Friday, December 30, 2011

Endings lead to Beginnings

I thought I'd get a wee jump on the New Year by wishing one and all a very Happy and Prosperous 2012.                                                                

I noticed this morning that Samoa has decided to become the first country to welcome in 2012, instead of the last -- a pre-historic construct that was set in accord with the US well over a hundred years ago. On first reading, I fancied a slew of islanders literally lifting up the island and moving it westward in order to cross the International Dateline etc. My math is weak, and my assumptions about changing cartography and longitude and latitude and time zones is wobbly. Most I can manage is springing forward and falling back one hour -- but whole days?? For a moment, I thought time travel had become a reality.

The year sped by for me. When you are rapidly aging, it does this. And when major world events seemingly flow one into another, you don't notice time, you only notice the heartbreak, devastation and exasperation that most of these events engender.

The writing year has been peppered with more and more discussion  about electronic publishing. I see its future role, I see the many benefits, but I still look at it as the last resort, not the first, for gifted writers. Yes, I am a snob. I don't pretend to hide the reality that in our current cultural dross, dumb and dumber rules. I think Margaret Atwood means well when she says the internet is wonderful in that it basically forces people to be literate. I don't quite agree. The semi-literates outnumber the literates. And they want cheap, accessible books that are badly written, thin in language arts, bereft of depth and characters, top heavy in plot. Thing is, they don't notice -- or care -- that they are reading a lot of junk. Electronic readers are the big thing. Anyone at Amazon can be read. Some great books, yes, but also, thousands and thousands of bad ones.

So...will legitimate tree-killing publishers prevail in the coming years? I'm counting on it. I'm praying for it. If I had a magnificent pocket watch and a striped vest and fob, I'd wear 'em with pride! Real books with book smells, real books with paper and glue and bindings and face plates and heft -- those are the stuff of my dreams.

Some naysayers this past year have complained that new writers won't get the breaks they deserve because of bonafide publishing woes -- and the mid-list may dry up altogether.
And yet, The New York Times' list of "notable" books for 2011 included five or six first-time authors in their list of about 45 books. That's more than last year's crop. Hope springs eternal.

Are enough people reading important books? Seems to me that books and essays and "deep thoughts" are the last refuge intelligent people have -- 
And is writing itself the last refuge for the curious mind wishing to create new worlds, searing characters that leap off the page into the collective consciousness? Are serious writers becoming hermits, dumping the media wasteland into the trash? Maybe it's a good idea. Maybe it's time to stop obsessing about social media and web presence until it's actually time to consider it.
Maybe it's time to stop putting the cart before the horse. Maybe it's time to sit down and roll up the sleeves, and stare at a blank screen and then...write.
And keep on writing until a goal is met.

Maybe that's all that really matters. Everything else is probably an excuse to avoid the inevitable. A writer writes.

I plan to. I hope you (writers out there) will, too.

Do you have any goals to share? I'd love to hear them!
Happy Writing!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Eyes (Still ) Adore You

A number of months ago I had a birthday -- not one of those major milestone birthdays, no, a rather quiet birthday, the kind that can either be greeted with muted enthusiasm, or as the dreaded ticking of Father Time's clock. The water torture of remembrance, a drip-drip-drip on the wrinkled forehead.

As luck would have it, I was spending the morning with my sister in my apartment. We were on the floor, side by side, doing Pilates.
That we were together at all, let alone doing Pilates, was a small wonder in itself. Normally, we see each other infrequently....and certainly not in the supine position.

After she left, I remembered that it was exactly 50 years earlier that she had treated me to a birthday movie, Fanny, starring Leslie Caron, Horst Bucholz, Maurice Chevalier and Charles Boyer. One of those terribly romantic tales of young love, illicit sex and its aftermath. 

When the movie ended, and after we wiped away girlish tears, we strolled in the warm autumn sunshine and marvelled at the trees ablaze in gold. I thought we would then go home, join the rest of the family for a simple meal, and a lovely chocolate birthday cake with candles and presents.

I was in for a surprise, because when I walked through the front door, my classmates jumped out of closets and thrilled me with the whole concept of secret planning, and successful surprise parties. This was to be my first -- and last -- such affair, but it was memorable. Thinking back on it, still damp in my tights and top, and sipping milk, I remembered that someone gave me my very first 45 -- The Four Seasons' hit song, Sherry. I was well familiar with it, although Frankie Valli's name did not trip off my tongue quite then. It was only a matter of months before he loomed larger than the group.

So, there I was, teetering on the precipice, one year away from official "teenage" status, and in possession of Sherry. I played it endlessly and to my mother's chagrin, I sang along with the falsetto voice.

Flash forward again to me, my tights, my now-empty skim milk glass, and I was gobsmacked. If I was blankety-blank years old now, just how old was Frankie? I googled him, I Wiki'd him, and almost passed out -- 77 years of age!!!

Gawd almighty. Gawd, gawd, gawd. But, he looks pretty hot and cool for a septuagenarian. Still an Italian hottie, I'm sure, and also, he really is quite a bit older than I. (Whew).

I felt very lucky. That my sister and I spent that time together, fifty years later, in relatively good health, that we giggled and enjoyed ourselves. That I was able to recall a much earlier happy memory with her in a movie theatre -- I really did and do count my blessings.

The cherry on the cake, is having Sherry still in my life, as well.
In fact, as peer group members drop like flies around me, it is especially comforting to know Frankie is still out there.

Dear Frankie, my eyes adore you!