Today's column starts with a CHALLENGE, if I don't at least 10 responses for me to get a meaningful sample, I may consider stopping this Sunday's rumination of English altogether. And this is NOT a threat, it's just a form of persuasion.:)
One of mGf sent me an enquiry to solve some question on this once "colonial" English-now-adopted-as-Our LANGUAGE:)
Is there a Christmas .....?
In a question at a school test, this was posed:
Students have to choose the best word to complete the
paragraph. Four words are given plus a picture.
Henry and I wanted to go to the *Church* (picture of a church).
Instead, we went to the *market* (picture of a market)
to buy *fruits*(picture of fruits).
They are for tonight's Christmas ..... (picture showing a round tabe with four chairs and a Christmas tree behind the table).
There are four choices for the last one:
> > > >(A) party, (B) class, (C) dinner, (D) meeting.
Via the COMMENTS channel, my EsteemedReaders, please spare a minute or two, select an answer from (A) to (D), and justify with an explanation, by midnite Monday August 22, 2005.
I'm thinking of offering a PRIZE as an INCENTIVE. Let me think and get back to the Winner first thing Monday morn if I get a good Breakfast from brudder IM!
Meanwhile, ENJOY this week's desiderata.english, and it's FREE! If my counting meter is installed and my hits reach JeffOoi's level, I may charge a fee per view... see I am putting on my thinking cap to get that RM20million for OUR I-LAND!
Writing comes easy to those with a flair for language and have mastered the craft through constant practice and dedication. But Desiderata, while appreciative of God’s gift to him with a talent for words and wordplay, and perhaps, an imaginative mind – he must confess that these past few days, he felt thoroughly “paralysed”, and prayed hard and intermittently for his “flashes of inspiration”, after the upsetting incident. I tried to humourously describe the episode to my goods friends as “my LapDog having gone for a walk, and I’m still awaiting its return …”
Just prior to writing the major part of today’s column, I just came back from a tea with a good friend, recently acquired, who also happens to be a writer – a published one! Her name is CATHERINE DE COSTA. I thought a tea break planned for an hour would do the trick of overcoming writer’s block – the tea extended to more than two hours; luckily Cathy and her “significant half” (that’s the term I use to refer to her husband!) were not in any hurry, …and our informal sharing definitely was time and fellowship well spent.
The lesson to share is that making highly conscious efforts to push oneself to write is seldom fruitful, for the ideas or words just won’t come. If the words come, they come in spurts, like water from a choked pipe, not swimmingly, which means flowing smoothly and without effort, and the writer enjoying while doing it! So it’s better to take a break; just like school pupils, you can’t last a whole day of lessons without breaking off for the food and drinks at the canteen, can you?
While God gave us each A Beautiful Mind, it is a always a mysterious gift. It works in ways that no scientist has properly mapped its pathways, permutations of thought patterns, or even why an Inspiration can result in an exquisite poem or a short essay, or even a chapter of a romance novel.
Catherine today shares with us some tips on overcoming Writer’s Block. She would take a break to listen to her favourite songs, or even watch a movie. Cathy has a large collection of VCDs of films, current and old, she had missed seeing on the big screen – she mentions the latest like Constantine; and oldies like The Year of Living Dangerously and High Noon (in B&W!), and recent local hits including Sepet.
Catherine thrives on romance with her novels
For longer interludes, she would visit some of her buddies she connects with, not necessarily in the writing line, or take her son for shopping, or indulge in a continental meal at The Ship or any Cowboy’s station, where the food is yummy and they play country and western songs.
Asked why she’s writing romance novels – the first titled “A Challenge to Love” was published last year, and she’s halfway through a second one now – Catherine was frank and down to earth.
“Whatever people may say, romance sells,” Cathy says with a smile, and also a hint that she needs to earn her bucks.
In fact, romance novels total some 40 percent of all novels published. Almost all of the blockbuster movies have an element of romance in them, she notes.
“I was often asked why I chose to write romance instead of something more literary. I said that romance was one of the easiest genres to write – you don’t need to think up an elaborate plot, as for a crime/murder. You don’t need to know about espionage and its associated weaponry.”
All the author needs is a dashing hero, a beautiful heroine, a few dark moments and a happy ending. “Easy! Am I kidding thee?” Catherine asked me using olde English, knowing that Desiderata sprinkles a lot of thee and thy and thine’s in his poems.
“Was I mistaken! It wasn’t that easy,” she puts the record straight.
“For starters, my characters are strong-willed and have a mind of their own. Sometimes they don’t go the way I want them to,” she smiles again.
Before Cathy writes, she has a story outline, breaking it down into chapter outlines. The difficult part is not in plotting the outline, but how to get a certain character from Point A to Point B. It includes fleshing out the characters, bringing out their strength and weaknesses through action and conversation. It’s about SHOWING instead of TELLING.
“Sometimes it takes about a dozen rewrites before I’m satisfied with how the scene progresses,” Cathy recalls.
“My characters and I have an emotional bond. Sometimes the emotional connection is so strong that I’m drained after writing a difficult scene. All of my emotions are dredged up to give the scene emotional depth. The result – I may not be able to write for weeks.” One such ‘stint’ lasted up to five months during which Cathy couldn’t write a line. (She did not say it, but the prospects of moving house is one of these “burdensome” factors causing the mental block, my guess.)
However difficult the path is, Cathy avows she’s happy to be a writer. “The satisfaction is priceless when I see my book on the shelves and my readers come up to me and give me feedback. I‘m especially joyful when my readers share their feelings and tell me how my book affected them. “
“It is worth the long hours working alone in my room, even the hair-pulling frustration on not getting a scene right, even though I’ve tried half a dozen times,” Cathy relates. One thing she regrets much is that she had jotted down on bits of paper “flashes of inspired observations and ideas in her younger days. But unfortunately, on moving house a few times, these golden nuggets of writing were lost forever. And once lost, such inspired moments captured on paper are never recoverable, as both Cathy and Desiderata both acknowledge.
So Desiderata is trying to motivate Catherine to take up this hobby of keeping an online journal – that’s what we call a Weblog which I wrote about a few weeks back. It helps to focus my observations and thoughts at a particular period; it would enlighten me if I need to use such information either for my fiction or essays later, especially as background. We live in an age of information and ideas overload on the advent of this marvel called the Internet. If we do not process the information and news developments, and sort out the gems we want to use, the “fleeting moments” of significance or brilliance would be lost forever. “We can capture some golden moments and nuggets, that’s the great motivation for this relatively new hobby, besides my chronicle of major events enveloping my nation.” I believe Cathy will soon get on board this enjoyable journey to enrich fellow travellers with her writing experience.
PS: DESIDERATA set up an UPDATE at 10.00am Sunday August 21, 2005.
Read the EPILOGUE that follows, and then go back to the sunday.desiderata of July 31, 2005 titled "EDITING FOR A BEAUTIFUL PRODUCT".The best answer to CHALLANGE 2 will receive an AUTOGRAPHED COPY of the book by CATHERINE called "CHALLENGE TO LOVE". Now get to work on the CHALLENGE to think about exquisite English!
Despite my rigourous editing, one "error", not a true HOWLER, but still an error, escaped my second or third reading before I sent it to the newspaper two days before the deadline. My challenge to the IgnorantCows reading this: Spot the "error", and postulate how Desiderata could have come about making the "mistake" (i.e., for that is, the RATIONALE), and post it up at the COMMENTS channel. But you must prove that you are a contributor/OR a particpant with at lease ONE contribution/OR COMMENT at http://ignorantcow.blogspot.com, CITING DATE OF POSTING, stating your name or nick.
The "best" argued answer received by end of coming MONDAY ie. at 2400 hours August 1, 2005 would be gifted with a signed copy of the romance novel by Catherine De Costa. Incentive enough?
CHALLENGE number 2:
For those who have responded by 10am, please send in an additonal COMMENT as an answer to CHALLENGE 2, which is what has been spelt out in the EPILOGUE above. Save that the new deadline (not dateline) is now 2400hrs Monday, August 22, 2005, to enable more participation-lah! For Silly IgnorantCows, of course, it could not be August 1 midnite, that was set in then first round.(On second thought -- you're allowed, you know -- that's called on reflection...that compulsory comment at IgnorantCows is removed for Challenge 2 ... but please Visit them and learn a thingor2 ...ooops, teach them a thingor3.)
For newcomers, that is,you're NOT among THE FAMOUS5 referenced, please answer BOTH the challenges. And if thou do not understand what BOTH means, please get the .... out of here! (And it's a very mild searing word here, OK!) For once, Desi is dately seriously!
Hehaho.I'm learning from all mGf to laugh out loud OnLine! I won't let thee (last dig at Moses, "agitate" him as IM says, cos he (can be either Moses or IM) has gone MIA for some time!
ENJOY, ENJOY,ENJOY!!! Hari-hari-hari-Asmara!!!And dear IgnorantCowws, in your writing please DO NOT put three exclamation marks. You get marks deducted for doing that. As for Desi, there is this thingy called PL! (If you still don't know what PL is by now, get the ................!(And that's a rpomise, not swearing again, and I'm doubly deathly serious. CHOW! as in buy for now, or oh, yummy food, glorious chow awaiting. Real CON1, I see Sab is jeles.