Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Reading

Summer is already proving to be promising much more than it can deliver.

One of the topics we discussed at the NCW members coffee this morning was, summer...how and what to do about summer. How do you get anything done? What are the best ways to be sure you get the most from the long lazy days? In the past I remember I felt depressed when summer came along. I had so many wonderful projects planned. I would make a huge long list. But family vacations, visits, lessons and classes for the kids, vacation bible school, camps etc. etc. would crop up like weeds in my carefully planted garden. Granted I'm past the kid schedule routine (even though I do have grandchildren schedules to consider for at least two days a week) but I still seem to suffer from that over expectation cloud.

Suggestions given by NCW members were helpful: Make deadlines for some things, get in a routine you follow daily and more but the best one was, if you can't make it to your computer (or yellow pad) read.

So that is what I will do. That is what I have already been doing. Even though it is only the first day of summer, here are my summer reads so far.

Pat Stoltey's mystery, "Prairie Grass Murders" was a delightful, romp through a small town's dirty laundry, basements, barns, and psychiatric wards that wouldn't let me put it down. It was complex enough to keep me wondering and with enough action to keep me curious about what was going to happen next to the delighful sleuths.(One of which was close to my own age!) I am not a regular reader of mysteries but this is a perfect read for the summer.

The second book I read was Mark Doty's book, Dog years. It is a dog story (at least two dogs) and a memoir about love and life. Here is what the back cover says (so you won't have to read it when you go into the bookstore) "When Mark Doty decides to adopt a dog as a companion for his dying partner, he brings home Beau, a large malnourished golden retriever in need of loving care. Joining Arden, the black retriever, to complete their family, Beau bounds back into life. Before long the two dogs become Doty's intimate companions, and eventually the very life force that keeps him from abandoning all hope during the darkest days. Dog years is a poignant, intimate memoir interwoven with profound reflections on our feelings for animals and the lessons they teach us about living, love, and loss.

This was a book that was recommended to me by a member of my writer's critique group and I am so grateful. It is a model for what I want to say and how I would like to write, down to using poetry throughout. I hope you read it.

Another book I picked up on my last visit to the bookstore was, The Introvert Advantage, a book that only after ten pages or so has described to me who I am and why I keep looking for books that help me figure out who I am... I am ready to drop the guilt and go for it. Dive underneath all the personal bashing I have done through the years. My psychiatrist saw it in the bookstore and suggested I take a look. Just one of the helpful suggestions she has made in the very short time I have been meeting with her.

I think I will suggest she read Dog Years. She would get a good insight into who I am

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


When I had the idea to form a support group called MSG-Spice of Life, several years ago, I was deeply into my menopause years. The group never formed but I liked the name and decided to use it for my first blog. The 3 letters, MSG are a reference to monosodium glutamate, a general purpose spice that tasted OK but was later found to be hazardous to our health. I thought it fit because MSG also could stand for Menopause Support Group. Menopause, as I know now, is (could be)hazardous to our health. Since then a lot has been said about menopause and I'm not really about writing about it today.

But now I really don't like the name I had chosen for my very first blog. This came to mind because I was using an old recipe yesterday that called for MSG. And from somewhere in my head I heard the word VARIETY. Thats it! Now I am feeling better about my blog. It seems I can't change the URL but I know clearly what I have been trying to explain when people ask me to describe this blog. It is about variety. Variety is the Spice of Life, of course.

So what variety do you have in your life or your writing? Are you stuck? If so for how long? I have learned the longer you walk the same path the more likely it will turn into a rut and then into a canyon of sorts. I know I need encouragement to climb out of those ruts, help finding hand holds and footholds.
I have lots of manuscripts sitting in boxes, good ideas and good thoughts, pretty well done manuscripts. My main rut is that I want to hold on to them till I get to them someday. Critque groups, readers, getting acquainted with other writers like at NCW help alot. And I have an organzational coach who is helping me too. It is hard. Sometimes it feels like I am tearing my heart out and that I will be doing this for the rest of my life.

But one thing I just did, that I moan about all the time...yes time. I don't have time to write. But I do, and I am, writing this blog right now this morning and it is nothing like I thought I would write if I got to it today. Something different.

But that's another story. I need to quit now that I have written what is on my mind. I know that as I sort through my writing and slowly (maybe it will get easier) throw out (or rework) outdated stuff, I will make room for new things.And I will surprise myself. Hurrah! Variety is the Spice of Life.