- Richard Holloway writes a letter to the author of the book of Genesis
- Wonder Woman’s Creation Story Is Wilder Than You Could Ever Imagine
- No fear of flying
- GALLOPING ECCENTRICITIES
- BOUND, GAGGED, RULING THE WORLD?
- ONE STEP FORWARD..
- How to Wow Your Spouse on Valentine’s Day
- Remember to Be Courteous to Staff and Fellow Diners
- Fun Ways to Become a Good Writer
Richard Holloway writes a letter to the author of the book of Genesis
Arts and CultureBooksWednesday, 13th November 2019, 10:29 amRichard Holloway PIC: Colin Hattersley
You started with these words: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” And that’s how your book got its name, Genesis, Beginning.
Then you went on to craft a great poem describing how God made everything in six days and rested on the seventh. That’s where the trouble started. I wish you had added a little note inviting your readers to take you seriously but not literally.
In fact, I wish you had written a prologue on the art of reading. I wish you had reminded us that you were an artist responding imaginatively to the wonder of the universe, not a reporter taking notes on something happening in real time. But that’s how some people started to read you.
Not as a glorious fiction that prompted their wonder, but as an accurate news report of a tumultuous week about six thousand years ago. You won’t believe this, but there are people alive in my time who insist on reading you that way.
We could dismiss them all as endearing eccentrics, if it weren’t for something else they get wrong, something they again take literally – and this time it’s had consequences, very serious consequences.
On the sixth or last “day” of your narrative, God creates all the living creatures on earth, the grand climax being the emergence of humanity, God’s special favourite.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
Then come the fateful instructions to these human beings about how they are supposed to live:
“And God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
I want to pause for a moment to reflect on what you thought you were doing when these words came to you. Great writers don’t tell us about something. Their writing becomes the thing itself.
Is that what you were doing here? Were you writing with a premonitory sorrow over the meaning of these words? In a single sentence you captured humanity’s arrogance, its belief that it owned or had dominion over the earth, and could do anything it d with it. And that’s what we have done.
The planet is marked with the smudge and ugliness of our abuse of it. It is littered with the debris of our greed.
To be fair to us – or to some of us – we have begun to realise what we have done to the planet in our arrogance, and we are trying to make amends. We have started cleaning up the rivers we polluted. We are trying to purify the air over our cities we have saturated with toxic particles.
We are even beginning to worry about the effect of losing the species we have rendered extinct. But now some of us are beginning to wonder if it might all be too little too late.
A bit deciding to spring-clean a house on the edge of a cliff that’s about to plunge into the sea because of coastal erosion. It’s the earth, our home, that’s now on the edge of that cliff. All because we didn’t know how to read what you had written.
Because we read your words not as a warning, not as a fable that required interpretation, but as an instruction manual to be followed to the letter. Look where it’s got us.
It gets worse. There are literalists out there who believe this is what God actually wants. And because they don’t know how to read, they’ve come up with a god who hates the world so much he is coming soon to destroy it and everything in it.
Except them, of course. They’ll be saved as the planet combusts. That’s why they welcome its extinction. “Use it before you lose it, the end is nigh,” they yell, believing their divinely chartered spaceship is standing by to take them to safety. How could I sum up their attitude for you, dear author of Genesis? “F**k the planet, we’re gonna be OK,” is probably as close as I can get.
So I hope you understand now why I am writing to you. It’s not that I wish you’d been a bit more careful in how you wrote your parable. It’s just that I wish you’d made it clearer what you were doing when you started composing your great fiction.
On the other hand, it’s hardly your fault there are so many humans who completely lack imagination.
But why do so many of them claim to be religious? Don’t they understand that religion is the oldest art? And that its stories are to be read seriously, but never literally? Enough already.
The good news is that young people everywhere are rebelling against humanity’s God-given right to destroy the earth, their home. Their religion is love of the little blue planet that bore them and sustains them.
And they are fighting hard to save it. You’d admire them. You’d want to write something to help them. Or maybe you would just point to something another writer from your own family of artists would say hundreds of years later.
His name was Isaiah and these are his words:
‘The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.’
And you know what, old friend? I’m tempted to read that poem literally!
Letters to the Earth: Writing to a Planet in Crisis introduced by Emma Thompson and edited by Anna Hope, Jo McInness and Kay Michael is published by William Collins, priced £10.
Wonder Woman’s Creation Story Is Wilder Than You Could Ever Imagine
“Stop the presses,” splashes Jill Lepore, Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer. “I’ve got the history of Wonder Woman.
” The comic-book world’s most popular female superhero already has a story about her Amazonian origins and a story about her secret identity (Diana Prince, secretary), but Lepore’s found another.
The Secret History of Wonder Woman is about sex, politics, love, loss, feminism, and a family. But what it’s mostly about is lying.
The protagonist is the creator of Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston, born in 1893. He grew up in a wealthy Massachusetts family, had five older sisters, and sympathized with suffragists.
As a Harvard undergraduate, he used systolic blood pressure readings to invent the lie detector test. He eventually earned a Ph.D. in psychology and worked in various universities, though never for very long.
One of his kinder letters of recommendation warned that his scholarship was “open to the charge of sensationalism.”
Self-promotion came easily. Marston wrote his own press releases and organized his own press conferences. He bent the truth throughout his life to ensure that he was known as the man who had invented the lie detector test.
(The polygraph, which uses a range of measurements including blood pressure, was patented by Leonarde Keeler in 1931.
) Marston declared himself “the world’s first consulting psychologist,” found work in the law and in Hollywood, and, eventually, created Wonder Woman in 1941. Lepore calls it an “experimental life.”
What shaped Marston’s experiments most were the women with whom he lived, loved, and lied. He married Sadie Holloway while they were students. She was a New Woman: She demanded the vote but also a life in which being married and having a career were not incompatible.
Marston met Olive Byrne while a professor at Tufts and away from his wife. She was voted “the wittiest, cleverest, and most distinctive” student in her year. And she had a glamorous aunt in Margaret Sanger, the feminist campaigner and founder of the American Birth Control League (later Planned Parenthood).
Byrne became Marston’s research assistant and lover.
When Marston wanted Byrne to move in with him and Holloway, they came to a polyamorous agreement. Holloway could have a career; Byrne would raise the children. Eventually there were four, two by each woman. In time they moved into a big house near New York, which they called Cherry Orchard. Holloway found work as an editor in the city.
There was happiness in the family. Everyone had a nickname: Keetsie, Dotsie, O.A., and Zaz. Margaret Sanger visited. The children, Lepore reports, “were fiercely loved.” But there were also difficulties.
Marston declared that women should rule the world but remained a patriarch. He instituted weekly family debates on the meaning of life, which he then presided over and dictated to. He gave his children IQ tests and then ranked them.
Holloway earned most of the money.
There was a third woman in the family, whom Marston had met in 1918. Marjorie Wilkes Huntley was a New Age feminist, a widow, and a librarian. She haunts the book.
She would periodically show up at the house and stay in the attic, where she hung beads and burned incense. Because of her hysterectomy, she had no children.
There is an extraordinary photograph of all three women in which Byrne and Holloway are holding babies while Huntley holds a doll and grins.
In nearly everything they left behind, the family concealed its domestic arrangements. Byrne invented a deceased husband named William K. Richard and hid herself from census takers. Sometimes the lies were elaborately concocted to serve Marston’s public image.
Byrne (as “Olive Richard”) once wrote a magazine profile of Marston in which she posed as an eager reporter who traveled to Cherry Orchard to interview “this famous man.” Lepore’s deconstruction of the piece is desperately sad.
It brings out the distance and doubt that festered within the proximate intimacy of the Marston family. “I ain’t no author,” Byrne wrote in her diary.
It’s unclear how much the children knew or what they thought. Lepore writes that they “tell very different stories about their family, the way the children in any family do.” Behind the doors of their parents’ bedrooms, there were still more secrets.
The adults practiced bondage or, as Huntley put it, “love binding.” In the comics, a theme that recurs again and again is Wonder Woman being tied up, then breaking free. “My man-made bonds have snapped!” she cries.
“My woman’s power returns again!”
Lepore has an astonishing story and tells it extremely well. She acts as a sort of lie detector, but proceeds through elegant narrative rather than binary test. Sentences are poised, adverbs rare. Each chapter is carefully shaped.
At a time when few are disposed to see history as a branch of literature, Lepore occupies a prominent place in American letters. Her microhistories weave compelling lives into larger stories, and William Moulton Marston is irresistible.
He consumes most of the book.
Wonder Woman herself properly arrives in the final third. It’s 1941, the world is at war, but she fears nothing. She stands for justice, equality, and America. She is against the patriarchy, especially when personified in villainous ogres the Duke of Deception. If she traps you in her lasso, you have to tell the truth.
But there is much ambivalence between her bright colors and sharp lines. When she joins Batman and Superman in the Justice Society of America, she does so as secretary. She’s a crusader for matriarchy but still sexy (“the suffragist as pin-up,” says Lepore). Marston wrote that Wonder Woman needed “all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.”
So her place in the history of feminism is tricky. She has roots in the suffragist movements of the early 20th century, and she was claimed by women’s liberation movements, appearing on the cover of Ms. magazine in 1972.
She fits somewhere between the “first wave” and the “second wave.” But rather than seeing Wonder Woman as wave one-point-five, Lepore argues that she undermines the whole scheme of seeing feminism through waves.
Lepore has a different, though still linear, metaphor for the history of feminism: “a river, wending.”
What Wonder Woman mostly represents here are the ideas of one man and the influence of his family.
She comes the peculiar mixture of progressive politics, domestic submission, charlatan confidence, and utopian feminism of Cherry Orchard. When Marston died in 1947, her political edge waned still further.
Attempts to keep her in the family failed. By 1950 Wonder Woman was an agony aunt with a hunky suitor.
The family kept its secrets. Sadie Holloway and Olive Byrne lived out their days together. Byrne did not tell her two children that Marston was their father; they found out later, from Holloway. Marjorie Wilkes Huntley died in a nursing home. None of them ever told any scholar or journalist about Cherry Orchard or Wonder Woman’s link with Margaret Sanger.
Historians tend to write about lying much less than novelists or philosophers. Lepore’s history, however, shows that lies reveal more than their obverse truths.
They are part of how we fashion ourselves to other people in our families and our societies. They form a daily currency by which we settle relationships, but they also create doubt. They mount.
The Secret History of Wonder Woman is, in the end, unsettling. It suggests that love and loneliness are not separate things.
No fear of flying
- By Diana Wichtel
- Apr 2, 2015
Nothing prepared Harvard author Jill Lepore for the sex and lies behind comic-book superbabe Wonder Woman.
Gal Gadot assumes the Wonder Woman mantle in upcoming film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
In your satin tights
Fighting for your rights
And the old red white and blue!
– 70s television series Wonder Woman
“I never in a million years would have chosen to write about Wonder Woman. It just doesn’t really lie within my realm of fascination.” Holy Hera.
This is not what you expect to hear from a writer with a funny, scholarly, deeply weird slice of cultural history called The Secret History of Wonder Woman to push.
“It’s not that I don’t watch a lot of TV and read a lot of trashy things, but I’m not a comic-book person,” says Jill Lepore. “Looking at her from the outside, she’s a pin-up girl.”
Lepore isn’t a satin tights kind of gal. She’s a history professor at Harvard and a writer for the New Yorker. Her books have titles The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death and The Story of America: Essays on Origins. Lepore’s scholarly tastes run less to underclad superbabes, more to the obscure. “Wonder Woman is not an obscure subject. Everybody’s heard of Wonder Woman.”
Quite a few people know Lepore these days, too. According to Gawker-for-girls blog Jezebel, she’s an “inspirational badass” who’s “whip-smart and accessible (read her on Planned Parenthood and gun control right away)”.A badass? “Yeah, when that came out, someone sent it to me.” She was cooking dinner, as inspirational badasses do. “I told my kids, ‘I’m actually officially a badass, so you guys are supposed to do the dishes.’ And they were ‘Yeah? No.’ So I don’t think that really carries any water. It didn’t get anybody to do the dishes.”
No one said being a feminist icon was going to be easy. Wonder Woman may be the world’s most popular female comic-book superhero, but she’s had her ups and downs. Created in 1941, she was voted by reader demand in 1942 into All-Star Comics’ Justice Society, a league of superheroes.
The bad news: she was given the job of secretary. As the male superheroes head off to war, she’s left at home. “A wistful look enters the lovely eyes of Wonder Woman,” reads the caption. “Good luck, boys,” she sighs. “I wish I could be going with you.
” Bullet-deflecting bracelets and an invisible plane will only take a girl so far.
She enjoyed a revival, icon-wise, when Gloria Steinem featured her – “Wonder Woman for President” – on the cover of Ms magazine’s 1972 inaugural issue (also on that cover: “Body hair: the last frontier”). There was the 1975 television series starring Lynda Carter. And she can forever be found at a costume party near you.
But it’s taken till now for her true backstory to come to light. Lepore’s Secret History does a whip-smart, accessible job of combining the popular and the obscure.
Who knew Wonder Woman, aka Diana Prince, sprang not just from the Amazon hideaway Paradise Island (so called because there were no men on it) but also from the history of feminism? It came as a surprise to Lepore.
“I’m fascinated to discover that Wonder Woman was inspired by these birth-control and feminist and suffrage activists from the 1910s and that she was an inspiration for women’s liberation activists in the 1960s and 70s,” she says.
As it turns out, Wonder Woman was also a vehicle for the distinctly odd ideas of William Moulton Marston, rogue psychologist and Wonder Woman creator. This is where the sex, the lies, a fondness for bondage and some unusual domestic arrangements come in. Marston and the children with librarian Marjorie Wilkes (far left), Olive Byrne (third from right) and Elizabeth Holloway (far right).
Lepore was working on a completely different project – “having to do with politics and the law, with the history of privacy, the history of evidence, the history of contraception” – when she was caught by the Amazon princess’s Lasso of Truth. “I just kept bumping into Wonder Woman.
Every door I opened, Wonder Woman was standing behind it.”Wonder Woman’s origins, she discovered, go back to Margaret Sanger, the pioneering activist for women’s reproductive rights who coined the term “birth control”. Sanger and her sister Ethel Byrne set up the first birth control clinic in 1916.
Both went to prison for their activism.Their link to Wonder Woman: Marston, a man with as bizarre a backstory as any self-respecting comic-book character. “Marston was a polymath. He was an expert in deception: he invented the lie detector test. He led a secret life,” writes Lepore.
He married his childhood sweetheart, feminist Elizabeth “Sadie” Holloway, then fell in love with one of his students, Olive Byrne. She was 22, daughter of hunger striker Ethel Byrne and niece of Margaret Sanger.
Marston moved Olive in and created a ménage à trois (a quatre, if you include the librarian who sometimes lived in the attic). There was, Holloway later reported serenely, “love-making for all”.
Sadie and Olive each had two children.
Olive was passed off as the governess, a widow whose children had an invented dead father. Secrets and lies were easier to pull off in those unwired times. “A lot of what he gets away with has to do with the past vanishing behind him in a way that it doesn’t quite now,” says Lepore of Marston.
His galloping eccentricities and a charge of fraud saw Marston’s academic career go into decline. Enter Wonder Woman. “It’s really interesting historically to think of how completely rooted she is in the struggle for human rights and how important and pivotal she is to that history. That’s really important,” says Lepore. “But Marston’s own particular ideas about women and men and the way he arranged his family life – that’s much more complicated.”
Indeed. It’s a story that starts out strange and quickly turns 50 shades of barking mad. Marston’s research as a psychologist favoured the kinky. Olive took him along to a student ritual called the Baby Party, a sorority initiation in which freshmen dressed as babies perform tasks while sophomores hit them with long sticks. Holy Sigmund Freud! Marston was in his element.
He and Olive interviewed the young participants in the interests of science. “Nearly all the sophomores reported excited pleasantness of captivation emotion throughout the party,” he reported happily. Marston’s lie detector, which features in Wonder Woman as her Lasso of Truth, the bizarre Baby Party scenario makes it into a 1945 Wonder Woman story called Three Pretty Girls.
He couldn’t help himself.
You couldn’t make it up. Says Lepore: “We have this thing we do at the dinner table, my kids, my husband and I. We have to tell two truths and a lie about our day. Everybody has to guess which is the lie.” The increasingly preposterous tales she was bringing home from her Wonder Woman research made it impossible to pick the lie. “Because the Marston stuff just was all completely implausible. All possible baselines for truth just seem to vanish.”Lepore is still making discoveries about the wacky Marston-Holloway-Byrne clan. “I just came across a stash of family papers from a different branch of the family. One of my favourite things was a clipping involving a letter that Marston and all three women collectively wrote in favour of pornography in 1927.”Goodness. Marston’s wife put the clipping in the family scrapbook she gave to one of her sons. “I guess this one snuck out from underneath the rug,” she captioned it. “What else did they keep under the rug if that’s what snuck out from under it?” says Lepore, a historian in a state of ongoing delighted astonishment at the infinite oddity of her subject. The letter will feature in a new afterword for the book’s paperback edition. Can’t wait.By now it’s no surprise to discover why Wonder Woman constantly finds herself bound in ropes and chains. The iconography originated in cartoons from the suffrage movement of women tearing off the bonds of social repression. But Marston seemed unwilling to let go of the “excited pleasantness of captivation emotion” when it came to Wonder Woman. “The secret of woman’s allure,” he once told a colleague, is that “women enjoy submission – being bound”. His obsession proved a bit much even for his creation. “Great girdle of Aphrodite!” Wonder Woman cries in one story. “Am I tired of being tied up!”
BOUND, GAGGED, RULING THE WORLD?
“Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world,” thundered Marston in a press release. How the new woman was to achieve world domination while so often trussed, gagged and caged he doesn’t say. Marston was the sort of feminist who had a harem of women at his beck and call.
Wife Holloway went out to work to support the family while his lover, Byrne, looked after the kids.He was ahead of his time in some ways. “Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power … The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman,” he said.
And this hectic, rather farcical man managed to inveigle himself into … everything. “It spirals out in every possible direction. You can get from William Moulton Marston to pretty much any other major development in the world of ideas in the first half of the 20th century,” says Lepore. The history of feminism, law, science, psychology … At one point he wrote screenplays.
Speaking of which, this story would make a great Masters of Sex-style miniseries. Lepore would be up for it. “The idea I had for the book, and I think this could work equally well if someone were ever to make a film or TV show, is most of us don’t really know that much about the long history of the struggle for women’s rights.” Wonder Woman was the hook.
“To get people in the door and then offer a whole lot of history about politics.”
So, not un Marston, Lepore was using Wonder Woman as a vehicle for her ideas. “Ha. I guess that’s true.” most iconic figures in the culture, Wonder Woman is something of a cypher. “She’s an awfully capacious container for people’s ideas about women and men and sex and gender. It’s just that we don’t have that many female icons, so she has a bigger burden.”In the end, it wasn’t Wonder Woman or Marston who most fascinated Lepore. “I found the story of Olive Byrne to be probably the most compelling personal story.” Newborn Byrne was hurled into a snow bank by her drunken father. Her aunt, Sanger, dug her out. “She grows up in an orphanage because her mother decides to abandon her for the sake of fighting for birth control. And then she [effectively] gives her own children up for adoption because she doesn’t want them to have a family life that’s as unconventional as the one she had. She bears a lot of the burden of those struggles.”Poor Olive. Though it seems a bit rough that she never told her children that Marston, the man they grew up with, was their birth father. “Yeah, and her son Donn never forgave her for it.”That polyamorous relationship between Byrne, Holloway and Marston was difficult to reconstruct. “Married couples don’t tend to leave much of a chronicle of their marriage unless they both write diaries or one of them is always writing home,  Robert Browning writing to Elizabeth Barrett Browning,” says Lepore. “As a historian, it’s just a chilling silence.”But she found herself warming to the household through the various parents’ letters to the children. “‘Olive fell off her bike today’; ‘The cat had kittens and our bunny ran away’ – these delightful little snapshots. It’s this madcap screwball comedy – 1930s family life. So even though Marston’s out there engaging in some fairly unsavoury practices, the family life is really very sweet and I felt that a lot.” Margaret Sanger (left) after a 1929 court victory. Photo/Getty Images
ONE STEP FORWARD..
“There are these other B-listers,” says Lepore, blithely dismissing the comic-book competition. “Otherwise, there’s really only Wonder Woman.” You suspect she developed a sneaking affection for the silly, subversive star-spangled Amazon. How does she relate to Wonder Woman these days? “I don’t! I don’t really her. Look at her costume!” she shrieks.
“I don’t relate to that.”
If Wonder Woman isn’t everyone’s idea of a feminist – “Who needs consciousness-raising and equal pay when you’re an Amazon with an invisible plane?” writes Lepore – she’s been a useful symbol over the decades.
In a piece for the New Yorker, Lepore speculates on what the feminist warrior of the 40s and Women’s Lib icon of the 70s might make of the state of affairs for women in 2015. “She’d have to take stock, and what could she say about what women have got?” writes Lepore.
“Breast pumps and fetal rights instead of paid maternity leave and equal rights? Longer hours instead of equal pay? Aphrodite, aid me! Lean in? Are you kidding? Batman vs Superman? Suffering Sappho.”
Some things never change. Lepore writes about feminists trashing each other in the 70s and 80s. When we speak, she has just watched Patricia Arquette make her Oscars speech about fighting for equal pay. “Meryl Streep gave this big cheer and wave, but then the next day the internet was flooded with other women attacking her for not saying it well enough … It’s one step forward is met with a million kicks to your shins.”
At least things are looking up in the superhero diversity stakes. Wonder Woman, played by Israeli model Gal Gadot, will feature in the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Publicity photos show her rocking something monochrome and metallic-looking and – great girdle of Aphrodite! – brandishing a sword. It’s been announced that there will, finally, be a stand-alone Wonder Woman movie in 2017.
Lepore’s book suggests that even dubious pop culture madness plays its part when it comes to changing the world. So this is progress, surely?
“I’d rather see some women elected to public office than more female superheroes, if I had to choose,” says Lepore. “But one shouldn’t have to choose.” Wonder Woman for president? As Lepore’s book shows, stranger things have happened.
THE SECRET HISTORY OF WONDER WOMAN, by Jill Lepore (Scribe, $55).
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How to Wow Your Spouse on Valentine’s Day
Valentine's Day is the year's most celebrated day for couples to express love and affection for one another. Here are some tips for how to please your significant other on this romantic holiday.
Whether you go out or stay home, a romantic dinner is a Valentine's Day classic.
Next to Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants. Make your reservations well in advance of the special occasion so that you get the best table at the best time. You don't want to end up eating by the kitchen door at 11:30 at night because that’s the only table you could get.
Remember to Be Courteous to Staff and Fellow Diners
Keep in mind that if you have any special requests for serving staff (such as serving diamond earrings on top of a pink-frosted cupcake), you must make your arrangements ahead of time. But be considerate of the restaurant staff too. You are probably not the only one making a special request, so keep your plans clean and simple with easy-to-follow instructions.
From an etiquette perspective, be mindful of the other guests in the restaurant too. Don’t go overboard and force an elaborate flash-mob performance on everyone there. The other guests are there for a romantic evening too and shouldn’t feel upstaged by you and your date.
If you want to stay in and make dinner for your Valentine, dress your dining table up with your best dishes and linens. Make an evening spent at home a special occasion: get dressed up, tidy around the house, make your home sparkle with candles and soft lighting.
When planning your dinner at home, keep the menu light and simple. There’s nothing romantic about eating a big heavy meal and then feeling stuffed and bloated for the rest of the night.
And while you may want to impress your date by cooking a fancy, elaborate meal, unless you can do so without getting stressed out and losing your cool when you burn something, plan a simple but delicious menu that won't turn you into a frazzled, foul-mouthed chef banging around in the kitchen.
If cooking Valentine's Day dinner is going to stress you out and spoil the mood, then order takeaway instead.
Instead of giving your Valentine a generic Valentine’s Day card from the drug store, write a love letter instead. Or make your own card with a hand-drawn cartoon of the two of you on a romantic date or doing whatever it is that the two of you love doing together.
If you are worried that you can’t draw your way a wet paper bag, don’t panic. If you put an honest effort into the cartoon and use your own original ideas and drawing style, you'll be creating a memento that has your heart written all over it. Your sweetie will know that they’re one of a kind!
Valentine's Day flowers don't have to be red and pink. If your lover's favorite color is blue, then how about a bouquet of bright turquoise-tinted flowers?
On Valentine’s Day, red roses abound. They are one of the most popular gifts to give on Valentine’s Day. But that makes them rather passé. If you want to tell your sweetheart that she is a one-of-a-kind gal worthy of a one-of-a-kind gift, instead of buying roses, give her a bouquet of her favorite flowers, even if they aren’t considered a Valentine’s Day classic.
Freesia, gerberas, tulips, carnations and lilies can be arranged nicely in a custom-made bouquet from your local flower shop.
And keep in mind, if you want to give her an original and truly one-of-a-kind bouquet, skip the traditional reds and pinks and choose an arrangement in her favorite color.
Maybe she would prefer a minty green and white bouquet or a cluster of bright orange and coral-colored flowers.
Even if the weather doesn't co-operate on Valentine's Day, you can still shower your sweetheart with love!
Make the most of your Valentine's Day date by focusing on all the good things happening in the moment. Stay positive and don't let the weather or traffic or less-than-professional service get you down.
When you complain about the little things that you have no control over, you take your loving attention away from the person you should be paying attention to: your date. Don't let the bad driver who cut you off ruin your night. Be grateful for the time you get to spend with the one you love.
No matter where you take your sweetheart, whether you go out on the town or stay in for dinner, turn off your phone. You have 364 other days of the year to keep your eyes and fingers stuck to your phone. On Valentine’s Day, show the one you love how much you care about her by giving her your undivided attention.
This seems such a simple thing to do, but in this day and age when everyone is jockeying for our attention, being able to tune out the social media static and stay in the present moment with your lover will be greatly appreciated!
The only reason you should have your mobile phone out on a Valentine's Day date with your spouse is to take a romantic selfie of the two of you.
Fun Ways to Become a Good Writer
Splurging on a fine fountain pen is a fun way to treat yourself after completing a writing project. | Source
Staying motivated to write is the number one thing most popular bloggers and best-selling authors will tell you is key to their success.
Unfortunately, many aspiring writers give up on their publishing dreams after their first letter of rejection. Some bloggers abandon their sites after a few months when they don’t get the traffic they were hoping for.
For others, family commitments, health issues and stress from their day jobs can pose barriers to reaching their long-term writing goals.
Then there are writers me, who, over the years, have ridden a wave of writing highs and lows; we write furiously for months on end, get burned out and then take a hiatus for a few months or, sadly, even years.
Do you want to stop wrestling with your writing demons and become a highly sought-after freelancer who turns down writing assignments, instead of just settling for any old project? Then these fun ways to become a better writer might be just what you need!
I hate writing, I love having written.
— Dorothy Parker
Set achievable writing goals. Before you set any writing goals for yourself, track your current writing habits for two weeks, hour by hour. How often do you write? What time of day do you write? How many words do you write per hour? How much time do you spend doing these writing-related tasks:
- Reading other writing blogs
- Commenting on blogs and articles and participating in writing forums
- Editing your work and/or rewriting or re-purposing old content
- Reading books on writing, editing, blogging, and social media marketing
- Reading books, magazines and blogs that represent a high-quality of writing you aspire to
Make note of other writing tasks you work on that aren't included in the list above. For the next two weeks, pay attention to what you're doing when you're working on your freelancing career. Don’t judge or assess whether what you are doing is right or wrong at this point, just take note of where you're putting your creative energy.
Be honest with yourself when you track your writing habits for two weeks. After all, you won’t be able to set realistic writing goals if you don’t have a strong sense of how you're currently spending (or wasting) your time trying to be a writer.
There are so many simple things you can do to stay intimately connected with your storytelling muse so that you can become a better writer. Here are a few more fun ways to become a better writer
Become an avid reader.The best writers, storytellers, and speakers are extremely well-read. Reading for pleasure, for work, for research purposes—it doesn’t matter what your intention is, reading feeds your creative spirit. It develops your sense of empathy. It expands your factual knowledge base.
Make every writing task an adventure. From grocery lists to thank you letters, inject everyday writing tasks with a spark of creativity. We’re bombarded with bullets points, teeny-tiny tweets and short text messages stripped of vibrant and colorful language.
It’s time to rekindle our love affair with words and start using them again. The next time you make a grocery list, add a few yummy adjectives to your items. Instead of listing “milk. bread.
cereal,” throw in a few evocative words that make your mouth water: “fresh, nourishing milk” or “soft yet deliciously crusty, oven-baked bread.”
The next time you write out your shopping list, have fun by adding colorful description to each item. | Source
Read stories aloud to your loved ones, even the adults in your life! The best storytellers have a strong sense of rhythm. They know the right time to pause when telling a story. They know when their words should flow slowly and softly from their mouths. Or when the words should spill out at a fast and frenetic pace.
Reading aloud improves your storytelling voice because it’s a constant reminder of the impact that sentence length has on how a story unfolds. Long rambling sentences will take your breath away (and not in a good way).
But a variety of short, medium and long sentences keeps you in touch with your breath and creates a better storytelling experience for both you and your audience.
Reading high quality children's books aloud to your kids is a fun way to become a good writer. | Source
You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.
— Dr. Seuss
Writing is hard work. It takes focus, discipline and creativity, not to mention a strong vocabulary, attention to detail and a good grasp of proper grammar and usage.
But sometimes when we get wrapped up in the mechanics of putting together a well-written blog post, article or report, we lose touch with our primary purpose: to tell a meaningful and compelling story that challenges people’s perception of the world.
That’s why finding and staying in touch with your storytelling muse is critical to your success as an influential writer.