A Boomer's Blog

Notes for the Boomer Generation

Archive for the category “Writing”

A Short Review of A Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in CrisisHillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

My dates here are estimates. This book was a tale about the progress made by the generations of poor families, but told in a very personal memior. My own childhood nuclear family was poor, and certain things in his memior struck melancholy minor chords in me. I knew families in some of our neighborhoods who were like this “crazy hillbilly” family. My family, though poor, was from New England, and our history was different.
I like the way the author does not cast blame on society, the government, or the work ethic of the poor as generalities, but shows us a complicated and fair (I thought) picture of class struggle while just using his own family.
I read it straight through, all the boring parts were left out by the author! Recommend for all. Memior writers who have misgivings or reluctance to write about our families, this is a good read for us, as an example of stretching the boundaries.
Like the author, I joined the Marines because there were few other options available to me in the small southern town I grew up in. Semper Fi, J.D.

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To your health. And your copyrights…

I read this post this morning by Kristine Kathryn Rusch about the devastating effect an unforseen health crisis can have on a writer’s life.  Don’t pass it by!

All a writer’s past works copyrights can be taken to pay off the insurance and hospital bills because they are considered financial assets…  that is just one of the eye opening details I learned from this article.

I won’t go on a rant about the American healthcare system, based on greed and the bottom line and not on health……..  but this particular blogpost provides even more devastating details pertinent to writers.

The Business Rusch: Life-Changing Events.


Writing in the Rain

A few days ago, I received in my email a column by Timothy Egan called ‘The Longest Nights’, printed in the January 10, 2013 New York Times.  He lives in Seattle and talks about the benefit that our long, gray, wet and dreary winters can provide for a writer.  As I write this now from my desk in Beaverton, Oregon, I am thinking about the last week of cold, foggy, gray days and how much I slept, ate, pitied myself, and generally dragged my ass around.  Right this moment, the sun (the sun!!) is out and I feel I MUST interrupt this writing to go outside for a long-overdue walk around the duckpond.  Take a look at his column while I visit the few ducks who hung around for winter.


Well I went out for the walk and now it’s a couple of days later….. Mr Egan may have a point when he claims that the dreary winter provides the writer with good reason to stay inside at the keyboard.  But I know that when the sun was shining, I  accomplished a couple of hours of housework and organizing, answered a few emails, and finally, finally, wrote on my blog again after an extended absence.

His column received many comments from people in the south, citing Mark Twain, Hemingway and other writers from sunny climes as proof that his theory was no good.

I think it took the sunshine to get me started, and the drearies (which have come back to Portland again) to force me to stay inside and finish.  Yes, yes, I know …..  it is my Libra nature to hop from one side of the scale to the other weighing the value of all conditions.  I am grateful to live in a place where I get a nice sampling of all weather, with good reading weather having an edge on the go-outside-and-play weather.

I don’t know how Hemingway was able to write in Key West.  Me, I would have been walking the beach every day.


Critique-al Mass

Some of my fellow writer friends and I want to start a critique group.  We all live in the same part of the huge metropolitan area…. none of us would have to cross any bridges or traverse glogged freeways to meet up.  But where?  The library charges money.  The Senior Center doesn’t have a room for 4 to 6 writers to sit around talking about their work.  Restaurants are noisy.  My apartment, frankly, is a dump.  My project today is to Do Something About All These Damn Books.

Well…  about the apartment….  I just moved a couple of months ago and still have boxes here and there.  But the real problem is the books.  Stacks and stacks of them.   Books I read years ago.  Books I’m in the middle of reading now.  The hundred or so that are “To Be Read”.  The reference books, which one doesn’t ever really read.  They are only to be referred to.  In emergencies.  That probably explains the dozen books I have on Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse, The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Guide, How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It, The Field Manual FM-21-76 US Army Survival Manual and 75,000 Baby Names.  Wait, that last one is in the wrong pile.

So, of my thousand books, the reference section is quite extensive.  There are the 31 cookbooks, most of which have only been used during the annual Hallo-Giv-Mas three-month-long food fest that is part of my heritage.  Not to mention my waistline.  I could use some of these cookbooks to create treats for my writer’s critique group and invite them here…. if only I could dig out from under the books to make some room for guests.  Should I use the books to create chairs, instead?

I also have 17 books on Organization.  Organizing from Within.  Stop the Clutter.  It’s All Too Much.  One Minute Organizer, Unclutter Your Mind, Clutter’s Last Stand…..  as soon as I can decide on the best spot for the organizing books, I’ll read a few of them.  Most of them are in the “To Be Read” category.

Well, of course there are other categories.  There are the wishful thinking shelves filled with gardening and home repair books.  I have been an apartment and condo dweller for most of the last fifteen years.  But I know how to change out the flush assembly in a toilet and diagram the central fuse box.  Actually, that does come in handy, even in an apartment.  Better hang on to that book.

Finally, there are all the writing books.  How To Write A Romance, Memoir, Screenplay, A Book In Thirty Days, How to Write How To Books, How to Write When You Can’t Write, How to Write When You Are Surrounded By Mountains of Books and There Is No Room For Your Damn Critique Group To Sit Down And Eat A Cookie.

I will take that last one off the To Be Read list right now.

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