Earnest Hemingway was ill and unable to attend the banquet where he would receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. He penned a few words which were read at the banquet in his absence. Today I am struck by these:
Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.
A dear friend and mentor, Jere Hoar, has been after me for several years to embrace the loneliness that good writing requires and quit spending so much time on social media and writing events. He continues to fail in his efforts, as I run with abandon to these escapes from the despair that the lonely work of writing can bring down on my soul. Having just finished helping direct a writing conference, I’ve already organized a Memphis writers gathering (to be hosted by Memphis artist and writer, Suzanne Henley) this Wednesday night. I only hope that while such events surely “palliate the writer’s loneliness” they don’t also cause his work to deteriorate, as Hemingway suggests.
But recently—really just over the past few days—I’ve been reconsidering Jere’s words, especially in light of Hemingway’s. Because I find that when I immerse myself in my work and shun the pain of loneliness, sometimes I can make art. And when I do, the satisfaction is immense. And just a small taste of that satisfaction can strengthen my resolve to keep moving towards the art at whatever personal cost. As Rumi says:
Last September I did a post called, “Permission to NOT be Happy?”
And the previous September, a (shorter) post called, “Kelly Corrigan on Happiness.”
Not sure what it is about September that puts me in a mind to consider happiness… maybe it’s that ever-looming anniversary of the attacks on New York City. And now we have April as the month of the bombings in Boston, so I imagine there will be expressions of grief, sorrow, and remembrance that will haunt many people every April.
Lesser struggles are haunting me. I didn’t experience the terror of the attacks in Boston. I don’t even know any of the victims personally. I can only add my small sadness to the pool of universal grief, say prayers for everyone involved, and continue to move through my own life. And for me, that means dealing with everything life throws at me with the tools at hand. As a Christian, perhaps the most important tool is prayer. But as a writer, I experience as much or more clarity through my work. This week, that work involves both realms—the artistic and the spiritual.
In addition to continuing to work through difficult revisions (with my editors) on an essay I’ve been asked to contribute to an anthology, I’m also preparing to give a talk at the annual meeting of the women of Saint James Episcopal Church in Jackson, Mississippi, on Thursday evening. While these activities might seem incongruous, they ‘re very much related. They are both about dealing with difficulties. They both contain elements of darkness and struggle. And they both aim at leaving my readers and my listeners with something inspirational. But not necessarily “happiness.”
This morning I revisited some beautiful words of wisdom from the Austrian poet, Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926). Why Rilke? In addition to his poetry, he wrote letters to his wife, letters to a young poet, letters about the artist Cezanne, and more. He raises the bar for all of us who aspire to embrace life fully, not only its joys, but also its sorrows. A few gems:
What is required of us is that we love the difficult and learn to deal with it. In the difficult are the friendly forces, the hands that work on us. Right in the difficult we must have our joys, our happiness, our dreams: there against the depth of this background, they stand out, there for the first time we see how beautiful they are.
Surely all art is the result of one’s having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, where no one can go any further. The further one goes, the more private, the more personal, the more singular an experience becomes, and the thing one is making is, finally, the necessary, irrepressible, and, as nearly as possible, definitive utterance of this singularity…. Therein lies the enormous aid the work of art brings to the life of the one who must make it, that it is his epitome, the knot in the rosary at which his life says a prayer, the ever-returning proof to himself of his unity and genuineness, which presents itself only to him while appearing anonymous to the outside….
But here’s the rub. As I continue my own dangerous journey, and it becomes more private, personal, and singular, it also becomes more urgent that I write about it. Or, on occasion, that I speak about it. And maybe in making art, I will, as Rilke says, have some joy, some happiness, some dreams.
If you’re looking for something a bit lighter, check out Chris Braden’s weekly posts on his blog, “Happy Happy Monday.” I love his post today, “The Golden Ticket.” Maybe it’s just about opening the right candy bar….
I was so excited yesterday when my friend, Sheila Vamplin, sent me a link to this article in First Things about graffiti artists painting icons in the dome of a church in Spain. So intrigued that I clicked through to this expanded article in The World, “Spanish Priest Commissions Graffiti for Church.” And then I found this video, showing the artists at work. (Wish I understood Spanish so I could hear what the priest and the graf writers are saying.)
This makes me happy on so many levels.
As an Orthodox Christian and (retired) iconographer, I was taught to respect the rules that my faith sets down for liturgical art, including icons, music, and architecture. Without those guidelines, these ancient, traditional forms would gradually morph into something entirely different. Eastern (Byzantine) traditions would become “Americanized” over time. There was a time when I thought that was a bad thing. I no longer feel that way. After all, I live in America. I am an American. Its culture is my culture. It’s been very difficult to assimilate the culture of the Middle East into my religious experience as a convert to Orthodoxy.
When I was writing icons, I had a discussion with Mother Gabriella, a Romanian abbess at Holy Dormition (Orthodox) Monastery in Rives Junction, Michigan. I was struggling with the strictness of both the styles and techniques taught by the Russian iconographers at the classes hosted by the monastery. I had also studied under Greek, Romanian, Ukrainian and American instructors, and it seemed that each “school” of iconography had its own set of rules. Mother Gabriella encouraged me to just “pray and paint” and let the style develop organically. She didn’t believe there was anything more spiritual about one technique than another. Or that one medium is more spiritual than another. Some iconographers believe egg tempera is the only true spiritual medium for icons, looking down on those who paint with acrylics. I found great relief in the large berth she gave to liturgical art.
So when a Catholic priest in Spain reached out to two graffiti writers he found online (“Rudi” and “House”) and asked them to paint the iconographic images for the dome of his church last year, he incorporated yet another element of his culture—graf writers are counter-culture. (See “God’s Own Banksy.”) And they would be painting the icons with the only tool of their craft—spray paint. (Interesting note: both graffiti artists and iconographers use the term “write” when talking about painting graffiti or icons.)
L’Hospitalet’s Santa Eulalia church is neo-Romanesque in design, with a Catalan twist. Father Ramon Borr has this to say about his choice of “iconographers” for the dome of his church:
“Even though the press is scandalized by graffiti artists, for me graffiti is just another artistic technique.”
I would love to meet Father Ramon and thank him for this bold move on his part. And to see these icons in person. I’m amazed by the skill the graf writers showed in the precision of the lines they achieved with spray paint. Since I researched graffiti for my novel, Cherry Bomb, I learned just enough to respect how difficult it is to achieve such precision. The article in The World says:
One of the two ‘graffiteros’ was Raul Sanchez, who’s tag, or signature for street art, is House. House said that when Father Borr hired him he was surprised, and nervous, and thrilled.
“Only a graffiti artist can tell we used aerosol cans to do the work,” he said by telephone from Alicante. “We tried to conceal that. In the Roman period spray paint obviously didn’t exist.”
Just like acrylics didn’t exist during the Byzantine era. The graf writers studied the Romanesque style in Barcelona before they began painting in the church. They respected the liturgical guidelines, but they brought their own creativity to the work.
My favorite “style” of iconography is that used by the Coptics. The simple, primitive figures and the bold colors have a spiritual element that reaches my soul in a different way from the Byzantine icons. A few years ago I took a workshop at an Episcopal Church in Memphis during which we learned to do “reverse painting” on glass. We transferred Coptic images to the glass by tracing the outlines with Sharpie pens and then filled in the colors—from back to front—with acrylic paint. I gave my icon away as a gift, and I’m sorry that I don’t have any pictures of it.
But my Goddaughter, Sophie, and I had fun doing some Ethiopian folk art painting together on her birthday three years ago. (She’ll be ten on February 25!) We used gouache—opaque water colors—on canvas, with pleasing results. Sophie was only seven at the time. This painting isn’t an icon, but you can see the primitive style of the symbolic images that also appear in Ethiopian icons.
I hope you enjoyed my peek into the diverse cultures of iconography and graffiti. I’ve only got a few days left here at my writing “retreat” on the beach. Can’t wait to see what the women in The Secret Book Club are reading next! Have a great weekend, and please come back on Monday for my mental health post.
My friend, the poet, author and musician, Kory Wells, tagged me in this fun authors blog hop. (Thanks, Kory!) Read Kory’s post from last Wednesday, “Is There Still a Novel in This Poet’s Future?” I also enjoyed my friend, Jolina Petersheim’s post, “The Next Big Thing.”
Here’s how it works: Each author answers the following ten questions about her “next big thing”… whether it’s a work-in-progress, a finished project, or just an idea simmering on the back burner. Although I’m a few chapters into drafting my second novel, The Secret Book Club, I decided to write about my completed book, Cherry Bomb, for the blog hop. Here goes….
What is the working title of your book?
Cherry Bomb. Unless an agent or editor down the road wants to change it. Cherry Bomb is the “tag” used by Mare, the protagonist, for her graffiti pieces.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Cherry Bomb is actually the fourth book-length manuscript I’ve completed. The first was a novel, The Sweet Carolines. The second and third were memoirs: Dressing the Part: What I Wore for Love, and Jesus Freaks, Belly Dancers and Nuns. I think most writers would agree that many of our ideas for fiction come from real life. That’s certainly true in my case. While I have no plans to publish those earlier works, I keep returning to them and pulling out the best parts and ideas. One of the characters in The Sweet Carolines ended up in Cherry Bomb, with lots of changes, but still it started with her. And some of the plot comes from Jesus Freaks. My essay in Circling Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality, came from Jesus Freaks. The idea behind a chapter in Dressing the Part is now an essay that will be included in The Shoe Burnin’ Anthology, due out later this year. All that to say, nothing is ever wasted. Save everything!
What genre does your book come under?
I actually did some research to decide how to label Cherry Bomb. And I tweak the label a bit for each agent I query. In the final analysis, I think it’s going to end up categorized as literary fiction. Or women’s fiction. Or maybe high end commercial fiction. It’s a blend of historical, Southern/regional, spiritual, artsy…. It might be problematic that I can’t nail down its niche, but I’m hoping an agent will help me with that.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
The book has 3 main characters and about 7-8 supporting roles. I’ll just consider the leads:
Mare (protag/graffiti artist): Elle and Dakota Fanning. These sisters have shared roles as the younger and older version of the same character several times. Since Mare goes from five to twenty-five in the book, we’d need someone even younger to play her as a child. Any suggestions?
Elaine (deKooning, New York City abstract expressionist artist): Joan Allen (The Notebook, The Bourne Supremacy) or maybe Christine Baranski (The Good Wife, Mama Mia).
Neema/Mary of Egypt: In early scenes, she needs to be a child. Later, a teenage prostitute. Later, an aging desert hermit. Three actresses needed. Egyptian or someone who could pass as Egyptian. If Nelly Karim was younger (she’s almost 30) she would be perfect for the teenage Neema.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Cherry Bomb is a character-driven novel with three female protagonists—a homeless graffiti artist who escapes from a religious cult, a well-known Abstract Expressionist painter, and a fifth century Egyptian prostitute. (I know, that’s not really a synopsis, but I don’t want to reveal too much here.)
Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
None of the above, yet. I’m querying agents right now, as my first choice is the traditional publishing route. At some point, if I don’t have an agent, I will probably query small presses. I have no plans to self-publish.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Probably about a year. But I revise as I go. I spent two years writing and revising (with help from critique groups and workshops) and then four months working with a freelance editor to polish it.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
This is a tough one. There are no books like it, that I’ve found. The closest, in structure and character development, might be Michael Cunningham’s The Hours. The way he connected the lives of three women—one historical and two fictional—over several decades and in different countries, is something I emulated.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Who would probably be my best friend, who has seen me through lots of dark nights of the soul. But also writing mentors and writing group buddies over the past six years have inspired and encouraged me. What would be my burning desire to weave bits of my own story through a work of fiction in a way that gets up and above the confessional memoir and becomes art.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The settings: from 4th century Egypt to 1980s Savannah, Georgia. Art, opera, monasteries, nuns, and priests all share the stage with a miracle-working icon in this literary novel that mystically weaves the lives of these disparate women united in their hunger for the love they didn’t get in childhood.
So, that’s all ten questions. And now, I’ll pass the gauntlet to four writing friends I’ve tagged for this blog hop. Watch for their posts NEXT WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 29:
Jessica Handler’s memoir, Invisible Sisters, is a powerful tale of coming of age as the daughter of progressive Jewish parents who moved to Atlanta to participate in the social-justice movement of the 1960s, the healthy sister living in the shadow of her siblings’ illnesses, a daughter in a family torn apart by impossible circumstances, and as a young woman struggling to redefine herself after her sisters’ deaths. Jessica will be leading a writing workshop at the 2013 Oxford Creative Nonfiction Conference, May 2-5. What’s Jessica’s next big thing? Read her post next Wednesday to find out!
Katherine Hyde is the author of a children’s book, Lucia, Saint of Light, and several spiritual literary works (some published, others still hopeful). Katherine is acquisitions editor for Conciliar Press, and does freelance editing and book design. Watch for her post next Wednesday on her blog, “God-Haunted Fiction.”
Ellen Morris Prewitt is my neighbor in Harbor Town—a wonderful seaside community on the Mississippi River in downtown Memphis. Her first published short story is about Elvis—“Mother Mary Commutes to Memphis.” Read about Ellen’s first book, “Making Crosses: A Creative Connection to God,” at www.makingcrosses.com. One of her essays, “Tetanus, You Understand?” was included in Sue Silverman’s book on writing memoir, Fearless Confessions. Ellen will be participating in the 2013 Oxford Creative Nonfiction Conference.
NancyKay Wessman lives in my hometown, Jackson, Mississippi. Her book, You Can Fix the Fat From Childhood and Other Heart Disease Risks, Too, was co-authored with Gerald S. Berensen, M.D. at AuthorHouse. Check out their Facebook Page. Watch for her “next big thing” post on her blog next Wednesday, “Wessman Words.” NancyKay will also be a participant at the 2013 Oxford Creative Nonfiction Conference.
It’s only eleven days until Christmas. I hope you’re finding joy in the season, but if you’re weary from the curve balls life has been throwing you (or even from the festive activities and preparations for the holidays) I hope you’ll be refreshed by these gifts today.
(By the way, notice that this detail of an icon of the Nativity isn’t finished… it seemed appropriate to a post about restoring the image.)
When Cairns writes, “We almost see our long estrangement overcome,” I think of the Orthodox hymn of the Forefeast of Nativity that goes,
“Christ comes to restore the image which He made in the beginning!”
God became man to restore us to the way He meant for us to be all along. He created us to be like Him. But we blew it, very quickly, it seems. It’s impossible for me to wrap my head around these theological tenets, so instead, I try expose myself to things I can more readily respond to—like poetry. Art. Music. Writing.
About this time last year, I took inspiration from Cairns’ ekphrastic poem, “Nativity.” I love the way he describes the Mother of God’s response to seeing her newborn child, Jesus, at His birth (as he reflects on the icon of the Nativity—see detail).
She cups His perfect head
and kisses Him, that even here the radiant
compass of affection
is announced, that even here our several
histories converge and slip,
just briefly, out of time.
From a different source, I love to listen to Sting’s, “Gabriel’s Message.” (That’s a a flugelhorn, with its warm, dark, bluesy sound. Don’t you love it?)
And from last year’s CMA Country Christmas, Rascal Flatts singing, “Mary Did You Know?”
What’s inspiring you this Nativity season?
What do William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Flanner O’Connor, Aldous Huxley, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, William Butler Yeats, e. e. Cummings, Henry Miller, Kurt Vonnegut, Susan Minot, Derek Walcott, William Jay Smith, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Jorge Luis Borges have in common? They are all writers who also paint.
I’m sure they are many more artists, musicians, writers and other creative who work (or play) in more than more medium. As Lawrence Ferlinghetti said, “It’s all the same urge, the same expression, the same message. Some day, it might come out graphically, another day, it’ll come out in words.”
About five years ago Donald Friedman (lawyer-turned-writer) had the idea to put together a collection of art by writers, and then to publish a book about it, called The Writer’s Brush. Here’s a nice news short about it on CBS from 2007. The book even contains essays by William H. Gass and John Updike.
Kurt Vonnegut says, “As any writer knows, the real pleasure in writing comes when the moment, when you can get rid of the manuscript, just get it out of your life, whereas painting is a continuing pleasure in the process of doing it.” Watch a video of Vonnegut talking about his contributions to the collection here. (That’s his ink drawing, “Goodbye Blue Monday.”)
It was fun to learn that the novelist Susan Minot carries a purse-sized water color kit just about everywhere she goes. I did this for a few year. I found myself documenting places and events for the purpose of publishing those little pieces here in my blog, or sending them as gifts to others. I was trying to see what the camera might miss. And sometimes—especially when we were in Italy—I enjoyed the process. But mostly I was after the product.
That pleasure in the process was what I was after on Saturday when I took my daughter, Beth, and my daughter-in-law, See, to a wonderful little studio in the Cherry Creek area of Denver for an afternoon of “Canvas and Cocktails.” What could be better for your soul that spending a couple of hours drinking sangria and painting a picture of a peacock feather? (A different object is featured at each painting session.)
So, when I sat down with my sangria, palette and blank white canvas on Saturday afternoon, I watched the instructor make playful strokes to begin the painting, and I joined in with that same spirit of playfulness. I didn’t worry about what each stage of the painting looked like. I just relaxed and had fun.
The years I spent writing/painting icons taught me to be very deliberate with each brush mark. Iconography is a disciplined, structured, liturgical art form. And while I derived great pleasure from the dozens of icons I painted, most of the time that pleasure came at the end of the process, rather than during it.
I laughed with my daughter and daughter-in-law as we joked about what our paintings looked like at various stages (“Wilson” on the Tom Hanks movie, “Castaway” or a big ball of fire. The painting next to Beth’s looked like an alien in its early stages.)
But in the end, we were not only happy with our peacock feathers (which we took home to see if our husbands could guess who did which one and laughed a bit more) but I think our souls grew a little bit. My daughter, Beth, is an architect by training, and See has a graphic arts degree and has decorated her home with many original paintings. So, we had all done some art previously. But I think they would agree that the process was so much more important than the product.
I’m headed back to Memphis today, where I’ll finish up some Christmas preparations and continue to work on research and an outline for my new novel. But maybe I’ll also finally do something with those blank canvases in my closet whenever I need a mental health break.
After a weekend filled with enjoyable activities—hosting a birthday dinner for two of our Godsons and their wives Friday evening, attending a brunch for a friend visiting from out-of-town and 6 other women on Saturday, seeing more out-of-town friends at church on Sunday—I stopped “going and doing” yesterday afternoon just long enough to feel my old friend, acedia, knocking at the door of my psyche. Not full-on depression, but something more subtle. Last night I remembered this video from Poets & Writers where Maira Kalman talks about “Thinking vs. Feeling.” At one point she says:
“It’s important not to be bored for too long. More than a minute.”
I woke up thinking about her words. About why it’s important not to be bored for too long. My Google search turned up a number of diverse things, as you can imagine. These thoughts from Dr. George Thomas gave me pause:
“Boredom, for instance, is low-level anger, triggered because you do not want to be where you are (music concert, college class, visiting in-laws, etc.), and typically occurs when you are doing something in a group/social situation where you feel you “have” to be. As you get older, you do fewer of these unwanted things, (a) because society puts less pressure on you, and (b) you feel more entitled to spoil yourself and be kind to yourself without feeling guilty or “selfish”.
Bingo. It’s not a new revelation that I’ve been a people-pleaser all of my life. But only in recent years have I begun to allow myself to ignore some of those pressures that society (and even church, close friends and family) can put on us. Not to mention the internal pressures I’ve allowed to control too much of my behavior, beginning in childhood. (Childhood sexual abuse and an alcoholic, oppressive mother played a big part in this.)
Dr. Thomas expands on his premise that boredom is low-level anger, and why women tend to suppress that anger:
“The anger at being “forced” socially to do what one doesn’t want to do builds up slowly, but is more present than we allow ourselves to recognize. Every time you say to yourself I “should” do something, it is really the outside world, society, or your family (usually your parents) saying it. Men can partially discharge the anger through physical outlets, physical aggression or getting drunk, but women are more likely to suppress the anger, since anger is not a socially acceptable emotion for most women, and was probably discouraged from early childhood on, until the suppression of anger became automatic and internalized. The female child also starts to feel de-legitimized and ego-dystonic by being told that she should not feel a certain emotion. Suppressed anger almost always leads to depression. This is probably why almost all surveys show that single women are happier than married women, since married women are burdened by more social “shoulds”.
Couple my upbringing—where I learned to tip-toe around my mother and suppress all bad feelings and actions in our home—with years in a cult-like group which distanced normal human behavior from what was “acceptable” to the radical religious norms we were embracing and you’ve got a sure-fire prescription for an unhealthy emotional life. And even in the Orthodox Church, which I entered with great joy in 1987, I tended to follow the extremists for many years—trying to fit into an ascetic model more appropriate for monastics than for a women living “in the world.” And especially for an artist/writer who steps to a different beat.
The American playwright and novelist, William Inge, (who won a Pulitzer Prize for “Picnic”) said:
“Nobody is bored when he is trying to make something that is beautiful or to discover something that is true.”
This has also been my experience. When I am enthralled in the work of creating something—a novel, an essay, even something as simple as designing a party invitation, or organizing an event—I am definitely not bored. But as soon as the work is done or the event is over, the black cloud descends. Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) describes this in his book Pensees:
“All our life passes in this way: we seek rest by struggling against certain obstacles, and once they are overcome, rest proves intolerable because of the boredom it produces.”
Victor Hugo compares boredom with mourning and suffering:
“Nothing is so stifling as symmetry. Symmetry is boredom, the quintessence of mourning. Despair yawns. There is something more terrible than a hell of suffering — a hell of boredom.”
But F. Scott Fitzgerald sees boredom as something inevitable:
If this is true, maybe the best thing to do is quit struggling against the boredom and accept it as a normal part of the process. But last night when I shared my feelings with my husband, he said, “Let’s go for a walk.” And so we walked a few blocks to the (Mississippi) river and watched the cloudy sunset in progress. And another couple of blocks to our neighborhood riverside bar and grill, where we sat on the patio and enjoyed martinis and an unusually cool breeze for August in Memphis. Our conversation was quiet compared with the bubbly chit-chat at the table of 8 ladies at brunch the day before. I tried to let the calm enter my spirit, but my eyes kept looking around for something exciting to engage with. And then there they were. Two beautiful kites, ridden by men and powered by little fans behind their seats. They soared over the Mississippi-Arkansas Bridge and up and down the river bank several times before disappearing from our view beyond the trees.
“Boredom is not an end-product, is comparatively rather an early stage in life and art. You’ve got to go by or past or through boredom, as through a filter, before the clear product emerges.”
“Oh, I want to do that!” My spirits lifted each time the kite-riders flew by.
My husband smiled. He’s resisted my pleas over the years to do everything from riding mopeds on the winding roads in Bermuda to riding kites pulled by boats over the Gulf of Mexico. “What would happen to our children if we die or if we are disabled?” (He is probably the reason I’m still alive at age 61.)
As we walked home from the restaurant, winding through our beautiful neighborhood where people were riding bicycles, walking, and sitting on their porches talking, I realized that the depression was lifting. Maybe it was the martinis. Sure the walking helped. But I’m thinking the adrenaline rush from watching those guys flying over the Mississippi river in those kites is what really did the trick.
Not a very professional solution, and certainly not a spiritual one. But nonetheless, here I am on a Monday morning ready to face my week of writing, editing, organizing, exercising, and socializing (meeting two friends for lunch today and having coffee with another tomorrow) with a much lighter spirit. As I finished up this post, I looked to the right of my computer screen at these words that I have taped underneath an art print on the wall. And I realize that for today, as Fitzgerald said, I can move through the boredom towards the finished product, which is not only an essay or a book, but also my life.
A few weeks ago a dear friend gave me this fabulous hooked pillow. The gift giver knows me pretty well. Her daughter actually said, “Oh, Mom, this looks like Aunt Susan!” when they saw the pillow in a gift shop. And the colors and textures are perfect for my “editor’s chair” in my office. I was so taken with it, I Googled it to find out who made it. The pillow came from “Jilly’s Happy Home.” I kid you not. And Jilly even writes a sweet little blog. Who knew that someone as sweet as Jilly could make such a, well, colorful pillow.
Last weekend when Wendy Reed, co-editor of Circling Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality, was visiting us from Alabama for our book tour, she saw the pillow and loved it. I mentioned that my husband was kind of embarrassed to have it on display in our home, and she said (without missing a beat):
“Oh, but why? It’s a perfect way to spread our message: Write The Faith!”
And that is what makes Wendy such a good editor!
I’m almost finished reading Diane Keaton’s new memoir, Then Again. Don’t have time for a full review here (still at family reunion in the Bahamas) but just wanted to give the book a plug here. It’s a great read… especially if you’re interested in:
Body image obsession
And on a lighter note:
Keaton is my favorite film actress, so I’m loving the book. But mainly because of how she sets aside her star status and writes as a daughter, a mother, and a woman who struggles with universal issues.
Be sure and buy the physical book, not the eBook… the photo inserts are great. And speaking of great photos, don’t you love this one, from the cover of Vogue? It’s by Annie Leibovitz.
A preview of coming attractions for the month:
June 7:My friend, Sue Brownlow, has a painting in the Artists’ Link Exhibit at Botanic Gardens. There’s a reception on June 7.
Here’s more info:
Artists’ Link Exhibit on display and available for purchase in the Visitors Center Gallery. Opening reception June 7, 5:30-7:30 p.m. A portion of proceeds benefits Memphis Botanic Garden’s education and horticulture programs. Open to public, free admission. Monday through Saturday: 9 a.m.-6 p.m./Sunday: 11a.m.-6 p.m. Memphis Botanic Garden, 750 Cherry Road, Memphis, TN 38117. Call (901) 636-4100 for information.
Burke’s Book Store
936 South Cooper
$1 Book Sidewalk Sale
Memphis writers, Tom Carlson and Gordon Osing reading at 6:00 pm
Book signing of La Belle Dame from 5:30 – 7:00 pm
June 8-10: 2012 Yoknapatawpha Summer Writer’s Workshopin Oxford, Mississippi.
This will be my sixth year at this terrific writing workshop, led by some of the best writers and teachers in the country, including Scott Morris, M.O. “Neal” White, Tom Franklin, Sonja Livingston and others. Check out last year’s post for more information: “Writers Are Haunted Creatures: Making Sense of the World.”
June 15-17:Murrah High School mega reunion for the classes of 1968, 69 and 70.
(I’m in the class of 1969.) We’ll be headed to Jackson, Mississippi for a weekend of fun with old friends, many of whom my husband knows, since we started dating while I was still in high school.
June 22-30: Cushman-Wright Family Reunion at Club Med, Columbus Isle, Bahamas! Our last reunion with these branches of my husband’s family was a cruise to Alaska, about 6 or 7 years ago. That group included over 70 people from about 5 generations. These fabulous reunions are paid for by one of my husband’s cousins, Dave Wright—a wonderful and generous soul. I’m only sad that my two younger children and their families can’t go beca
use Club Med doesn’t allow children under age 2. It will be great to share this fabulous week with our oldest son, Jon, and over fifty cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews from all over the country.
I’m loving this coolweather on the first day of June, (looking forward to cheering on the runners going through our neighborhood during the Harbor Town 5K later today) but I’m sure the heat will be coming back soon. So thankful for all these special events. It’s gonna be a hot time in the summer time. (I photographed these water lilies by a pond near our house on a walk just before the storm on Thursday.)