My hope is to offer encouragement to writers as well as those who simply love to read. You will find eclectic snippets here—news of projects I’m working on, comments regarding books I enjoy, favorite authors, quotes, and reflections regarding my own experiences. I especially like to write about my dreams—those parables in the night seasons. Symbols and metaphors delight and intrigue me. You will find them here.
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?"
There are ways of living that you can live with until you can't.~Molly Wizenberg (From The Fixed Stars)
We met for tea. I sat across from my friend in the small café, the hiss of the espresso machine like white noise supplying us comfort. My friend is a natural beauty, her eyes blue, like Spode china teacups, her teeth gardenia white. It was so good to see her face-to-face now that COVID is less intense--to go into a restaurant. She is writing a novella. We talked about creative things. I soaked up her feedback about the novel I'm writing. She is smart and kind, her insights spot on. Our conversation meandered away from writing, and we spoke of issues we struggle with. She said she realized her confidence had plummeted over the last year or so. She recalled an incident. "I didn't take up for myself. I didn't feel confident and just let things go. I wish I hadn't. I wish I'd stuck up for myself, been more confident. I still think about it." I responded, "The fact that you're aware now is good. You won't do it again. I've been there too. It doesn't feel good to let your voice get lost. It's a terrible feeling." She nodded.
Over the years, I've tended toward fluency in apologizing, people-pleasing a familiar behavior. Someone said to me once, "You say 'I'm sorry' a lot." It wasn't an unkind remark, really. Just honest. I'm getting more practiced in allowing my preferences to be okay. It hurts too much to be silent. Peace at any price is too expensive. And it feels so good to speak up. Resting confident.
Portagioie, the Italian word for jewelry box, is a compound of two polyvalent words. Gioia (pl. gioie) means both "joy" and "jewel." Porta, meanwhile, derives from the Latin verb portare, and belongs to a constellation of words pertaining to acts of bearing, bringing, carrying, and transporting, which in turn give rise to terms for "door," "gate," and "port." Portagioie, therefore, could also be interpreted, in Italian, not only as a box of jewels, but a container of joy, a doorway or gateway to joy, something that brings joy.~Jhumpa Lahiri (From Whereabouts)
Almost every week my husband provides me an Italian lesson. Italian is his mother tongue. He is also multi-lingual. He speaks English and Spanish too. Some French. He is amazing, really, how he can move from one language to another. It's perhaps like watching a person who's good at tennis. You can't believe how smoothly they move across the court, hardly ever missing a ball, their serves reliable, powerful, sailing over the net. Each week I struggle with my pronunciation when I practice reading out loud. I forget verb conjugations over and over again. My brief essays are filled with errors. I feel anxious before every lesson knowing that my slow learning is evident. Yet my husband is patient with me. He doesn't shame me when I "miss the ball." The tenderness he sets aside for me each week is enough for me to keep trying.