Janet's Jargon

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Monday, July 18, 2005

Rodney Dangerfield Syndrome

"I don’t get no respect," he often complained. As a fiction writer, I sometimes feel the same way. When you spend your life spinning tall tales, I suppose it is to be expected that people don’t swallow everything you try to feed them. Still, is that a bad thing? Isn’t that what Jesus did when He so often turned to parables to prove a point? Of course a lot of people back then didn’t believe everything He told them, either. I mean, he did talk in terms that would probably be considered as far-fetched as science-fiction is today! Anyway, when I put a post on about the Bible today on one of my favorite groups, and they began to question its veracity… Well, let’s just say that I felt like Rodney Dangerfield!

But in most fiction, there is a basis of truth. Like my favorite ring. Ivan, my husband, gave it to me for Mothers Day one year. It is a very beautiful, large red sapphire, set in a beautiful gold band with some swirls around the stone. But even beyond that, the red sapphire is very special in the Keith clan history. Ivan is a direct descendant of the Keith clan of Dunnottar Castle of Scotland.

One of the Keith men, Robert, was chosen to accompany Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I of Great Britain, on her trip to Holland during their Civil War. The purpose of the trip was to trade at least part of the royal jewels for arms, since King Charles had spent all of his available money for the luxuries of life he so desired.

As they crossed the waters of the Atlantic, Queen Henrietta Maria produced an inventory of the jewels. Robert carefully went through them with her. One of the items was crossed off the list, and it was not presented in the cache to the royal Dutch troops. The missing item? A red sapphire. According to—legend, history, fable, who knows which, it was probably given as a gift to young Robert Keith for his part in protecting and escorting the queen.

For generations, that jewel was a part of the verbal history of the Keith tradition, passed from father to son, and so on. By the time it had gotten to Ivan’s generation, it was more speculation than fact that the jewel had ever existed in the Keiths’ belongings. So where, when Ivan presented it to me, obviously in a new setting, had he found this invaluable treasure? I wear it proudly, daily, and when I have a presentation about Dunnottar, Marylebone and Par for the Course, I take no shame at all in displaying the ring, and posing the question: where was it all those years, and how did Ivan get it? I'd love to have you all post a comment on what you think about it.

Stay tuned, and in the next few days I will tell you the story behind the story of the ring. Meanwhile, you can see all about the Keith trilogy by going to http://janet_elaine_smith0.tripod.com/id42.html.

And if you want to scout out some other "Maybe are, maybe aren’t…." mysteries, go to http://www.amazon.com/ and check out the anthology Diane J. Newton edited, called Secrets: Fact or Fiction? It contains nine fun stories that leave you wondering. There is even a contest to see who can get the most right about whether or not they are fact or fiction.

And the next time you question the veracity of a tale that is spun by a fiction writer, feel free to ponder how much of their stories you should swallow. But please, at least give them the respect they deserve!


  • At 10:02 PM, Blogger Myriam's Muse said…

    Janet I remember reading this really wonderful book -- can't remember the title -- but set in England in about the 13th century. The details were so amazing. It was then I realized that it is the details of the times of historical set fiction that makes it so interesting... the mysteries etc are fascinating but the history and the facts based upon research blow me away.

    You keep on doing it girlfriend. You are the best.

    Now my question: Is non-fiction really not fiction especially when it is a memoir. It is not what we remember but how we remember whichis demonstrated at http://lifewithmother.com

  • At 11:37 AM, Anonymous Diane J. Newton said…

    Dear Janet,

    Thank you so much for mentioning "Secrets, Fact or Fiction?" We're having a great time with it and reviewers have loved it. Guess I don't currently have poor Rodney's problem, huh? LOL


  • At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Carolyn Howard-Johnson said…

    Dear Janet and Janet's Blog Readers:

    I believe that anything and everything a writer writes is based on truth. Her or his truth to be sure, but something she has observed about the world that is true for her. No fictional character can have a quality that she has not seen or read about. No setting can be described that she has not seen or read about. Even if she thinks it comes solely from her imagination, that imagination is composed of colors, shapes, objects, etc. that come from her "real" world. Sorry, couldn't help it. It's the philosopher in me. (-:

    By the way, poetry is the closest of any writing to being "real." Another rant for another day! But check out my "Tracings" on www.finishinglinepress.com. It may be ordered now, will be released in October.



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