Monthly Archives: November 2013

NaNoWriMo: 30 days, 50,000 words?–Nope

Writiing-Closeup of Keys of Remington TypewriterIt’s not going to happen.

I realized this after I finished the first chapter. The outline that I had was not good; it had been written years ago and did not incorporate ideas I had for the characters that had evolved in the last few years. Also, the way the book starts doesn’t work. Where I have the book beginning is a problem, but this has always been a problem. This is why I’ve never been able to finish it.

At least I know now.

I know what National Novel Writing Month is supposed to be for: writing your novel in 30 days. However, the creative writing process doesn’t always work on a time schedule. If one has a very good outline that is fleshed out and all that needs to be done is to actually write the novel, then NaNoWriMo works. If you are like me and you have a lot of background work to do before you can even start your novel, then NaNoWriMo doesn’t work. However, I would not abandon the idea.

What NaNoWriMo did for me was to bring me back to an idea I had for a novel that I really hadn’t thought about in years. Any initiative that encourages people to write is a good thing. I also like the idea of having a support network to fall back on, which NaNoWriMo sets up when you join.

Will I do it again next year? Possibly.

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Fall, and Christmas

The above photographs were taken on the train into work one morning. The photos do not capture the vibrant colors of fall. Yesterday I passed by the same coastline. Gone are the colors. There is still some yellow here and there, and an occasional red splotch, but everything else is brown, and dull.

On October 28th, I went into a Stop and Shop grocery store and was stunned to see Christmas decorations covering several shelves. The Halloween decorations were shoved off to one side , and the holiday hadn’t even come yet! I saw Christmas decorations as early as September in some stores.

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This was taken through the Silver Tips Tearoom window on Broadway. Again, the photo doesn’t capture the beauty of the sunlight dancing on the leaves

The day after Halloween, I went to the Westchester Mall, Many places were already selling Christmas decorations, but what really irked me was that the PA system was paying Christmas music.

There seems to be an obsession with the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Retailers make their most sales during this time, and as the United States has become the center of über-capitalism, the time has been expanded. It has been creeping back to Halloween for quite sometime. At the beginning of the second week of November, I found a tree and other Christmas decorations in the Japanese restaurant.

Franklin Roosevelt one year tried to move Thanksgiving back one week to increase the time for shopping during the Depression. Ironically the then-Republican Party, attempting to curry favor with the masses over an unpopular decision, had legislation fixing the holiday on the last Thursday in November. FDR was apparently ahead of his time.

A few weeks ago, I went to Danbury, Connecticut, to meet my friend Lucye. (It was my turn to come up there.) We usually meet in the Christmas Tree Shoppes and then go to lunch, movies, shopping or whatever. This time, though, I couldn’t even find a parking place. The traffic was terrible. We ended up abandoning any attempt to shop in the afternoon. The only time I’d seen traffic like this was during the Christmas shopping season–which has apparently already started.

After ChristmasThen there’s the insanity of the day after Christmas. There’s all this craziness from around Halloween that culminates on Christmas Day, when the after Christmas sales ads appear on television and in print. However, it’s day after Christmas that resembles a quickie Las Vegas wedding where everyone was drunk and happy when the celebrating was going on, but then the next day everyone realizes what a mistake it was and tries to forget the whole thing ever happened. Retailers cannot get rid of the Christmas merchandise quick enough. The shelves are stripped bare and the Christmas junk is shoved together down one aisle, which keeps getting shoved into smaller and smaller piles until it simply vanishes. I’ve always found it amazing how people toss out Christmas trees before New Year’s. For me, the season starts on Thanksgiving and ends on January 7th, Orthodox (or Old) Christmas. It’s after this that I take down my decorations.

I do understand the complaints about the commercialization of the season. It is getting ridiculous. Are we going to start Christmas sales in June?  We already have patio furniture, gardening materials, clothes and other spring and summer merchandise appearing in January to take the place of  Christmas. Winter just started! Who shops for patio furniture when there’s snow outside?

Perhaps this example summarizes the insanity best. In the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day last year, I found Easter candy in a Stop and Shop store!

Just sayin.’

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Parthenon (Athens, Greece) vs. Parthenon (Nashville, Tennessee)

The "front" of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, as it currently appears. It is through these doors that the Athenian treasury was accessed. The opposite side of the building was where the colossal statue of Athena was accessed. There's not much left of the pediment.

The “front” of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, as it currently appears. It is through these doors that the Athenian treasury was accessed. The opposite side of the building was where the colossal statue of Athena was accessed. There’s not much left of the pediment.

Okay, there really is no contest between the real Parthenon and its imitation in the United States. Nonetheless, it’s fun to compare them.

I never wrote an entry about my trip to visit my cousin in Nashville in September, 2012. I was there for a few days, and I had gone down there specifically to study the Parthenon, and to see the huge statue of Athena Parthenos, built by Alan LeQuire in the spirit of Phidias, the sculptor of the original statue. More on that later.

The "front" of the Nashville Parthenon. The entrance is downstairs and into the art gallery. The Athenian Parthenon had no "cellar."

The front of the Nashville Parthenon, which compares to the entrance in the Parthenon to the statue side. (Compare to the next picture of the Parthenon.) However, the entrance to the building is downstairs and into the art gallery. The Athenian Parthenon had no “cellar.”

This trip was a warm-up to my trip to Greece at the beginning of the year. She had just gotten married in 2012 to another ex-Pittsburgher who loved the Steelers. I had never been to Tennessee, and I was looking forward to seeing this Parthenon that captured the  look of the original when it was first built.

I had seen the Parthenon in Athens when I was on Semester at Sea and had photos of it from my first trip. The Parthenon is on top of the Acropolis, which towers high over the city of Athens. In contrast, the Nashville Parthenon is on a slight “hill” (more like a mound) in Centennial Park.

The entrance to where the cult statue of Athena once stood. Notice in the left and right corners of the pediment that still have the horses heads.

The entrance to where the cult statue of Athena once stood. Notice in the left and right corners of the pediment that still have the horses heads.

The art gallery is only the size of the building, and part of it is dedicated to the history of the Nashville Centennial, when a wood and plaster Parthenon was built to celebrate Nashville’s moniker as the “Athens of the South” because of the number of universities in the city. It’s the only building left from the Centennial still standing or, rather, a replica of the original in stone which replaced the first Parthenon at the end of the 19th century.

I heard people complaining about Athens, that there wasn’t much left of the ruins and that “there was nothing to see.” These ignoramuses did not seem to understand that Athens is a living city; it has been inhabited since ancient times. Every succeeding city was built upon the ruins of the previous. I told one woman that she needed to visit Nashville to see what the Parthenon originally looked like. Of course this really isn’t true, as the sculptures decorating the Nashville building are not painted different colors, which we know the Greeks did with their marble statues. Also, the Nashville Parthenon was not built of marble.

Unlike the Parthenon, the Nashville Parthenon never had a cult statue–until 1982. It was at that time LeQuire had been commissioned to create a statue of Athena in the spirit of the original work of Phidias. The statue was completed in 1990 but it wasn’t until 2002 that the statue was gilded in gold and painted, bringing it closer to the original statue’s look.

The LeQuire statue in the Nashville Parthenon. Impressive, isn't it?

The LeQuire statue in the Nashville Parthenon. Impressive, isn’t it?

The statue is truly remarkable. The six foot statue of victory that Athena held in her right hand had no pillar under it, which is what the surviving copies of the statue show. LeQuire closely studied Greek art and knew that the Greeks knew about counterbalancing weight, so he believes that the statue did not have a support pillar–at least originally. It is possible that, after several centuries, gravity finally took its toll and the arm began to fall, which would have called for a support–such as a pillar–being added.

My cousin, who had lived in Tennessee for years, had never visited the building. She was completely mesmerized by the eyes of the statue, which seemed to sparkle. She intended to bring her parents to see it.

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30 Days, 30 Posts: NaBloPoMo is Here?

This headline is how I was introduced to NaBloPoMo by WordPress today when I signed in. It was misleading.

Writing-Fountain Pen writing on PaperI had heard of  NaNoWriMo from Karen Ringen, one of the people at Whimsies, and when I went to the web site it all came back to me. Karen mentioned this to me last year when I was on sabbatical, but two things kept me from even trying to do it: Hurricane Sandy, and the death of a colleague. I didn’t have power for nearly two weeks, and I was very depressed. Last November was not a good time to try and start writing anything.

If I’m going to write a novel, I’m certainly not going to do it on a blog. I can’t imagine a worse place to try and write a novel than a blog. (Writing 50,000 words in a blog was suggested by WordPress in their blurb about NaBloPoMo.) I give kudos to anyone brave (or crazy) enough to try–and I’m sure there have already been some.

Also, my Greece: 2013 blog is 53,750 words alone. This was written from February through July. I’ve already done my duty to blog-land for this year, and this isn’t even counting my current blogs. Therefore, NaBloPoMo does not interest me. However, NaNoWriMo–the original writing idea–is.

That said, I once tried to write a science fiction novel when I was a teenager and got well over 100 handwritten pages before I foolishly started editing what I had written before I finished writing it. This is a no-no, and I got so dispondent that I stopped writing. I tried once or twice over the next several years, but it never went anywhere. My first attempt was the furthest I had gotten.

I like the idea of having a national novel writing month, although I’m not so sure Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holiday season is best, but apparently people have had a lot of success. (Besides, Thanksgiving is late this year.)

Either handwritten or by computer, just DO IT!

Either handwritten or by computer, just DO IT!

In academia, faculty are expected to write articles (and sometimes books) and do research in whatever their area of specialization is. I’ve got some ideas I’m working on, and I’m still doing some research. Still, it might be fun to try and take up the challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days–well, 28 days.

I am going to try and write that sci fi novel. This means that I have to write about 1,786 words a day by December 1st. Piece of cake? I’d  be a fool to say it was. I have an old outline of the novel that I wrote several years after my first attempt, and I will have to dig it out. (It was written in long hand, although I may well have transferred it to a Word file a few years ago. I’ll have to look.)

Anyone else want to try their hand at creative writing on a schedule?

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