Category: Quotes for writers and other humans

Writing Quote o’ the Week

“I write because I think the experience of being a conscious human in the world is absolutely unbelievably remarkable, and that the way to draw attention to that – for me — is by looking at human beings lovingly, and being aware of language, which is the great communal art form, and you know, basically that’s it.  It is a psalm.”

~ Marilynne Robinson

From an interview broadcast live, Nov 3, 2008, on “Live From Prairie Lights,” that you can stream here, and why not?



Photographic proof of the cat’s favorite chapter, and your Quote-o’-the-week

Well, hello, from back at the ranch…. I don’t know where that phrase came from, but I’ve been using it a lot. Because– lo and behold–we are back at the ranch.  It’s not really a ranch, it’s a 60 acre forest of trees with a large cat named Ferdinand Magellan stalking the tall grasses underneath. No livestock, but we do hear the eagles overhead during the day, and howls outside the window at night.  A few nights ago when we were going to bed I said, “What’s that?”

“What’s what?” my husband asked.
“That sound! It sounded like people.”
“Really? I didn’t hear anything.”
Then I listened for a moment. “No. I think it was just coyotes.”
“That would be weird if it were people.”
“I know.”

It’s been 2 months and one week since my book came out, and I swear I have been home for about 10 days in that time. Not quite, but that’s how it feels. I have never stayed in so many motel and hotel rooms in my life. (I now have questions about waffle makers and why need to beep so loudly in the breakfast room…)

It’s actually been a really exciting and busy couple of months.  On the go, go, go!  And meeting all kinds of enthusiastic book-people and nostalgic summer-lovers.  It’s been fun to be up behind a mic again–I think I lost it, in a good way, at Arcadia Books in Spring Green.  Man, I just went off.  I have no idea what all I was talking about, but John, the store manager, just got me going, and it was like doing standup comedy in a bookstore.  I had a blast, I tell ya, I tell ya.

But now I’m enjoying a week and a half of quiet.  At home–hurrah!–ten days at home between my recent trip to Iowa City and my upcoming trip to Southern California. Hurrah! Home~! Wow! I mean, to actually BE home, and not just STOPPING at home to take clothes out of the suitcase, put them in the laundry, then fold them back into the suitcase which has never left the living room.

With my extra bit of time I am have uploaded some pictures. (Below).

But first, your update!:

This week: I’m heading to California.  I have 3 readings/performances in the Los Angeles area
–Sun., Sept 21 Beyond Baroque, Venice, CA, 5-7pm. A celebration for the release of the mini golf memoir with a performance joined by Brendan Constantine, Rick Lupert, and high-diving, banjo-playing monkeys. Party to follow.
–Mon., Sept 22 Book Soup, Los Angeles, CA 7pm
–Tues., Sept 23 Coffee Cartel — Redondo Poets Series, 8pm ish, Redondo Beach, CA

–Iowa Public Radio will be offering My Family and Other Hazards” as a giveaway during their October fund drive!  Get a book instead of a tote bag!  (Or perhaps a book to put IN your tote bag.)  And they will also be replaying my interview with Charity Nebbe on “Talk of Iowa.” Cool!

–I’ve got confirmed invites from several book festivals in October:
October 4 — Iowa City book festival
October 11 — Twin Cities book fest
October 18 — Wisconsin book fest.
For more details, times and addresses.

–And forthcoming review in the Iowa Review and a couple other places.

–Sirius XM radio. I recorded an interview with Pia Lindstrom (my 2nd Sirius radio thingie), but I don’t know if that has aired yet, or if “aired” is even the right word when talking about satellite radio.  Anyone know??

Most writers have forgotten their book by the time it comes out–the time to publication is frequently one to two years after the book was finally completed.  However, this week is the one-year anniversary of the book spread out all across the floor!  Celebrate!  (I myself have baked a wicked banana cake.)  In honor, here is are some pictures one year ago, in September 2013.  This is what I did when my husband was out of town.  I spread out the last 7 chapters, then cut them into pieces, moved those pieces around, and then stuck them back together with two rolls of Scotch tape.  As you can see, the cat really preferred the texture of chapter 17.   (It was a tender chapter, ’tis true.)

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Ferdinand Magellan — cat and paper-lover

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The view from the loft above and looking down.

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The dining room table and the “scroll” of a chapter…

Why am I showing you this?  Because there are a lot of writers out there, and I think it’s important to let people now that writing a book is a funny process, and it’s helpful to have a roll of scotch tape and an understanding husband.  Things get messy!  Last week, when I was the visiting author, I showed these pictures to the class of undergrads at the Univ of Iowa.  So now I decided I’d show you too.  So there you are!  Now, take out your own unfinished book, and wield that scissors!

Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.   — Charlie Chaplin

(Have I used that quote already?  It seems appropriate for the time I show you my mess… but forgive me if I’m repeating myself….)

Your weekly Quote for Writers and Other Humans

Don’t be afraid to be confused. Try to remain permanently confused. Anything is possible. Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more.

–  George Saunders

In other news, it’s called an Arctic Clipper, which is another way of saying It’s-strangely-cold-outside-and-we’ve decided-to-blame-Canada…

We gots ourselves some rain and behind it (as they say) some cold air. Sure, it’s still steamy warm inside the house still, but outside… wow. And going to stay that way. On Tuesday when I’m in Iowa City reading at Prairie Lights Books, the high temp is only going to be 38 degrees. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but the temp in Iowa City usually near 95 million Fahrenheit during the summer, so a forecast for a high of 71 seems freakish.

Speaking of freakish, it’s been an amazing week, I must say. The book came out on Tuesday, and now it’s Sat.,  and I am still trying to get over the fact that people are actually reading it.  The response has been so very unexpected.  People have been saying very nice things to me.  And this makes it very difficult.  It would be so much easier if I could complain, you know, the way we Iowans comment when the weather is nice, “That’s just how it is.  It’ll change.”  Ok, I’m just a Midwesterner.  Also, I just finished writing it just over six months ago, so mostly I have been looking forward just being done.  I had forgotten about this part, that people would buy it right away.  Let alone, you know, tell me nice things when I’m buying swiss chard at the market.  I tried to avoid blurting out, “Well, it’s not War in Peace,” (which, actually, I’ve never read, but I hear it’s very popular…  one of these winters though, I’ll give it a go…)

In any case…

I got a lovely invite to be the guest Wed. morning on “Talk of Iowa,” on Iowa Public Radio.  I’m thrilled!  And wowed!  And they want me there for the whole hour. Live.  “What are you going to say?” my mom asked.  “I don’t know!”  I’m going to try not to blurt, “You have a face! With a nose and everything!” Because it’s going to be weird to meet the people I have listened to for years on the radio  (and, of course, I really am a bit blurty).

This week’s mini- tour lineup:

Tuesday, Prairie Lights, Iowa City  7pm
Wed., Beaverdale Books, Des Moines, 6:30pm
Thurs. New Bo Books, Cedar Rapids, 7pm

I took the day off today to sew–that’s what I like to do on my time off.  I won’t get the dress finished in time to wear it this week, and perhaps not the next.  I’m very slow when I sew.  But anyway, it won’t be sundress weather anyway in Iowa City… I may need a parka instead…

Other new links:

Daniel Goldin of Boswell Books, Milwaukee, posted a blog about this mini golf book o’ mine. (I’ll be reading at Boswell’s on July 22nd.)

You can listen to a recorded interview from Publishers’ Weekly/Sirius FM radio recorded this past Wed. morning when I was seriously buzzing on caffeine.  (Listen here, and see if you can identify the type and size of caffeinated beverage I had consumed.  Fun!)

News from the woods: On the way home from the big event Tuesday, we saw a fox in the road which was cool.  Also that night, the trunk of a 100-year old ash tree fell down across the road, leaving only a few feet to get around it.  Today there are enough mosquitos today that the air is like a meaty soup.  I mean, it’s a normal week in the woods…