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.
The little town sits nestled just outside of Charleston, and has been called some derogatory names--"redneck" the most prominent and negative. Yet through now more than five years, I've kept this town tied to me--just a slender thread.
I'd moved to the southern suburb with my first husband, built a new house and hoped for a happy life. But that plan did not last and instead of making a dream life, we got divorced, and the big new house got sold. But eventually I did buy a humble blue-sided house in a quiet neighborhood. The blue was not really that attractive. Think Maybelline eye shadow or the blue of those country colors so popular in the eighties. But I painted the door a darker shade of blue to create contrast and placed colorful wreaths on the door that I changed in and out with the four seasons I could afford the mortgage. I decorated the inside to my taste. I went to work every day in downtown Charleston. I visited the lovely, small-town library every week. I kept the yard neat and tidy. I found a new hair dresser. I got a dog.
The other night in a dream I held a photograph of myself. I looked at the picture very intently as I was embracing a sea turtle. I smiled widely and wore a red flannel pullover. I was not in the least upset that I held there close to my side a giant turtle. I could feel the ridges of its shell through my shirt. Its legs and arms were outside the shell. I noted the brown diamond-shaped spots on its head--the black onyx eyes. I didn't think "she" (intuited this sea creature was female) was too heavy or cumbersome. I wanted to hold onto her.
I read a good book this week. The novel has an unusual title, and I'm always attracted to intriguing titles--The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood. The book tells the story of a woman, Vivien, who lives in San Francisco in 1919 and does not know if the man she loves died in the terrifying 1906 earthquake. She feels the shattering loss and withstands the sickening constancy of not knowing what happened to him. To assuage some of her own grief, Vivien begins to write obituaries for the hundreds of people who lost their loved ones in the quake. Only her style of writing about the deceased is unique. She ascertains that people come to her and first give all the details--where their loved one was born, names of siblings, information about their education and what they did for a living. After the individual summarizes the deceased's life milestones Vivien pronouces, "Let me make you some tea and toast." And when the sricken person sits down to eat the buttered toast and sip the tea, Vivien says, "Tell me about your loved one." Viven finds that this is where she uncovers the real heart of the obituary, because the story is not just about the details, but about a life.
It all began at Target. In homewares. Giovanni stood there by the rows of cutting boards and boxed stainless steel cutlery. He wore his striped shirt and green corduroy vest. (He loves vests). It was an ordinary Saturday. I walked up to him with the red Target cart and said, "I think we better go over to the Tide aisle. We need laundry soap." "Wait," he said, and steered the shopping cart over to the framed pictures. I was a little puzzled. Giovanni is not fond of looking at framed art. He really doesn't like pictures on our walls. He much prefers a smooth surface. But I followed him. He pointed to a black and white photograph of the Eiffel Tower. "Would you like to go there?" he asked. "What do you mean?" I queried back. "Do you want to go to Paris?"
I wanted to win. I'd entered a contest for authors who had published books independently. I thought I had a really good chance. I'd hired a talented editor to tighten all the loose spots, and the designer who crafted the cover is a gifted artist. I'd had a lot of positive responses to the book, so mailed out the finished product with high hopes. When the winners were announced, though, I hadn't even placed. In the past I'd entered other contests and not won. I didn't really think much about it, actually. I always told myself that simply entering contests was noteworthy--that I hadn't stopped trying--that was success in and of itself. But I was struggling this time around. I wanted external validation, not merely the internal affirmation that I could provide myself. As I grappled with the feelings of disappointment, I was able to bring myself back to my foundation--words--and the artistry of piecing them together.