What a week! I did four day's worth of school in a day and a half, helped twenty kindergarteners learn how to write in cursive, and took part in a Zoom meeting about the sexually explicit works of Chaucer while watching a room full of preschoolers nap. (I wore earbuds. No need to pollute the young ones.)
Anyway, you might notice that I haven't been blogging about writing very much. Thanks to my schedule, I haven't been able to do much writing recently. But I think I have an idea.
I'm going to change something in the book I'm working on. It's both significant and insignificant; it's both difficult and easy to change. In fact, I'm not entirely sure I'm going to go through with it. But at the same time, looking back, I'm wondering why I've never thought of this before.
If you haven't read Where I Stand, I'm going to spoil it for you: Alynn and Drostan get married. In Book 3, they have a daughter. I have fretted so much about this baby girl that I've just about lost what little sanity I have left. First it was her name. Originally, I called her Adelaide. It's a nice name, and it suits her, but it's not Scottish, Norse, or Irish and I therefore can't use it. So back to the baby naming websites I went. Then she was Elspeth, nicknamed Elsie.
Elsie came with its own problems.
There's actually something historians call "The Tiffany Problem." Back in the Middle Ages, a popular name was Theophany--and a popular nickname for Theophany was Tiffany. But no author is going to name their fourteenth-century peasant girl Tiffany. I ran into the same problems with Elsie. I actually don't know for sure if Elsie was a commonly used name back in the tenth century, but even if it was, it sounds way too 2015.
So at the moment, Alynn's daughter is named Elspeth, which is the Scottish version of Elizabeth. Every once in a while, she gets called Elspie. This name may not be permanent, so don't get attached.
Now, I think I'm changing her age.
Originally, Elspeth was one month old at the start of the book. It was rough, not only because I have no experience with newborns, but also because Alynn was still recovering from giving birth. Right now, I'm thinking I'll make her a few months older--just old enough to get her first tooth, which was a big thing in Norse culture. But again. Just like with Elspeth's name, her age is not set in stone.
Clearly I have no idea what I'm doing. I'll have to completely rewrite the second half of the first chapter. I'll have to give this child a personality. I'll have to do a crap ton of research. For all the time I've spent working in the church nursery, I have no idea what a four-month-old is supposed to be able to do. Will she be babbling? Laughing? I know she can't sit up unsupported yet, much less crawl, but can she roll or scoot or anything? How many hours a day does she sleep?
How am I even authorized to write books? Why didn't I just decide to become a teacher, like everyone assumes when I tell them I'm an English major? It would have been easier. And it would probably pay better, at least in the short run.
If you have any advice about baby development or baby names, please let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to review us on Amazon!
This is what I'm paying for--
Good medieval literature.
I open Canterbury Tales
Without knowing what the book entails.
First, I meet the Wife of Bath,
Who worries about society's wrath
For husbands five she has endured
But she justifies herself with God's Word.
"A noble Wife!" I think for now,
"And with intelligence well-endowed."
But then the Wife begins to say
Of how she always got her way--
Of how she tricked the first three men
Into giving her riches time and again.
With constant nagging they were vexed,
And she rather explicitly mentions sex.
"My husbands," she said, "they told me
That I had a very nice v--"
Nope. I didn't ask. Don't want to see.
Someone, go punch Chaucer for me.
Spring Break is upon us, and I rejoice! Well, mostly--I don't have too much going on in life, and I've spent an unfortunate amount of time moping around and scrolling through Instagram. But I have been able to get some writing and crocheting done, so that's good.
Another good thing is that my Saturdays have been booked with important events. This coming Saturday is a book signing at Kaboodles in Denison, Texas, if you feel like dropping by any time between ten-ish and four-ish (it's a very relaxed affair). Last Saturday, I went to a wedding. My best friend's sister got married to a Godly man, and I'm quite happy for her.
I, at the moment, am hopelessly single. Most of the men my age at church are either taken or crazy, and all of my college classes are online. That said, I do wear a purity ring that my father gave me about four years ago. It's the only piece of jewelry that I regularly wear, and I rarely take it off for more than a few minutes.
On with the story. My mother insisted that I get my nails done for the wedding--fingers and toes. Now, my feet are extremely ticklish. What do I mean by extremely, you ask? I can tickle my own feet, which is theoretically impossible. The last time Mom touched my feet, I kicked her involuntarily and bruised her ribs. Thankfully, I was able to talk Mom out of the pedicure, but she still wanted me to get my fingernails done.
Fine. I'll capitulate.
I show up at the nail salon and take off my purity ring. By the time I get home, it's one o'clock and I haven't eaten lunch yet. And I notice that my ring is missing. It's fallen out of my pocket. So back to the nail salon I go. The Asian couple who works there are very helpful in scouring the store with me, but no luck. I check the parking lot. No luck there, either. I get back home. It's two o'clock now, and I'm hangry as well as mad at myself.
I go to the wedding, I eat pizza, I dance, and I have fun. Then, the next day, I went to the gym after church. Mom called me when I had just gotten out of the shower, telling me that she'd found my ring on the street where I usually park my car. My ring must have fallen out of my pocket as I was heading inside.
God must have been smiling on me, because I was convinced that ring was gone for good. I'm glad I've got it back. I felt weird without it.
What's something you lost and thought you'd never find again, but did find? And do you think I should go back to the salon and tell the Asian couple who works there that I did in fact find my ring? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to drop by Kaboodles this Saturday!
"Is that an animal?"
"Yes, Grammy. That's a raven."
"I love the pond. It's extra blue."
(The "pond" is just a swimming pool.)
But she smiles at it and says again,
"It's pretty when the wind blows."
"Is that an animal?"
"Yes, Grammy. It's still a raven."
"Oo-ooh! That breeze is cool!"
(It's seventy-two by the swimming pool.)
"But the sun's out today, at least.
It makes the water really sparkle."
I glance up from my crochet
And I see Grammy glance my way
She's right--the pool looks nice,
And it really is a lovely day.
"Is that an animal?"
"Yes, Grammy. It's the same raven."
(Listen, y'all. I'm busy as heck this week, so please enjoy a couple of paragraphs from my essay about Grendel from the Old English epic poem Beowulf.)
According to Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, all the monsters of ancient literature exist to represent some moral or cultural turmoil: “the monstrum is etymologically ‘that which reveals,’ ‘that which warns’…the monster signifies something other than itself.” (4). What, then, does Grendel represent? Unlike the other monsters within Beowulf, Grendel’s origins are described and emphasized: he is a child of Cain, and therefore likely represents the sins of his ancestor. These sins and Cain’s consequences for them are described as such in the text:
killed with his blade his only brother,
his father’s kin; he fled bloodstained,
marked for murder, left the joys of men,
dwelled in the wasteland…(1261-1265).
Therefore, it can be inferred that Grendel symbolizes hatred, bloodshed, death, and discord, as well as their natural consequences. These things would have been well-known in the medieval world, and their effects would have been powerful.
Interestingly, this hypothesis can be further confirmed by looking at Grendel himself, as well as the attitude taken towards Grendel by the humans who interact with him. The fact that Grendel is described as both an incorporeal demon and a physical being is analogous to the fact that things like war, hatred, and discord are abstract concepts that produce disastrous physical results. The fact that Grendel cannot be harmed by weapons represents the powerlessness of medieval people to defend themselves from death. In the time in which Beowulf was written, humans were relatively powerless against things like natural disasters, famines, and illnesses. Even war and civil discord were out of the hands of most people.
(Sad, I know. The good news is that Grendel gets killed in the middle of the poem. In fact, all the monsters in Beowulf get killed. That's the thing about monsters--no matter how scary they are, they always die, and the townspeople get some peace before another monster shows up. It's a cycle, but it's a hopeful one. Comment your favorite literary monster!)
Hello, everyone! Instead of a poem today, I have an important announcement to make: we're having a book signing!
Good morning, everyone! I have the privilege of writing this while monitoring a horde of eighth-grade pre-algebra students. It was actually nice to get up at six in the morning and have something to do. I've been existentially bored recently. Online classes, even if they are convenient, are extraordinarily boring.
You know what? I've always said that I don't want to be a teacher. And I was partially right--I can't stand the thought of working in the public school system. But I have the privilege of subbing at a private Christian school, and working with these kids is a joy and a privilege.
I got to play a game with the fifth graders earlier. Usually, I call it Math War because it resembles the card game War. The kids break up into two teams, and I split a deck of cards in half. The first kid to multiply the cards together keeps both of them, and whoever ends up with the most cards wins. This time, I couldn't find a deck of cards, so I just used multiplication flashcards. It worked just as well.
The best part is, I got to give a prize. Normally, the winner of Math War gets candy. I didn't have anything besides a crushed Twix in my backpack, but the lunchroom sells ice cream. The lunch lady is the easily nicest person I've ever met, and she offered to give her the ice cream for free. (I also got fixed up with a free lunch, even though I left at 10:45 and I'm finishing up the post from the comfort of home.)
This raises another interesting...story? I don't know if you'd call it a story. It's too short. But anyway, as I was trying to leave (the actual math teacher arrived), I realized that my backpack strap--the adjusting ribbon thingy, not the actual shoulder strap--had gotten stuck in the rolling wheel of the teacher's chair.
I tugged. I pulled. I pushed. The darn thing wouldn't budge. Finally, I snipped it off. Part of my backpack is forever a part of the math teacher's chair.
Whenever you say a sentence, there's a good chance that no one in the history of the world has used those exact words in that exact sequence before. The sentence "part of my backpack is forever a part of the math teacher's chair" is definitely one of those sentences. But it's all in a day's work for a substitute teacher. (If I'm lucky enough to work, that is. I'm pretty sure I haven't worked at all in two or three weeks. But that's just part of the gig.)
What's a sentence you've said that you're pretty sure no one's ever said before? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to review us on Amazon!
I'm sorry, guys.
I try to keep up with things.
I try to post regularly.
But yesterday was busy
And today I'm dead inside.
Everyone, I guess
Has good and bad days.
Today was not a good day
But not entirely a bad day
I got a lot of stuff done, actually
(Let's call it a hard day, neither good nor bad.)
But when the business goes away
And I'm alone with my thoughts,
I feel exhausted on the inside
Without motivation to do anything
Only wanting to hide from the world.
My words have been my friend
For a decade now they've never left my side
And yet "loss of interest" is a symptom
And it haunts my every moment
With "Last edited: Over a month ago."
I'm sorry, guys.
I'm trying my best and I'm getting help
I'm exercising and socializing and stuff
And I'll have a good day before long
But today was not a good day.
(But it wasn't a bad day. Just a hard one.)
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.