Tag Archives: quotables

Deadlines, Oh Dear

quotables button“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

  • Douglas Adams (author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

Apparently this is me as well, even with arbitrary deadline I set for myself! In other words – no post on Stories and Stuff last Friday, even though I promised myself I would. Anyway, I always loved the humour in this quote. Douglas Adams was known for missing deadlines, so it’s nice for all of us procrastinating authors to know we’re not alone. Also, he wrote several popular and famous books, so if your (and my) motivation is letting you/me down, don’t despair. There may yet be hope.

Have a great Family Day weekend, everyone! (At least, those of you fortunate enough to live in a place that celebrates it).

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Two Impossible Things to Get in Life

cup of tea

“You can’t get a cup of tea big enough, or a book long enough, to suit me.”

-C. S. Lewis

Don’t you love it when people know you enough to get you something for Christmas that’s just perfect? Here’s something that combines three things I love: C. S. Lewis, tea, and books. Isn’t it a great mug?

And yes, despite my admitted addiction to coffee, I will never say no to a cup of tea. Or to a long book, unless it is so poorly written as to not be worth the effort.

What about you? Get any perfect gifts this year?

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The Pleasures of Not Writing

by Paul Fischer. {PD}

by Paul Fischer. {PD}

“The pleasures of not writing are so great that if you ever start indulging them you will never write again”

—John Updike.

This quote grabbed me because it is something I’ve been struggling with a lot lately – I’ve managed to keep writing a fair amount, but each step is a momentous struggle of motivation.

This isn’t uncommon for writers, I don’t think. Every once in a while it just seems far easier to quit trying to pour out your soul on paper. And everything else starts to look more attractive than staring at a blank page – going out with friends who called you up at the last moment, reading someone else’s blog, or going outside to lie in the sunshine (now that winter is over). And I firmly resist always giving in to these temptations, because if I let all these attractive things have their way every time they pop up, my time for writing will slowly evaporate.

But what John Updike writes is both true and not true. Not writing is terribly attractive, and entirely possible if you let the demands of life take over your attempts at writing. But so far in my life, I keep coming back to writing, over and over, despite having giving it up in despair many times.

That is why I call myself a writer (or, one of the many reason I do, anyway). Why would I keep coming back to it if there wasn’t something inside me that drove me to writing? Giving it up could be so simple, and yet I have never done it.

Still, this quote drives home the point that writing takes discipline. Many people call themselves ‘writers’ because they have a book in their head, but they’ve never actually put a pen to paper. I could continue to call myself a writer, and let my inner writing drive drive me to throw a paragraph down once in a while.

But to produce actual writing that other people want to read, and find useful or interesting or thought-provoking, takes discipline. The discipline to keep going, word after word, until you have just thewriting quote right amount of words to convey the idea you want to get across. Then the discipline, to re-write, edit, re-think, and struggle until that idea comes through crystal-clear. And then the discipline to keep throwing that chunk of writing to places where other people will see it, and to hunt down publishers and promoters until you reach the audience you wrote it for. And this discipline is what many writers struggle with. Writing is a journey in self-motivation, after all.

So keep up that struggle, writers! There are enough non-writers out there already. And for those of you out there who are readers, I’m sure you’re glad, in the same way I am, that so many great writers didn’t give in to the pleasure of not writing.

Writers – have you ever been tempted towards not writing? Readers – which book are you really glad an author managed to motivate his or herself to churn out?

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Why Worry if You Can’t Spell in English?

{PD}

“Ghoti”

– an alternate spelling of the word “fish,” usually attributed without evidence to George Bernard Shaw. Possibly thought up originally by William Ollier Jr.

How on earth can “ghoti” be an alternate spelling of the word “fish?” Well, if:

  • gh, is pronounced as /f/ as in tough /tʌf/;
  • o, is pronounced as /ɪ/ as in women /ˈwɪmɪn/; and
  • ti, is pronounced as /ʃ/ as in nation /ˈne͡ɪʃən/ (from Wikipedia)

Of course, as the New York Times pointed out, most English speakers would never pronounce “ghoti” that way. “Ghoti” likely originated in a Victorian parlor game where people stitched together new spellings of words from other words – nicely illustrating the complete irrationality of English spelling in the process. Doesn’t it sound like people had fun back then? Another fun result of this game was a possible 81,997,920 ways of spelling scissors (because, when you think about it, why would you spell “scissors” the way we do? What exactly is that “c” there for?)

So when you struggle over whether “embarrassment” has a double “r,” a double “s,” or BOTH a double “r” and a double “s,” don’t feel so bad. English spelling really doesn’t make sense, and smarter people than you have failed to figure out a system for it.

(PS: George Bernard Shaw was a strong advocate of spelling reform in English, which is probably why this quote is often attributed to him.)

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A Dilemma – A Thought From Betsy Ray (Quotables)

I decided my ‘Quotables‘ posts will take over for my fiction posts for a little while – I left off posting ‘Quotables’ a few months back because of school pressures, but they’re back now! Fiction will return when I have something new written to post. 🙂 Today is a quote from Betsy Ray, the protagonist of Betsy in Spite of Herself, by Maud Hart Lovelace.

” My hair is wavy most of the time, but t0 manage that I have to put it up on Wavers at night, which I despise, because what am I going to do when I get married? But on the other hand if I don’t put it up on Wavers, I probably never will get married. Not that I care about getting married. But I certainly want to be asked.”

This is a quote near the beginning that introduces Betsy, and I think the author does it so well – you can just tell she’s a little young, a little unsure of her looks, and has a way of stating her opinions. I’m sure similar thoughts have crossed many girls’ minds – this and this habit of mine, if I get in a serious relationship, sure won’t be able to remain a secret forever. Also, the “not that I care about getting married, but I certainly want to be asked” – well, similar contradictory thoughts crossed my mind at that age as well. 🙂

(If you haven’t heard of Betsy In Spite of Herself, or Maud Hart Lovelace, that’s okay. The Betsy books were pretty popular in the 40s and 50s, but probably less known now. I love them because they’re like a window into the early 20th century, which is when they’re set. They’re definitely written for teenage girls, but if you run across them, they are worth reading.)

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Tolkien’s Take On True Love

Edith Tolkien (PD-US)

Since we’ve been talking about romance, here’s Tolkien’s take on the subject. He actually wrote an astoundingly long letter on the marriage to his son, in typical Tolkien style:

 “But…  only the rarest good fortune brings together the man and woman who are really as it were ‘destined’ for one another, and capable of a very great and splendid love. The idea still dazzles us, catches us by the throat: poems and stories in multitudes have been written on the theme, more, probably, than the total of such loves in real life (yet the greatest of these tales do not tell of the happy marriage of such great lovers, but of their tragic separation; as if even in this sphere the truly great and splendid in this fallen world is more nearly achieved by ‘failure’ and suffering). In such great inevitable love, often love at first sight, we catch a vision, I suppose, of marriage as it should have been in an unfallen world. In this fallen world we have as our only guides, prudence, wisdom (rare in youth, too late in age), a clean heart, and fidelity of will …”

– Letter to Michael Tolkien (March 1941)

He goes on to say,

“Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might be found more suitable mates. But the real soul-mate is the one you are actually married to.”

 There’s got to be some truth to that – we read romance because we want a glimpse of true love, yet this true love seems impossible to achieve because we all have flaws (and whoever we get involved with has flaws too). Tolkien’s conclusion is that true love involves commitment, and doing your best by the other as well as you can.

The full version of the letter is very interesting. He actually goes on to relate his whole tumultuous love affair with Edith Mary Bratt (for Tolkien fans out there, the rumour is he based the characters of Arwen and Luthien on her).

There’s a shorter excerpt to be found here, and a longer version (Letter #43) to be found here.

 Thoughts?

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Lookin' Good

cover 1

Prince.CharmingDid that get you in the mood from some romantic reading? I’ve got a few great stories for you: Lookin’ Good, Spring Fever and Prince Charming. Enjoy!

 

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