I’m Tired of the Line

I was thinking today of how I miss the days of neighbors being neighbors, instead of human fence posts divided over a vote (or a nonvote).

I’m tired of the line that says, “Do not cross unless you agree.” Tired of sides. Tired of suspicious looks or decisions to keep a war going without thought of the cost. Because war always has a cost. If you don’t believe that, take a gander at all of the crosses at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.

I’m tired of us and them being wielded like blades. Whatever happened to our and we? Whatever happened to together?

I remember, back in 2005, when Hurricane Rita hit Texas, where my parents live. Their neighborhood (outside of Houston) was without electricity for over a week. Since many had electric stoves, they were forced to cook on a grill. Neighbors cooked for other neighbors, gladly sharing what they had.

In geometry we’re told that a line is the shortest distance between two points (though some dispute the type of line). Maybe we could draw a line of connection between each other instead of a line that separates.

Neighbors being neighborly: https://laurabrunolilly.com/neighborly-meals/

Line image from imwithlee.com. Normandy crosses from duffelblog.

Enduring Love

white wedding cakes2I don’t know about you, but I grow weary of turning on the news or logging on to my ISP and hearing about the latest celebrity breakup. But the news media seems to feast upon those.

Okay. I get it. Bad news is considered news worthy. But is yet another breakup among the thousands we’ve heard about really news worthy since celebrities often break up with other celebrities?

You don’t have to answer that. I wrote that to preface how greatly refreshed I was to receive the latest TED Talks email, which featured this talk: “This is what enduring love looks like.” The presenters, Stacey Baker and Alec Soth, use photographs to discuss how couples met and remained together. You can watch that video below if you have a spare ten minutes.

I love hearing the stories of how couples met. I never get enough of those. I enjoy looking at wedding photographs and other captured moments of family togetherness like vacation photos. You can call me weird if you like. I don’t mind. I love engagement stories and those promposals that keep popping up on YouTube. Wondering what a promposal is? Click here.

promposal3

Okay, a promposal isn’t exactly a story of enduring love. And maybe some people go overboard yielding to the pressure of making a memorable promposal. But I love the sparkle in the eyes of the storytellers as they discuss how wonderful it was to be sought after and accepted.

A good story energizes me. The stories I most resonate with remind me that there are such things as love that endures, faith, hope, and redemption.

I’m not an ostrich by the way—trying to bury my head in the sand to hide from bad news. I’ve been through bad breakups. My family has weathered some awful storms. That’s why I gravitate toward stories of love that lasts. Because I already know what the alternative is like.

Heart Photo

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7 ESV

Wedding cake from weddingphotographye.blogspot. Promposal image from alyceparis.com. Heart photo by L. Marie.

What Your World Needs Now Is Love

Valentines_Day_Wallpapers_2012 (7)Happy Valentine’s Day—the day we think of love and chocolate! I also think of the ever delightful Martine Leavitt, since I’m giving away two of her books: My Book of Life by Angel (FSG/Macmillan and Groundwood Books) and Keturah and Lord Death (Boyds Mills Press). If you’re confused right about now, that means you missed the interview posts with Martine. They are here and here. Run! Catch up! I’ll wait for you here.

            small_photo 13160329 978-1-59078-949-0

Today is the day to announce the three winners, courtesy of the Random Number Generator. (Random Number Generator, I love you!) And now, without further ado, they are . . .

lolcatsdotcomk8rjynpxgj815piw

Still wait for it . . .

Waaaaaaaait for it . . .

Anna J. Boll (My Book of Life by Angel)
Laura Sibson (My Book of Life by Angel)
Stephanie Stamm (Keturah and Lord Death)

Congrats, winners! Please confirm by commenting below, then email me at lmarie7b(at)gmail(dot)com to provide your snail mail particulars, including your phone number. Now, since the paperback of My Book of Life by Angel will debut soon, please also tell me whether you prefer a hardback, paperback, or eBook. I haven’t asked that question in the past, but I thought I’d ask this time. If for some reason, you do not wish to receive the book you won, please comment below and I’ll choose another winner. Believe me, I will not be offended if you wish to opt out.

On with the rest of the post. . . .

Having read the title of the post, maybe by now like me you’re thinking of the song, “What the World Needs Now Is Love” (written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach). Or, perhaps you’re not familiar with that song, and you’re drinking a cup of tea or coffee and shrugging. I thought of it, because Martine Leavitt’s excellent advice from the interview really haunted me, and not just because today is Valentine’s Day. What advice? Here it is:

Love the world, love the word, love your characters, love your readers, love the work. If you are not very good at loving any one of these things, you must change.

The other day, a friend and I discussed whether or not we felt as passionate about writing as Martine suggested during the interview. I’ve been in love and know how all consuming it is. It’s hard to think of anyone or anything else but the one you love.

Do I love writing? Or, based on certain projects, do I just want to date writing and see what happens? Y’know, keep my options open until something else comes along to snag my attention? (For example, a videogame; outings with friends; a good movie on TV or at the theater; the Olympics; and so on.)

olympic-rings-on-white-logo

As I explored those questions, I considered the amount of time I spend thinking about my current novel. I go to bed thinking about it. It’s the first thing on my mind when I wake up. As I drive my car, I consider what my characters need to do and how they need to grow. I worry about rainfall and wind on my imaginary terrain and whether my characters can handle the elements and the events. I draw maps so that I can know every step they take. I cry when they cry, and laugh when they laugh. So, I guess that means I’ve more than just dated writing. We got married and had kids—the world of this novel and also this blog!

I can’t help being reminded of the love my parents have for me, though I didn’t always acknowledge it when I was growing up. When I was eleven and away at Girl Scout camp, Mom later told me that Dad would stand in the hallway and look in my room, shaking his head, because I wasn’t there. That’s love. As I grew older, Mom would stay up late waiting for me to come home from a date (and then yell at me for coming home later than I was supposed to come home). That’s love.

With love there is an ebb and flow. You don’t always “feel” love. But love isn’t just a warm feeling. It’s a commitment—a decision to stick with someone or something even when you sometimes want to bail. Love of writing has the same ebb and flow. Some days you’re feelin’ it. Some days you aren’t.

Qgunquit_beach_low_tide_1

Do you love what you’re writing? Perhaps you think you don’t, because walking away from it sometimes seems so easy to do. But I’m betting deep down, you really do. Your writing is your baby—a world needing all the love you can give.

While you think about how to give it, let me leave you with this. You know that winter has overstayed its welcome when snow starts to look like this:

002

Or this:

004

Heart from forthesakeofus.blogspot.com. Cat photo from LOL Cats. Beach at low tide photo from commons.wikimedia.org.

All the Single Ladies

Unless you were off the planet back in 2008 and 2009, you probably caught Beyoncé’s music video for her hit single, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” Perhaps you’re singing the first line right now—“All the single ladies, all the single ladies”—against your will and are cursing me for mentioning this extremely catchy song. The official music video has over 260 million views, so I can safely say that quite a few people saw it. You can watch it here if you like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m1EFMoRFvY

Or, maybe you caught the parody of the video (http://vimeo.com/79670268) on Saturday Night Live, which featured Justin Timberlake impressively rocking some heels.

article-0-027FEF30000005DC-574_468x329_popup

Here are a few of the “Single Ladies” lyrics that caught my attention:

Don’t treat me to the things of the world
I’m not that kind of girl
Your love is what I prefer, what I deserve

So, why am I bringing this up, besides the fact that I happened to watch both videos recently? Appropriately enough, the videos got me to thinking about all the single ladies in my novel (those with dialogue). See, I was in the middle of writing a scene where one of my teenage main characters seeks the attention of a guy she really likes. Since the setting is medievalish, she can’t exactly text the guy or ask him to join her for coffee at Starbucks—something a twenty-first century teen might do. Beyoncé sang, “I’m not that kind of girl.” Well, I needed to think about what kind of a girl my character is. Not one to bust a move like Beyoncé or Justin Timberlake for that matter. So my task was (and still is, since nothing is set in stone yet in this book) to help her work through her feelings without her seeming too forthright or too timid.

It’s all about the social mores of the day. I’m not a fan of slapping a twenty-first century attitude on a historical setting, even if my audience would understand that attitude. And employing it certainly would be easier than all of the conversational fumbling I have to write. (Not that twenty-first century relationships are fumble free.)

PersuasionBut I’m the first to admit I’ve fumbled when it comes to all the single ladies in my book. I haven’t fully explored what it means to be a single lady in my world. You see, my book has a range of female characters: teens, married women, and an older woman who refuses to ever marry. They have stories to tell, and mine needs to be the first listening ear. And their stories aren’t all the same, like mass-produced goods.

As I consider the tasks of listening to them and chronicling their lives, I can’t help thinking of words spoken by one of Jane Austen’s characters—Anne Elliot, the main character in my favorite of Jane’s books: Persuasion. Jane knew exactly what kind of woman Anne is—a gentle, well-bred woman who loves someone she believes no longer loves her. In a conversation with Captain Harville (a friend of Anne’s love interest) about the differences between males and females in regard to love, Anne says this:

We certainly do not forget you so soon as you forget us. It is, perhaps, our fate rather than our merit. We cannot help ourselves. We live at home, quiet, confined, and our feelings prey upon us. (221)

I wish I could give the full context for this speech—and for the scene in general, which contains some of my favorite lines in literature. I won’t since it is so critical to the outcome of the book. But I love Anne’s words here, because they remind me of my challenge in writing the scene I mentioned above. How do you convey that you really like someone when just coming out and saying so is totally against what society deems proper? This is the kind of social dilemma I wanted to tackle in my book, though my story does not take place in the same era. But I love the restrictions placed on human emotion and how people work around those restrictions to gain what they need (love, companionship, whatever).

Yet seeking male companionship is not the only thing my single ladies are about. And this is where the fumbling on my part comes about. I’ve been so focused on romantic relationships, that I’ve failed to give my characters a fuller interior life, thus making them interesting people regardless of whether or not they find romantic love. I need to work on that.

So none of my single ladies will be working leotards and high heels in a music video (though a medieval-style music video would be interesting) and singing about love. Instead they’ll be living life just like I do, exploring what it means to be fully alive. I’d better get busy to ensure that they do.

Austen, Jane. Persuasion. New York: Signet Classic Edition, 1964. First published in 1817.

Beyoncé video parody photo from dailymail.com. “Single Ladies” lyrics by Christopher Stewart, Terius Nash, Thaddis Harrell, and Beyoncé Knowles.