Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Quote from Ezra Adams, ex-slave from South Carolina

Ezra Adams was 83 when he told a Works Progress Administration interviewer about his time on the plantation of Lawrence Adams. He was clearly a writer who missed his time. Here's an excerpt:

"I ain't going to say a word of evil against their dust lying over yonder in their graves.... When marster died, that was the time of my first real sorrow. Three years later, missus passed away, that was the time of my second sorrow. Then, I reminded myself of a little tree out there in the woods in November. With every sharp and cold wind of trouble that blowed, more leaves of that tree turned loose and went to the ground, just like they was trying to follow her. It seemed like, when she was gone, I was just like that tree with all the leaves gone, naked and friendless. It took me a long time to get over all that; same way with the little tree, it had to pass through winter and wait on spring to see life again."

With every sharp and cold wind of trouble that blowed, more leaves of that tree turned loose and went to the ground, just like they was trying to follow her. 

If you've never read any of these accounts, it's worth your time. They are horrifying, funny, offensive, sad, and enlightening. I read these on Ancestry.com.

Friday, October 25, 2013


I'm not sure why I am titling this post "Fifty;" my birthday in November is not really on my mind. The problem is, I've got nothing on my mind, and I can't figure out how to shift into gear.

I did quit my temporary job, I did begin writing a technical book, I did finish the editing (really, rewrite) project, and I did work on the book store. For the month of September, I felt a sense of accomplishment and the hope that I could maintain my energy as I looked for the next phase of my life.

I also began doing shamanic work for others. That felt very successful, and I wanted to let myself believe that I had become accustomed to seeing myself as a writer and book store owner who also helps people resolve energy problems.

Good luck with that, I say to my four-weeks-ago self.

Maybe this is because I lost Fred, my plot bunny.
The book fell through after I spent many hours pounding out more than half of the work; David quit one job and started a new one which he now realizes might have been a mistake; and after some soul-searching, I handed over a revision of the rewrite project to a friend, because I felt I had already done my best work on it, and I would resent every change the author wished to make.

I also led a prose-writing workshop at FWA's annual conference three 7:00 ams in a row. I loved the prompts, the people, the writing, and the feedback. I also met a fellow energy worker who made me feel that I wasn't alone, a woman who used to live in my hometown who was a hoot to talk to, and another local writer who seemed like we could simply be friends.

The weekend was a great success, and yet afterwards, I feel exhausted and confused. I knew I was a little lost after the technical book project fell through, but the feeling is magnified now.

What do I do?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Refinishing Meditation

I am struggling with a decision.

Do I continue working a difficult temporary job or quit and devote myself to a technical book I'm writing with David, a novel I need to send out again, one I need to finish,  one I need to get going on, and a non-fiction book I'm editing? The first book has a buyer, the last is by a previously published writer, Geraldine Williams. (The link shows one of three books she wrote or co-wrote.)

I also need to spend some time on my bookstore, Read (Think) Books. It is doing very well, thanks to Kristin, but I want to add more display, tame the two storage units, create a website, and create some advertising.

So I did what I always do when I'm under stress. Refinish furniture.

This time it's painting a very rough old bookcase I plan to take to the store, but earlier this week, it was a Drexel coffee table.
  • I begin by readying my tools, placing my object and putting on the appropriate gloves, clothes, shoes, and protective gear.
  • I examine the piece to see where to begin, or where to pick up after I left off the last time.
  • I pick up sander, brush, rag, saw, screw gun or hammer and begin. 
  • Each step is focused and repetitive. I refine my technique, pull my mind back to the task when it wanders.
  • I think of very little else while I work. 
  • At the end, I tidy away the tools and the object. 
Come to think of it, gardening is also a meditation practice.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Things Done but Left Undone

Opened a bookstore...
but haven't posted the thousands of vintage books I adore.

Deconstructed my bathroom...
didn't put it back together yet. 
Released hundreds of ladybugs to police my garden...
but the garden has fallen into disrepair.
Moved my bookstore to a new location...
still don't have all the fixtures up after 8 months.
Wrote the first 75% of three novels...
but not the last 25.
(This is my plot bunny, Fred. He works overtime.)
Called home my fierce protective nature...
but haven't integrated my tiger.
Built my neighbor a small deck and steps...
never sealed the wood. 
Designed a new store website...
haven't created it.
Refinishing a Drexel coffee table...
 still needs two coats of tung oil.
Consented to a temporary job...
haven't quit the goofy thing.

Started editing a book on art therapy...
haven't done the final polish.

Organized a book on writing...
my friend decided not to write it.

Sent my mystery novel out to an agent...

 Wrote a comic book and got it half-illustrated...
but not published.

Created a writing blog...
not posted on it for two years.

Studied shamanism for two years...
have yet to journey for anyone but me.

My new watchword should be FINISH.