Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Alexandra Fuller: Sail Towards the Pain

I had the pleasure of meeting Alexandra Fuller the other night after the author gave a talk and reading. I've long admired Fuller for her ability to write from the heart with a sense of unblinking candor and unabashed bravery. Her book, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, is an account of her upbringing in the former Rhodesia and a searingly honest insight into her relationship with her deeply complicated parents in this war torn country.

Fuller's latest memoir, Leaving Before the Rains Come, is a tale of the break up of her marriage. 

In her talk she confided that she gets asked all the time: "What does your husband think of the book?" To which she always replies, "Did Hemingway get asked what his wives thought of his books?" Fuller went on to emphasize the need for courage in one's writing. After being rejected by dozens of agents and despairing over her future as a writer, her former husband encouraged her to "write the truth." She sat down, poured out that truth, and in six weeks wrote Don't Let's Go To the Dogs Tonight, which was snapped up immediately and published to great acclaim.
As she was signing my books I told her I have a quote of hers above my desk which I read every day:

I think you have to write about a million words to clean out the pipes. I think we are afraid of our own voices and very self-censoring, and we write as if the book is going to publish and be read by people. Once we realize we're never going to get published and we just write; that's our voice.

Fuller's advice reminds me of that old saying "dance like no one is watching." Here's what she has to offer writers out there who are struggling to find their own voice and the courage to express it:

1) Sail towards the pain.

2) Tell the truth.

and especially the final one, which I find delicious - and oddly, confusing. But think about it.

3) Possess yourself. 

To possess yourself means to inhabit your own voice and to stand in your own beliefs with a full bodied confidence I imagine few find. Sounds good to me.  Thanks, Alexandra, for being you!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Janus and Living in the Now


Janus is the two-headed, animistic god of doorways, bridges and passageways, who symbolized endings and new beginnings. From the Latin ianua, which means 'door', the word is the root of January, an important time when many of us ponder the past and its lessons and look to the future with firm resolutions to do things differently. Janus is the guardian of the New Year and keeper of the calendar, whose two faces look both backward and forward in time. Interestingly, the word is the root of 'janitor', or porter, someone who guards the doorways, entrances of properties.

With so much emphasis on looking into the past and future, there isn't much discussion of living in the now. How many of us avoid the present moment? (Isn't that why the present is called the 'present', because it is a gift many of us overlook?)

Janus and the Ouroboros

I don't normally make New Year's resolutions, because I don't always want to wait for a new calendar year to break old habits and start new ones. But if I were to make such a promise to myself, it would be to live more in the moment. To savor every nuance of every day, as if it were my last. Difficult to do, maybe, but in my opinion, very worth it. 
My daughter and me at the entrance to a Bronze Age tomb, Pylos, Greece
Do you have a New Year's resolution? And do you find yourself living more in the past, thinking about the future, or are you a 'present-dweller'?

Monday, December 21, 2015

We Do Not Have WiFi

Love this sign. Every time I'm at a restaurant and see a couple at a nearby table, each with their head down and on their phones, I wonder why do they bother going out at all? 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Life Cycle

Taking in a light read (haha) at the beach

I'm visited by this monarch butterfly

 who reminds me once again of the immeasurable cycle of life

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Georgia on my Mind

Spending a few weeks in the southeast where I'm finishing editing my book 100 Places in Greece Every Woman Should Go, due out February 2016. Took a day trip to Savannah where I captured these angels atop a monument in Wright Square. 

Savannah skies are always mysterious, with huge live oak sprawling like daguerrotypes against the porcelain blue and white.

Made a stop at Savannah Bee, with its artistic wall of honey in glass bottles

and then the de rigeur mid afternoon cappucino

followed by oysters and martinis at The Grey

a fabulous eatery in a refitted Greyhound bus station.

I may have Georgia on my mind during the day, but it's back to South Carolina for the night.