Emily Dickinson: In a Library.

book store with antique books

My daughter gave me a book of poems of Emily Dickinson. This morning I decided to read one. It just so happens that it was a good one for other writers.

In a Library. 

A PRECIOUS, mouldering pleasure ‘t is

To meet an antique book,

In just the dress his century wore;

A privilege, I think,

His venerable hand to take,

And warming in our own,

A passage back, or two, to make

To times when he was young.

His quaint opinions to inspect,

His knowledge to unfold

On what concerns our mutual mind,

The literature of old;

What interested scholors most,

What competitions ran

When Plato was a certainty,

And Sophocles a man;

When Sappho was a living girl,

And Beatrice wore

The gown that Dante deified.

Facts, centuries before,

He traverses familiar,

As one should come to town

And tell you all your dreams were true:

He lived where dreams were sown.

His presence is enchantment,

You beg him not to go;

Old volumes shake their vellum heads

And tantalize, just so.

The truth is I don’t spend any time in a library anymore. If I do, it’s to go to the kid’s section. When I read her description, I picture the library at Hogwarts, frankly, which is a far cry from any library I have had the pleasure of frequenting.

I have to wonder if libraries like this even exist in the real world anymore. They do, of course, but they are likely to be private. The public library in New York is pretty nice, I guess. On the Sex and the City Movie (the first one, otherwise known as the “good” one), Carrie Bradshaw loved the library, described the smell of the books, and even scheduled her ill-fated nuptials there. From what I saw of the library in the movie, it looked more like what Dickinson described.

Now that I think about it, Dickinson likely was talking about a private library anyway. In her time, public libraries were likely few and far between. I’m not a historian and am even too lazy to look it up on Google, but my gut tells me her description was of a wealthy friend or colleague’s private collection.

However, the idea of charming libraries isn’t what spoke to me in this poem. What drew me to the poem was the idea she traveled to the time of the authors she mentions as she read. In that way, I relate. Stephen King in his book “On Writing” talks about the way we can communicate through time and space with our writing. I couldn’t agree more;  this communication is one of the many reasons I love to read and to write.

As writers, it is our duty to transcend the now and reach forward to tell our stories to the future audience. What is on your screen today could grace the pages (or tablet screens) of your audience in the future. Ask yourself what you want to say to those readers. What is the picture you wish to paint for our time today, or the time of which you are writing? We paint these images with our words as only we can, with our unique perspective and interpretation. These images are our responsibility as artists.

We have a responsibility as writers to recreate the images of our time with our words, to transcend time and space with our readers.

We have a responsibility as writers to recreate the images of our time with our words, to transcend time and space with our readers.

May you communicate through time and space today with your audience, who may or may not be walking the Earth as we speak.

Things You Never Knew about The Little House on the Prairie Books

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I read “The Little House on the Prairie” books voraciously when I was a young girl. Camped out on my red patchwork bedspread in leg warmers under my Michael Jackson’s Thriller poster, I poured through the series, my eyes starved for the next fascinating anecdote about roughing it in the untamed midwest. This series of books is as much a part of my childhood as the Muppets or the Atari 2600.

So when I read this article on latimes.com, I was surprised to learn some of the interesting backstory about this important series. First of all, I was surprised to learn her daughter edited the series (or maybe wrote it, although Rose Wilder Lane said she just “edited” her mother’s work). Then I was surprised to learn the Ingalls had been in Iowa for a time. Even more surprised to hear half-pint stood up to a drunk uncle and fended off lecherous and criminal advances…I am a little thankful that part was left out of the books!

For more fascinating and eye-opening facts about The Little House series, read the article for yourself.

“The Reality Behind Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ‘Little House’ Books.

Life Lessons from Shel Silverstein

Everything on it

I have always been a fan of Shel Silverstein. Since my first read of, “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” I have admired his work. I learned many of life’s lessons on his stark and gritty pages.

Last night, while reading with the kids, I came across this beautiful poem, a jewel amongst the snarky rhyming couplets and occasional illustrated bottom:

Happy Ending?

There are no happy endings.

Endings are the saddest part,

So just give me a happy middle

And a very happy start.

From: Every Thing On It

You can chalk this up to another life lesson learned from Silverstein. It’s not the end that we look forward to when it comes to life. It’s this part here in the middle that matters, warts and all. I am thankful for my middle…and all the people that give it joy.

May you have a very happy middle and a Happy Thanksgiving!

Huffington Post’s: 10 Rules for Aspiring Women Writers

Found this on my Facebook feed (thanks Missy Cretcher) and knew I had to post this. It addresses women writers in the headline, but I think these concepts apply no matter which door you choose at the public restroom.

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10 Rules for Aspiring Women Writers

Print it out and keep it where you can see it everyday. And keep up the good work!

Storytellers Restore Order

“They will rejoice. They will sing. In movie houses all over the world, in the eyes and hearts of my kids and other kids, mothers, fathers for generations to come, George Banks will be honored. George Banks will be redeemed. George Banks and all he stands for will be saved. Maybe not in real life, but in imagination.

“This is what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.”

 

— Walt Disney, from Saving Mr. Banks

by  Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith

 

 

Being a Writer: Expectations Vs. Reality by Lenora Epstein, Buzzfeed.com

 

Being a Writer: Expectations Vs. Reality by Lenora Epstein on Buzzfeed.com

 

Just a little levity in the form of humor a little too close to truth to be entirely comfortable to get our weekends started off right!

Writers: Make Some Light Today

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“Why would you save me?” Despereaux asked. “Have you saved any of the other mice?”

“Never,” said Gregory. “not one.”

“Why would you save me, then?”

“Because you, mouse, can tell Gregory a story. Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark. Begin at the beginning. Tell Gregory a story. Make some light.”

And because Despereaux wanted very much to live, he said, “Once upon a time…”

“Yes,” said Gregory happily. He raised his hand higher and then higher still until Despereaux’s whiskers brushed against his leathery, timeworn ear. “Go on mouse,” said Gregory. “Tell Gregory a story.”

And it was in this way that Despereaux became the only mouse sent to the dungeon whom the rats did not reduce to a pile of bones and a piece of red thread. It was in this way the Despereaux was saved.

  —  Kate DiCamillo. The Tale of Despereaux.