Happy Holidays from the Licks!
Words and Music
I'm happy to report—or repeat, if you've heard this before—that my essay "No Prescription Needed" will be in the upcoming anthology A Cup of Comfort for a Better World. The book is due out in April. Joining me in "Better World" is Cup of Comfort essayist extraordinaire Samantha Waltz of Portland. I look forward to doing readings and interviews with her again. We previously shared the pages of A Cup of Comfort for Families Touched by Alzheimer's.
As for other writing, I have to confess I pooped out on the Poem a Day challenge, and I haven't sent much work out lately. I believe I'm in a period of change, regeneration and re-creation. My whole life turned upside down in 2009 when I lost Fred to the nursing home, so I'm still figuring things out. That doesn't mean I'm not writing anything. I'm still updating my blogs every week and journaling like crazy, but I've decided not to worry about publication for now. There's a time to write and a time to store up experiences to write about.
There's also a time to teach. I'm scheduled to teach article writing and creative writing classes at Chemeketa Community College in Salem during the winter term. Look me up in the community education schedule at their web site. In addition to formal classes, I work with individual students online. If you're interested in that, click on Writer Aid and go the bottom of the "Classes" page.
As for music, I'm deep into the church music at Sacred Heart Church. Sometime after Christmas, I'll look up from the keyboard and the guitar to see what Santa brought.
Oregon Coast Writers' Events
This being December, Writers on the Edge is not having its monthly Nye Beach Writers series events. However, Jan. 16-18, the group is hosting Fisher Poets on the Edge, a whole series of fabulous events at various locations in Newport. See the web site to get all the details. Meanwhile, Willamette Writers Coast Branch is holding its last meeting of the year Dec. 1 with Cheryl Strayed giving us a wonderful talk on creative nonfiction. Our next event will be our annual William Stafford poetry celebration in January. Stay tuned for details.
This is my last month on the board of Willamette Writers. I have decided to step down, but the coast branch will go on meeting the first Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Newport Public Library, with lots of great speakers and great refreshments.
On the Divinity of Second Chances by Kaya McLaren, Penguin Books, 2009.
Like her previous book, Church of the Dog, this is a delicious read. The characters, who tell their stories in short first-person bursts, are so real and so lovable you feel like you know them in real life. They are quirky and troubled, but their solutions are beautifully original. We have Jade, a massage therapist who claims to have lived many lives and has a spirit guide named Grace. Her sister Olive is uptight and repressed until she simultaneously loses her boyfriend and discovers she is pregnant. Their brother Forrest has done something so bad he doesn't dare come home, so he lives in the . . . forest. Their parents, Phil and Anna, have grown apart over the years and search for answers to how they will spend the rest of their lives. Love, craziness, loss and recovery ensue. Highly recommended.
Get It Done When You're Depressed by Fast, Julie A. and John D. Preston, Psy.D., Penguin Group, 2008. Fast gives us 50 strategies to help us get things done in spite of our depression. They include many wise suggestions, e.g. just do a little rather than tackle a big project, ask for help with things you can't get done, and cheer yourself on whenever you accomplish something. The book would be most helpful for people suffering from chronic depression rather than those of us who are basically healthy but going through a tough time. When Fast suggests readers reduce their expectations because they have an illness, I squirm. When she finishes a chapter by telling us how depressed she was while writing it, I want to scream, "Too much information!" But overall, she offers good advice, and the book is nicely organized, with questions, exercises, and comments from Dr. Preston in each short chapter.
Swimming by Enza Gandolfo, Vanark Press, Victoria, Australia, 2009. Kate didn't think she wanted children, but in her 30s, she changed her mind. Her husband Tom, a sculptor, didn't care much for kids but was willing to go along to make her happy. Unfortunately, her body didn't cooperate. After four miscarriages, as she moved into perimenopause, she gave up trying. This is one of the few novels I have read that deals realistically with the pain of childlessness. Childless readers will recognize the obnoxious questions people ask and the left-out feeling as one's friends devote themselves to their children. Kate suffers through a divorce and struggles to find her place in the world. If she is not a mother, what is her role? The novel threads two stories, Kate as she is now and the novel she is supposedly writing about the story of the child she might have had. The latter tells us the story of her life. I honestly disliked the breaks where she dithered over her writing project, but the stories come together in the end, and it did turn out to be a very engaging novel, with characters so true I halfway expect to meet them on the street. This book grew out of Gandolfo's PhD thesis. A lecturer in Professional Writing at the School of Communication and the Arts at Victoria University, Gandolfo lives in Melbourne. Book provided by author for review
It's the holidays, so I'm keeping it short. May your homes sparkle with bright lights and shiny presents, and may you enjoy music, laughter, and the company of loved ones. Stay safe. See you in 2010.
All contents copyright 2009, Sue Fagalde Lick,
except for the photo of Fred and me, courtesy Louise Meadows
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