News Item: “After leading the police on a dangerous chase in
rush hour traffic, the male driver crashed, then ran off into the surrounding neighborhood.
As night descended police were still searching for the gentleman.”
Gentleman? Really? I have heard many male suspects referred
to as “gentlemen” by reporters on the local news.
What is “gentle” about evading the police, driving
dangerously and putting innocent people’s lives in danger? What is “gentle”
about beating up an 87 year old man for his wallet?
The word seems to have lost its meaning in the rush to avoid
offending anyone. Its companion is “lady” which seems to have retained its
meaning. A female suspect in a crime case is never referred to as “lady.”
Man, Woman. Let’s get back to precise word choices, words
that reflect the object or person referred to.
I am a fan of “Outlander” both the books and the Starz
series. There I’ve said it! It is historical fiction combined with magical
realism and is absolutely fascinating both for the adventure and for the
history that is recounted as the characters progress through their trials. I’m
also a sucker for the romance of the two main characters!
In her books, Diana Gabaldon has created realistic,
interesting and vibrant characters. I especially like the female ones. They are
not wishy-washy slaves to the men in their lives. These women tackle their
problems head-on, not afraid to apply common sense even when it goes against the
advice of the male protagonists.
Another reason I like her female characters in the books is that they are not
skinny. The main one, Claire, is teased often by her lover for her ample rump.
Therefore I was somewhat disappointed to see that the Starz version cast a
beautiful but very thin woman (Caitriona Balfe) as Claire. All of those
affectionate comments about her posterior are lost in this film version. Her
lover Jamie is played by a suitably handsome Sam Heughan who captures the naïve
nature of the character as Gabaldon created him.
The other characters are played by a strong ensemble cast,
as we’ve come to expect in many British connected productions. (Death at a Funeral comes to mind.)
Leftbank Pictures, who produces the series for Starz, adheres
closely to the books that I enjoyed so much, thanks no doubt, to the presence
of Gabaldon as consultant in the series. They have done it right, taking the
time to tease out the themes and present how Scottish history and myths influence
the actions of the characters and drive the plot.
After leaving us with a
cliff-hanger at the end of the last episode, I am excited to see how the series
continues. Starts on April 4.
Magical thinking. If only . . . (fill in your greatest
desire here). . . then all my problems would be solved.
Do we all indulge in this phenomenon? When I read Joan Didion’s A Year of Magical Thinking I didn’t really understand her premise.
I was sad for her journey as she recovered from the death of her husband, but I
didn’t understand how she could actually believe in the “magical thinking” she
I thought I was immune. Family, friends, career, hobbies,
all fine. Nothing fabulous, but life was satisfying. I have had enough of life’s
radical swings. From my teens through my forties, I hung on for the ride and survived, scarred but
with my sense of humor intact. I was content--but still with a few wishes
And then illness of a beloved grandchild smashed that
contentment, snapped me back onto the ride. And I started to think about
solutions, a way to solve his problems. I clung to one idea—eliminate all
electronic devices. That was the key to the cure, I believed. I reasoned it out
carefully—inside my head, not researching nor talking with anyone. Somewhere deep
inside I knew that a solution could not be that simple. If it were, one of the
professionals in charge would have applied it and he’d be cured already. But I
clung stubbornly to that hope for an instant cure.
And is “hope” what we are really doing when we indulge like
that? When life hits us hard, we can cave in and give up, or we can hope. And
that hope is what drives us forward, what gives us courage and tenacity to
continue with this imperfect life.
And hope is what drives us to still look for joy along the way.
I've been thinking a lot about the rhythm of my novel-in-progress. I have a lot of psychological drama which is tense, alternated with a more relaxed love story. The trick is to keep the reader engaged, to withhold information without causing the plot line to sag. It is a constant battle to provide enough development so that the plot is understandable, but at the same time keep the action going.
I read aloud often to really "hear" the story. This is the way stories came down to earliest man and to us as children before we could read. We all instinctively know what works in a story if we listen carefully and engage our imaginations. I am constantly finding errors in logic, awkward flow, or poor phrasing just by reading out loud.
I am thriving.
I write for many hours of the day and really enjoy it. My dental hygienist told me the other day that she hates writing. She cannot do it well and won't practice. When she said that, I stared at her, silenced and dumbfounded. I cannot imagine a life without writing or reading.
Writing requires an audience to really come alive, and I find a writing group is essential for development, especially when it is a longer project. I work with a group of talented women who read and respond to my work in creative and significant ways. Wonderful! We call ourselves, "Algonquin West," and I can't imagine working this well without them. They spur me on to complete pages for our once-a-week meeting, and then inspire me to improve the pages I have written.
I am especially thankful to the talented Eve La Salle Caram who has guided this group from the beginning, and who works diligently with each one of us, as well as teaching classes at UCLA and Cal State Northridge! Whew!