Friday, June 17, 2011

Freedom

As a writer and avid reader, I truly believe in the wonder words are capable of, the lessons that reach in and mold us from the journeys we’ve taken in the world beyond reality, the one with the power to touch us though there is nothing we can actually grasp. So, for today’s post, I thought I would share the words from my favorite book that comfort me during the arduous process of querying and facing the demons of rejection, and sometimes more heartbreaking, hope.


My favorite book is called THE MOUNTAIN IS YOUNG by Han Suyin. Ever since the first time I read it, sometime during the 90s, this book has been my friend, the one I turn to in times of distress or when I just need to right my thinking after it has tilted.


Han Suyin’s lovely story follows the life of a writer named Anne Ford, who experiences an awakening of her self, her faith, her writing, her heart, all set against the backdrop of Khatmandu. The book involves some passion, some Eastern philosophy and spiritualism, and lessons every writer can learn from... and lessons every person can grow from. Anne, in the story’s beginning, is living in a cage of society’s making, something she has chosen for herself as well. She is “nicely dead” walking through her life, something all too many of us are guilty of at different points of our journeys.


Khatmandu wakes her up. A fellow name Unni does more than that. And she scrapes away the hard shell she’s been living in to grow new skin, new life, and the possibility that comes from it.


Though out of print, this book is well worth finding and reading. And though it has so many gems in the exquisitely written text, the words that help me most as a writer come from Anne’s conversation with a man called the Field Marshal (I’ve shortened it a bit to get to the core of what moves me, but definitely check out the entire book that always reminds me why I love words so much).


“I don’t think I underestimate,” said Anne. “I wanted to write once upon a time, but I’m not a genius, and I think the spark is gone.”


“Why qualify and delimit with a word which means exactly nothing, and thus diminish your powers, whatever they may be?” said the Field Marshal. “Do not worry to give a name to what you do, my friend. Is it not sufficient that to you something is given, not to be buried in the ground, but to use? Use it well, with no thought of success or failure — but then I should not reiterate what you know better than I do.”


“I don’t,” said Anne. “I just don’t always know what is right to do.”


“That is everyone’s question. A problem, which only faith, belief in some creed, appears to solve. You can believe in all humility, seeking the depths of yourself,” said the Field Marshal, who sat like a small Buddha in his chair, his head wrapped in a cloth, his belly strapped in a large pink waistband to protect it from the cold, “you can do, but never be attached to success or failure in your actions. In other words, remain detached from the fruits of action...”


“It is difficult to be detached and perhaps still work with the same √©lan.”


“On the contrary, it is easier to work if you believe that you are but a vessel to do God’s will, and divine to that extent... Let God who made the world worry about it. Your duty is to do, and thus to revere life.”



I’m not sure I need to follow that up with anything, because what could be more powerful for a writer than to know that we are doing what we are inspired to do, whether you believe that comes from God or the universe or whatever word is used to express the kind of connection writers feel when they are inside their gift.


The world may see us as brilliant one day or maybe not, but truly, our only real duty is “to do, and thus to revere life.”


Happy writing.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Meeting Ms. West

As many in the writer blogging community know, blogs provide us with a community of supportive writers and, upon occasion, introduce us to the people who will become some of our best friends. I have been fortunate to become close friends with two different writers, both of them wonderful, generous people. On Friday of last week, I had the delightful opportunity to meet one of them in the real world for the first time: Ms. Kasie West.


Kasie and I began communicating just a couple months after I started my blog, and her treasure trove of goofiness and ability to write truly inspired songs about me (it’s a good thing she writes novels instead of songs, that’s all I’m saying) brought about a friendship that is as dear to me as any I’ve ever had. So when I found out she was going to be three hours away from me for part of a day, I took the day off of work, woke myself at 4:30 in the morning, and left the house just after six, with a new playlist to test out for the novel I’m writing and an excitement that made three hours fly right on by.


And then we met at the most scintillating of places... yup, that would be Denny’s where Kasie was having breakfast with her husband and amazingly wonderful in-laws (I’m not married, but if I ever am, I want people like these for in-laws... and actually before I got the chance to hug Kasie, Mrs. West hugged me first... how wonderful and welcoming was that!). I spent a truly magnificent day with Kasie and her family, exploring historical sites that I knew nothing about (okay, maybe I prepped with some research so I wouldn’t feel like an ignorant toad). And then we only got a little lost on the way to dinner (never ask Kasie a question about her life while she’s supposed to be studying a map... just saying).


On the drive home, I couldn’t get over the feeling about how magical the day was and that it was one of the best days I’ve had in recent memory. And it never once felt like we were meeting for the first time, because we’ve been an active part of each other’s lives and writing for quite a while now. I truly feel blessed in the friends, both writers and non-writers, that I am fortunate enough to know.


Thanks to the Wests for welcoming me into your very special day. And a huge congratulations to Kasie on her book deal. I’ve read her book, and I told her it was brilliant (maybe a few times). Isn't it nice to be right! :)


Oh, and yes, I felt like Lilliputian all day (which turns out to be a reference not everyone knows... extra points to Jared for just nodding politely and acting like I was as normal as Kasie. :)


Quote for the Day from Anonymous


“If you're alone, I'll be your shadow. If you want to cry, I'll be your shoulder. If you want a hug, I'll be your pillow. If you need to be happy, I'll be your smile. But anytime you need a friend, I'll just be me.”


Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Dear Blog Letter:

Dearest Blog-apotamus (everything sounds funnier with -potamus on the end, just ask my dogs),


Almost a month has passed since my last post, and I wanted you to know that this distance isn’t your fault. It’s nothing you’ve done. It’s me. It’s my “other” writing. It’s coming between us. And I want you to know that you are still loved, and all the other blogs out there are still loved by me, though I haven’t stopped by in a while.


You know I’m not moderate sometimes. You know that I have these fevers, these obsessions with fiction that drive away everything else. And that’s where I’ve been, typing so much it’s hard to use my fingers. Eating almond butter and grape jelly sandwiches every day just so I don’t have to cook anything that will require taking time to do more dishes. Playing with the dogs, while working on my laptop, plotting stories while I mow the lawn. Yes, I know, I seem like someone who needs meds, but I’m happy. And as my blog, I would think that you cared about my happiness.


Pause.


Oh, you don’t. You think I’m a loser who is ignoring my responsibilities. Well, if you are going to be like that about it, fine. See if care.


Pause.


You are right. I’ll try to do better. I will even promise a new post on or before Monday in which I will share photos from my super secret outing tomorrow, during which I will be meeting one of my author heroes, who is also thankfully one of my dearest friends.


And so, fair thee well, little blog. You are not forgotten.


Julie


P.S. Happy writing everyone!


Quote for the Day from Henry David Thoreau


“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, To put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die Discover that I had not lived.”