Saturday, September 20, 2008

I've Got a Tomato

Once Charles has attended his blogging seminar, I hope he will take all the fabulous ideas he has garnered, adapt them for writers, and pass them on to the rest of us. 

When my turn to blog rolls around every Saturday, I do the same thing Charles relates and re-read my blog mates’ entries in hopes that I can think of something to add to their obviously carefully thought-out topics.

Carefully thought out.  All right, probably not so much, most of the time.  We’re all writers, and I’m guessing that most of us have the ability to carry on about nothing.  To tell you the truth, I usually have nothing in mind whatsoever when I sit down to write.  I simply try to steal an idea from the others, and if I can’t, I just carry on about the first thing that comes to my mind.  Normally, it has to do with the writing life, since that is what occupies me the most, but as you may have noticed, Dear Reader, that is certainly not always the case.

In fact, today I am thinking about yard work.  Since Don took a header over the garden hose last week, I’ve been doing the yard work, and I discover that I am ill-adapted for the heavier stuff any more.  I’ve been using the weed-whacker a lot on the flood-encouraged jungle of grass - and not your normal everyday weed-whacker, either, but the king-sized, industrial strength weed-whacker that will cut down saplings and decorative fence posts.  The weight and the vibration seems to temporarily numb the nerves in my hands and make it difficult for me to hold on to anything or make my fingers behave at all for a while.  After I came indoors and took a shower, I attempted to put on makeup and discovered that I couldn’t grip the eyeliner pencil correctly, so I ended up having to hold in my fist like a club.  Even so, my hand shook and I had to steady it with my other hand.  If you have ever tried to put on eye liner while holding the pencil like a baseball bat, let me assure you that the result is less than satisfactory.

I learned this stream-of-consciousness style of writing from my mother, from letters she wrote to us, back when people wrote letters to each other.  She wrote page after page about absolutely nothing - about her life, about what she was doing and thinking, how the garden was doing.  They were fascinating masterpieces that would make James Joyce eat his heart out.  In my family, to this day my sibs and I call them “I’ve got a tomato” letters.  Never never never think you have nothing interesting to say.  The human thought process itself if endlessly amazing, and it  is not necessarily what you write about that makes it fun or interesting to read, but how you write about it.

Rob Levandoski’s death was shocking to me, as is the passing of anyone so unexpectedly.  I didn’t know Rob well, but I read his blog and his books, and regret I didn’t get to know him better. Charles’ comment about authors whose books he read after they had died reminded me of an incident that happened to me many years ago, when I lived in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France.  We would take the train in to Nice once a week to visit the Anglo-American library and check out an armload of English language books.  Most of the books in that library were classics, and I ended up reading  nearly every work of Mark Twain’s.  Anyone who has read my novels can see what an influence he had on my writing.  I got to know Twain so well, and grew so fond of him as a person, that In the middle of reading his autobiography, I was suddenly overcome with real grief that he was dead, and I would never get to meet him on this side the veil.  I think of this when I write.  A writer is not only connecting with her contemporaries, but with people not born yet.

I meant to comment about the NY Mag article Rick mentioned (see below), but I’m going on too long, so I’ll just say “read it.”

Finally, if anyone out there has or knows someone who has a genetic disorder called MEN1 (Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia type 1), please go to my website and contact me.  I’m looking for information.

Now I’m off to read some P.G. Wodehouse.

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