Inspiration, please

IMG_3650The four months of not writing this blog were an accidental experiment. It started when I didn’t feel like writing because of all the body stuff going on. My suffering was never acute and it is not as bad as it seems to sound when I write about it. What I was doing in that last post was exposing the little complaints that linger under the surface of the good front that we all present to the world. Mine are no worse than most people’s. But laying it all out there has attracted a lot of sympathy and advice that seem to be out of proportion to my degree of suffering. Maybe that is because, for fear of seeming like hypochondriacs or complainers, we don’t usually expose our discomforts to each other. Our facebook posts are smiles and celebrations.

When I write anything longer than a facebook post, however, I am usually trying to get under the surface of things, and what has been there for the last four silent months has been physical discomfort. I didn’t find that an interesting topic to write about. And so I moved into this inadvertent experiment: What would happen if I just stopped writing? Continue reading

Follow your bliss and get your hands dirty

I dreamed recently that I was giving career advice to young people, but they weren’t listening to me because I hadn’t had a successful career.

I couldn’t blame them because, although I don’t feel like a professional failure, it has been hard for me to describe my so-called career.

I really tried for a while, beginning in about 2004, when I began going to writing retreats, to think of myself as a writer. Continue reading

What I don’t write about

I haven’t posted for a while and I don’t really know why. Sometimes I think it’s because my life is very miscellaneous right now, too many different things going on, no one thing predominant.

Accompanying a close friend in a serious health crisis.

Preparing for another trip to Congo.

Helping plan and lead Lenten worship services. Continue reading

First Monday

IMG_3032Fresh coat of snow, clean slate, new start. Where shall we start? So many things to take up, resume, complete, and carry on that I am hit by the former Monday morning panic before I even get out of bed. I say former because I am retired and Mondays shouldn’t do that to me any more. But this is the first Monday of a new year and I am coming out of an even-less-productive-than-usual couple of weeks. I think my left brain is getting antsy. Continue reading

My father’s daughter

IMG_0304In a few days I will pick up the Thanksgiving turkey and pies at the South Bend Farmers Market. I have a personal connection with that market. My father sold his family’s poultry there when he was a teenager, helping support his family during the Depression.

It’s one of those circles that close when you move back to home territory after a lifetime of living elsewhere. I like that connection but other echoes of my father’s life in my own sometimes trouble me. Continue reading

C in writing

Today I began a new book because I finished another book that  made me want to read this one. I  finished Pat Schneider’s How the Light Gets In and now I wanted to read her book about how she teaches writing. The book is Writing Alone and with Others.

I want to read this book because in the other book, her most recent one, she mentions Malawi. She says several times that her writing workshops have been given in many places and to many kinds of people and have been successful, even in Malawi villages. I think of Congo. I wonder if I could teach writing in Congo. To women who can barely read. I am just curious enough about this to buy the book and begin reading immediately, believing I must explore this before I go to Congo again. This happens to me often. Books present themselves to be read, interrupting what you are doing, interrupting your plans, because, it turns out, they will change whatever it was you were doing, the thing that was interrupted. Continue reading

Book v blogging

In case you miss this blog when I don’t write, which I doubt, I thought I should explain why my entries have been few and far between recently. It is because I am working on a book and it sucks up all my writing energy. In fact, it sucks up most of my energy, period, in something like two to five hours a day, and leaves me with long, low-energy stretches of time in which I am good for nothing except reading, watching TV and movies, and making endless, hamster-like rounds on the walking track at the Y.

The book is going well but I don’t want to talk about it yet. Which gives me little to do but list the books I have read recently to fill the dull-headed hours left after squeezing out a thousand words or two. Here is the list of recent reads on my Kindle, beginning with the latest. After a morning of writing I have enough energy only for one-line reviews.

All Our Names, Dinaw Mengestu. In the middle of this now. Intriguing but I wish I liked the characters more.

The Empathy Exams, Leslie Jamison. This is making the rounds and I read it with high hopes. Unfortunately I could not summon much empathy with the author.

From Times Square to Timbuktu: The Post-Christian West Meets the Non-Western Church, Wesley Granberg-Michaelson. This blew me away because it is an academic-ish exposition of the main themes of the memoir I am working on.

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, Michael Lewis. I have a horrified fascination with Wall Street machinations and if anyone can make sense of them, Lewis can.

Living with a Wild God, Barbara Ehrenreich. Amazing. I loved seeing this other side of social-activist-writer Ehrenreich.

The Husband’s Secret, Liana Moriarty. Pretty good chick lit.

Foreign Gods, Inc., Okey Ndibe. Started this novel about a Nigerian immigrant but lost patience with it.

Dust, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor. Ditto. What’s happening? I usually love books by African novelists but these two left me cold.

Leaving Church, Barbara Brown Taylor. I love honest spiritual memoirs, whether by atheists (Ehrenreich) or ex-Anglican priests (Taylor).

Ghana Must Go, Taiye Selasi. I loved this African émigré novel, a portrayal of what can happen when brilliant people get lost in another culture.

The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton. An absorbing, prizewinning, long novel set in 19th century New Zealand that entertained me but didn’t quite live up to the hype.

Stringer: A Reporter’s Journey in the Congo, Anjan Sundaram. This guy went to Congo on his own, on an urge, without a job, and lived with/off of Congolese acquaintances. Nitty-gritty real.

I won’t begin to list the movies I’ve watched except to say that the BBC series Doc Martin has 33 episodes and is super-great escapism. Although I am getting royally fed up with the main character, the others (receptionist Pauline, the pharmacist who has a crush on the doc, the Larges, father and son) are a riot.