Object Lessons: Rantings of a Lone Pamphleteer
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Modern TV Journalists, in Summation

"It's a horrific story, and we'll continue to cover it throughout the
Katie Couric, Today, on the bus explosion near Dallas, Texas

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How do you go about writing a book, anyway? Somehow, I've switched from writing Poetry to Fiction, and now I've made the jump to Creative Non-Fiction. Without yet producing one complete book.

No, wait, I do have a poetry manuscript.

Since I plan to present Families creatively, improvising the elements of fiction (dialogue, characterization, setting), I've decided to start as I would a novel. The Research!

In a novel, of course, my research was internal: Creating characters, scenes, and plot is as private and focused as playing with Barbies. Setting, now there's an opportunity for library research.

Here, however, I'm locked into the setting and timeframe, so research becomes huge.

The Lit Review So Far:

Went on a shopping spree at one used book store and two libraries.

History of the Middle East: Just had to start somewhere, though other books on the specific history of Lebanon is preferable.

Insight Guide to Syria and Lebanon: Good for an overview, geography, culture, food, and "look and feel" of a country. Plus I'm addicted to travel guides.

Nadia: Captive of Hope. Memoir of an Arab woman raised in the same time period as my grandmother.

A Student's Guide to History: this introductory book for History Majors is full of good reminders on how to conduct research, and includes some practical advice. Few surprises here, but it's helping me to focus and remember how to do this right.

Several Kids Books on Lebanon: Ok, weird I know. But 3 of the 4 books available at my local library branch were kid's books. I figure they're chock full of good photos, and provide a concise overview. If I weren't also downloading scholarly articles, then I'd worry. I'd rather worry about the poor quality of books in the library, and their laissez-faire attitude about theft.

In researching the research, I came across one really good site for online access to journal articles.

Of course, the problem is, now I've got a lot of reading to do.

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Winging It

First of all, Go 'Skins! Jon and I went to the season opener today. Not only did they slay the Bears, Jake Jacoby was there! Jon and I had a picture taken with him, and he signed my ticket.

Fed Ex Field's carnival atmosphere was enhanced as much by a gorgeous day as by the many activities and promotions sponsors held onsite. Independence Air was holding the same promotion as last year, where if you can throw a football through a hoop, you win either a tee or a hat, depending on which hole you it. Last year, I won a blue hat on the third throw. This year, it only took me two.

[Salme hoists her new hat to bow to her five faithful readers.]

But no tee. There's always next time.

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The Fact of a Door Knob

Getting resettled at home is not as easy or inviting as it sounds when your home is under construction. Despite my secret, fervent hope that some friend (or husband) had entered our home on one of those remodeling shows that remakes your room while you're gone, I did not return from La Jolla to find a completely finished set of rooms. No, after 2 months away, our home is just as we left it.

It's a mess.

Bread Loaf got in the way of any serious remodeling during August, though my Lead-Paint contractor did come in and finish most of the doors and windows. Gohr's upstairs, right now, completing the final bank of lead-painted windows. We did delay him slightly yesterday by requesting he reinstall the door knobs on our master bedroom and main-floor bathroom. The knob's make all the difference. Today, he may even have left-over time to finish skimming the mudwork in my kitchen and dining room.

Ah, mudwork.

My other contractor (LS) has dissapointed me once too often, never showing to finish the seemingly easy job of reparing cracks in the front rooms. Most recently, he did not even reply to my email request that he retrieve his vacuum and pole sander. But Gohr, one of two contractors I can depend on to show (the other being Dave Shapiro, electrician), has agreed to finish touching up those rooms so I can get painting. If I could just get one room finished, the morale boost would carry us through a month. That, or we'd end up living in that one room.

Of course, there are always contractors who show two or three days late. My plumber is one. I was very surprised to see him the other day, because he said he'd be here. Of course, I forgive Dave (the plumber) anything, because he doesn't charge me an arm or a leg, and he does fabulous work when he gets here.

But I'm beyond forgiving myself for starting this whole mess. It's going to be gorgeous when we get done, but at this rate, we won't be done for years.

Years. Maybe longer.

Oh, well, I have dreams of being published to keep me happy. In November, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review will publish my poem, "Reversal." The bigger news is that, while at Bread Loaf, an editor became interested in my book, Families, which is the story of my great-grandparent's. I even have an agent, I think. It's all very confusing. But encouraging.

Essentially, they want to see "some samples" and a treatment of the unfinished book. I should have pitched Manana Girl, which is already plotted and ready to write, but since this particular editor had seen (and rejected) a piece of that last year, I intuitively pitched Families. Of course, all I've got on Families is a story idea. Nothing on paper.

So, I'm planning a trip to visit my last-surviving great-aunt to record the whole story. Off I go.

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