There is something I have known since I was a 12-year-old wearing a plaid skirt to school. I remember it every year as the paltry five days of colorful leaves and rain that Alabama calls “fall” pass by, breaking my heart every year at the waste. I re-learn it every time I scroll through Tumblr for photos of autumn leaves from places where the season lasts as long as it’s meant to, where kids don’t trick-or-treat in shorts. Places I will get to one day or die trying.
The lesson is this: home is not a place.
Speaking of nice one liners…
I was organizing my files today when I found myself flipping through old writing notebooks, diaries, and loose collections of freewriting notes. A lot of it, especially the freewriting, is gibberish-level crap, but some of it was pretty good. I’ve been obsessed with great one liners — pull quotes, sort of — lately, so I went combing through them for some good short snippets of my own. Some are from diaries (and not just the first person stuff, as third person diary writing is therapeutic) and some are from fiction (including a lot of the first person stuff, as it’s my favorite way to write fiction). I’m not going to bother differentiating the two sources because it doesn’t matter.
Sometimes when I can’t sleep….
I debate the most brilliant single line in the multitude of novels I’ve read.
The current champ is from Fall On Your Knees, by Ann-Marie MacDonald.
“Ginger’s private name must not be written down. It’s bad enough that Frances knows it.”
Another update on my reading challenge for 2013.
24. Intimate Partners, by Maggie Scarf. A brilliant, insightful take on how people — even people who know better, who’ve had years of therapy and 12-step groups and read hundreds of self-help books — can end up in relationships with cold-hearted people who are just more abusive versions of their worst parent. Fabulous insight on how to stop the cycle and find love with someone who is right for you.
25. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling. A nice adventure novel with a happy ending. Good escapist fare after you’ve just read something heavy that changes your life for the better.
26. Princess of the Pond, by Terry Heaton. The first in a trilogy of spiritual fables about insects in the mythical land of Palmer’s Meadow. Written by the most influential mentor and authority figure in my entire life, and a set of stories I re-read at least twice a year on general principles. I’m thoroughly biased, because I love him like a father, but I also think they’re beautifully written and powerfully affecting.
27. The Butterfly Tree, by Terry Heaton.
28. The Hoppers of Palmer’s Meadow, by Terry Heaton.
29. The Financial Lives of the Poets, by Jess Walter. A hilarious novel about one of the many casualties of the death of newspapers in America.
30. The Writing Diet, by Julia Cameron. The master of creative unblocking applies her self-help techniques to weight loss.
31. Fall On Your Knees, by Ann-Marie Macdonald. A family epic set in Canada at the turn of the 20th century. Described in a blurb as “the stations of the Cross set to rock and roll,” and that’s a poetic, beautiful, accurate description of an amazing book.
32. This is How, by Augusten Burroughs. Bar none, the most important self-help book I’ve ever read. If it were to ever get properly publicized, I believe it could one day rival the AA Big Book in terms of lives saved and people helped.
33. God Stories, edited by C. Michael Curtis. A short story collection that revolves around people having religious or spiritual experiences. I read it mostly for insight in how to accurately and artfully convey some of the weirder stuff for those aspects of my novel. As with most short story collections, they were uneven. The good ones were great and the bad ones were meh.