Just in case you want to read a little more about The Seventh Tapestry (and me), here’s that Author Highlight (first in a series for 2021) Tyrean Martinson just hosted! Thank you, Tyrean! What a great way to start the day.
With that ultra cold weather outside, and mutated corona virus strains looming like nightmares, I’m staying home, searching through my fabric, looking for a little more green for that latest project.
Dinner plans? Maybe this Peruvian rice dish called chaufa — simple brown rice, stir fried with scrambled eggs and a few veggies, a fond memory of time spent in Merida, Mexico. Here’s where we discovered a small Peruvian restaurant and chaufa. The cook kindly wrote the recipe down for me — in Spanish. Here’s an online version of arroz chaufa for you (OK to substitute freely, for example, shrimp for chicken!).
We did spend a month in Merida, just four years ago. What a beautiful small city, friendly people, artwork and culture everywhere — and few crowds because Merida is a little off track, the bay too shallow for those cruise ships (now beached). Close enough to travel to nearby Mayan ruins. Ah, happy memories! Now, that’s decided. Chaufa for dinner. Time to write!
May you take a moment to look back at your own collection of pictures that make you smile.
Sometimes I like to quilt between writing stories because just the act of playing with fabric lets my mind wander, a respite from writing at times, perhaps back to my story as I wonder about the next predicament, the next plot twist.
Today I’m thinking of a poem a friend wrote, Annis Cassells, about that soul-deep movement between light and dark, that in-between space of shadow that marks transitions of seasons, of ages, or that spells out how we might move from darkness to light. Sheer stubbornness, vision and, again perhaps, as we nurture ourselves and others with our words, even with quilt blocks, we learn, grow, and survive somehow the darkest of days.
I did think that January would mark a new beginning for us all on so many levels. Instead, the first weeks of 2021 brought chaos and a sense of despair about any peaceful transfer from one administration to the next. I can’t talk to my sister about politics, for she wears the MAGA hat.
Now, at the beginning of February, do we have hope? Certainly, the Biden Administration has rolled out transparency revealed in hours of briefings, behind-the-scenes committee work, and an emphasis on the pandemic. Yes, I was in tears last week, for I got my appointment for the Covid vaccine, but was unable to do so for my husband. He, sadly, is much more physically compromised than me.
Discouraged, I stopped writing nearly entirely — until Monday, January 25th. Since then, I’ve written on both writing projects every single day — except for Friday (got that shot). This week begins with stubborn determination. To create order where there is none and to persevere.
ISLAND WIFE: Moira struggles to make a new life for herself on Foulksay Island, after she was unable to find her husband, Dylan, in Inverness. Finally she receives letters — three from Dylan, letting her know he has moved on to Edinburgh to find his brother and work there, and one from her brother Dougal, confirming that Cat’s disguise is working and they leave shortly for York Factory in Canada via a three-month voyage. GOAL for this week: Finish writing Moira’s search for work on Foulksay and reveal her internal struggle (her feelings for Dylan, her desire to protect her one-month-old daughter).
MEMOIR: My story line is broken into three parts: growing up, leaving home, and building a career. Really, I hop like a rabbit between these parts, based on notes I may jot here and there, and what I wake up dreaming about. I haven’t found an online group yet about memoir writing that would help me answer some questions about process and intent. GOAL: Keep drafting . . . and, yet . . .
My story itself is at times very difficult to write. For now, I’m trying to just lay out the truth of what happened, yet I wonder what will others take away from my story, other than to satisfy their curiosity? Will my story help others in any way?
I’m slowly reading Kirk Polking’s Writing Family Histories and Memoirs. One idea gleaned from an online search was: Look for TRANSFORMATIVE EVENTS. What opened new opportunities? What event changed your sense of self? I could also ask, what makes me so stubborn? After all, I’m well past retirement, but I’m still writing.
POETRY? Nada just now. I know April with that write-a-poem-each-day challenge is just two months away. Somehow just the act of writing poetry surprises me with new connections. I’m not sure how ideas come about. Intuitively? If you write poetry, what do you discover? about your writing process? your deepest thoughts? Check out NaPoWriMo to find resources!
For now, I wish you the strength to create, to nurture happiness, and the stubbornness to pursue your dreams.
I must confess that much of 2021 so far has passed in a blur. Even before the invasion of Congress on January 6th, I felt filled with dread, wondering what would happen in those last days of the Trump administration. Those images of invasion and wanton destruction remain with me. Yet the House and Senate reconvened and affirmed the work of the Electoral College, reassuring me that all would be well. Perhaps. For there still remained nearly two weeks before the inauguration of Biden/Harris.
Those two weeks passed slowly. Finally, countdown after countdown, January 20th arrived. I began watching CNN at 5am (West Coast time) as the White House turned pink and yellow with the morning sun and President Trump finally left, some fifteen minutes late. Allen and I pretty much spent the rest of the day watching the inauguration, celebrating a little, but mostly watching, hoping for no violence, and gradually relaxing, filled with a sense of hope and optimism about the future — brought about by so many people who spoke from the heart. The amazing virtual Inauguration Concert ended the day at about 1:30 am with more speeches and music.
Just after President Biden and Vice President Harris were sworn in, Amanda Gorman recited a poem, “The Hill We Climb,” that caught people unaware. Perhaps because of her passionate voice, her words cut through our fear and confusion. Her simple, unflinching words gave us stillness, a moment of reflection of all that has happened to bring us to this point. Her poem offers hope and healing with the clarity of her vision. I can still hear her voice saying those last lines:
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it
What is poetry but that inner voice, coming out in its own rhythm? Sometimes what we write is meant only for ourselves, and sometimes, we write to sing our deepest held beliefs to others.
Thank you, Amanda Gorman, for writing and reading your poem for us.
Read more about Amanda on her blog HERE and online at Wikipedia HERE.
As each day passes, I find myself not quite ready to write — even for this blog. Ouch! This stutter-stop in my writing rarely happens. Usually some tidbit from research will provoke me into writing a scene. But the unfolding news, the pandemic, that sense of isolation (I can’t even go to the library!!!!), all this makes each morning a series of challenges that not even a cup of coffee seems able to surmount.
I did reorganize my overall writing goals to discover that I have FIVE writing projects balanced on the stove, some definitely on the back burner. What’s the problem? I can’t decide which one to truly work on . . . and which to let molder away, at least for now.
So, could you help me?
Which of the following projects would you most like to read? Let me know in comments or an e-mail. Thank you! And I wish you the very best of New Year’s. May the coming months be much better for us all.
Island Wife: Moira returns to Foulksay Island with infant daughter Rose to wait for her husband, Dylan. Set in northern Scotland in the 1840’s, at a time when landowners were clearing people from the land to replace them with sheep, Moira and Dylan’s story is one of hardship and hope. Book 4 follows Standing Stones. Genre: Historical fiction. Currently, 25,000 words/goal 40-60K. Estimated completion December 2021.
Things I Never Told You: This memoir tells what it was like to grow up in the 1950s with a glamorous mother who lived outside the norm and a grandmother and aunt who made the norm accessible. Genre: Memoir. Currently: 42,000 words/goal 50K. Estimated completion December 2021.
Egyptian Honeymoon: After the case was solved in The Seventh Tapestry, Sandra accepts Neil’s proposal, and they’re caught up in the next case: missing artifacts at the new Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Genre: art crimes mystery. Currently: 16,000 words/goal 60K. Estimated completion late 2022.
Mothers Don’t Die: After Ron discovers a dead body near their campsite, he leaves his wife and five-year old behind to go for the police. When he returns, the campsite is deserted, and the tent door hangs open with no wife, no child, and no dead body. Set in rural eastern Washington and Seattle, the story follows Rachel and her daughter who have been kidnapped by a serial killer – and the efforts of police to find them. Currently: 63,000 words/goal 70K. Estimated completion 2021.
Their story will take you to Australia, as Mac faces seven years of prison after being transported to Van Diemen’s Land in 1842. Deidre follows him, even if he doesn’t want her to. Even if his sentence is for seven years. Can they be reunited despite the challenges they face in this rough and tumble prison colony?
An Amazon reviewer wrote: “”Beth Camp brings the early years of the 19th Century alive with her authentic settings and characterizations. The heartache and joy of Mac and Diedre’s relationship keeps you glued to the page.”
Happy reading! And may 2021 be a very good year for us all.
Whew! What an intense month this has been with election drama building up and then taking seemingly endless days to resolve. What a sense of relief that while the pandemic stress remains, the election is largely over. Here in Washington State, everyone votes by mail, so we were spared some of the angst, though I confess to a few nights of not sleeping well.
Yesterday, we walked up to the pond for a moment of quiet to find nearly 100 Canada Geese ready to fly south. A few flew overhead. I’m always a little skittish about looking straight up, since I seem to attract droppings, even when I wear a hat! Today. the pond was empty, except for a few ducks hiding in the reeds. Those geese flew south to avoid the light snow that surprised us.
And I’m on the brink of a surprise, just waiting for final approval from ACX for Years ofStone‘s audiobook to be approved. New cover? Yes! More than a little excited? Yes! Look for a December giveaway!
Check in with Beth’s blog for more poetry, writing, and updates at Beth and Writing.
Why is it that even during these chaotic pandemic times, every day is full of commitment? Sometimes that ‘to do’ list is longer than I like.
Beneath the phone calls, my writing, the routines of daily life remains the hope that one day, life will return to ‘normal’. Occasionally, I’ll see (far removed from the daily headlines) an opinion piece that suggests the ‘normal’ we knew will not return.
I miss those ‘old days’ of running to the store for groceries whenever I wish. My new ‘normal’ has me ordering groceries online one week ahead, then madly revising the list to include fresh fruit and other ‘essentials’ up to midnight the day before I pick up my order. Meal planning has become more essential. Some nights I still don’t really want to cook, but stopping at our favorite restaurant is not an option. Yet.
I miss going to the library to return books and wandering the aisles in search of any number of new books. Our libraries remain closed. We can order interlibrary loan. My last e-mail from the library asked, “Did I want to order 5 books in my favorite genre?” Out of curiosity, I clicked mystery/thriller, and, yes, was thrilled to pick up SIX books from the library. Oops. Picked the wrong genre, for I really don’t read about child abductions, so 5 books went right back. But, there for a moment . . .
I talk on the telephone more than ever, 30 minutes at a time, grateful for connections, but it’s not the same as seeing my friends at writer’s group or sewing circle.
And yet, we have so much to be thankful for, even in quarantine. I worry about those who don’t have enough to eat, a place to sleep, those who’ve been displaced by fire or flood, those who have lost their jobs, and those who have suffered a loss of someone dear to Corona virus.
Every time I think 2020 cannot hold any more surprises, I am surprised and wary. How many deaths will occur between now and our future? We can be strong, courageous, supportive, and we can adapt. We are all survivors. Yet I do wonder what our new ‘normal’ will be. What will January 2021 bring us?
Setting pandemic, air quality, and politics aside, I’ve been thinking these last several days of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and wondering how what she accomplished legally may have affected my life.
Born in 1933, RBG was a full decade older than me, though I was surprised to learn that although like many women, I have benefited from her work, a few personal incidents she experienced actually mirrored my own.
In 1956, RBG was accepted into Harvard Law School, one of nine women. They were greeted by the dean saying, “Why are you here, taking the place of a man?” That matched my experience almost exactly when I attended graduate school at the U of Oregon School of Business in 1980. The dean began his welcome to a standing only group of some 300 students with, “My, there are a lot of women here today.” Later, a professor berated me, one of 70 students and the only female: “Why are you taking the place of a man who needs to support his family?” My oral final took two hours. The guys who sat next to me were in and out in under ten minutes.
In 1963, at RBG’s first job as a professor, she was paid less than her male colleagues. In 1984, after fierce interviews, I was hired with two other male instructors at a local community college in Oregon. Both had less experience than I did. Both were paid at a higher rate, a fact I didn’t discover until a few years later, since salaries were not made public at that time.
In 1970, RBG began working seriously on issues involving women and sex discrimination. This slight young woman took on a phenomenal number of cases over the next decades, moving strategically to overturn laws that unfairly affected rights for both men and women. In the process, she sensitized our awareness.
In 1970, I was the only female at a work meeting with 15 other bank officers. “Beth will get the coffee, won’t you?” one of the bosses said. After training MBAs for a few years who went on to promotions, I asked my boss why I wasn’t promoted. “Look,” he said. “You’re not wearing a tie.” I never saw him again unless a representative from Human Relations stood by his side. In a 1978 work meeting, my boss asked, “Does this all mean I can’t touch Beth or rub her back?” He put his hands on the back of my neck and began a massage. His wife immediately replied, “Yes, that’s exactly what it means. Can’t you tell she’s uncomfortable?”
As I read through RBG’s accomplishments, her appointment to the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. and her elevation to the Supreme Court, I am impressed all over again by her measured responses and her steady commitment to equal protection under the law. Her advances, not known to me at the time, yet inspire me, for there were and are many women like me, head down, stubborn, slow step by step, who made — and will make — a difference for women and for fairness in the workplace.