Yesterday was a gloomy day, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to catch up on my reading. I'm behind in everything...
Newspapers - I had some company over last Friday and took them on a walk around the house. Upon entering my office, a guest queried, "What's with all the newspapers?" Er, um. Newspapers serve two purposes at Casa BookBlog. They are both a way to keep up with current events (by which I mean what happened three weeks ago since that's about how behind I am) and to start fires in the wood-burning stove. As a result, they tend to pile up and contribute to my irrational anxiety about being buried alive.
The Red and the Black - When I started the book, I didn't want to get ahead of the discussion at Reading...The Red and the Black. Now I'm behind and have been deliberately been avoiding the blog because I don't want to spoil the story for myself. Of course, this makes no sense since I already read the book in college and have some recollection about what happens.
Novel Without a Name - This book is beautifully written and full of rich metaphors and similes. I've been hoping to finish it soon, but I can't get back into it because of my problem with reading more than one book at a time. The best thing would be to put it aside in deference to catching up and finishing tRatB, but why be efficient and productive when you can be lazy and procrastinatory?
Doctor Zhivago - Our moderator, Eddie, is a friend and I talked him into doing December in order to take some of the pressure off Ana and myself for keeping the book club going. (Anyone interested in moderating January? E-mail me.) Since he acquiesced to my whining, I'm obligated to read it even though he picked this particular title just to spite me since he knows I am not a fan of Russian literature.
So, anyway, despite my good reading intentions, I made the mistake of telling myself to get a little bit of housework done before migrating to the couch. Next to the newspapers cluttering up the office were two air conditioners that had been on the floor since they were removed from windows at the end of the summer. Genius me moved them to the utility room for storage which created two new problems:
Everything in the utility room was brought into the living room to make way for the air conditioners. And I never got around to putting it back because...
The aches and pains are better today, so my plan is to return utility room items to their places and clean the house. Of course, this probably means I will get a lot of reading done.
Commenting on an earlier post, I mentioned wanting to see Stranger Than Fiction starring Will Ferrell and Emma Thompson. Since nothing I do these days can't wait until tomorrow, I decided to drop everything and catch a matinee. Noon on a weekday is the best time to see a movie. No ticket line, no concession stand line, no toilet line. Six people and I had the entire place to ourselves and my theater's audience consisted of me and another old lady.
Stranger Than Fiction is about a book. Ferrell plays Harold, an IRS auditor who wakes up one day hearing a woman's voice. The voice, which begins as third-person omniscient narration, belongs to Thompson, an author writing a book about Harold's life. Harold seeks help from several people and eventually is led to Dustin Hoffman playing a college literature professor. Whenever the scene turned to Hoffman's office, I tried to figure out what books he had on his packed shelves. Most of the titles were academic, so I had to laugh when he later lifeguards at the campus pool while reading a plastic bag-covered copy of Sue Grafton's I Is for Innocent. Hoffman was wonderful and the movie overall was sweet and smart.
Of course, this film reminded me of Adaptation, which is about a screenwriter trying to turn The Orchid Thief into a movie. So that made me wonder: we talk a lot about books turned into movies, but what about movies about books? Thinking over this quickly, I came up with:
Thank goodness the holiday is over. I emerged from this one unscathed (last year's holiday season was rife with drama), so I'm adding it to the good day column.
Our Wuthering Heights discussion is ongoing and comments will remain open as long as the posts remain here on the homepage. Later today, I will have some thoughts to add to the latest comments (thanks, Maxine!) and also encourage anyone stopping by to chime in. I'd do it now, but I've already spent enough time this today surfing through my regular Internet stops. A sadly neglected woodpile and gorgeously warm day are both begging me to be outside.
During the last few days, I received several e-mails asking if we are accepting members. I must point out that everyone is welcome to participate in a book discussion. No membership is required to leave a comment.
After four days spent with family, having company, and going visiting, I was surprised to return to the computer and encounter a lot of litblog hooha over this article from The Observer: "Deliver us from these latter-day Pooters." Given the recent unpleasantness, I find this article to be quite interesting for a few reasons:
It dismisses litbloggers and amateur reviewers as hacks but includes a link to The Guardian's book blog. I read this as: litblogs suck...except ours.
Ethics is mentioned in reference to a John Sutherland piece on Amazon reviews. In it, he basically says that amateur reviewers prostitute themselves for freebies and are not held accountable to standards for criticism. Meanwhile, Kimbofo of Reading Matters tried to impart an ethics lesson to both sides (publishers and litbloggers) and got crapped on all over the place for it. Between criticism from the mainstream media and criticism from within the ranks, many litbloggers have been beside themselves trying to defend their integrity. It's more evidence of dishing it out but not being able to take it.
The article's author mentions being personally attacked by bloggers for criticizing them in the past. "I found my name on a bloggers' website called, charmingly, 'shit sandwich'. I was the focus of a lot of anger and frustration; bloggers didn't like my argument at all, seeing it as a way of getting at them and their amateur criticism." Amazingly, I have already come across posts personally attacking her on three different blogs. Sigh. Resorting to name-calling because the mainstream media is not taking you seriously is not the way to get the mainstream media to take you seriously.
We're experiencing a bit of wuther-y weather here as a nor'easter blows through town. But, rain and wind will not put a damper on our Thanksgiving tomorrow since what's going on outside will not stop turkey dinner and the inevitable food coma. My contribution to the family meal will be pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies. Yum!
Let's get into character...
Who's Telling This Story, Anyway?
Wuthering Heights is a story (about Catherine and Heathcliff) within a story (told by Nelly) within a story (told by Lockwood). By the time we read it, it's all third hand information. In a comment to another post, Maxine describes our narrators as "boring, normal." Their normalness helps add some believability to the story, yet they are also unreliable. After the first encounter with Heathcliff, Lockwood tells us, "No, I'm running on too fast: I bestow my own attributes over liberally on him" (p. 6). While recounting Catherine's convalescence at the Grange and her return to the Heights, Nelly attributes these words to 12-year-old Heathcliff:
I vociferated curses enough to annihilate any fiend in Christendom (p. 61).
I shall be dirty as I please: and I like to be dirty, and I will be dirty (p. 67).
The first line happens to be my favorite quote from the entire book. But, seriously, what kid talks like that? Nelly is clearly inserting her adult vocabulary into Heathcliff's mouth. The second line is more what I'd expect from a cranky pre-teen, even one from the 18th Century.
What do you think about our narrators? Do you find them believable or unreliable? How can we, as readers, separate "fact" from "fiction" in this novel?
Catherine and Heathcliff
It cannot be argued that Catherine is a strong woman. She marries Edgar for status, money, and comfort but refuses to give up her lover. She tells Nelly, "Who is to separate us, pray? They'll meet the fate of Milo!...Every Linton on the face of the earth might melt into nothing, before I could consent to forsake Heathcliff" (p. 101). However, it is the conflict between husband and lover that drives her into madness and eventually the grave.
Throughout the novel, Heathcliff is described as being fiend, devil, and ghoul. Despite this, I find it unable to think of him badly. In my mind, he is the quintessential romantic figure. Ana mentions below that her feelings changed toward him as she read the book: going from disliking him to rooting for him and back again. In a way, Catherine does the same thing. She loves him yet calls him her murderer. Heathcliff, similarly, is both her master and her servant.
What's up with these two? How do you feel toward them? Is Heathcliff really a fiend?
Edgar and Isabella
Besides a fit of rage at finding Heathcliff in Catherine's sick room, Edgar never exhibits much above a whimper. He shows no passion toward Catherine, and likely marries her because of her aristocratic family. Whenever he shows up in the book, I find it difficult not to compare him to an undercooked and unbuttered slice of toast. Isabella, on the other hand, shows more emotion even if it is misplaced. In describing their elopement, Heathcliff says she pictures "in me a hero of romance, and expecting unlimited indulgences from my chivalrous devotion" (p. 186). She's correct, in a way, but only Catherine is the recipient his devotion. Edgar and Isabella are polar opposites of Heathcliff and Catherine, yet the four of them manage to entangle themselves in a love quadrangle.
What's up with these two? And with the four of them? What draws the opposites together while pushing the likes apart? Is there really a love quadrangle or is Isabella incidental to the love story?
For me, the rest of the characters mean little except for how their stories relate to Catherine and Heathcliff. Hindley separates them when he returns to the Heights after the death of Earnshaw. Hareton is devoted to Heathcliff. The second Catherine and Linton are pawns in Heathcliff's plot for revenge. And, Joseph, well, I can't understand anything he says.
What are your impressions of the other characters? Are they important in their own right? Or are they tools used to advance the story?
My edition of Wuthering Heights includes introductions, a family tree, commentary, and a reading group guide. Although I've had this copy for several reads, this go around was the first time I actually looked at it all. It's helpful information, and I'll be borrowing from it to talk a little bit about the novel's structure.
In the editor's preface, Charlotte Brontë writes of the setting,
With regard to the rusticity of "Wuthering Heights," I admit the charge, for I feel the quality. It is rustic all through. It is moorish, and wild, and knotty as a root of heath. Nor was it natural that it should be otherwise; the author being herself a native and nursling of the moors. Doubtless, had her lot been cast in a town, her writings, if she had written at all, would have possessed another character (p. xxxii).
Complementing the Yorkshire moors, the very word "wuthering" adds to the novel's rusticity by connoting blustering weather. As children, Heathcliff and Catherine grow up rambling through this wild environment. Nelly describes the former as "a sullen, patient child" (p. 47) and the latter as "a wild, wicked slip" (p. 52). Yet only four miles away is Thrushcross Grange, the home of Edgar and Isabella, who are "petted things" (p. 60) according to Heathcliff.
How important do you think the setting is to the story? Do the moors and their wildness effect what happens? If Heathcliff and Catherine are wild due to the environment, how are Edgar and Isabella insulated from being influenced by it?
At first glance, the novel's story may seem jumbled—beginning in 1801, jumping back nearly 30 years, returning to 1801, etc. Emily Brontë, however, followed a rigid timeline when constructing her story and I have yet to find a flaw. Near the end of the novel, Heathcliff tells Nelly he is tormented by Catherine's ghost and says, "It was a strange way of killing! not by inches, but by fractions of hairbreadths, to beguile me with the spectre of a hope, through eighteen years" (p. 357). After consulting the handy family tree, I figured out that she had been dead 17 years and 5 months by this point in the narrative. That's pretty good continuity for a novel that was written by hand.
Did you find the timeline hard to follow? Was jumping in and out of time a distraction from the story? If you had no problems following the timeline, what helped you keep track of events?
In addition to the well-constructed time line, Brontë also uses symmetry to add structure to her story. There are two houses of two families with two children each. The story is told by two narrators. Even the book itself is in two parts, with the division being at the first Catherine's death and the second Catherine's birth. Amidst all this neat symmetry, though, the author throws in a wild card: Heathcliff. He fits into the story neatly for a while as part of the double couple (Heathcliff and Isabella; Catherine and Edgar) forming a love quadrangle, which later collapses into a love triangle when Isabella departs.
What do you think about Brontë's use of twos? Is Heathcliff the wild card? Or is something else at work disrupting the "neatness" of the two houses?
Let's get started with our fiftieth discussion: Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights. I believe there's a lot to talk about in this novel, so I'm hoping to dedicate the entire week to it. Rather than our usual one or two posts about a selection under discussion, I am planning a series of topics which I hope will be engaging to everyone who stops by to participate.
My Best Book Ever
I've made it no secret that this is my all-time favorite novel, now read 13 times—a much higher number than any other title I have read more than once. I can retell the entire story in detail, quote sections by heart, and can open the book, by feel, to within pages of a particular scene (the copy I own has been read at least five times). Yet, I cannot claim to be an expert. Each time I read it, I find a new aspect of the narrative to focus on and discover something I missed during all of the previous moments I spent with the book. Each time I return to WH, I approach it with enthusiasm because I know I will get something new from it.
Was this your first time reading Wuthering Heights? Or have you read it more than once? If you reread it for this discussion, did you discover anything new?
Appearing on a Syllabus Near You
A Technorati search for "wuthering heights" leads to many blog posts from students reading it for a class. For the most part, they're all behind on pages and they all hate it. A high school Brit lit class was my introduction, and it remains one of my few educational experiences that didn't ruin a book. In that same class, for example, I read The Mill on the Floss and hated it. I have since reread MotF and Silas Marner and Middlemarch and still cannot figure out why George Eliot is considered such an important author. All I can assume is that school forever scarred me against her. (A glutton for punishment, I currently have MotF in a TBR pile and will eventually get around to it again. Maybe age and time will help me warm to her.)
What was your introduction to Wuthering Heights? Did you ever have to read it for a class? If so, what was your impression at that time? Has school ever ruined a book or author for you?
A Classic, But Is it Great?
Emily Brontë's only novel was written at a time when Gothic fiction had fallen from popularity and received little critical acclaim at the time of publication. A year later, she died of tuberculosis. Her sister Charlotte, who edited and published the second edition, defends the work in the editor's preface against "what are termed (and, perhaps, really are) its faults" (p. xxxi). In it, she provides some explanation about the author, the novel's setting, and its characters. Yet, despite acknowledging Emily's talent, Charlotte wonders, "Whether it is right or advisable to create beings like Heathcliff, I do not know: I scarcely think it is" (p. xxxvi). Even today, the Brontës have their critics. During the recent unpleasantness of the Books, Inq., discussion, they were praised by some as being among the world's greatest novelists and reviled by others as writers of highbrow romance.
What do you think? Trash or treasure? What makes it trash? Or what makes it treasure? (Please provide concrete examples as evidence for your position. Simple statements like "It sucked!" or "Loved it!" are not very illuminating.)
I don't know what's gotten into me recently. Although normally a blog lurker, I actually left comments in a few places and tried to participate in discussions. Rather than add to intellectual discourse, I managed to get myself insulted and sucked into trading barbs. I also made the mistake of reviewing another site based on a solicitation via e-mail, and the site owner promptly told me what he thought of me and my post.
It started regarding a New York Inquirer piece: "A Dearth of American Women Novelists?" Frank Wilson of Books, Inq., offered the question to his readers, so I suggested Margaret Mitchell, Amy Tan (with a qualifier: "I could be biased since I also have a difficult relationship with my Asian mother"), and a few others. Although I don't think the slam was directed at me personally, Dan Schneider of Cosmoetica later remarked, "Anyone who would mention Amy Tan as a great writer simply cannot be taken seriously as an intellect," and, "Margaret Mitchell? She's dumbed doen Brontes? [sic]" (I think the first typo is meant to be "down.") Initially, I felt compelled to defend my picks but let it go since the discussion had completely derailed by that time anyway.
Despite turning into a polemic, the evolution of the discussion thread itself is an interesting study in gender. It began with female commenters, turned into a male vs. female writers argument, male commenters joined in, and eventually the men drowned out most of the women. It even spilled onto other blogs, with Jessica Schneider, who believes that there are more great male writers, justifiably feeling slighted by condescending remarks. Maxine of Petrona tried being the voice of reason by reminding everyone of the original question and eventually brought the topic to her site for a more civil discourse. I left a comment there and was chided, in jest, for suggesting Carol Shields was more Canadian than American.
It's a shame since I feel no personal animosity toward Ed. I like his blog and think he's pretty funny most of the time. And maybe he was trying to be funny in disagreeing with Kim's post by using his own special way of turning a phrase. However, I didn't particularly care for being called a "slattern" and felt egged on when he persisted with "more nonsense from a numbskull" right before a flawed defense of his choice of words. In the end, my "limp adder snake of a brain" doesn't understand why I'm accused of preferring "acrimony to amicability," especially since he flung the first insult.
are you always that nasty with sites trying to get off the ground, or were you just having a bad day. the publicity is still appreciated on the ground that any publicity is good publicity ... but your post was, well, a little small-minded.
The flawed data I mentioned is a problem inherent to all wikis, but he thinks I need to do some research because I don't know when something is not a simile.
And, of course, there's Kate Bush. When her squeaky tribute to Cathy's ghost first came out, a lot of people didn't know what to make of it. But, it's been well-liked enough to be covered by artists across several musical genres:
The best thing about living far from city lights is the midnight sky. Last night, as I often do, I turned off the porch lights and wondered what was going on in all the other worlds surrounding the stars. I have no beautiful words of my own, so instead I borrow those of another.
A Clear Midnight
by Walt Whitman
This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death and the stars.
After receiving an e-mail from Steve, the creator of Similepedia, a wiki repository for similes from literature, I mentally filed it under Internet time wasters. Being one who loves to waste time on the Internet, I later went back and checked out the site.
Not every sentence containing "like" or "as" is a simile, but Similepedia or some of its users, at least, seem to not know this. For example, here are a few entries from William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying.
There's a way to rate similes by assigning stars, but that feature makes little sense in such a forum. Something could be a simile and get five stars while something else could not be a simile and get no stars. Or, subjectively, many might think Hemingway's similes as being superior than, say, those by James Patterson. Better than stars would be a discussion section, like on Wikiquote, so real word geeks could go at it, as prizefighters squaring off in a literary ring. Wiki discussions are often much more entertaining and attention-grabbing than the articles themselves.
Where to begin writing thoughts on The End, the last in A Series of Unfortunate Events? The back cover blurb best sums up the book as Lemony Snicket addresses the reader with:
You are presumably looking at the back of this book, or the end of THE END. The end of THE END is the best place to begin THE END, because if you read THE END from the beginning of the beginning of THE END to the end of the end of THE END, you will arrive at the end of the end of your rope.
At the end of a rope, or a lot of disappointment at least, seems to be the theme of what I've seen in many Amazon customer reviews. Although some of our curiosity is satisfied, like Beatrice's identity, The End raises more new questions than answers old ones. I'm not sure why so many expected a more satisfying conclusion, since we're told point blank that "the world is always in medias res—a Latin phrase which means 'in the midst of things' or 'in the middle of a narrative'—and that it is impossible to solve any mystery." In fact, such an ending has been foreshadowed since the beginning and the entire last book is a lesson in this, so I suspect that the disappointed didn't get it.
The most intuitive review I've seen is this one from Blogcritics, which makes more sense after you've read the book. Snicket doesn't tie up loose ends and makes us think for ourselves, and he practically forces conversation between parents and children. As a reader, I absolutely cannot stand having my intelligence insulted. No deus ex machina is conjured here, and, for me, that marks the distinction between a good book and a great one.
Although I may be overextending myself literarily, I joined another bookclub blog: Reading... The Red and the Black. Formerly: Reading... War and Peace. Formerly: Reading... Middlemarch. This club, run by Isabella of Magnificent Octopus, focuses on the classics and discussion moves at an eased pace. A few chapters are covered each week to give members the chance to break apart a dense book into smaller chunks.
When I requested membership, I had an e-mail exchange with Isabella who asked if The Red and the Black might be taken on by BookBlog since we also cover classics: Wuthering Heights this month and Doctor Zhivago in December. At first, I thought Stendhal's tR&tB wouldn't go over well here since what I remember from reading it in college was political satire and the French Restoration. Now that I'm into the book, I've changed my mind. There is a lot more to the story, including a man's rise from humble beginnings, romance, and crime drama.
I originally read tR&tB in college in French as an assignment for a French literature class. Since I remember nothing of the story other than its politics and criticism of French society after Waterloo (probably why it was assigned), it's a good example of how organized education can sometimes ruin great books for a student. I'm sure I hated every minute of it the first time and likely gave up and switched to Cliffs Notes before reaching the end. At this point in life, when I also can remember nearly nothing of college or even studying French, I'm glad to have the opportunity to read it again.
As an aside, I spent the end of summer thinking about enrolling in a French conversation class after receiving a catalog from my local adult learning center. I thought it might be fun to meet some new people and get the chance to speak French again. After some consideration, I scrapped the idea when I realized how easy the classes would be. I have lost a lot of the language through the years, but it wouldn't be very exciting to watch the other students learn how to say things like, "Salut, mes amis. Je m'appelle Marie. J'habite chez moi." Trop ennuyeux, ça c'est vraiment.
Reading... The Red and the Black provides several links to e-texts, including the French version. I loved the sound of reading it aloud, but the wonky display of diacritics and my lost vocabulary made it too hard to understand. I switched to the English e-text (you know, since POD is the future of books), but I wasn't about to print out more than 300 pages and reading via the computer—scrolling and eye strain—was too much to bear. I finally had to go out and get an old-fashioned paper copy.
Anyone who sends me e-mail knows I'm terrible at reading and responding to it. Despite spam filters, my inbox gets about 1,000 new messages each day, consisting of a hodgepodge of junk, bookish press releases, and personal mail. I flip through it quickly to look for mail I'm expecting, so it usually takes something catchy to get me to read anything unsolicited.
A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from Andrei of bookblog.ro asking if bookblog.net would be interested in a link exchange. Exchanges don't generally happen on this BookBlog, mainly because nearly all linking goes though posts to the homepage. This way, most links come with a thoughtful explanation and I personally prefer to only recommend things I've thoroughly checked out. However, Andrei's e-mail caught my eye because he described bookblog.ro as "the most important blog dealing with book reviews in Romania (that's Eastern Europe :) )."
Via Bookninja, here's an interesting New York Times article called Selling Literature to Go With Your Lifestyle. Books in non-bookstores make perfect sense, like walking into a butcher shop and walking out with pork chops and a book on cooking pork. It's amazing publishers hadn't gone after sales in retail outlets long ago considering the difficulty in getting attention in big chain bookstores. When I worked in publishing, the sales VP used to tell employees to turn our books face out whenever we were in a bookstore. Face out sells better than spine out, and we did it because we liked having jobs. I'm also sure that publishers' profit margins are better since a butcher would not be entitled to the same deep discount as a big chains.
Just last weekend, I saw the quintessence of books as accessories during a shopping trip to IKEA. Smart people read, so show everyone how smart and stylish you are by putting your books on IKEA shelves. Their showroom is clever, clever, clever. Each room looks damn smart and you can't help but imagine yourself looking damn smart in your IKEA library. The irony, of course, is that nearly no one shopping at an American IKEA can read the books since they're all in Swedish. And, I have to wonder if they've had an impact on Swedish-language publishing.
One particular display room, set up like a bookstore, caught me off guard and caused me to exclaim aloud, "Is IKEA actually selling books now?" They weren't, as the point was to show how their shelving could look in a retail setting. Interesting. Books are marketed to non-bookstores and IKEA furniture is marketed non-homes. A few days later I went to Borders to pick up Doctor Zhivago for December's discussion. It was way up high, so a clerk assisted me by climbing onto the penultimate shelf and stretching for the book. Interesting again. Considering that the entire works didn't tumble down on our heads, Borders obviously does not get their furniture at IKEA.
I've been avoiding the computer over the last few days and I now realize why: NaNoWriMo.
Like everyone in the litblogging set, I've known about it for years. Before this time around, though, I had never thought about participating because of work and time constraints. In September and October, posts about the next NaNoWriMo started popping up all over the place. Rich, who has moderated books for us (see our discussions of Noir and The Diamond Age), has blogged about past and present attempts and is already moving at a nice clip with more than 3500 words. He's determined to win this year. Although I see myself mainly as a reader, I've been thinking about the connection between reading and writing, about the snippets in my commonplace book, and about how my present lack of employment comes with the luxury of oodles of time. Last month during a moment of weakness, I signed up.
So, with no idea of what I'd write about, I began my novel on November 1st along with thousands of hopefuls. I'm not doing very well thus far. My word count icon is on the right sidebar, and, as you can see, I'm up to seven words at the start of day three. However, I could turn it into eight by expanding a contraction.
Feeling a bit disappointed in my progress, I've now spent more time mulling over why I'm not writing than writing. The same problems have plagued me all my life:
I'm a master procrastinator. Why do something now when you can experience the thrill of getting it done moments before the deadline? Day one was split between putting the garden to bed for the winter and curling up on the couch with a book. Day two was spent dividing bulbs and harvesting seeds for storage. I also managed to turn the simple repair of a broken shelf pin into a major kitchen reorganizing project. I'm amazed I managed to write a whole seven words with all that going on.
Distraction abounds. I'm sure I don't have adult ADHD because I can stick with projects, except the ones involving writing. While working on this post, I've already managed to walk away at least 10 times. Need more coffee. Time for breakfast. Gotta make the bed. Turn up the heat. And then there's the Internet, the worst distraction of all. When I went to Rich's site for his links, I started at Brain Squeezings, then clicked to Geek Girl Blonde (Rich's fiancée), then went to Babalú from one of her links, then to TigerHawk (a very pleasant gentleman I met at a blogmeet long ago), and was finally stopped from surfing madness by a "cannot find server" error at Parkway Rest Stop.
Writing on a computer is very, very slow since I succumb easily to the productivity paradox. Case in point, I've been working on this post for about two hours. Editing on the fly slows things down, I belabor sentence construction and word choice (For example, I just went to dictionary.com to make sure I used "belabor" properly. I did.), and I continually reread what I've written. Frankly, I do much better at writing on paper, which is why I like my commonplace book so much. I could use it for my NaNoWriMo project, but 50,000 words by hand without benefit of counting software is impractical.
Well, that exercise was freeing. One way to improve ourselves is to reflect on our weaknesses. Now that I'm fully aware of what's keeping me from my novel, it's time to get serious about making progress. But first, I think I hear the couch, a cup of tea, and a book calling my name.
I have just returned from a visit to my landlord—the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with. This is certainly a beautiful country! In all England I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society. A perfect misanthropist's heaven; and Mr. Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us. A capital fellow! He little imagined how my heart warmed towards him when I beheld his black eyes withdraw so suspiciously under their brows, as I rode up, and when his fingers sheltered themselves, with a jealous resolution, still further in his waistcoat, as I announced my name.