Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006


The Marcus Aurelius Meme

One of the tacit themes of Balthasar’s Gift is that everyone we meet, whether we like them or not, has something to teach us. It’s an adage I strongly believe in and try to remember, though not always with success. In novels, we like to see protagonists learning and achieving something with that knowledge – it’s called character arc, and if it doesn’t happen, we feel that characters are flat, wooden or too self-satisfied.

Litlove’s Marcus Aurelius Meme made me think of this, and so I am shamelessly plundering her ideas bank on this Tuesday morning to give you Gifts I Have Received from Other People:

From my mother, the Gift of Relentless Optimism: Her glass is not just half-full, it is overflowing. She believes in a benevolent and provident universe, and although she doesn’t have much in the way of material things, she leads a life that is surprisingly full of good luck and serendipity and Things Landing in her Lap. It’s been the experience of a lifetime being the child of a person who lives like this – guileless and believing in the good.

From my father, the Gift of Willingness to see the Funny Side. He is one of the funniest people I know and in another world, would have been a stand-up comedian instead of a lawyer. I love his take on the world and, when I remember to see the humour in a situation instead of freaking out and railing at unfairness (which he is also known to do – call it the Gift I’d Prefer Not to Mention), problems do diminish.

From my children, the Gift of Living in the Moment. There’s nothing like a baby to make the best-laid plans transmute into a spaghetti of terrible chaos. Though I have, and often still do, fight to plan ahead and organize, the moments when I allow myself to to sniff a child’s head, feel their warm limbs wrap around mine and melt into the joy of right now, this very second, are the best in the world.

From my husband, the Gift of the Oblique View. He has never been one to follow the pack, even when I first met him as a 17-year-old teenager. He holds the surprise factor of having viewpoints, ideas and ways to explain the world that knock me off my perch. My office (what my bedroom is known as during daylight hours) is next to his and I get a kick listening to him explain software to his clients on the phone. When a sentence starts ‘It’s like broccoli …’  I lose track of my protagonist’s problems and tune into the vagaries of global human resources management, because I have to know why software is like broccoli.

From my friends, I receive the Gift of Being Vastly Entertained. I love people to be amusing, witty, intelligent, provocative, a bit off-the-wall without injuring others and I have a treasure trove of people who do all of the above.

What gifts have you received from others?


Fresh Life for an Old Blog

Charlotte’s Web recently turned four, which in blogging years is about eighty. This blog sits in a corner all by itself, rocking and remembering the good old days when blogging was new and it was a whippersnapper. Instead of consigning it to the scrapheap of ex-blogs that lanquish in the dusty corners of cyberspace, I decided a revamp was in order. We’ve plucked the old lady’s whiskers, lashed on some red lippy and got her ready to face the world again.

Here are the things that are changing around here:

1. The Look: Renaissance woman Lilalia, whose blog Yum Yum Cafe many of you know, designed me a lovely new header. She gulped when I told her my favourite colour is white and she took it bravely when I described in detail a dream I’d had about a seagull and a hill and a road going nowhere and how my new blog header should look that way. Using the art of gentle persuasion, Lilalia helped me choose the image you see above.

2. The Tecchie Bits: These were done by Canadian graphic designer Kim Hadley, whose beautiful work you can see here. Kim has also designed my new business writing website, and you don’t have to look carefully to see how she whipped up a theme for me. It would be ambitious for a micro-business such as mine to claim branding, but the two sites have a similar look and feel, and I’m thrilled with them.

3. The Side Bits: As promised, I did some spring-cleaning and sorted out the blogroll. I have a main blogroll, a list of publishers’ and agents’ blogs under the heading Required Reading, and a roll of writers. Please check which category you are in and let me know if you not happy with it. Also, if you are a regular reader, new or not, and I haven’t linked to you, let me know. This is your moment! I could let the blogroll go mouldy for two years again.

4. The Content: Lilalia and I had a meeting, face to face, with lots of coffee (me) and tea (her) and worked out some new topics for Charlotte’s Web. These are the some of the post ideas we came up with:

  • Interviews with writers published and unpublished
  • Book reviews
  • Posts on the process of writing a novel
  • Posts on the process of trying to get that novel published
  • Thought-pieces on feminism and other issues I like to contemplate/get hot under the collar about
  • Anything else I want to write about because I’m the boss here

But mostly this blog revamp is about having fun and bringing the playfulness back into blogging. And that’s where you come in: go over to the Big Bad Bloggers’ Competition and enter yourself for some mystery prizes.

This old lady’s kicking up her heels and going dancin’. Want to join her?