No one owes you anything in this world. Everything anyone does for you is a gift. Some gifts—the gift of love or forgiveness or a trust fund enabling you to graduate law school and make your way in this world for a while—are pretty damn big gifts. Others may seem small, but those gifts are the ones that often bring tears to my eyes.
Chapter 16.org is a service of Humanities Tennessee that creates and strengthens community by talking about books, authors, and ideas. Stepping into an ever-widening gap, Chapter 16 publishes a newsletter offering in-depth (!) book reviews. The organization then provides the reviews to local newspapers. Today, a review of WRITING OUR WAY HOME: A GROUP JOURNEY OUT OF HOMELESSNESS was featured in the Sunday Commercial Appeal, thanks to Chapter 16.
The reviews given by Chapter 16 are precious, in the old-fashioned sense of referring to a limited quantity. Small staff, small budget. Lots of books requesting—and deserving—review. Yet they gave a review to a book written by fifteen formerly-homeless authors who have little to offer in return—no celebrity, no political pull, no fund-raising assistance, no cache—other than the power of their words.
And it wasn’t just “a review.” The book was assigned to a reviewer who himself has written about homelessness. Thus, when the reviewer analyzes, for example, the suitability of the book’s structure for telling the authors’ stories, he knows what he’s talking about. The book received a top-drawer, professional, thorough review. Not the “nickel-tour,” as one of the authors calls the free, truncated tours given by local nonprofits on charity days.
Many of the authors in the book have been writing for years. Before they were authors, they were writers. Every week, they walked from wherever they were staying to the Door of Hope support center to join writing group, writing and sharing their words. Most of the time, folks want to focus on the homeless part of “formerly-homeless writers.” Chapter 16 focused on the writer part. For that gift, I am eternally grateful.
p.s. he liked the book!
My body is aghast at what I’ve done to it. Open-mouthed, slack-jawed, incredulous. Like the time in the 11th grade when I was playing powder puff (Ha!) football for the Keyettes. I was standing there minding my own business when wham! I was knocked senseless onto the ground. I struggled upright to see the grinning face of a girl on the other team named Margaret. She said something along the lines of that being her assignment—to knock me out. After many years of watching football, I’ve concluded her move was an illegal block in the back. Be that as it may, at the time I was too discombobulated to even protest.
My body is at the same stage. In shock over the betrayal, really. In every moan and groan, I hear its protest: Why’d you have to go and do this? Things weren’t that bad, were they? We were getting along fine; we were working it out. Your reaction seems somewhat drastic.
It was drastic. As my husband says, a week ago, they sawed off my hip. I am progressing amazingly well, everyone says. Up and out of the bed by myself. Practicing walking with a cane. Good with the physical therapy movement.
Tell that to my disillusioned body.
I’m sure it will come around. Grudgingly, as my movement returns to what it was five years ago, my body will concede the wisdom of my decision. It will see this as a difficult but necessary step in what I hope to be a long road into the future.
The problem? Just as my body begins to put all this behind us, when I am rehabbed, recovered, and back to normal, I’m getting the next hip done.
Be thinking about me when this reality dawns on my body: you knew how bad this was going to be and you did it to us AGAIN? As the characters in the British mystery novels I’ve been reading would say, Bloody Hell!
I am working on a new novel. A mystery with a 62-year-old protagonist who was formerly homeless. A body is found in a Jeep in the Wolf River Harbor. My man Coot is on the case.
This is why I haven’t been posting lately. When I am drafting—not revising, but writing new work—everything else pretty much comes to a stand still. I am only posting now because I’m about to go into hip surgery and between the writing and the surgery, I don’t know when I will post again. I don’t want y’all to worry about me.
I’m not kidding.
I frequently worry about bloggers who suddenly quit posting. I will go on their site to make sure my notifications haven’t gone wonky, and they’re really not posting. I breathe a sigh of relief when they return to the blogosphere. Some don’t return, and I choose to believe their lives have become so full and rich, no time remains for them to blog.
If you don’t hear from me for a while, know I am awash in creativity, falling steadily more in love with yet another of my own characters. Or I’m healing. These two activities intersect at my bedside table where I’ve stored up stacks and stacks of mystery books to be reading/researching while laid up. Until I “see” you again, life will be good.