Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This Time I'm Showing and Telling

This first picture is of the crabapple tree right outside our living room window. We love that it fills the window and almost looks like a picture when you're sitting in our living room, but I have to confess and tell you that our dog sits on the couch to stare out that particular window, and is the one who sees it the most. Oh well. The second picture is of the completed bookshelves (my husband's job is half way done!). Since I've put "work in progress" pictures on the blog, he asked that I put one up of the finished product. Please excuse the mess in front! I'm still moving things around.
This week I came across two articles about writing that resonated with me. One is from the June '09 edition of The Writer. The article begins on p.15 and was written by Richard Goodman. It's entitled, "No book yet? Don't lose heart." In it he speaks to those of us who've yet to have their books published, and I found the article inspirational and encouraging. I'm doing most of the things Mr. Goodman did before he made his way in the publishing world, so perhaps I'm on the right path. One place our journeys differ, however, is where he says he always considered himself a writer--even though he'd never had anything published. For some reason, I still grapple with that label. I wish I could embrace it as he did. I'm trying hard to learn that lesson and accept the description, "writer." Guess he had more self-confidence than I.
The second article was on the last page of this Sunday's New York Times Book Review in the Essay section. It was written by Lori Gottlieb and she speaks to writers and the issue of writing about family. She cites several examples of writer's mothers and how they handled being mentioned or even demonized in their children's writing. This is definitely an issue for me, although I have no burning desire to write about my family or mother, per se, much less demonize them. I have to admit, though, my parents are always in the back of my mind when I write--even this blog, which my mother does happen by every once in a while. Fortunately, she hasn't figured out how to leave a comment. ;o) Guess I'll have to continue evading her request for help teach her how to do it. I wish I could block them from my mind when I write, but this is a challenge for me. Ann Lamott says, "Write as though your parents are dead." Good advice, but difficult for me to follow. Maybe it's because I'm the oldest child and still want their approval. Who knows? I just appreciated Ms. Gottlieb's article and found comfort in the fact I am not alone when it comes to this issue. I also liked reading how some of those mothers handled seeing all or pieces of themselves in publication. Some handled it better than others, for sure. I'm not sure where my own mother would fall, and I may never know because she flat out made the request: "Please don't ever write a memoir." Trust me, even if I did pen a memoir, it wouldn't sell because we've led pretty mundane and "normal" lives. There's really not much to tell, so she has nothing to worry about. And it's not only mothers and fathers who worry. I just had something published and when my husband read it he said, "No one's going to think this about you and me, are they?" Who knows? Who cares? I think some of my best writing comes from the deepest, most honest part of my self, and often that part is rooted in my childhood. So no, I probably won't ever write a memoir, but I may write a story and have a family sitting around a large sheet of plywood draped with a tablecloth as substitute for the dining room table. The uncle in the story may have had too much to drink that Thanksgiving and when someone asks if he can please pass the bread, he'll throw a roll at them from the other end of the table and my mom will know where I got that idea. I hope it will make her smile rather than wince.


Janna Qualman said...

Those bookshelves are fabulous! I'm sore jealous. ;)

And I completely agree. Even without writing a blatant memoir, parts of us, tidbits from our own lives, make it into our fiction - because that's where we draw from. And I think that's why fiction can be so good.

Gosh, I'm sorry I didn't follow you before. Good stuff!

Angie Ledbetter said...

"I think some of my best writing comes from the deepest, most honest part of my self, and often that part is rooted in my childhood." Yay! Remember Hemingways, "Write one true sentence..."

Great shelves, so kuddos to the mister. :)

Diane Vogel Ferri said...

Great post - it's so good I would definitely call you a WRITER!!!