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.

According to Angela Booth, You Need to Think in Scenes!

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Source: Angela Booth’s Fab Freelance Writing Blog

I love this. I found it on Pinterest, along with a fantastic board about Freelance Writing.  I followed it immediately.

Sadly, my fiction isn’t getting anywhere these days. I am happy to report it’s because I am writing a lot of non fiction (which I also enjoy!).

If you are working on your novel/screenplay/YouTube series however, I thought this might help!

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

 

 

Rest in Peace, Robin Williams

I am not going to try to write a tribute to Robin Williams today. There are far more talented writers than I who are composing their tributes as I type this. Many of them have already done so. Judging from the comments I see on each of the clips I sought on YouTube, it’s clear that I am not the only one searching for their favorite scenes from his repertoire. He was an actor that touched our hearts, and I for one am sorry that I wasn’t able to help heal his.

I have put together some scenes from his career. It’s funny though; I expected that they would all be comedic because when you think of Robin Williams you think of whacky comedy. It surprised me that many of the ones that I chose were his more dramatic roles. Some lines of the dialogue are more poignant now, in light of his death today.

He didn’t write these scenes but what he did and what made him great was that he illuminated these lines, giving them life and making them beautiful.

Mork from Mork and Mindy: Love Report to Orson

 

Mrs. Doubtfire from Mrs. Doubtfire:

 

As Dr. Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting

 

Parry in the Fisher King Clip: Telling the story of the Fisher King

 

Professor John Keating in Dead Poets Society – Carpe Diem

 

Robin Williams was an actor that could make us laugh, cry, consider our mortality and what to do with the time we have left before it. His brilliant improvisation and endless energy invigorated the words given to him. An actor whose performance made a dead language’s phrase a part of our everyday vernacular.

It’s honestly hard to imagine that a man who was so funny and silly was carrying around so much pain. Hard to imagine, perhaps, but reality has made it clear. Maybe Professor Keating can teach us one last thing today by his departure, that a broken heart can be hiding in plain sight.

If you feel sad today, as I do, there is something you can do. Instead of tearing each other apart, how about responding with kindness and love? If you have the option to do what’s kind or what’s easy, then choose kind. Instead of responding with the path of least resistance, respond with love. Most of all, be sure to seize the day and make your lives extraordinary.

Being Alive is a Grand Thing

“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly despairing, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to BE alive is a grand thing.”

 

— Agatha Christie, from “An Autobiography”

 

 

5 Days: An Interesting Fact about Novels from Real Simple Magazine

5 Days: An Interesting Fact about Novels from Real Simple Magazine

Reading my favorite magazine, contemplating whether I am going to enter the Life Lessons Essay Contest (again), when I found this interesting fact on The Simple List, page 6 of the July issue:

5 Days

[is] How long the effects of reading a novel linger in the average person’s mind, according to a December 2013 study from Emory University in Atlanta. For 19 days, researchers took MRIs of undergraduates before, during and after reading Robert Harris’ 2003 thriller, Pompeii. Interestingly, the area of the brain linked to movement and physical sensation, which showed persistent changes throughout the reading, continued to do so almost a week after the students had finished. After that, the experience may have faded. Ciao, Pompeii. Hello, library.

Of course, we all know that there are some books that change your life. But it’s good to know that at the very least, you can change a reader for almost a week!