In The Writer's World

The state of the State

A major birthday has come and gone. I, for one, am glad it’s gone. The new 40 this one is not.

In three days, the weather has gone from sunshine and autumn leaves to dark skies and snow in the Cascades.

October was filled with wonderful friends… and art. Portland Art Museum provided two worthwhile openings. The first features three generations of Wyeths–Nathaniel, Andrew, and Jamie–all great and distinctive American artists whose work was and is timeless and transformative. Opening just one week later, the Laika exhibit features the inspired work and craftsmanship of the Laika Studios in Hillsboro, Oregon, which specializes in stop-motion animation feature films and employs tons of creative people. How I would have loved to work there!

One of Laika Studios’ puppets.

The dreaded birthday turned out to be super special. Wonderful meals, treats, and togetherness. A very special getaway to Central Oregon, a dear friend’s ranch, with five friends. My first visit to Smith Rock State Park. And an upcoming, once in a lifetime trip, with my daughter. Life is good, y’all.

The State of the Novel

Never mind the pleasant distractions, the novel is going well. I am halfway through the first draft, 55,000 words. It may be more than halfway, but it’s hard to tell. This is always the trickiest part–building the tension toward a logical conclusion.

Smith Rock State Park.

In my meditation reading today, the topic was FLOW. Flow is actually a spiritual place, according to the reading. When you experience Flow, you are where you are supposed to be with the Spirit. The reason I keep writing (believe me, it is not because I’m getting rich doing this) is because of Flow. I call it the sweet spot–when everything around me vanishes, when there is no concept of time, where my hands are on the keyboard and I am totally present in the story. Totally present. There is no burning bush, not even a puff of smoke. It’s simply where I am supposed to be.

To a lesser degree, I enjoy Flow when I am cooking or gardening. And especially when traveling. Given the world we live in, being present is not something we humans do easily. And yet, if one were to slow down and look at it, the present really is just that. A gift.

Other stuff

Four very fine books to tell you about this month. Sue Grafton is coming to the end of her run of alphabet mysteries with Y is for Yesterday, in which a crime committed in the past rears its ugly head in Santa Teresa. The plot centers around the murder of a high school girl by her peers, and is an engaging mystery.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann is a disturbing tale of a bunch of despicable, greedy white men plotting against members of the Osage tribe who owned land in Oklahoma rich with oil. It is a fascinating read, and was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Glass Houses, Louise Penny’s book #13 in the Three Pines/Armand Gamache series, is definitely one of her best–an intricate weaving of current events in a small Quebec village that isn’t on any maps. Penny’s unique series combines a safe-haven fantasy world for adults, earthy and distinct characters, and crime procedural. This one has a particularly shocking conclusion!

Al Franken Giant of the Senate by Minnesota Senator Al Franken, former Saturday Night Live star and Air America host, is an insider’s guide to the craziness that is Washington, D.C. these days. I found Franken’s first senatorial campaign to be nearly as much of an eye-opener he did. Both of us learned the shrewd art of pivoting. And, you can’t beat the senator for a good one-liner!

Andrew Wyeth Pumpkins

Until next time, dear friends, don’t let the world get you down.


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  • Jennifer says:

    Great news of you once again. I so appreciate your book reviews and your thoughts on FLOW!

  • Almost done with Glass Houses and Y waits for me on the coffee table.
    Not sure where you are headed but have fun….

  • Molly Holsapple says:

    Happy belated birthday Judy. Lynn too said your time in Central Oregon was very special…you deserve it!

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