and it is hard to break, especially when I am not sure there is any real reason to break it.  The argument seems inconclusive to me; everyone is sure they are correct, and sure they know why, but the arguments don’t necessarily hold up.  It is a matter of taste, and who taught you to type.  As a person, I have my habits, but as a writer, I want to be professional.  It’s not just fitting in, it is projecting the image of a person who knows what they are talking about.  What if agents are turned off from my work because of the number of spaces I place between sentences?  Perhaps they may decide I do not have the necessary writing knowledge because there is too much white space on the page.  While I may want to be judged for my ideas and words, I cannot deny my ability to present them is a factor.  If I need to adapt, as painful as it may feel at the time, I will adapt.

How many spaces do you use after a sentence?  Why?  Should I adapt to a one space typing style?

Thoughts On A Sunday

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Sometimes, the days get hard, and there is too much to do.  Then, my little dog, curls up next to me, happy to sleep close by, and reminds me someone loves me no matter what.  As long as there is a belly to scratch, she wants to be my friend.

Long Term Project

Whenever I get into a funk about one thing, it tends to leak out into other areas of my life.  I’m cranky about my writing, so I don’t feel like running.  My runs are not going well, and suddenly I don’t want to sew.  As crazy as it is, I think there is a part of me that doesn’t want to feel better.  Maybe I have a secret martyr complex, and want to stay miserable.  It’s slightly tragic, but mostly just annoying.

There is one good thing about having my moods from one project bleed into another; as soon as I have something going well, I start to feel better about other things.  It doesn’t matter that they are completely unrelated, I get my hope and good spirits back.

With my recent funk, I started looking for something to do.  You know, other than lay on the couch playing endless games on my phone while watching Netflix.  While the couch potato act might be satisfying to the funky mood, it is not productive in any way, shape, or form.

I was digging around in a box of sewing things, for a reason I can no longer remember, when I ran across a kit to make a cross stitch bookmark.  It had been years since I had done any cross stitch, but it seemed like it would be a quick project while I waited for my lives to refill on Free Fall.  I worked on it a little at a time for a couple of days, and had a cute bookmark to show for it.  Yea me!

This brought me down to my basement where I was pretty sure I had a couple of other cross stitch projects waiting to be finished. Enter Oscar.

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Oscar the Grouch, one of the most relatable Sesame Street Characters (the other being, of course Cookie Monster).  I’m pretty sure this was bought to go in my daughter’s room when she was a couple of years old, making it a project I started around a decade ago.  When I pulled it out of the package again this week it was just a blob of green stitches I had done and abandoned. 

I cannot clearly remember why I set this aside, but I can only presume by the fact that it has survived a couple of moves, that I intended to finish it.  I’m not quite there yet, it will probably take a couple of nights of watching tv with the kiddos to finish from here, but soon I will finally be able to call this project done.  Big One no longer cares about a Sesame Street cross stitch, since she is 13 and too cool for that, but I am still calling it a win.  Not only am I finding an old hobby again, but I am proving to myself, I finish what I start.  A small, less than 5×7, cross stitch project that I come back to finish after 10 years?  This shows at least a little determination.

Who cares if I am in my 30s.  Oscar will hang above my desk soon, reminding me that I can keep going, even after a little break, and big grump.