Monthly Archives: December 2009

Twilight of the Holidays, Dawning of the New Year

Stomach flu + numerous guests + holidays = no blog posts for too many days. I still have guests, and will continue to play hostess, for better or worse, for another couple of weeks. So bear with me, busy holiday people. I still have plans to fulfill my blog promises.

I will just spend a few minutes, now, to tell you that somebody gave me the first two books of the Twilight series for Christmas as a kind of joke. I was very stubborn, you see, about reading YA vampire romance novels. Don’t misunderstand me; I read middle-grade and YA novels all the time. I was simply not going to read any about human-to-vampire relationships. Call me prejudice, if you will.

I wasn’t surprised that I blew through the first book, however. I already knew that it couldn’t be too hard-going with its enormous readership. Much of the book irritated me extremely, and that is a different matter altogether. The protagonist, Bella, is a silly obsessed teenager; the romance isn’t a bit romantic; the descriptions of Edward (the love interest) are so purple and over the top that I didn’t honestly think I could bear one more comparison to him as Adonis. And why is it enticing to embrace a cold, bloodless, statuesque lover? It gives me the chills just thinking about it. I mean, without blood pumping through his body, how does he . . .?

On a happier note, I bought myself La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith. I haven’t yet read it, but I do know that he always delivers a quietly humorous story. And, honestly, if I want to read supernatural fiction, I turn to McCall Smith’s angels set against the landscape of Italy. I’m just not so sure about Stephanie Meyer’s numerous references to her vampires as angelic. It’s a little disturbing, to say the least.

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The Cult of Sensibility for Writers

Here I am, late again in writing a new post. How will I ever build a reading audience at this rate?

Moving on, then–it had occurred to me while writing my series of health articles that, if followed, this regimen might just induct you be default into the Cult of Sensibility. After I’d summed it up with you therefore must walk madly out of doors while praying furtively (or something like that), I had a sudden image of Marianne from Sense and Sensibility pop into my head. She is carrying a book of verse with her (verse is very much like prayer) and reciting the poetry in her volume while tripping wildly through the weeds and wildflowers of the great outdoors by the sea.

Marianne might as well be the president of our sensibility club (club is better than cult, no?). She will lead us through the wilderness of our art, teach us to energize our spirits with nature, and also give us some hints as to how a novel ought to end. Who should the hero really be? Oh, but she taunts us. We must look to her sister, Elinor, I’m afraid, if we want any kind of balance. Those of sensible mindsets have a great deal of compassion, and much empathy for others. Marianne, I’m afraid, might call herself thus and so, but we know she’s neither compassionate, nor very empathetic.

Sensibility is beyond sense, you understand, and it’s the magic at the heart of your book–or it should be. What do I mean, exactly? I have no idea, except that something greater than ourselves occurs when we write novels, or it seems that way to me. And we must be empathetic with others in order to write well-defined characters. We also must be close observers of the world around us. The devil’s in the details, but so is God, and God is bigger.

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After the Flood

Here is an example of how my dad’s artwork–in this case a watercolor–transforms my poetry into something magical. It isn’t that the poem is awful; it’s just that it has rather obvious rhymes. Actually, it’s a song and needs music, in addition to the painting. I’ll have to work on the music bit.

The star tree spreads its branches over fish,
whose dreams are difficult to catch with bait,
or webs and pennies tossed out on a wish
that slip from human hands to heaven’s gate.

Bow down the branches, shake the starry fruits;
the fish will pause and rise to taste the air.
Lean in the water, grasping at the roots,
then bait your bucket with a song and prayer.

The fish you catch will disappear from sight;
the river’s own will snatch your music’s cheer,
then fill your dreams with bucketfuls of night,
of stars and fish lost in the atmosphere.

Then bait your bucket with a song and prayer,
of stars and fish lost in the atmosphere,
that slip from human hands to heaven’s gate,
that slip from human hands to heaven’s gate.

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¡Pura Brillante!


¡Ay ay ay! I just figured out how to do HTML characters for español.

The world appears to be a magical place tonight. Outside, the moon is full over a sparkling winter wonderland of snow-covered cacti. In my warm house, I’m dreaming of green chile stew, tamales, and Irish coffee. And I’m thinking of Luminarias on the Plaza.

By five-thirty tomorrow evening, my dad and I will both be at Manzanares St. Cafe, hopefully selling his paintings as well as cards made especially with his artwork and my poetry. Speaking of magic, when my poetry is together with his artwork, it’s transformed. No longer is it Jill’s plain poetry, lacking in charm. I’m a star because he’s a star! How sappy is that?

So if you happen to be in the middle of New Mexico tomorrow, follow the glow of the luminarias around the plaza and visit the artists and see their artwork. Ultimately, though, stop by the cafe, where there will be wonderful catered food, live music, Irish dancing, and my dad and I!

Someday, we will sell our work over the internet, but, for now, if you live far away from the land of enchantment, wish us well.

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The End of It All

Yesterday’s post was completely uninspired, so I apologize for that. It’s time to finish off this silly idea about health-for-the-writer that I started. I’ve already discussed the importance of moving and stretching and the importance of going outside for fresh air and sunshine–as if you couldn’t figure that out for yourself! The problem lies in forcing yourself–ahem, myself–into complying with the program.

The last bit in this series is, perhaps, the most difficult to take. Writers are far too introverted and, for them to truly achieve glowing health, they are going to have to look outside themselves and stop internalizing everything. I’ve been around artists all my life, and they are all the same. It doesn’t matter how magnanimous and broad-minded they think they are; the truth is that they are as narrow as their own minds and visions of the world.

What to do, what to do . . .? I’m not one to give advice in regard to this issue! I recommend reading biblical Psalms, particularly those written by David. Search his model of “woe is me; everybody hates me; why don’t you listen to me, God?” Then read what follows. He complained and spilled his problems in songs and then lifted up his voice in prayers and praise of God. In other words, he ultimately forced himself to look outside himself.

Well, there you have it. If you combine all the advice I have to give, then you will run out into the sunlight (or lack thereof) and walk briskly while praying madly. So why am I so tired? So why does my back hurt? Hmm. I’m sitting, slumped in front of the computer when I should be in bed.

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