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Writerly Excuses

“My sore throats are always worse than anyone’s.”

Jane Austin, timeless observer of human foibles, hit the nail on the head (or should it be the tissue in the hand) when she pointed out that her sore throats were worse than anyone else’s. I think we all feel that way. Today’s featured image is a watercolor of Jane done by her sister, Cassandra Austen. Perhaps Jane has a sore throat as she contemplates the view, hopefully not.

Plague Doctor.
US Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

When a partner or friend [that would be you] clutches his or her throat, slathers it in some menthol concoction and falls on the sofa as if playing dead, the still healthy person [moi] thinks it’s more a case of overacting. But when I’m the one spewing, well, that’s a completely different matter. And I’ve been suffering [cue sympathetic music] for days – I who am never [hardly ever] ill.

“And so,” I said holding out my crumpled note to the Muse of Writing, “I couldn’t write my blog yesterday because of this deathly illness.”

“Is that all you’ve got to say for yourself?”

“Pretty much.”

Second Writerly Excuse: “I have to cut flowers for my desk, because…”

“Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day.”

– Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Bowl of Gerbera flowers
Photo by Salimfadhley.
Creative Commons Attribution
Wikimedia Commons

These are definitely words to live by. The Handsome Bloke grows beautiful roses by the side of the driveway, I seldom a.) Stop to enjoy their aroma or b.) Cut fresh roses to put by my desk. When I do these two simple activities, I feel grounded. But usually I’m too busy backing up the car.

While planning a day of errands, I don’t think about the Victorians who assigned attributes to flowers. In the rose family, pink meant friendship; red symbolized passionate love; red & white together inspired unity; and white proved innocent purity.

Red Roses
Grown by Handsome Bloke
Photo by Author

This past Valentine’s Day the most popular rose color was red, coming in at approximately 75 per cent. Does that mean that when giving flowers to the object of one’s affection, a young man or woman thinks only of passionate love?

Yet, the white rose is the most traditional flower for weddings – at least since 1840 when Queen Victoria, the symbol of public purity, married her Prince Albert. Does that mean that marriage kills passion? I suppose some people might say “yes.”

There’s also an entertaining myth about white roses. The first rose was white, but …. It was tainted by blood when Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, pricked herself on the thorns.

Needless to say, these aren’t the thoughts I have while backing down my steep driveway. I’m thinking, “I hope I don’t hit the rose wall in this rain.” Or, sometimes, “I need to cut some roses when I get home, because, as Rutgers University researchers have recently discovered, flowers make us happier people. If you can avoid the thorns.”

Uh-Oh. My Muse is standing next to the computer looking cross.

Third “Writerly Excuse.”

“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.” – Steven Wright, Comedian

Some days I sit at my computer, and that’s exactly how I feel. I put page numbers at the bottom center. I set the format to double space. I select a soothing background color – I’m into lavender at the moment. I look at the roses. I flex my fingers. At the top of the first page I put CHAPTER ???

The best days are when I don’t have a cold (sniff), have gathered a bouquet of flowers for inspiration, and filled out the page above the number. Then I can lean back in my chair, stretch, and say to myself: “Life is Good”


Watercolor of Jane Austen by her sister, Cassandra Austin done in 1804. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

Some information on flowers taken from:

Author Sandra Wagner Wright

Sandra Wagner-Wright holds the doctoral degree in history and taught women’s and global history at the University of Hawai`i. Sandra travels for her research, most recently to Salem, Massachusetts, the setting of her new Salem Stories series. She also enjoys traveling for new experiences. Recent trips include Antarctica and a river cruise on the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel.

 Sandra particularly likes writing about strong women who make a difference. She lives in Hilo, Hawai`i with her family and writes a blog relating to history, travel, and the idiosyncrasies of life.

4 thoughts on “WRITERLY EXCUSES

  1. I ditto Jennifer’s comment! Being sick is no fun. Hope your feeling better.
    (You should try some “snow” with toppings from the Snow Factory on Kilauea St. – very soothing & delicious! – pardon the plug)

  2. I know the “snow” would do me good. I am a bit better today, and hope to be on form by the next blog. Thanks for commenting.


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