Posted in creativity, writing

At My Mother’s Table

This brings me joy.

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My mother’s table in my kitchen. When Mom died, my siblings and I went through her house, choosing which of her things we would like to take home. We did it in a dignified and friendly manner. If two of us happened to put our name on the same item, we’d sit down and discuss it, making a decision who would take it home. My sister Jane and I both put our name on this table. For Jane, it signified the essence of Mom. This was the table Mom rolled out her biscuit, bread and cookie dough on. It was where Jane sat as a little girl, eating a bowl of cornflakes or oatmeal.

For me, it signified the evenings I’d come home from babysitting or get up to go to the bathroom to find Mom writing at the table. She’d fill notebooks, write letters, or take notes from the books and magazines she read.

This was the table I utilized the winter after Mom’s death for private writing retreats. For three months I sat at this very table, finishing up a manuscript that would become Coupon Crazy. It was at this table I worked on a power point presentation for a homeschooling mother’s group, one in which I used photos of my mother’s art to demonstrate how a mother of ten could utilize her talents in her everyday life in the rag rugs, quilts, and teddy bears she made. Her gardening, canning, and sewing. How this creative woman found ways to brighten her home and make an income selling her woodcarvings and paintings.

I got more writing done in those three months using my mother’s house and her table than I’d completed in the previous three years. I worried that my creativity would dwindle when I lost the house and table. It didn’t. If anything, the act of utilizing and nurturing my creativity, begat more creativity.

As I’d mentioned on this blog recently, unearthing one of those journals I’d begun filling with quotes about creativity got me to thinking about the book I’d once considered writing.

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The book would expand on the ideas in the presentation I’d done for that group of young mothers and another group comprised of empty-nesters who thought it was too late to do anything creative. Pictures of my mother’s artwork would illustrate the pages. I e-mailed my publisher to see if he’d like to look at the book proposal when I finished it, and the reply was yes. That very afternoon, my sister called. She’s moving soon. She made small talk for awhile before asking if I wanted Mom’s table.

“I don’t know why, but it wants to stay with you.”

I could hear the catch in her voice. This wasn’t an easy decision.

Stunned, all I could blurt out was “Uh. Yeah!”

It was only after I got off the phone that it occurred to me; I would be working on a book about creativity, in honor of my mother and with photos of her art in, AT HER TABLE.

So it begins.

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The research, the interviews, a book proposal, and thanks to my sister Jane, the writing at my mother’s table.

Posted in book review

Book Review: English Lessons

I wanted to love this book. I expected to love it. Because of the author’s father.

After my husband’s death in 2012, Max Lucado’s inspirational writing lifted me nearly every morning and evening in the devotionals I devoured, searching for answers.

So it is with some embarrassment that I admit I didn’t finish English Lessons: The Crooked Little Grace-Filled Path of Growing Up.

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In fact, I ended up just skimming the last half of the book, enough to see that while she does get into some soul-searching regarding her faith, the author’s writing didn’t have the depth that her father’s does. I should admit I’d chosen this book from BloggingforBooks because of her father, and realized after I began it, I have no real interest in reading about a 22-year-old preacher’s daughter attending graduate school in Oxford. While the book was well-written (attributed to the Masters in English, no doubt), it is missing the down-to-earth “realness” of her father’s books. Perhaps that will come with age and experience.

I particularly disliked the section of the book where she relates, in script form, conversations she had with a young man. Mine was an uncorrected proof, so I don’t know if that changed with the final copy.