Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy First Day of Spring

It's the first day of Spring, the season of rebirth and renewal and all of that. It snowed here on Saturday and Mighty Reader worried about the daffodils, tulips and crocuses that are all just pushing bravely up into the world. On Monday morning the world was covered with frost and Mighty Reader took photographs of the ice-crusted parsley and thyme out back. Today it's gray and windy. March is not, as they say, going out like a lamb.

All of which I say to no point, and I don't have a metaphor to flog this morning. But it is the first day of Spring, and I for one am glad to say "so long" to Old Man Winter. Some day I'll wake up and the furnace won't have kicked on. That'll be nice.

In my writing world, Spring isn't necessarily signaling any sort of rebirth or renewal, alas. I'm currently reading Volume 6 of Tales of Chekhov in my attempt to finish the entire 13-volume set this year, and I'm also reading the Norton Anthology of Poetry in my ongoing search for English-language verse I both understand and like to read, and I've got a couple of non-fiction titles going as well. Business as usual for me. Mighty Reader and I just finished our two-person read along of Charles Dickens' Our Mutual Friend. Some time this summer, I think, I'll read Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov and maybe Mighty Reader will read along with me for that, too. I like it when we can talk about books in common. We have thousands of books in our house but sadly we don't have all that much overlap in our literary Venn diagram, but I'm working on it.

One other thing I'm doing lately is re-reading a couple of my old novels. I haven't looked at them for some time and I have, happily, forgotten a great deal about them so this is a chance to come at them as a stranger, sort of, and it's enlightening. I'm delighted with some of what I see and disappointed with other bits but all in all, it's encouraging. The delight encourages me to keep writing and the disappointment likewise, because it means that I've grown and am becoming a better writer year-by-year. The bad thing is that I have an urge to rewrite these old novels, but I won't. One of them's already been sold to a publisher and the other one is fine as it is; I'd do it differently today but it's not badly written so I just need to keep my fingers off it and move on with my life.

Which is, maybe, the metaphor for Spring I didn't know I was looking for. We rise from the soil, which isn't dead and dirty but is rich and earthy and full of nutrient and we come up into the air and light and we try again to be what we are as best as we can. Things germinate, gather strength and then burst forth to do what they're meant to do. I've been gathering my strength to write the second half of my novel-in-progress and to do a load of carpentry work in the upper floor of the house Mighty Reader and I have been finishing. What have you been waiting to burst forth and do?


  1. I've been bursting forth with Cyberlama. I work on it every day, and I feel like it's advancing with great speed. Last night I made good progress on a big new element I was introducing into the story, and though I don't quite know how I will blend it in yet, I got some pages down that I don't think will have to be deleted. Really, I am set on finishing this thing!

  2. We rise from the soil, which isn't dead and dirty but is rich and earthy and full of nutrient and we come up into the air and light and we try again to be what we are as best as we can. Things germinate, gather strength and then burst forth to do what they're meant to do.

    Love this description.

    I will burst forth to do three more loads of laundry, pack, make sure the boys at home have food for the next few days, and compete at the Spring National TKD tournament.

    I love the imagery of "burst forth."

  3. I'm bursting forth by revising a novel for the Poisoned Pen Press contest (thanx for the heads up on that one) and then maybe a loooonnngg road trip on my motorsickle. Warm weather, gotta love it!!!

  4. I'm bursting to see more birds -- in the sunshine. I would like some sunshine, please. I am a creature of the desert, currently lodged in damp cool wet terrain, aching for warmth and light.

    Or at the very least, I want a sky which looks *different* at noon than it does as dawn and at dusk.

    So basically, I am itching to go visit the other side of the state, where the desert lives.

    Also, the garden needs weeding. Ever and anon.

    -Alexandra MacKenzie

  5. Apologies to readers in the Southern Hemisphere, for whom this is like the first day of Fall or some other such stuff. Damned axial planetary tilt.

  6. I love to see what everyone's up to! I'm bursting forth with my new novel and hoping it doesn't take me an entire year to write, but we'll see. I'd like to be able to write two books a year, if at all possible. It has snowed here for two days, and it's January-cold weather, and I'm really quite irritated. But other than that, life is great. :)

  7. If that particular anthology doesn't tickle your poem-y bone, see if you can find The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry. It starts with/after WWI and runs to (near)present.

    Also, don't bother with Beowulf if it's not the Seamus Heaney translation.

    1. I have to disagree with you on Heaney. I think there are better translations. Which is too bad; I love Heaney's poetry.

    2. oooooo. Which ones? Email me.

    3. Roy Liuzza wrote my current favorite, though Burton Raffel's is pretty good, too. Heaney's a brilliant guy, a Nobel laureate and all of that, but his Beowulf is the wordiest version ever written. It's smooth and poetic but after a while I thought it started to sound too much like Seamus Heaney. I like the Liuzza translation because it's brisk and lively; the language is active and angular and so there's the sense of hearing a tale told by a long-dead foreigner even though the prose is quite readable. The best equivalent I can think of is the gospel of Mark, which is full of verbs, if you know what I mean. Heaney isn't direct enough for me, not with this tale. Have you read Jon Gardner's Grendel? That's an interesting (though not entirely successful) book. Oh, you wanted me to email you. Oops.

  8. Heavy reading Scott. And deep thinking.

    I'm dying to dive back into my cyborg fairytale; but have a few obligations to push off my desktop first.



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