So, it is that time of year when, sometimes, I wish I could curl up like a cat and just sleep until spring. It is cold, and often wet, outside, all the hustle of the holidays is gone, except for the cleaning up and putting away, and I am back to work with the bleakness of plenty of tasks but little excitement as the big projects have yet to get rolling. And there is the spectre of the New Year's resolutions that are already behind in their execution...
But there is the teletype (yes! ding-ding-ding! 10 points to whomever knew the first picture is a teletype - bonus if you knew that's how news got around the world only half a generation ago) going off in my head - story ideas, ideas for the rewrite I am in the middle of, ideas for improving this website, ideas for, well, you get the idea. Once I do plunge into something there is the satisfaction, given the lack of progress during the holidays due to all the distractions, that PROGRESS is finally being made.
There is also plenty to look forward to. The center photo, for example, is a geranium that has been propagated, through cuttings, continuously for 55 years and, from which, I will take cuttings in a few short weeks to continue the process. There is the ever-growing, slowly mind you, but growing, interest in the Poetry Duel, in other projects I am involved in. There is the new plantings of heirloom seeds I'll start in a few weeks. There is the potential for new publications both individually and in collaboration.
Lastly, I would be fibbing if I did not confess that I actually like winter. The snow and ice is beautiful, especially new fallen before any but the bravest birds and small mammals have been out exploring. If only we could get the pretty without the troubles engendered on the roads...
Anyway, drop a comment if you agree/disagree/have some other opinion about the post-holiday doldrums and the potential that this time of year also exhibits. Hope this finds you all well and motivated!
Picture is from The Crystalline Aerie blog first posted in 2011.
This time of year is always so busy I find I never have sufficient time to read or write. I do find I spend a lot of time with books, but it is mostly as a buyer or seller, not a consumer or creator. (That said, I hope everyone considers one of my little collections as a buyer! :-) )
However, I encourage everyone, even if you find yourself as I often do - running to decorate, to shop, to wrap, etc. - to find time for the whimsy and the joy in the season. The above picture reminds me of many hours spent as a child and as a parent building "forts" to hide in, to rest in, to create high adventure with. It was great fun!
It is the fun I hope all of us never lose. Take time out, I encourage everyone, to find a little fun every day, whether that is as simple as a cup of hot tea as you watch the wind hurry the leaves across the yard, or you actually hurry the leaves yourself in a great game of tag, take a moment from the "have to get done" to enjoy the "playtime" we all seem to need.
Happy Holidays one and all!
And so we have come to another Thanksgiving, a holiday that had a serious reason for being (I would say raison d'etre but I don't speak French) but has devolved into an excuse to eat, get the family together, and go shopping.
I don't mind the first two; I can't stand the shopping part and am opposed to the over-commercialization of all holidays - Halloween and Christmas as well. I do spend time every Thanksgiving to reflect on the things I am thankful for; I hope you all have plenty, as I do, to be thankful for.
Interestingly, despite the above condemnation of shopping and commercialization, I do also perversely look forward to the discussion of Christmas gifts. In my family Thanksgiving has always been the time the children write out their lists to Santa and the adults would then plot out who would give what for whom, or at least start the process.
I have gotten many great books under the Christmas tree as a result of this process since, of course, the subject of "what would you like" inevitably comes up.
The other twist on the commercialism concept is that, as a bookstore owner for years, an author, and an online merchant I certainly want other people to go out shopping, especially if they want to buy what I am (or was) selling. This does have, of course, more nuances than I am willing to write about (or you want to read about), but I will mention at least one.
The online book market is dominated by Amazon. Not only do they sell directly but if you want to have a presence in the used book market as an independent seller, no matter how big or small your inventory, you have to sell on Amazon. The second largest used book seller online, Abebooks, is owned by Amazon. I sell, by necessity, on both sites.
Amazon is indubitably the simplest way to buy books online. They have every book, you can buy the books with one click and you can get free shipping for a small subscription. However, independent sellers and publishers get smaller "cuts" of their sales on Amazon than on other sites. For this reason alone I try to buy my used books on other sites, like Biblio and Alibris or, if I can, the publisher's or author's direct site.
I admit this process is much more time consuming and can be slightly more expensive. In this season of giving thanks, though, it is one small way I try to give thanks to the small independent publishers, and booksellers.
With my sincere thanks for all of you who read this I wish you and yours a fabulous Thanksgiving.
I've seen a bunch of tweets recently asking various questions about boys, specifically, and reading. As a boy, with two grown sons, I figure I am qualified to respond, at least generally.
I never had any trouble. I read early and often, as the saying goes. Voraciously. Fiction and nonfiction, biography, history, mystery, and adventure all were consumed almost as fast as I could take new books out of the library. But them I've seen the other side. Boys who refused to crack a book. Who balked at doing any homework that involved reading more than a couple small paragraphs.
Until, that is, the boy found something that interested him. Interested him enough to make it important for him to read instead of run outside and play baseball, or video games, or watch TV.
That, I think is one crux. In our society, for boys, these other things are often valued more than reading. For girls there is not as much social stigma, inside their peer group and from parents, to spending time reading. We do our boys a disservice, in general.
However, there is another side; a biological side. This thing our brain does converting spots of ink on a piece of paper into intelligible language is a thing that requires the pathways that are linked to genes, many of which are sex-linked. Dyslexia occurs with a much higher frequency in males than females. It is hard to explain to the non-dyslexic how difficult reading is; how difficult learning to read is; if you are dyslexic.
For the dyslexic (I have several examples in my immediate family) it is a very difficult thing to learn to read. It is painful, especially in the light of others learning the skill with apparent effortlessness. Once you have adapted, once you have built those pathways painstakingly where genes would have built them seamlessly, then you have the opportunity to find something interesting.
So it is a triple problem - interest, social pressures, and genes. The first is easy - plenty of exposure to many genres and styles. The second is an evolutionary process which we, as parents and advocates, need to encourage, as we need to in many areas, the removal of gender as a criteria for one preferred behavior over another. The last is out of our immediate control except for the patience, encouragement, understanding, and assistance we can give to make the process shorter and less painful.
Me as a critic (be careful! the harshness will be well concealed!)