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January 16, 2013


Wow, you were into extended metaphors in those days. In the para starting "Later in the afternoon... " you could say the surgical and the psychiatrical come together with such force the reader is left apprehensive: "But I haven't any marrow spare."

In ten years there's plenty of time and space for a writing style to evolve and in my case four and a large bit years are quite sufficient to reveal a writing persona I'm glad I left behind. Knowing that along the line I was encouraged (by other bloggers) to dip my toe into poetry - reading and writing - and there are some rather shocking examples of sonnets written while the author still carried L-plates. Still does.

As to the back of the drawer I can see it's a treasure trove but sometimes the possibility of self-harm has to be factored in too. The mezzaluna, which we acquired during your ten-year trajectory, now hangs on a nail driven into the kitchen window frame for this purpose, and presently co-habits with a cleaver - both these bladey presences having appropriate holes for this form of stowage. There they have taken on an ominous extra role: were a homicidal maniac to come crashing through our front door, a choice of mezzaluna and cleaver would, I suppose, represent our arsenal of defensive weapons. Leaving me with a horrible middle-class dilemma. I might look just about credible armed with a smallish cleaver but a complete fool with a half-moon in my hand.

But as usual I'm indulging myself instead of celebrating your commendable achievement. I know of course that the blog is merely an extension of what you'd already done and still do, but even so some people take time to establish blog-o-voice. Not you. You can take pride that those first two declarative sentences do what a good start-up (in the newspaper business we used to call it an "intro" but that term has now been ceded to layout) should do: use decisiveness to grab the reader by the lapels and start telling the story with facts that matter. I suspect that such directness may be the product of some revision, since simplicity like this rarely arrives first time round. But the delight is that reader knows nothing of this and sees only a powerful invitation to read on. My felicitations and please look after those fingers.

Congratulations, Beth... And handle with care.

Thanks, Roderick, for all these thoughts on writing and blades, both metaphorical and actual! Yes, ten years is a long time and I'm curious to see what I find in the back of the drawer, and how my own voice has evolved. It has certainly opted for greater simplicity and less "effect," which some may prefer and others, not. I think I took more time over the writing back then -- in any case, I rather liked this piece, the riff on Coetzee, and the memory of that quick slice.

And thank you, Marly -- I plan to celebrate all year, with abandon, but will try not to cut myself in the process!

Congratulations on ten years, Beth. I'm so impressed with what that requires in time and dedication. May all your cuts wash away impurities and refocus your attention; may the wounds heal smoothly.

What Marly said. ;-)

Absolutely, what Marly said :) It's incredible to think that it has been 10 years. I do remember that Coetzee article making the rounds back then. I might have even said something on my then-blog, which exists only on the wayback machine now. Looking forward to the next 10 years!

Such a lovely, round year to be celebrating. May you continue to share with us your elegant writing and creative artwork for another decade!

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.