Knowing when to “let go” of stuff!

Every January, I go through clothes, knickknacks, towels, dishes, etc.  and toss what is worn, outlived its use, or plain tired of it.  This year I have been going through memories.  Letters from my grandparents and great grandparents, my children, my parents.  Photos, albums, cards.

Some of it was painful to throw away.  But dog-eared and ripped and unreadable takes up useless space.  I managed to file everything in its proper place.  One of my treasures I must keep, though, are my father’s poems.  He was a Baptist minister and loved the people he served.  And his sense of humor was amazing.  When he walked into a room, he filled it with sunshine.  My Mom said he brought out the best in her because she was an extrovert inside trying desperately to get outside.  They were a perfect balance.

I have many of his sermons on CD’s.  And boxes full of handwritten sermons…before the computer days obviously.  Going through the boxes one by one, I cried, I read, I remembered, I laughed.  But some of them were so illegible I had to make tough choices.

I wanted to share a poem he wrote during the gas shortage during the Carter years.  They were in Florida, escaping frigid New York temperatures.  He always thought of his congregation and sent letters to be read while he was gone.  Here is a poem he sent…always with a spiritual twist.  I hope you enjoy it.

“AS I WAIT HERE IN LINE FOR FIVE GALLONS OF GAS, A MILE FROM THE PUMP WHERE I HOPE IT WILL LAST,

I’VE TRIED TO IMAGINE WHAT MY USHERS WOULD DO, IF PEOPLE WOULD CLAMOR LIKE THIS FOR A PEW.

‘TIS A SOBERING THOUGHT SUCH THINGS WILL NOT BE,

FOR ETERNITY’S VALUES ARE NOT FIRST – YOU CAN SEE;

FOR A LOT OF GOOD FOLKS CLAIM THEIR LOVE FOR THE LORD, WHO SELDOM SHOW UP TO HEAR HIS GOOD WORD.

ANOTHER GREAT “LINE UP” SOON WILL BE PAST, WHEN THE LORD SHALL DECLARE “THE FIRST SHALL BE LAST,”

THEN THOSE WHO WERE NOT “REGULAR CUSTOMERS” AT CHURCH, IF NOT “BORN AGAIN” WILL BE LEFT IN THE LURCH.

THIS ENERGY CRISES – SOMEDAY WILL PASS, AND A CRISES FAR GREAT THAN SHORTAGE OF GAS-

WILL EMERGE ON THE WORLD WITH A FAR GREATER TOLL, ON THOSE WHO GOT FUEL -BUT NEGLECTED THEIR SOUL.

I wonder what will happen when I leave this earth, if my children will value the treasures I’ve saved.  Perhaps a grandchild will search through my stuff and say these treasures are a part of me.  Our family history is filed by line – and to me, it is fascinating reading.  There are so many things I hope they will love…although cursive is not taught…I trust an elder person will read it to them.

With all of the chaos in the world today, I feel warm all over by my great heritage.  I can only hope the things precious to me will not be discarded.

Do you have memories in writing that are special to you?  Share them with me.  And know I will appreciate them.

Literary Orange/2019/Review

As a writer, there is nothing more thrilling than to be a part of an audience filled with avid readers.  They are our lifeline.  Every year I think it cannot get better…but it does.

There were three keynote speakers:  Tara Conklin, author of The House Girl; Martha Hall Kelly, author of Lilac Girls; and Alan Brennert, author of Honolulu and Moloka’i.  Each person in attendance received a complimentary copy of these authors’ latest book.  I received Tara Conklin’s book, The Last Romantics.

Although all of the speakers were fantastic, I appreciated the humble and honest talk by Alan Brennert.  His humorous depiction of making money as an author confirmed what I thought I knew.

The panels during the day seemed to capture a theme of family history and our stories.  My favorite panel was titled:  Genealogy:  Family Ingredients

The authors all focused on writing about their families…fictionalizing the stories. Ann Mah wrote about Burgundy, France and the story of wine during the Nazi occupation.  Allie Rowbottom wrote about Jello.  Her family invented Jello.  Fascinating story.  But…and here is the drum roll…on the panel was Viola Shipman.  She is one of my favorite authors.  I’ve devoured her books.  Her books have inspired me to look closely to my family and it’s history.  BUT – Viola is really WADE ROUSE.  Yes, Viola Shipman is his pen name, his grandmother’s name.  He grew up very close to his grandmother and his books define the wonderful traditions that have been handed down through the generations.  I was befuddled at first.  But I marched right up and told him how much I look forward to each book – and that never in a million years would I have guessed the novels were written by a male.  He told me this was the greatest compliment.  I know what he means as I struggle with a male POV in my writing.

If you are a voracious reader, don’t miss next year’s Literary Orange.  Eight hours of authors, readers, and books?  What more could you ask for?  But check you Orange County library for the date for 2020, because it sells out in three days!

Happy Reading everyone.  Hopefully my books will be among those you enjoy.

Greta Boris at California Writers’ Club

One of the benefits of joining the California Writers’ Club is hearing special speakers like Greta Boris.  She presented her talk in a professional, yet informal way and engaged the audience.

What I learned – How to discover the personality types of my characters.  She used the Enneagram Personality Types as her base.  I am more familiar with the standard…choleric, sanguine, melancholic, and phlegmatic.  And, if you’ve ever had marriage counseling, you’ve probably taken the Myers/Briggs test.

What I found most helpful – discerning which personality type my protagonist exhibits…then following through with their basic fear, desire, weakness, and motivation.  I came back from the meeting and tweaked some scenes to keep my character’s flaws honest and real.  Then when the inciting incident takes place, it showed me the character arc.

Thank you, Greta, for a great presentation!