Sheila Deeth is a marvel: a creative and excellent writer, a wonderful critic and someone who posts more reviews on more sites than anyone else I know of. It’s all under Sheila’s Reviews (sheiladeeth.blogspot.com).
Enough said, this is her blog.
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“On April second, Martin Shepard interviewed me for what was to become a weekly blog by people in the business of books. He introduced me to the world as a writer and book reviewer for which I am enormously grateful. A few weeks ago, he invited me to celebrate the six-month anniversary of that interview with a blogpost of my own. I agreed, of course, awed to be invited back to such celebrated company. And then... time ran away from me.
“There’s a formula for that somewhere, for relative space and time. Long ago, most likely in a galaxy far far away (otherwise known as Cambridge, England), I studied Einstein’s relativity, calculated structures and admired the evolution of stars, and dreamed black holes. I was a mathematician, in love with the order and sense of it all; the way patterns line up and answers rise from the mist of uncertainties; the unchanging nature of equations, measurable validity of approximations, and calculation that always simply has to be right or wrong.
“Today, as time slips swiftly away, I’m compiling, editing and formatting an anthology for our local writers’ group. It might seem a far cry from studying math, but the connections continue to amaze me. Back in high school, the math teacher taught us first, not to calculate, not to measure, not to sum, but rather how to write our equals signs neatly one under another. “Why?” asked a daring young student, receiving a frown of mild amusement followed by, “So I can read your answers; so you can too.”
“Why does the punctuation go inside the quote? Why does it matter where we put our commas? Why shouldn’t sentences run on? But grammar rules, like one plus one makes two. And then there’s style—Why set a rule about the spacing of ellipses? Why insist on italics for internal dialog? Not everyone does.
“Plus there’s all the unseen stuff, like invisible approximations and those all-important epsilons tending to zero while time tends to infinity; widows and orphans who are (lonely) only words, white space that needs to filled with a picture or resized, and sections that start on the wrong side of a two-page spread....
“Why?” asks the daring old voice in my head, and the answer’s still the same, in math or in writing: “So people can read your answers; so you can too.”
“More time slips by. I think I’ve missed my deadline, but the Writers’ Mill Journal’s really nearly done. Perhaps I’ll get back to writing novels and reviewing new releases soon—hopefully ones where the grammar’s consistent, the white-space is clean, and the style doesn’t change from page to page. I have a growing pile from the Permanent Press calling out to me, and I know their equals signs will all line up!
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NEXT WEEK I’ll be posting another blog critiquing The American Academy of Arts and Letters , which will feature a personal letter from Kurt Vonnegut. It’s quintessential Vonnegut and not to be missed.
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