Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Writing A Novel

Last month I took the challenge of November as Novel Writing Month and wrote a novel (50,000 words) in 30 days.  It was exciting to try to turn a short story into a novel.  People who had read the story said it would make a good novel, and I threw numerous temper tantrums saying "I don't want to write a novel; I want to write short stories." 

But when a writing acquaintance recommended that I consider joining the fun of trying to write a novel in one month, it seemed like a good idea.  I took the short story I had written as an outline and started.

I got a friend to read it when I was at about 20,000 words and could not imagine how I could get to 50,000.  But one thing led to another, one character led to another and voila!  a novel was born.

The interesting thing is that I fell in love with my characters.  It was kind of like reading a novel -- which I have done a lot of over the years -- except that I was the writer of the novel I was reading.

I don't know when or where I will show this to others, but I must admit that writing the novel was very empowering. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Occupy the Polls? Hardly!

People will complain today about the voter turnout, and it will be low. But the choices we face statewide – elections for the Virginia General Assembly – are unfortunately fewer than they should be.

Of the 100 members of the Virginia House of Delegates, only 26 seats have candidates from both major parties running. That means that only 26 districts in the entire state have races that might interest voters.

Percentage wise, the Senate is more competitive – 24 out of 40 seats have choices between the two major parties. (Additionally, a recent write in campaign has been mounted by a Republican against Senator Don McEachin (D-Richmond). Oh, goody, three fifths of Virginians will have a choice for their senator.

This is down from 2009: there are fewer rather than more competitive races for these seats.

When we look at women’s standing in the General Assembly, the record is even worse. Right now, we have 19 women in the 100-member House of Delegates, 13 Democrats and 6 Republicans. I haven't checked the polls statewide but I'm betting this will remain about the same after the election. I'm hopeful that Connie Brennan will get elected and raise this number to 14.

In the Virginia Senate, beginning with a female “surge” in 1996, we now have 8 women, all but one Democratic. Two of those veterans from the 1996 days, Patsy Ticer and Mary Margaret Whipple are not running for reelection, and their replacements will not be women. Oh well.

Hopefully Connie Brennan will be elected tonight in a very conservative district, but I suspect the race will be tight even though her main opponent has had a record of a number of law-breaking incidents (hardly the right person to write laws).

And Senator Edd Houck who has been very good on women’s reproductive rights as well as environmental issues faces a real challenge from a well funded opponent who has received much money from the Governor’s Political Action Committee. Fingers crossed on this one.

The polls have closed. Now we’ll have to wait for the count.

PS:  On Election night, I always miss the late great Emily Couric, who, had she lived, would have been our first woman governor.  Of that I am sure.  Wherever she is, I suspect Emily is with us night. 

This year also, I miss Mary Ann Elwood, former City politico and civil rights activist, who died this year, and Drewary Brown and Grace and Robert Tinsley, all of whom worked so hard for all Charlottesvillians and for the Democratic Party's sense of justice  -- we remember you always. Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gertrude Stein: My Letter to Editor Regarding Post Review of Stein Show

Published: November 4 Washington Post

I get it: Philip Kennicott loathes Gertrude Stein [“Gertrude Stein knew the right and wrong people,” Arts, Oct. 23]. While he has his reasons, I wish he had at least described the exhibition ”Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories” before launching his diatribe. I viewed it at the National Portrait Gallery the day before I read his review, and I was disappointed by what he wrote.

The show seeks to tell us about Stein and her time in “5 stories”: Stein as the subject of portraiture; as art collector; in her domestic life; through friendships; and as defined by her legacy as writer, celebrity, mentor. I left the exhibition wanting to know more about this interesting but human woman, whose many shortcomings are noted throughout. Kennicott instead creates a sixth story, the “sins” of Stein.

One does not have to worship Stein, her work or her life to learn from the exhibition, and the review could have described more of the exhibition’s structure and the pieces instead of hammering on Stein, her work, her character, indeed her very being. Must he hit us over the head with the intensity of his disdain? Why does he not respect the readers enough to let them decide on the ultimate value of Gertrude Stein as cultural icon?

I encourage others to visit the National Portrait Gallery and judge the show for itself.