I finished UNBROKEN and loved it, of course. It’s on the keeper shelf now.
The next book I’m still in the middle of is Ballroom! Obsession and Passion in the World of Competitive Dance by Sharon Savoy. I checked it out of the library as research for the next book I’m working on. Somehow, in the midst of the holidays and life, I didn’t get to it and I forgot to renew it. So I have to read it in the next day or two and go pay my fine. I’ve started it and it’s full of little insider tips that I will put to good use.
Then it’s on to my Christmas books. SMALL VICTORIES, the newest by Anne Lamott. I love her. I’m sure this will show up here with a review very soon.
Jan Karon returned to Mitford with SOMEWHERE SAFE WITH SOMEBODY GOOD. I’m eager to see what’s new with Father Timothy and Cynthia and Dooley and Lace. Especially since so many of the memorable residents of Mitford have passed on.
On my Kindle: I read portions of at least three books on my reader every day. Two devotionals: BREAKING FREE DAY BY DAY by Beth Moore and MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST, the classic by Oswald Chambers. And of course, my daily chronological Bible readings. Then I always have another book there I’m working on. On my Kindle right now is MOCHA SUNRISE by my friend Julie Carobini. This one is part of her Chocolate Series, after CHOCOLATE BEACH and TRUFFLES BY THE SEA.
As usual, my TRB pile is a whole bookcase and it’s threatening to teeter over. The next few weeks will be work and reading. My favorites!
I got a copy of Anne Lamott’s newest, Stiches, several months ago and set it aside for a quiet day when I could savor it.
Fast forward to yesterday.
Not a quiet day, but I decided I was tired of waiting to enjoy that I may never get around to and if I was serious about reading it, I needed to make it happen.
Like the previous book in this sort-of-a-series (Help Thanks Wow), Stitches can be read quickly or it can be savored a few pages at a time.
Lamott’s prose is beautiful, the words never get in the way of the point. She writes with humor and honesty.
Stitches was written in the weeks around the Sandy Hook School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Lamott’s outrage at children being shot comes through and I share it.
But the larger message is how do we get through tough times? Heart-breaking times? How do we help a friend with a dire prognosis? What about when it’s our own problem, our diagnosis?
The short answer is we band together. We ask for help. We fetch water for a thirsty friend. We duck our heads, hold hands, and breathe.
I made it to Berkeley and I got to check off another entry on my List of Thirty.
Anne Lamott was pretty much what I expected. A bit snarky and cranky with some self-deprecation and honesty mixed into a heavy dose of faith and encouragement. Perhaps most surprisingly, I didn’t cry when I met her!
Of course, I pretended I was an average reader who enjoyed her work. I didn’t mention the ways she’s influenced me to live more transparently, to be more authentic. I didn’t talk about what I’d learned from her regarding “s****y first drafts,” in her writing craft book, Bird by Bird. I shook her hand, thanked her for the evening and asked her to sign my copy of Bird by Bird, brought from home.
Perhaps I wasn’t practicing what she preached and what I claim to have learned about being transparent and honest, but I think it’s better that way. No one wanted to deal with a semi-hysterical stalker/fan in the middle of Berkeley’s First Congregational Church. I got to keep my dignity. And Annie wasn’t saddled with yet another overwrought reader who wouldn’t let her out of there to get back home to her dogs.
Some of my “take-aways:”
- Beginning a life of faith and as a writer are pretty much the same. You start where are, you move forward. It’ll be hard and it’ll stink, but it’ll get better.
- You forgive someone when the pain of carrying the grudge around becomes harder and heavier than the pain of letting it go.
- Especially if you realize they hurt you out of their own self-loathing and if lashing out at you is what enables them to feel better about their own miserable and small life, then let them. You can let it go, knowing it’s not about you, it’s about their own miserliness.
- No matter how I feel about someone, Jesus would want me to wash their feet. Annie pretty much despises Dick Chaney but she readily admits she’d wash his feet because Jesus would want her to. And she expects Mr. Chaney would wash her feet for the same reason.
I came home and put a check by Annie’s name and perused the list for my next target. I blew a chance to meet Steve Martin a few months ago. Actually, I blew the potential that I might have a chance to see Steve Martin. Not quite the same thing as meeting him, but if I’m serious about this list, it’s time to be a bit more proactive.
Who’s on your list of people who’ve influenced you that you’d like to meet?
It’s kind of like a Bucket List. A list of thirty people who have influenced you and whom you would like to meet.
Debbie Macomber, in her non-fiction books Knit Together and God’s Guest List, writes about her List of Thirty, a list of thirty people she would like to meet. She includes anecdotes about how God brought those people (most of them famous, some of them extremely famous) across her path.
I’ve had my own list for several years now.
And I get to check off two of them within a month of each other.
In November, I went to a writer’s conference and was privileged to learn from Donald Maass, of the Maass Literary Agency and author of Writing the Breakout Novel. I only spoke to him for a minute, but it was enough to earn him a check mark on my list.
Tonight, I’ll be at a reading by Anne Lamott and will hopefully add another check to that list. I’ve said before that Anne taught me two things:
- Everything I know about being transparent and honest I learned from Anne,
- Not all Christians think like me or are conservative like me but that doesn’t mean they love God and Jesus less or that God and Jesus love them less.
I’ll probably be a basket case if I get to speak to her and won’t be able to articulate what her writing has meant to me and my journey of faith.
But I also know:
- It won’t be the first time she’s been confronted with a weeping fan
- I’ll be okay and Jesus will still love me and Annie both.
Check back next week and I’ll let you know how it went!