Friday, October 22, 2010

Challenged to write

I think most people who keep blogs really enjoy writing. And those of us who keep book blogs definitely appreciate good writing and the ability, talent and perserverance it takes to finish and publish a novel. Writing can be so cathartic and rewarding, and it is a way of communicating with others but also with yourself, since having to put your thoughts down in writing forces you to clarify what you are thinking.

I recently discovered a great website that is wonderful if you are interested in expanding the writing you do on a daily basis: it's called 750 Words and the idea is to write 750 words every day. The idea is based on the writer's practice of "morning pages" - that is, the first thing you do in the morning is write three pages on anything that comes into your mind. It's a great way to get your writer's flow going, use it for "brain dump" or just rant about whatever you want in the privacy of your own mind! The website makes it fun because you get badges for writing so many days in a row and there are other neat features that keep you motivated. Intrigued? Check it out - I love it!

Another great writing challenge is National Novel Writing Month which is coming up in another week or so. The idea is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month, November. This is a big challenge and I have always been a bit scared to sign up for it. But this year I decided, what the heck? It's worth a try, right? I already have my story idea stewing in my head, but I'm not going to say anything more about it til I'm done - I don't want to lose steam talking about it when I am going to need to be writing about it. To complete 50,000 words in one month you need to write about 1700 a day... please wish me luck and perserverance! Oh, and...anyone wanna join me?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pompeii by Robert Harris (2003)

Good friends of ours lent my husband this book and he really enjoyed it, so I thought I would read it to see if it was appropriate for my kids who are doing Latin and Greek in high school, and it turned out to be a great read! (And yes, I think it is appropriate for my 15-year-old.)

The story follows a young "aquarius", the man responsible for maintaining the flow of water in the aqueducts that bring the precious liquid down from the springs to the coastal towns on the Bay of Naples. He has recently started his new job after the mysterious disappearance of the previous aquarius. Unfortunately, problems soon arise as one of the branches of the aqeduct suddenly runs dry and is contaminated by sulphur. He and his staff must figure out the problem as soon as they can, before there are problems in the coastal towns for the local leaders.

His mission takes him to Pompeii and the way he wants to solve the problem doesn't endear him to the town's leader, an ambitious and ruthless man. As the aquarius discovers just what is causing the problems with the water supply and the imminent threat of the eruption of Vesuvius, he realizes they are all in mortal danger.

The final part of the book details the eruption of Vesuvius and how that affected the people in various parts of the coast. It is fascinating and fast paced. It is also an interesting book as regards what it might have been like to live in roman times. I think my son will enjoy the Latin words that come up here and there as well!