I’m Thankful for Grandmas

Happy Thanksgiving everyone ūüôā

While I was at the Toledo Main Library for my art show, I had a chance to stop in the children’s department.¬† If you haven’t been there, GO!¬† You’re in for a treat.¬† I especially like the fish tank celebrating The Rainbow Fish.¬† But¬†I also saw something new.

The installation in the above photo depicts a scene from the book¬†Abuela by¬†Arthur Dorros.¬† I’d never actually read this book, but I was so moved by the piece that I went home and requested the book from my library.¬† It’s about a girl who is¬†always going places with her Abuela.¬† (Abuela means grandmother in Spanish.)¬†¬†One day¬†the girl wonders what it would be like to fly.¬† Readers¬†are then taken on a flight of the imagination, following this girl and her grandmother on their adventures together soaring above the city.

After seeing this art installation and then reading this book, I could not help but think of my relationship with my own grandmother who passed away last fall.¬† She was one of my first teachers and taught me how to play the piano when I was young.¬† I would not trade anything for our time together sitting at the piano bench.¬† I learned many lessons beyond how to read and play the notes.¬† She taught me the importance of finishing what you started and never giving up, even if that means playing the same refrain over and over because you’ve forgotten the rest.¬† The show must go on!

I know the show must go on even now that she is gone, but I feel like a piece of her is still with me,¬†cheering me on, as I continue¬†on my life’s journey toward publication.¬† I still remember those Sunday dinners together.¬†¬†I will be thinking of her as I sit down with my family for Thanksgiving.¬† I hope you have a chance to be with those people who are near and dear to your heart.¬† Don’t forget to tell them you love them and give them a hug to show you mean it.

We’re heading into the season of wishes and miracles.¬† If I had one wish, it would be to go flying with my grandma, even if it’s only in my dreams…

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Go to the Well

People go to wells for many reasons– water…wishes…words?

I enjoy receiving book recommendations.¬† Recently someone suggested On Writing Well ¬†by William Zinsser.¬† Since it’s a guide for nonfiction writing, I paused before picking it up.¬† But then I thought, why not?¬† Thank goodness I did.¬† Turns out the wisdom found in its pages works for all kinds of writers.

Here are some highlights!

“Ultimately the product that any writer has to sell is not the subject being written about, but who he or she is.”

When writing, go in search of humanity and warmth.¬† “Good writing has an aliveness that keeps the reader reading…”

My favorite chapter is titled “Clutter.”¬† Follow this advice to help declutter your writing.

  • Don’t follow a verb with a preposition (“order up”)
  • Don’t add an adverb when the verb itself does the job (“smile happily”)
  • Don’t add an adjective that states a known fact (“tall skyscraper”)
  • Avoid¬†using qualifiers that weaken the sentence (“a bit,” “sort of”)
  • Avoid¬†using phrases that don’t mean anything (“in a sense”)
  • Avoid following up a sentence with another sentence that essentially says the same thing.¬† (You can also cut sentences that give info readers don’t really need to know or can figure out on their own.)

Astonishing fact: “Most first drafts can be cut by 50 percent without losing any information or losing the author’s voice.”

***How do we get our own style?***

Trick question!¬† “First…learn to hammer the nails, and if what you build is sturdy and serviceable, take satisfaction in its plain strength.”

If anything, “Sell yourself…Believe in your own identity and your own opinions.¬† Writing is an act of ego…Use its energy to keep yourself going.”

Here’s some advice on fear and confidence from humorist S. J. Perelman.¬† “The reader has to feel that the writer is feeling good…Even if he isn’t.”

“Writers have to jump-start themselves at the moment of performance, no less than actors and dancers and painters and musicians…You also have to [be the one to] turn on the switch.¬† Nobody is going to do it for you.”

And what’s my new mantra from this book?¬† “Get on the plane.”¬† You never know where your words will take you.¬† But they won’t take you anywhere, unless you have the courage to write them.