Tag Archives: books

My Original Inspiration

When listing my favorite writers, my husband comes second, then Ousmane Sembène, Carlos Fuentes, Assia Djebar, and Beryl Markham.  It’s impossible to list every author I admire and can’t get enough of, so I just toss out whichever names come to mind at the time.

But my husband is always second.  And the name I always put first, and I know my husband doesn’t mind, is my father, Lewis Horton. 

A few months ago my Dad sent me an article from his local paper written about his recent publication of a short story in an anthology called Big Water.  He has one whole shelf of a bookcase filled with anthologies and magazines that he’s been published in over the years.  

But that shelf is not the reason I list him first.

I have watched him practice his craft since my earliest memories.  Every evening he would retire to his bedroom where he had a desk and a typewriter (now he has a computer and an office in his home).  He would be in there for at least three hours.  

A few years ago he finally had his first book published: Escape From Mexico.  It is a memoir of his adventure on a weekend leave in Mexico while he was in the US Army.  It is a funny and exciting story, so well written that at the end, when he is describing his escape from a Mexican prison, I couldn’t help wondering if he made it out alive, even though I knew perfectly well he was sitting at home the very moment I was reading it!  I admire him so much for teaching me that even if it takes 20 or 30 years, you can get published.

And now, after over five years of trying to sell his second book, he has again succeeded.  I don’t even know the title yet, but I will definitely post an update when it gets closer to publication.

He is also my favorite writer because when I read his stuff, it is a guaranteed laugh.  I’m not sure if other people find it as gut-bustingly hilarious as I do, because they don’t have the added advantage I have of being able to hear his voice and see the facial expressions he would be using when telling the story.  Reading his work is never just me in my own head digesting meaning; it has visual and audio effects as well, which makes for a lot of fun.  Any sense of humor I have I attribute to his example and influence.

I got a lot of great stuff from my mother as well, just as good but in a whole other realm, interests such as cooking and baking, sewing, gardening, mothering, and having faith.  I owe her just as big.

But when I see his picture in that newspaper clipping, holding up a book in which yet another of his stories has been published, and when I hear that, finally, he will have another book on the shelves, I am proud that I have a father who had a dream, went for it, and continues to pursue his craft and explore his talent.  I hope I have inherited at least some of his determination, and that I can be even half as successful.

Thanks, Dad.

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New Feature: Top 5 lists

I love to play the game “Top Five…” which is of course inspired by the novel “High Fidelity” by Nick Hornby (upon which was based the 2000 movie of the same name starring John Cusack).  I want to play it here on a once-a-week basis, and hopefully some of my readers will be inspired to add their responses in the comment section!

RULES:  

  1. Your list is not set in stone.  If five minutes after you get off the computer you remember a fruit you like better than kumquats and want to go back and modify it, that’s perfectly okay.  So don’t avoid answering just because you think we’ll hold you to your answer forever and ever.
  2. Answers on a list are in no particular order, unless you indicate otherwise.  In other words, you don’t have to think of your five favorite pizza toppings AND THEN decide which one should be #1, because order will be assumed not to matter.
  3. If you need to add a #6 and #7 because you just love too many actresses and don’t want to hurt any of their little feelings by leaving them out, feel free.  Go nuts.  As long as there is a little space left over in cyberspace for the rest of us when you’re done, knock yourself out.
  4. If you HATE the thing, like say the list is Top Five favorite flowers and you wish all flowers were extinct, then you can indicate at the top of your list that it is your Top Five Despised flowers or some such.  

(As an aside, does anyone have an opinion on whether I should provide my list when I announce the Top Five? Joy shows such great restraint in not answering her own Question of the Day right away over on her blog but on the other hand, someone has to go first, so I figured I would just start us off.)   

Now that we’ve established the rules of the game… wanna play?

In honor of Nick Hornby, let’s start with your Top Five Books.

My Top Five Books:

1. Escape From Mexico by Lewis Horton

2. West with the Night by Beryl Markham

3. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tse

4. Les Bouts de Bois de Dieu (God’s Bits of Wood) by Sembène Ousmane

5. Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Okay, I guess I might have honored Hornby a bit more by including him on my list… suffice it to say that I love all the books of his that I’ve read!  I highly recommend them!  He would be #6… I swear!

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My obsessions

You have to imagine the groovy twangy beat of that Stevie Wonder song from 1972, “Superstition,” playing in the background as you read this, because as soon as I read the word “obsession” this morning and realized I’d been tagged on http://stacybuckeye.wordpress.com/  my brain remixed the song to reflect this topic.

Here is my obsession… BOWbowpbowpBOW-buh-bowpbowp…”

Problem is, you could cut and paste Stacy’s post and it would quite nicely represent my own situation (changing the name “Jason” to “Richard” would be the biggest edit).  So in order to avoid being a copycat, I am going to have to change it up a little.  Instead of organizing by number of years old (yet another similarity!) I’m just going to riff on a few big fat categories.

Food

Chocolate, for openers.  And closers too, thank you very much.  As I always say, if it doesn’t have chocolate in it, it doesn’t really count as a treat.  

Seafood.  Fish tacos, shrimp scampi, crab louie, poached salmon with a buttery pesto sauce.  Oooo baby.  If it’s been extracted from the stinky polluted swill that is our modern day ocean and served with rice pilaf, then count me in.

Coffee.  ‘Nuff said.

Eating out.  I know it is an addiction which involves spending too much money that is, quite literally, flushed down the crapper, but I crave going out to eat.  I love not having to cook it (though I do love cooking, I just need the occasional respite), feeling taken care of, even if it’s for a price, and best of all, not having to clean up after it, dirty dishes being my nemesis.

Eating with my family.  Due to my husband’s current work schedule, I’ve pretty much had to give up this obsession, but it still means a lot to me.  Sure, after hours of making a special meal and laying it out in a lovely way on the table for the whole family to enjoy, the event inevitably ends with one kid refusing to eat the squishy looking side dish and the baby howling for attention and one of the older kids yapping ad nauseum about some goofball thing that happened at school that doesn’t even sound like it was funny to have actually been there for.  But somewhere in the midst of it all, I always have a lucid moment where I rise above all the squalling and complaining and appreciate that we all happen to be in the same place at the same time and that this is why I bothered getting up this morning.

Books

If you took all the books I’d ever owned and laid them end to end, it would reach the moon.  Or at least Cleveland.  Okay, probably only up the street, but you get the angle I’m going for.

I currently own a paltry two bookcases worth, which does not accurately represent my deep love for these items.  I love the way they smell, the way an old heavy hardbound opens into the palm of your hand and submits to your penetrating gaze, the way a new paperback waits with intact, unbent spine for me to be the first to devour its words.  

I love to hold a reference book and imagine that I hold the key to an entire subject, that simply by possessing it I become the ultimate master of whole kingdoms of human knowledge.

I love to fall so deeply into a fictional tale that the world around me becomes laughably irrelevant and the only thing that matters any more is the bright tunnel that leads me on into the author’s imagination.

I love to fall so deeply in love with a character that I genuinely miss them when I close the book for the final time, the bittersweet joy of having made the acquaintance of a fabulous personality about whom I will never learn more, but who must wait in passive silence for me to deign to visit again when I reread the book.

“The power!!!”  *cue lightening and thunder*  “The awesome power!!!”

Kids

I suppose you could say they are my driving obsession… driving them to the park, to the library…

I could go on forever about them, but one of them is in desperate need of a diaper change and another hasn’t stopped hounding me since I began this post to hurry up and finish so he can play on the internet.  

So I will wrap up this category quickly by saying that however satisfying it is to eat a great plate of tortellini alfredo, to take that first sip of coffee in the morning or to find ten hardbound books of “Asterix” at the thrift store for a quarter a piece, hearing my kids laugh tops them all.  

 

To continue the tag, I invite el burro and Kelly to blog about their obsessions/addictions.

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Success

Instead of believing that publication is the prerequisite of success, I now consider the act of submitting my work for publication as the indicator of accomplishment.  And I find that I have succeeded yet again!  🙂

Thanks to the inspiration of Kweenmama, Joy and Kimmelin, I have finally composed and sent out the manuscript for a children’s book that has sat unwritten in the back of my mind for twelve years now.

It occurs to me that, to get a piece of work in the mail, one has to believe that it is good enough to see the light of day.  But at the same time, believing in the merit of the work leads to difficulty in accepting its rejection by those who hold the keys to the presses.  I personally find this push and pull to be quite painful.  But if I play a trick on my mind, and tell it that the point is not to see the work in print, but simply to be bold enough to send it on a tour of the world, then maybe I can feel successful with the mere act of submission.

I would say I am keeping my fingers crossed, but that is energy best used on other things.  I have already done all there is to do: I have crafted the story to the best of my ability, I have researched the market, and I have mustered the gumption to seal the envelope and put it in the mailbox.

Now I can relax, take a breath, and decide on the next project.

To publish or not, that’s their problem now!

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