In 2011, I wrote about an incident in which the Justice Department raided
Gibson Guitar Company on the suspicion that they had used endangered woods to
make modern guitars. Insightful comments from Wyman Stewart stated that many
musicians use heirloom instruments that have unknown provenance. Apparently,
even instruments with clear documentation can be subject to intense scrutiny
when crossing borders. Two members of Pro Arte Quartet, a world-renown string
quartet, were recently detained at Belgium Immigration because their antique
instruments were made from now-endangered woods and the bows contain small
pieces of ivory (link).
killing endangered animals or harvesting endangered trees to sell their
products for profit is despicable, antique instruments were made before these
trees or animals were endangered and before alternate substances were
available. Although the instruments and bows in question have their own
passports, the musicians were still detained until Belgian friends were able to
contact the cabinet minister who oversees the Convention on International Trade
in Endangers Species of Wild Flora and Fauna.
story had a particular poignancy for me. On our way back from Boston, we were
chosen by the US Immigration Service for a “random” check – probably because we
had four guitars in our station wagon. For us, it only meant a slight delay in
our drive, but we decided to take the southern route around the Great Lakes in
have not abandoned Words and Pixels, but life has been busy. My older son
graduated from the University of Michigan in Pure Math. My younger son
completed his first year at the Berklee College of Music in Boston – and needed
us to drive him back to Michigan. I’m doing the penultimate revision (before
submission) of THE WIND DJIN, tutoring for the ACT, and noticing my garden is
full of weeds.
to NPR, honing my digital photography skills and learning to use Photoshop will keep my memory sharp. I have started to learn Photoshop. My proudest moment was
removing an advertisement for a biker bar from one of the pictures on my
website. Unfortunately, my forays in to the mysteries and miracles of Photoshop
had to be postponed so I could battle my way through an ACT preparation book.
My tutoring responsibilities have expanded to include a student who wishes to
improve her score on this standardized test. Reviewing punctuation rules, algebra
tricks and geometry theorems is not a problem. For me, the challenge is
figuring out how to teach another person how to do ACT problems as quickly as
possible. On the ACT, time is your enemy. Perhaps this isn’t an appropriate
forum for my rant about the ACT. Have some spring wildflowers instead.
writers pepper interior monologue with rhetorical questions. They are a natural
construct because it takes time for protagonists to figure out the plot’s
mysteries. Stating a character’s confusion as a question avoids the “I
wondered” construct which puts a degree of separation between the reader and
the character. Simply stating what the character wondered (or felt, saw or smelled)
is more direct.
questions can be overdone. A fellow attendee at a writing workshop removed all
of the rhetorical questions from her novel and cut 2500 words. Writers tend to
pile up rhetorical questions when a character is unsure, resulting in an overstatement
of the problem. The reader understands that the character is confused after the
first question. Adding three or four more is redundant.
questions can be effective if employed with a light hand. Use the search
function in Microsoft Word to locate question marks in your manuscript. For
every question that isn’t part of dialog, consider whether it can be cut or
rephrased as a statement.