Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Book Magic and What Are You Reading?

Serendipity, kismet, book magic. You might not have a name for it (or maybe you do), but if you’ve read books for any amount of time then you know what it is:

That moment when a book crosses the horizon of your consciousness without your having searched for it. Maybe you heard about it from a friend, a blog post, or an interview. Maybe you only saw the cover or simply discovered it on the shelf. One moment you are living your life and the next moment there is this book that you know you need to read. And once you do, you sit back amazed over what it did. Captivated you. Or answered one of your unspoken questions. Described a feeling you never could put into words. Sometimes the entire theme envelops you, sometimes just one phrase stays with you.

A few that come to mind for me.
“Children are a burden to a mother, but not the way a heavy box is to a mule. Our children weigh hard on my heart, and thinking about them growing up honest and healthy, or just living to grow up at all, makes a load in my chest that is bigger than the safe at the bank, and more valuable to me than all the gold inside it.”
― Nancy E. Turner, These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901
“. . . that all the good things of this world are no further good to us than they are for our use; and that, whatever we may heap up indeed to give others, we may enjoy as much as we can use, and no more.”
– Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
“She had little experience with such things, but she began to suspect this was exactly what it meant to have people in one’s life who cared about each other. They talked through burdens and walked at each other’s side. ‘Twas something she knew in that moment she wanted very much indeed.”
– Sarah M. Eden, Longing For Home
And this one. Takes. My. Breath. Away.
Mr. Rochester to Jane: "Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own: in pain and sickness it would still be dear. Your mind is my treasure, and if it were broken, it would be my treasure still. . . "
– Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
This book magic, I think, served as part of my motivation to write The Christmas Tree Keeper. To be on the other side of the shelf, so to speak, and do my part to bring a story to life. I drew on childhood memories of Christmas and trees and miracles and began to wonder what if. As I wrote and researched and wrote some more, I wondered if my story would ever be able to find its way into a reader’s life—a reader’s heart, even.

Well, I woke up to a new review for The Christmas Tree Keeper a few weeks ago, written by someone I do not know, and do not expect to be able to meet. She was from Massachusetts (where the book is set) and had previously worked on a Christmas Tree Lot (like the Shafer Tree Farm) and had even made wreaths. At that point in her review I thought a real-life Mrs. Shaw had found my book and enjoyed it!

How did she find my book?

I didn’t know. But then again, I did.

In my mind’s eye I felt like I could see the closing of the circuit, if you will, where a reader just found what she was looking for, what she needed.

And this is why I love the craft. For readers and writers, how the book magic comes full circle. For writers to collaborate with the stories that beg to be told, to give it their best effort and make their offering to the readers who are waiting to do their part—the discovering, the enjoying. And for readers to share what they're reading. The world changes, one book at a time.

Happy reading!
Leave a comment with what your reading (or hope to read) this holiday like I've done in previous summers, I'll put together the list in another post.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Goals and Staying Motivated, Not a Contradiction

It is possible to set goals, work at them, and stay motivated. And even create art in the process.
The maps over at Map Your Progress* are great tools for keeping the finish line in sight.

I learned about them in the summer. I blogged about them here and, yes, I was a little excited over the prospect of creating something pretty while working on my goals. And for good reason. I love having something to show for my effort. I've been using this map for my exercise goals. I knew if I could work out at least five days a week for several months, it could become a habit and I might see some results. This map has sixty swirls, I've colored in one swirl for every workout. In an effort to keep it simple, I decided not to use different colors for different workouts. I wanted the first few months to be about rewarding myself for every effort. So in the mix are short and long cardio workouts, light weight-lifting sessions, as well as 30 minute yoga and 60 minute yoga practices. This print is in a frame without the glass, sits on my nightstand and the markers are nearby. Every day I can see, SEE, the progress. Theoretically if I exercise well enough I will begin to see results reflected in my own body, but (this is no news flash) results from old fashioned exercise (and eating right) are slow to show--so this swirl of color reminds me I'm creating a healthier (and fitter-looking) body. It's helped me visualize some of the less tangible, but no less beneficial, results of exercise--like elevated mood, better sleep, lower blood pressure, better regulated blood sugar, etc.
Another added benefit to the map is that is there as a reminder of all the work I've put in, so on a day when I'm sick or miss the gym, I don't feel like all is lost.
"Small efforts over time can produce significant results." ~D. Durrant
I'm looking forward to trying out the other designs for some of my other goals (like writing a certain sequel to a certain Christmas novel.) I'll let you know how that goes, too!

*I have no connection to Map Your Progress, other than as a satisfied customer. I receive no compensation for this blog post. I love sharing creative things, or things that help creativity, or creative things that help the other areas of life!


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