Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Writing: Is It Themes or Is It Story?

In 2013, a study by three researchers at the University of Toronto suggested that people who read literary fiction are more comfortable with ambiguity, tend to avoid snap judgments and can deal better with disorder and uncertainty. Publishing in the Creativity Research Journal, the researchers found that reading fiction may help people open their minds. (You don’t have to read the entire study; a short and succinct article in Salon translates the study from the original Academic-ese.)

Business executives don’t read novels to help them make decisions. But perhaps they should read novels to help them understand the culture around them. They might make better decisions as a result. 

I spent a career writing non-fiction – speeches, articles, reports, studies, and essays. And I read the business stuff I had to read – The Wall Street Journal and a multitude of business and trade publications. But I also read a considerable amount of fiction and poetry, and the understanding followed was reflected in my career work. I don’t think I could have written a lot of what I did without having read Charles Dickens, for example, or The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (as bad a novel as it was, it changed the laws governing food production). 

To continue reading, please see my post today at Christian Poets & Writers.

The Poetry of Farming: "Water at the Roots" by Philip Britts

Philip Britts (1917-1949) was an Englishman who joined the Cotswold Bruderhof community. The Bruderhof was (and is) a faith community who live together and share all land and possessions. They are also pacifists. Consider the plight of Britts, who is living and farming in rural England when World War II begins. Some members of the community are German; the Bruderhof started in Germany. The British government and local authorities weren’t terribly impressed by both pacifists and Germans living in rural England when Britain was fighting for its survival against Nazi Germany. The British could accept the pacifists, but not the Germans.

Philip Britts
The community was given a choice – the Germans had to be interned or leave, or the entire community had to emigrate. The Cotswold Bruderhof choose emigration, and eventually settled in Paraguay, the only country which would accept all of them. It wasn’t an easy life; farmland had to be tilled, crops planted and harvested, locusts fought, strange diseases encountered (one would eventually kill Britts when he was 31).

Britts kept a journal, wrote essays, and also wrote poetry.

To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Dancing King Stories: The Buckingham Palace Library

Several short scenes in Dancing King are set in what’s called the Buckingham Palace Library. Michael Kent-Hughes meets here with Josh Gittings , the man who becomes his chief of staff, the Monday after the family’s arrival in London. He tells Gittings that the volumes in the room are dusty, and he wished he had an inventory of what was in the room. Michael conducts interviews here, most notably the one with Geoffrey Venneman, one of the chief villains of the novel. Michael is using the library as a quasi-office until his own office is remodeled.

I should mention here that there is no official “royal library” in Buckingham Palace. I invented the room for the novel. 

At the rear of the ground level of the palace, there is the Bow Room, a large room that arcs on the terrace side. On the official tour, you walk through this room to exit to turn in your tour head sets and find the refreshment tent. The Bow Room is officially a kind of waiting room for guests, until they’re conducted to meet with the monarch. There are rooms on either side of the Bow Room, which were originally designed to be the library. From early on, though, Victoria and Albert, the first to occupy the palace, used the two rooms and the Bow Room for other purposes.

To continue reading, please see my post today at Dancing Priest

Illustration: The Octagonal Library at Buckingham House. Buckingham House was incorporated into Buckingham Palace but the library building was not.