Since this is supposed to be a reading and writing blog, it’s time to share a little something about what I’ve been reading and a little something about what I’ve been writing.
First, the reading. I totally buy into the adage that good readers make good writers, and I usually have at least two books going at any given time. Though it’s not always the case, one of the books is usually nonfiction and the other fiction. Right now my fiction choice is Maude by Donna Mabry. In truth, it’s a memoir that reads like historical fiction.
I’m spellbound by this novel, and I can’t figure out exactly why. I think it might have something to do with the author’s honesty and her unflinching look at life regardless of what the fates throw her way. Also fascinating to read are the historical events of the era based on Maude’s perspective. She tells of getting the right to vote and actually voting despite the strong discouragement of her husband.
Maude’s granddaughter wrote the book, but Maude’s voice tells the tale. She’s had very few happy moments in her life, and where I left off last night, the story looks like it’s about to get a lot more bleak. The Depression has hit, and with no money and no prospects, Maude and her husband head to Detroit in search of a better life. At first, Maude passionately declares that she will take in sewing to make enough money to save their house. But then, her husband reminds her that no one has money to pay her. Even the bank has closed.
Before I bought the book on Kindle, I read some of the reviews. Some were hateful, snide, and dismissive. Others were more positive and focused on Maude’s strength and perseverance. So far, I’m in the latter camp.
I’m also reading The Best American Spiritual Writing (2004) by Philip Zaleski (editor) and rereading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. The first book is one that I dip into whenever I need something soulful to ponder. This morning I read an article entitled “Judaism Beyond Words: Conclusion,” and was struck by these words about the problem of evil: “The central question is not why God hasn’t saved the world but why you haven’t.”
Blog experts advise staying within a 500-word limit per post, so it’s time to say a few words about writing. It’s coming along. As mentioned in an earlier post, my writing group agreed to begin submitting some tentative pieces for next year’s anthology, and yesterday we met to critique the recent submissions. My piece was “Spirit to Spirit, “ a story about the birth of one of my grandsons.
I knew I was in for a tough go of it when Doug gave me a look that said, “I hate to do this, but….” He said some nice things about the story, but he also pointed out some areas that needed tweaking: too many uses of was, not enough active voice, and some missing quotation marks. He did, however, like the use of dialogue, and so did a couple of other people. Somebody pronounced the story “compelling,” and another writer said it was powerful.
This afternoon, I’m feeling grateful for the ability to read. Reading continues to teach me so much about the world, people, animals, plants, religion, food preparation, health, philosophy, emotions, and even about myself. I’m also thankful for a group of writers and friends who hold me to a certain standard and won’t accept less than my best efforts.
What’s your most current project in either reading or writing?