7 Quick Takes, 4/27/12: In Which She Discovers New and Old Things


Let’s begin with Zora Neale Hurston.  Ms. Hurston, where have you been all my life?

Credit: WikiCommons

Here I’ve been, calling myself a reader, and I’ve just now (like, ten minutes ago) finished the most excellent book Their Eyes Were Watching God.   Seriously. What have I been doing all these years?


Well, I’m here at WordPress.  What do you think?  You can compare this to the old blog, over at rcmfo.blogspot.com.

It’s hard, switching from Blogger to WordPress.  Blogger let me do whatever I wanted to do, like make the font size BIGGER.  WordPress says, “Uh, uh, nooooo! Not without paying for it!”  And let’s not mention the hour I spent looking for the magic code that would let me insert extra line breaks into my text.

Frustrating.  And yet… in the end, worth it.


Speaking of that magic code… How To Insert Additional Line Breaks Into WordPress Without Ripping the Very Hairs From Your Delicate Head:

Copy this piece of good luck where you want it, while in the HTML view:

<br style="height:4em;" />

Change the “4″ to adjust the width of the line break.  Done.  Enjoy a margarita.

(Okay, now I’m ticked off.  This worked for me earlier.  Now, it’s getting deleted.  Stupid WordPress, I JUST WANT TO PUT IN SOME LINE BREAKS!  IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?)

(Update:  I just figured it out.  It works between paragraphs in the “paragraph” setting, but gets deleted between “paragraphs” and “headings.” Oh, and you have to save it from the HTML view. Ack!)


Take a breath, girl.  Let’s think about happier things…

Duh-duh-duh-duh-DUM-DUM/ Duh-duh-duh-duh-DUM / Duh-duh-duh-duh-DUM-DUM / Duh-duh-duh-duh-dum…

This awesome movie arrived in the mail this week.  Shall we watch it?  Yes, we shall!


There’s nothing like a bit honesty from a book doctor:

The hardest part of writing these memos is being diplomatic and encouraging while pointing out the manuscript’s problems. Obviously I cannot come out and tell the writer that his or her story sucks and he or she should take up breeding long-haired dachshunds.  But there have been times when I’ve wanted to suggest a change of occupation even as I felt so much sympathy for the writer that I could have wept.

Jessica Page Morrell, Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us: A (Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing Is Being Rejected.  This book continues to crack me up, probably because she’s describing me.  But I’m not really a dachshund kind of girl.


Question for you fiction writers out there:  What is the best way to go about studying the craft?

Here I am, playing at my novel, like a little girl with paper dolls, almost entirely ignorant of pretty much everything about writing.  My library card is showing signs of frequent use, but otherwise I’m in need of something a bit more systematic.  And serious.  Any thoughts?


And, now, some shameless self-promotion:  Want to sign up for my blogroll?

That’s all for now.  Read other great posts at…


  1. says

    I love Zora Neale Hurston! I read Their Eyes Were Watching God in college, and I should probably go to the library and get some of her other books. You know, with all my free time :)

  2. says

    My best advice is to take a writing class (fiction or non-fiction). I did that a few years ago and it taught me a TON about the craft. It had the bonus of teaching me how to spot trade craft in my favorite novels, which I can then use to better effect in my own work. I did a summer non-fiction writing course at the University of Iowa, but there are lots of different options around.

    • says

      Thanks for the advice. (Boy, I’d LOVE to go to the University of Iowa!) Taking a class – without committing to a whole program, kit-and-kaboodle – is a strong possibility for me. My husband was recently offered a teaching position at a college in Michigan, and family members can take classes for a significantly reduced rate.

      The only concern I have is getting into the class – the two professors who teach writing are popular and their classes are always full! But that’s a good sign, I think

  3. says

    I think critique (from good editors) is very helpful. And critique others’ manuscripts has helped me think through why something works (or not) beyond just, “Well, it has to happen so that the next thing can happen.”

    • says

      Interesting. It’s funny, I just ran a scene idea by my husband, a “What IF…?” idea, and he shot it down because it wasn’t inherent to the novel’s problem. Right now, I feel like I’m back at the drawing board – same characters, same problem, but /how/ to move the story forward? Not so sure. But outside voices really do help, I agree. (Now, if only I wasn’t so stubborn and sensitive when I hear criticism!)

  4. says

    Do you want to hear my super old lady method of dealing with wordpress and its stubbornness? If I’m going to be posting to a WP blog, I compose my post in blogger, format, then go to the html tab, copy, and then paste into WP. Voila! Because I’m nothing if not a creature of habit :)

    • says

      Funny! And smart. I’m liking it, I’m liking it…

      I just changed the entire template because I couldn’t read the font in the other one. And the other one was cute, with my custom background. Boo. These are not problems that I would have in Blogger. In Blogger I would have other problems!

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