M

He cut, as they say, a striking rather than handsome figure: tall, without the required chiseled proportions; icy blue eyes, which shifted rather than stared; lips too full, face too pale, nose too round for a female’s fancy; with a great shock of salt-and-pepper hair, more fitting to a well-seasoned philosophy professor than an idealistic thirty-something trying to be taken seriously. His physical appearance was made irrelevant, however, when he opened his mouth and began to speak. The stereotypically Irish gift of gab had passed in abundance from his ancestors, to settle, nay, ignite in his own personality. The warm, round brogue of — County resonated as strongly and fervently as his words. He spoke of people, politics, morals and men, in terms of absolutes, ambitions, ideals, and principles. His absolutes were divine absolutes of God and reality; his ideals those of a patriot-martyr; his ambitions, the ambitions of a romantic or transcendentalist; his principles, the principles of a man with no practical application or experience whatsoever. Unlike the kindly Protestant or the diplomatic atheist, who base their lives on the virtues of skeptical reason and irrational skepticism respectively, this man based his life on the unshakable belief in his Faith — with the emphasis on ‘his.’

Sonnet #1

As a wistful whispering planet whirls

Alone along an overwhelming ring

Around a wide trajectory, a-swirl

The effervescent sun — a-shimmering

At center of the universe — and no

Reliance thus upon another star,

But solitary in its spinning slow,

Content to sing is canticle afar —

So I, in inky ilk, attempt to trace

Some semblance of your grand reality,

To gather glimpses of your hidden face,

To follow far, from fen to furthest sea.

My words, I fear, fall short of all I mean,

Although I follow with my steps unseen.

Everything I need to know about romance, I learned from Tolkien (part I): Introduction

While We're Paused!

Map of Lothlorien Looking for love? Consider a visit to fair Lothlórien. With undying grass, and elanor, and niphredil about the feet, who knows what fancies may arise in the heart?

When I was a boy I spent absurd amounts of time devouring the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. In those happy hours I learned much about Northern courage, eucatastrophe, the value of mercy, woodcraft, how to talk to dragons (riddling talk, don’t reveal your proper name, don’t make fun until you’re out of the dragon’s fire-breathing range) and the handiness of Elf-swords in tight spots. And, though I was too young to appreciate it, in the process I also imbibed much – everything I needed to know, in fact – about romance.

Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t. Tolkien’s surface may have appeared curmudgeon-ish, but at heart he was a hopeless romantic. And Arda, Tolkien’s sub-creation, reflects the character of her…

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Discipline

There are various Pinterest quotations about writing, which tell us that writing is about discipline; and so it is. They tell us writing is about one word at a time, just getting it down on paper; and so it is. But some of them say that you have to force yourself to write the scenes you don’t like, the boring scenes, the in-between scenes. 

I disagree. You shouldn’t have those scenes in your book. 

Don’t write it if it’s boring. Who would want to read it? If a scene is dull, dragging on, redundant, chuck it! Write something new; combine scenes; write over it. Make it dialogue instead of description; give us a picture instead of a pause. So you have to give someone’s backstory? Give it in flashback; have someone (an unreliable narrator perhaps?) describe it. Make your story interesting; make every scene count.

There’s a difference between discipline (writing *when* you don’t want to write) and dullness (writing *what* you don’t want to write). Write! Always write! But write with a reason. 

Challenge

Greetings, one and all. Dare I squeeze the truth and beg of it an ambiguous excuse? Better not. My absence on this blog has no real reason beyond the human shortcomings well known to all of us.

That said, I have just been challenged (in a manner of speaking) to my writing resolution of the New Year.

On Pinterest, I found a quotation: “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.” Naturally, Pinterest means this as a vaguely motivational message, for us all to eat more healthily and blog more frequently and read more philosophically and act more charitably and be better generally. As a writer, however, I cannot pass up the prompt. 

Today I write the first page in a 365-page book, which will end on December 31 2014. For 365 days, I will write one page a day, and where ever the story leads, I will follow. One page a day, no more, no less; a believably feasible resolution, I think?

Anyone else looking for a challenge?