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“Writing is not an occupation, profession or job; It is…” | The Art of Quotation.

“Writing is not an occupation, profession or job; It is not a way of life: It is a comprehensive response to life.” – Gregory McDonald, author of “Fletch”


AnAdventureInBosnia

Emina by Alex Šantić Emina by Alex Šantić

Many centuries ago, it was a tradition for men to go for a turkish bath from time to time. This was where men would gather in a relaxed ambience to exhange small talk. This area was called Hamam.

Then, one young man who was returning from the Hamam, passed by the garden of the city imam (Muslim Pastor), saw the daughter of the imam. Struck by her beauty, he wrote a poem which later made him a famous poet.

Here is my humble translation of the poem, hope you like it.

At dusk, while returning from the warmth of the Hamam,

I passed by the garden of the old city Imam.

There in the garden, Under the shade of the jasmine tree,

A pitcher in her hand stood beautiful Emina.

 

What Beauty! I could swear by Imam!

That even the sultan would not be…

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“I doubt I would have written a line … unless some minor tragedy had sort of twisted my mind out of the normal rut.”

My daily rhythms of reading and writing were recently derailed by a temporary but acute illness that stopped, unceremoniously and without apology, the music to which mind and matter are entwined in their intimate tango. For the second time in my adult life — the first being a food poisoning episode — I was made palpably aware of how body and brain conspire in the thing we call being. The extreme physical weakness somehow short-circuited the “associative trails” upon which fruitful thinking is based and my card to the library of my own mind was mercilessly revoked, and yet I was granted access to a whole new terra incognita of the mind, a Wonderland of fragmentary ideas and sidewise gleams at Truth. Then, as recovery airlifted me out of the mental haze, returning to my mere baseline of cognitive function felt nothing short of miraculous — as soon as I resumed reading, everything sparked fireworks of connections and illuminated associative trails in all directions. It was as though the illness had catapulted me to a higher plane of what Oscar Wilde called the “temperament of receptivity.”

This, of course, is not an uncommon experience — both the tendency to treat illness as an abstraction until it befalls the concreteness of our body-minds, and the sense of not merely renewed but elevated mental and creative faculties coming out on the other end of a physically and mentally draining stretch. But no one has articulated this odd tradeoff more masterfully than…

View original: Roald Dahl on How Illness Emboldens Creativity: A Moving Letter to His Bedridden Mentor | Brain Pickings.


We miss you, Maya.

WRITER'S BLOG

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t…

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‘Shell-like’ refers to a person’s ear. It has been in use since the late 19th century when the shape of an ear was deemed to be like a sea shell.

When we are tired, under pressure or emotional, it is all too easy to make glaring mistakes in our writing. I’m as guilty as anyone and have appalled myself on occasion with errors that must have prompted my mother, an ardent member of the ‘grammar police’, to spin in her grave!

Having said that, there is little excuse on a computer when there are multifarious tools for proof-reading, whether it’s spelling or grammar. True, these tools are not infallible — I say this as WP  has just accepted ‘iff’ on another post I’m writing — but it is the least we owe our readers. Some bloggers, I’ve noticed, have added spelling and grammar disclaimers; this beggars belief.

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While the mistakes listed in the above image are commonplace and infuriating, incorrect plurals seem to have taken over the globe! I’ve just seen a Twitter profile that reads ‘Manages only the best producer’s, artist’s, designer’s and model’s of today’s talent.’ Are they kidding me?

Of all the plural gaffes, there is one in particular that has become all-pervasive and makes me grit my teeth, I confess, with fury. I see it myriad times a day, every day. I’ve even seen it in a captioned prologue to a film. It’s an error that has me wondering if somebody changed the rules and forgot to tell me!

I’m talking about how to use an apostrophe when it comes to years and decades. Confused? Let me show you some examples, all of which I’ve taken from the web. The correct way to express each phrase is on the right.

1960’s Decade Overview • 1960s Decade Overview

Visiting dress, late 1860’s • Visiting dress, late 1860s

Explorers from the 1600’s • Explorers from the 1600s

She was a college student in the early 1990’s • She was a college student in the early 1990s

Where does the 1990’s rank as a decade? • Where do the 1990s rank as a decade? (also note the ‘does’ error in this question taken from the CNN website)

This applies equally when decades are shortened i.e. the ’20s (note the apostrophe before the number to show the elision). The only time you would apply an apostrophe before the ‘s’ is if you were writing about that particular turn-of-the-decade year i.e. 1960’s music charts, meaning the charts of 1960, not the whole decade. If you wanted to refer to the charts of the decade in this context, it would be ‘the 1960s’ music charts’ where the apostrophe after the ‘s’ is possessive in nature.

Incidentally, ages follow the same pattern: you should write ‘I’m in my 30s’ rather than ‘I’m in my 30’s’.

I do know that many are dismissive of grammatical rules and say it really doesn’t matter. But this, as Pippa of The Last Post said, is like declaring that an artist doesn’t need to be able to draw to be a painter, or that a mathematician doesn’t need to know how to add up to create ground-breaking formulae. The more the structure of language is debased, the more incomprehensible it becomes and the less we understand each other, a dangerous path to take, as history shows us all too often.

Here is Lynne Truss on the subject in Eats, Shoots and Leaves, an invaluable and highly entertaining guide to punctuation that has no right not being on every wordsmith’s shelf.

‘The reason it’s worth standing up for punctuation is not that it’s an arbitrary system of notation known only to an over-sensitive élite who have attacks of the vapours when they see it misapplied. The reason to stand up for punctuation is that without it there is no reliable way of communicating meaning.’

‘On the page, punctuation performs its grammatical function, but in the mind of the reader it does more than that. It tells the reader how to hum the tune.’

‘We have a language that is full of ambiguities; we have a way of expressing ourselves that is often complex and elusive, poetic and modulated; all our thoughts can be rendered with absolute clarity if we bother to put the right dots and squiggles between the words in the right places. Proper punctuation is both the sign and the cause of clear thinking. If it goes, the degree of intellectual impoverishment we face is unimaginable.’

‘[…] I apologise if you all know this, but the point is many, many people do not. Why else would they open a large play area for children, hang up a sign saying “Giant Kid’s Playground”, and then wonder why everyone stays away from it? (Answer: everyone is scared of the Giant Kid.)’

All quotes taken from GoodReads.

I could quote from this book forever and a day. Short of that, I urge you to get a copy.

It is also worth looking out for punctuation posts from some of the lovely blogs I follow including but not limited to Nicholas C Rossis and Have We Had Help.

Related

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


A musically delightful way to end the day, courtesy of belsbror.

belsbror

Before I sign off for the day, I think you are all entitled for an explanation why I intentionally posted only videos today. It’s rather simple actually: my mind was out there somewhere, obviously far away from writing. 😀

I will leave you with a famous short story, the narrative expertly sung.

Be well!

Goodnight guys and gals! 🙂

BLOGGING   LIFE/STYLES   MY STORIES   WHISPER   ZONE

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Following on from my earlier re-blog about war from Order of Truth, I offer this piece by Peter Wells of Counting Ducks, which provides a powerful statement about the horrors of war and the mental scars that follow trauma.

countingducks

To those unknowing of my childhood my enigmatic and disconnected behaviour must have seemed odd and possibly uncivilised. In youth I could not see beyond getting by and surviving day by day; ‘learning’ was another country where less damaged people lived. I was busy trying to fly that alien craft I was to discover was myself. Sometime after youth I became aware I was a bruise, and every touch hurt me: intimacy, my most desired wish remained my deepest fear. In time, looking around me I saw that everyone has their bruises to some degree and felt, and understood, like me, that to a greater or lesser extent our limping and imperfect journey to a fog-bound destination was marked by the need for self-protection. Those marks, invisible to the naked eye, were our unspoken history, not recorded in those smiling photographs taken on the beach, sitting beside the man who abused you when…

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JoUnwin

artworks-000009762622-1krie6-crop

 

I love getting post.  I love getting signed contracts, proof copies, invitations to parties… and I love receiving unsolicited submissions, because there is always the possibility that one of them is going to change the course of my career (and the author’s, obviously!)

I don’t think I’m alone amongst Literary Agents when I say that the working day starts the moment I wake up and check my phone for overnight emails from abroad, or early risers, or night owls – and there are always several.  I’m certainly not alone when I say that the working day ends when I turn off my bedside light.  

If you follow this blog, you’ll know that I absolutely love my job, but there is never enough time.  I would love to be able to hold down a full time job, and read four or more novels a night, but sadly that is not possible.  I have a…

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BEGUILING HOLLYWOOD

5.0 out of 5 starsIt’s In His Kiss is a brilliant present day Hollywood noir murder mystery which should appeal immensely to Fans of Chandler and Cain…, July 7, 2014
By
Ben Vendetta (Cleveland, OH) – See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
Featuring sleazy Hollywood actors, a mysterious Palm Spring sex club, and the evil clutches of Scientology (I mean Clientology!), It’s In His Kiss is a brilliant present day Hollywood noir murder mystery which should appeal immensely to fans of Chandler and Cain. Like those authors, Lester doesn’t waste her words. She doesn’t tell us, she shows us. I read this over the course of a weekend and want to read it again! Highly recommended.

tunnel back copy

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Update: I should point out that it’s not as grand as it sounds since they are publishing everyone’s contributions as it is a special UK project to commemorate the First World War.

‘Five foot ten of a beautiful young Englishman under French soil. Never a joke, never a look, never a word more to add to my store of memories. The book is shut up forever and as the years pass I shall remember less and less, till he becomes a vague personality; a stereotyped photograph.’

Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

My imagined letter to an unknown soldier has now been published on the 14-18-NOW website! Click here.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


A re-blog from the archive.

First Night Design

International Women's Day 8th MarchInternational Women’s Day 8th March 2014

To mark the day, I am paying tribute to a woman whose influence has been remarkable, whose work has inspired generation after generation, and to whom I just happen to be distantly related!

When I was first introduced to Jane Austen, I found her difficult to read. This was partly because she was labeled a ‘classic’ writer that we had to study at school, along with Dickens and Shakespeare and so forth, and our English teacher was evidently an actress manqué whose renditions rendered us speechless with horror.  I loathed Shakespeare until my parents took me to an RSC production of Twelfth Night with Judi Dench, Richard Pasco and Elizabeth Spriggs.  Immediately I understood what the fuss was about.

My parents introduced me to many artistic delights but the time when they would have urged me to read Austen was a time…

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Neil Bartlett and Kate Pullinger have set up a grand venture to commemorate WW1. For them ‘it is important to move away from cenotaphs, poppies, and the imagery we associate with war memorials’.

We can all contribute: ‘If you could say what you want to say about that war, with all we’ve learned since 1914, with all your own experience of life and death to hand, what would you say? If you were now able to write to the unknown soldier, a man who served and was killed during World War One, what would you write?’

If you’d like to take part, you can do so now. All contributions will be published on their website from 28 June 2014. To read more about this project, click here.

‘Five foot ten of a beautiful young Englishman under French soil. Never a joke, never a look, never a word more to add to my store of memories. The book is shut up forever and as the years pass I shall remember less and less, till he becomes a vague personality; a stereotyped photograph.’

Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

This is what I shall be submitting. It is an imagined letter but based on my family.

Darling One,

Do you remember when I said that I would never forgive you if you went across the sea without telling me? I’m sorry now that I said that. I realise it was not what you wanted to hear, that the last thing you needed was to feel pressure to do what your family wanted instead of the freedom to do what was best for you. Please forgive me, my dearest brother.

I miss you so. I miss your cheeky, lopsided smile that used to steal across your face when you were joshing me about something I’d said. Or when Dodo pulled you to her to give you a bear hug, while Barbara looked on impatiently because she wanted us to continue our game of Whist. Do you remember?

With Mother gone, you were almost like a son to me and I was so proud when you joined up to defend our country. At the same time I was fretful beyond imagining. I knew you could take care of yourself, no matter that you were so young, but I know now that all the sense or strength in the world is not enough to protect one from death. I know now that war is senseless, that it can never achieve anything except destruction.

You would have loved the man I married but, of course, you know him now. I was the only one of us three to marry. Dodo looked after Papa until he joined you. All gone now. Except for me.

I did not write any more novels after The Flapper. I should have done. Perhaps it would have helped me to have taken up my pen again after my beloved Chan was struck down in 1940. Perhaps not.

I’m old now. I have always found myself unable to talk of you to my children or grandchildren. They have only photographs by which to know their uncle.

I will join you soon and all of us will be together again. I long for the day.

Ever yours,

Joyce

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


What a fabulous introduction that old rogue, Seumas Gallacher, has given me! I say rogue when I’ve known him all of three days! Do visit his blog – it’s great fun. Thanks again, Seumas, for your kindness.

Comfort in a Cotton Frock Day 2
Comfort in a Cotton Frock Day 3

Seumas Gallacher

…when this ol’ Jurassic asked for Guest Posts from yeez Lads and Lassies of Blog Land, I expected nowt but the highest quality of off’rings… the wonderful Sarah Vernon serves up the following gem… yeez’ll note the first step back in time is to a quite recent date… last November to be precise… her ‘go’ at the NaNoWriMo’s fiction produces the second step back in time, to her infancy, and simultaneously brands her as a NoNoWriMo Rebel inasmuch as it’s a personal true piece… I’m glad she did, and delighted with the content… yeez’ll see what I mean… read and enjoy… thanks, m’Lady Sarah…

#NANOWRIMO DAY 1

This is the start…

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synkroniciti

© Nshivaa with CCLicense © Nshivaa with CCLicense

Walls protect and walls limit. It is in the nature of walls that they should fall. That walls should fall is the consequence of blowing your own trumpet.

Jeanette WintersonOranges Are Not the Only Fruit

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Once an actor, director and choreographer, Clive Hicks-Jenkins has been a successful artist for some years now. He lives with his partner, Peter, in the writer Rose Macaulay’s former home in Wales. I thoroughly recommend exploring his blog in depth.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins' Artlog:

It’s May Day 2014, and the ninth anniversary of the death of my friend Catriona Urquhart. May Day was significant to her in so many ways. She once phoned me from Oxford at the crack of a May Day dawn, to relay the sound of the Magdalen choristers singing the Hymnus Eucharisticus from the top of Great Tower. So it came as no surprise to anyone that Catrona waited until a May Day morning to die.

Catriona was the writer of the original accompanying poetic text to The Mare’s Tale, a body of my work that has unexpectedly had a life beyond the period of its making, and indeed beyond her passing. (In 2012 another poet, Damian Walford Davies, was invited to write the libretto of the chamber work of The Mare’s Tale, working with the composer Mark Bowden and using my Mare’s Tale drawings… and I suspect…

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