One Tomato at a Time

My energy level at work can be up, normal, or down. When it's up, things are beautiful. My mind is bubbling over with ideas, I'm enthusiastic about what I'm working on, every little thing I do leads on the next thing in an organic way, and I can work more or less at full speed all day long. There's so much to do, and so little time, and I fill it up seemingly without any effort at all. Those are the really good days. On a normal day things are more relaxed. I know what I'm working on, I … [Read more...]

Words I Wish I’d Written: Napoleon

But was he outraged! You might have thought he was Napoleon and she was asking him to come and deploy the tin soldiers in a nursery.— Rex Stout, The Black Orchids. (The "he" is Nero Wolfe, of course.) … [Read more...]

It’s (Mostly) All Good

Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.

So, you may ask: this blog is a Catholic blog, on the Catholic Channel at Patheos. There's some Catholic content, but there's also a bunch about fiction, writing, popular music, and general foolishness. What's up with that? How come this blog isn't all Catholic all of the time?And I answer that, on the contrary, it is.Thomas Aquinas teaches us that love is naturally expressive of itself, and so with God: the universe around us, and everything in it, is an expression of God's love. … [Read more...]

Trollope’s Theory of Fiction

Your average genre novel is like a high speed car chase ending in a massive crash, with death, destruction, and balls of flame, from which the main characters (usually) emerge mostly unscathed. Everything builds up to the crash, and it's the anticipation that keeps us turning pages. Anthony Trollope, by contrast, is like a pleasant Sunday afternoon drive through the countryside in an open carriage behind a pair of matched horses. There's conflict, sure; a herd of sheep blocks the road, two … [Read more...]

Words I Wish I’d Written: Time and Conscience

The whole of Lucy’s behaviour in the affair, and the prosperity which crowned it, therefore, may be held forth as a most encouraging instance of what an earnest, an unceasing attention to self-interest, however its progress may be apparently obstructed, will do in securing every advantage of fortune, with no other sacrifice than that of time and conscience.— Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility … [Read more...]

Writing with Jigsaw Puzzles and Tinker Toys

Patricia Wrede says:Sometimes it seems that there are a zillion different metaphors for how writers construct a plot. There’s the sculpture metaphor (carve away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant). There’s the pottery-making metaphor (add a lump of clay, work it until you have the center, then shape and add more clay as and where needed). There’s the jewelry metaphor (like stringing different colored beads in a pleasing pattern) and the quilt-making metaphor (combining small scraps … [Read more...]

You Got Erotica in my Peanut Butter

Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.

Author Sarah Hoyt has observed a disturbing trend: erotica is invading every other genre, for no obviously useful reason. (Note: Hoyt's post is somewhat ribald.) At first she put it down to a last-ditch attempt by the traditional publishing establishment to retain readers...and then she discovered that the same thing is hitting independently published e-books as well...and that the books are selling. Her take-away:What you can take from this is that NO, that story you have in the drawer is … [Read more...]

Wisdom and Knowledge

Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.

Mr. Magundi says,“The difference is simple,” Mr. Magundi replied. “Knowledge is progressive, and wisdom is static. We improve in knowledge with every passing generation, and indeed with every passing day; but we have not improved in wisdom since the first man thought it might be a fine idea to eat that fruit after all. We pass our knowledge on to the next generation, by oral tradition or in writing. On the other hand, an individual can grow in wisdom, but for some paradoxical reason, no matte … [Read more...]

Words I Wish I’d Written: Mr. Teatime

Monkey Typing

Mister Teatime had a truly brilliant mind, but it was brilliant like a fractured mirror, all marvelous facets and rainbows but, ultimately, also something that was broken.— Terry Pratchett, Hogfather … [Read more...]


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