Years ago, when I first created this website to showcase my first novel, Standing on the Corner of Lost and Found, I wrote a weekly blog called Storyboard. It was random. The topics were wide reaching news of the day and as much as possible wound back to themes I was writing about. As a storyboard is only the outline of a story—the main action points—I tried to get into the layers. I wrote a post every week for over a year and decided I was spending too much time on it. It was taking away from other writing and new projects.
This blog space is different.
Any writer worth her or his salt will tell you that reading is the most important part of learning how to write. Of course, if you aren’t a voracious reader, why would you want to write in the first place?
If you are reader… or a writer ….or both…. or just like to read about books…. or writing…. or about people who write…. or about people who read, you are in the right place.
A bit about what I’ve been up to since Storyboard—
In the interim, I’ve published another novel, What Love Becomes, a poetry chapbook, Paternal Nocturne, some poetry, short fiction, book reviews and on the personal front left family, dear friends, and my extraordinary writing community to make a major life move to Florida.
It’s been both wonderful and difficult. Happy and sad. Full and lonely. The whole gamut of life forces and emotions. Yet, overall it was a good decision.
Now, we are in times no one could have predicted. The time and space we always thought we wanted is here — and then some. As of today, I have been sheltered at home with my husband for 48 days in hot and steamy southwest Florida where only the ibis and egrets are unaware there is a virus lurking about, taking its toll on us humans.
Lucky for me, I am a solitary person to begin with and have spent many days in front of a computer screen inventing worlds, playing with words, uncovering how I feel about myself, those around me, the world.
I”ve tried to keep to a schedule. Deadlines have always been part of my work life. Meeting arbitrary deadlines is how I’ve been able to finish my novels and real ones are part of the freelance world. So, my day begins as it always has with a cup of coffee, journaling, and the reading of a new poem.
I signed up for a 21-day poetry workshop offered by Holly Wren Spaulding of Poetry Forge (http://www.poetryforge.us) that gave me lots of drafts to work from and a firm footing back into the writing world after a long fallow period. Every morning, there was an email in my inbox with an assignment. When that workshop ended, Holly offered pop-up Poetry as Consolation workshops. They were hour long workshops in which she read a poem, offered some writing provocations as she calls them, or prompts, and invited in a guest speaker or poet to read. Good for the soul. My soul anyway. Bless Zoom.
Doing something that feels right or familiar even in these diminished circumstances. Yes!
So we’ve found new ways to deal with our isolation. Zoom is now our social and work lifeline. I can still do yoga with little squares of peoples’ faces and heads bowing and an instructor trying to simulate the vibe of a studio. Or attend an art class. Or a talk on the fate of Broadway (as if anybody knows that). I can FaceTime with friends and family on the phone. Now if they can figure out how to simulate touch, we’ll really be in business!
My other lifeline besides writing is reading. Naturally. I probably should reverse the order.
As Anne Tyler says, “I read so I can live more than one life in more than one place.”
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… the man who never reads lives only one,” says George R.R. Martin in a A Dance with Dragons
So true. This week I’ve been to Denmark, Mojave, and learned about a town flooded in upstate New York to enlarge capacity for the New York City watershed. Exhausting! Exhilarating! No humidity anywhere!
I’ve been thinking of READING AS CONSOLATION during these times and all times as a matter of fact and I’d like to use this as conversation space. I’m going to talk about what I’m writing and reading. I may post some work in progress but probably not for a while. This space is going to be about the books I’m reading, what I think about them. I probably won’t be talking about the new books that everybody else is reviewing. Why duplicate? There are so many books out there. I do like to talk about what I think makes the book a good one, how it works, the places it succeeds, where I felt let down. Those sorts of things.
I hope to hear from you. There is nothing better than book talk. Our libraries are closed. Our book clubs aren’t meeting. I hope yours are meeting online. But if they aren’t, please join me. If they are, please join me.
There is nothing like good book talk. The Readers’ Cafe is now open for business. Hope to hear from you soon.