Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saturday evening

"what we call our despair is often only 
the painful eagerness of unfed hope."

― George Eliot, Middlemarch

joy cometh in the morning ...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

why I read

I spent about ten weeks with Middlemarch. For ten weeks I carried Middlemarch around- to pick Annie up from school, to piano lessons, tucking it into my bag, tossing it in the van. For ten weeks I ended my days with Middlemarch, sometimes only a page or two. There were times I wondered why I was plodding through. I became distracted often- one of the reasons it took me so long to finish. (I'm not the only one: Washington Post Serious Reading Takes a Hit)

On the way to the grocery store on Saturday I pulled into a parking lot to read the last few pages in silence. Today I am still living in Middlemarch.

So I'm thinking about why I read fiction, why we need fiction, why everyone should read fiction. Why commit to this kind of lengthy book about something that isn't "true"? Why, in an age of information, do we need stories more than ever.

Middlemarch is for anyone ever who has wanted to live a meaningful life. Any woman who has questioned what to do with her energies or passions or intellect. Anyone who has yearned or loved or been accused or misunderstood or gossiped about, anyone who has committed some small good or some secret sin, anyone who has been deceived, anyone whose has judged based on all of the facts but not all of the information. It is a book for anyone who has felt the blessings and curses of life in a small town. Any one who has married or wished to marry or regretted marrying. Anyone self-righteous or naive or deceptive or phony or quietly good.

We read for the people whose stories have not been told, who died with secrets, big and small. For those who lived unrecognized, unheard, without vindication. We read because we do not know who is good after all, or what success is really. And because sometimes religion is a light and sometimes it is a mask, and sometimes we are right and sometimes we are tragically wrong. We read because we are short-sighted and small-minded and quick to judge and even our noblest intentions can be misguided. We read because we are restless and loveless and despairing and deceived and accused; and deceiving and accusing. We read because we want to be noble and brave and sometimes our smallest acts of mercy may save someone.

We read because things are not as they appear.

This is why I read fiction (and why I think you should too).

"But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs."

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

In the Middle, March

March. I'm always a little bit relieved to have survived March. I love all of the seasons, but March is it's own season, the one I dread a little bit, a long month, when winter languishes and we've forgotten what the sun looks like and SAD is lingering around the edges. March is the month you think the weather is going to turn, then it doesn't, and the grey seems excessively heavy and relentless.

But this year I found a new appreciation for the month of March, and for Cleveland's everlasting winters- they are great for making art.

Steal Like An Artist: Ten Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

I read a great little book on making art: Steal Like An Artist by Austin KleonFilled with practical arty advice. I may buy this one- it is worth owning! A few of my favorites:
Nothing is Original 
Start Copying
Practice Productive Procrastination I think it's good to have a lot of projects going at once so you can bounce between them. When you get sick of one project, move over to another, and when you're sick of that one, move back to the project you left.
Don't Throw Any of Yourself Away if you have two or three real passions, don't feel like you have to choose between them. Don't discard. Keep all your passions in your life.

Winter Projects
Sam and I had a winter project this year which was to restore my old doll house. We painted, sprayed and stained, and it was a great way to fill the long afternoons of the long weeks indoors. A lot of useful lessons went into it. I've decided this will be a part of our homeschool curriculum- each year, each child will have a winter project. I am excited by the possibilities. Making time to do the things we love is one of the reasons we homeschool, after all.

I also like the idea Austin Kleon talks about in the book which is to practice productive procrastination by keeping several projects going at once. I have considered at times shutting out all other ideas until I get the book written. Not so- says Kleon- all of your passions are useful.

The other book I have been reading- and reading-- is Middlemarch. I seem to be reading it at the slowest, most plodding pace ever, and meanwhile so many other books sit waiting. I am enjoying it a ton however. Only a couple hundred pages to go.


Type Nine- The Enneagram and Blogging: (Nine is me for sure. )

Type Nine

Commonly known as The Peacemaker, The Healer, The Optimist, The Comforter

What We've Got to Tell the Kids About Living Extraordinary: A Holy Experience
There’s nothing in this world that’s normal — there’s only growing blind to the glory.

Early Spring in the Field: Writer's Almanac

This podcast at OnBeing: Paul Elie- Faith Fired by Literature is so great. (Thanks Ruth for the recommendation).