#BookReview of WRITEDOWN by Margaret Elphinstone et al #Lockdown #Galloway #Scotland #RBRT

I’m only a few pages into my copy and already recommending it to friends and family. And, I haven’t even read any of Mary Smith’s words yet… I love the whole idea and hope that others will pick up the gauntlet in their communities.

Barb Taub

In my last post here, I talked about the ‘forgotten’ flu pandemic of 1918. The coronavirus seems an overwhelming force across the globe, and I wonder what its legacy will be. After reading the incredible new group lockdown diary, Writedown, one thing I’m sure of is that this pandemic will live in our collective memory. 

One of the contributors to Writedown is also one of my favorite writers, Mary Smith. (If you haven’t had a chance to read her incredible Afghan adventure serial diary, give yourself a treat and start with this one, take a look at some of her funny and heart-tugging books here, her blog series My Dad is a Goldfish about caring for her father with dementia, or most recently her ongoing cancer journey.

I invited Mary to describe the Writedown project, and here’s what she shared.


Author Mary Smith, one…

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LET AMERICA BE AMERICA AGAIN

Please, open your heart and feel each word.

“When I was five years old, my mom always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wrote down “happy.”They told me I didn’t understand the assignment and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – Langston Hughes

LET AMERICA BE AMERICA AGAIN

Langston Hughes – 1902 – 1967

Let america be america again.

Let it be the dream it used to be.

Let it be the pioneer on the plain

Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed-

Let it be that great strong land of love

Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme

That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty

Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,

But opportunity is real, and life is free,

Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,

Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?

And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,

I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.

I am the red man driven from the land,

I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek-

And finding only the same old stupid plan

Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,

Tangled in that ancient endless chain

Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!

Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!

Of work the men! Of take the pay!

Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.

I am the worker sold to the machine.

I am the Negro, servant to you all.

I am the people, humble, hungry, mean-

Hungry yet today despite the dream.

Beaten yet today-O, Pioneers!

I am the man who never got ahead,

The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream

In the Old World while still a serf of kings,

Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,

That even yet its mighty daring sings

In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned

That’s made America the land it has become.

O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas

In search of what I meant to be my home-

For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,

And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,

And torn from Black Africa\s strand I came

To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?

Surely not me? The millions on relief today?

The millions shot down when we strike?

The millions who have nothing for our pay?

For all the dreams we’ve dreamed

And all the songs we’ve sung

And all the hopes we’ve held

And all the flags we’ve hung,

The millions who have nothing for our pay-

Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again-

The land that never has been yet-

And yet must be-the land where every man is free

The land that’s mine- the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s ME-

Who made America,

Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,

Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,

Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose-

The steel of freedom does not stain.

From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,

We must take back our land again,

America!

O, yes,

I say it plain,

America never was America to me

And yet I swear this oath-

America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,

The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,

We the people must redeem

The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.

The mountains and the endless plain-

All, all the stretch of these great green states-

And make America again!

*******

Bisous,

Léa

A little Lamb…

” We gain nothing by being with such as ourselves. We encourage one another in mediocrity. I am always longing to be with men more excellent than myself.”               –  Charles Lamb

“The greatest pleasure I know is to do a good action by stealth, and have to have it found out by accident.” –  Charles Lamb 

“I love to lose myself in other men’s minds.”  – Charles Lamb

The Old Familiar Faces

I have had playmates, I have had companions,

In my days of childhood, in my joyful school-days,

All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

I have been laughing, I have been carousing,

Drinking late, sitting late, with my bosom cronies,

All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

I loved a love once, fairest among women;

Closed are her doors on me, I must not see her –

All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

I have a friend, a kinder friend has no man;

Like an ingrate, I left my friend abruptly;

Left him, to muse on the old familiar faces.

Ghost-like, I paced round the haunts of my childhood

Earth seemed a desert I was bound to traverse,

Seeking to find the old familiar faces.

Friend of my bosom, thou more than a brother,

Why wert not thou born in my father’s dwelling?

So might we talk of the old familiar faces –

How some have died, and some they have left me,

And some are taken from me; all are departed;

All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

Charles Lamb 1775 – 1834

Bisous,

Léa

What’s The Ultimate Conundrum?

A book writer’s reality check from Jack. Merci beaucoup mon ami.

Have We Had Help?

NSRW_Dodo

No not the Dodo – read on!

When it comes to that book we as writers have spent many months working on, sooner or later we are all presented with the same conundrum. Will it sell, bearing in mind that this business is extremely fickle?

Daily I see countless writers both new and old, endlessly talking/blogging about spending not only a considerable amount of time and effort, but also their hard earned money, on a book they wrote some time back that simply isn’t selling, in the vain hope that what they’re doing will increase it’s chances in today’s saturated market. In short we’re talking about idiots!

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it until the day I die. If your book doesn’t work, no amount of spending money on changing its cover or having it properly edited, together with purchasing a number of copies of the…

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Quotations By Isaac Asimov

Most timely, Charles. We all need to read and heed these quotes. The budget needs to put Education as a top priority. Alas, under the current regime, that won’t happen. One’s head must be buried deeply in the sand to not see the price the nation is paying for ignorance. Thank you for shining some light out into the darkness.

charles french words reading and writing

Isaac.Asimov01

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”

“The easiest way to solve a problem is to deny it exists.”

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To Live “according to nature”… Nietzsche

 

“Sensuality often hastens the ‘Growth of Love’ so much that the roots are weak and easily torn up.”  – Friedrich Nietzsche

“He who establishes his argument by noise and command shows that his reason is weak.”  – Michel de Montaigne

“Let us give nature a chance; she knows her business better than we do.”                      – Michel de Montaigne

Do you want to live “according to nature”? O you noble Stoics, what a verbal swindle! Imagine a being like nature – extravagant without limit, indifferent without limit, without purpose and consideration, without pity and justice, simultaneously fruitful, desolate, and unknown – imagine this indifference itself as a power – how could you live in accordance with this indifference? Living – isn’t that precisely a well to be something different from what this nature is? Isn’t living appraising, preferring, being unjust, being limited, wanting to be different? And if your imperative “live according to nature” basically means what amounts to “live according to life” – why can you not just do that? Why make a principle out of what you yourselves are and must be? The truth of the matter is quite different: while you pretend to be in raptures as you read the canon of your law out of nature, you want something which is the reverse of this, you weird actors and self-deceivers! Your pride wants to prescribe to and incorporate into nature, this very nature, you morality, your ideal. You demand that nature be “in accordance with the stoa,” and you’d like to make all existence merely living in accordance with your own image of it – as a huge and eternal glorification and universalizing of stoicism! With all your love of truth, you have forced yourselves for such a long time and with such persistence and hypnotic rigidity to look at nature falsely, that is, stoically, until you’re no longer capable of seeing nature as anything else – and some abysmal arrogance finally inspires you with the lunatic hope that, because you know how to tyrannize over yourselves – Stoicism is self-tyranny – nature also allows herself to be tyrannized. Is the Stoic then not a part of nature?… But this is an ancient eternal story: what happened then with the Stoics is still happening today, as soon as a philosophy begins to believe in itself. It always creates a world in its own image. It cannot do anything different. Philosophy is the tyrannical drive itself, the spiritual will to power, to a “creation of the world” to the causa prima |first cause|

Friedrich Nietzsche Beyond Good and Evil

 

“It is better to change an opinion than to persist in a wrong one.” – Socrates.

 “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle                                             

“To find yourself think for yourself.” – Socrates

 

Time is precious and each of us is allotted a relatively small portion. Self-examination is crucial and a necessary investment in ourselves, routine maintenance so to speak. If we can’t be firm in our convictions, do we have any? Or do we simply parrot those of another? If we don’t change our minds, from time-to-time, examine our beliefs, are we sure we are capable of doing so. The world does not stand still and we need to be mindful that even the road less traveled bends, rises, and falls.

Bisous, Léa

Joyeux Anniversaire Monsieur William Shakespeare!

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”      – The Tempest Act 4, Scene 1

 

“Lord, what fools these mortals be.”  – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

 

JOYEUX ANNIVERSAIRE! In honor of the Bard’s birthday, I offer one of his well known and much-loved sonnets. Yet when I read it, or think of its message, for me it is not just about romantic love but the love of family, friends, humanity, and our struggling environment.

 

Sonnet 116: Let me not to the marriage of true minds

 

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove.

O no! It is an ever-fixed mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wand’ring bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me prov’d,

I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.

 

Perhaps you have a favorite, and perhaps there is too much to choose from to eliminate others?

 

Bisous, Léa

Foreshadowing Tips — Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog

Originally posted on K.M. Allan: One of the best elements that you can add to your book is foreshadowing, which is dropping clues for your readers so they don’t get to that awesome plot twist and immediately think, “Where did that come from?” In that situation, the reaction you want is “OMG, yes!” or…

via Foreshadowing Tips — Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog

I’m back…

“The only constant in life is change.”  – Heraclitus 

In all the time since my last post, there have been personal changes and changes throughout the world. Many of them are troubling. I’ve no doubt that each of you has concerns regarding the state of affairs both where you live and the world at large. 

Always a reader, I often turn to books and the comfort they give. There is a world of wisdom between the covers, questions to ponder and perhaps even shifts in our way of thinking and/or living. 

“If you haven’t changed your mind lately how can you be sure you still have one?”    –  Peace Resource Project ( https://www.peaceproject.com/)

For now, this blog will share quotes, even if I don’t agree with all of them. There may be a few musings, rants and possibly a poem or two… and I would love to hear your thoughts and feelings that these words stir if indeed they do.   Perhaps you will take a moment and share one of your own favorites? At times there may be a focus on a particular author. There are other times when two, three or even more will join it.  On his excellent blog, Charles French will set up a mythical table of authors that one might choose to encounter. Find Charles here: https://charlesfrenchonwordsreadingandwriting.wordpress.com/  I do hope he will forgive me for borrowing from that delicious idea and creating a Café setting where the invited allow us to sit in and listen, ask questions and perhaps simply reflect on their thoughts.  We will, of course, have our excellent French wine on the table. 

It can be wonderful to read from the great philosophers throughout time and acknowledge some shared beliefs. Truth be told, I find I get much more out of the ones I don’t agree with as it makes me dig deeper into my beliefs, challenges me and question myself. I can’t believe anything that I haven’t thought through exhaustively.  Okay, the caveat here is that intuition can have its way as well but here we are having an Empath’s moment…

“It is always advisable to perceive clearly our ignorance.” – Charles Darwin

Thank you to all who chose to join me on this journey. Let us see what we can discover?

Bisous,

Lea

 

BANNED BOOK WEEK: Thank a Librarian and read a Banned Book

“We are willing enough to praise freedom when she is tucked away in the past and cannot be a nuisance. In the present, amidst dangers whose outcome we cannot foresee, we get nervous about her and admit censorship.   –  E.M. Forster

 

“Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.”   –  Henry Louis Gates

 

“Submitting to censorship is to enter the seductive world of ‘The Giver’: the world where there are no bad words and no bad deeds. But it is also the world where choice has been taken away and reality distorted. And that is the most dangerous world of all.”   –  Lois Lowry

DO YOURSELF A FAVOUR AND READ:

http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/statementspols/freedomreadstatement

*

Fight Censorship and thank a Librarian

It’s banned books week

And if a book hasn’t

Made it on that list

I’m not sure it is

Worth my time

Reading

*

It’s banned books week

If you care about

Making your own

Choices

If there is a book

You like that

Has made the list

Speak out

*

It’s banned books week

Somewhere there is a

Librarian who has stuck

Her neck out

For your right to

Read what you choose

They are the hero’s of

The hour

*

It’s banned books week

Celebrate

Read a book

From the list

Read the statement

Freedom to Read 1953

Celebrate

Then go to the independent

Book store and buy

Banned books

*

Stop by and leave a comment. Share your favorite Banned Book.

 

Bisous,

Léa