A Sabbath Summer of Zen

“Trust the wait.  Embrace the uncertainty.  Enjoy the beauty of becoming.  When nothing is certain, anything is possible.”

From mindsetofgreatness

Those eleven words are the most I’ve written all summer, and – obviously – I didn’t write them.  It’s been a strange two or three months.  I’ve felt like I’ve been in a trance of some kind.  When I need to, I can accomplish something like doing the dishes after supper or going to a meeting, but I have not been able to write.

Rather than get frustrated or anxious, I’ve learned to ‘go with the flow’ and not question what’s going on.  When I went back to school as an adult, the mantra among the professors and other students was ‘trust the process.’  Sometimes it was uncomfortable, but I did it then, and I’ve done it ever since.  For some reason my body must need this rest, so I remind myself to ‘trust the wait.’

At the same time, I miss being here, I miss writing and the current stalled work-in-progress.  So, after wracking my brain almost all summer for something positive to post here, at least on occasion, I may have had a mini-brainstorm a few minutes ago.  I think maybe I burned myself out with the daily writing prompts of the Prompter Room, but so many folks responded positively to those posts I don’t want to stop them altogether.

Here’s what I’m going to try: I will post something much more simple, and only two to three times a week.  The posts will consist only of a saying or quote or inspirational message – in other words, I won’t insert any of my own words that might get in the way.

If I had the technological expertise, I could dress up the words as a banner or poster with appropriate backgrounds and the like, but I can’t.  Each post, then, might seem sparse and spare, especially compared to before – but maybe that’s a good thing.

Of course, if you’d like more wordage or encouragement, you’re always welcome to browse through the almost-year of earlier posts.  And the tabs up in the menu bar are always available, too.

Thanks to everyone who’s stuck with me here, or followed me anew, through my summer of silence!   I appreciate you all, and I hope this has been a good season for you in health and words and blessings.  More soon!

~~ Genie

The Prompter Room

For Tuesday, July 26, 2016:

 

“I have spent most of the day putting in a comma and the rest of the day taking it out.”

Oscar Wilde

Oh yes, I have done this!  More than once.  One poem in particular, though, stands out.  Here’s the poem, written many, many years ago:

Communion

The trains of misty, foggy nights

entice my thoughts to go along.

Each night they call to me

of where they’re going

and of where they’ve been.

Each night the whistles cry,

and then the silence

holds the echoes

for me to hear again.

 

I wonder: is there one inside

who sees,

and wonders, as they pass,

if there is one alone out there

who hears,

and wonders too?

 

© ERR

 

Poetry is hard to punctuate because it’s so subjective and based, usually, on the writer’s speaking style and breathing patterns.  But sometimes punctuation can make a point or guide us in a direction by its very presence or absence.   I think this is one reason some people have a hard time with Emily Dickinson’s poetry.  Her famous dashes can be hard to translate to our modern ear: where do I stop, where do I pause, when do I slow down as I read?

‘Communion’ is one of those poems that comes along rarely, at least for me.  I could almost see the whole of it at once in my mind’s eye as I transferred it to the page (it helped that it’s short).   In the 25-30 years since that night, I haven’t changed a word, I haven’t changed the order of anything.  That, too, is rare for me.  I usually change something the next few times I work on a poem.

But every single time (almost) that I look at it, I try to decide if that blasted comma should stay in or be deleted.  It makes a difference, too, if I’m just reading it to myself or if I plan to read it aloud somewhere.  (Hint: it is – or isn’t – in the second stanza.)

I’m at the point now where I think this might be a good candidate for no punctuation at all.  That way the reader can make his or her own decision and I can finally let it go.

Review of A Proud Little Town!

Friends, I don’t want to fawn too much in public, but I can’t tell you how thrilled, gratified, and humbled I am to receive this unsolicited review of my recently-released novella A Proud Little Town.  A prolific writer and creative studies pioneer, Margaret was one of my advisors in the MA program I was in several years ago, and I am honored to call her friend still.  Thank you so much for your generous words and for the opportunity to share them!

 

Hi, Genie.  Just wanted to let you know that I just finished reading your Arlington novel and really enjoyed it.  I couldn’t believe it when I read at the end that it’s almost all fiction.  Having driven through Arlington several times … I was totally convinced you were practically a native.  I was impressed how redemptive the outcome was for everybody (no villains) and how cooperative the townsfolk were.  I particularly enjoyed Bud’s point of view, the discovery of the ancient bones, and the ritual at the end.  I could imagine other books in the series presented from the viewpoints of other characters.  Your writing certainly captures the spirit and life-detail of living in Vermont.  And the nature descriptions with the focus on the effectiveness of collaboration to protect our environment are really wonderful.

Brava!

 

As I wrote back to Margaret, I am currently working on the next book in the series – I’ve actually made decent progress in the last couple of days – but if you want to check out A Proud Little Town now, you can click here.  It’s also available on Kindle here.

Thank you, Margaret, and bless you!

~~ Genie

The Prompter Room

For Thursday, July 14, 2016:

“No one can write decently who is distrustful of the reader’s intelligence or whose attitude is patronizing.”

E. B. White

It’s been a long while since I’ve been here – a month from my last post that thanked you all for your patience, and probably another month since I posted anything of substance.  It’s been so long that my stats page flickered while it was trying to load, probably because it had to go back so far!

While there are still many and myriad medical things going on, there are now some down times and I’ve felt words coming back a few at a time, so I thought I’d make a stab at some brainwork and ease back into my blog.  It probably won’t be every day, but I hope it’ll be a lot more frequent than the past couple of months.  Again, thank you for your patience.

One of the goals I set for myself during this somewhat-enforced hiatus was to read books that really stretched me in some way.  The book I finished a few days did just that.  When I saw A Doubter’s Almanac by Ethan Canin on the library shelf, I grabbed it because I’d read Canin’s earliest couple of books and was very impressed.  When I read the inside of the book jacket, however, I almost put it back on the shelf.  This was a thick novel about a mathematician.  I opened it and glanced through some of the pages.  To my dismay, though not surprisingly, there  were mathematicians’ names, formulae and concepts that made my eyes glaze over – and that was just from a quick glance.

To understand my dismay, you have to know that I almost didn’t graduate from high school because of my abysmal math grades.  I found out decades later that I have dyscalcula (I think that’s the right term), the equivalent of dyslexia with numbers and figures.  At the time, though, all I knew was that I had to promise not to enroll in any college classes that required math.

As I lifted the book back to its shelf, I reminded myself of my goal … so, against my better judgment, I took it over to the check-out desk.  I figured I could always take it back to the library if it gave me headaches.

Well, far from it.  It didn’t take long before I was entranced – entranced! – by the storyline, by the writing style, by everything I was learning.  Yes, some of it was over my head, but only a little.  I was surprised at how much I understood.  Most of all, I was amazed at Canin’s gift of writing about such a dense subject and his complicated character in such a way that actually compelled this reader, at least, through to the last page.

Canin obviously doesn’t distrust his readers’ intelligence.  He had a story to tell and he did so in such a way that encouraged growth rather than going for the lowest common denominator.  And he made it a good book at the same time.

I’m glad I decided to stretch myself.  I think this is probably what has enabled a few words to flow ever since.

Thank you for your patience

It’s taking longer than I anticipated to get physical and brain energies back in my hiatus necessitated by medical issues in the household.  Thank you for your patience!  I appreciate the continued views and visits, and especially the new followers who have joined this little community while I’ve been missing in action.

hope to be back here  week, as things are starting to ease up some.  In the meantime, I hope you’ll continue to visit and check out my pages up top – don’t forget the Zen koans for meditation and writing prompts – and some older posts.

One thing I have managed to do is join the 21st century – I now have a Twitter account.  If you’re there, too, I hope you’ll look me up at @GenieWrites2.  And don’t forget to check out my new novel A Proud Little Town.  The link is above at the Bookshelf tab and in the most recent post before this one.

Thank you again!  I miss being here and I’m looking forward to being back as soon as possible.

Blessings!

~~ Genie

A Proud Little Town

Greetings, friends!  I’m popping in for a few minutes to announce that my novella, A Proud Little Town, is now available in paperback and on Kindle!

Thank you for sharing some of my 15-month journey as I crafted this, my second work of long fiction.  Book Two of this new occasional series is in process, so I expect you’ll see more as the year goes by.

The following is the back cover blurb.  If this interests you, the links to order are below.

Early praise for A Proud Little Town

“ … This is the kind of book I would buy, the kind many people want to read.  Everybody right now is so bombarded with horrible news, this comes as a fresh, uplifting, joyful mystery where people change and heal …”

– Christine Greenspan, MA in poetry therapy, author, and founder of Flowers and Flutes at www.feelbetterphotos.com.

***

Welcome to Arlington, Vermont – a small town with a famous history, a lot of stories to tell, and a bit of a problem.   The idyllic Lye Brook Wilderness Area and its small rookery of great grey herons are under threat from development, which Dr. Abby Phillips’ group actively opposes.  While the developers and the townspeople are at loggerheads, voices from beneath the earth start to speak.  Only one person hears them, but even he doesn’t know what they are at first, or what they’re saying.  Will he understand in time to make a difference?

A Proud Little Town, the first in the occasional Arlington Town series, introduces the reader to the unique history and landscape of Vermont and its people through the characters of Abby, Will Putnam of the Putnam Academy, resident shaman Bud Belanger, the widow Elnora Rushlow, recent transplant Flora MacDonald, and all the good folks who gather at Gina Frost’s diner on behalf of their beloved little town and the herons. 

*** Continue reading “A Proud Little Town”

Apologies

“The best way out is always through.”

Robert Frost

My apologies for being missing in action recently … The last two or three weeks have been taken over by ‘life’ and medical and health issues.  I had hoped to stay on my daily prompt routine throughout – though I did take the respective weekends off to recoup some energy – but that didn’t work out.

This week is more of the same, including drives to and from doctors’ appointments that are five hour-long round trips.  Sometimes this part of the world is a little piece of heaven.  When it comes to some medical specialists … not so much, thereby necessitating the long, tedious, painful drives.

But in life, as in writing, we forge ahead, sometimes creeping (and creaking!), other times with resilience, but always through.

I hope to get back to the daily Prompter Room as soon as possible – at this point, it looks like sometime next week will be my earliest chance.  Things should settle down a little by then.  In the meantime, I hope to be able to announce some good literary news in two or three days.

Many blessings and thanks!

~~ Genie