Thursday, April 26, 2012

An Omission and Some Advice for Writers

I apologize to my FB friend and former FCPS teacher Nancy West for overlooking her detailed and heartfelt account of seeing the shuttle last Tuesday. Here it is, followed by the usual Thursday feature of Advice for Writers:

My husband John and I didn't realize we should have left the house by 6 AM last Tuesday if we were to have had any hope of getting into the prime viewing site by the museum at Dulles, so we luxuriated way too long over our morning coffee and crossword puzzle before heading out the door at 9:20. By the time we merged onto Route 50 off of the Fairfax County Parkway, traffic was already bumper to bumper going west toward Route 28. To pass the time, I continued working the crossword puzzle, occasionally firing a clue over to my chauffeuring husband--never thinking that Discovery and her carrier might appear at any time for its initial "flyover," and that was our first sighting. I looked up , and there it was, flying low across Route 50, heading toward Dulles and D.C. Folks were stationed in median strips and sidewalks giddy with excitement....

Initially we assumed that brief glimpse was "it" but remembering that the landing was scheduled for 10:40 AM, we continued to inch our way closer to Route 28 which we soon realized was shut down. Feeling "dauntless and sagacious" we pressed on up 50, finally detouring into a Baptist church parking lot not far from the Route 28 exit. Like excited four year olds at an amusement park, we tumbled out of the car, cameras in tow, and made our way to the best viewing spot along with several other dozen gawkers. One fellow had his car radio's volume up to the mega decibels so that we could all keep track of Discovery's whereabouts. There were young families, office workers sporting ID badges, really old folks in wheel chairs and walkers, and us--true children of the Space Age eager to witness history once again.

Our seemingly endless wait was soon rewarded with not one but two spectacular flyovers. I was so excited during the first one that I couldn't hold the camera still and opted just to gape stupidly saying "So awesome" over and over like a pre-teen. During the second flyover as Discovery was clearly going to land, I got some shots, then put the camera down, raised my arms high, and shouted "Welcome home"! My eyes had teared up and so had my husband's. Neither of us expected to be as emotional as we were...We were remembering so many other incredible space journeys--some great successes, others disasters. T'was for sure a life highlight! 

Advice for Writers
 From the Guardian newspaper:

We asked some of the most esteemed contemporary authors for any golden rules they bring to their writing practice. Here are Roddy Doyle's:

1. Do not place a photograph of your ­favourite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide.

2. Do be kind to yourself. Fill pages as quickly as possible; double space, or write on every second line. Regard every new page as a small triumph ­–

3. Until you get to Page 50. Then calm down, and start worrying about the quality. Do feel anxiety – it's the job.

4. Do give the work a name as quickly as possible. Own it, and see it. Dickens knew Bleak House was going to be called Bleak House before he started writing it. The rest must have been easy.

5. Do restrict your browsing to a few websites a day. Don't go near the online bookies – unless it's research.

6. Do keep a thesaurus, but in the shed at the back of the garden or behind the fridge, somewhere that demands travel or effort. Chances are the words that come into your head will do fine, eg "horse", "ran", "said".

7. Do, occasionally, give in to temptation. Wash the kitchen floor, hang out the washing. It's research.

8. Do change your mind. Good ideas are often murdered by better ones. I was working on a novel about a band called the Partitions. Then I decided to call them the Commitments.

9. Do not search for the book you haven't written yet.

10. Do spend a few minutes a day working on the cover biog – "He divides his time between Kabul and Tierra del Fuego." But then get back to work.


  1. I think I like #1 the best. Fortunately, I don't have to do anything to follow the rule, even though I seem to have everything else in the world on my desk.

  2. Thanks! I like #6 myself. Never did have much use for a thesaurus///

  3. 4 is good. Once you name the book, you really do become more connected with it (in my opinion).