Trouble in Mouseland: Trouble in Mouseland

The original Little House books were a series of eight autobiographical children's novels written by Laura Ingalls Wilder and published by Harper & Brothers.

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The Self-Love Book Club Reads Red, Hot, and Holy // Our First Link-Up — Sarah Starrs

Are you a siren who lures her subject with titillating teases and a seductive pose? A rake who promises decadence, abandon and sin? Are you a dandy whose ornamental prose attracts? Or perhaps a combination of the above?

Finding Magic: A Spiritual Memoir by Sally Quinn

You can be dangerous or fanciful, vulgar or quietly alluring, depending on the nature of your aims. Readers want to be seduced. They want their emotions to be touched—to be overwhelmed, to lose themselves. How will your words penetrate their defenses? How can you provoke such surrender? Casanova was a great seducer not because of his looks, his dress or his riches, but because he focused on the happiness of his mark.

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A writer seeks a similar oneness with the reader, a similar immortality. How can you write your story as if your reader is the object of your desire? What will move your reader in surprising ways? What turn of phrase will spark a smile across her face? How can your words beckon with a tantalizing promise of fulfillment? Think of your novel as a love letter meant to be absorbed, puzzled over and devoured. Never tell all.

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Flirting is a silent language, a way of signaling interest and attraction in the space that exists between lover and beloved, writer and reader. The best flirts can strike the right balance between sending a signal and then withdrawing, knowing how each gesture changes the storyline. A smile, a lingering glance, the brush of a hand. How can you be open and vulnerable on the page, yet not disclose too much?

If you reveal too much information, you leave your readers no room for imagination. If you dangle a piece of string in front of it, the cat will try to catch the yarn over and over again, even as the string slides through its paws.

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But when you stop, the cat loses interest and wanders away. Every paragraph you write is like the string with which you tease the cat. Every paragraph needs to have the quality of a come-hither gaze, teasing out a question that goes as yet unanswered. Once an idea is planted, we crave to find the answer, and our craving intensifies according to the elusiveness of the hints.

The anticipation of horror tends to elicit a stronger reaction from the audience than the horror itself. Focus on how to be suggestive, not revelatory. Mulder and Scully are back on the trail following bread crumbs. Thriller author Lee Child posits that the fundamental question a writer must ask is how to cook a meal for a reader and make them hungry at the same time.

Kitty Cavalier on Pleasure and The Art of Seduction

The answer? Make them wait for hours to eat. The more you relinquish the air of mystery in a story, the more you lose your power on the page. The situation is different with memoir, because it's obvious that someone can remember the past in a manner that departs substantially from the objective historical record. The whole point of memoir is relate one's memories, and we don't expect what's remembered to be true. But we do expect that a memoir will be faithful to the writer's memories — otherwise, it's fiction dressed up as memoir.

A sweet word that, year after year, liberates writers caught between genres. Tell the story of your own life and you get some of the liberty of fiction and all the authority of nonfiction. While autobiographies make use of documentary records, memoirs are, almost by definition, literary representations of memory. And so, like memories, they may be inaccurate or willfully distorted. Memoirs are representations of memory, not of history. But the point is that memoirs should be true to the author's memory. If they are willfully distorted, they verge on fiction, and should be acknowledged as such.

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A related case is that of the diary. Many people keep diaries, but relatively few people, mostly famous, publish them. A diary is, probably, the closest thing we have to an online recording of a person's experiences and reactions to them, but even here memory comes into play. All introspection is retrospection, as William James cogently argued in the Principles Chapter 7. If the diarist is making an entry at the close of the day or the morning after , the retention interval alone will introduce some degree of forgetting and distortion.

And the very act of writing will also introduce compression and distortion. Biographers and autobiographers can make good use of diaries, with acknowledgement of their limitations. But what about memoirists? Which memory should be the basis for memoir? The memory at the time of writing? The memory recorded immediately after the event itself? Should the latter refresh the former? I suspect that many people who don't keep a diary worry that they ought to, and that, for some, the failure to do so is a source of fathomless self-loathing. What could be more worth remembering than one's own life?

Is there a good excuse for forgetting even a single day? Something like this anxiety seems to have prompted the poet and essayist Sarah Manguso, on the cusp of adulthood, to begin writing a journal, which she has kept ever since. The diary was my defense against waking up at the end of my life and realizing I'd missed it. The journal, first envisioned as an amulet against the passage of time, has grown to overwhelming proportions. Careful to pre-empt criticism that her project is fey or vainglorious, she characterizes her diary habit as "a vice," and points out that it has taken the place of "exercise, performing remunerative work, or volunteering my time to the unlucky.

But she seems genuinely not proud of the diary. Looking back at entries fills her with embarrassment and occasionally even indifference. She reports that, after finding that she'd recorded "nothing of consequence" in , she "threw the year away. In her memoir, Manguso makes the striking decision never to quote the diary itself. As she started to look through the old journals, she writes, she became convinced that it was impossible to pull the "best bits" from their context without distorting the sense of the whole: "I decided that the only way to represent the diary in this book would be either to include the entire thing untouched -- which would have required an additional eight thousand pages -- or to include none of it.

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As Manguso's sense of time dissolves, so does her devotion to the diary. In her twenties, she wrote down her experiences constantly and in minute detail. In her thirties, the diary became more of a log: "The rhapsodies of the previous decade thinned out. Another meaning lurks, too: Why does one keep a diary at all?

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As she looks back on the colossal project, she feels its futility. Although her method was to write down everything, her abiding sense is that "I failed to record so much. She finds that she is afraid to read it and to face "the artifact of the person I was in and and and so on. One could argue that reading memoirs comes more naturally to us now than ever before.

Our critical faculties and emotional voyeurism are primed as they've never been. Social media barrage us daily with fragmented first-person accounts of people's lives. We have become finely tuned instruments of semiotic analysis, capable of decoding at a glance the false enthusiasm of friends, the connotations of geotags, the tangle of opinions that lie embedded in a single turn of phrase. Continuously providing updates on life for others can encourage a person to hone a sense of humor and check a sense of privilege.

It can keep friendships alive that might otherwise fall victim to entropy.