Monday, April 9, 2012
My Bookshelf: The Mindful Writer... and Reader
A quick glance at what I'm reading right now:
The Mindful Writer by Dinty Moore. I walked to The Tattered Cover Bookstore here in downtown Denver last week and bought this wonderful little book and have almost finished it. Dinty does a wonderful job of pulling together quotes from writers and artists and then reflecting on them and how their wisdom relates to what he's learned from his Buddhist experience, but even moreso from his experience as a writer, an editor, and a teacher. Using the "Four Noble Truths" concept, he comes up with "Four Noble Truths for Writers" as the four sections of the book. Each one is so full of insight that I want to savor each page slowly, but instead I find myself turning the pages, wanting more. I know this is counter to the whole idea of mindfulness and being in the moment, so I'm trying to slow down and ingest and apply the wisdom of these pages to my life, and especially to my writing.
On my Kindle:
Robert Leleux's latest memoir, The Living End: A Memoir of Forgetting and Forgiving is a great read to couple with Dinty's book, because Robert is so mindful in his writing. I met Robert a couple of years ago when he was the guest MC for the Pulpwood Queens' Girlfriend Weekend in Jefferson, Texas. The Living End is about how Alzheimer's changed the relationship between his grandmother and his mother, who were estranged for years until the disease caused his grandmother to forget why she didn't want to have anything to do with her own daughter, Robert's mother. It's about that and so much more, and I can relate to it on many levels.
Also in hardback:
Of course I'm continuing my journey through Circling Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality, which contains my essay, "Chiaroscuro: Shimmer and Shadow." The anthology just got an excellent review, here at the Alabama Writer's Forum. It's available at lots of independent bookstores now, and I'm hoping to participate in some readings/signings beginning in May, so stay tuned.
When I visited The Tattered Cover Bookstore last week, in addition to Dinty's The Mindful Writer, I picked up a few more titles and hope to dive into them soon:
The Writer's Home Companion (1987) in paperback
Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankle (1959) also in paperback, which I read about ten years ago and want to read again
Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth (also in paperback)
And one more in hardback:
Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham. Cunningham's book, The Hours, provided lots of inspiration for my current novel-in-progress, and Specimen Days provides another look at interweaving the lives of three main characters from disparate places and times. Where he used Virginia Woolf to tie the characters' lives together in The Hours, he uses Walt Whitman as the connecting thread in Specimen Days. Saint Mary of Egypt, a fourth century prostitute-turned-saint, plays that role in my novel, Cherry Bomb.
I'm trying to wrap up my novel-in-progress while feeding my soul (it's Holy Week for Orthodox Christians) and continuing to learn about writing from those who do it so well. My plate is full with all that and exploring Denver and hanging out with my children and grandchildren. I'm beginning to learn my way around, and to appreciate the beauty of this place, which is so "other than" the South, where I've spent the first six decades of my life. I can see how the South has shaped so much of who I am and how it informs my writing, especially my fiction, just as my spiritual journey has shaped much of my nonfiction writing, like my essay in Circling Faith. I am thankful to be where I am in my life right now, spiritually and geographically. And I'm also thankful for these mindful writers who also paving the way for me.