Poetry Friday

A Valediction Forbidding Mourning
by John Donne

AS virtuous men pass mildlyaway, 
    And whisper to their souls to go, 
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
    “Now his breath goes,” and some say,”No.”                     

So let us melt, and make nonoise,                                       5
    No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move ;
‘Twere profanation of our joys 
    To tell the laity our love. 

Moving of th’ earth brings harms and fears ;
    Men reckon what it did, and meant;                              10
But trepidation of the spheres, 
    Though greater far, is innocent. 

Dull sublunary lovers’ love 
    —Whose soul is sense—cannot admit 
Of absence, ’cause it dothremove                                     15
    The thing which elemented it. 

But we by a love so much refined,
    That ourselves know not what it is, 
Inter-assurèd of the mind, 
    Care less, eyes, lips and hands tomiss.                           20

Our two souls therefore, which are one, 
    Though I must go, endure not yet 
A breach, but an expansion, 
    Like gold to aery thinness beat. 

If they be two, they are twoso                                          25
    As stiff twin compasses are two ; 
Thy soul, the fix’d foot, makes no show 
    To move, but doth, if th’ other do. 

And though it in the centre sit, 
    Yet, when the other far dothroam,                                30
It leans, and hearkens after it, 
    And grows erect, as that comes home. 

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
    Like th’ other foot, obliquely run ;
Thy firmness makes my circlejust,                                    35
    And makes me end where I begun. 

Up and Coming

My current show opens this Friday and so I don’t have a lot of time at home to play online. I do have several tabs open in my browser for the rare times I get a minute to read webstuffs, though.

I’m also going to be providing my loyal readers (all ten of you!) with reviews of The Royal Diaries: Elizabeth I and Millicent Min, Girl Genius, which I finished reading today. Here’s a preview: I loved it! Those I intend to write during my downtime at rehearsal, of which there is a lot.

More soon!

Writing Blogs

This is the second part of a two-part response to Bookseller Chick’s excellent post Writer as Blogger, Blogger as Writer. For the first part, see my post Reading Blogs.

Next Question:

What do you expect from your own blogging?

I expect from my own blogging the same things I expect from others: good writing, interesting content, and good design. Of these three, interesting content gives me the most trouble.

The first problem is that I find myself infinitely interesting. I have to be careful in my blogging not to ramble on at length about things so narrow in scope they interest only me. It’s that whole “Who drives content?” question. In my blogs, I do. Too much, if I want to keep an audience. So that’s something I’m working to improve. Posts like this one, which are parts of larger conversations, are a strong step in that direction.

The other issue I have with content is updating regularly but not too frequently. When I am in the midst of my obsession with a topic, I’ll post to that blog daily or several times a day. As obsession fades, I post less and less frequently, eventually stopping altogether. This is what happened with my crochet blog, my health and fitness blog, my video game blog, my fashion blog, and my publicly visible personal blog. My friends-only personal livejournal is very rarely neglected: my fascination with my self hasn’t faded yet.

Which brings us to the last question:

Why do you blog?

I started lectitans first because slayground (Little Willow of Bildungsroman fame) is a rockstar. She was promoting readergirlz, and I latched on to the notion immediately. In order to be a part of that larger community, I wanted a place to keep track of my own musings on reading. And so we have lectitans.

I then started paying attention to the blogs linked from readergirlz, and the larger conversations about books in which I saw slayground participating. I thought, “These are my people. I want to be a part of that.” So I am reading other book blogs, and engaging in conversation with other book bloggers. Yes, folks, it’s all about community.

I chose LiveJournal as my publishing platform because it is proven as a platform I’ll use consistently. My personal journal is on LiveJournal, and I’ve been updating it nearly daily for five years. Quite a few friends came over from my personal journal, giving me a built in audience. I also enjoy using the LiveJournal friends page as an RSS aggregator, but wanted a separate ID to use for my book-related reads.

I’m not concerned about running out of content for lectitans. Reading is an obsession I’ve had for twenty two years. I’m excited to be finding new book friends, both real in the form of other bloggers and imagined in the form of characters I wouldn’t be aware of without reading other blogs. I look forward to a long and exciting career as a book blogger.

Reading Blogs

This is the first part of a two-part response to Bookseller Chick’s excellent post, Writer as Blogger, Blogger as Writer. For the second part, see my post Writing Blogs.

Let’s begin with two questions:

What kind of content do you expect from your writers who blog? How about from the bloggers who aren’t (and never will be) “professional” writers?

I look for the same things from all bloggers, whether or not they are professional writers.

Good Writing. I’m looking for two things here: a uniqueness of voice and a strength of style. I want my bloggers to sound like themselves: not like someone else and not like robots or news reporters. At the same time, it’s important to me that they express themselves clearly and concisely. Word choice is key. If a writer uses one word and it’s clear she needed another, she’s lost me. I don’t like poetic prose and I always prefer economy of phrase, though not to the exclusion of the aforementioned uniqueness.

Interesting Content. This, too, has multiple parts. A blogger’s content must be of distinct interest to me to keep me coming back. My interests vary, though I tend to focus on one at a time. I’ve followed blogs centered on writing, health and fitness, crochet, video games and fashion, as well as personal blogs. I go back to each category now and again. I’ve strayed away from personal blogs of anyone I don’t personally know because I rarely find the mundanities of a stranger’s life interesting. I would go back to any well-written blog with glee. If opinions and analysis take precedence over lists of daily events, I will stick with a personal blog. In addition to being tied to my interests the content should be original in some way: completely original, reviews, or annotated links. Linking without comment or re-posting of stories found elsewhere quickly turns me off. Lastly, for content to be interesting it should be updated regularly. Less than once a week and I start to lose interest; more than three or four times a day and I get overwhelmed.

Good Design. I’m a sucker for a pretty page. I don’t care who designed it or if it’s a stock design like my own here at lectitans as long as it’s attractive.

On to the next question:

Who drives content: blogger or reader?

Yes. The best blogs are conversations. I don’t want to read a blog where the blogger writes only what she thinks her readers want without putting any of herself into it. That kind of writing is dishonest and uninteresting. Still, I don’t care to read a lot of navel-gazing. A blogger should be aware of her audience and keep them in mind without giving herself over to them completely. An ideal blog post expresses an opinion, presents information, or provides a recommendation and then asks, “What do you think?” This is why blogs didn’t really flourish until comments became a common feature. The sense of community is very important both to individual blogs and to blogging as a mode of publication.

Continue to part two, Writing Blogs.

Library Report et al.

I’ve started writing the response to Writer as Blogger, Blogger as Writer.

I’ve decided to make it a point to go to the library weekly. And each week, I’ll tell you what I got.

Today’s library haul:
1. Millicent Min, Girl Genius, Lisa Lee – recommended by readergirlz
2. The Last Dragon, Silvana de Mari – Cybils Finalist
3. Pucker, Melanie Gideon – Cybils Finalist
4. A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life, Dana Reinhardt – Cybils Finalist
5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Visitors, Laura Anne Gilman and Josepha Sherman – in honor of the 10th Anniversary of the premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Out of the Madhouse, Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder – in honor of the 10th Anniversary of the premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
7. Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie – While I was mid-Capt. Hook it occurred to me I ought to finish reading the source material, which I started long ago but never finished.

Poetry Friday

For my inaugural Poetry Friday post, I am using one of my favorite poems.

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29
When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
featured like him, like him with friends possess’d,
desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
with what I most enjoy contented least,
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee and then my state
Like to the lark at break of day arising
Sings hymns at heaven’s gate.
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

(The punctuation is incorrect because I typed it from memory.  I then checked it against the official punctuation but I was so proud of myself for typing it from memory that I couldn’t bear to correct it.)

Why I Love This Poem:
Because it shows that even when life is at its worst, maybe somebody loves you and that makes it better a little.  I find it makes it better a lot.

More Stuff About This Poem:
When I teach my students about meter in poetry, I use this as an example of iambic pentameter aka the natural English meter (as opposed to, say, Latin or Greek meter).  I recite it with ridiculous emphasis on the meter, and then also more naturally.  They vary from frightened to awed.  I guess those two things aren’t that far apart, though, are they?

I hope it’s germane to write at length about one’s choice for Poetry Friday.  If it’s not, I’ll probably keep doing it anyway.  Sorry, internet.

Two Reading-Related Announcements

1. The lovely blackholly aka Holly Black, one of the co-authors of the Spiderwick Chronicles, solicited help creating Latin for her book Care and Feeding of Sprites. I caught sight of it while I was on my medicine run at Target today and flipped through.

You see, I’m something of a Latin expert, what with having a Master’s degree in teaching it and a couple years of experience under my belt with the teaching aspect, plus another 10ish years of reading it. At least, my friends tell me it’s okay to consider myself an expert, so I do. So when blackholly put out the call, slayground sent me her way and her mine, or something, and I did indeed provide her with some scientific names for her Sprites. I’m not sure how many of mine she used. I checked my records and I know at least the Glowing Toadfly and the Little Blueberry Sprite have scientific names I found for her. (The process was: she gave me English names. I used my knowledge of grammar, which dictionaries are good, and what specific connations are to come up with the Latin. Then I sent it to her.) I think she used half of the name I gave her for the Dancing Pondneedle, but only the dancing part. I think.

As you can imagine, it was very exciting for me to see in a store a book to which I had, in some way at least, contributed. (I suppose I contributed an interview to Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy as well. Every time I see that in a store I about have a fit.)

2. A quick plug for Sonja Foust, as well! Sonja has been my friend since we were baby high school freshmen, and the most exciting thing has happened. She’s going to be published! Her e-book romance short story Love in Shadow will be published by the Wild Rose Press. I feel compelled to warn you that this is a romance, with all that entails. I can’t be held responsible for Sonja’s text!

I’m off for a nap, after which I hope to be up to posting the earlier promised post on blogging, writing, reading, and other stuff.

Coming soon…

Later – today, I hope – I will be writing a response to Bookseller Chick’s Writer as Blogger, Blogger as Writer post. I will talk about why I started this blog especially, when I had others I could’ve written. I’ll talk about why I chose LJ as my publishing platform. I’ll talk about some other stuff too.

But I want to do that when I’m coherent enough to make sense, and now is not that time.

So I’ll just tell you the tiny revelation I had today while out picking up my medicine:
I don’t need to read books in the order they are on my bookshelf, or for the express purpose of cutting down on the number of books I have. That takes all the joy out of it. I need to read books because I want to read them. That is how one should go about reading, especially as a leisure activity. Just as I don’t read books because they’re “good for me,” so I should not read them just to see if I can bear to part with them.

So I’m doing away with the “Upcoming” part of my booklist, because if I make that part? I feel like I have to stick to it.

And that’s silly.

More later!