Monthly Archives: February 2011

12 step redux

I was in New York for awhile. One morning I was sitting in the hotel mezzanine upstairs and overheard the following between the man at the front desk and his friend (both from Russia or the Balkans or some place Slavic).  HOW you are? boomed the first, big loudness on “how.” I loved the mixed-up syntax. They talked for a time, and then this floated up, capturing my attention again….Well, you know, every day at a time…..which I took to be a sort-0f translation of the 12 step motto….one day at a time. It made me laugh, this version of it, and it made me pause and remember that I can’t control anything, only myself, and sometimes not even that, and that I’m not in charge of the world, and that things happen, things I like and things I don’t, and my job is to keep my eyes on me and keep faith of some kind and get through this day the best I can, this day, not tomorrow, and if I best-I-can enough, most days will meld together to compose a life that has more joy than sorrow, but I don’t get one without the other….that old Kahlil Gibran wisdom….and could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy./And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields./And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.…..

Every day at a time….how you are?


revolution in books

I’m in New York on business, the business of being a published author. Borders declared bankruptcy while I’m here. Everyone in the publishing business is reeling from that. My agent thinks the day of the hardcover book may be ending. An editor friend talks about authors she represents having more e-book sales than actual books you touch. The Authors’ Guild and other organizations that represent authors are wrangling with publishers and e-book creators about the percentage of e-book sales that go to the author. It’s like the publishing world has been eating hay in the stall, while the tech thoroughbreds raced out of the gate long ago and are far off in the distance. Another agent talked about browsing in a book store, and the sales that come from that. Think about walking into one, and covers of different books luring you. How do you establish the same lure online? It’s do-able, I know. I wonder what it will look like.

I don’t think the actual, touchable book is dead. I do think we’re in a revolution of immense proportions about how we access information. Many people I know have e-readers of some kind now, even those that adore books and bookstores. Interesting times.

Me? I’ve got a foot in each world. I’m going to be doing something called a blog tour for the new book in June. The author tour, except for big names and celebrities, is dead, so I’m told. I ought to know because I did an author tour a few years ago (another blog sometime when I’ve had some wine to kill the pain). But I’ll do a few book signings in Houston. And my agent wants me to do a small video on my site (will I tap dance or sing?), and I already have skype, and I’ve just written to you online and linked to a place where you can buy my latest book.

And I’m going to the Strand Bookstore here in New York as soon as I finish this. On Broadway, 18 miles of books, so it brags. Got to go wander among some books, dream the dreams they make me vision. 

Where are you in this revolution? Do you like your e-reader? What do you miss about an actual book….if anything…..I don’t think the book is dead, and I know story isn’t….what about you?

soft upon your fields

My plants in outside pots are crushed by Houston’s icy weather, even though they were covered. The succulents look as if they were never fat and tender. Ivies are withered to nothing. I talk with a friend today and find out bids she’d been hoping for have been rejected. The icy economic weather is taking its toll, too. We can withstand so much, and then there’s a breaking point. Our faith cracks, and our hope. Fear or faith. Fear or love, we always choosing one or the other, say the psychologists. I’m going to carefully trim the dead parts off each and every one of my plants. It will be interesting to me to watch them make their comeback. I’ll be excited by the first little tender shows of green. I wish I could trim the hurt from my friend. I know she’ll green again. But does she? Someone said to me over the phone this week, this is a hard planet. Yes, and yes again. What do you do when the wind is not at your back, but pushing against your every step. It makes little blisters in the heart. At the beginning of the week, a group of us looked up an old blessing:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

What do you do when it’s hard, when you’re in the valley, and the high mountains around cover the sunlight? When there is no rain on your fields? Our internal fields are so much more fragile than outside ones. How do you yourself hold the faith?

O, may the road rise to meet you………………..


Dusting my office shelves, I found a relic of the past crumbling to pieces. It was a tiny clay Halloween pumpkin that my sister made for me when she was 5, and I was 18 and away in my first year of college. She had painted the little clay piece orange and its eyes and mouth green, but it had flattened on the bottom when it dried. She and I both had a hard time that year. She kept running away from her kindergarten class, running all the way home whenever she could. And if I could have run away home, I would have, but I didn’t have her certain, independent, little spirit. How difficult that year was, the first time away from home, few social skills, and certainly no flirting skills. I didn’t know how to fit in, and that’s what I wanted, to fit. What did my sister want? Not to fit? To go her own way? For the teacher not to scare her? Her year was just as hard for her.

The little relic was past repair. It crumbled away when I picked it up. I thought I’d kept it all these years because it was funny looking and dear that it had been given. Only as I write this do I realize the pure love it contained. Sweet, sweet little sister.