Thursday, April 24, 2008


As a writer, I am always analysing something- I can't help it even though it cause me grief sometimes, with my need to get down to the smallest detail- often my family takes my "intrigue" on past relationships and hard times as emotional upheaval on my part when in reality it is a desire to understand so that I can utilize that bit of reality in my writing. But that is a whole different blog.
Right now- I have a friend that I really clicked with at a writing conference- going through what most of us moms and dads would say is the worst nightmare- a child with cancer. And thanks to the Internet and a site called I can get daily updates on her son's progression of his treatment.
Today she was explaining the phases they will be going through and how each one is titled in a certain way and the literature that her and her husband get is very concise and worded in a way that if you are not a medical doctor you can still grasp what each one entails and more important-prepare for what is coming.Which I think is great that the children's hospitals they are dealing with are smart enough to hire some knowledgeable writers to lay this all out in a way where no one is surprised or overwhelmed in the gathering of information- because you are overwhelmed with so many other things when your kid is sick.
Things are also explained in a way for her son- who is six- so he can understand and communicate- a pain chart consisting of sad and smiley faces- a "comfort bin" instead of a bucket to throw up in- sounds a lot nicer.
Reading her updates reminds me of the fact I am muddling through learning Photoshop ( if you don't know what that is it is the professional standard software for the design industry- comes at a whopping price tag- $700 dollars- and there are whole design school classes devoted to it) and the current book I am reading- Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen's great novel~
Now before you say what the #$@$ do these have in common-let me explain- they are all "systems" and it never accord to me how many systems we have around us and what "Systems" truly do for us.
Obvious- Photoshop is a system- it is a set program- you have to learn- the program dictates all conduct- you can push the wrong button all day- it will not work in the third attempt or two hundredth attempt if it is the wrong button.
PC and Mac are systems on a computer- your computer will not humor you if you treat it like a Mac and in reality it is a PC. The system dictates.
My friend-who is dealing with hospitals- time is of the essence- a set vocabulary where everyone is on the same page is critical- it is not a place for a free thinker- not in the transmitting of info- no one should come up with their own terminology- that wastes time- Like I said a talented knowledgeable writer/writers thought of ways to word things so that quick understanding would come and God willing ( which all have faith he will) her son will go through the "System" of treatment and come out the other side a health boy!!!! and !!!!
Now on to Jane Austen- who wrote about another system that is still out there but might not as noticeable- Social Decorum. Austen wrote in an era of class structure- where depending on your place in it- you knew how to act- you knew who was allowed to address whom- who need to what until they were addressed. Where people -iF they thought of a clever- socially correct way to wield an insult they were praised for it- but if they blundered through a compliment- they were ostracized.
If you haven't read Jane Austen- do- or see one of the fine movies that are out now- just because books are on a shelve at B and N- doesn't mean they are any good, but the ones that are good- stick around for ever! Jane Austen wrote her books in the first two decades of the 1800s!!
Why are there so many systems around us? Well- mainly because when you are working in them- everyone knows what to expect- there are no surprises. The same vocab is used and the same steps are done- I am married to a lawyer- three years are spent in law school learning a system that shall NOT be deviated from- yes- an artist/lawyer marriage is also another blog!
There are people- and some of them my best friends- and yes my husband- who live quite nicely in a "System"- they have a certain way of thinking, brushing their teeth in a certain way, etc. and it is hard for them to deviate from it- then there are us writers- who want to move freely- humm? think that is where the phrase- "Buck the system" comes from?
Back to my husband- I am a writer, I am dyslexic and can be obstinate- and sometimes when describing things do not use the right adjective for the right noun- either to make a point or because I just say the wrong word- like this morning- like when I said- coming into the bathroom- "Where did that PILE of water come from?" referring to standing in water by the sink-" Now if you are with me and want to know "where it did come from" you are a person who does not have to operate in "System" - if you are back with my husband- bothered I used "Pile of Water" instead of "Puddle of Water", and five minutes later was unable to move forward because I was pushing the wrong button on the keyboard- and until I pushed the right button and acknowledge to him- yes technically it is a puddle not a pile- you might be a person who needs to operate in a system and really doesn't understand mixing things up for "dramatic effect"
Yes- in Photoshop, Law, Medical Treatment, computers technology we should have system- they are good- they are necessary- they save time and confusion- but read Jane Austen again- and read inbetween the lines- that lady knew "Dramatic Effect!"
And yes- Jane Austen in the most delicate way was "Bucking the System!"


  1. Julia, you never cease to amaze me. I am awaiting your novel .... and will continue to wait. But in the meantime, I can come here and read your thoughts and insights.

  2. just an update- was listening to NPR and a respected college professor did not know that the "Mikes Hard Lemonade" the baseball field concession gave his 7 year old son was actually acholic- the police, the doctors at the hospital, the child protection people, the social worker, the judge all 100% agreed it was an accident and they knew he was a good father- but the law had no room to make exceptions and the boy was kept from his family for two weeks!!
    Systems are need- systems can be good- but all systems should have a "fail safe" button- don't you think!!