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.
Something is always broken.
Nothing is perfect longer than a day--every roof has a broken tile, every mouth a chipped tooth.
Something is always broken. But the world endures the break:
The broken twig is how we follow the trail. The broken promise is the one we remember...
Something is always broken.
Something is always fixed.~Alberto Rios
I didn't like going to church when I was sixteen--wanted to sleep past noon and not bother to put on a dress. But my dad would gently shake my shoulder on Sunday mornings. "Come on, get up. Time for church. Don't be late." I could smell the sharp scent of Old Spice when he leaned over my pillow to wake me. He was already dressed in his dark suit, his tie neatly knotted at his neck. His pristine white shirt. I'd been in church since an infant, swaddled in a soft blanket and whisked to the nursery. And I was in the pew most Sundays since the cradle. I even went to church as a college student, when I didn't have to. When my dad wasn't there to rouse me from sleep. I'd walk to the nearby Presbyterian church, the older women making sure I always had some treat to take back to my dorm room. Those ladies hosted a party for me when I graduated four years later. I don't think I ever truly appreciated how kind they were. How merciful.
Yesterday I stood in church singng worship songs, surrounded by other believers, enfolded in God's grace. I thought about all the churches I've belonged to through the years. There was the season when I attended the Spanish-speaking church before my children were born. My late ex-husband was fluent in Spanish and wanted to practice his language. A beautiful congregation that invited us to countless authentic Mexican potlucks that filled my craving for spicy food and gracious fellowship. I lived in Hawaii for three months as a college student and attended a church where a lei was placed around one's neck when you entered the sanctuary. All through the service, I smelled the scent of plumeria wafting through the sanctuary, the worship as sweet as the fragrance. I've attended numerous Bible churches in California, Oregon and Illinois. I met one of my best girlfriends at a church in Antioch, Illinois. I belonged to an Anglican church in South Carolina. I've been to numerous Christmas Eve Midnight Masses at St. John The Divine in Charleston. And there was the time I attended an Easter Mass in my husband's hometown in Cremona, Italy. I understood very little of the homily. But I knew the word "pace" when I shook the hands of other believers and felt the "peace" of Jesus transcending the language barrier.
I felt as though my personality was not fit for a normal life in this world; I was always slightly at sea. Today I'm on terra firma. Will it last?~Anna Quindlen (From Lots Of Candles, Plenty Of Cake, A Memoir)
Anxiety is a spider at times, rolling me up in her viscous, delicate web. I am trapped in second-guessing myself, wincing at my sensitive personality. Berating myself for my reactions to things that "shouldn't be such a big deal for most people." Broken cars and worrying if I'll ever jump through all the travel hurdles of flight cancellations and hordes of people when I travel solo to Italy. Most people would be jumping for joy that they were going to Italy. Right? Then pummeling myself for being such a tech wimp. I just don't get "the cloud." It's like trying to read maps before GPS and the friendly voice telling you where to turn. And so it goes (or doesn't go) in my brain.
I yell stop. I quit thrashing. I have tools to slice through the silken strands.
First, I declare a few "reset" days. I cancel things that feel like too much "work" for my personality. I lean into the reality that I need swaths of alone time for regrouping and beginning the task of cutting myself free.
I had come to love the cinema...the way you could just sit on your own in the dark and forget who you were, just let yourself feel what the film was telling you to feel for an hour or so.~Matt Haig (From How To Stop Time)
The movie began...I am the last man on earth. I wanted to find out the man's story. I hunger for story. I am hooked in just a phrase or sentence. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times... Call me Ishmael. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. Once upon a time...
First lines pull me forward. I try my hand at the art of first lines with my own books. (I would never compare my attempts with those great masters I quote above.) I will always remember that it was a sunny day. Emily King wakes up this morning believing she needs to do something different. I live on an island and drive over a bridge every day to work. I saw him through the sliding glass door, his back to me. First lines emit the mood, release the first whiffs of the story line's fragrance. First lines and first scenes can be entirely pleasurable, whether they reflect joy or fear, melancholy or delight. Humans love stories, because we all have one.
...she found herself drifting back through her past like someone wandering through an old house.~Anne Tyler (From French Braid)
It was the sight of the emerald St. Augustine grass springing up against the gray, weathered gate that brought it all back. The blazing sun, arctic white clouds and wide sky, too, that caused me to travel through time. I hadn't been to Texas in over a decade. Memories don't evaporate just because you move away. Location leaves an imprint. I relished being back. Remembered the cicadas singing in the early evening. The crepe myrtles, standing in almost every yard, like airy pink and white bouquets. Live oak and pine trees. Brick homes resembling the one I grew up in. It was as if I'd been welcomed by an old friend there, and I kept trailing my hand across her shoulders as a touchstone, reminding myself that I was home again.
Being in Texas made me think of the places I've lived, how they leave a faint watermark on one's life, and how it can feel more and more difficult to find comfort in a world that feels less and less like home.
All morning I lay down sentences, erase them, and try new ones. Soon enough, when things go well, the world around me dwindles; the sky out the window, the furious calm of the big umbrella pine ten feet away, the smell of dust falling onto the hot bulb in the lamp. That's the miracle of writing, the place you try to find--when the room, your body and even time itself cooperate in a vanishing act. Gone are the trucks rumbling outside, the sharp edge of the desk beneath my wrists, the unpaid electricity bill back in Idaho. It might seem lonesome but it's not: soon enough characters drift out of the walls, quiet and watchful, some more distinct than others, waiting to see what will happen to them. And writers come, too. Sometimes every fiction writer I've ever admired is there, from Flaubert to Melville to Wharton, all the books I've loved, all the novels I've wished I were talented enough to write.~Anthony Doerr (From Four Seasons In Rome)
This morning I printed out the first half of the rough draft of the novel I'm working on. Sometimes during the writing process, I come to stopping points and a hard copy can help me get a better idea of what portions need more work, what needs to go, and what I want to keep. I always am amazed that characters do seem to speak, to "drift out of the walls, quiet and watchful," as Anthony Doerr so eloquently describes this mystery. They often do "tell me" what they are feeling, what they long for, what they need. I come to love them. And the world does seem to vanish when I listen to them and detail their lives on the page. Lately, though, I've felt guilty that I love to write and spend a good deal of time at my desk. "What difference does it make anyway, the world so very tangled with grief and fires and war and senseless killing?"