Writing and friendship: A tangled web

Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.–E.B. White

I don’t think I’m over-generalizing by saying most English-speaking (and some non-English) writers have been influenced in one way or another by E.B. White. I was reminded of this over the past couple of weeks as I prepared a booktalk on White for my daughter’s third grade class. But mostly I was reminded of one thing: White’s book Charlotte’s Web was the book I read and decided to be a writer.

I was about seven, I think, when I got pneumonia and was in the hospital for a week, then home recuperating for another week. I wasn’t truly old enough to understand that it was serious, but my classmates made me get well cards and one of my extended cousins brought me a copy of Charlotte’s Web as a get well gift. His mother probably made him, and I doubt I ever thanked him properly, so he probably never knew that book became my most treasured possession.

I was a voracious reader (still am), and I read that book over and over and over again. The writing was…luscious. Like nothing I’d ever read before. Every writer knows the quote from Charlotte’s Web:

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.”

How I wanted that quote to apply to me! I could be a true friend. Could I be a good writer? Could I use my words and talent to influence the world for good, as Charlotte had? In my innocence, I truly believed so. It wasn’t until I got much older that I realized how difficult the two could be to fit together. Maybe this quote, also from Mr. White, might explain why:

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”

And there’s the rub. If you want your writing to mean something, if you see a need in the world and you try to address it with your writing—somebody’s not going to like it. Writing is a solitary profession that, like a single pebble thrown into a lake, causes ripples wherever it lands. The water may not like being rippled, and it may not understand why you threw the pebble in the first place, but it ripples, nonetheless. It’s something all writers deal with to some degree or other.

However, in the course of preparing my booktalk, I came across a new, and very hopeful, E.B. White quote that I have now pinned up next to my desk.

“All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world. I guess you can find that in there, if you dig around.”

Maybe one day, I’ll be as good a writer or at least as true a friend as Charlotte. I’ll keep working on it.

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Read free: “Strange Path: A Synchronicity Story”

Whether or not you’ve read Out of Time, Book 1 of the Synchronicity Series, you will enjoy a trip to a fantasy land of romance and adventure in “Strange Path”. A prequel to the Synchronicity Series, “Strange Path” explores the adventures of Drake, the Elf who crossed over to Eladi a century before Jack, and Josephine, the Cherokee woman whose family have dedicated their lives to guarding the portal between worlds.

Best of all? It’s free. No charge at all to read the story, and it’s stand-alone, so even if you decide you don’t want to continue your adventures, you won’t be left unsatisfied. So what do you have to lose? Read “Strange Path” here:

strangepath

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Imagine all the dreamers…

“Imagine all the people living life in peace…”

What do you see? What image does John Lennon’s timeless lyric call to your mind?

A world without war, certainly. But then what? No classes? Everyone working day by day to make the world a better place? A kind of idealistic commune where we may work in the fields or the kitchens or serve as doctors or govern, but we all eat at the same table?

I used to wish for something like this. World peace, my mind whispered at my birthday parties when I blew out the candles. World peace, I thought as I blew a dandelion’s fluff into the wind. World peace, I wished and puffed a breath at an eyelash. World peace—as a coin plinked into the fountain.

World peace.

It’s only now as I face my forty-seventh year on this planet that I realize, the only people who ever wish for world peace are people like John Lennon. When he said, “You may say, I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one”, I wonder—did he realize that the other dreamers are all people like him? Artists, thinkers, philosophers. True utopians who visualize a world where everyone binds together for the common good, allowing more time for dreams and artistic pursuits. More time, but possibly less fodder.

The common good of all humans is not likely to be something the human race will ever agree on. Think of the centuries-old Israeli-Palestine conflict. Russia’s imperialistic aspirations. America’s opportunistic cherry-picking of which international conflicts to be involved in. None of this is work worthy of a utopian society.

And so, as I look forward to the new year, I resolve not to wish for world peace any longer. I resolve instead to devote my work and my words to the common good.

RIP John Lennon. I’m afraid you were the only one.

 

 

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Celebrating Winter Solstice with a Giveaway!

It’s the winter solstice! December 21, my favorite day of the year. Guess why?

Here’s a hint:

wintersolstice-cover1.jpgStartled, Becky raised her head to meet John’s gaze in the mirror. He shrugged and smiled at her reflection. “You didn’t look too good, and when you weren’t out by the time I finished my shower, I decided I’d better check on you.”

He crossed the room and turned her to face him, touched her sweaty forehead gently, then reached back and released her hair from its knot. Perhaps his only intention was to help her relax, but as her hair fell around her shoulders, Becky realized with a jolt of self-consciousness that she enjoyed the intimacy of the gesture.

When she looked at him, he moved a little closer, his hand lingering at the nape of her neck. He drew his fingers through her hair, letting it slide through them, and she closed her eyes in pure sensuality, forgetting every tragedy she had witnessed in a simple desire to live in the moment.

Neither spoke as he bent his head to cover her mouth with his. She lost herself in his touch, aware of his arms around her, his lips first on hers, then on her neck. She slid her hands up his biceps, caressing as she did so, wanting to encourage his response. He smelled good–clean and male in a way she had never experienced. In some detached part of her brain, she thought maybe it was the hospital soap.

She clung to him, thankful for the strength of his body as her own betrayed her weakness. Not until his hands slid beneath her scrub top did she come to her senses.

“Not here.” She could only think that she didn’t want to become another of the legends–the PR woman who couldn’t resist the irresistible John Grant in the locker room.

“Where?” His body still pressed hard against hers, his lips against her hair. Becky felt the cold porcelain sink behind her, but he was warm and solid and the heat of their passion was thick in the air around them. In such a position, restraint was the last thing on her mind.

“My place,” she whispered and told him the address.

“I’ve got a few things to take care of.” His lips brushed her ear and she shivered. She felt his smile. “I’ll be there in a couple of hours.”

Before she could change her mind, he left, taking the warmth and safety of his arms with him, and Becky was left to wonder if she had suddenly gone insane.

Okay, maybe that’s not much of a hint, but it’s an excerpt from my book Winter Solstice, which was just a fun romantic romp starring a slightly bumbling public relations guru (Becky) and a sexy, strong, alpha-male ER doctor (John). It was my second published book (2011) from Lyrical Press. And you could win a Kindle copy on Amazon today. Check out the giveaway here: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/78f45d8e0611e57f#ln-tw.

Enjoy the shortest day of the year, and look forward to new, brighter days ahead!

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NaNoWriMo wrap up: The big secret.

I’ve spent a day recovering from National Novel Writing Month and I’m happy to report that I did it. I wrote 50,000 words in my third novel of the Synchronicity trilogy and I won. What did I win? Well, this:

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_winner

Which is really just a fancy way of saying I can feel huge accomplishment in the fact that I spent a month writing and not procrastinating. Because, as we all (especially my high school chemistry teacher) know: Procrastination is the thief of time. Especially for writers.

Every time I do this to myself, I think I’ll come out of November knowing what’s so magical about National Novel Writing Month. If you survive it and actually manage to stick with it and hit the goal, you feel like you should know something more than what you did when you started. You should be privy to some spectacular secret that J.K. Rowling and Stephen King knew and chose not to tell you.

Guess what?

There’s no secret. There’s not even any real magic.

The purpose of National Novel Writing Month is to serve as a reminder of what J.K. Rowling and Stephen King actually did tell us. Writing is fricking hard work. And the only way to accomplish anything is to stick the hell with it. Every single day. Pounding the keys and writing and rewriting and beating your head against your desk if that’s what it takes to loosen the words up. Writing sucks. Writing is like flying. Writing is the ultimate in time-sucking, frustrating, awe-inspiring (for you if nobody else), wasteful, necessary vocation in the world.

And there you have it. It’s a vocation. A job. It’s work. And that’s what the secret is. If what you write is worth it to you, you’ve got to write it. Even if nobody else ever reads it and you drive yourself nuts getting it out of your head and onto paper.

Because anything worth having is never, ever easy.

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How steep is the high road?

Was it really just a week ago?
 
I took a picture of my daughter on election night. Her face is lit with hope and belief that our country could unite under a woman president. That we could cross that threshold into a new era. She’s holding two American flags. I can’t look at that picture without tears in my eyes, because I remember the look on her face the next morning when I told her who our president-elect was. Resigned disappointment.
 
I know why that resigned disappointment bothers me so much. It’s because that’s an adult expression, and I saw it on my nine-year-old daughter’s face. Acceptance when you really want to scream and shout, but you know you have to move on with life in the face of disillusionment.
 
For the past week, I’ve been torn. I half want to go burn Trump in effigy, but the other, cursedly practical half of me knows that’s the wrong thing to do. I want to protest and scream and shout, but I know it’ll do about as much good—and probably look like—a toddler in the middle of a toy section who’s been denied a bauble she particularly wants.
 
I wanted Hillary Clinton to be our president. I wanted it with all my heart. I wanted our country to vote for tolerance and inclusion and love.
 
I didn’t get that.
 
I got President-elect Trump, and the idea fills me with dread. But I’m still not going to say he’s not my president. I’m not going to move to Canada. I’m not going to burn the flag. What I’m going to do is stay informed, read the news, know what he’s doing and what it means for our country. If he institutes policies I don’t agree with, I will protest those policies. And in two years, I will vote again. And two years after that, I will vote again.
 
Persistence in the face of disappointment is what’s called for here. My nine-year-old knows that. I hope the rest of the country gets it too.
 
#GoHigh #StrongerTogether #LoveTrumpsHate

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What’s the use of being an optimist if you can’t just decide it’s gonna be OK?

I’m a glass half-full kinda gal. I had hoped to wake my daughter up this morning to the news that we have the first ever woman president. I couldn’t do that, and part of my heart is broken because of it.

Still, there’s what’s left of the water in the glass. How do I call it? I’m choosing half full.

This is an opportunity for us as a nation. There are a whole lot of things we can do with these election results and the coming four years. We now know we are a nation divided. Let’s start filling in that chasm. And here’s what we can fill it with: Hope.

Don’t lose hope. Whether you’re gay, straight, white, black, Hispanic, female or male, educated or not, we’re all Americans and more than half of us voted against Donald Trump. Not enough and not in the right places, but those people are out there. Those voters are out there, and that means there’s hope, and that’s a good base to build anything on.

Grab a shovel, Americans. That great divide the media has been talking about is bigger than we thought, and it’s our job to fill it in. Whether you’re on the winning side or not, we’ve got work to do, and it’ll go a lot faster if we all dig in together.

And once we’re done, let’s meet in the middle and go from there.

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