September 30, 2005



Oh yes, the 5 a.m. wake-up call. I never manage to get all that much written, but it does help me get my head screwed on straight and keep the story in the front of my mind during the day. I'm actually doing this 10 p.m. start-time right now, with the 5 a.m. wake-up call. I will be glad when the thing is written.

lob lolly



Oh yes, I have the obligatory day-job to pay bills, but want to have the teaching job so I can have a better day job while I write. I'm working on publishing short-stories and right now, i'm so tired by the time I get home, it's cutting into my creative time, the commute . . . so I will re-apply to MFA programs next year, but have already been accepted once a couple years ago, but unfortunately didn't have my s*** together so . . . in the meantime, I'm writing or rather thinking about how I should be writing.


Wow, I just posted something, or so I thought and it's not here. If it shows up later, sorry 'bout that. What I said, essentially was, I have a day job but I want the teaching day job so I can have all the things the teaching environment provides, however, I will be re-applying to grad school for the MFA next fall. Meanwhile, I'm trying to write short-stories to be published when I'm not in my car from my hour commute to/from work! But you're right about college degrees. Aside from teaching, so many places don't care if you have a degree or if it's in a field that you are working in. Pretty sad, isn't it?

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  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."


  • The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald


    Penelope Fitzgerald's second novel is the tale of Florence Green, a widow who seeks, in the late 1950s, to bring a bookstore to an isolated British town, encountering all manner of obstacles, including incompetent builders, vindictive gentry, small minded bankers, an irritable poltergeist, but, above all, a town that might not, in fact, want a bookshop. Fitzgerald's prose is spare but evocative – there's no wasted effort and her work reminds one of Hemingway's dictum that every word should fight for its right to be on the page. Florence is an engaging creation, stubbornly committed to her plan even as uncertainty regarding the wisdom of the enterprise gnaws at her. But The Bookshop concerns itself, finally, with the astonishing vindictiveness of which provincials are capable, and, as so much English fiction must, it grapples with the inevitabilities of class. It's a dense marvel at 123 pages, a book you won't want to – or be able to – rush through.
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    Tim Krabbé's superb 1978 memoir-cum-novel is the single best book we've read about cycling, a book that will come closer to bringing you inside a grueling road race than anything else out there. A kilometer-by-kilometer look at just what is required to endure some of the most grueling terrain in the world, Krabbé explains the tactics, the choices and – above all – the grinding, endless, excruciating pain that every cyclist faces and makes it heart-pounding rather than expository or tedious. No writer has better captured both the agony and the determination to ride through the agony. He's an elegant stylist (ably served by Sam Garrett's fine translation) and The Rider manages to be that rarest hybrid – an authentic, accurate book about cycling that's a pleasure to read. "Non-racers," he writes. "The emptiness of those lives shocks me."