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.
I walked into a dark canyon a few days ago--feeling sorry for myself and feeling angry, the side effects from current medical treatments making inroads into my life that I didn't appreciate. I told a colleague, "For me now, it's sort of like being in a drought-infested geography. I don't have a lot of energy, so I must conserve, conserve, conserve. Can't water my yard, or I won't have enough water to drink." I knew I had to walk myself out of the dusky jaws of that canyon; its walls did not create a healthy environment. To begin my departure, I used a coping skill I define as "Looking Back." What has helped me in the past to better transcend feelings of anger and self-pity?
This question can sometimes send me back to my childhood-- asking what things brought me hope or pleasure. I thought back to fourth grade, my nine-year-old self. Every day I rode my royal purple, Schwinn Stingray bicycle to school, banana seat and streamers sprouting from the handle bars. And sometimes on my ride home, I'd stop at a large field, enclosed with wire fencing. Horses pastured there, and I liked to look at them. I wished that I could pet them, but they never ventured near me. Until one day. I often saved a snack from my lunch to eat on the way home. I stood near the fence, and was about to take a bite from my apple when a brown horse trotted up to me and placed his head over the fence, his face very close to my head.
At its best, the sensation of writing is that of any unmerited grace. It is handed to you but only if you look for it. You search. You break your heart, your back, your brain and then and only then it is handed to you. From the corner of your eye, you see motion. Something is moving through the air and headed your way on two white wings. It flies directly at you. You can read your name on it. If it were a baseball, you 'd hit it out of the park. It is that one pitch in a thousand you see in slow-motion.~Annie Dilliard
This week I've included an excerpt from the book I'm currently working on. My working title, The Intensity Of Romantic Gestures, On Writing and Marriage. I've realized that my writing life is interlaced with the marital pathway, divine rhythms echoing through both stories. This piece reflects the time in my history with Giovanni when we still bridged geographical distance in our relationship. I turned to the page as a way to better manage the distance. Art brings healing, breathes courage into one's life, no matter the form or genre.
This is from the chapter entitled Verdant Lizard.
She is kind. Glitter seems to trail her path. My colleague. She is blonde, fair, with Prussian-blue eyes. She wears silver necklaces in the shape of seahorses. Her hair flows in honey-colored waves down her back. Her smile could light the darkest room. And the other day she gave me a gift that has serendipitously placed me in new geography, a territory bursting with color--like Dorothy walking into Oz. She came into my office and placed a turquoise gift bag in front of me. The next day I was off to one of my medical treatments. She knew it would be a challenging day. Each gift was wrapped in bright pink tissue paper studded with miniature white stars. I found a tasty energy bar, then a light-blue journal imprinted with the phrase "Find Peace." The third gift included a carrying case of thirty-six multi-colored gel pens. "I thought these colors would help brighten your days. I love gel pens and coloring things." She smiled then, her face lit up like a sunrise.
I placed the gel pens in my office and didn't use them right away. There was no question that the journal would be used. I write something every day, and I fill up journals quickly. I'd already eaten the energy bar. But the pens? They were something I'd never buy for myself. But recently I'd purchased a sketch book. I didn't draw. I don't know why I bought it, yet I found a box of sketch pencils and taken them with the pad up to the cash register. The next day, I'd sharpened a pencil and drew two pictures. The drawings were surely the work of an amateur, but I liked them, and when I drew, I felt my relationship deepening with the page, a feeling close to my experience when I write. There was something missing from my drawings, though. Color.
I've been thinking of my late father this week, memories surfacing due to this "cool spell" that we've had, a break in the pattern of hot Carolina days. I grew up in Texas, and every now and again, the hot humidity of Dallas summer weather would break. And my dad would say, "Prissy girl, we're gonna get a cool spell, some rain. Lets go sit on the back porch and soak it up." Then we'd go sit under a covered back patio and listen to the drum of rainfall on the roof. My dad was like that, a soft-spoken, southern gentleman who treated me, his youngest daughter, with quiet tenderness. We'd wade in a lake with no words between us, my hand in his, or take drives to an airport landing strip where we watched airplanes land and take off. I'd place my hands over my ears when the planes revved up for take off, and my dad would turn to me and shout over the noise, "Aren't they something, Prissy girl?" And I'd vigorously nod my head up and down, basking in his presence and the mystery of the jets.
We laid together on the bed, each of us holding one side of a book up above our faces. Five-year-old Lilly and I love to read. And I especially like listening to her read out loud to me. Lilly's been reading for about a year now, and when she reads, her voice is a wind chime--melodic and clear--her narrative expressive--her knowledge of vocabulary extensive for one so young.
That day we rested, and Lilly read over ten library books to me. I basked in her child's voice reverberating in the sunny room, and the delicate scent of Johnson's baby shampoo, her head next to mine. And every now and then Lilly paused, turned toward me, her blue eyes the color of ocean calm, and said, "Oh I just love being with you, Minou (pronounced Me-Noo), my grandmotherly title. And, of course, the emotion felt extravagantly mutual, my heart melted to hear her sentiments. Delight cubed.