Saturday, December 29, 2012

Soul Inspiration: Madeleine L'Engle

Howdy, folks. This is the last in the series, and the last for the year. I dug into what really moves me about books in this series, but I can't write about what inspires my soul in books without taking some time to talk about Madeleine L'Engle. Madeleine is my guiding star when it comes to book inspiration. Her books have had a profound affect on my life. She was one author who understood that which I feel so deeply: we are people who have a profound need for that which we cannot see -- that which we cannot explain -- that which we cannot hold onto. We have an innate ability to see what cannot be seen.

We're full of the spiritual. Madeleine understood what I instinctively understand -- that love must be at the center of the universe, or I'm not sure I can live in this universe. Are we men or are we monsters?  This is something we all wrestle with at times. Will love somehow rise over every tragedy? Will it swallow up darkness with light. It will if we are willing to fight.  Her books were full of great battles that acknowledged that the small stuff going on in our corner of the universe was a thread in the giant tapestry of history, and if you pull one thread in a tapestry you might ruin the whole cloth.  Everything is precious. Everything has purpose. Everything has a season.

Life and death are great mysteries. Love is mysterious too. Hate is also just as mysterious. Madeleine introduced me to the great mysteries. She saw all these connections. She lifted them from the world around her. A mighty chorus reverberated within her. She firmly believed that all the flaming darts that struck through the hearts of men were akin to tossing a live coal into the sea.  Ah, this is an on fire thought -- good wins!  But, but, but -- the wars, the fires, the guns, the suffering... All this mystery is wrapped up in faith and art. My favorite books step out with bravery, offering the substance and evidence of  things hoped for and things unseen.

Be brave as you move forward with your stories in the new year. Say what you believe. Serve your art. Don't be afraid.  If you have not read Madeleine L'Engle's book: Walking on Water: Reflections of Faith and Art, consider giving it a look.

See you next year!

Here is an oldie but goodie doodle: "Girl with trumpet!"

Here is a quote for your pocket.

When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... To be alive is to be vulnerable. Madeleine L'Engle 

Sorry, about the garbage you might have found at the bottom of this post!  New software, buggy...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Soul Inspiration: Heart

Hi, friends. I find that books help me face the hard times: present, past and future. It is the beating hearts of the best books that stay with me. I know that recent events have left many of us reeling with questions. How can such things happen? Is there no place sacred or safe? At the same time I hear the heartbeats of  countless stories.

Here's a secret: stories are born out of experience. Writers transmute the storms of their days and do the hard work of turning those sorry experiences into something of meaning. Somehow they take the spark of life and place it on the page.  My hope is the emotions that I've felt when the storms that have swirled around me will inform my stories and help put my heart on the page. I believe this deeply, that these things that we suffer together will ultimately make us more.

One example that comes to mind is J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of Frodo's journey. Tolkien served in World War I and by the time he was 28, every close friend he had except one had died in the war.  When we read of Frodo's wish that the ring had never come to  him, when he wishes that none of the troubles in the world had happened, I feel my heart syncing with this book. Gandalf's reply beats inside me. "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." But I know at the heart of this is a man with a wild imagination who suffered deeply and strove for meaning in that suffering.  

We have no control over the events of this life: we are fragile and limited. I am sure we will all face  "raging waters that could sweep up away" in our personal lives, in our communities, in our countries and in our world. My heart beats to the lasting commitment to do something meaningful with my life, to be generous, and to love as much as I can. I am also committed to write stories that are useful and make a difference. I hope that I place my heart on the page. I hope you do too.

Here is the doodle: The Light of a Single Candle
My quote for your pocket:
True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read; and in so living as to make the world happier for our living in it. Pliny the Elder

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Soul Inspiration: Who am I?

I'm taking this month to look into the core of what moves me in books. This is the third in the Soul Inspiration series.  My inspirational mix is varied: Robert Heinlein, the comfort of words,  and this week, I'm going to dig into  how I've found myself in books. I think that this a deep reason why I love books so much. I can remember thrashing about, try to figure out life and such, and I kept getting calmed by books. I can't say how many times I've come across a better self in books.  I'm going to touch on a few random moments that I can never forget.

Early on, I became the kind of person who believes every person counts, every voice counts, no matter.  "A person's a person no matter how small." Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears a Who

I found what I was going to do about not achieving my heart goals for decades.
“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”   AA. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh.

I found what I was going to do the loss of dear friends in the pages of a book. “It was up to him to pay back to the world in beauty and caring what Leslie had loaned him in vision and strength. ” Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia

Here I found truth who I would strive to be every day. “Keep good company, read good books, love good things and cultivate soul and body as faithfully as you can”  Louisa May Alcott, A Rose in Bloom

Here I woke up to the secret that every human is a whole mystery. “A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.”  Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

Here, I sighed and understood that we are all very complex stories and love holds the pages together.
"We are thickly layered, page lying upon page, behind simple covers. And love - it is not the book itself, but the binding.”  Deb Caletti, Honey, Baby, Sweetheart 

Here I understood it's fine to strive for something that almost everyone has a better aptitude for, as long a I have buckets of tenacious desire.  "Talent and all that are really for the most part just baloney. Any schoolboy with a little aptitude can perhaps draw better than I; but what he lacks in most cases is that tenacious desire to make it reality, that obstinate gnashing of teeth and saying, "Although I know it can't be done, I want to do it anyway."  M. C. Esher, In Art

Yes, this was my truth, too, “The best books... are those that tell you what you know already.”   George Orwell, 1984

I hope that we all place the keys of self discovery in every book we write.  Dig deep, folks. Someone really needs your help.  Peace. Molly.

This week's doodle is called stormy night.

Yes, this quote is always in my pocket. 
“But blessed is the man who trusts me, God,
the woman who sticks with God.
They’re like trees replanted in Eden,
putting down roots near the rivers—
Never a worry through the hottest of summers,
never dropping a leaf,
Serene and calm through droughts,
bearing fresh fruit every season." Jer 17:7-8 MSG

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Soul Inspiration: The Comfort of Words

Hi, folks, I'm continuing my soul inspiration series. I'm spending the month chatting about what moves me in books. This week I'm going try and wrap my mind around the comfort of words. I find such comfort in books, and I thought I'd write about what that means to me. Many authors have managed to "lighten the load" in my life with their stories. When I find consolation and solace on the printed page, I feel so blessed, like I have been allowed into a sacrosanct place. Ah, the power of words.
Here are few moments of comfort that stand out in  my childhood memories. I will never forget as a young teen reading By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Mary has gone blind and Laura decides to "see" the world for her, describing everything.  I felt the struck chord within, that in midst of great suffering, glorious gifts for others are being born. I remember saying to myself, I will see too, and share what I see with blind.  I cannot say how comforting that moment was. 
In Lloyd Alexander's Taran the Wanderer, Taran seeks to be a potter and studies with the master. After much effort he realizes that he does not have the gift to be great potter, but understands the gift of striving to achieve something is just precious. The warm cloak wrapped around me. I have felt comforted since I was girl because Taran failed and yet found the gift of the journey.
And one more,  who can't be comforted by Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. The whole book speaks to me still today. When Charolotte tells Wilbur she helped him because she was trying to lift up her own life a trifle, it felt like balm. When Wilbur learns that Charlotte spent her short life to give him the opportunity to live, I was so comforted that every living thing's life, short or long, is an opportunity to do good in the world, to make a difference.
The power of the written word to comfort has always stunned me. It continues to stun me. There are no words for the gratefulness I feel to be a small part  of the world of writers.
My hope is that you think about about infusing your stories with some comfort. Add good reports. Add grace. Add good things. Your readers will hold these gifts in their heart for their whole life. I know I do.  Seize the day.

This week's doodle is called "Cloudy sky."

This week's quote for you pocket:  We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. Maya Angelou

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Soul Inspiration: Robert Heinlein

Hi folks, welcome to the blog. A friend of mine and I were talking about what makes good books.  We both agreed research, plotting, character study, revision -- so many things -- help in writing,  but we also agree there is some alchemy going on in writing good books too. Proof positive, there are really poorly written books out there that grab the whole planet, and there some so wonderfully written books out that don't. Why is no one reading that wonderful writing, and why are they reading that poorly written story? What gives? A secret: writing is one thing, storytelling is another.  As a reader, I'm all about the telling and herein is the alchemy. 

This month I'm going to talk about the alchemy of some of the writers are my soul inspiration to become a writer. These writers are the ones that hooked me early, and I've never let go. First up is Robert Heinlein. Robert was a flawed writer. He got on his soapbox at times. He left entire plot threads untied. Sometimes he didn't exactly make sense. Some of his stories wrapped up entirely too quickly at times with no climax to speak of. You get it; he wasn't a perfect writer. So what enticed me to read most of his books multiple times.

Robert had ideas to tell -- big ideas about the future of humanity, our place in the universe, and what we might achieve if we are given half a chance. He also understood what it's like to be humdrum person who has been dealt a serious bad hand in life and yet is full of impossible longing and dreams.  He understood passion and how that has the chance to improve our lives or utterly destroy us. He had a serious handle on what war is about and how it shapes us collectively and as individuals. He knew what meant to be a stranger in a strange land. He understood all these things and put them on a page. As a young reader, I was so hungry to know things. I had limited experience, raised up in a blue collar life. Many similar readers  want to know things, but they struggle with the tone of academic books. High falutin' isn't the blue collar strong suit. Robert wrote to the plain folk. Yay!

Let me wrap up. One part of the alchemy is message.  Do you have something important to say?  If you can wrap that up in the vast landscape of a story that spans the galaxy, you might have something there. I hope that you think about the writers who have grabbed you. The alchemy they put on the page has profoundly affected you, and you would do yourself a favor to take note. Then think about this: What lights your world? What do you know that might benefit humanity?  What injustice do really have something to say about?  Put that in your books.

Come back next week for more soul inspiration.  Meanwhile, let us conjure up incredible books of our own.

No doodles this week. The interweb is being persnickety. 

You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once. Robert Heinlein.