this thing called Writing…

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…a Story, and wood…does it get any better?  From my heart to yours, I hope you all are enjoying a rich holiday season, filled with love, laughter, wonderment, and good books!  The Los Angeles Times did an end of the year review on our entertainments – and I was especially enthralled with the end of the year review on books.  David Ulin, a brilliant teacher, book critic, writer, and overall provocateur/thinker, wrote a beautiful essay on books and publishing that gives hope to us writers that the storm that has disrupted the publishing world is beginning to calm, as traditional publishing and the digital age begin to find their respective places at the table.

The great thing about the digital world is that it allows for diversity of voice, ensuring that we as readers will have a greater chance of encountering a writer that speaks to us on a personal level.  Yes, it can be difficult to locate writers in the digital realm, unless you have previous knowledge of their name or the title of a specific book…or hours to simply peruse!   But, we are still young in this territory and this can only improve as time goes by and ideas spread.

The other gem Ulin touched upon was the uptick in small local bookstores, which in my neighborhood alone, has seen two open in the past couple years!  And this is fantastic, of course, for many reasons, but perhaps one of the best gifts this brings to a neighborhood is the allowance for community, a space that gives room for interaction with fellow book lovers, and neighbors.  Ulin calls this “artisanal, slow reading…(or)a mechanism by which we are enlarged.”  Most readers want more than cheap books; we want conversation, community. I couldn’t agree more.

Recently, I wrote a post on the joy of “not much happening” in a story, where we are allowed an inside window into a life, and through this frame we come to better understand not only ourselves, but humanity on a larger, and more personal, scale.  And this was reflected by Ulin also, as he wrote of “…why we read in the first place: not to be entertained or distracted but to be connected, to experience a world, a life, a set of emotions we might not otherwise get to know.”  This fills me with hope, this desire to witness a life that is apart from ourselves…that I am not alone in this desire.  And it also fills me with courage – the courage to continue digging into the inner world, as well as paying attention to how this plays out on the stage of living the day to day.  

Reading, books, writing – this territory claims a much wider, deeper realm than simply entertainment…though I love to be entertained as much as the next guy!  But – through this medium, we also have the opportunity to mine more deeply, to explore, to set out on a journey unknown to us and expand our horizons, our world view, our appreciation for those that differ from our own personal experience.   We are given the opportunity to better understand ourselves and to find connections within the framework of this thing called the human experience.  So this coming year – support your local bookstore, read your local writers…or any writer!, pick up a pen and write your own book, and then have your local bookstore stock it on their shelves!  Reach out and make your community stronger…one book at a time. :)

 

rich, emptiness

 

the beautiful joy of Burning  Man...
the beautiful joy of Burning Man…

I like landscape in fiction. I like women alone in a landscape in fiction. I like sentences that are gorgeous, and bright pops of color amidst more subdued, earthy hues. I’ve never heard anyone talk about the color tones of a story.  Oh, and counter to everything we’re told, long scenes where nothing much happens. – Robin MacArthur (writer/creator of the blog woodbird, them mornings…one of my favorite writer blogs)

When I read this on Robin MacArthur’s blog the other day, I said out loud a resounding – Yes!  Especially (in particular) the element of “long scenes where nothing much happens.” This sentiment filled me with enormous joy as it seems there has been a tremendous shift away from this in American literature, with a steady and pulsating focus on plot oriented storylines instead.  I am not saying I don’t care for plot heavy stories…but I will wholeheartedly admit that they are not my favorite, by a long shot.  Living is interesting! People who live are interesting!  And the act of exploring and examining an individual’s life – never grows tiresome, or short on intrigue.  

I strongly believe that we are here to live and experience rich, rewarding, fascinating, interesting, expansive, unique, head-on lives…and one of the greatest ways of stepping out onto that path is by learning what life means…and one of the greatest ways we can do that, is by learning from others who have lived before us, and who continue to live all around us: Learning about what their lives looked like, how experience shaped their knowledge or ignorance, how they felt, the construction of their beliefs, how their choices led to success or failure, the way they loved and why, what they gave away and what they buried…all the minute details about what constructs a life.

Literary fiction is one of the richest meadows that gives room for this unearthing to take place – it provides safe ground to dig in, with soil that is saturated with the collected deposits of deep history, gathered spans of time, and experiences that are as many as the stars in our sky.  I believe stories hold the ability to unlock our soul – to carve deeper channels of humanity inside our spirit – to learn how to listen and see another human being, even one that stands afar, on an opposite shore.  And what  creates this expansive allowance is not so much the plot, but the silence that rests inside the human soul…a soul that we begin to see through the stillness of character engaging with life.  A character standing on a hill, revealing through his/her eyes what they see, informs us as to who they are…which informs us of who we are, due to our own reading of this open ended conversation.  It’s a miraculous thing, and I am grateful every single day for all the writers out there – for all of the artists out there, that help us all to see a much bigger world, because of the gifts that they give.  

Here’s a few writers that I find provide room for “nothing much to happen” in their stories:

Cormac McCarthy, Per Petterson, Eudora Welty, Mary Oliver, Marilynne Robinson, John Berger, Julian Barnes, Brad Kessler, Alice Munro…to name a few.

Please share the love and let me know of writers that you adore, who allow for this “rich, emptiness” on the page.  The more we know, the bigger we grow :)

 

 

some favorites

We are coming to the end of another year – stunning, yes?  My elders used to warn me about time moving more and more quickly as one gains years…I find myself saying this now to young kids and people (oh dear, I’ve become one of those!) ha ha.  At any rate, a nice way to embrace the year we have just moved through is to remember the wonders of it.  So here are a few memorables that come to mind – there are so many I could share…

Some favorite reads – no matter the year:

51njxm41hCL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_ Out Stealing Horses – Per Petterson

To The Wedding – John Berger
41m6qAw7nrL._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA160_

 51zcaTA2itL._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA160_ Goat Song – Brad Kessler

31PUlcP-LQL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Just Kids – Patti Smith

51+s7-UW0NL._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA160_  Holy Land – D. J. Waldie

51yBluUtuNL._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA160_A Lesson Before Dying – Ernest Gaines

51S3jeXPxBL._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA160_ If You Want To Write – Brenda Ueland

51I1lm2MX9L._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_ New and Selected Poems – Mary Oliver

41vHv388OzL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_ The Well and the Mine – Gin Phillips

Let me also share with you a couple/few great sites that are worthy of exploring:

LinneaWest.com/blog//

Paperdarts.org

woodbird, them mornings

customcreature.taxidermy.com

onbeing (with Krista Tippett)

Prairie Schooner

Radio Lab

A few goodies for you all :)  Hope you are having a festive, happy, joyfully loving Holiday Season!

 

My book cover

Ellia'sCoverSUN

 

Here it is!  I’m so proud of this book cover – it captures the essence of my book with such simplicity and poetry.  My deepest gratitude and appreciation to my dear friend Jocelyn Pedersen, an incredibly talented and accomplished artist and bookmaker – this is her design.  A picture tells a story, and Jocelyn understood intuitively, how to tell mine through her imagery.  My deepest thanks, dearest friend :)

The book is coming soon….stay tuned!

 

Nelson Mandela – July 18th, 1918

 

Copy of nelson-mandela

Because every now and then, a person comes along and reminds us all of our best possible potential.  Our deepest Humanity.  Our deepest Courage.  The depths of what we can accomplish when we persevere and do not EVER give up.  We are all a bit greater because Nelson Mandela lived – a bit more human because his humanity reached so wide and so far and so bright.  I know that when I look up into the night sky I will see his spirit continue to shine down, to beckon us to never stop fighting for those who are oppressed, for those who have no voice, for those who need the courageous to rise up and stand beside them, to raise our voices, create our art, unlock the doors that belong to the privileged and spread them wide and open for all to enter.

Nelson Mandela’s spirit was, and will remain, a beautiful music coursing through the universe  – whispering into our hearts, our souls, our tender ears, to listen, to see! not the horrors, but the potential; to see not what is wrong, but what can be right; to see what we might do if we can learn to recognize one another as self.  Ubuntu.  “I am here because of you.”   Let this be our motto, let this be our religion, let this be our love story – to one another.  Let us, as a collected people, rise into the future of what humanity might become, and never never stop moving toward that…despite our own private prison cells that attempt to dismantle.

Thank you Mr. Mandela for your voice, for your love, for your unfaltering commitment to people of this world.  Thank you for living.  Thank you for seeing.  Thank you for being.  Rest in the sweetest peace.  Your spirit flies! and will never be forgotten.

TugQgqE

our bright star

This month, my husband is featured in the ICG Magazine!  Hot-bloody-dog right!!! :)  ICG stands for the International Cinematographers Guild, and he is featured in the article about the up & coming generation of fabulous DP’s (or Cinematographers).  How’s that for awesome :)

Ken is featured in Generation Next!
Ken is featured in Generation Next!

Ken swims in a big pond (there are a great many DP’s – or Director’s of Photography – in Hollywood) and to be singled out as one of the 5 up & coming DP’s in this town is an extraordinary honor and huge recognition..and if I may say so (and I may, because I’m his wife and it’s my prerogative to boast and brag about my man!) this is a recognition that he has deeply, deeply earned.  For as long as I’ve known him, he has worked harder than anyone I know – he constantly tries out new ideas, keeps his eye on the pulse of what is happening in cinema afar, as well as here in our fair town; experiments with new technology, and maintains a mountain of knowledge about the various platforms that a DP can choose from when it comes to shooting, or recording an image.  He is extremely dedicated and enormously talented, and to watch him receive a moment in the spotlight for his skill and superbly beautiful photography is…well, let’s just say its positively fantastic. :)   I know this means a great deal to him – to be recognized by his industry, especially in the ICG magazine, a magazine he has such respect for… so, here is to you Ken Glassing :)  You so positively deserve this moment of the light shining on you.  I am, We are all, so incredibly proud!

Here he is :)  Sorry I couldn’t provide a link to the article, not yet available (or so it seems).

Ken working on set, and below, an image of his work from CSI Miami (he shot the final four seasons)
Ken working on set, and below, an image of his work from CSI Miami (he shot the final four seasons)