Why I Write – Writing 101

My review is the third paragraph. I am so thrilled and wowed, and kind of jazzed my name is in a magazine

My review is the third paragraph. I am so thrilled and wowed, and kind of jazzed my name is in a magazine

This past summer, I wrote a review for the Persephone books Classic, The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield-Fisher.  It took me entirely too long to read the book()because of just me, not the book) and write a review.  But I sent in my review, back in August and I just received my Persephone biannual. In the section  Our Bloggers Write, my review, or at least a part of it, was included with other reader’s words. This is why I write. Not for accolades, though those are always nice, but I want a voice. I want my voice to be heard. I have connected with other authors from reviews I have written, which is great. I love being able to talk to other published writers. Sometimes I feel like they are in this other realm of writing that I might never reach, but then I have to remember that they are just people as well.

Last night reading the same biannual as above, the list of events for Persephone Books was listed and one caught my attention so much so that I had to write about it in my journal. This is what I said: ” I was reading the back of the Persephone Biannual where the events were listed, and  there is this event on November 28th where they will be “selling our books beside the fire at the Christmas Fair.” And boom! I was transported to the smell of snow, the sounds of children singing Carol of the Bells, and the Harry Potter/Columbia[California]/British Christmas feel. Like it was time to start decoration and reading books with a Christmas theme in them. Suddenly You comes to mind first…”  The book mentioned is by Lisa Kleypas, a favorite romance writer of mine. Please do not judge that I like cheesy romance books. Oh the horror that I don’t read just literature.  But it’s getting on the Holiday season and I want to read about it, and write about it. I have a piece of flash fiction I did a couple years ago that has a Christmas theme, and I’ve wanted to expound on it for years. There is something so delightful about having a Christmas vibe to a piece of fiction. You can read two of my holiday pieces below.

A Christmas Dance    (I was channeling Emilie Loring when I wrote this) and Eve and Noel – Flash Fiction

This is why I write, above that is. I write because I will read something and I see a scene. I see a picture and there is a story behind it. I watch a bird take flight and I’m remembering my childhood and mentally writing a children’s story to something as simple and small as an acorn  in a bird’s beak.  I am forever having ideas pound, pound, pound in my head. For years I daydreamed, not knowing what to do with all the thoughts crashing around in my head. I didn’t have an outlet because I hated writing in school. I didn’t understand how to get a story out. I remember one instance where I was supposed to write a story about a monkey and instead I wrote a mini paper. It was a frustrating time. Writing was always frustrating until I Mrs. B found a new method of teaching me to write.  It was a ‘boom’ moment where suddenly it made sense. But even then, in my teenage years, while I would write hoping to write like Emilie Loring, I didn’t write constantly. I semi dabbled in it, spending more time reading.  It wasn’t until I hit 18 that I really started to write. Nothing really good, though Rena, my heroine still has her book, but it has changed drastically from the beginning.

I never knew what to do with all those thoughts floating around in my head. What does a child who hates to write, do with all those thoughts in her head.  If I could go back I would teach the inner me that it’s okay to write whatever you want in a journal and it does not have to be a day to day account of what you did. I would talk about what Susan Wooldridge said in her book about a journal.  Gah, if I had  Poemcrazy back when I started really writing, maybe life would have made a whole lot more sense.

I read constantly. Books, books, and more books are my world. I cannot get enough books. And I read good books and consume the words and the styles and the stories. I envy  writers who write something that I know I will never be able to write. I eat books that have a story that hits me in my chest and I walk around in a mental daze for days reliving the magic that has whirled me off into another world. I rarely think of books as another world or door I open and enter, but the minute I open the pages of a book I love, I have the image in my head. I can imagine the scene just so, and certain books I have read over and over, my initial image is still there. I read Emilie Loring’s and the image is always the same. So I read to meet those characters again.    I write to see if I can be as good as these writers. Writers I respect and admire. I want to be as good as them. I want some of the qualities of how they write. I read some books and think to myself “gah, I wish I could write that way.” Of course, I really don’t want to write just like them. I want my own voice. Which I do have. And because I read so much, I feel I have several voices, several writer’s voices in my head telling me how to write. The one I hate the most is Stephen King’s voice as he is forever telling me to cut the adverbs. Damn Stephen King.

And recently I have to keep remembering Anne Lamott telling me to shut those voices (mostly characters) up. Tell them to be quiet so I can write. So many voices in my head. No, I am not crazy. Maybe some schizophrenic people just need to write to quiet the voices….. Writing this I worry that someone might think I’m crazy, but other writers know.

People that do not write don’t get all of this. I don’t expect them to. I watch my father when I go off on a tangent or daydream and sometimes he just stares at me like I’m out in left field. I might be. I might actually be on the cliffs of England wondering what the sea spray is like.  You might never know, because five minutes ago I could have been in the Sierra Nevadas with Tyler and Phaedra as they are driving up the Sonora Pass…. (they are both characters as well……) Or I might have just killed off my character with Chocolate Pudding.

This is why I write.

Kate

The Home-Maker – A Persephone Book Review

Over the spring the wonderful Persephone Books gave me the opportunity to read and review their book The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (Persephone book No. 7)  So while this is terribly late in coming, I do hope you enjoy this review, I hope you consider adding Persephone books to your list of book sources, and I also hope you might consider reading The Home-Maker.

This is a wonderful little gem of a book, little mostly in size, but not in story. No, indeed, this is the story about people. About life. About the interactions between family members when life isn’t so perfect even though from the outside, all appears to be perfection.

This story is set in a three person perspective; from Eva’s, Lester’s, and Stephen’s point of view. At the heart of the story is Eva Knapp. Mother of three and wife to Lester. She’s a perfectionist, a little controlling, but deep down, all she does and all she demands comes from her devotion to both the children and Lester. She worries about her willful son, Stephen, who at three seems to be going through that stage of almost being “like the traditional changeling, hard, heartless, inhuman.” Or so Lester, at one point, thinks to himself about his son. Stephen has his own troubles from a disappearing Teddy, to a mother who seems to always be correcting him. It’s a lot of work being only three.

Eva is also troubled with her two other children; Henry who has a weak system, and Helen who just needs guidance.  And lastly, she worries about her husband, who just doesn’t seem to have the drive to move up in the company he works for.

Lester is a dreamer. A writer. A man destined for more  than working the numbers at the Emporium.  Then suddenly he is faced with having been let go. How in the world he will ever tell Eva, knowing how much she relies on him, and how much he wants to give her, but can’t seem to make happen.  There is only one solution. To end his life and the insurance policy will take care of Eva and the children.

But the ‘accidental’ leap from the roof fails to accomplish what Lester was hoping, and now he is paralyzed from the waist down. Now life changes as Eva has to become the breadwinner and Lester the home-maker. Eva ends up working for the Emporium and making a smash of her position, moving up quickly. And Lester? Well, surprisingly, being a home-maker is the perfect job for him as suddenly there are happy children and a happy home.

Eva has a true purpose in life instead of always feeling like she can’t accomplish a perfect house, and Lester finally can be the dreamer he needs to be. The question is, will this continue this way? Will Lester ever recover and will Eva go back to being the housewife? It’s not till the very end of the book we find out.

I read this book quickly and found myself touched in so many ways. I can feel the inner desperation from Eva as she tries so hard to make everything just so, and just right for her family.  As she scrubs the floor trying to rid then of grease spots only to have her son dribble grease the next night. I wanted to cry for Eva because I saw myself in an instant what I could be if I was a mother. That turmoil to micromanage and control everything in an uncontrollable existence. Feeling like you are doing everything right while your own family thinks you don’t care a whit about them.

I want to scoop Stephen up and comfort him, but at the same time, when I see him from Eve’s side, I want to send him to his room with no supper.

Eva loves her husband from her side. Adores him practically. From Lester, he always feels like he can’t measure up. Eva adores her children, in her own way, but from their point, she’s always displeased with them.

This is a book about two sides of the story. And in a very simplistic view, a book about how sometimes the hand we are dealt in life is not what we should actually be doing. Sometimes the woman is just not the home-maker. And that’s okay.

I can honestly say this is a very impressive book and there are not too many books today that could ever match up to the mastery Dorthy Canfield Fisher has created in such a small novel. I would send this to any friend and feel I could read it again and again pulling out every nuance. This will be a book I treasure for years to come.

Again, I hope you consider trying out this book along with checking out Persephone Books. They are truly a little gem of the book world.

Kate

I’m In a Snowglobe

Today I’m in a snowglobe

My thoughts are whirring round

Landing ever so softly

On the frozen ground.

~K.L. Branson

That is my concession for the snow falling today.  I looked out the window and it felt like I was in a snowglobe.  I want to play around with the start of this because it seems fun, but that is all I have for now. I may drop it, or I may continue.  Right now I have millions of ideas floating around.

Persephone Books

Persephone Books (Photo credit: RachelH_)

I just received the catalogue and biennial magazine from Persephone Books in the mail today.   Oh my gosh do they have a wonderful catalogue!  They list all of their 96 books which includes a synopsis, a glimpse of the endpaper, and sometimes another picture of the author.  The catalogue is truly delightful.  I plan to order at least one book from them just because.  I found a couple titles that sound wonderful and I’m excited, despite them being paperback.  I’ll live.  Oh, they also included a bookmark from one of the books they sell.  It’s really amazing.  I am so thrilled I found this company. I want to tell everyone about them.

So, for it being a leap year, I expected to see a post on the Freshly Pressed about it, but nothing.  I guess it isn’t that big of a deal.  I think it’s kind of fun, especially since it was today that we had our first decent snowfall all year.  There Has to be some irony in there.  I’m just not sure where.

Signing off

~Kate

If Persephone Had Been a Publisher

I will gladly admit I love books.  I live for books.  I cannot go through life without books.  And when I come across books printed in a very classic way, I want them. Sometimes I want books just because they look nice, even if I don’t plan to read them.  I know, scandalous.  However, you might understand this when I tell you about this fascinating publishing company.

Shop photoPersephone Books out of the UK is  a publishing company that only publishes books by women authors.  With a  heading of “Rediscovered twentieth century novels, Twentieth century female authors and Inter-war Novels”, how could you go wrong?   From obscure titles like

Endpaper of Marchioness

The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett to

Endpaper of Saplings

Saplings by Noel Streatfeild.  Did you know Streatfeild wrote for adults?  Neither did I.

 

Persephone Books boasts 96 books in their selection, each with a different end paper.  This is one of the charms about Persephone Books.  While their covers are a pleasing dove-gray, it is the end papers that really catch your eye.  Each book has its own endpaper set to the book style, or the time period it was printed.  Each is completely different, and completely charming.  Along with that, each book comes with its own matching bookmark; a book mark that matches the endpaper, that is.  How completely wonderful is that?

 Below is the original article from February 2010’s Vanity Fair.  This is the article that introduced me to the imprint.

” A Woman of Substance

PERSEPHONE BOOKS’ FEMININE MYSTIQUE

Nicola Beauman, Persephone Books founder

Persephone, the British imprint founded by Nicola Beauman, evokes cozy and nostalgic memories of London train rides, Yardley English Lavender, freshly brewed tea being poured into a proper china cup, a spring popping out of a slightly doggy-smelling armchair. The tiny catalogue’s 86 titles are a compendium of short stories, memoirs, cookbooks, and republished works by neglected female writers from the interwar years. Authors such as Dorothy Whipple, Marghanita Laski, Winifred Watson (whose book Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day was made into the 2008 film), and Mollie Panter-Downes, the London wartime (and peacetime) correspondent of The New Yorker, tell stories of gentle, respectable domesticity, of outward seemliness and inner turmoil which, through the banal minutiae of a housewife’s day, unravel to who life exquisitely and often darkly revealed.  “These are books where nothing and everything happens at the same time, ” offers Beauman, a Cambridge-educated mother of five.  “They are an acknowledgement that the small-scale should never be overlooked. ”  Frustrated by been able to find her favorite authors only in second-hand shops, Beauman, herself an author and a passionate champion of  “the middlebrow,” opened Persephone in 1999 in a shabbily genteel former grocery store on London’s Lamb’s Conduit Street

Eleven years later, the imprint, with its uniform dove-gray book jackets and beautiful endpapers, lovingly handpicked by Beauman and her staff, has developed a cult following.  For example, the endpaper for Doreen, a 1946 tale by Barbara Noble about a child evacuee torn from her mother, was taken from a 1940 “London Alert” print silk scarf belonging to a Persephone reader.  For Dorothy Whipple’s The Closed Door and Other Stories, Beauman chose a design from a 1930s tea gown she’d found at Camden Passage Market.

“Allergic to the corporate” and admittedly “short” with people who tell her she  ought to expand the business into wallpaper and greeting cards, Beauman nonetheless dreams of the day when all those British-costume-drama producers will leave Jane Austen alone, stop trying to  do the definitive Sense and Sensibility, and instead look to Dorothy Whipple for inspiration.  Tea gowns instead of bonnets?  Oh heppy, heppy day.   -Christa D’Souza”

I must make Persephone Books a place to stop when I go to London.

Isn’t that brilliant?  I think so.  The idea completely invokes the thought of cozy nooks to read and drink tea, a vase of peonies on the little table next to your chair.

While I do love the look of these books, and wouldn’t mind owning a few, I am a bit disappointed they are paperback books instead of hardbacks.(at least they seem to be paperbacks when I look at purchasing from Amazon)  I am a hardback person.  However, the paperback doesn’t diminish their charm.  I also am not willing to spend  £12 (or whatever the dollar’s conversion of that is)  Seems a bit steep for a paperback.  Hence, Bookmooch I’m calling on you.

Well, I hope you all will check out this charming imprint, even if you don’t plan to order from them. The site is well worth a look, and set up in a very nice manner.  I love that they show the endpaper of each book and most tell where they got the design from.  Along with a very nice section of mini biographies of the authors themselves. 

My concluding thought is they should have an imprint of male writers.  I know that there are plenty of books written by men, but think about how interesting it would be if there was one for men titled, oh  I don’t know, Apollo Books.  (or anything else Greek)  I think some of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries would be good.  Or who knows what.  Dark brown books with a cream label and end papers that are clearly masculine.  I think it’s an interesting idea.

Well, check out Persephone Books.  Trust me, I don’t think you will be disappointed. Charming doesn’t even begin to describe this company.

Signing off

~Kate