My hope is to offer encouragement to writers as well as to those who simply love to read. You will find snippets of things I am working on and special announcements here.
...all that love we humans carry makes a sweet deep sound and we fly a little.~Joy Harjo
I didn't go to Italy after all. The messiness of COVID made it unsafe and I felt too much anxiety to travel. Giovanni and I make the best of it, each of us on opposite shores. The ocean in between is part of our history, part of our marriage. I used to loathe the distance. Over the years, though, I've come to see how that broad, blue expanse can be our pathway to intimacy.
Giovanni texted me, telling me that he'd hung a photo of us on the bedroom wall at his house in Italy. The picture was taken twenty-two years ago when we'd met again after twenty-five years. (All of that story contained in my first book, An Ocean Away).We'd both bought new shoes prior to that reunion--exact replicas without the other's knowledge. Chuck Taylors. We wore them in that photo. "Remember the shoes?" I texted back. "Yes, surely," he replied.
I thought of how our paths had crossed twice in life. How we were still seeing it through with each other, despite all the differences, the cultural divide, our own individual flaws, and the rough patches that every marriage weathers.
Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you're going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.~Anne Lamott, Berkeley commencement address (From The Comfort Book by Matt Haig)
There are some authors that I will read without knowing what the book is about. Matt Haig is that author for me. He's been described as the "King of Empathy." His latest title, The Comfort Book, meets all my expectations. I've lifted several excerpts that I thought may comfort you as you move forward in these uncertain times.
~And yes, we might feel that others are judging our worth via metrics like income and follower counts and weight and chest measurements and all the rest of it, but always remember we are more than can be measured. We are life itself.
~For when you reach rock bottom: You have survived everything you have been through, and you will survive this too. Stay for the person you will become. You are more than a bad day, or week, or month, or year, or even decade. You are a future of multifarious possibility.
~Pizza: The sky isn't more beautiful if you have perfect skin. Music doesn't sound more interesting if you have a six-pack. Dogs aren't better company if you're famous. Pizza tastes good regardless of your job title. The best of life exists beyond the things we are encouraged to crave.
~Scroll your mind: Social media can be a gallery of lives you aren't living. Of diets you aren't following. Of parties you're not attending. Of vacations you're not on. Of fun you're not having. So, cut yourself a break and scroll your mind instead. Scroll your consciousness for reasons to be grateful to be you. The only fear of missing out that matters is the fear of missing out on yourself.
~I hope this email finds you very far away from this email.
Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.~Howard Thurman
I get off track when I meander down roads that I'm "supposed" to like--especially where writing is concerned. What I like to read, what I observe, what I listen to, what movies I watch all come into play as well. This doesn't mean that I don't seek out recommendations from others about what to read or watch or listen to. It does mean that I don't try to talk myself out of liking something or noticing something that brings me joy or intrigue. When I begin thinking, "I really should like that book. The author won the prestigious award. Or my good friend really loves that book genre. Should I be reading more of that? And the classics. I should probably be reading the ones I never got around to. Or, that movie won the Academy award, but I just couldn't get into it." Time and again, what I find is that validating my own perceptions makes me a better writer.
I have a practice of placing sticky tabs in books to highlight words or quotes or scenes that I like. I recently read a memoir, and the author mentioned that she had received a book as a gift. She did not go into detail regarding how she liked the book, but it sounded interesting so I tabbed the title: Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg. I checked the book out of the library, and after reading the first half of the book, I had so many tabs, I decided that I'd like to have my own copy. Here are a few excerpts that I thought might be helpful to you as you follow your own creative pursuits--not only writing, but any artistic endeavor.
Don't be afraid. Don't waver.~II Chronicles 20:17 (The Message)
I opened the blinds at sunrise, the sky pink, the blush of carnations. Light streaming in like a shower of sequins. I wished I could feel as rinsed and fresh as that perfect sky. Yet my mind and heart felt fractured with jealous thoughts toward someone I did not even know, had not ever met. I'd been scrolling the internet and saw that a woman I'd had brief connection with via Instagram now had a book contract with a well-known publisher. She would no longer have to wade through all it took to self-publish. Instead of relishing her victory, I found myself jealous of her success, wanting what she had accomplished.
Then I found a story in II Chronicles that I'd forgotten about. King Jehoshaphat learns that a vandal horde is on its way to invade the land. First, the King calls the people together and reminds them to remember the past and all the ways God has supported them and helped them transcend multiple problems. We know that you will listen and give victory (II Chronicles 20:10). I thought about all the ways this was true for me. God providing time to write and money and artists to help me publish. And readers. If you are reading this, you are an answer to my prayer, as I've asked God for your readership. How could I not be grateful for all He has done, not only as an author, but also in my personal life?
We're helpless before this vandal horde ready to attack us. We don't know what to do. We're looking to you, said the King. I felt like this, my own jealousy like the vandal horde.
...he can think only of the word rejoice--for that is what they are doing. And for now it is enough.~Elizabeth Brundage (From The Vanishing Point)
I ticked off all the tasks I needed to do before getting the kids to bed--my arithmetic for the night. Lock all the doors, brush teeth, prayers, kiss goodnight. Then the thought hit me, like too many smelling salts. "Did I blow out the candle before I left my house, before the grandchildren and I drove to their house for the night?" I talked to myself some more. "Yes, I'm sure I did." But then I couldn't pull up the memory of bending my head over the flame, the whoosh of air leaving my lips. The wicks black and safe. "Okay kids," I said. "We've got to get out of bed and go over to my house. I'm not sure if I blew out the candle."
"You mean we have to get up and go over to your house in the night?"