The McManual

Blogging my little heart out in poetry and prose.

Category: Reading


I have been inspired to find that the hashtags on twitter are useful!  Previously, I just thought they were annoying – I never understood what the heck lines like “@soandso #whatever #this #that #theotherthing lol bx63al.he”  were supposed to mean.  It took me a little while to realize that I could click on the “shortlink” and see – or that you could click on a hashtag and see posts about the same topic.

So that exposes my newbieness to twitter – I’ve been active for all of a month, so maybe this a bit green of me, but my two greatest discoveries have been #amwriting and online literary magazines.

When you click on or search for #amwriting, you get a timeline of tweets that are mostly writers talking about what they are writing, or posts of writing tips.  I have found several articles that I think are helpful through this hashline (? term), and I have started to connect to other writers, too.

It turns out that there is also a #amwriting website, but I don’t have much to report – I have signed up for it but haven’t checked it out at all.  I’m saving it for when I have a little time to actually read some of the posts.

As far as literary magazines, I have barely started looking at those, either, but I think it’s going to be fun.  It’s really easy to submit to some of them.  I’ve done one so far, a short story that I wrote a while ago – in fact there’s a link at the top of this page – it’s Tabulate This.

If you want to take advantage of my list of literary magazines list, feel free to check it out!  I’m on twitter as TheMcManual.

🙂 Sheila


Existentialism and Motivation

So I’m reading “The Woman in the Dunes” by Kobo Abe this week. I picked it up at the library because I wasn’t sure if a movie I had seen long ago that I remember as “Woman of the Dunes” might have been based on it. Anyway, reading this book has been very motivating for some reason.

It’s been my general understanding that existential philosophy is supposed to make people think that there is no point – that pushing on every day is tantamount to a punishment, as in the myth of Sisyphus.  I see it as otherwise.  If you know that you are going to have to do a certain amount of work in order to continue to survive, what is the sense of putting it off?

This leads me to feel more motivated for some things in my life that I have a hard time with on occasion.  I am especially referring to exercise.  When I am on the treadmill, I have a tendency to start off feeling very negative about it.  Once I have been going for a few minutes, I feel good, and I generally feel terrific right in the middle, even though that is the hardest part.

In thinking about this, I realize that when I do not look at my life as a whole, and consider all of the things that I want out of my life, I can get very negative or lazy (or both!) ‘in the moment’.  It’s when I realize that to live the life I want to live – simple really, I want to be healthy and energetic, then I am more able to simply do the daily things that need to get done.

It’s the opposite of how I would ‘think’ one would react to existentialist literature.  I guess the experience of life balances out our mental faculties with our physical realities, and maybe that’s why there’s a difference.

Anyway, keep pushing your own stone up your own hill – life is short, be in it!  Sheila

7/30 – NaBloPoMo09 – The Natural

Well, I missed another day. This time I had a blog written, but it was off-line. When I went back online, something bad happened and the computer ate my words. At least I didn’t have to eat them.

Actually, I wasn’t too excited about what I had written anyway. It was about reading Bernard Malamud’s The Natural, which I finished last night after blogging (or trying to blog, anyway.)

I do love reading The Natural, which is a little unnatural for me because I am the antithesis of a sports fan. I don’t exactly hate sports, but I do find myself unable to resist rudely changing the subject when someone talks about sports for too long, which in my estimation is about 30 seconds.

I don’t know why I love that book so much – there is a lot of description of different aspects of games and playoffs, etc, but I don’t think the book is truly about baseball. I think it’s about love and ideals and the loss of youth.

The hero is the a lunk of a bumbling idiot, yet he fairly graces the pages of the novel, and this is because he is a hero. He is a natural at the game of baseball. Even with all of his setbacks, his Greek mythic characteristics carry him through against the odds. Then, well, then we learn that he is truly only human, and I find it one of the saddest endings of a novel.

You might be tempted to see the movie, and if you do, that’s fine, but don’t kid yourself. It’s not the same as the book. Not nearly. Talk about your Hollywood endings. It’s a good story, but it’s not the story that Malamud wrote.

I also had written some things down about the women in the book, how they are like strikes in the game of life – you only get three. And I will have to ask around to see if the image of a bird is somehow significant to the game – birds come up again and again. That’s still a mystery to me.

Ok, I’m running away now. Keep writing!!

Thoughts on The Brothers Karamazov

Good morning.

I’m reading The Brothers Karamazov because one of my students is reading it.  I have made a couple of half-hearted stabs at it before, probably to the tune of one or two pages.  It didn’t seem like the kind of book that I could get in to.  Nor did it seem that anyone I know has read it; I’ve read the chapter that refers to Plato’s (?) Allegory of the Cave in a few different English classes, but I’ve never been assigned further reading than that.  I am finding it inspiring.  No, not just inspiring, awe-inspiring.

I think it’s at just the right time in my life, too.  As you know if you’ve been reading my blog, I’ve been an atheist since I was about 17.  I’m 36 now, and the eldest of 3 siblings.  Obviously we are not 3 brothers.  But close enough.  The novel deals with the fact that the siblings have very different beliefs, as far apart as being atheist to being a monk!  And it’s a very humorous book, at least so far. I’m really not that far, probably page 60 out of 800, but I have been chuckling a lot as I’ve read.

It’s the right time of my life because I feel that a few years ago I wouldn’t have been able to take characters like the Elder of the Church seriously.  Maybe I would have been able to, I don’t know since I never gave it a chance before.

I really shouldn’t be so surprised that I love TBK , since Crime and Punishment was my favorite book for a long time.  Now I think my favorite book is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles.  At least until I finish reading TBK…maybe.

Gee.  Now I feel like I should take that whole paragraph back.  How can people even have favorite books?  I only thought of the Wind-Up Bird because it’s sitting right there in plain sight and I really did love it as I read, but I love a lot of other books, too.  They’re just out of sight, out of mind.  Oh, and not to mention Jay’s books, which are destined to be my favorites once they are done.

So maybe I should just say that I don’t have any favorite books.  I am very impressionable, and I am enjoying reading the brothers karamazov, and when I am done with that I will undoubtedly move on to another book that I love equally as well.  It doesn’t hurt anyone to be promiscuous in my literary tastes, does it?  It’s just sort of embarassing when I’ve read a book and then forget, and the next time I pick that book up it totally notices when I suddenly recognize that I’ve read it before…but that’s my problem.  🙂

Well, I think that’s all I have this morning.  I apologize if you were acrually looking for any insight into the brothers beyond the fact that I find it inspiring.  Maybe if you leave a comment with your thoughts, I’ll write more about it.  Until then, I probably won’t.  Have a warm and comfortable day.  Sheila

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