It was Mother’s Day; we dropped our silver brunch forks, rushed to Children’s Hospital, peed on a ketone strip, and spent the following week in a crash course on Type 1 Diabetes.
Waiting in a pale blue room the size of a linen closet holding my daughter’s moist shaky hand, I was transported into another realm of motherhood. One I was totally unprepared for, but highly equipped to handle. Thankfully, we humans are adaptable creatures.
Three months into a new manuscript, I was already exploring how illness challenges a family. Last Mother’s Day in that airless room, I stared at my greatest fear, stood up and slammed the door.
“…Keira stands rooted. A tear running in a silvery streak of defiance down her cheek. She’s eight years old and holding on to the fleshy remnants of infancy in body alone. This household has stolen her innocence and crushed it under its leaden heel. We’re all in hell she tells herself turning her back on her daughter. I’m tired of pretending it’s ok, because it’s not…it’s not f***ing ok and never will be…”
I love placing a character in a space I’ve visited. To visualize them sitting in a chair I admired for it’s fabric or smile at the scent of orange blossoms tickling their nose – they start to breathe on the page and become authentic. Routines and rituals pass time, people run in circles and characters are imagined, but life comes alive in the details.
So while my favorite editor is running her red pen over my latest manuscript’s 60,000 words, I’m jetting to San Francisco to check that the yellow fabric on the chair mentioned in chapter 32 is just right.
One look is worth a thousand words. Perhaps not, but I’ll leave you to decide for yourself. Announcing my official Instagram author page.
“Writing and reading is to me synonymous with existing.”
Several years ago rambling through Paris, I found myself at 27 rue de Fleurus enroute to Luxembourg Gardens. It was one of those summer days where the weather was too hot to cover any mileage and I was thankful for the shade and respite the storied building provided.
Last Saturday, I hosted a group of women inspired by literature, reading and how the written word defines perspective. We discussed Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad & marveled at the protagonist’s unwavering courage. Asking ourselves over and over, Could we ever be that strong?
Upon leaving, one of my guests named our evening the Book Salon. I smiled, recalling my afternoon in Paris, and the legendary Gertrude Stein.
While the New York Times drags me away from my reading, it’s a habit I cannot give up. I’m not addicted to the day-old news, but rather to the layers of crispy grey underneath where one can discover a travel section completely dedicated to bookstores, a Sunday magazine featuring nothing other than literature, or a novel review splashed across the front page of the Arts. For me, I revisit being a girl in my favorite candy shop every evening with a cup of hot tea.
Pedaling against the brisk tailwind of December’s decadence and folly, this is the month of resolutions. I’m not one for life-altering pledges at the toll of a midnight bell, but this year I took a long look at my schedule and determined if I’m going to write the ending to my current manuscript, I need to free up minutes.
So my coveted New York Times is staying, as are the armloads of fantastic books I’ve gathered from several indie bookstores highlighted in the December 11th edition – but, productivity’s sinister rival, social media, is leaving. Honestly, I’m not at all sad to see it go. I feel liberated already and it’s only the first week of January. Happy New Year!
For some, Thanksgiving is about the turkey, family or an NFL game, but for me, it’s something altogether more sentimental.
Christmas is a season, is it not? Depending on where you live the carols have been playing for months and the air may be laced with an arctic chill. I’m not sure if it’s the black Friday frenzy or the post-meal coma that solidifies Thanksgiving night as the official calm before the holiday storm. I behold the last moments of serenity, which departs hours later until January, snuggled up with my family watching the Griswold’s annual debauchery. Dare I admit, we’ve all lived it in one form or another. You can concede, I won’t tell. So sit back, be thankful and enjoy. You can worry about decorating the Christmas tree in the morning.
“Dad that thing will never fit in our yard.”
“It’s not going in our yard Russ, it’s going in our living room.”
It’s the angle of the sun I always notice first. When I was a child, it was the maples and the fire that would color their tips in the weeks following Labor Day. Summer still warmed the afternoons, but the cool of the evening haunted the morning air. We lingered on threshold of change walking to the first day of school, dreaming of all things apple & pumpkin. It was a time to file away the memories of lazy, explorative days and return to work.
Today, it’s pulling out the nearly complete manuscript I shelved last May and giving a voice to the story waiting patiently to be told.
Summer brought me to southern Ireland walking through the scenes of We Once Had Wings. My splattered shoes slick from a mixture of rainwater, mud and sheep manure. Surrounded in a green, so intense and abundant, it descends straight from the clouds dripping over every rock and tree. The mist-laced wind tickles the wispy hairs on the back of your neck and you forget what it feels like to be home.
Parts of the south are so rural and rugged; electricity is new within the last few decades. In my mind’s eye, I saw Sean Keegan’s father’s thatched cottage. The woodsy smell of peat turf smoldering in the hearth and the drying wool like a whisper under my nose.
“…he dug out his First Communion rosary and nailed it to his cottage’s mud wall. Then he barred the door and walked outside to bargain with the Devil, whose breath rolled in on the fog each morning…”