Category Archives: appreciation

Back to the beginning of the end….

Autumn in England, from October 2003. We’d spent the day in Lincoln, touring the cathedral.  And yes, that’s a film camera I’m holding.

Been writing since last Friday, and I can’t tell you how good it feels, not merely for sitting in the chair and managing some novelistic work.  There’s a familiar rhythm to this last section of The Hawk, due in part to something that emerged on Saturday morning as I wrote the last half of a chapter; a hawk appeared in Lynne’s backyard, not that I’d planned it to touch down.  Again it graced today’s prose, and I’m taking this as a sign that for the most plotted ideas, a surprise can emerge like a blessing.

When I started Part Twelve, so many plotlines needed resolution, notes piling up at the end of the manuscript, and mentally I was overwhelmed in how to wrap all of them up!  That feeling doesn’t exist now, not sure if it’s a hawk’s doing, ha ha, or just that I was putting too much pressure on myself.  I should know better; a post-it note sits at the bottom of my monitor, which reads: It is wrong to force work. Rest until Eternal Life, flowing through veins, hearts and minds, bids you bestir and glad work will follow.

I added a smiley face at the end of that message, and should take heed of it more often.  Even as a long list of chores sits at my right hand, this post take shape.  Perhaps Part Twelve wasn’t the easiest of sections, but at least I’m in the correct frame of mind for Part Thirteen.

Which brings me to today’s title; maybe this novel’s conclusion is already halfway written, as if Part Twelve required an A and B.  If that’s the case, B hearkens to previous pieces in this saga in how a hawk’s appearance is leading me to where the end actually lies.  And that is a tremendously liberating notion!  Yes, notes are good, but for me, writing requires an element of mystery.  It’s no fun writing about what I know; the unknown is necessary to make me sit in the chair at all.  And thanks ever so much to God for that unclear vista; in each day’s work, I step through the mist, much like what hovered over my neck of the Silicon Valley woods this morning.  It felt cool, calming, and much like the beginning of this completion.  Recently I took an evening walk, so enjoying autumn’s slow arrival.  I pondered why this season feels so fresh, what with dead leaves piling under car wheels, dusty vehicles in need of washing, and it was that as a child, autumn meant a return to school, a new beginning.  Spring doesn’t rouse that sense in me, instead fall promises cleansing rain, an end to hot weather, the cessation of the church season of Pentecost.  I’m in no hurry for Advent, only wishing to revel in autumn’s pleasures.  It was in this season when I started The Hawk.  Boy, I sure hope it’s the one in which I write The End!

A few thoughts upon returning home….

My eldest and her hubby kayaking on the lake….

Our annual Midwestern holiday has come and gone, and while I have a couple of posts in mind, first I need to work up to that sort of mental exercise.  Thankfully there’s no writing to consider, only some revisions and sewing to poke at.  That gives my brain the necessary space to come to terms with being back in my usual environment.  Believe me, I require plenty of time to get back into gear.

I sure love a sunset.

But I do wish to share how precious is the blessing of visiting with family far away, how good is it to be out of the typical routine, and how happy I am to be home, lol.  A successful vacation incorporates all those notions, the last still wafting through my mind.  My husband will get back to work tomorrow, while I tackle laundry, ahem, the final benchmarks that our sojourn is merely a memory.  Many memories, all of them amazing.  My kids grew up with the Midwest as a frequent destination, and now the grandkids are learning the same.

From our last evening; such a treasure.

For twenty-five years I’ve been traveling to see my husband’s sister and her family, enjoying their grand company and all the lake has to offer.  As I often note, time is a funny part of life, in how quickly it passes.  Those two and a half decades feel like minutes, am I truly that much older?  Nietos testify that yes I am, but the lake seems ageless, sunsets glorious in their hues and reliability.  What memories will Little Miss and The Burrito make on these shores, not to mention Lil’ Sis, due in December.  Time will tell, although I might not be around to ascertain those recollections.  Maybe one day they’ll write about their adventures, keeping alive those stories for their grandkids.  For now, I’m reveling in the restorative power of a holiday, and how it winds all through my life.  The sweetness grows, and there’s always room for more.

Took a little break today….

A table runner in progress....

A table runner in progress….

I had planned on writing this morning, even though Andy Murray was playing in the Wimbledon Gentleman’s Final.  But last night I had second thoughts; I’ve been working many days, checking on tennis without watching much of it.  I’ve been a Wimbledon fan for a long time; I remember when Boris Becker won the title at the age of seventeen.  Living in the UK was heaven when it came to the grandest of the slams, but if I had that much access to the matches now, hardly any writing would be accomplished, ha ha.  As it is, I’ve made some big headway in The Hawk, and perhaps today was the perfect time to take a little breather.  I spent this morning hand-quilting the Big Bright Quilt while paying a fair amount of attention to the McEnroe Brothers and Chris Fowler commenting on the contest, considering not too much else.

That’s what happens when tennis starts at 6 o’clock in the morning!

Yesterday afternoon and evening I wrapped up another little project, a table runner for my eldest to match some place mats I made for her family.  I never posted about those, but the runner I did want to share, in part that I took several shots of it with my phone, although please don’t ask which setting goes with what photo.  Which of course is the reason I took these shots, sort of silly not to have paid attention to how they were snapped.

Currently the runner is basted and waiting for me to sit at my machine; I won’t hand-quilt this because I didn’t hand-quilt the place mats.  And because I have enough hand-quilting to do already, lol.  I took photos of that work while trying out camera settings and I was pleased with those shots as well.

I did consider, as Murray and Milos Raonic traded amazing ground strokes and very fine volleys, how hand-quilting provides time to appreciate the fabrics.  As I sewed, memories of making this quilt top were fresh in my mind.  I won’t get that experience when I machine-quilt the table runner, but I shall enjoy viewing it every time I visit Little Miss and her folks.

Watching Wimbledon is sort of like that; I recall the fantastic players of the past, like Britain’s Tim Henman, oh goodness I so wanted him to reach the Final!  Martina Navratilova is one of my all times faves, while the Roger Federer/Marin Cilic match offered a glimpse of Cilic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic, who won in 2001 as a wildcard entry!  (He’s the only wildcard to have ever taken the title, by the way….)  I was so pleased to see Juan Martin Del Potro back on the grass, maybe he’ll go further in New York at the US Open.  A small part of my love for Wimbledon is the rekindling of the past, the game as well as life in Yorkshire.  Most of it however is my affection for sports.  Yes I love to write and sew, but first came an appreciation for athletes, and it’s not just baseball players to make me smile.

However, the fortnight at the All England Club is over for another year.  I’m going on a brief holiday next week, then the work resumes on The Hawk when I return.  I am taking the Big Bright Quilt with me, something to do in the evenings.  I wonder in the future, while snuggled under this quilt, if I’ll consider Wimbledon and/or books.  Maybe Eric, Lynne, and the rest will be like those tennis players who stir happy recollections.  How the mind retains, then reflects memories is a curious, sometimes precarious notion.  I bet next month’s US Open will figure into that quilt too, but I’ll think about that in late August.  Right now Andy Murray’s win at Wimbledon is plenty to celebrate.

Just a little brain (and soul) dump….

There’s no other place to put this, well, maybe within a journal entry, but somehow setting down words where no one else will see them seems….  Too still.  Maybe some other writer or creative soul could use to read this post, or if nothing else, I need to state these sensations in a form more visible than a dust-covered, narrow-lined notebook.  Sometimes these notions are too big for small mediums.

Two years ago I started what I assumed was going to be nothing more than a short story about a guy who….  Who changed, but then novels are usually about alterations, whether character-based or locale diversions or whatever the author feels needs to addressed.  Blithely I began unspooling a single skein of fictional yarn, taking breaks here and there to revise.  To my slight surprise, a novel emerged, then that novel turned several corners, and now I have nearly 119 chapters piled in a document, but a word count doesn’t begin to indicate all that has been considered within the prose.  And only now, two years since waking to the dream that initiated this tale, I need to take some deep breaths, allowing what this story means to me.

Yesterday I inserted a chapter about Seth Gordon, a character vital to the tale, but also a soul not well illustrated.  At times I’ve wondered why I hadn’t fully formed him; was I being lazy or….  Now I allow that while Seth’s background was firmly documented, who he was needed to remain concealed, for who he was was indeed fleeting.  As the rest of the book unfolds, Seth will too, but that’s not the only reason for this post.  Every book I’ve written has purpose, most of those drafts for the sheer practice of writing.  Maybe at the time I thought publication was the goal, but now I know better.  Those previous tales were to prepare for the task of this saga, which is indeed still about a man who changes.  But not simply Eric Snyder; it’s about his wife Lynne, their friends Sam and Renee Ahern, their pastor Marek Jagucki.  Also Eric’s art dealer Stanford Taylor, his lover Laurie Abrams, and of course Seth.  I’ve placed these people against the backdrop of the early 1960s, but events of twenty years previous are deeply entwined within the narrative, unplanned in this book’s beginning stages.  Yet as any writer knows, often the story takes its own turns, and best for the author to allow that freedom, even if said freedom takes a very circuitous path.

So much still remains to be written, but I’m not frightened.  I am however awed by the privilege to tell this tale.  Maybe that’s what I most wish to denote, and why I have to set it here, the appreciation, the joy.  Perhaps that’s what another artist needs to read, to slog through the difficult moments.  For two years I’ve been faffing around with this novel, dude….  But art can’t be rushed, nor can the process be taken for granted.  I will never again have the pleasure of crafting this particular tale, even if at times I do wish it was already long in the can.

Lately I’ve been struggling with a quilt top, often longing for its completion.  After the initial thrill, I grew sick and tired of sewing all these little pieces of fabric into small blocks, a pattern of my own choosing, for quilts aren’t quite like novels; they don’t sew themselves the way words fall from able fingertips.  But at times quilts are unwieldy as books, or this one was.  And I say was because in a matter of hours on Wednesday I finished the top, fashioned the back, cut the batting, sandwiched that sucker, then basted it as my beloved Giants battled against the Reds.  (We’re pretty much out of post-season contention, but suddenly playing like we’re in the World Series.)  Yesterday I started the actual quilting, and now I stare at that piece of work, which has been a real piece’a work.  All my fretting of the last month is literally sewn together in a bright array of autumnal hues.  Colour matters to me, whether in fabrics or Eric’s paintings.  And today, after revising yesterday’s writing, then adding that to the mix, I just needed to give myself a few moments to ponder exactly what I’m setting down for posterity.  It’s far more than one man’s road to self-discovery; The Hawk delves far deeper than anything I’ve ever written before.

Right now it’s much like the quilt, half basted and waiting for my time.  And in time, The Hawk will be like other published books and finished quilts, just another dead soldier.  But I never planned for soldiers to matter in this novel, I never dreamed of how vast of a scope I would explore.  And who I am to even bring these subjects and characters to the surface?  I’m a Californian born after the events of this novel take place, just a wife, mother, grandmother, sport fanatic, seamstress, etc, etc, etc….  Yet, for whatever reason, I’m also a writer, with a pretty active imagination.  And most importantly, I am open to direction, be it for colours or words or blog entries.  Maybe that’s the most vital aspect of this project, simply being available.  I don’t mean writing at all hours, or sewing during them either.  Like I said, this has taken two years of working in fits and starts.  But now I have settled upon a routine, and even when that is altered, at least a framework exists to guide in this book’s completion.

Writing is indeed a privilege; it’s a gift, a treasure, but not always easy.  At times it’s draining due to subject matter or words that sneak away or in how easily they tumble.  But on this day, I need to note how precious is this rare blessing.  I always wanted to write, but never did I fathom the truths that would blend with the fiction.  And every day, whether I’m editing or writing or even quilting, the blessing continues in the mere joy already accumulated, as well as what lingers on the horizon.  Within the novel, important adventures await all those mentioned above, vital turning points that I’ve been pondering for months.  How did I get so lucky to craft this saga, but luck has nothing to do with it.

Yet, sometimes I still can’t believe this is me, yammering on once again about the writing.  It’s like marveling about my grandchildren, it’s inhaling another breath, grateful for my life.  I just wanted to say how thankful I am for this opportunity, in albeit my usual long-winded fashion.  But being mindful is a good thing too.  One of these days this part of the process will be done.  And when that day comes, oh my goodness!

In the meantime, back to work I go….