The Writerly Habit

This blog is about my struggles to get into the habit of writing regularly.

Anthropodermic Bibliopegy

As promised I am posting about books bound in human skin. So what started me thinking about this? I remembered reading an article about a book found in London back in April of 2006. Authorities thought the book was dumped after a burglary. The book was written in French, but no additional information regarding its contents was made available. At that time they were looking for the owner. It just popped into my head the other day that I'd heard nothing else about this. I did some poking around on the internet but didn't turn up anything. I'm amazed at this, that it just fell out of public knowledge. You'd think we'd see an article, "Still no leads in human book case." Something at least.

So, the binding of books in human skin is anthropodermic bibliopegy. This practice was popular as the skin err leather was cheap, waterproof, and durable. The skin came from a variety of sources such as executed criminals, amputated body parts, med school cadavers, or when a patient died and had no family to claim the body. It was common, if a patient led to a particular discovery, to bind the related text in their skin as sort of a spooky honor. George Walton's memoirs were bound in his own skin. Many libraries actually have some of these books, but must keep them away from the general public. They are not allowed to be displayed as novelty items. I'm not sure if that's the law or just respectfulness. I don't know if it's legal to have these kind of books in a private collection. I'd be interested in what the law is in regards to that.

The image below was released by British police in an effort to locate the owner.

Happy 100!

Well kiddies, we have broken the 100th visitor mark. Wohoo! In honor of this, tomorrow evening I will be posting a special article on books bound in human skin. Ooh creepy, just in time for Halloween. Thanks to everyone for making this a successful blog. I appreciate all of your comments.

Tonight I went to the NaNoWriMo kickoff party for my region. It was a lot of fun. I just really enjoyed being around other writers. It was inspiring and really got me in the right mental mindset to begin. Writing begins on 11/1 so I won't be posting too many articles in November, mostly my progress. Yep, in just a few days I will be keeping my word count real and representing for my region. Those of you who haven't signed up yet, do so. It's a great experience.

One of the exercises we did was to draw our internal editor. My internal editor tells me that I'm not good enough and shouldn't even bother trying. I drew the Zoloft rock, sitting on a couple of books on top of a stool peering over my work still in the typewriter thinking how much my work sucks. Very depressing, maybe that's why I chose the Zoloft rock. I'd post it here for you, but our region liaison has taken him hostage so he can't bother me while I'm writing my novel. You can see him once he is free again.

Submission Sent

Well, I've been looking around for a good literary journal to submit two of my flash fictions to. I finally found one so I've sent the submissions off. I can't really tell if they will flow with the style of the magazine...the first issue is due out soon so I couldn't exactly peruse the contents. Hopefully, I'll have good news in the next 1-3 months. Wish me luck! In the meantime, if anyone knows of a good place to submit flash fiction please let me know. I found the perfect mag for my work, but then found out they printed the last issue in May of 2006. Espresso Fiction is a good one but they want the flash to be at least 1,000 words. My stories are under 600 words, one of them is even under 300 (!) so finding a publisher has been difficult.

Obscure Punctuation: The Interrobang

A post from guest blogger Nick Ballard:

From Wikipedia:

The interrobang (/ɪn'tɛrəbæŋ/) (‽) is a rarely used, nonstandard English-language punctuation mark intended to combine the functions of the question mark (also called the interrogative point) and the exclamation mark (known in printers' jargon as the bang). The typographical character is a superimposition of those two marks. The same effect is also frequently achieved by placing the exclamation point before or after the question mark; e.g., "How could you do such a thing!?" or "How could you do such a thing?!"

A sentence ending with an interrobang either (1) asks a question in an excited manner, (2) expresses excitement or disbelief in the form of a question, or (3) asks a rhetorical question.

For example:

How much did you spend on those shoes‽
You're going out with her‽
She did what‽

$41,000 for a childrens book?

Yes, that's right. A copy of the first print run of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (UK) sold for almost $41,000 on auction. Is it just me or does that seem to be an insane amount of money to pay for a newer book? I could see if it was a first edition of, say, War and Peace but this is Harry Potter. I don't mean to poke fun, I enjoyed the Potter series but let's face it, it isn't great literature. They aren't enduring texts that will continue to shape our nation for generations to come. I think the series is great because it inspired a lot of people to start reading for fun again, and for that we are in J.K. Rowling's debt. I do find it interesting that it was part of the original run of only 500 books. I read somewhere in an interview that her publisher didn't think the book would do very well and that's why it had such a small print run. Who would've thought that the boy wizard would become such an inescapable facet of our culture? He's everywhere you look these days.

Choose Your Own Adventure is back!

How many of you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books? I would sit for hours backtracking and reading my way to alternate endings. I loved the ones about haunted houses the best. Didn’t you wish life was like that? Where you could go to the last decision made and change it? Well now you can, sort of. Pretty Little Mistakes, Heather McElhatton’s debut novel, allows you to do just that. You (second person) start off just after graduating high school and get to choose your path from there. There are a multitude of endings, good and bad. There’s even some pretty off the wall accidental death scenes. I can’t wait to read it, sounds wonderful.

That brings me back to a discussion from my fiction writing class earlier this year. Is there a time, other than choose your own adventure type books, that second person is appropriate? I haven’t read much in second person and haven’t written anything. It’s a hard point of view to master, especially without being repetitive. Starting every sentence with You for anything longer than flash fiction gives me a headache (afore mentioned genre excluded of course). So I want to know, does anyone enjoy reading or writing second person stories?

Drive Slow for Pedro

It's time for me to once again stand on my soapbox. This time it's not regarding Britney Spears. No, it has to do with a little Chihuahua named Pedro. As I was leaving my sister's house this evening, I saw a car hit Pedro. It slammed into him pretty hard and he shot off yipping. The person driving barely slowed down and never stopped. The speed limit on the street was 30mph, the driver was easily going 40mph. Luckily, my sister and her husband knew the dog from my description. They grabbed flashlights, alerted the neighbor (who owned the dog), and everyone started looking. I am happy to say that Pedro was fine, he was found in back in his own backyard. I'm urging everyone to please drive the speed limit, or slower, in residential areas. The law is there for a reason. It's there to protect our children. It's there to protect our pets. It's there to protect our wildlife. Please keep this in mind and if you ever hit an animal, STOP and see if the animal needs assistance. Many are left on the roadside to slowly die an agonizing death. Be a responsible driver or get off the road!

Long Time No Post - Lots of Happenings

Well, I haven't posted in a while. That is in direct correlation of how much writing I've been getting done. I've been painting every day, so that's a step up. Now if I can just add writing into the mix I'll be good to go. I'm debating about doing NaNoWriMo next month. That's just the lazy writer in me talking. Must keep will power.

So what's been happening in the literary world? Anne Enright won the Man Booker Prize for her novel The Gathering. Here's a synopsis from the Man Booker web site: The Gathering is a family epic. It is also a sexual history: tracing the line of hurt and redemption through three generations - starting with the grandmother, Ada Merriman - showing how memories warp and family secrets fester. This is a novel about love and disappointment, about thwarted lust and limitless desire, and how our fate is written in the body, not in the stars. Sounds like a great read! Be sure to check it out.

Doris Lessing of the UK was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Lessing is most famous forThe Golden Notebook which had a huge impact on the feminist movement in the early 1960's. I haven't personally read it...but it's now on my list.

Doris Lessing

The latest hubbub is Jessica Seinfield vs. Missy Chase Lapine. They both wrote books about sneaking healthy food into your kids favorite meals. Problem is, as it has been pointed out, Seinfield's book is on the same subject matter and features very similar recipes. Ms. Lapine's book was published first, now this could be just coincidence but the plot thickens. Lapine had pitched her book to Harper Collins twice before being picked up by another publisher. That was the same month that Ms. Seinfield signed up with Harper Collins. Again, it could all be coincidence, but I can see why many people are suspecting otherwise. I do find it funny that Jerry Seinfield stated that his wife was obviously innocent of any wrongdoing because she isn't out for fame or fortune. Now mind you, she may not need the money, I'm sure they're load but who doesn't publish a book with fame in mind? As far as I know, she was a nobody before all this happened. Her only claim to fame being her high profile spouse so how could one say she isn't out for fame? She was previously a public relations exec for Tommy Hilfiger, but I'd never heard of her. I don't know, maybe I'm being presumptuous here, but I think if if you're not out for fame and fortune then put the information out to the public for free via a blog or webstie. Just my humble opinion here folks, I don't want to piss anyone off. Read the full article at the NY Times and decide for yourself.

That's all from me now. I hope to get some writing done tomorrow before I go to my Sister's house. Wish me luck!

Top Writing Movies

This month, The Writer published an article of the top ten movies for writers. I thought I would put up a list of some of my favs:

1. Adaptation - this has to be the ultimate writer's movie. The interior monologue that's going on inside his head is so true to life.

2. Miss Potter - a whimsical tale but also a tragic love story.

3. Throw Momma From the Train - the movie that produced the catchphrase "A writer writes, always."

4. Moulin Rouge

5. Naked Lunch - what's better than typewriters turning into freaky bugs?

6. Sylvia - Gwyneth Paltrow plays one of my obsessions...Sylvia Plath

7. Shakespeare in Love - Gwyneth again

8. Dead Poets Society - anything with Robin Williams is good. The man is a living legend.

9. Secret Window - creepy!

10. Finding Neverland - another one featuring Mr. Depp

11. Delirious - John Candy was a comic genious! I wish I had his typewriter. :)

12. Misery - Every writer's worse nightmare.

13. Nightmares and Dreamscapes - there were two "episodes" with writers as the main characters.

There are many many more I could list but tried to only put in movies that I have actually seen. I think it'd be great sometime to get a bunch of my writer friends together (both of them) and have a movie marathon.

A Day Late...

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) signup has of yesterday. Be sure to hop on and create a profile. I will be writing under, what else, writerlyhabit if you'd like to add me as a buddy. 50,000 words in a month, we can do it!! It's not too late to order the companion book No Plot? No Problem! or the book and kit. It really helped me through NaNoWriMo last year. Plus the author is hilarious!

I plan on writing on writing a fantasy novel. I love to write fantasy, but then I tell myself my work is formulaic and I get all depressed. This time, I'm going to finish a novel and then decide if fantasy is the appropriate genre for me. Feel free to post a few lines about the novel you'll be writing or past NaNoWriMo experiences.