Category Archives: Writing

Inherited Bookishness

Warning: book-related geekery ahead!

Today SillyBilly and I had a book-lovin’ afternoon. First we watched this video of a modern book bindery that a fellow EFA member mentioned on our group discussion board (double click to open this one):

This contrasted nicely with another video we watched a few months ago, on hot metal printing circa 1947:

We were amazed to see the differences: the technology, from stamping each letter into metal, lining them all up in order by hand, and pressing them into a copper plate, to an almost fully automated, computer-controlled assembly line. And the similarities: it’s still just paper, cardboard, and glue.

This inspired SillyBilly to continue working on his book, which received its table of contents and first page today:

The Haunted Mansion
The Haunted Mansion

Table of Contents
By D. Hunt
(Table of Contents)
1) The Powerful Goo
(2-7 still untitled)
7 Chapters!
To Mama from D.

There was a dark, dark forest and there was a colony of ghosts. There was a very special rock that was powerful that the ghosts…

(I don’t know what’s coming next…. I’ll keep you all informed.)

I love that dark, dark, forest. It’s hard to see, but the red thing is the eerie glow of a ghost’s eyes.

Later at dinner I was describing the modern bindery video to Anthropapa and Napoleona. Evidently it caught her imagination too, because after dinner I heard them playing with books: SillyBilly was making little machine sounds (whssshhht! ffffft!) as he slid books down the tilted footrest of our recliner, while Napoleona “inspected” the books as they came down, checking for proper pagination and end paper gluing.

Imitation at its finest! Videos might not be a strictly approved Waldorf activity, but I love what kind of art and play it inspired today.

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Filed under art, Books, editing, General silliness, Napoleona, play, SillyBilly, Writing

Who Does She Think She Is?

Heidi over at there is grace recently posted about this wonderful documentary about the struggles women have in modern society in balancing their need for artistic creativity and the demands of motherhood.

I haven’t seen the film yet, but something in the trailer caught my attention: people on the street were asked if they could name five female artists. They couldn’t even name one!

At first I was self-righteously disgusted. These were people on the steps of the Met Museum in New York, for heaven’s sake, and they couldn’t even name ONE woman artist? I could name a dozen right off the top of my head, right?

Hmmm. . . .

Writers

This one is easy for me:

Ursula K. LeGuin
Marion Zimmer Bradley
Edith Wharton
Christine de Pisan
Jane Austen

Susanna Clarke
Judy Grahn
Mary Balogh
Christina Rossetti

Margaret Atwood
Mary Stewart
A.S. Byatt

J.K. Rowling
Zadie Smith
Jane Yolen
(and I could go on.)

Visual artists

Hmm . . . getting a little harder:

Frida Kahlo
Liane Collot d’Herbois
Tove Jansson

Mary Cassatt
Diane Arbus
Annie Leibovitz

Georgia O’Keefe
Elsa Beskow
(I had to reach into anthroposophy land to find two of them!)

Now, I’m not going to do actresses, as that’s too easy, as is musicians/singers. And of course there are quite a few writers and artists in my own blogroll! But it was interesting to realize that while I can name many female writers, it wasn’t that easy to name more than five visual artists.

As I mentioned to Heidi, I don’t know if that’s a reflection of poor arts education or the patriarchy of the art world. Even if artistic work is easier for women without children (if only because they have more time!), why aren’t more women prominent in the visual arts? Why can I think of fifteen male visual artists in a few seconds and struggle to think of that many women?

Patriarchy certainly plays in there — notice all of the female artists I thought of date from the late nineteenth century at the earliest, but I can think of male artists dating back to the early middle ages. On the other hand, apparently writing has been an “acceptable” female activity for much longer. I wonder why that is?

Try it — how many can you name?

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Filed under art, Blogging, movies, Rants, Writing

Pity the Poor Early Reader

I’ve known how to read since I was four years old, so I don’t really remember learning it. It’s been very interesting and a little shocking watching my children learning to read. (SillyBilly is learning in school; Napoleona is picking it up through imitation/osmosis.)

What has struck me is how difficult English is to read! Sounding things out only goes so far with such a hodgepodge language. I find myself apologizing to SillyBilly all the time when he tries unsuccessfully to puzzle out a nonphonetic word.

Recently he’s been having a lot of trouble with “of”. To him, quite logically, it should be pronounced as “off”. He very indignantly told me that it should be a “v” to make that sound!

Diphthongs have been a sore trial as well. How is it that the vowel sound in “lie”, “light”, “mine”, and “eye” are all the same? No wonder Dick and Jane stick to cats and mats.

Since he’s learning to read and write at the same time, SillyBilly has started to create some wonderful spellings of his own. Today he wrote,

Wan daa a stinkee volcano explodid. (One day a stinky volcano exploded.)

Of course it did. Stinkee volcanoes often do that.

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Filed under Napoleona, Parenting, Silliness and Mayhem, SillyBilly, Writing

When Editors Get Riled Up About Dirty Words

One of my daily pleasures is reading the discussion posts in the Yahoo Group for the
Editorial Freelancers Association. Aside from the usual technical questions, there are often posts labeled “Chat” that relate somewhat more remotely to editing or freelancing, though they usually have something to do with words or writing.

Recently someone posted a “Chat” about an author’s fight with the New York Times about including the word “bitchassness” in an article. Evidently the Times, though they have allowed “bitch” and “ass” many times before, are balking this time. The word is being included in reference to Sean “Diddy” Combs’s numerous YouTube blogs, one of which includes this word in its title.

The original poster simply thought it was funny to what lengths this author had gone to argue his point with the newspaper. But others were not so amused and said that the word offended them and was hate speech. This has led to a lively little conversation about free speech, censorship, figurative meanings, and cultural mores.

We have roughly two camps: those who think that the word should be allowed because 1) it’s not that offensive, or 2) it’s being used as a quotation and not directly describing someone; and those who think it’s offensive hate speech that is derogatory to women.

If Mr. Combs uses this term solely for women, then perhaps there would be a stronger case for it being derogatory. But I watched the offending blog post, and the term seems to be used in a general sense. Interestingly, he uses the “N word” several times and a variant of it appears in text at the end of the post — but nobody has mentioned that being a problem!

Some people in the EFA discussion argued that there are plenty of words that have had more negative and even salacious connotations or meanings in the past but are commonly used today: “jerk” and “suck” were two examples. But then others responded that just because some words have passed into common usage doesn’t mean others should follow.

On a related note, I’ve been following the case FCC v. Fox Television Stations currently under consideration in the Supreme Court, mostly through rather hilarious posts on Language Log. If you don’t want to read lots and lots of swear words, don’t click those last three links!

Here the question is all about the “F word” whether the FCC is applying its rules consistently to fine broadcasters who neglect to edit out obscenities, even if fleeting. But I have to smile at linguists using rather complex semantic analyses, including graphs, to decide whether certain words are used as intensifiers (“effing brilliant!”) or as actual references to obscene acts. And for really funny stuff, read the comments.

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Filed under Blogging, Deep Thoughts, editing, Writing

In the Interim…

Did I mention that we are moving 2,200 miles, from New York to Idaho, in three two-and-a-half weeks? AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!

OK, I feel better now. A little.

On the bright side, we found an apartment to live in for the next six months, and I think we got Napoleona into daycare (at Anthropapa’s work, how convenient) and SillyBilly into kindergarten (at the Lutheran school). Now I just need to figure out how to keep working through the move and August so that we don’t run out of money….

Amid all the craziness, the kids have been painting like mad:

Good thing I decided long ago that painting smocks don’t need to be washed.

And, how cool is this, which we got for pretty much free?

I found a wonderful person online who is sending us a free copy of the instructions, which were missing from the box. Also Anthropapa is going to have to research how to make table clamps and a heddle holder, because evidently the originals were lost and the homemade ones the last owner made don’t seem to make sense.

Even though I made my own peg loom recently, this one is so much cooler! Now all I need is a spinning wheel, and I can just never get any work done at all.

So, I have Symbols: The Three saved in draft and lots of cool images stocked up. But I’m not sure when I’ll be making time to write the post. Please, don’t hold your breath!

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Filed under art, Crafting, life, Napoleona, papa, SillyBilly, Writing

How We Read

I learned to read when I was four years old. I soon became quite avid and I remember feeling a bit at sea if we went out somewhere and I forgot to bring a book “just in case” we had to wait in traffic or something. My parents enrolled me in a Book of the Month Club for kids, and I was always glad to see the MS Read-a-thon come around.

I was always in honors English throughout the school years, and in college I majored in English with a side of Italian literature (would have been a minor but they didn’t offer enough courses while I was there). Lots and lots of reading. After a long stint in the corporate world where all I read was emails and procedure manuals (with still a slightly obsessive amount of reading for pleasure) I am now a book editor. The highest reader’s ambition: to be paid to read!

But…reading also has a flip side. Have you ever tried to not read something in front of you? Next time you’re out on the town, try to not read billboards, or shop window signs. Can you do it?
Continue reading

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Filed under Blogging, Books, Deep Thoughts, editing, Writing

As a World Famous Blogger*, I’m a Bit Offended

From the otherwise lovely Friday Procrastination Link Love from the OUP Blog, I read this piece about a day in the life of a book publicist. It amused me, until I got to the part where the anonymous author mentions sending images of book covers to blogger who write “reviews”.

“Reviews” in scare quotes, because bloggers surely aren’t real reviewers. They’re just some of the little uneducated people out there who don’t live in New York City and have nothing better to do than share their personal, uninformed opinions about all and sundry.

And “real” book reviewers? …share their personal opinions about books.

I thought the whole “it’s on a blog so it’s not real/official/journalistic/scholarly/whatever” was over, people.

*Well, I do have loyal readers on several continents!

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Filed under Blogging, Books, Rants, Writing

Question for my Waldorfy Readers

And of course anyone who might have an opinion…

I’m mulling over the idea of writing something to sell as an e-book. Among the ideas I’ve had is something to do with native plants and/or animals. (I would have to stick with North America since that’s what I know, but I would love to expand it to other regions!) I’ve thought about doing a craft book about native plant flower fairies, for example, or something for homeschooling curriculum (seems like this would fit in well with 5th grade).

What do you think would be interesting/useful/successful?

Homeschoolers: is there any subject or format that isn’t already out there or could be improved? I know there are tons of curriculum guides, most quite good. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, so I’m thinking of something more topic-specific, like botany or crafting. On the other hand, so much of homeschooling seems to be about the family creating their own activities and curriculum, so how useful would something like this be?

Any advice on publishing and marketing e-books?

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Filed under Books, Crafting, freelancing, Nature, waldorf education, Writing