I’m blaming the start of classes for my tardiness this month. And I’m only teaching two classes when last fall I taught four! I told myself that I’d get grades posted early each week so I’d have time to write – and I will, as soon as I settle into the fall routine. Alas, that routine has eluded me the past few weeks – partly due to my ongoing struggle with transitions, partly because I’ve had fun days away from my office, and partly because I’ve been preparing for two art shows/sales.
Fun days out…
Some twenty members of our Writers Group gathered for our annual retreat. Our agenda – to talk about reading like a writer. Together we examined several essays and poems to identify specific techniques that made that work shine. Framing devices, imagery, pacing, and using a story as a ‘container for change’ were highlights I hope will stick with me. We also, as per tradition, spent half an hour or so writing from the same prompt – our own version of flash fiction – or poetry, autobiography, etc. Listening to what emerged from our individual interpretations of this year’s prompt, ‘As I was standing there…’ was inspiring, enlightening, and just plain fun! Catch some samples of our work at http://canandaiguawriters.blogspot.com/.
On another fun day out, I indulged my girly instincts for clothes by attending a fashion show with two friends. On the drive there, we all asserted, ‘I don’t need anything!’ Sure. We were seduced by what we saw and the 20% off coupon and all came home with something new and fun to wear. But we exercised discipline and left a few other dreams and imaginings on the shop racks. Imagine!
Upcoming Art Shows
For the past few years, my friend Pat and I have been selling our wearable art together. She’s the business person. I’m along for the ride and deeply appreciate having an outlet for all the ‘therapy’ I create – much more than I can wear or even give away! (It’s my Creativity A-D-D!)
Two shows in October and November means I have been cranking out ‘therapy’ at an alarming rate. Our local Christkindl Market is a big, big show that brings in thousands over three days – and this one scares me! Will I have enough inventory? Or will I have created so much I’ll be swimming in it all the rest of my life? That’s right. I have no idea what I’m doing. Thankfully, I’ll rely on Pat.
I’ve pictured a few of my items – felted scarves and wraps and freeform Peyote beaded jewelry. See more on Pat’s Facebook Page
And yes, I’ve been reading! (But I haven’t been keeping a good list. Alas.)
Catherine Alexandra is a writer I met via one of the many author groups I’ve joined on Facebook – so I wanted to read her book! It was a sun-drenched sweetheart of a story set in a new bucket-list location – Mallorca, Spain. Catherine takes us on a journey of wide-eyed joy that morphs into fear and loss and builds back to a new and stronger beginning.
At 93, Dick Van Dyke makes a convincing argument that singing and dancing every day will keep you loving life. A book club pick, his memoir cum tips for healthy aging was an easy and fun trip through his late career. Amazingly, a doc diagnosed near crippling arthritis back in his Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang era, but that never slowed him down – not through losing his first marriage, a long-term life companion, or through his current marriage to a woman who is forty years younger than he! If I weren’t already committed to Keep Moving, he’d have convinced me.
I got on a Laura Dave kick when I picked up The First Husband and enjoyed all three of these books a lot. They read with the ease of chick-lit but include thoughtful self-discovery in her lead characters that I found interesting as well as fun to read. I appreciated a little ‘beachiness’ to my reading as we approached what I think of as ‘the dark months!’
Will I ever get enough of British WWII stories? Probably not. Rhys Bowen serves up plenty of drama – spies, code-breaking, ponies, orphans, a dashing pilot, spunky heroine, and an estate reminiscent of Downton Abbey. Oh and let’s not forget the quiet but attractive real hero of the piece. I found him and his exacting search for betrayal and Nazi sympathizers quite dishy!
And now we come to the toughest book of the season – and maybe the best. George Saunders seems to have made up stories based on headstones in a cemetery. Gosh, who does that? Me, me, me! Some names, some dates of birth and/or death, some inscriptions just seem to scream out a story. But my cemetery jaunts never turned out the complexity of Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo. Told in snips and dialogue among the dead, this reminded me of Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters – yet another cemetery storyteller. But Saunders ties in Abraham’s depth of grief over the death of his son Willy, amid the terrible losses of the Civil War, and intriguing pictures of the need to tell our stories before we can let go and move on. It’s a tough read, and I am so glad I soldiered through (pun intended.)
I feel sure I’ve missed other books I’ve read lately. But then, October isn’t over yet. Stay tuned!