Potential and Magic, In the Beginning

“It was as black in the closet as blood.” (Alan Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie)

“I think I love signs of spring more than I love spring itself,” I said to Nathan after I made him play hooky with me for a couple of hours to wander through the botanical gardens. After all, it was my birthday and I didn’t want to be alone.  I love the potential of what is yet to come, the peeks of beauty being reborn out of the browns and grays of winter.

By now you might be wondering, “what do flowers and signs of spring have to do with the Alan Bradley quote?” or not–you could simply be throwing your hands up in disgust and surfing to another blog. But, if you bear with me, I will explain.

Yesterday, as I wandered through a landscape that is just beginning to show signs of life, I found myself in awe of the potential . . . of the beauty yet to come.

In the beginning lies my imagination of the wonders to follow.

The early days of spring hint at colors as yet unseen. Planning for a trip is sometimes more exciting than the trip itself.

The first line to any story, sets the tone for possibilities.

(See, I told you I’d get there.)

Last night I started reading The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, a book that has been on my list for a while. I’m finally catching up on some of my list, after I decided that it was acceptable to spend some birthday money on myself, including buying a pile of books.  I read the first line, quoted above, and thought, “Wow, that’s an amazing first line.” I even read it allowed to Nathan.

His reaction was, “Ew!” followed by, “That is a good first line.”

I haven’t gotten far enough in to way much about the book yet, but so far I am enjoying it. I’m glad about that, because so often fabulous first lines, glorious beginnings, and the potential I imagine when something new starts result in disappointment.

For example, I just finished reading Anne Rice’s Of Love and Evil which began with an intriguing first line, “I dreamed a dream of angels.” I remember being so enamored by Interview with a Vampire. The richness of the language, the danger of the characters, the tension of good vs. evil, the seduction of possibility. However, this time I was disappointed. Perhaps it was coming into the second book of a series, without reading the first, but I found the potential of the first line simply disappeared.

Potential and magic lies in the beginning of everything. The secret, I believe, is making that potential grow to true magnificence. I am beginning to recognize that I am my own worst enemy because I am afraid of losing the potential of my beginnings.

I have a lot of wonderful first lines, but if I never complete them they only live in the world of potential.

I plan to make weekly visits to the botanical gardens this spring, so that I can watch the possibilities become realities. I hope, that as I see that potential does not have to lead to disappointment, I can fully discover my own possibilities.


I hope my first can blossom into a rich reality.

The magic lies in fulfilling all the potential possibilities.

This image comes from http://www.boston.com. I haven't seen the gardens in their full glory yet (didn't discover them until Christmas). But I wanted a shot of the potential fulfilled.

E-Book Abuse

A Picture of a eBook

Image via Wikipedia

As a writer who dreams of walking into libraries and bookstores to find hard copies of  her own books and getting the occasional royalty check for books sold, I understand the desire to make money off of books. But, when that turns to greed and manipulation I want to scream.

The other day I learned that HarperCollins now plans to make it so that libraries who lend out e-books to readers have to keep buying the books. Basically, after 26 readers the book will self-destruct so that the library would then have to buy a new copy for new readers to read that book. Here’s an article about it that I found.

26 readers!

Imagine that happening with physical books. The 26th reader returns the book to the library and it explodes into a million pieces so that a new copy must be bought. That would add an element of Russian Roulette to the sharing of books.

“Oh, you have to read this book that I got from a friend, its wonderful. Keep it. Read it. And then pass it on.”

The 27th person loses a hand.

Books are meant to be read. Books are meant to be shared. Whether they are physical books or e-books they do no good if nobody reads them. I imagine that if someone reads an e-book and loves it enough, they might even go buy a copy someday. But they need access first.

Libraries are boycotting HarperCollins. People are not going to have access to those books.

Should we boycott them as well? I think I might.

What are your thoughts? Should libraries have to continue to pay for books they’ve already paid for?

When is it Time to Say “Rest in Peace”?

As if I wasn’t already having a doubt myself as a writer day, I came home to find this in the mail:

I’m not really surprised. Anyone who has read my book GIVING UP THE GHOSTS has liked it. (I’ve linked you to an excerpt of it, if you are interested). Even the harshest critic of them all, a 10 year old avid reader.

I revised for this contest, and made it stronger. But here’s the thin, it is a single book. It doesn’t have series potential, or at least not obvious series potential. It doesn’t follow the over-sexualized young adult vampire trend that I have been reading lately. It is a book about two girls trying to find their place in the world. One of them happens to be able to see ghosts.

I’ve submitted this book to several places, large and small. It is hard to label this book. It’s kind of current, paranormal, fantasy, coming-of-age. It is what it is. I’m not saying it is the world’s most brilliant book, but it certainly is better than some published books that I have read recently.

I admit, I am not a good advocate for myself. I am not good at the business side of writing. I don’t want to write to the needs of a publisher, I want to write the book that my souls is trying to write, but then I want it to find a home.

But that leads to the question, when do you give up? When do you let the poor little manuscript rest in peace, gathering dust with all the rest of the accumulated words from years gone by?

Maybe it is time for me to really give up the ghosts on this one.

The History of My Life in Books

Stack of books in Gould's Book Arcade, Newtown...

Image via Wikipedia

Some friends and I recently signed up for http://www.shelfari.com/ a website dedicated to books. It was our chance to share our passion for reading, and to create a virtual book group for more reading and discussion.

This could be a good or bad thing. Good, because I will be able to have interesting discussions about books and discover new books to read. Bad, because I can already feel the pull of another technological addiction that will distract me from accomplishing other tasks.

However, I have begun my lists of books read, or books I hope to read. I have watched in amazement as my friends’ lists leap into the thousands. I know that I too have probably read that many books, but I have had trouble remembering what I’ve read or finding books. Plus I need more time to dedicate to plumping up my lists.

But how, I asked myself, do I recall every book I’ve ever read?

As I am sitting in the car on the endless drive back home, I’ve been pondering this question. A moment ago it hit me—the books I read tell the story of my life. All I need to do to find the titles is drift back into time and label the periods of my life. If I search through my interests at a given period, I will find all the books I’ve ever read.

There are the books I turn to for comfort. These include books I re-read almost every year, from a variety of genres. The list includes Harry Potter, Anne of Green Gables, Jane Austen, books by Maeve Binchy, and recently The Lord of the Rings among others. Some of the books in this list are ones that II read as a child and am now introducing to my daughter, or books that she is introducing to me.

There are the books that represent my academic degrees and my love of learning. The topics under this section cover numerous fields: English Literature, Western Theater, Japanese theater, Non-Western Theater children’s theater, puppetry and a smattering of history, sociology, psychology, humanities and theory. This collection includes books that I picked up out of interest, or because I read something that intrigued me.

There are the books that represent my desire to write, ranging from how to writing books, books on creativity, young adult and children’s novels.

There are books exploring culture from many perspectives. I have children’s stories and fables from around the world. This includes books from my time in Japan, on Japanese culture, stories, and language (some actually in Japanese).

There are books about various research projects that I have started, if not finished. Some of them have turned into articles or papers, some sit waiting for me to pick up and start again. The topics include: women writers, interesting women in history, perfectionism, honors programming, overcoming stage fright and bullying.

There are books that represent my search for identity or my desire to reinvent myself and start over. These include books on spirituality and psychology, self help and memoirs.

There are books from lists. Some of the lists include books that I read because I had to, not because I wanted to. There are books from the list of recommended reading for people going to college that I decided I had to conquer when I was in high school. I don’t think I succeeded. There are books from Oprah’s Book Club that I used to read because I thought they must be good. I found many of them depressing so I stopped reading from that list.

There are books that I read and hated, because I believed that I should give them a chance and read them through, or because once I started I felt like I had to finish. There are books that I started and never finished as I finally gave myself permission to stop reading things I didn’t like. Nobody would arrest me for putting down a book midway.

There are books I’ve read for fun, or for guilty pleasure. Some caught my eye in the bookstore, most of them representing whatever I was feeling in my life at the moment. These include books that I read for the beauty of the language, or because the cover art was interesting. Or books I read on lazy vacation days when I simply feel like reading.

There are books from various book groups which represent a mixture of my own interests and the interests of other intelligent women. There are books I read when I have no time to read.

There are books that reflect my working life, or the working life I hope to create. There consist of books that I use as resources for classes, including picture books, Shel Silverstein, and books on teaching. There are books I read as I developed my skills at teaching College Composition classes. This doesn’t even include all the journal articles, or unpublished manuscripts I’ve read at the request of someone at work.

There are books on the paranormal, because of my fascination with that topic.

There are books on Judaism and the Holocaust (that just reminded me of one interesting book called The Jews and the Japanese which merged two of my interests). There are books about culture, travel, and food. There are books by women writers both for and about women.

I must not forget the list of books I plan to read, or hope to read in the future.

This list keeps growing as I type it. I think that I will learn much about my own story by creating this bookish history.

Billions of words. Millions of pages. Each one adds to the story of Lisa, as it is reflected through books.

I am excited to see what my future story becomes, as it is revealed by the books I choose to read.

How about you? What is the history of your life in books? What does your reading material say about you?

Writing, Rejection, and Writing Again

Why do I write?

Perhaps a bigger question is, why do I write this blog? I mean, I am the first to admit that this is a blog about nothing. I don’t reflect on cutting news of the day, or analyze movies, or critique books. I simply write what I’m thinking whenever I get the urge to write. I have a few self-promotional things up here, like an excerpt from Giving Up the Ghosts but mainly this is about putting words on a page, and hoping that somebody reads them.

As a matter of fact, I apologize to anyone who is reading this right now, as I am rambling on about nothing. But it is a nothing that I am continually thinking about at the moment.

So maybe that is why I write, in the hopes that someone will read my words. I’m back on the drawing board as far as the book is concerned. I still haven’t found it a home. I know, there are millions of people out there trying to get their books published. Or at least thousands. What makes me think mine is so special. Well, I read a lot of young adult fiction that I know is weaker than mine. My story is good. My writing is strong. And yet . . . I don’t know what the next step is.

So why do I write? I noticed recently that my old entry called On Writing in a Public Forum has moved up in the ranks of my most popular blogs. This suggests that people really wonder why we blog: that blogging has become something significant in society. Facebook, and other social networking sites have become significant too. But why? I wonder if we are constantly looking for connections with others, and one of the strongest ways we connect is through words.

So I write to connect. I write to reach out. I write to express. I write despite rejection. I write to find a home.

I guess that’s why I write.

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