The Weekly Smile for the 13th of June, 2022 #weeklysmile

Hi All! I had a pretty good weekend again, with a lot of outside time, but I want to go a completely different direction…

I’m sure many of you are aware that I devoted last week on the blog to Bleak House. Last year Yvette Prior and myself did a “Dickens Challenge” with his book Little Dorrit. We did another challenge this year using Bleak House.

Last year I was a bit behind and read the book at the last minute in a semi panic, so this year I started early. I finished the book in mid-March and wrote five essays. I wrote them straight off while the book was fresh on my mind and without going to outside reference material. I wanted those first impressions. I did use the book itself as a reference as I wrote. I also went back over the last three months and tweaked them a bit.

I wrote several reminder posts over the last few months including some interpretations of the book, so those five essays weren’t the only material created for the challenge.

And then I posted them all last week with an intro and a recap.

I spent quite a few hours last week reading and responding to comments.

And now it is all done. At least my part – there will be at least two more posts and possibly even more!

I did put quite a bit of effort into it, so it is great that it is finally done and over (for me).

That is my smile for the week, the successful wrap up of this months long journey into the heart of Bleak House.

What made you smile?

****

Come on, I’m sure you smiled at least once last week.  Why don’t you share it?  I hope you can join in!

Here is list of “rules” and guiding ideas.  If you don’t have time to read it right now, just remember that this is an exercise to spread positivity.  Don’t smile about the misfortune of others.  Don’t smile in a way to excludes others.  Make sure a 12 year old can read it.

To join in, write a post to share your smile and then leave a comment on this post with a link to your smile.  Or, if you prefer, do a pingback to this post (pingback = have a link from your post to this one) (Note – pingbacks have been very inconsistent – please leave a comment :) ).   You can post any time until next Sunday evening (to be simple, I will say midnight GMT, which is 7 PM Sunday for me).  Note – I am no longer compiling the smiles into a weekly post as I used to – Sorry, I do not have time.

37 thoughts on “The Weekly Smile for the 13th of June, 2022 #weeklysmile

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  2. Ju-Lyn

    Well done, you! Congratulations on your examination & sharing of Bleak House. It really is a discipline, work & gift you have given. It is challenging enough to read a book, but to write so many essays about it, and respond to comments as well. Wow.

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  4. Prior...

    I also loved your reply to Sandra – loved it
    If the goal was only to be brief – the flavor would suffer
    And you and I have talked about the need for his wordiness and all that
    And we both know that at times economy of words is crucial –
    Yet it always comes down to author style and preference and not everyone writes the same and not all authors will be popular or easy to read
    – and the problem with brevity is that sometimes it is so efficient – some people miss things more – or it just lacks flavor (as you noted)

    And because you mentioned flavor – the show we used to watch in late 2000s was called chopped – it is still on but we don’t watch it
    Anyhow – we were always amazed when some judges identified ingredients in the dishes that were made
    – some judges more than other s
    And even when cooking at home – some folks know that a dash of this and that can be key to this well rounded flavor –
    And can you make the dish without – sure – but it might fall a little flat

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks, Yvette. I do try to follow all of the modern rules when I write, but sometimes when I read… Reading fiction is about building those images in the mind, and different styles and choices can make a huge difference in the final image.
      I’m sure Sandra’s creative writing exercise of paring down some Dickens prose will show that having less words doesn’t really diminish the story or the ideas and even some of Dickens’ flavor might get through, but what it might do is change the pace. Pace can be important. And since we are talking about a time when there was no (in reverse order) Internet, TV radio, recorded music, etc., it wasn’t unusual to spend hours a day every day reading, and that was the pace. When we read these works we can slow down to that pace again and feel that 19th century atmosphere.

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      1. Prior...

        Yes! And i would imagine that some folks read those monthly installments a few times that month
        I could imagine folks chatting about it as the months went on and the story built (and all the chatter about the spontaneous combustion shows some of this)
        -/
        And for students – i think the type of writing matters greatly – I have helped edit and grade thousands of APA formatted papers and there are guidelines for that for reasons
        And in creative writing – perhaps all students need lessons on paring down and being more thoughtful of every single word!
        And Trent – I had to stop following a few authors online because they were so wordy in their posts- sigh – and maybe I also wasn’t connecting with them because many “wordy bloggers” don’t mind if folks skim and go!
        – but all students can benefit from learning how to use words carefully and not be wordy or verbose

        But long novels do not always mean verbosity or loquacious !
        Like the “Huey Long” book that was really long – but it was what the author wanted–
        And my three years doing flash fiction was the best writing experience because it helped me consider every article – every conjunction – every line!
        And so saying more with less is not easy and has value –
        It does –
        But moving beyond that student mode of learning it –
        If all authors aimed to say less with more – would that mean everyone would benefit?
        Heck no!
        It Is like saying that all dining rooms need a minimal approach or sleek modern feel!
        But some folks want knick knacks and “stuff”
        And so while my son had a room with a Japanese mattress on the floor and one little chest – it felt like a Seth Godin book with only a few words in each page
        But then my Aunt had a huge headboard and ornate dresses with trinkets and embellishments that were maybe like dickens pages – with details snd extras !

        And I remember one of the fry things I read from you Trent – it was a story about an unemployed guy and you took us on a nature hike with him! It felt s little Ming at the time (but that was because I was more in photo blog mode and was used to skimming photos and quotes – lol
        – and sometimes I am still in that mode and have to come back and read – anyhow – you really brought me there in that hike with enough details – and funny how it is not long to me now – but I could feel the quietness of the outside trail he was on-
        And that is leading to my final point!
        Authors need to lean and explore and then find their style and write away!
        They should know their audience and writing goals! And then write and write (and read and read and edit and edit and read and read – and sleep and get outside – and many blog and connect – oh and eat – and maybe host a reading challenge and other things – lol – but make sure to not get bogged down in only trying to “say more with less ”
        Because some
        Readers just need or want the extras – even in today’s option saturated economy
        ☀️😊☀️💛

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        1. trentpmcd Post author

          I often get wordy for a blogger, but I’ve seen some… It can be difficult, and we do end up skimming.
          To Dickens, I am sure there were people who discussed the latest installment the same way people talk about TV shows. And some may have read an installment more than once before the next came in. It was part of the pop culture of its day.
          I do agree that there is a difference between long and wordy. The book on 11 – 13th century England I was talking about was twice the length of Bleak House, the information content was very dense and words very concise.
          I do like the 100 word challenges – it has helped. Every word is important. And I can see cutting down Dickens as an exercise. A variation of that exercise is to cut down the extra words and attempt different styles or flavors.
          Wow, so interesting that you remember that story! Truthfully, I am not sure what story you are talking about. There is one that ends with the guy stuck on a catwalk under a bridge having a nervous break down as he imagines eagles preparing to attack. One that is more vague in my mind ends on a very positive note, where the path he is on is a metaphor for his life’s path and the walk clears his mind so he sees a way ahead.
          Anyway, so much with writing, different styles and how we all use words!

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  5. Prior...

    Trent – I enjoyed this post and feel a similar gratifying smile with my participation in the challenge –
    Someone said my long “takeaways ” post was daunting – ha – and she was correct because it could be for many!
    But I just realized now that maybe my A to Z single post for the credence of our dear Dickens I’m not afraid to write a lot!

    I have pondered – quickly – if I should have broken that post down but I am 100% sure I wanted that post together as a single resource – hmmmm

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Didn’t it feel great to finally get it out? It was a huge post and I could see it being daunting. Would it work better as more than one post? I am not sure. It’s possible more people would have stuck with it to the end, but it would have broken the continuity. Hmmm. And then look at my posts – that last one was 2500 words! The others were all well over 1000. I guess Dickens makes us all wordy ;)

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      1. Prior...

        Thanks for that affirming comment

        And I didn’t even do a word count on that post! Glad for that or I might have lost my essence
        ☀️
        Instead – I paused my takeaways (had notes in journals ) and went from 20 to 25…
        Then I paused to enjoy your essays and other comments there
        So then when I went back to my post – I saw how close it was to 26 and thought that would
        Be good
        – and as noted – I don’t care if most feel
        It was daunting – and I am a person who can second guess a long post
        But with this one ? It was personal and it was maybe only for a few readers – and to come back for – i now see I was making what is called a resource post!
        So no apologies to anyone who lands at that post and says “too much”
        I get it – and that post was not for them!
        –/
        Oh and regarding your essays / were they really that long? They didn’t feel it at all!

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        1. trentpmcd Post author

          One thing about your A – Z: people know up front that it will be long! Sure, you could do just a short paragraph for each of the 26 points, but explaining the points and adding quotes from the book are much better.
          I’m glad you didn’t realize how long the essays were! lol. Truthfully, I occasionally worry about the length of my posts, but I try to write them in such a way that people don’t notice that they are long, so one point flows onto the next, like a river.

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          1. Prior...

            I like that flowing like a river analogy –
            And to attention to this and care for the reader is great!

            I had a season where I was cramming to much into posts – I am still not sure why I was doing that ((and side note – I see two bloggers who are making similar crammed posts and I smile because it reminds me of when I did that- )
            So in my archives I have those posts – and my style was to do part a – part b – and part c!
            Yikes
            Sounds good but it was off
            – mainly because one of the parts was a flash fiction challenge – and that is better alone –
            Either way – one day I just realized I didn’t want that any more (but if I did want it then that is what matters when blogging)
            And now I have feel I have an approach that I like better than those longer posts with three parts – and it is easier and received well by readers – so even tho I have no apologies for the long A to Z – I do care about readers and using your analogy earlier – I want posts to flow like a nice river (or creek) ha!
            -/
            I guess the best approach is to do what we want and not people please (or we lose out) but we can also consider informal blogging norms for the groups we connect with!
            -//
            One blog goal I have is to maybe start doing the coffee share on Saturday and get back to one weekly flash fiction –

            You seem to have a great weekly blog schedule – so you have any goals for the next phase in tie blogging?

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            1. trentpmcd Post author

              The writing like a river idea was even more sharply defined when “writing” meant “composing classical music”, but I wanted that to be more like a plant. I might harmonically and melodically go from Canada to Brazil, which might be surprising, but it needs to be a natural progression and happen organically. Even if the next move is to go from Brazil to Neptune, it needs to be organic.
              I occasionally do multipart posts. And I have done multi-day posts where each part was a different format (flash fiction, essay, poem, etc.). I think it is fine to explore, but in the end, most blog readers aren’t goign to follow something like that. But then…
              My schedule has been interrupted for a few weeks,… If I get back into it, I have the Smile on Monday (I have kept up), Tuesday is poetry (been a few months), Wednesday is Friday Fictioneers (been almost a month!), Thursday is writephoto (spotty now that Sue Vincent is gone) and then the coffee share on Saturday (I’ve been staying up with this). Nothing is in stone.
              I think I told you that I have been at a creative standstill since mid-winter. I hope to get back and want to concentrate on Music. If so, I will continue with my posting (as above) but use my blog to promote and talk about my music. Other than that, I really do need to think of the direction my blog is heading… but a task for later ;)

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              1. Prior...

                hahaha
                Like that “Brazil to Neptune”
                And understand the organic progression and hope this summer allows you to get some music flowing 🎶

                Also – thanks for sharing your weekly blog schedule (loose schedule as you allow wiggle room)
                And hearing the sue Vincent name made me pause and remember the wonderful lady sue – I didn’t know her very well – but the big C can sneak up on anyone (RIP💛SV).

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  6. Sandra Pavloff Conner

    If I’m being totally honest, I have to say that one big smile for me came when I was reading this post and thought about how glad I am that you are the one doing this challenge and not me. :) :) :) I used to love Charles Dickens. And I still hold him in great esteem for all that he did to challenge and change the social conditions of his time by his books. He continues to be a true inspiration for me. But I seem to be past the time when I can sit down and enjoy reading his books. In fact, I use some of his work in my creative writing classes to help students understand how important it is to avoid wordiness and heaviness in their text. We use a portion of one of his books to rewrite it and cut out about a third of the words and still say the same thing. It’s an excellent exercise, and — again — I owe Charlie a lot for such great examples. But even though I can’t sit and read his work these days, I will never fail to esteem him for his God-given talent and his faithfulness and persistence in getting his work out there when it was really hard to do.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      lol, fair enough. I did mention the wordiness in my essays. It can get tiring and I would never be able to read just Dickens, but then, in ways it is just a different “flavor”. It is a big, multi-course meal where you have to try everything, even if you don’t really like it. It’s sometimes nice to slow down, reenter the mid-19th century and savor the relaxed pace of all of those words, to listen to the sound of them all. I’m not reading in a race, so it doesn’t matter how soon I get done, and if the ideas could have been given in a third the time? Would they have had the same flavor? I do like some of the super terse, staccato, machine-gun style of mid-20th century on occasion, but it drives me crazy after a while – I sometimes want to relax in the words…
      I know, not for everyone, and definitely not today’s pace!

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      It was a fun challenge. It was great to finish everything. It wasn’t just reading, it was writing the essays, organizing, etc. So there was a lot involved, btu still fun :)

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  8. dawnkinster

    It sounds like it was a lot of work, but fun and satisfying work all at the same time. I’ve smiled a bit this week…the time is flying by. We’re going to get to 100 tomorrow! What the heck! It was 55 yesterday early. Not sure if 100 will make me smile, pretty sure not so much.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      100 would not make me smile! I think today in the low 80s is hot enough… Yes, though a lot of work the challenge was a lot of fun and pretty satisfying.
      I hope you find plenty to smile about this week :)

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Little Dorrit was fun, but I ended up putting much, much more effort into this, so there was a lot of satisfaction to finish it up.
      I’ll be by to see your smile in a few minutes :)

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Not just a reading binge, but writing about 15,000 words on a single book – I’m sure that reminds some too much of graduate school ;) I’ll be by in a few minutes :)

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