What the Dickens?

I feel like I’m finally joining the adult world. James and I have settlement on our first house on Friday! We just spent an hour at Target today getting grown up things like trash cans and dish towels. And I didn’t buy books or movies because I currently have “enough” and they’re not “necessary”. Go figure.

Our wedding is not til June 1, so only James will be living in the house for the next 10 months (good thing it’s only 10 minutes from where I live). I get to spend the next 10 months painting and making it exactly how I want it, and filling those gorgeous built-in bookshelves with all sorts of papery wonders. Now you’re talking.

Speaking of books, I recently discovered something amazing. You’re not going to believe it. I started reading A Tale of Two Cities and I am enjoying it. Sure, Ebeneezer Scrooge and Oliver Twist are household names. But how many modern people actually enjoy reading Charles Dickens? I know I never did, even though I wanted to.

Like many modern readers, I approach novels with a bit of violence. You know, eyes flashing like lighting through the words, flipping pages like a wild storm until the end is reached. This method has served me well for decades, beginning with Meet Felicity  in the second grade, and even through my love affairs with Alexander Dumas and Jane Austen.

Dickens doesn’t work that way. It was the opening passage of A Tale of Two Cities that let me on to the secret. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Speed read the beginning and you miss the artfulness of the most beautiful series of comma splices in history. If you try to rush through Dickens, you’re missing the point. He’s meant to be enjoyed slowly, like super rich dark chocolate.

So now I know. I read no more than one chapter a day, one sentence at a time, admiring the genius of each phrase. And I’m loving it. Charlie and I have made peace.

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What’s My Writing Platform?

Recently I decided that I have to be a writer. If I don’t write, I’ll never be happy with myself. My day job is completely unsatisfying from a personal standpoint, and I really want to be doing something creative. I’m trying to get to the point where I can feel comfortable calling myself a writer. I’m doing this the only way I know how: practicing my writing and reading books on the subject.

In Sage Cohen’s book, The Productive Writer, chapter 2 is all about finding and defining your platform. What does she mean by that?

Well, to be honest, I’m not 100% sure. What the heck is a platform? It seems like she means you need to decide what topic you want to be known for. Are you a how-to girl, an expert in culinary history, a poet or a political analyst? What do you want to say to the world?

What do I want to say to the world? I have a lot of interests, but I have no idea what exactly I would want to write about. I have a degree in history and I love art. Could that be the makings of my platform? I wrote my graduation thesis on Italian immigrants and the Catholic Church in the early part of the 20th century. Could that be my platform? What about all the other things I want to write, like the novel I keep thinking about? How do I know when I’ve found the right platform?

In a way, this blog started as an exercise to discover my writing niche. Maybe I could look through my posts and figure out what topics I write about the most.

Maybe there is no clear answer. Maybe I just need to keep writing about whatever I want, and see where it leads me. Sounds like a plan!