When I first started learning ceramics, my professor encouraged my classmates and me to make kiln gods for our glaze firing. This was an old tradition, he told us. We were going to position our greenware guardians near the kiln opening, just as the potters of ancient cultures did. The little gods would keep watch over our pieces during the firing. [Read more…] about Kiln Gods
There is a great in-between for creators. I’m in it now. A draft of a novel, completed and set aside. No new tale begun. No new tale even imagined. A lull.
Isn’t lull a beautiful word? Beautiful in sound, beautiful in meaning. The heart of lullaby. Kin to loll. Singing, sleeping, rocking, calm.
In a recent exchange of emails, I mentioned to a writer friend that I was in this lullsome state and realized after sending my message that my friend might think I’m depressed about this condition. I’m not. Though I don’t have a plan for a project, I’m enjoying my spell of anticipation. It’s a happy time, this dreaming, meandering hush. I read and read, all sorts of things, poems and plays, news and novels. I sit and think. I walk and watch. I dwell in possibility. I know there’s a novel out there somewhere, a gift for me. I can’t open it yet. I can’t even spy it. It’s hidden, like a living treasure, a rare bird nesting in a tree among trees, a tree in a thick forest.
While I was working on my last novel, my mind was a garden: planted, regularly watered and weeded, on its way to bearing fruit. There is no garden now. There’s only wilderness. I’m silent, wandering, lost in the loveliest way. When the gift’s ready to be found, it will sing, “Here I am,” and call me closer.
I will hear it because I have been listening.
“Forever is composed of nows.”
Happy New Year. It’s resolution time. Time to get thinner, stronger, smarter, richer. Time to heal our broken relationships. Time to find a new job. Time to quit procrastinating on that novel that needs to be written. But I’m tired. Are you tired, too? Too tired for big changes and improvements and overhauls?
This year, especially this year, maybe we deserve to cut ourselves some slack in the resolution department. If you have the energy for any or all of the above, good for you, but if you don’t and you’re a writer, a stressed-out writer who wants to pen a terrific novel or come up with a score of brilliant stories or poems, but is struggling to simply think straight, I have a suggestion. It’s something I’ve been doing. It’s easy. And it makes me happy. [Read more…] about Present and Accounted for
My dad used to work in a nursing home. If he had to go in on a Saturday afternoon, sometimes my sister and brother and I went with him. I’m not sure why this was permissible. I’m also not sure why we didn’t stay home with our mom. But she was a waitress at Davidson’s Restaurant and occasionally worked the lunch shift, so maybe she had to work, too.
The nursing home was small and elegant; its residents, all women and all rich. I remember my dad explaining the lack of men by telling us that women tend to live longer than men. I remember feeling lucky about this. [Read more…] about Fall into Place
I’m an enthusiastic gardener in the spring, a lazy weed-enabler in the fall. As I write this post, the brilliant foliage in the woods outside my window, though lovely, isn’t quite distracting me from the sad state of a flowerbed, where grass threads the lavender, wild asters bloom whitely between the lanky remains of hollyhocks, and bindweed twirls around the rosebush branches. Worse yet, it looks like poison ivy has gotten a roothold in my hydrangea. [Read more…] about Planting Season
Six months into this pandemic, I’m realizing things about myself, one of which is how cautious I am. Some friends and family members assure me the country’s situation isn’t as bad as the media paints it and, in fact, is getting better. But as of this week, there are over three million active cases of Covid-19, and we’ve passed the two hundred thousand deaths mark. That’s…a lot. That doesn’t sound like “better.” So I’m still practicing social distancing. Though I’ll call and write to the people I love, I won’t visit or entertain them. My caution has strained a few of my relationships, and I feel badly about that. “This isn’t forever,” I’ll say and think, I hope this isn’t forever. [Read more…] about Happenings
When I was in eleventh grade, my high school counselor Mr. Rizzo scheduled a meeting with me to discuss my college and career options. I pictured the two of us having this important conversation in his office, decorated inspiringly with his “Hang in there” poster of a kitten dangling out of a basket and his “Follow your dreams” poster of a mountain climber nearing a summit. I knew what questions he was going to ask. “What kind of life do you see for yourself?” “What do you want to do when you grow up?” I just wasn’t sure how to answer them. [Read more…] about Fondue
When I was a teenager, I liked romantic suspense novels. Mary Stewart’s Nine Coaches Waiting and This Rough Magic were my favorites. My mom, a reader, too, eschewed romance. She once told me in a bored voice that if she came across a sex scene in a book, she skipped it. But Mom enjoyed suspenseful novels, especially cozy mysteries, though she had an odd habit of plodding through the first couple of chapters, jumping to the end to read the last few pages, then returning to her earlier spot and finishing the book. [Read more…] about The (Good, Bad) End
Summertime is filled with the tasks I enjoy most. I live in Lake Ontario fruit country, where there are so many berries, cherries, peaches, and plums to do things with, bake into cakes, pies, and crisps, preserve or freeze. By August, I’m pickling cucumbers and canning tomatoes. Inevitably, at some point, a neighbor will leave a bag of zucchinis on the porch, and it’s a shame to let nice zucchinis go to waste. In the meantime, I have a writing project languishing, neglected. But the warmer months are also my pottery months. My studio isn’t heated, so I have to wait until the summer to throw and fire pots. [Read more…] about Paired, Turned, Fired
My first novel The Beloved Wild, a historical YA, came out in 2018, but once in a great while, a reader will still contact me about it. It’s gratifying when this person shares what they liked about the book, but usually they just have questions. Okay, one question: “Are you going to write a sequel?”
I don’t know. That’s usually what I say. But the truth is, when that novel was finally off my plate and out in the world, I was relieved and ready to move on. A sequel was the last thing on my mind. Not that I didn’t love my girl-masquerading-as-a-boy protagonist Harriet Winter or the early nineteenth century Genesee Valley where her pioneer adventure unfolds; just that crafting an excellent historical novel is, well, hard. [Read more…] about When the Present Makes a Writer Want to Curl Up in the Past