All Kinds of Fun on a Friday

Today’s Laugh


Ancient Grammar Police


Drawing Winners!

Thanks to everyone who entered Wednesday’s drawing for a copy of Alison Strobel’s Composing Amelia. The winners are:

Erin MacPherson
Emily Bedwell
Caroline McAllister

Congrats! If you didn’t win, click here to get the book on Amazon!

Today’s Quote For Writers

From “The Hermit of Croisset:Flaubert’s Fiercely Enduring Perfectionism” by Richard Goodman

Madame BovaryWe can, as writers, still count on Flaubert to urge us onward, to show us that what we’re doing is worth the blood, sweat, and tears. Once, when Oscar Wilde was asked what he had done that day, he said, “I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.”

We may or may not believe Oscar, because he was his own most precious work of art, and he was forever shaping it for public view. (By the way, Wilde once declared that “Flaubert is my master.”) But when Flaubert writes a friend that he spent three days making two corrections and five days—normally twelve-hour days—writing one page, we believe him. In Flaubert we have, perhaps for the first time, a writer who brought into the center ring of the three-ring circus of writing—and with a bright spotlight at that—the idea that we should search for the exact word, the most beautiful sentence, the most realistic scene, as if our life depended on it. He had a fierce confidence that what we do as writers matters and that it is worth a lifetime of sacrifice and pain.

The proof is all there in the writing.

He never married. He had no children. He had no profession outside his writing. In his youth, he studied law, but, just before graduating from law school, had a kind of nervous breakdown. He did not return to law. He just wrote. He was eventually dubbed “the Hermit of Croisset.” There, in his house, he lived like a monk.

Your thoughts?

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  3. The description of Flaubert sounds familiar. I did marry, have children, pursued various careers but the constant thread through my life has been writing.I have my own little hermatige. Luckily friends and family drag me out occasionally for some human interaction. Then I run back to safety. I do have a couple of cats–do monks have those?

  4. Zoltan James says:

    The cartoon cracked me up! Brilliant.

  5. It’s perfect that people are able to take the home loans and it opens new opportunities.

  6. Tommy Hansen says:

    I laughed out loud when I read the qoute from Wilde. It shows him. It is in itself art.
    The whole posting is fun and interesting to read. It raises questions that do not have to be answered but give inputs that may help you someday. Great.

  7. Bekah says:

    love the cartoon (insert bird pic)!

  8. RayS says:

    Are words really necessary?

  9. Charise says:

    It’s quotes like this that can be intimidating. How am I supposed to believe that my words are perfect when it took me only hours with a husband, children and alpacas (and a recent mountain lion sighting)… Flaubert clearly had some other issues since he had a breakdown, so his hermit behavior was probably more for his own health than devotion to the words. However, the essence of this quote to me means understanding what we do- as writers- is important. If we want our words/stories to be treasured by readers, we must treat them as a treasure in the creating.

  10. I believe that art is worth every personal sacrifice made for it. But it is not worth the sacrifice of other people. If one chooses at the outset to live as a hermit as Flaubert did, wonderful. But if we’ve made the prior choice to have a family, we have to confine our writing to the limits imposed by family life. Which means, sadly, we may not write works of immortal genius.

    However, we must also remember that Jane Austen, although not married, wrote in the midst of the bustle of family life. It can be done.

  11. Jill says:

    Living like a monk sounds fantastic–actually, it doesn’t sound like anything except silence. Words are wrought from silence.

  12. I relate. Writing is like being a hermit. The world seems to pull me out of my cave.

  13. Susan Bourgeois says:

    Sounds to me like the man had deep seated issues. It appears he had an obsessive personality to some degree. That’s probably why he discontinued his law career.

    Most people don’t have the desire or time to spend a day contemplating whether to leave or take out a comma.

    I agree with Natalie above.

  14. Joe Pote says:

    If I searched for the perfect word or phrase on my first draft, I’d never finish anything, and would probably be too discouraged to even start.

    Sometimes, in a flash of inspiration, the words just flow and fall into place.

    More often, the first draft is just getting the thoughts out of my head and in writing. It has more to do with organizing my thoughts than with communicating them. In fact, the first draft is often just a brief outline with incomplete sentences.

    After that, I go back and flesh it out, rewrite, rearrange, dig through a thesaurus, etc., until it reads good to me. THEN I start thinking about how it might read to someone else, and start the editing process all over again.

    It’s long and tedious, but actually a lot of fun! Every once in a while I get it right and actually achieve communication…which is a wonderful thing!

  15. Ann Bracken says:

    If he lived like a monk, then how did he build his platform? LOL!

    I think this shows us the importance of editors. When we’re unsure, they can tell us if the comma belongs there or not, or to choose a better word, allowing us more time to write. Mine are truly good friends, being just as honest when something doesn’t work as when it does.

  16. carol brill says:

    This post reminds me how different writing and editing was back in the day. Imagine the work involved with rewriting or retyping hundreds of pages. Made lots of sense to get it right the first time.
    Today, we can save multiple drafts, edit at the touch of a key and still like to whine because editing is sooooo hard 🙂

  17. If I lived like a monk I’d write a tonne of words the first week, then be bored to distraction the second. Thanks Rachelle!

  18. I think if I were to spend that much time finishing one page it would probably take me at least a decade to finish the book. And then what if the book wasn’t published? I’ve learned to work within a time frame; for example, as a grad student I only have a limited amount of time to work on my dissertation before my funding runs out. So even though I’d like to spend a lot of time on each page, I have to learn how to do the best I can in the amount of time I’ve been given. (Not to mention the fear of disappointing my dissertation committee – who are tough but fair critics – keeps me on my toes.) I try to apply the same strategy to fiction writing.

  19. marion says:

    Love the picture! (Living in Egypt.)

    I wish that guy with the LOL attitude had won the contest!

  20. CG Blake says:

    Therein lies the dilemma. Do we spend days searching for the perfect word or do we plow ahead and finish the darned book? I am in awe when I read writers like Michael Chabon, who always seems to come up with just the right word or phrase without ever falling back on cliches. Perhaps after awhile it becomes like muscle memory but it takes a lot longer to find the perfect word or phrase.

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