Quote Challenge ~ “Authentic”


The Daily Post WOTD is Authentic.

In his book My Generation: Collected Nonfiction, William Styron discusses authenticity in writing. He recalls a discussion he had on the subject with Hannah Arendt.

“I told her that someday I hoped to write about Auschwitz—I had in mind, specifically, a Polish Catholic survivor of that camp, a young woman named Sophie, whom I had known in Brooklyn after the war—but I was troubled by how authentic my rendition might be. What did I know about midcentury Europe in its torment and self-immolation?

She scoffed lightly at this, countering with this question: What, before writing Nat Turner, had I known about slavery. An artist creates his own authenticity; what matters is imaginative conviction and boldness, a passion to invade alien territory and render an account of one’s discoveries.”

I felt relieved and heartened after reading this because I was having my own struggle with authenticity in writing The Book of Rhino. Rhino is set in the Middle Ages in England; if I used the actual language of the time, it would read like The Faerie Queen, and while the latter is a delightful poem, it is slow-going. Even a book like Ivanhoe is a little off-putting because of all its thees and thous.

So thank you, William Styron and Hannah Arendt, for encouraging my invasion into alien territory. What I have discovered makes the journey well worthwhile.

(Note: This is in response to a quote challenge to myself.)


Parallel and Polya


Golden Ratio

I usually do not post on Thursdays, but when the Daily Press WOTD is Parallel, I can’t resist commenting. My inner mathematician demands it.

I recently tried to construct a regular pentagon inscribed in a regular hexagon inscribed in a circle with a compass and straight edge. The circle and hexagon were easy; but the pentagon proved impossible without using a protractor. (If anyone out there knows how to do it, please let me know.)

Part of the construction involved a sub-construction of parallel lines, and dang! if I could not remember! I got fairly fussed about it because parallel lines are simple, one of the first things a geometry student learns to construct. Therefore, I did what I do with any problem I need to solve—I paced about the room and stopped occasionally to stare out the window.

(Note to self: George Polya did not include this step in his problem-solving process, but he should have because it helps.)

Eventually the trees and rocks outside my window jogged my memory for the construction of parallel lines. I drew my figure and showed it to the world outside my window. Everyone was happy.

On Moral Integrity


Tell me what is the night or day to one o’erflowed with woe?

Tell me what is a thought? & of what substance is it made?

Tell me what is a joy? & in what gardens do joys grow?

And in what rivers swim the sorrows? and upon what mountains?

William Blake ~ Visions of the Daughters of Albion


Quote Challenge ~ Introduction


The Daily Press WOTD is Glimmer.

Denny, the ceaseless reader tagged me for a three-day quote challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed participating. People throughout the centuries have been thinking, saying, and writing quotables, (if that’s the word I want), and I love sharing them.

I decided to continue this challenge by once a week finding a quote that relates to the Daily Press Writing Prompt. It’s a good mental exercise and a way to share samples of great writing with others.

In order to make it a true challenge, I decided that I would only quote from books I have read or are currently reading; I would not search for a quote on the Internet. I also decided that if the quote did not contain the exact word-of-the-day, I would include a justification.

Now for the initial challenge. The WOTD is Glimmer. It just so happens that the word glimmer makes several appearances in a book I am currently reading—Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. I think the battle cry of Ulrica is fitting to quote.

Whet the bright steel,
Sons of the White Dragon!
Kindle the torch,
Daughter of Hengist!
The steel glimmers not for the carving of the banquet,

It is hard, broad, and sharply pointed;
The torch goeth not to the bridal chamber,
It steams and glitters blue with sulphur.

Whet the steel, the raven croaks!
Light the torch, Zernebock is yelling!
Whet the steel, sons of the Dragon!
Kindle the torch, daughter of Hengist!

So cried Ulrica, Saxon princess turned slave, as she brought down fire, death, and destruction upon the castle of her Norman captors. Poor woman! Hers is a sad and haunting tale, one best not told to children.

Note: Hengist is the Saxon leader who invaded Britain in the fifth century. The Saxons in Ivanhoe considered him the first Saxon king of England and honored his name. Sir Walter Scott implies that Zernebock is a Saxon god of death and the dead.

Stephen Lawhead ~ Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot


I have seen a land shining with goodness where each man protects his brothers’ dignity as readily as his own, where war and want have ceased and all races live under the same law of love and honor. 

I have see a land bright with truth, where a man’s word is his pledge, where children sleep safe in their mother’s arms and never know fear or pain.

I have seen a land where kings extend their hand in justice rather than reach for the sword, where mercy, kindness, and compassion flow like deep water over the land.

Stephen R. Lawhead ~ Taliesin

Lawhead’s description of the Shining Land was the inspiration for the setting of The Book of Rhino ~ The Revelation. The setting is one of the reasons The Book of Rhino is a fantasy—but can you imagine if it wasn’t? Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Quote Challenge: Day Three


The Daily Post WOTD is Haul. I thought of U-Hauls and of moving and of carrying things away. I considered quoting from Tim O’Brien’s book The Things They Carried, but that chapter is rather sad (actually the entire book is rather sad, and I prefer not to do sadness on a Friday morning.) Instead I am sharing a quote about the sorns from Ransom.

Two things about our world particularly stuck in their minds. One was the extraordinary degree to which problems of lifting and carrying things absorbed our energy. The other was the fact that we had only one kind of hnau: they thought this must have far-reaching effects in the narrowing of sympathies and thoughts.

C. S. Lewis ~ Perelandara

A tip o’ the hat to Denny at the ceaseless reader.

Leonard’s Legs


Slap. Slap. Slap. Slap.

The sound of running feet echoed across the desert.

Slap. Slap. Slap. Slap. 

After years of threatening to do so, Leonard’s legs finally ran away with him, and he was suffering for it. His bones ached, his lungs burned, and his blood beat a steady tattoo in his ears. He glanced down at the road and groaned. He had crossed another state line.

Leonard was annoyed with his legs; this was a most inconvenient time for them to leave. He had deadlines to meet, appointments and obligations. His legs were so unreasonable!

Slap. Slap. Slap. Slap.

Why? Why are my legs doing this? Was Chesterton right? Must we propitiate the barbaric god of legs with fire and wine?

Two days ago, Leonard’s arms got wind of what was happening, and they wanted a piece of the action. They demanded that the legs stop every hour so that they could do push-ups.

Oh, Lord, no! Not that—I just couldn’t!

So far, the legs had refused to listen to the arms’ demands. Apparently all their talk of brotherly love and solidarity extended only to other legs. Leonard’s arms were not pleased, and to show their displeasure, they waved themselves about as Leonard’s legs ran.

Slap. Slap. Slap. Slap.
Swish. Swish. Swish. Swish.

It’s just like that play I saw—“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)”—the scene with Ophelia, running back and forth across the stage waving her arms. I was in Ophelia’s section of the audience, chanting “Maybe, maybe not. Maybe, maybe not.” Now that I think of it, my arms were with me at the time; that’s probably what gave them the idea.

Slap. Slap. Slap. Slap.
Swish. Swish. Swish. Swish.

Next town—Albuquerque




Quote Challenge: Day Two


The Daily Post WOTD is Frigid. It reminds me of Christina Rossetti’s poem “Winter: My Secret.” Here is the first stanza.

I tell my secret? No indeed, not I:
Perhaps some day, who knows?
But not  today; it froze, and blows, and snows,
And you’re too curious: fie!
You want to hear it? well:
Only, my secret’s mine, and I won’t tell.     

This poem is from her first volume of poetry Goblin Market and Other Poems published in 1862. It caught my attention when I first read it because it describes how I am with respect to telling my own secrets.

A tip o’ the hat to Denny who blogs at the ceaseless reader.