Today, Audible.com asked the question, “If you could read only one author’s work for the rest of your life, who would it be?” They also said that it could “easily be the toughest question of the day.”
Probably, if one had many authors to choose from – Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens all the way to the contemporaries like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Diana Gabaldon, and so many more. However, it didn’t take me long to pick one author I wouldn’t mind reading for the rest of my life.
In November 1865, when reporting her death, The Athenaeum rated Gaskell as “if not the most popular, with small question, the most powerful and finished female novelist of an epoch singularly rich in female novelists.” Today Gaskell is generally considered a lesser figure in English letters remembered chiefly for her minor classics “Cranford” and “Wives and Daughters: An Every-day Story.”
Gaskell’s early fame as a social novelist began with the 1848 publication of “Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life,” in which she pricked the conscience of industrial England through her depiction and analysis of the working classes. Many critics were hostile to the novel because of its open sympathy for the workers in their relations with the masters, but the high quality of writing and characterization were undeniable, and critics have compared “Mary Barton” to the work of Friedrich Engels and other contemporaries in terms of its accuracy in social observation.
The later publication of “North and South,” also dealing with the relationship of workers and masters, strengthened Gaskell’s status as a leader in social fiction.
I bought the complete works of Gaskell for my e-reader and I’m taking my time reading her stories, beginning with the obscure ones. I’ve already read North and South, but I can’t wait to read Mary Barton, as well as Cranford. I loved how astute she was about the social changes around her, the plight of the poor workers, even if it put her at odds with the general thinking of the time.
So, yes, for the rest of my life, Elizabeth Gaskell would be perfect.
If I didn’t know who Morrighansmuse was and I stumbled upon her blog (this one), I’d probably think she’s one depressed chick behind a sad blog. I mean, look at her poetry – most of them so awfully sad.
But before you think that the person behind MM is one depressed, sad chick, here’s something that I hope will make you change your mind. This is not a sad blog. Really, it isn’t.
We all procrastinate. Website, magazine, knitting project, TV show, something else — what’s your favorite procrastination destination?
Yesterday I took another step away from my fangirl Twitteraccount. I’ve been slowly distancing myself the last few weeks, ever since someone told me that maybe I should think twice about which journalists to read if I wanted to maintain certain fandom friendships. You know – drama.
Anyway, it was alarming to see how often I checked my TL (timeline to you, folks not well-versed in Twitter). It was the first place I visited when I turned on my laptop, my iPad, and even my phone. And it was the last thing I’d check before I went to bed.
I mean, there was still writing – but even Twitter was keeping me away from writing. What’s the use of hashtags when you’re not really doing what the hashtag purports you to be doing? #amwriting when it’s really #amdoingeverythingBUTwriting
Unless I was using Twitter as a social media platform to convey a message, a service, or a product, there was no longer any reason rational enough for me to justify my addiction because a) I hadn’t finished my book to begin with and b) the fandom aspect was over and done with. It also wasn’t fun anymore. So why still do it?
While quitting Twitter hasn’t exactly been that easy – as in, no dying need to see what everyone is up to all the time – it did get me to focus on a secret project I needed to finish for a friend. And even go to the beach two days in a row and get bad sunburn.
Who knows? If this is 100% successful, who’s to say that maybe the next step will be for me to quit…Tumblr!
Do you feel like you “get” social media, or do you just use it because that’s where all your friends and family are?
Being a Gemini, I’m all about communication. I majored in Communication and I just love being able to communicate my thoughts and ideas as long as there’s someone willing to listen.
But when it’s two in the morning and my mind is still racing with thoughts and ideas and your boyfriend, after a marathon of sex and all he wants to do is sleep and all I want to do is talk, asks me, “Do you ever sleep?” then that’s when I realized that I needed an outlet other than what real life could give me.
Apparently there wasn’t enough communicating in real life as much as I would have wanted. With or without sex.
So years and years ago, I mastered Myspace and Friendster, then came Facebook – only with Facebook I realized that I was about to get to know the very people I was so happy to leave behind in high school and barely remembered.
Only now, they were back and Facebook was THE platform to be in.
Then there is Twitter – and for almost two to three years, I had a Twitter account for my massage therapist persona – only to realize that if there’s a massage therapist on Twitter, it doesn’t mean that she’ll be talking about massage because she’s probably busy massaging some client or getting her real life business going. So there really wasn’t a lot of time socializing.
And after two years of watching all this unfold on my timeline, all condensed in 160 characters, I realized that tweeting as a massage therapist boiled down to one word: boring.
Hell, I’d rather hang out with my FB friends, the same ones I couldn’t have cared less back in high school.
So last October, I finally started a Twitter account for fun. At first it was just about writing – I got myself a pretty simple twitter name, Morrighansmuse – but then I found that if I followed just writers, all I was ever going to get on my timeline were tips about writing or sales pitches about their books and again, it bordered on that one word again – boring.
What’s social media without the “social” part of it?
And so I decided to seek out people who shared something that I was interested in at the time. I typed in ‘yarn’ and ‘knitting’ and even ‘spinning wool’ but I already knew most of these people from another online social media platform, Ravelry.
Why the hell would I need Twitter to talk about yarn – and worse, condense it into 160 characters? Twitter obviously does not understand knitters – because we can talk and talk and talk, even while we knit. So Twitter is mostly a secondary media platform and I really did not want to talk yarn on Twitter.
So I tried another search. At that time, I had just discovered Richard Armitage through BBC North & South, and so I typed his name in the search box and found the Armitage Army – the Twitter contingent. Apparently there are many other contingents out there – IMDB, C19, the Real Armitage Army…the list goes on and on.
What’s interesting about social media, as I’m discovering now that I tweet and blog more for fun than I used to in the past, is that I’m actually having more fun doing it. And in doing it, I actually have learned so much more about it while having fun.
Social media has finally become what it says – social media.
These days, I don’t just tweet with other people about Mr. Armitage. I’ve met people who do art, who write exquisitely with vintage fountain pens, who create beautiful works of fairies and unicorns and dragons, who do their best to practice kindness each and everyday (though there are those who do their darnedest to do just the opposite) and who make me laugh or smile every time I’m online.
I’ve also finally learned how to use Twitter and master the 160 word limit and practice tact when others forget the meaning of the word – for even online, it’s important to still be polite.
And most of all, when hubby now asks me at three in the morning, “do you ever sleep?” I can simply turn on my iPad and socialize in the virtual world.
But one thing that surprised me the most about all this media socializing is this – as much as social media is all about communication in virtual networks and communities, where ideas are transmitted primarily through keystrokes and mouse clicks, it’s brought me back to the simple forms of communicating, back when computers were gigantic and the postman’s arrival was a main event for most people.
I’m actually getting real honest-to-g*d snail mail.
A few weeks ago, a few friends on Twitter were talking about how a certain actor had made their lives so much better, especially during difficult times in their lives – how he served as a beacon of light during dark times, a light at the end of a tunnel that never seemed to end. My words, not theirs as I only managed to glance at the conversation in passing…
I remember reading their tweets and then moving on to other things in my life. Beacon of light, my ass, I scoffed (sorry!). Light at the end of the tunnel, I laughed (sorry again – this is after all, a confession!). Some people…
Then it happened. A few days ago, I must have been in a foul mood because my 3-year old son came up to me and tried to cheer me up. You can never deny how astute children are, because they know exactly what makes you happy. It could be saying “shopping, mama” when you’re grumpy while driving around town running errands when you’d rather be, yes, you guessed it, shopping, mama! Or when you’re lamenting about your boring diet of greens and he comes up to you and says exactly what you’re secretly wishing for instead – “Cake, mama! Chocolate cake!”
This time, my son said one thing that he knew always made me happy (other than shopping and chocolate cake, that is) though I think I’d been in denial about it for, like, the past seven months.
“Richard!” he screeched happily before dissolving into fits of laughter and giggles. When I only made a face, he said it again – “Richard!” – and giggled the way only toddlers can giggle and break down the strongest and meanest of bad moods.
That’s when it hit me. Unlike my Twitter friends who were brave enough to share how one actor had brought them out of the darkness, I’d been in total denial about that one thing. One person did help me drift out of a darkness that lasted almost six months. I just didn’t want to admit it.
You see, in March of last year, my son was diagnosed with autism. And for six months, I descended into a sort of despair that most parents of newly diagnosed children of autism or any type of disorder (I think) fall into (again, I think). My life suddenly revolved around nothing but autism diagnoses, early intervention, traditional therapies, nontraditional therapies, gluten-free, casein-free diets, controversial therapies, sensory integration therapies, and so much more.
It made my head spin, and before long, my library was filled with all books that had to do with autism or sensory processing disorders and their treatments. My Goodreads library made me look like I was either a) a nonfiction addict b) a professional on autism and sensory processing disorders or c) a parent of a child with autism or sensory diagnosis and to be honest, I’d become all three. Even my movie choices had to do only with things that featured information about autism and their corresponding therapies.
I was a fun person to be with those six months, I guarantee you that.
Whenever I sat down to write, I wrote about the darkness and confusion that surrounded me about my son’s diagnosis, or nothing at all – which turned out to be my default setting. I was without words to describe how I felt. I was without pictures to draw. I simply had nothing to write about regarding my beautiful son at all. I simply had nothing to write about, period.
Even after he began to speak more words, and engage me and everyone else in conversation and socialize with adults and the children at the daycare, I hardly noticed. I barely noticed that in time my beautiful son was growing up, following his own timeline and not the timeline as dictated by books.
He was talking, playing, socializing, counting and doing whatever three-year olds did. I just wasn’t seeing it.
I was still sitting in the darkness. Or so I thought.
After eavesdropping on that Twitter conversation, it dawned on me that since September of last year, seven months after my son’s diagnosis – since my world turned dark – something happened. My life did turn brighter after August, when I discovered North and South and found myself inspired by its lead actor, and the messages he wrote to his fans since 2002 or so.*
I began to watch shows and movies, even if I had to go alone. I began to read books that didn’t have anything to do with autism or sensory processing disorders, or their treatments. Most of all, I began to write again, and this time I really wrote. It didn’t matter that I chose to warm up my writing chops by writing fan fiction involving characters that this actor played. It was still writing. And I wasn’t stopping.
As I wrote, and continue to write, stories that include a favorite character this actor has played in the past, my original characters were slowly coming back to life inside my head. Something had been awoken and it wasn’t about to fall asleep and fall into the darkness again.
I know this post has meandered long enough. I never realized how difficult it was to write about this, constantly editing as I go afraid to reveal more than I’d want to reveal to strangers and friends, how hard it is to go back there to that dark time and write about how it all began without realizing how long ago the darkness had actually lifted.
But because my son is astute enough and smart enough (for his own good sometimes) to point out the one thing that his mother has been in denial about, I’m finally going to admit it: my life did change just like my friends’ lives did when they discovered this man’s work.
Like a beacon of light in the darkness (riiiight), like the light at the end of that dark and lonely tunnel (right, right – get on with it), his work and his character did show me the way out. And I never even knew it till then.
But aren’t you glad that now I do. And that I can finally admit it. Sort of. I’ll get around to it. Like this year.
So this is my confession.
Like the lapsed Catholic that I am sitting behind that screen and wondering what else can I say that will shock that poor priest over there and make him squirm at night as he lays his head down to rest, can I just take that one last minute of your time and patience to confess that I discovered Richard Armitage in August 2012, and in doing so, discovered the beauty, grace and marvel that is my son and the strength and wisdom that is in me.