Swimming Upstream Through the Pages

reading, books, porch, summertimeI don’t know about you, but during much of 2018 I felt like I was swimming Upstream. Each day seemed to bring Just One Damned Thing after Another; other days seemed like A Walk in the Park.

On the personal side, my concussion in May led to the The Longest Nine Months of feeling like I lived in an Alternate Side, a side where writing and teaching and thinking were an Unlikely Pilgrimage. Continue reading

The End

the end, endings, poem

The end could be the beginning, or,

it could really damn well be the END.

A famous quote is needed here –like “to be or not to be.”

No Shakespeare am I, but I wonder if

“The end of never is the beginning of always”?

Books finish with The End. But is the story over?

Do the characters live on, at least in the reader’s mind?

In that case, the end is never-ending – infinite,

at least until the last reader is gone.

 

A week before my dad died, he declared, 

“I’ve realized that when I die, it’s over.

Nothing is left but cold old bones.

I go nowhere, and nowhere is the end.”

I ignored him, hoping for some hope but

held his hand when he took his last breath.

Joyfully we both realized at the same time

That he was wrong.

 

end, beginning, life, books

 In honor of National Poetry Month, and in the words of Rumi:

Listen-to-presences

 

 

Bookworm

bookworm, reading, booksI lust for well-written, fast-paced, fabulously thought-out novels.

After a long week of work, with early morning risings, daily walks with the dog, constant work challenges (have you made a postcard, on-line, lately?), a week that is lengthened by attending night-time board meetings and teaching writing classes, baking homemade cookies for sick friends, and creating scrumptious dinners for my man (I say with tongue in cheek) — after a week like that, I adore an empty weekend ahead, with no plans but to sit down with a good book.

Even now, with a day left to the week, I pine for the beginning of the long Labor Day weekend, which will bring me to my soft burgundy chair (or sunny deck chair), dog at my feet, sunny gorgeous view of the SF bay (a view I ignore once engrossed), and a tome of fiction on my lap – in hardback, softback, orreading, good books Kindle format.

I hold back the urge to escape until Saturday afternoon, after I’ve taken my long weekend walk, meditated through my yoga class, picked up groceries for the weekend, and begun a load of laundry.

Then, then the need for a good read is as palpable as a strong, urgent, irritating itch.

I brew a cup of chamomile, sling on my soft comfy sweatshirt, plop down on my chair, and sigh with passionate desire to enter a new world.

book magic

Magic Book © Mariia Pazhyna

How about you? Are you a lusty, dreamy, passionate bookworm too?

(In the past month, I’ve chortled over Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, held my breath during the entire 940 pages of Winter of the World, and now, am chewing my nails over The Ophelia Cut. Next up? The Language of Flowers.)

reading time, books, children's books, grandmothering

Oh, and how can I forget the funny saga of The Pirates Next Door, by Jonny Duddle?

 

Sore Toes

Rejection is one of the hardest things for humans to contend with, I think. (I added I think because the rule is to never end a sentence with a preposition. Obviously I think whatever I’m writing here – it’s my blog!)

Oh, can you tell I’m a bit testy today? I’ve received a rejection from a potential agent. She seemed quite interested in my book: the plot, the characters, my writing style, the ‘suspense’ genre, and even in me, the author. I tried not to stand on tiptoes while I waited for her yay or nay, but my toes were quite sore by the time I received her rejection the end of week 2 (an impressive turnaround from delivery of my 300 page manuscript and response – usually writers must wait months to hear back. That’s a lot of sore toes…).

The agent wrote an encouraging letter, ‘don’t give up,’ and ‘try someone else, maybe I’m wrong.’ Well, I’m paraphrasing since I can’t find the letter she sent. Not that I’m a sore loser or anything; it must be stuffed in the pile by my writing notebooks.

But what hurt was her handwritten addition at the top. “Sorry, I just didn’t care enough to turn the pages.”

OUCH. Tell me I used horrible grammar. Chastise me for using 1.8 instead of double spaced lines. Question me on the choice of the Caribbean for one of the book’s settings. But please, please don’t tell me my book wasn’t compelling. Over the best year, 8 different reviewers have sung praises about my Meredith, and Gregory, and Parker, and all of them complained that they stayed up all night because they couldn’t put the book down.

So who’s right? Everyone. We read what we love, most of us, and we love different genres, points of views, and tones. One of my friends reads only edgy books, the kind where a character lets off a swear word every other line, and at the end of the book, no one comes out happier, or wiser, or better off. Another friend can only stomach romances (the sexier the better); a colleague only reads books of action, action, action. Please, no character development or metaphor or universal theme!

So I picked the wrong agent. I need one who likes the idea of action and theme, of characters who contemplate midst the kidnappings, killings, and chaos. Sweet kisses and lonely lust. And, a happy ending.

For me, a happy ending is a necessity. Otherwise, we’d all be standing on sore toes for a long, long time.