Monday, September 30, 2013


One cold morning a couple of weeks ago, Woki and I found ourselves surrounded by the college football team on their way to the Lake for an early swim. The air temperature was in the low 60s; the Lake not much above 45 degrees. More than one of the burly young guys muttered about the insanely early hour (which 7 am is to college kids) and the ridiculous chill of the Lake (they have something to complain about there, for sure).
As a little experiment, I decided to watch them from the bluff top. Call it schadenfreude or simply curiosity, I was intrigued by the various approaches the boy-men had in tackling (no pun intended) this sadistic requirement for team toughening. Some of the guys tippy-toed to the waters edge, testing carefully before forcing themselves in, inch by inch. Others ran full-tilt boogie like madmen, screaming all the way. In just a few minutes, it became apparent by the way they divested themselves of their shoes and tee-shirts how they would approach the water. The shirt-folders tippy-toed, the shoe flingers ran and screamed.
My eyes caught one young man pulling off his tee, dropping it casually on top of his shoes. He walked across the sand with a smooth, fluid pace, never wavering or changing his stride even as he reached the water's edge. Maintaining the same rhythm, he kept walking as if the water wasn't even there, until he was chest-deep in it, when he switched from walking to a smooth-stroke crawl. My first thought was that if I were hiring someone, this kid would be my choice. There was something not only deliberate in his movements, but confident. The kind of guy who would get the job done, no matter what the obstacles.
A good lesson for writers, too. Send out the manuscripts. Take the criticism and the rejection. Shrug it off and keep moving, even in the icy waters. Someone who thinks you're a cut above the rest might be watching.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

It's All About Connections

My 16 new best friends.

One of the highlights of my summer was attending a Story Studio Workshop at Ragdale with moderator Anne LeClaire. Unlike other summer events that fade into the autumn light, I'm still reaping the benefits of that experience. Ragdale is famous for its beauty and creative magic, and both of those attributes were enhanced by Story Studio's ability to pull people together, along with Anne LeClaire's masterful way of teaching us the importance of embracing silence, then truly listening to one another.
There's something about sharing stories, both the fictional yarns spun from the influences and energy of a well-run workshop and the non-fictional tales of our "real" lives, which bonds a group of people quite firmly.
The sixteen people pictured with me in the above photo are the coolest of the cool. I'm so grateful to have met all of them and to have opportunities to further the connections we forged last summer.
It's now been over a month since our workshop, but we've stayed in touch. Four of them--Noreen, Sophie, Paul, and Nancy--came to an author talk I gave at Lake Forest Book Store. Two of them--Noreen and Sophie--will be joining my critique group, and three of us--Julie, Paul, and I--will get together to display our books at the Independent Authors Book Fair on November 2, 2013.
I'm really excited about this Book Fair--a dozen indie authors will have their books available at Re-Invent Gallery in Lake Forest. Oh, and did I mention that the Gallery is owned by Julie's daughter?
Re-Invent Gallery, Lake Forest, IL

It's all about connections. And having great organizations like Story Studio, Ragdale, and Re-Invent to make those connections come to life.