Category: Writing

Birthday time in the Imaginary Writers' Room

Birthday time in the Imaginary Writers' Room
Daphne du Maurier, Agatha Christie, Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Burns  gathered behind the closed door of the Imaginary Writers’ Room, one of the larger and more comfortable corners of my mind. “Where is he?” demanded Agatha. “Where’s Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? It’s his birthday, after all!” “Well, yes, by Margaret’s time,” said Stevenson. “It’s... Read more »

Thoughts on writing for my 400th post

Thoughts on writing for my 400th post
On July 14, 2014, I sat down and started this blog with three posts, the better to keep myself from wondering what to do first and to keep from looking like I was a rookie with just one posted essay to my name. Those three posts are still the backbone of my categories Sustaining Books,... Read more »

'The Story of English' -- Next year's words

'The Story of English' -- Next year's words
Here, as the last installment of our look at “The Story of English,” is a look at the book’s Epilogue, “Next Year’s Words.” Life has butted its way into my plans for this instalment; other words and expressions appeared that were easier to write about, so I went ahead with those. But I don’t feel alone... Read more »
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'The Story of English' -- The New Englishes

'The Story of English' -- The New Englishes
“The Story of English,” the book published to accompany a 1980s Public Broadcasting System series in the U.S., spent a chapter looking at “the new Englishes.” In this chapter, it’s not a case of showing how English has developed over time. In this case, it’s geography. I’ve been studying the chapter gradually because of its... Read more »

Me, myself and I -- and how to use them

Me, myself and I -- and how to use them
When you’re talking or writing about yourself and someone else are you careful about using “me” or “I”? If my ears and eyes are any indicators, few people are. So here’s an easy reminder of how to judge which one to use. It takes just a second to check. You’re going to a concert with... Read more »

Watch out if someone says he'll 'help you out'

Watch out if someone says he'll 'help you out'
Just a quick observation as we get the week, and perhaps the new school year, started this morning: If someone says “I’ll help you out,” that could mean he’s offering you assistance. But it could mean “There’s the exit door (the door OUT). Use it.” Maybe it would help if we could see punctuation in... Read more »
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A great summer memory: The definition of heat

A great summer memory: The definition of heat
The challenge came in at 8 p.m.: Blogapalooz-Hour, the monthly Chicago Now effort to write and post something in one hour on a set subject. Tonight’s topic: What is your favorite summer memory from your school years? Many of my favorite memories would involve more than an hour of combing thorough diaries (back to sixth grade) and... Read more »

'Miss Fisher Mysteries' are bonzer fun in any form

'Miss Fisher Mysteries' are bonzer fun in any form
A good friend recently introduced me to “Miss Fisher Mysteries,” both the books and the TV series. I needed the books for a while before I could follow the TV series properly, because they’re set in Melbourne, Australia, and its environs — and I have little chance to tune my ear for accents to Australian... Read more »

A tribute to Charles Krauthammer

A tribute to Charles Krauthammer
Charles Krauthammer, whose work was syndicated by the Washington Post and carried in the Chicago Tribune, wrote a book called “Things that Matter” (New York, 2013; Crown Forum Publishers). He also wrote things that matter. On Sunday, June 10, the Tribune carried a “A note to readers,” with his column’s usual byline and portrait. I have admired... Read more »
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Serious advice to 16-year-old Margaret

Serious advice to 16-year-old Margaret
The challenge came in my e-mail at 8 p.m., just as I expected, for Chicago Now’s Blogapalooza-Hour. That’s our monthly challenge to write a post in one hour. The topic is “What are three pieces of advice you would give to your 16-year-old self?” Without further ado, here they are: Keep playing your cello, even... Read more »