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So Much To Tell & Chekhov’s Complaint

So, lots of good stuff to tell.  Eve got a wonderful review in Publisher’s Weekly.  What a relief!  Ha, ha.

Brilliance Audio has bought the audio rights to Eve, and they’re starting to record next Monday.  The audiobook will be out the same time as Eve (in January).  Fab.

I’ve been asked to speak at the Historical Novel Society’s conference in June, right outside of Chicago.

My sister Amy is coming for two weeks, to help with Liliana while I write.  I really want to get my second novel done by the end of the year.  I’m excited for Auntie Amy to meet little L, and vice versa.

We finally hung Dan’s painting last night.  I remember the first time I saw the real Van Goghs in Paris; they just jump out at you–the colors are so vivid–nothing like the reproductions.  In the same way, the picture above does not do justice to Dan’s abilities.  It looks great above our fireplace, and to think–my husband did that!  Very cool.  [Do you see the tree?  The grass?  The sky?]

My mind is full of ideas right now, so I’m going to share them.  It’s quite a hodgepodge, since that’s the nature of my brain, but here goes.

Two ideas for future Thanksgivings that are stolen blatantly from other friends.  First, put a cookie jar (or something similar) on your counter, and as you think about it during the year, jot down things you’re thankful for and toss them in.  Then on Thanksgiving, read them all out loud.  Second idea: take a photo a day of things you’re grateful for.  Then for Thanksgiving, make a quick collage of them all and hang them up.  Grand ideas, don’t you think?

Moving on.  Have you heard of being able to attend a genuine-article Metropolitan opera at your local movie theater?  I’m so taking little L to one of these.  Click here for information.  How amazing and accessible is that?  If she gets restless, I can leave.  But if she doesn’t, then I’ve just given her the gift of opera.  [OK, I’m partial to operas.  I know a friend who said they sound like a bunch of stuck pigs, but I took three quarters of The History of Opera at UCLA.  I had this unbelievable professor who also played the organ at a local church.  He’d tell the story of a particular opera, and as he played an aria or a recitative, tears would be streaming down his cheeks.  Now that’s a teacher for you!]

If you’re finding it difficult to manage your precious time, because there’s SO much to do, read Martha Beck’s “Urgent!  Urgent! (Or Is It?)” article in October’s O Magazine issue.  Click here to read.  Very timely for me; maybe it will be for you, too.

I’ve been thinking about another article called “Band of Sisters”–in O Magazine’s October issue–about a group of friends who got together to do something about the rape epidemic in the Congo.  It’s a sort of giving circle, “a trend that combines the social and intellectual exchange of book clubs with old-time traditions like barn raisings and African-American and Asian mutual aid societies.  These circles take many forms.  The basic premise is that individuals (who tend to be women) come together to pool their money and skills to make more of a difference than they could just writing a check.  ‘For people who want to give, circles are a great way to meet with friends and share ideas on issues you care passionately about,’ says Caren Yanis, executive director of Oprah’s Angel Network.”  Hmmm.  I have to ruminate about that one.  I may want to start one up.  Now to find my cause.

Oh, and then I got the lovely care package (represented in today’s post image) in yesterday’s mail from my friend Clare!  A beautiful postcard by Mary Cassatt.  A Toblerone.  A box of tea.  And a fortune that read:  Treat yourself to a good book for a needed rest and escape.

The chocolate is gone, but the feeling’s not.  To be so loved.

And last but not least.  I had to laugh when I read this.  The following comes from How to Write Like Chekhov: Advice and Inspiration, Straight from His Own Letters and Work. Please know that I’m not putting myself in the same writing category as Chekhov.  His work is extraordinary.  But here he is in 1888, after winning Russia’s prestigious Pushkin Prize, writing to his publisher, Alexei Suvorin:

“I do not like the fact that I am successful; the plots that are still in my head are fretting with jealous irritation over the ones I have already put down in writing.  It annoys me to think that all the stuff that is nonsense is already written up while the good material is still sitting around in the warehouse like unsold inventory.  Of course, there is a lot of exaggeration in my whining…but there is also a dole–a sizable dole–of truth….Either I am an idiot and a conceited fool, or I am an organism capable of becoming a good writer.  Everything I am writing at present bores me and leaves me indifferent, but everything that is still only in my head interests me, moves me, and excites me.  From all of this I have concluded that everyone else is on the wrong track and I am the only one who knows the secret of what needs to be done.  This is probably what most writers think.  Anyhow, these are the kinds of issues that would drive the devil himself crazy.”

Yes, I’ve thought all those things.  Writing does it to you.  You have to be crazy to write.

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The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

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