Tuesday, April 01, 2003
Holly points out that in the entry about her blindly posting one envelope (which she did, today) I've probably confused everyone by saying application when I meant something else, I've already forgotten exactly what, probably acceptance letter. So, the letter she sent off was the one saying yes, she'll be going there thank you kindly and here's a cheque to be going along with.

Another not-a-FAQ, but the Japan Times had something nice to say about Coraline.


Hi, Neil...

Thank you for the link to the etymology dictionary...I made the following serendipitous discovery about my favorite word:

serendipity - 1754, from the fairy tale "The Three Princes of Serendip," by Horace Walpole (1717-92), whose heroes "were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of." From Serendip, an old name for Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka), from Ar. Sarandib. Serendipity formed c.1950.

The origins of the word immediately brought to mind what it is I have come to love about your work. I wish you and all of your stories to come the blessings of Serendip.


Which put a huge grin on my face.

Greetings, my name is Matthew and I am currently in my second year of York University in Thornhill, Ontario. I am almost taking a Creative Writing course in which I have discovered a major weakness of mine in terms of writing.

It is called description of setting. To put it simply, I have difficulty describing geography -- be it a city, or a place of any kind that exists in the real world. I'm told though that research helps one around this problem.

Now here is my question (I'll put some asterixes around them to emphasize its importance):

*(1) When researching a place of any kind in real life, where would one, as a beginning writer, even begin?

I would appreciate an answer to this very much -- it is somewhat of a perplexion to me because lack of setting description really adds less depth to my stories. Thank you.

The easiest thing is to go there, and take a notebook, and jot down things that strike you. Tape recorders, if you can conquer the embarassment of talking to yourself in a public place, can be terrific for that. And note the things that make you feel something. Sometimes one detail will stick with you. Write it down, or remember it.

Then, if you want colour and background, use it, and don't dwell on it. A sodden teddy bear, face down in the grass, in the little section of a cemetery called BABYLAND may be all you ever need to mention...

You can take for granted that people know more or less what a street, a shop, a beach, a sky, an oak tree look like. Tell them what makes this one different.

Find authors you like and see how they do it. They'll all do it differently, but you can still learn.

Not a question, just a link I thought you (and others) might enjoy: "Around the World in the 1890s: Photographs from
the World's Transportation Commission, 1894-1896"

What great photos.

And keep the university things coming in. (And remember, if you're reading this on a livejournal feed, if you post replies in the comments, I don't see them. So please use the FAQ form at