I Can’t Dance: Don’t Ask Me or Happy Canada Day 2012

English: Montage of 15 Canadians from 14 diffe...

English: Montage of 15 Canadians from 14 different ethnic backgrounds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Canadians are not a particular people from a particular place…they are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom.” ~ an Australian dentist.

Our ego is intact. We are proud Canadians. We make fun of ourselves in amusing diatribes casting ourselves as beer drinkers and puck shufflers. One of our national symbols is an ornery rodent with a fierce overbite. The other is the “maple leaf forever” (though I suspect that our love and loyalty to the proud maple is the fact that the tree produces that lovely amber nectar known to all of us who love pancakes: maple syrup.)

As a true “too modest to toot our own horn” Canadian, I am turning to an outside source or two to brag about our accolades. We tend to define ourselves with tongue in cheek stand-up comedy routines, but we are much more than that. My sources (okay, my sources were emails from a couple of friends), an Australian dentist and a British journalist see us as brave unsung heroes.

First, the dentist. He spied an ad in the news that someone in a foreign country (the country was named, but my journalistic instincts {or spidey senses} lead me to believe  it would not be fair to name it) was offering a reward to anyone who killed a Canadian, so he developed a definition that would throw would-be assassins off our scent. When you read his description of us, you will understand:

“A Canadian can be English or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish or Greek. A Canadian can be Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, Arab, Pakistani or Afghan. A Canadian may also be a Cree, Metis, Mohawk, Blackfoot or Sioux.

A Canadian’s religious beliefs range from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or none….the key difference is that in Canada they are free to worship as each of them chooses.

A Canadian is generous and (they) have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return.  Canadians welcome the best of everything…but they also welcome the least, the oppressed, the outcast and the rejected.

You can try to kill a Canadian, if you must, as other bloodthirsty tyrants in the world have tried, but in doing so you may be killing a relative or a neighbour. This is because Canadians are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, can be a Canadian.”

All that and we play a fierce game of hockey too. Whether or not you agree with everything the Australian says, there is nary a word about beer, beavers or maple syrup. It is nice to be defined by who we are and what we do and not just by clichés and national symbols.

Kevin Myers also provides a grand nod to Canadians in an article he wrote for the London Sunday Telegraph. Titled, “Salute to a brave and modest nation” he describes Canadians as perpetual “wallflowers”. At first glance, this does not seem particularly complimentary. But in context, it does remind us that we do not just do the right thing for glory and recognition.

Myers says, “Canada is the perpetual wallflower that stands on the edge of the hall, waiting for someone to…ask her for a dance. A fire breaks out, she risks life and limb to rescue her fellow dance-goers and suffers serious injuries. But when the hall is repaired and the dancing resumes, there is Canada, the wallflower still, while those she once helped glamorously cavort across the floor, blithely neglecting her yet again.”

“Canada,” Myers states emphatically, “repeatedly does the honourable things for honourable motives.”

While Myers does a nice job of complimenting Canada, his one downfall is that he pities the fact that we go unrecognized. Majestic Canada and her subjects need no one’s sympathy. Recognition is nice, but it is beside the point.

On July 1st, Canadians will celebrate this great country of which we are blessed to be a part. Happy Canada Day, and as the dentist downunder said so eloquently: “Keep your stick on the ice.”

Happy Canada Day

Happy Canada Day (Photo credit: Anirudh Koul)

And to our neighbours to the south, Happy 4th of July ~ you have many a proud tradition to celebrate too!

Published in: on June 28, 2012 at 3:52 pm  Comments (67)  
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Angst–or a pity party for one

Traditional Scuderia Ferrari logo

Traditional Scuderia Ferrari logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This post will be understood by fellow bloggers who have not yet hit the “big time” of being Freshly Pressed by WordPress.  For those of you who do not know what this means—it is the equivalent of (almost) getting a book deal, buying a new silver Ferrari, and thumbing your nose at your bill collectors.

How does one get Freshly Pressed? I read the instructions on improving your likelihood of being FP (as those of us in the biz call it) and have tried to incorporate the suggestions into my posts. I have tried be topical and give  proper due to those I have quoted. I take great pains to add pictures appropriate to my topics (though I have not yet figured out how to put my own pictures on the blog yet—but that will come); and I try to be as grammatically correct as my aging brain  and English degree will let me–but still no recognition! What am I doing wrong?

And today—today, I lost one of my followers. I read a blog recently where a fellow blogger  lost a follower, and I understood his dilemma, and was sympathetic,  but I had not yet been hit by the delete button. Now I fully understand—what did I do? Did I comment on a site and the comment was misunderstood? Did one of my posts offend someone? Or,… and please don’t let this be it—did I bore them to tears?

I have had my blog since August 2011, but because I am so simple-minded, my niece, Chay Geauvreau, set it up for me. She asked me my favourite colours and put a lot of thought into getting me on the right track. She knew I wanted a forum for the columns I write weekly for the newspaper where I freelance. (Of course, I passed  this by my editor, who told me that because I am freelance the columns belong to me, even though the paper pays for them: Bonus!) We tried to call this just “On The Homefront” but apparently we had to add “and beyond” as someone else was using the name, or something like that. That was okay by me, as this is the name of the column I write, so I did not have much trouble remembering it.

When I started out, I was only posting about once a week. In December I started to pick up the pace and post stuff (great works of creative literature – lol) that was just for the blog and not merely recycled columns. In the past three months I have tried to post at least four times a week, and my stats have risen dramatically. Not dramatically for those of you getting thousands, or even hundreds of hits, but dramatically for me. So what is the next step in this whole process? Why to be Freshly Pressed, of course!

Okay, the pity party is over. Even if I never get Freshly Pressed, I am enjoying this blogging experience. I have met some of the most wonderful people, and been nominated for a number of awards, which, when and if I ever become organized enough, I will be recognizing by doing my due diligence and posting the awards and naming some of my favourite blogs, which is going to be difficult because I have so many.

Spend no time feeling sorry for me, we all have to get rid of our little bit of angst sometimes. I am over it now- sort of, kind of, in a way.

(If any of you have any idea why I have not been chosen—let me know. But be gentle, as I am a rather delicate soul. And to the person who deleted me, if you still look in on occasion, I would be interested to hear from you. Maybe the reason you deleted me is the reason I have not yet been Freshly Pressed.)

English: The logo of the blogging software Wor...

English: The logo of the blogging software WordPress. Deutsch: WordPress Logo 中文: WordPress Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Published in: on June 26, 2012 at 5:50 pm  Comments (94)  
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A Big Hug

Granny (Looney Tunes)

Granny (Looney Tunes) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am as guilty as anyone else. I love the idea of “community” and love living in a small town, but do I really contribute to the feeling of “community”? To me, the term is not geographical, but emotional —and can be, at its best (pardon the sentiment) “like a big hug”. Author, Ferenc Matte reminded me of the importance of “community”, in his book, “The Wisdom of Tuscany”. Fortunately, we do not have to travel so far afield to attain the close-knit feeling of belonging.

At its core community has the word commune, which  in essence means connect. I do not think I do enough to “connect” to my neighbours, or to the community at large. Matte makes the point that:

“If we all love such small towns—and surveys say that seven out of ten of us would live there if we could—why then are they ever more difficult to find? The demand is there, so where is the supply? When all it takes is a few good-natured people—a couple to teach school, a few to run the stores, some to farm the land, some to mend the sick and a bar to tend the healthy—then why isn’t there such a town behind every tree?” He ends his tiny diatribe by saying “How did it happen that things no one wants are burying us all, while the simple town we dream of we can seldom find.”

Matte, of course simplifies what a small town is all about, but he has a point. If we want a sense of community, then we should strive to achieve that goal. He mourns the loss of neighbourhood saying that its death “snuck up on us slowly”, with a little “thoughtlessness here, a tiny neglect there, a bit too much ambition, a little too much greed.” He misses Granny on the front porch reminding us of “simpler times, better days.”

About a week and a half ago, I attended an event which felt a bit like a “big hug”. I was there, not as a reporter, but someone enjoying an evening of books, wine, music, and food. It was called En Vino Novellus, which translated means “in wine there are stories”.  It featured four local authors, some local musicians, wine paired to the books that were featured by a local sommelier, and an appetizer presented by a local butcher shop. Note the word local—they were all a part of our community, and came together to present an evening enjoyed by an overflowing crowd of like-minded people.

My husband said that the evening personified what community is all about. He said that he wants to live in a place that can provide wonderful cultural events. Events that the community can get behind.

Me too.

Hazy Days of Summer

Union Jack Tent from Decathlon by Quecha

Union Jack Tent from Decathlon by Quecha (Photo credit: dullhunk)

The words “a white tent pitched by a glassy lake, well under a shady tree”…. were haunting me recently, so I Googled them and found the rest of the words to the song. It brings me back to the days when I attended a one room school (when the dinosaurs were still roaming the earth, according to my youngest son), and part of our day included not only readin’, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic , but singing.

In the morning we sang God Save the Queen (in the years before O Canada replaced it) facing the Canadian version of the Union Jack (before 1965 when our maple leafed flag was born)  then recited the Lord’s prayer (when this was still allowed in public school).  At the end of the day we sang songs for fun before we were out the door and on our way home. I remember one of our favourites was Puff the Magic Dragon as well as the aforementioned  song that would not leave me in peace until I found all the words to it.

The enigmatic song that was playing an endless loop in my head is called  “A Canadian Camping Song”, and in my cursory search I found that it seemed to be part of the government of the day’s approved curriculum. While my research was only glancing, I could not come up with a song writer.

The words to the song evoke June days when exams were done and we were putting in time before the summer holidays. So for those of you curious about the words to the rest of the song, here they are:

A Canadian Camping Song

A white tent pitched by a glassy lake,

Well under a shady tree.

Or by rippling rills from the grand old hills

Is the summer home for me.

I fear no blaze of the noontide rays,

For the woodland glades are mine,

The fragrant air, and that perfume rare,

The odour of forest pine.


The wild woods, the wild woods

The wild woods give me;

The wild woods of Canada.

The boundless and free.

The song epitomizes summer for me—and in this, our first real week of official summer, it reminds me of the last days of June, sitting at my desk, just waiting for the summer holidays to begin. The days of summer stretched out seemingly forever—full of baseball in the back yard, chores around the house, riding my bike, reading in my favourite tree, and walking with my sister to the local corner store for a pop and chocolate bar.

If anyone knows who wrote this little ditty, let me know.

Late Bloomer

Green and red cubanelle peppers

Green and red cubanelle peppers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have always been a late bloomer. This may explain why, three-quarters of the way through June, our backyard garden is finally planted and right now being watered by an early summer rain. This year we have opted to grow just tomatoes and peppers, and since I am only the occasional weeder and sometimes waterer of the garden, I am not even sure what varieties have been planted. But I know, as sure as Rudolph has a red nose, that most of the peppers are of the hot, hotter and hottest varieties.

The garden is really my eldest son, Adam’s, and he loves to pick the hot peppers, cut them up,  and enjoy them on his hamburgers, hot dogs, and whatever else can use a bit of out of this world heat. He obviously inherited my mother’s green thumb, as I have no claim to any gardening skills. My Impatiens are still on the front porch, awaiting their day in the sun, or more appropriately for these types of Impatiens, the shade—though I play little heed to the directions on the little plastic sticks stuck in the pots. I do know that if I do not plant them soon, they will go the way of their unfortunate cousins, the pansies who never did get planted in May, and are wilting on their little stems. I may be able to save a few.

The garden had been taken over by chives, which had to be moved and given their own half acre. I think we may have to fence the little devils in to keep them tame. There is also some swiss chard growing from last year—we are not sure if we should eat it, but it is a bit of a novelty. I planted a rose-bush in one corner of our little plot, a gift from Mother’s Day 2011, and it is blooming like crazy with very little attention.

We have learned some lessons over the years of growing vegetables, and number one is not to attempt to grow pumpkins or corn. Here is an excerpt from a piece I wrote in 2008 to explain why:

Pumpkins, photographed in Canada.

Pumpkins, photographed in Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No More Pumpkins: 2008

I learn from my mistakes. Eventually. Usually I don’t learn the first or second time, but by the third time I at least get an inkling that I may not be on the right track. I have learned, albeit the hard way, that growing pumpkins in your backyard is not easy. The vines tend to take over. And not only the garden. Last year I had nightmares that they had broken down my back door, and stealthily crept up the stairs to my bedroom to strangle me in my sleep.

So this year, no more pumpkins! I am leaving my favourite orange orbs to the experts. Last year we did realize nine of the lovelies and used them to dress up the front of our house for fall, along with some of the corn stalks we salvaged from the feast the raccoons had in our garden. And to answer a question that was posed a number of times, no, I did not make any pies from the pumpkins. You would not believe the number of people who asked me this question. Obviously this making of pies is not the foreign concept to them as it is to me.


So this year we employed the KISS method—keep it simple stupid. And really, are not tomatoes and peppers two very fine vegetables? (If you want to get technical fruit and vegetable).

Hopefully I will get my bright pink and white Impatiens planted (they are a new colour combo this year—so I am being trendy) soon, and all you real gardeners out there can breathe a sign of relief that they are not going to go the way of my poor pansies!

Published in: on June 22, 2012 at 1:11 am  Comments (38)  
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Bons Mots

Cover of "Walking a Literary Labyrinth"

Cover of Walking a Literary Labyrinth

Do you wonder if you will ever be quoted? Will you ever have something so astute or stunningly beautiful to say that your bons mots will be worthy of repetition?

I wrote a short essay in this blog that started with a quote from myself, so that if no one else ever quotes me, I have been quoted (that counts in my books if not yours).

Here are a few of my favourite quotes gleaned from various sources. I  am a collector of quotes and have several journals filled with them, so I thought I might share a few.

My definition of life is aptly defined by Adair Lara in her book “Naked, Drunk and Writing”.  She said that she read it somewhere. Without further ado (drum roll please):“It’s all very hard, but there’s a lot of collateral beauty along the way.”

This quote can be directly attributed to Lara: “She painted in all the shadows; but I remember the sunshine.”

William Faulkner sums up how I approach writing: “I never know what I think about something until I’ve read what I’ve written on it.”

English: Portrait of Virginia Woolf

English: Portrait of Virginia Woolf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And  this from Virginia Woolf on the love of reading.  It is from her essay, “How One Should Read a Book”:

“Yet who reads to bring about an end, however desirable? Are there not some pursuits that we practice because they are good in themselves, and some pleasures that are final? And is this not among them? I have sometimes dreamt, at least, that when the Day of Judgment dawns and the great conquerors and lawyers and statesmen come to receive their reward—their crowns, their laurels, their names carved indelibly upon imperishable marble – the Almighty will turn to Peter and say, not without a certain envy when he sees us coming with our books under our arms, “Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give here. They have loved reading”.”

I find the words of Nancy Malone, from her book “Walking a Literary Labyrinth, A Spirituality of Reading” astute, smart even : “…literature can crystallize our knowledge of ourselves.”

To dispel any seriousness which this post may have wrought, I leave you with my very favourite words of wisdom:

“Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.”  ~ Ogden Nash

Ogden Nash

Ogden Nash (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you have a favourite quote that is on the tip of your tongue for sophisticated chatter? Nash’s poem is my contribution to any cocktail hour that starts with the words—“Well, it is five o’clock somewhere.”

Published in: on June 20, 2012 at 10:37 pm  Comments (22)  
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Tiny Tortures

An oil lamp, the symbol of nursing in many cou...

An oil lamp, the symbol of nursing in many countries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”  ~ John Muir

As of late, I have been poked, prodded and pinched, squeezed, squashed and searched, jabbed, jostled and ever so slightly manhandled. And all I have to say about it is: Thanks.

At one time or another, most of us have had to undergo medical tests which admittedly are none too comfortable. But we undergo these tiny tortures for the greater good. If we want good health we submit to mammograms, ultrasounds, blood tests, and a myriad of procedures that will hopefully find that we are in good health. If we find out otherwise, then we have options—options that would not be possible if we had not been pricked, prodded, and examined.

I am not the poster girl for preventative medicine—something has to hurt somewhere before I do something about it. A pain in my side that would not go away finally got me to make a doctor’s appointment and keep it. I have been putting my health on the sidelines for a while now, figuring if nothing is screaming out for attention, then everything must be okay.

First I had to have some blood tests. Sounds simple doesn’t it? When I went to to have my blood taken I did not warn the nurse that vampires have difficulty finding my veins, as I did not want to set her up for failure. It soon became obvious to her that I had tiny veins. She was gentle, but had to downsize her needle twice, but finally, she struck gold–err, I mean blood. Now, while we were going through this tiny trauma, I found out that she was getting married in a couple of weeks and we talked about her plans. I am convinced that if she had found my veins sooner, we would not have had this lovely conversation—so, even though I was jabbed a few times, it paid off in warm human contact.

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week I had a mammography. The less said about this the better. It hurts, darn it. But the nurse who took care of me was compassionate, and explained that a little pain was not much to ask when there could be so much to gain. I agreed, and read a Martha Stewart gardening magazine, while she went over the results. They have invited me back for an ultrasound. I would like not to RSVP, but I am trying to be wiser, so I will go back. Being dense (not just in the head) makes the mammogram results more difficult to read. I refuse to read anything more into it.

And just this morning I had an ultrasound in the area that initially sent me into my health care provider. In order to have this ultrasound, I had to spend the day before on a fat free diet. Do you know that everything has fat in it besides Jell-O, fruits and vegetables? Oh yeah, I was also allowed dry toast. Usually this would not be so bad, but it was Father’s Day, and I could not let the dad of honour eat my restricted diet—so I suffered through watching my family eat good food and dessert (something we do not have regularly) while munching on dry bread and strawberries. To add insult to injury, I also had to drink four glasses of water an hour before my appointment—so not only was I undergoing an ultrasound (which in itself is not all that bad)—I was undergoing an ultrasound with a full bladder.

I am back home, with a coffee and bagel under my belt, and trying to make a pact with myself not to eat everything in the fridge after yesterday’s almost “fast”. I made my family save a piece of the dessert, which I will be having for lunch. Bon appetit to me.

Ode to My Dad

Muddy Pond, VT (Rutland), by William Henry Jackson

Muddy Pond, VT (Rutland), by William Henry Jackson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is Father’s Day weekend. I have not been able to celebrate Father’s Day with my Dad for twenty years. Quite simply I miss him. I miss his stupid jokes. I miss his good jokes. I miss his music. I miss him riding his bike over to my house for a cup of coffee and a visit. When I had a store, he would ride his bike uptown, stop at a café a couple of doors down and buy me a coffee and bring it to me. And he would always deliver it with a smile, and a comment on the weather. Little things. Boy, little things do mean a lot.

My Dad was a musician, and to this day when I hear someone play a fiddle, I cry. He played many instruments, but it is the fiddle that makes me cry. I don’t know why –

He never asked much. When I would ask him what he wanted for his birthday or Father’s Day he would always say—“a kiss and a hug”—

So, Dad, I am sending you lots of kisses and hugs to celebrate your day on Sunday, and your forevers—because you may not be on this green earth, but you are always with me.  Right there beside Mom.  Love you.

Father's Day Cake 2009

Father’s Day Cake 2009 (Photo credit: Jim, the Photographer)

Published in: on June 15, 2012 at 4:50 pm  Comments (67)  
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Things I Learn from E-mail

Cat bliss

Cat bliss (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

There are a myriad of ways to approach life—the clichéd glass half full, glass half empty paradigm immediately comes to mind. But a little laughter is a great way to deal with life–the good, the bad and the ugly. (Thanks to the Clint Eastwood movie of the same name for this catchy phrase—cannot tell you how many times I have used it).  I have a friend who sends me emails that have been sent to her that she thinks will make my life better, and many times they do . Here is part of an email she sent me that made me smile—in fact a couple were actually lol (one of the few short forms I understand).

“Great Truths that Children Have Learned”. (My responses are in brackets—just like this):

1) No matter how hard you try, you can’t baptize cats. (How many times have you tried to make a cat do your bidding? They are so independent, except when it comes to treats. We can get our cat, Kitty Bob, to do almost anything for treats—we just have to rattle the package and he comes running—almost like that commercial on TV where the cat smashes through walls for a treat. Fortunately we are a little more evolved than the guy on the commercial—we make sure the doors are open.)

2) When your Mom is mad at your Dad, don’t let her brush your hair. (self-explanatory)

3) If your sister hits you, don’t hit her back. They always catch the second person. (so true, and both of you get spanked—I speak from experience)

4) Never ask your 3-year old brother to hold a tomato. (unless you want spaghetti sauce)

5) You can’t trust dogs to watch your food. (unless it is vegetables)

6) Don’t sneeze when someone is cutting your hair. (no– this does not explain my bad hair days!)

7) Never hold a Dust-Buster and a cat at the same time. (or attempt to vacuüm your cat—again, I speak from experience)

8) You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk. (or a brussel sprout)

9) Don’t wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts. (good advice even today)

10) The best place to be when you’re sad is Grandma’s lap. (the best place to be period when you are a little kid, is Grandma’s lap. Second best is near the cookie jar, or at my grandma’s—near the drawer in her desk where she kept chocolate bars).

“Great Truths That Adults Have Learned”:

1) Raising teenagers is like nailing jelly to a tree. (an eternal truth)

2) Wrinkles don’t hurt. (if you don’t look in the mirror)

3) Families are like fudge…mostly sweet, with a few nuts. (love this one)

4) Today’s mighty oak is just yesterday’s nut that held its ground. (there’s hope for us nuts yet)

5) Laughing is good exercise. It’s like jogging on the inside. (is a smile like walking?)

6) Middle age is when you choose your cereal for the fibre, not the toy. (please tell me this isn’t true)

The email ends with words to the effect that you should enjoy life as it is too short to waste. I am reading a book right now that takes this little saying to task. Called “The Art of Uncertainty”, the author, Dennis Merritt Jones believes that life is “too long” not to enjoy it. I like this theory; life really is too long to be miserable.

I also like what Abraham Lincoln is purported to have said: “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

English: Signature of Abraham Lincoln.

English: Signature of Abraham Lincoln. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Humanity and Warmth

Holy Grail in Valencia, Spain

Holy Grail in Valencia, Spain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If “…the essence of writing is rewriting” as William Zinsser claims in his book, “On Writing Well” , then take me to the dentist.  I would rather let a dentist do excavation work in my mouth than rewrite, but I know this evil twin to the writing process is necessary.

Zinsser, I suspect does not “suffer fools gladly”. I do, as I consider them to be my cohorts, but nonetheless I like his style—confident, demanding, and dare I say it, entertaining—though don’t tell him that. I think the word entertaining would baffle and horrify him, so I must find some better words: engaging, compelling, even witty describe him more suitably.

In Part 1 of his book, titled “Principles”, he sets out his manifesto. He states that two of the most important qualities his book “will go in search of are humanity and warmth”. In searching for these qualities he is unforgiving, but by being unforgiving he is setting goals for writers who should always be in search of the “Holy Grail” of writing: clarity.

Zinsser found himself on a two person panel at a school in Connecticut for a “day devoted to the arts.” He and a doctor (who had just recently begun to write) were asked several questions about the writing process.  The first was “What is it like to be a writer?” The doctor said he came home after an arduous day of surgery and would go straight to his yellow pad and “write his tensions away”. He said the words flowed and it was easy. The same question posed to Zinsser found a very different answer. He said that it was neither easy nor fun and that it was “hard and lonely and the words seldom just flowed.”

The doctor was asked if it was important to rewrite. His response was absolutely not—“let it all hang out”. He felt the sentences should reflect the writer at his most “natural”. Again Zinsser did not quite see things the same way. He stated that “rewriting is the essence of writing” and that professional writers “rewrite their sentences over and over and then rewrite what they have rewritten.”

What if you are depressed the students asked the panelists. Then “go fishing” said the doctor. Zinsser pointed out that if your job is to write every day, then you learn to do it every day, depressed or not.

The last question dealt with symbolism. The doctor said he loved symbols, and weaving them into his works was a joy.  Zinsser, in his humble assessment of his attributes said he did not use symbolism if he could help it because he “has an unbroken record of missing the deeper meaning in any story, play or movie, and as for dance and mime” he never had any idea about what was being conveyed.

I love this book—it is riveting. Zinsser is at once clever, uncompromising, intelligent and well, downright entertaining. He sprinkles his hard-nosed advice with wonderful asides, vignettes, and examples, and by the end, you too are convinced that the “essence of writing is in the rewriting” even if it is painful.

Oh, and as for the doctor—he was very interested to find out that writing could be hard. And Zinsser?  He is taking up surgery on the side, and I imagine when it gets difficult—he will just go fishing.

An icon for rewriting an article and for other...

An icon for rewriting an article and for other purposes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)