Monday, December 26, 2016

Make More Time for Writing

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

I just read the article “Make (More) Time for Writing” by Amy Sue Nathan in the Writer’s Digest Yearbook Fall 2016. She quotes author David Abrams who gave up blogging to write more fiction. “…it was the kudzu of my writing life…I had to sacrifice the blog to make more room for the work-in-progress.”

When I started this blog, it tapped into a creative vein. Thoughts and ideas appeared on the page every time I sat down to write a post about writing. I loved blogging! I also wanted to share some of my favorite books with other writers so "Reads for Writers" were fun to write, too.

After four years and four months, blogging now feels more like a chore than a creative outlet. I have other writing projects to work on; therefore, I’m changing things up.

Instead of weekly, I’m going to write one post published on the last Monday of each month.

Thank you for reading my blog posts to this point. I hope you will continue to do so.

Cheryl and I started this blog to encourage writers to write. I hope we succeeded. I also hope you continue working on your own creative projects.

Next post will appear on January 30th.   

Changed my mind. Still writing weekly posts.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Reads for Writers: A Jane Austen Christmas by Carlo DeVito

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

          If you love Jane Austen’s novels, you will love A Jane Austen Christmas: Celebrating the Season of Romance, Ribbons, and Mistletoe by Carlo DeVito. In the six Christmases described in this book, readers learn about Jane’s early writings, her first love, and Austen family traditions.

Literary Background:

          “Reading aloud in the family circle—fiction and non-fiction—was a favorite amusement of the time and practiced regularly by the Austens,”…Reverend Austen had a rich library filled with books of all kinds. From the time that Jane and Cassy [Jane’s sister] could read well enough, their father’s library was open to them with little editing. (page 34)

          It was with this generosity of spirit and a love for his youngest daughter that George Austen indulged Jane in her passion. He and she shared a love of books, but Reverend Austen was much taken with his daughter’s desire to write. He intended to encourage it. (page 51)

          “For her nineteenth birthday [December 16th], Mr. Austen bought Jane ‘a small mahogany writing desk with 1 long drawer and glass ink stand compleat’ which he purchased…for 12 [shillings],”. (page 51)…This desk was to have immense importance in her life, and it marked a significant shift in her writing and attitude. Jane would begin many of her great works writing on this very desk. (page 53)

Christmas Happenings:

          Christmastide of 1795 was a highlight for the twenty-year-old Jane Austen not only because it heralded the start of the ball season, but because it was the meeting of the first great love of her life. (page 67)

          The highlight of the Christmastide season for adults, especially young adults, was a series of dances and balls…(page 69)

          “Modern readers are sometimes puzzled as to why dance scenes have so prominent a place in Jane Austen’s novels; but in her lifetime the dance floor was the best, and indeed the only place, where marriage partners could be identified and courtship could flourish,”…(page 70)

          Jane was an enthusiastic participant. One December she wrote to Cassandra that she had danced twenty dances “without any fatigue—I was glad to find myself capable of being able to dance so much & with so much satisfaction as I did…” (page 73)

          In the Christmastide of 1795, Tom Lefroy went to the country to spend the holiday with his aunt, Madame Lefroy. During the course of that season, and during four balls given in that time, a romance took place that would mark Austen’s writings for the rest of her life. And Lefroy himself would become a character who would be recycled and reinvented several times over. (page 80) [All the heartbreaking details follow on pp. 81-89.]

          The text is rounded out with many details about entertaining throughout the Christmas season, recipes, and mores of the time. Jane’s letters as well as paintings and illustrations of various people in her life are blended in to give this book depth—a great gift for any fan of Jane Austen.

Monday, December 12, 2016

A Quote to Live By

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

          In the midst of fun/exhausting holiday festivities while still meeting deadlines, I came across a New Year’s card that I will be sending to all my friends and family members.

          Pictured on the front are two Labs, one yellow and one black, running all out in the snow straight toward the reader—pure joy in motion.

Along the top it says:

If we are ever to enjoy life, now is the time, not tomorrow or next year…Today should always be our most wonderful day.                 --Thomas Dreier

Inside the card, it says:

Wishing you a year filled with wonderful days.
          Happy New Year!

I’m not waiting until New Year’s to send these cards. Everyone should start having their most wonderful days right now!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Book Shopping Time is Now Writing Time

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

(I had grand plans for my December blog posts, but illness has changed everything. I love the Backpack Literature course I'm auditing. I shouldn't have scheduled it during the holidays. Rather than rush it, I'm moving my next Backpack Literature review to January 30th.

I've moved up posts I wrote in advance so I can rest up and recover. Hope to be back on track with book reviews soon.)

          Not buying any more books for a year as discussed in my November 14th post has already freed up a lot more time for writing. I didn’t realize how often I visited online book-selling sites. Some people facebook. I just book.
         Almost daily, I used to check out new titles and titles-new-to-me. Between recommendations from friends, family, and coworkers and book reviews, something always piqued my interest. Sometimes I would buy, sometimes just put it in the cart.

I confess I buy more books than I delete. If you are a voracious reader who likes to make books her own with underlining and marginalia, it’s hard not to buy books. Since most of my friends and family give me bookstore certificates for gifts and I give myself a book budget, it's easy to buy books.

Also, I read every day. I read more than I do anything else—except writing on deadline.

Yes, this means I get up very early so I can read an hour or two before my day’s responsibilities start. I read while I watch TV and when waiting in lines or waiting for someone. I do my chores and run my errands as efficiently as possible so I have more time to read.

My jobs require reading so even when I’m working, I’m reading.

I need a steady stream of incoming books so I never have to scramble for books to review and so I’m never bored. However, I created a backlog for myself (buying ten more books than I read each year for a decade adds up); hence, the no buying of books for a year.

I’ve changed my habits. I’m not visiting online sites that sell books so I’m not tempted to browse or buy. If I hear about an interesting book, I look it up. If interested, I put it in my shopping cart and leave the web site. If I visit my local bookstore, I’m buying only a writing magazine or two.

Now I have more time to write. With the holiday season here, I’m trying to write my posts and book reviews in advance so I can enjoy all the festivities.

A big upside to my new way of life, I’m saving money. Since there are always bills to pay, a retirement to fund as well as opportunities for family fun, this money will be well spent or saved.

I never have and never will consider buying books a waste of money or reading a waste of time. I’m reading the same amount of time. I’ve merely narrowed down the book choices to those already in my home. 

Once I’ve caught up, I’ll go back to buying books. There will always be a backlog, but I’ll never let it build up to the point I have to stop buying books for a year—maybe only a month or two.