Posted on 2 Comments

My Bookshelf: Woolf, Hawthorne, King, Rowling, and Immortal Poems

A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

I’ve started a new Instagram project for the books I own. I’m taking a photo a day of my books, hoping to both inventory them and inspire others to pick up a book that they may never have considered reading.

I own a lot of books, and this becomes painfully apparent every time I move. I lived in one house for thirteen years, and in the past three years, I’ve moved three times. The first move was cross country. The second move was two hours away, and the last one was across town. My books have taken up the majority of the boxes involved in those moves. Some girls hoard shoes and clothes, but I simply love my books.

I confess that I haven’t read all of the books I own. I own duplicates of certain titles because I have either fooled myself into thinking that I don’t own the title, or I just fell in the love with the cover of the book. It really is an affliction, but considering the variety of issues I could have, I’m content to be the woman with a constant back pain due to the moving of her book collection.

I started my project with A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. This is my college copy. It is highlighted, underlined, and well-loved. Every time I look at this book, I’m reminded of Woolf’s suicide and the great literary loss the world suffered with her passing.

I stumbled across this reading of her suicide note, and I’m haunted by the imagery and sense of desperation her words evoke. I know some people feel her letter should not be available for public consumption, but I disagree. The last words penned by this great author deserve to be remembered. This rare glimpse into the true composition of a writer is breathtakingly beautiful and harrowing.

from A Room of One’s Own:

All I could do was to offer you an opinion upon one minor point–a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved.”

I love Nathaniel Hawthorne. I have three stand-alone copies of The House of Seven Gables, and two are the same paperback edition. I’m sure I have other copies of his work in my anthologies.

“Half-way down a by-street of one of our New England towns, stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely-peaked gables, facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst.”

I love this paperback edition of Carrie by Stephen King. I haven’t watched the movie since I was a small child, but I’m adding it to my Halloween cue this year. Whenever I think of Carrie, I think of Sissy Spacek’s portrayal of the character. She did a wonderful job bringing this tortured soul to the screen.

“Then the laughter, disgusted, contemptuous, horrified, seemed to rise and bloom into something jagged and ugly, and the girls were bombarding her with tampons and sanitary napkins, some from purses, some from the broken dispenser on the wall. They flew like snow and the chant became: ‘Plug it up, plug it up, plug it up, plug it—‘”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling was a featured book at my local library. At the time that I read it, there wasn’t much buzz in the United States about the series, and I felt as though I’d found a great little gem of a book. I told my husband that I really liked the book, and he read it and liked it, too.

Our local Borders bookstore (how can they be gone?) held parties for those who had pre-ordered the new titles in the series. It was great fun to stand in line with other readers who had fallen in love with Harry Potter. That excitement started with this book.

“‘Hagrid,’ he said quietly, ‘I think you must have made a mistake. I don’t think I can be a wizard.'”

Immortal Poems of the English Language: 447 British and American Masterpieces by 150 Poets an anthology edited by Oscar Williams.

This little beauty of a book was published in 1960 and was available for purchase at sixty cents! There are so many beautiful poems in this book. Below is one of my favorites.

“How Do I Love Thee?” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight.

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints–I love with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life!–and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

Posted on 1 Comment

Extinguishing the Creative Flame

candle light

candle light

This post is about Sarah Daltry’s decision to stop publishing her art.

If you read her words and walk away feeling smug or ambivalent, you have thoroughly missed the point. I don’t know Sarah personally, but she was one of the first online book launch parties I attended, and I found her to be funny and kind.

I hate that another person has found the lack of support from the rest of humanity to be the undercurrent that forces her to close the door on her creative efforts. I’ve written on this topic before, and as someone who knows what it is like to go it alone, it is a topic dear to my heart.

Some have read Sarah’s post and callously commented that she is just upset that she hasn’t become a bestselling author, and the detractors declared her “hide” not thick enough. These comments only validate her claims.

The words I read paint the picture of a woman who has worked diligently to follow her dreams, but she has realized that following that path doesn’t guarantee you success, happiness, fame, fortune, or friends. The meager pay and isolation that most experience just isn’t enough to keep working night and day to please an audience that may never be reached.

Independent artists are working harder than ever before, and it is physically and emotionally draining. The endless pull on our time and wallet can be overwhelming. If artists do not have that energy and expense replenished, they are forced to choose between the demands of the everyday and the creative forces that beckon. The mortgage and an empty stomach will always win out.

In this high-tech world we live in, it is a sad statement of fact that people are more disconnected from one another than ever before. While many algorithms of social media work against the creative who strives to get their art in front of the world audience, it isn’t the primary reason so many voices go unheard. If you like something, share it! Spread the word by hitting a simple button. Support the creative endeavors of others, whether they have written a book, composed a song, or opened a small business. Purchase the works of independent artists before all of their voices have gone silent.

If you cannot purchase something, at least embrace the impact you have on the life of another. It takes nothing from you to be kind—absolutely nothing. The kindness you show may be the very act that gives another the very nod of support they were seeking. That nod may compel the artist to return to their work, or it may just keep them from harming themselves. Each of us has that power. Own the power, and be a force of good in someone’s life. If you live long enough, you too will one day seek a light in the darkness.

We are all in this together. Isn’t it time we started acting like it?

Posted on 3 Comments

Seek Rainbows: Thoughts on Depression

Photraph by Jeannie M. Bushnell of rainbows in the fountain spray at the Shoppes at University Place in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Friends, I know some of you are hurting and in a dark place. I want you to remember that good things are on the horizon. I know it may not seem like it, but better days are ahead. Happiness can seem elusive, always wiggling out of reach. Recognizing the opportunity for happiness is similar to searching for a rainbow. We take rainbows for granted, but unless the conditions are right, we don’t see them either. If you move just a fraction of an inch, the rainbow can disappear on you. While happiness may rely on many elements coming together, sometimes it is truly about the view from which we are standing. Don’t be afraid to take a step to discover another point of view. You might just find a rainbow.

I recently found out a dear friend from high school committed suicide. He was in a dark place the last time we spoke. Two years later, he took his own life. He was one of the good guys, and I miss him.

This photograph was taken at The Shoppes at University Place in Charlotte, North Carolina.