People I'd Like to Smack Upside the Head

la gifle / the slap

Fictional people, of course. *cough*

First on the list (but not necessarily most smack-worthy), Catherine from Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. “Nelly, I am Heathcliff.” Right. So you married the pusillanimous twit next door instead. Why, exactly? Not that Edgar’s any worse, but hey, I’m not the one who says she’s in love with Heathcliff.

Top Withens Moorland Panorama

Next up is Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger. Apparently Catcher in the Rye is one of those love-it-or-hate-it books? Well, I don’t love it. I believe I’ve mentioned this before.
Holden may have a genuine point about everyone being phoney, but when he’s compulsively lying to everyone he meets, his repeated claims that phoniness makes him sick ring a little hollow.

Vivien Leigh Gone Wind Restaured

Then there’s Scarlett O’Hara (from Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell). Again with the being in love with one man and marrying another! Or in this case, a number of others.
A friend of mine, once called upon to summarise Gone With The Wind, described it as “there’s this woman who marries three different guys”. The American Civil War didn’t even rate a mention…

I watched the film version with another friend, and we took a walk in the intermission – just after “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again”.
All sounds very stirring and heroic, but out in the fresh air you realise she’s basically saying “I’m going to look out for number one, regardless of what it costs anyone else.” And to think Margaret Mitchell originally planned to call her Pansy…

Bust of a young Newman

Just for a change, a man who loves one woman but tries to marry another. St John Rivers is the cousin of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. The man’s stone cold, and not in a tinsel-faced vampire kind of a way. The one love he has he ruthlessly extinguishes, and then, having told his new-found cousin that he will be her brother, he tries spiritual blackmail to get her to marry him. Not because he loves her but because he thinks she’d be useful: “You were formed for labour, not for love.”

A verse from the Good Book for you, Mr. Missionary: “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” Perfectly played by Andrew Bicknell in the 1983 miniseries, in my opinion.

Looking back, I see I am railing against the separation of love and marriage. Well, horse and carriage, people…

Bride arriving on carriage - A quick shot from today's wedding. - Litchfield Plantation

What do you think? Is Scarlett your heart’s darling? Or do you think Holden is merely misunderstood? Who are the characters that bug you – that you’d like to slap upside the head (or even rewrite out altogether)? All opinions welcomed!

The Artist's Way: A Sense of Catching Up

Covering July: a Sense of Connection, August: a Sense of Strength, and September: a Sense of Compassion.
Lightly covering – a crisp linen sheet, say, rather than a fat and puffy quilt.

July revealed such gems as “I believe I am getting better at socks” (knitting them, not the Pratchett kind) and “I feel more possible” (although the Caped Gooseberry assures me I am not only possible, but actual – I think my meaning may have escaped him).
Also “As a kid, we never had enough: books” (whether you can have enough books is debatable; our perceived lack drove me to read encyclopaedias and Agatha Christie at the age of six, so it’s not all bad).

Reading the encyclopedia

August asked me to complete this sentence: In a perfect world I would secretly love to be a…
All right, there’s not much secret about it, but I want to be a full-time writer.
In five years’ time, I’d like to be writing full time with one novel published and two plays produced.
What can I do now to help make that happen?
Write hard on Mondays. Make the most of morning spaces. Get to bed on time.

I was also invited to select a role model. The three women who sprang to mind are not only among my favourite writers (international women of mystery) but are also all three writers who balanced novels and the theatre in some way or another: Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh and Dorothy Sayers.

mystery of marie roget set

The one woman who sprang to mind whom I most certainly do not wish to take for my pattern is P.D. James – at least having a DDJ until reaching retirement age. In the areas of literary achievement, faith and perseverance (not to mention the life peerage) I’d be most happy to follow her example.

Also, if I was a colour, I’d be russet: colour of earth and blood, rich cloth and poor, and the bindings of old books. The colour of autumn leaves, the colour of rust.

September brought an insight – I should stop calling myself lazy. I wrote “you may be scared, self-doubting and self-flagellating, feeling tired, heartsick and guilty – but you are not lazy.”

Procrastination isn’t the result of laziness, Cameron says. It’s the result of fear.  “Fear is what blocks an artist. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of not finishing. The fear of failure and of success. The fear of beginning at all.” (p.152)

There's no fear in love.

Another insight: “Over any extended period of time, being an artist requires enthusiasm more than discipline. Enthusiasm is not an emotional state. It is a spiritual commitment…” (p.153).

Much like marriage: you can’t stay in the same emotional state for 50 years, you need commitment. But commitment shouldn’t be replaced by discipline (hug two three! kiss two three!) because discipline isn’t rooted in love – except perhaps in love with how wonderfully disciplined we are!

The trick is to find our enthusiasm for the task at hand – and how to find it quickly in the pre-dawn dark when getting out of the nice warm bed seems like a particularly sadistic rebirthing technique.

As always, your wisdom welcomed! Or witty folly (better a witty fool than a foolish wit) – we’re not fussy here!

Sinistra Inksteynehand250