Blogging, Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Writing

What I Learned In 2015, #JusJoJan

Again, I am combining my prompts and link-ups. I am nearly through the month and

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan.

Also, I was lucky to get in first to get to co-host with a couple lovely blogger ladies on another weekly event I’m starting out with, as I liked this week’s sentence starter a lot after my enjoyment with last week:

If I Were a Crayon…

Hopefully, by combining these two very different blogging projects, one a weekly and the other more of an every-day-for-the-entire-month kind of a thing, perhaps I can introduce two separate sets of writers and bloggers to each other’s work.

The word today is “serendipity” and I can say I learned something that fits that. I learned the true meaning of the word in the year 2015.

I didn’t much like the film of the same name, not sure if I believed in fate, but if you want to call what happened to me an act of

serendipity,

I would go with that.

What did I learn in 2015?

Hmm.

I learned what it felt like to have one of my dreams come true. I learned what it felt like to be able to cross off one of the top items from my bucket list and it all started off rather by luck and coincidence.

I had it all ready and waiting. I’d joined a group of indie writers on Facebook in the idea to write short stories and combine them in a charity anthology. I had a story written by the end of 2014 and I was going to get it published with the rest of them..

As 2015 began things took a turn and I no longer found myself included in the project. It wasn’t the right fit, but what to do with the story I had all ready, written, and waiting?

I guess you could call all the time I spend on Facebook a bit of a time suck, or else, in this case, it became a surprise and a timing thing. I just happened to follow a writer on Facebook who was an author for a small press in the UK. She was put in charge of getting a group of writers together, to submit romance themed stories for an anthology.

I saw the call on her page, messaged her, and in less than a month she was accepting my story. I knew what I was likely lucky enough to have found for myself when I arrived at my thirty-first birthday and first blogging anniversary. I was dying to announce this. I didn’t. I held back because it was so fresh, yes, but also because I was afraid something would happen, again, and nothing would come of it. I was unable to let myself go there.

I was getting my story published, in more than a small group’s idea on Facebook, but backed by a publishing press.

It’s been my dream to be published and to see my words in print, in a book, for a long time. Was this real?

By the summer it was really happening. Little Bird Publishing would be publishing the anthology.

If I had gotten my story published with that first opportunity I would have missed out on this one. If I had already given my story away, promised it to a book, I wouldn’t have had a story ready for this publication.

I call that positively serendipitous.

So, perhaps you thought I might get to the end of this and say that actually I learned that being published would turn out to be not all it was cracked up to be, that I would learn how things you dream of for so long aren’t really usually as wonderful as you think…well, you’d be wrong.

🙂

I kissed the book, held it close, couldn’t stop smiling and even possibly slept with the book next to me for weeks. Possibly.

I am co-host with two bloggers, hosts of the prompt “Finish the Sentence Friday” this week:

Kristi Rieger Campbell of

Finding Ninee

&

Vidya Sury of

Vidya Sury – Collecting Smiles.

If you want to join and find out about the prompt for the coming week, the place to go would be:

Finish the Sentence Friday on Facebook

To read more fabulous posts, to find out what other writers and bloggers learned in 2015, visit the linkie here:

http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=602928

Finally, the blogger to come up with the final Thursday’s prompt word for the month is:

JT Twissel

and rules of which are found

right here.

Thanks JT for going with “serendipity” as the word because it really fit with the biggest thing I found out/learned from the year 2015 and maybe the story will be made into a movie itself one day soon.

Hey! You never know.

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My Top Spills and Thrills of 2015

Okay, so instead of a movie review for the newest instalment in the Star Wars franchise (which I am postponing until 2016), I am attempting to sum up this past year: the good and the bad.

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It has been a year of huge surprises, stupid spills, and awful scares for myself and my family, but there were thrills to be had throughout. It all ended, with a bit of a bang, and now here I am. I see I am not the first to write one of these, but since I waited and just posted about my hopes for the coming year, last New Year’s Day, I thought I would follow that up with another review, of sorts, about how those hopes translated into one wild ride of a 2015.

First Day of the Rest of My Life

I say in that post that I am not a fan of resolutions at the end of one year, with the blank slate of a new year stretching out in front, but I did have a vision for what I hoped my year might look like.

Now that I can reread that post and see how I fared, I want to bring it all together.

This is how it’s done.

So I thought I would take a page out of this blogger’s book/blog and go month by month. Bare with me.

JANUARY

One of my first posts of 2015 was all about trying new things.

Speeding Up and Slowing Down

I hoped this would be a sign of things to come for the year.

I continued participating in something that matters to me, that is all about a subject near and dear to my heart and life. I would continue writing about awareness for equality and disability rights. This post was a kind shout-out to all that.

I Don’t Want Coffee. Here Are Some Links, Though.

This links to another blog hop I could participate in, if I had more time and more days of the week, but I read it weekly. I have found and left a few different circles of bloggers and blogging groupings over the last few years, but many of these circles intertwine with one another, here and there.

Speaking of blogging circles – January was the start of one of the best things I’ve gotten involved in in a long time.

We All Need The Village

&

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

Thank you: Lizzi and Yvonne.

Also, it was a month of endings and beginnings.

Letting Go and Continuing to Write Another Day

The ending of an opportunity for the short story I’d written gave way for the beginning of a chance event, one for which I am so glad I snatched up my chance to be included in, in the months that would follow.

FEBRUARY

This, my birthday month, brought not only the day to celebrate my birth, but also the celebration of my first full year of blogging.

One Year and Counting: Kind and Generous

Then came

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

And after that, my first contribution of many for #1000Speak, there came more focus on kindness with a post I’d written, which was published on a site devoted to love and friendship.

A Friend In B By Kerry Kijewski

I continued to write about a vitally important cause to me, rare illness awareness

Rare Disease Day, 2015: Ventilation

There was a weekend in Ottawa with a friend. This I will never forget.

This year I took a step forward, in the right direction after lost love, and began dating again.

Dating in the Dark

This is my life.

MARCH

This was not easy for me and I didn’t want to do it, but I did it and hope to do more of it.

Microwave Popcorn For Dinner It Is

As the year went on I managed to keep a secret that I’d been keeping hidden for a few months. It would involve the struggle I constantly have inside about the fine line between truth and fiction, memoir or not?

Truth Or Fiction: Which One Is Stranger?

The first of two weekly blog hops I would soon come to depend on for both comfort and inspiration began as the third month of 2015 came to a close.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday

And I finally published an interview, long worked on and awaited, with a female who is making a mark for herself as a smart businesswoman.

Keep Calm and Get Your Hair Done

There were three deaths this year, in the entertainment world, of which were sad ones to me.

The first was Richard Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. Edward Herman died almost exactly one year ago.

I did not write a post for this at the time, but wanted to include him here and now, with news recently of a NetFlix Gilmore Girls reboot, of which the man who played Mr. Gilmore will not be able to reprise his brilliantly portrayed role.

RIP Edward Herman

(He had an amazing voice and used it to read voiceovers, playing Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Ken Burns documentary, of which I watched near the end of the year, after Herman was gone.)

Second,

Love and Despair

with the shocking death of Jonathan Crombie (Gilbert), the man behind the portrayal of a great literary heroic character.

Third, Christopher Lee.

Into The West: RIP Sir Christopher Lee

APRIL

Babies are born and babies die everyday.

Departed and Demented

Upon hearing of the loss of one precious life, for which I had to rant about the unfair ways of the world, next came a re-blog from my own blog, written one year earlier, the worst kind of anniversary imaginable.

The Dark Mark

These few things from early in the month on my blog only served to show the contrasted miracle, the wonderful shock I would get at the end of the month

I had no idea I was about to learn of the upcoming birth of a sweet child in the month of spring’s renewed promise.

Let’s just say, to say I was shocked to learn of my friend’s pregnancy was an understatement. Best surprise all year and, as I continue on with this 2015 summary, that is about to demonstrate how much this brand new little girl means to me because she is a part of my oldest friend. No publishing achievement or literary goal met can possibly compete.

I saw my aunt twice this year, in her new home, a senior’s long-term care facility, sadly. My uncle, my father’s half-brother, he visited from Germany. He wanted to see his sister because nobody knows when it will be their final time together.

Milestones and Siblings

I spent lots of time with family, not only during the month of April, but I make a point to do this every month, any time during any given year. This year, 2015 was no exception.

Orphaned

It was only by doing this that I could think enough about how lucky I am to have family of my own, that I was able to write the guest post about famous orphans in literature.

MAY

Into the fifth month of 2015, nearly halfway now, and things really took a lousy turn.

I was distracted and although the first computer problem was a simple mistake, a fluke thing and a sign of my naivete with technology, it was only when I was careless enough to have a sticky drink next to my precious laptop that I really had something to kick myself over.

Having to fall back and depend on an ex boyfriend to fix things was a hard thing to do. I knew he’d help, if I asked, but I didn’t wish to bother him. It was still hard to admit that he was the one person I would still need, in the desperation I was facing, when it came to computers and technology, the one person I would still trust most to help and help he did. He’s good like that.

If it weren’t for the honour of a request to write a post on a writer’s site whom I greatly admire, the month would have been a total disaster.

Writing the World, Sight Unseen

The girl’s got a way with coming up with titles. Oh, and she’s got the neatest sounding last name around.

🙂

Oh, and then there’s this.

The Second Chances Anthology

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At least some good came from the month of May.

Oh, and I can’t forget this either and never could.

Ten Things of Thankful

May was the month I joined this wonderful weekly blog hop. Many examples of what TToT stands for and looks like can be found in the comment section of this origin post.

There was, also, the series finale of a truly great show.

It’s a Mad Mad Mad Men World

End of an era really, or several, from the 60s onward to the end of 2015 and the start of 2016.

JUNE

And I had a publisher. Yay!

Little Bird Publishing House

And with that, I had to attempt to put into words what writing means to me.

How Writing Has Positively Influenced My Life

Still working on this, but I keep letting other things come first.

Close But No Cigar

The year 2015 was now halfway over. I was still working on both education and love.

New Month, New Me

Another milestone. I made it another year with my father’s kidney, working and keeping me well and off dialysis. Every year I avoid that is a reason to celebrate.

The year 2015 has been a spectacular one for music.

Every F****n Day – Lolawolf

“You must be curious. Even…just…a little.”

🙂

This song, among others, made my year and it was only half over.

Figure It Out – Royal Blood

I was trying.

This year, 2015, meant the anniversaries for my grandparents’ deaths:

**Five years for Grandpa

Ruby Red

**Five years for Oma

Gardens of Sunset

**And ten years for Grandma

You Are My Sunshine

Speaking of death, the composer of the wonderful Titanic soundtrack died, tragically, in a plane crash.

RIP James Horner

The US did make some progress this summer.

ROYGBIV

JULY

My country has made some much needed changes this year too.

Canada Day, 2015

We’re working on reconciliation and welcoming our differences, rather than hiding them away and spreading fear.

Life is all about the fireworks.

BANG!!!

Whether it was the stress of a first date or the unpredictability of a summer fling,

(Men Are From Mars, Women From Venus, and Then There’s Jupiter)

I had one hell of a summer.

One Last Kiss

I’VE BEEN PUBLISHED!!!

CHECK!

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That’s another item I can check off my bucket list.

Color, Light, and Magic

Plus another guest post on J.K. Rowling’s end-of-July 50th birthday.

AUGUST

It was a truly spectacular book and a fascinating study in literature.

Jean Louise The Silent: My Review of “Go Set A Watchman”, Part One

&

Jean Louise The Silent: My Review of “Go Set A Watchman”, Part Two

The summer was full of not only literature, but also some amazing theatre performances, culture, and history.

Read a review of the play here:

Stratford’s Diary of Anne Frank

And the summer ended with a bit of nature by Future of the Ocean.

Big Blue Live

And one more guest post I had published on Hasty Words.

Be Real

My summer of 2015 was full of new experiences, harsh realities, and missed opportunities.

Rural Pride, County Wide

Sometimes, some things just aren’t meant to be.

SEPTEMBER

When the anthology with my story first came out in the summer it was only available as an EBook, but finally I could hold a book with a story I’d written in my own two hands. It was an indescribable feeling and a dream come true.

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With the arrival of autumn there’s the twenty year anniversary for Jagged Little Pill.

Perfection

At the end of the month I had a trip to Toronto which was full of surprises and adventures.

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Faith and a Spinster’s Gratitude List – Harvest Moon

OCTOBER

I tried my hand at Writer’s Digest’s month long October Platform Challenge, but I messed it up and did not finish. Admittedly, it was a bit of a half effort and I misread the instructions.

Check it out here.

This year marks three anniversaries for television and music I’ve loved:

Gilmore Girls, A Boy Named Goo, Beverly Hills 90210

By the time we were nearing the end of 2015,

Canadians felt it was time for a change.

I also decided to try something a little different, when I was invited to do an interview for an online radio program.

Travelling with the Speed of Sight

Canada’s one-and-only Major League team, Toronto Blue Jays, came closer than they have in more than twenty years, to winning the World Series. It was a wild ride.

NOVEMBER

The eleventh month of 2015 found me trying something new, something I’ve wanted for a long time.

Words with Friends

Being a part of a writing group is exactly what I have needed to progress with my own writing. I hope to continue with this in the year to come.

Remembrance Day and November 11th had a special significance this year.

In Flanders Fields: One Hundred Years Later

An unassuming Friday the 13th in November turned into much more, so much devastation,

with the attack in Paris.

Then came the first of the hospitalizations for my brother for 2015 and this one was frightening enough, but it was only a prelude to what was to come for our December.

And with one one hundred year anniversary there came a forty year one shortly after,

with a Great Lakes ship wreck and a song written more like a tale set to music.

It was time to celebrate a great man.

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My Father Turned Sixty

On the final day of November.

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DECEMBER

As Long As There’s Christmas: My Grownup Letter For Santa, 2015

We almost made it. We’d arrived at mid month, only a few weeks left in 2015 and then the bottom dropped out.

My brother had a bad fall and suffered a brain injury.

For a few days we weren’t sure what kind of Christmas we would have, but my family and his friends never stopped believing he would come out of it the same old Brian.

Decade Adrift

The doctors didn’t want us to get our hopes up, but we had a Christmas like the others.

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We were all together and Brian played music again.

My last guest post of 2015. – Advent Calendar Day 20: One Tradition After Another

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Now I end 2015 with a huge Happy Birthday wish for the most special five-year-old around and I ring in 2016 with a friend. Girl’s night!

In the world of feminism, 2015 was a fabulous year for discovering awesome female voices in music, literature, travel, social issues, and history.

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE: NEW SINGLE PACKS A PUNCH

The Danger of a Single Story – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Talking to Amy Gigi Alexander

He Named Me Malala

&

The 1994 Miep Gies Lecture

Not all of these are current, but the act of me finding them this year is the point. All examples, of females who are or were strong, which gives me the push to keep moving forward.

Women of the Year: 30 Canadians Who Rocked 2015

On the continually fascinating subject of wickedly special females, three albums and their artists are worth mentioning this year:

First, Vulnicura.

Black Lake

by Bjork.

Second, How Big How Blue How Beautiful.

Ship To Wreck – Florence + The Machine.

And third, Honeymoon.

High by the Beach – Lana Del Ray

As for The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, it was an every Monday sort of thing for the previous half of 2014 and I continued, missing a week here and there, but I have not forgotten about its importance in my own world and here on my blog.

This coming year I plan on really starting something that I want to focus on though. The year 2016 will be 20 years since I began the journey that matured me before my age likely would have otherwise.

Let Them Eat Cake

I have imagined writing a book about it, memoir called Piece of Cake, for years. Now that I have this blog I will start by writing about those days, as the next few years pass.

I have goals and dreams for 2016 and beyond, but I hesitate to speak of them all out loud, in fear of falling short.

FGP’s Virtual Holiday Party

I want to make more connections with writers, creative and smart women, and I want to keep writing. I want to not be afraid to keep putting my words out there, even though the fear of more rejection is a lingering one.

I want to keep working on the one and only “resolution” from 2014/2015: jealousy. I hate that part of myself and I wish I could let that go. That doesn’t mean I don’t want the best for others and don’t cheer other people on. It just means I do both and feel conflicted.

Some make resolutions, others pick one word for their year, but I resist doing both. If I have to choose one word though, I suppose I will go with “Adventure”. I do want more of this, as I believe life is one giant adventure, all the years we get to live it.

We in Canada made a change and took a stand in 2015 and, the question for 2016 is and will be: America, will you?

Okay, so I just went through my entire blog for the year, to prepare for this post. I know. It was a long one.

Wow, I wrote a lot. I did not receive an end-of-the-year WP blog stats report like I did last year though. Hmmm. Wonder if that means I didn’t do well with follows, comments, and views this year. Ah well. Staying true to myself and remaining authentic is all I can ask for.

Goodbye 2015…hello 2016. Be kind.

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Fiction Friday, Memoir and Reflections, TGIF, Writing

My Mystery Object Speaks

It was a circular, silver jewelry tin I’d received, from my oma, on my twentieth birthday. She handed it to me, in her kitchen, at our combined birthday celebrations. Hers was three days before mine. When I was turning twenty she was turning eighty-three. Inside the tin I discovered twenty loonies, Canadian dollar coins, one for every year of my life.

Why hadn’t I thought of that for her? Would have needed a bigger tin.

🙂

Fast-forward more than eleven years and I placed the silver tin, faded from sitting on a dresser in my bedroom, on a conference table – my contribution to my new writer’s group and the game called: Mystery Object.

It was, I’d recently discovered, an excellent writing exercise. I was pleased I was getting the chance to bring the object for this week’s festivities.

The rules are: someone brings an object, an air of mystery to it, and the remaining time is spent with everyone, after having passed the object around the room, writing a story where the object plays a part, no matter how big or small.

Past mystery objects have included:

— A painted model of a dragon

And

— A ticket stub from a visit to the Eiffel Tower.

I guess I cheated because I didn’t just bring the silver tin, but inside, instead of twenty Canadian dollars, there now rests a necklace, a blue pendant on a chain.

Two for one I guess, but nobody seemed to complain. I’d taken the necklace as the object, originally; however, as I’d needed a case to carry it, in the moment I grabbed the tin and placed the necklace inside.

This gave us all more options. We could write a story about the tin, the necklace, or any combination of the two, more or less.

They even wanted to know the history of the mystery.

🙂

The mystery object meaning the necklace, which a few of the women around the table murmured comments of interest over. The guy with, what I’m guessing is a British accent, he was supportive when I told the group a little bit of history about the blue gem on the chain.

“It was originally a Christmas present for a friend who never came back to claim it. A bit of a falling out with that friend, the end of a friendship,” I told them vaguely, leaving plenty of room for creative licence and imagination.

“‘Looks like you came out on top,” someone said. I appreciated this person trying to make me feel better about the situation myself and my necklace had been through in the past. I appreciated that, as new as I was to the writing group, any one of them would say that, as my relationship to these people is still just beginning to develop, for whatever that might mean.

My first attempt at the mystery object exercise resulted in a narrative, made up of two people in an antique shop. This is one of my favourite settings for a story, since my senses were set off strong upon entering an old building, converted into an antique shop in my town, on a dreary October day a few years ago.

I have had a dislike for old things ever since childhood, but now I see their stories in the feelings they bring forth in me and in others.

This mystery object exercise is brilliant. I love to see what the other people bring and, in this case, I couldn’t wait to find out where their minds would go when attempting to write about the object I’d chosen to bring.

I know what the silver tin and the blue necklace mean to me, the history they played in my own life, but the trick would be letting all that leave my mind for an hour, allowing me to write fictionally about them. Then I was waiting to hear what they would come out with.

I’ve considered publishing all the pieces I come out with during these bimonthly writing groups, posting them here afterward. I have had the feeling of not being naturally good at writing fiction, as I have been told and felt myself that maybe I do better with nonfiction and memoir especially, but that is why I like this group. I can write like they write, and I get so much from that interaction already, and I’ve only gone three times so far.

This latest time I wrote about a jewelry store burglary and the mystery of why the thief took only that necklace, leaving the rest of the jewelry behind.

I did not finish the story and have no idea what was so special about that necklace. Time was up for the evening, the library closing and the cleaning crew anxious to start their work to prepare the building for the following day’s borrowings.

I purposefully did not volunteer to read my jewelry store tale, preferring to hear the other stories, on the off chance that we would run out of time, which is exactly what ended up happening.

I’d preferred my previous Wednesday night’s fiction writing exercise attempt, starring the Eiffel Tower ticket, dropped from above and onto the Paris sidewalk.

Some of the stories written about the tin/necklace included:

— One rooted in hints of the wardrobe leading to Narnia and a reference to the famous sketching scene in the movie Titanic. (This movie came up, somehow, in our chatter at the beginning of the evening’s meeting.)

— One about a love sick young man and the jewelry he purchased and later returned, bought for the object of his affection.

— One beginning with a wonderful scene of a little girl dying to arrive at her grandmother’s house and ending with that little girl finding a beautiful blue necklace in said grandmother’s spare room, unaware of the history it has.

— One about a spur-of-the-moment dropping of a necklace in a coat pocket and the chase others take to get it back.

I love to listen to the other writers read their stories, how different each one is, but the theme of the past of a piece of jewelry (real or fantastic) was a thrill to me, the person who really does own it.

People feel different about reading their work, depending on the day and what they come up with in the group, but not one person said they weren’t able to write something using my contribution to Mystery Object Wednesday. I was happy about that part. I was pleased to have spurred their imaginations, even if I couldn’t quite let go of what I know about the necklace in my own reality and past.

The true story of the friendship which ended with that necklace, indirectly, is best left for another time, but I just wanted to mark this occasion, as was pointed out to me the other night by one of my new writing friends: if that friend had stayed and taken the necklace, events wouldn’t have been able to lead up to the experience of my mystery object contribution with those who bravely took a stab at coming up with alternative storylines for a blue necklace on a chain.

For next group we’ve all been given a small slip of paper, containing a scenario and we are supposed to use it to demonstrate the concept of a favourite writing rule: show don’t tell.

This is the sort of homework I am more than happy to complete, I think. I will keep posted on what I manage to come up with for that one.

Mystery objects are exciting things, fiction that bursts forth from each and every one. They mean different things to different people and tell a story worth hearing. They are helping me get to know my fellow writers, one story at a time.

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TToT: Thanks and Thankfuls – That Was Awesome! #10Thankful

“The more I see, the less I know for sure.”

–John Lennon

Not sure why,

😉

but I love this one.

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“Living is Easy with Eyes Closed.”

I often have my eyes closed in pictures taken. I am told this is a pretty good shot, so they should be open.

🙂

The Lighting of the Peace Tower.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRhq-yO1KN8

Should I say thanks, be thankful for the thanks or thanks for the thankfuls?

This week I am not sure.

10 THINGS OF THANKFUL

Yes, I am Canadian and that means October is when we celebrate Thanksgiving, not November like the US does. Okay, so the actual day isn’t until the 12th, officially, but I celebrated two days early.

For me, this holiday is not and never has been about pilgrims coming across and landing to a grand celebration with The Natives. In Canada, for this Canadian girl in particular, it’s more about celebrating my favourite season (and we get em all in this country), the pumpkins, and the colourful leaves as they fall. Family is the best part, not the pie.

Sure, my family have always eaten turkey and It is true, that I am thankful, but I am just as thankful at Christmas and every other day of the year.

I am a little muddled, as this is my first Thanksgiving as a part of the TToT group – lot of being and feeling thankful going around here. I am a little overwhelmed with that word, “thankful” and all the thankfuls I have running around in my head.

Here I go anyway.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For friendly and down-to-earth writers like Anne Rice.

A couple years back I went ahead and read Interview with the Vampire – my first and only Rice book so far. I am not her biggest fan, but not in a “not a fan” sort of way. I just couldn’t quite let myself grow comfortable with her dark and mysterious writing style I suppose. I look down the extensive list of books she’s written in her three or four decades as a writer and I am impressed, even if the world of supernatural she’s continuously creating remains still unfamiliar to me.

It’s her devotion to her fans, as shown on her Facebook page, that really draws me in and of which I truly admire. As someone beginning to think of herself as a writer, I don’t necessarily think social media is for every author, but I do admire Rice’s dedication to her readers.

Anne Rice Fan Page on Facebook

She is quite obviously the one to handle the page. She doesn’t just post occasionally. She only has her assistant post when she herself isn’t feeling well. She posts daily and is clearly glad to do it.

She engages regularly with her millions of fans, saying good morning and goodnight to them, and having discussions, posing questions, and posting articles.

For friends and graciousness and people willing to help spread the word.

Amy Boviard Author

and

Original Bunker Punks

in particular.

I thank you for your thoughtful shares and I am thankful that you took the time to talk about or publish me, and then go ahead and share that with your website’s readers and then on your Facebook pages.

For the ability to go and turn on the heat.

The weather is turning to the autumn crispness I love so much, which means I have been going back and forth, unsure which type of weather there might be outside my door in the mornings. Things are changing

On a particularly rainy and windy day I broke down and, instead of just loading up on heavy sweaters, took that step and turned on my home’s heat. I am thankful for this because I have it so easily accessible to me. I’ve been going on and on about humidity, heat, and my air conditioning since I began with TToT, but Canadian winters always end up as cold as Canadian summers are hot.

For familial beta readers and editors.

I am not a writer with a publishing contract and an editor on hand to read the things I write, able to give their feedback and offer their suggestions. I don’t have the money to pay people to read all the stuff I’m writing nowadays, but I have managed to cultivate and maintain a number of relationships with these people. I don’t ask them to help, as I am glad to just have their expertise and knowledge to occasionally learn and draw upon. This is where the family obligation comes in.

🙂

Okay, they wouldn’t say it that way, but I still feel bad imposing. Of course, I could impose a lot more often than I do, only asking them to read over something when I really need it.

I apologize eternally to any readers of this blog, as I edit myself, as best I can, but don’t have someone read over my post before hitting publish each and every time.

If a capital letter or punctuation is missed now and then, or perhaps more often than that, I am sorry. These days, with the VoiceOver and Mac, my writing and blogging programs usually catch any incorrect spelling.

As for a week where I have written a piece I’m sending off somewhere to be evaluated and possibly published, to grow a more expanded readership, I look to my family to read my work and offer ideas and first impressions. Usually, this means my big sister. She has a life of her own, you know, with a husband and young son to attend to and spend time with. She works some days and has her own interests, so when she takes the time to help me out I am incredibly thankful.

For my mother and the very fact of her birth. This is worth celebrating and declaring my thanks for, as without this and her, I would not be here to write these words.

For everything she does and everything she is, I am thankful and grateful. I may not always show it, but I mean it from my very soul, with all the feeling words can muster.

I have never been more thankful than for her. Happy Birthday Mom. Xoxoxo.

For purring.

My cat will come over to me and walk across my legs. I don’t know, but I choose to believe he knows the pain therapy he is providing in that moment.

My chronic pain is an all over sort of deal. My legs are sensitive and just the right amount of pressure helps.

As for the purring, when he rests himself against my legs and purrs, I feel better. This is worth a bunch of irritating cat hair on my clothes and furniture.

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For a fun Thanksgiving day at the farm, pumpkin patch, and corn maze with the fam. Got an excellent view of the place from my watch tower perch.

Leaping Deer!

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My first time through a corn maze. I loved the sound of the rustling corn stalks in the cool fall afternoon, but it would have been creepier in the dark. They said you were supposed to give them your names when you went in, presumably in case they needed to find us in the event that we became lost, but we were rebels and told nobody – well, the family knew, I think.

For the pleasure of getting to give my niece and nephews a little something, a small gift, out-of-the-blue.

It wasn’t a holiday where presents were expected, and that made it all the better. They were surprised and I am thankful I got to make them smile.

They are learning and growing, with each Thanksgiving that passes, and that makes me sad, but in a really grateful way. I get to love them and be there, and that’s worth an unplanned and a surprise puzzle, book, or sticker set now and again.

For optimism, without which, I could never find a thing to be thankful for at all.

Whatever else I give thanks for, I am thankful for the TToT and others who have thankfuls in their lives as well.

This one, from this week’s group, is the perfect example of finding the silver linings, all done with beauty and humour.

A Moment In Time – Summertime Wandering

I can use all the optimism I can muster today. I am off to watch the Toronto Blue Jays play, what could be their last game, and the end of any possible hopes their fans had of a World Series win after more than 20 years eager anticipation and hope.

I am thankful for all the togetherness that is shown around here, after being in Toronto a few weeks back and feeling the energy of the baseball fans, the Toronto supporters growing, and I know today is their last hope and the odds are against them, but until that hope is dashed for certain I choose to be positive and optimistic.

It could happen. As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

Okay, I’ll see where things stand by this evening, a week from now, at next week’s edition of the TToT.

OK…BLUE JAYS…LET’S…PLAY…BALL!

I’ll end this week’s post with one of the most optimistic quotes I know, in the hopes of something sticking, and, as Anne Rice always says to her FB fans,

Signing off.

“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”

Lucy Maud Montgomery

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2015 October Platform Challenge: Day Nine, #platchal

I missed a few days there, or a little more than that, as I already have both a Facebook page and Twitter, but I’m back for more of a refresher.

Create An Editorial Calendar

I outline what I want for my blog, in my very first post,

Bucket List,

but I had no clue how it would really be to have a blog, day in and day out. I couldn’t have known then.

I do like to keep a rough schedule, more in my head, but the categories I select before each post help me keep things straight.

I stayed up, into the night, before I actually launched this blog, coming up to my thirtieth birthday in 2014 and mapped out which days I wanted to post.

I would let alliteration lead me.

Memoir Monday: My Fear of Going Blind

Fiction Friday: An Old Woman’s Regret

Spotlight On Saltz

From there, as the months of blogging went on, more weekday categories were added.

Touching Landscapes: Feel the Vibrations

This was my regular post, my growing favourite, Travel Tuesday as I called it. This was how I eventually decided to branch out further, creating

The Insightful Wanderer

and my blogging schedule continuing to change.

Slowly, my favourite weekly posts have become

In The News and On My Mind: #1000Speak Edition

because these allow me to focus in on what may be going on, in the moment.

It is a difficult question, how often to post on a blog. I don’t like to box myself in by telling myself I have to post, but I understand consistency and regularity.

I have not run out of things to say, like I’d feared in the beginning, and only really the opposite is true.

Every day is too much, but I hate to go more than a few days and not publishing something.

My Mondays have become a series on disability, for which I have a vested interest.

When It Rains It Pours – The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

I do the well known TBT thing.

Throwback Thursday: World Kidney Day

My weekends were where I featured interviews. I wanted to give the spotlight to other people who write, blog, and make a difference in some way.

She’s the Bomb

Eventually, my weekends would evolve into what they currently consist of: Stream of Consciousness Saturday and 10 Things of Thankful on Sunday.

SoCS: Engraved

and

TToT: Extra Thankful For These Last Eighteen Years

So this is just a selection of my posts, an example of the kind of blogging schedule I keep to. This won’t be the way others can or choose to do it. I don’t know. Is this too much? I know it’s enough and I am happy because my blog, its content, style, and all other elements, including number of weekly posts is me…just me.

When an idea hits me I make a note of it, trying to decide when and if it might fit. I plan things, sometimes weeks or even months ahead of where I am. It works for me. Writing is a lot of hard work, more than people realize, but the weekly practice is the best thing for me. I like to have a plan wherever possible, but yet I also like to go with the flow and let things happen naturally.

A blogging calendar, like a yearly one, has certain markers of importance and note. What might take place in between is anyone’s guess.

I am enjoying this challenge for the month of October. It has given me more to think about. It is now a part of my month.

Follow the guy who runs the challenge.

@RobertLeeBrewer

Dates to make note of, things to come on my blog, of course always subject to change:

**More posts for Redefining Disability, including my thoughts on a woman who made the news for making herself go blind.

**An “In The News and On My Mind” post about voting. Will I or won’t I?

**A post about love (tentatively titled Somebody That I Used to Know), a list of songs to help with heartbreak and how to get past lost love.

**Halloween themed posts about spiders, werewolves, and ghosts.

**My story about a giant book fair, by the lake, in Toronto.

That should get us through October anyway.

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TToT: Faith and a Spinster’s Gratitude List – Harvest Moon, #10Thankful

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
–L.M. Montgomery

In the books, Anne Shirley believed, for a long time, that she would end up an old maid or spinster, instead she got her happy, storybook ending. Montgomery almost ended up one herself, but she still ended up unhappily. I sometimes fear the same will happen to me, either one, but it could always be worse.

10 THINGS OF THANKFUL

It’s been a strange week. Goodbye September and a beautiful September it was, but I do love my Octobers.

I’ve just been thinking a lot lately, as September has bled into October. It seems that big things are happening to people, from my past. This has made me remember certain things from days gone by.

R. E. S. C. U. E.

Catchy, catchy song.

🙂

Do you remember Disney’s The Rescuers, a highly underrated Disney film in my opinion with arguably one of the nastiest female villains, the sweetest little cartoon orphan, and two brave and adorable mice?

Someone’s Waiting For You – The Rescuers Soundtrack

I have been thinking about how my ex became a father for the first time last month. Also, an old friend’s younger brother just got married; not to mention, that’s the second one, little brother of a friend, to do that this week.

I remember that little boy, at three years of age, and how I used to lift him up and twirl him around and around as a game. It’s a strange feeling to remember him that way, then be brought back to reality, to realize he is not that tiny child anymore.

It made me search out a few movies from my childhood, on NetFlix: Homeward Bound (The Incredible Journey) and The Rescuers. Major doses of nostalgia for sure.

The Journey – The Rescuers Soundtrack

Life is a journey and this week’s journey, for me, starts off with an apology.

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

Montgomery was right, as usual.

Ten Things of Thankful:

First thing’s first…

For forgiveness.

I’d ended last week on a bit of a sour note, with my lack of appreciation for a friend’s generous hostessing of me in Toronto.

Well, I made sure not to go to bed without apologizing of course, but I wasn’t certain she’d fully accepted my apology.

In the morning we talked about it again and she assured me there were no hard feelings, that she doesn’t let little things get to her like that.

I appreciated her saying so because it wasn’t so little really. I am grateful and thankful for the ability for other people to forgive because I would hate to leave things in a negative state, with anybody, if I can help it. I know many relationships are severed everyday because insensitive things are often said, anger is thrust at others, and apologies aren’t given when they should be. I know, firsthand, just how hard it can be to apologize, as more and more time slips by. Either you are afraid they won’t accept it or they will make you feel even worse than you already do. It can be hard to take that leap, but so worth it and a giant relief when all is said and done.

For giant book fairs.

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I attended my very first

Word on the Street, Toronto.

This was just like those book fairs, back when I was in school, always held in the library. Well, it was exactly like that, only much bigger and better.

For the bookish version of my rockstar/groupie moment.

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He is Canadian publishing royalty. Honestly, if I’d known who I was standing next to, when we were first introduced, I would have been a lot more intimidated.

He has published Alice Munro and a couple past Canadian prime ministers and I listened to his witty and insightful reading and then we chased him all over the place, before finding where copies of his new book were being sold. I was totally over-the-moon ;-), about his inscription in my book:

“To Kerry. From one writer to another. Best, Doug Gibson.”

“All photos taken by Glenda MacDonald)

@glenda_macd on Twitter

For a relaxing lunch by the waterfront.

This began with a humorous and entertaining waiter, and it continued with some excellent discussion with my friend about writing, a cool and refreshing glass of sangria, the most delicious salad I’ve ever tasted (full of kale, walnuts, and chickpeas), and a wasp landing on me at some point during it all.

Okay, so that last one wasn’t the great part, but it’s even worse to be there with a writer who uses words like “burrowing” to describe the wasp’s movements on my skin. She can’t help it. It’s the writer in her.

For the magic of a super moon/eclipse, even if I didn’t get to see it live.

Harvest Moon – Neil Young

I wonder what I’ll be doing, what my life will be like, in the year 2033 – the date of the next super moon, lunar eclipse.

I know there seem to be a lot of these lately, or several variations, but the moon is endlessly fascinating and I will never grow tired of any of it. Is there anything more romantic, more inspiring, more beautiful than the moon?

I was on the eleventh floor of an apartment building, in the middle of the city of Toronto that night, but I did see a great shot on the news the next day. I am able to see the moon, in the sky, when it is full and bright enough. From everything I know about the super moon, I would definitely have seen it if I’d been in the position to look for it. On the screen I saw the bright outline and the dark centre of the eclipse. Don’t think I could see that if I were outside.

I am thankful I can see the moon at all.

Here is a post from a blogger and Fellow Canadian with some shots of the night before.

Close enough.

For an unexpected and a highly lovely dinner out with a friend.

I discovered I had some extra time, a free evening in Toronto, and decided to invite an old friend out for $5 Margarita night at

El Rincon Mexicano Restaurant.

I would happily recommend this place. We ate an authentic Mexican meal, out on their covered patio with the orange walls and sombreros.

For the ride home I nearly got to ride in style, in a Mercedes. Instead we rode, less in style and more what felt like being in a clown car or video game actually.

🙂

Fun just the same. It was one of those smart cars. Very bumpy.

My friend had a membership to one of those car sharing services, offered in big cities, for people who it makes no sense to have a vehicle of their own, but for whom a car can sometimes be necessary or simply handy to have, as an option in a pinch.

For making it home from the big city, safe and sound…eventually.

🙂

I missed my ride in Toronto. Oops. It happens.

I was supposed to have help to locate my correct bus, but I waited and waited and the guy never showed up and before I knew it, it was too late.

These situations are annoying, for sure, but they’re ones to be thankful and grateful for because they help me, force me really, to become a better and more independent traveler. I figured it out, late yes, but I got home in the end, both tired and invigorated.

For the chance to officially celebrate the birth and the arrival, of a beautiful little girl. I think it is nice to have the baby shower after the baby is a part of our lives.

She’s five months old now, but it was nice to celebrate with that little girl’s mother, their family and a few friends and I am proud to be one of them, maybe even a bit of both, in some small way.

It was just nice to fit in, to blend in, and to feel like a part of the group. I had the perfect seat, one of those high bar stools at the kitchen island. This allowed me to spin my chair around, from the kitchen to the living room, depending on where people were at the time.

I felt like just one of the gathering and I didn’t feel like I was in a place I was all that unfamiliar with. The gathering wasn’t too big or too small, but just big enough. There were snacks, punch (both with vodka and without), and ice cream cake.

For a friend I’ve known for enough time, many years, that I am just “Kerry” to her. She doesn’t treat me any different or make me feel like I don’t belong or that I am any different than anyone else. I feel at home with her and with her family.

She understands me and would defend me to most anyone, in most any situation or circumstance.

She is a mother now, but she isn’t someone who would make me feel any different because I am not one myself. I value her for all these things.

The guest of honour at this particular party wasn’t feeling very well, but part of it could have been all those different faces and voices. I understand how intimidating a group of people can be. I thought this song was an appropriate fit for her day, for the occasion.

It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To.

The shower was held on a day, most appropriately, of showers – rain showers and wind that nearly blew me over and that’s October for you.

Tomorrow Is Another Day – The Rescuers Soundtrack

Life is a journey and tomorrow is another day. I appreciate the reminders of these facts.

I was watching a documentary about Georgian times and there was a lot of talk about what it was like to be a spinster during that period.

I suppose I would be considered a spinster: over thirty, single, and childless. I can’t pretend that new babies born and weddings of those more than five years younger than me don’t make things difficult sometimes, but that’s why I am here to find the silver linings, why I am writing down my TToT, and why the following quote from The Rescuers meant so much to me on this particular week, even more than most…

Faith is a bluebird, we see from afar. It’s for real and as sure as the first evening star, you can’t touch it, or buy it, or wrap it up tight, but it’s there just the same, making things turn out right.

–Rufus the Cat.

Another one of my favourite characters from the movie, one who always reminded me of my grandfather, and wisest one of them all.

Whether it’s love, the moon, or a bluebird, I know what it’s like to believe that these things exist, even if I can’t actually see them or feel them at every moment. This is what faith is and what having faith means.

Sincerely,
Spinster at Thirty-one

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Jean Louise the Silent: My Review of Go Set a Watchman, Part Two

“The time your friends need you is when they’re wrong, Jean Louise. They don’t need you when they’re right.”
–Dr. Jack Finch

Further Character Discussion:

In Watchman there are important characters to the story, a few specific Finch relatives, those who were only briefly included in Mockingbird. This made the story of this literary family of note even more layered and interesting.

Atticus’s sister Alexandra and brother Jack are two important characters in this second story. His sister has been watching over Atticus, as he ages and grows arthritic, freeing Jean Louise from the responsibility.

By the end of Watchman, Jean Louise’s short visit home has resulted in a few battles between the proper southern lady her aunt thinks she should be and the modern woman she sees herself as. They butt heads, more than once, on matters both big and small.

“Her father’s sister came closest to setting Jean Louise’s teeth permanently on edge.”

Her respect in her well read uncle is tested when she looks to him to provide answers to the questions being back home has raised.

“As I sit here and breathe, I never thought the good God would let me live to see someone walk into the middle of a revolution, pull a lugubrious face, and say, what’s the matter?”
–Dr. Jack Finch

Uncle Jack is a doctor, but now devotes his time to being a bachelor, who loves his cat and Victorian literature. Jean Louise gets along a whole lot better with her uncle than with her aunt, usually anyway.

“Uncle Jack was one of the abiding pleasures of Maycomb.”

While one may not always understand the older generations attitudes or behaviours, they provide vital information and context for those returning characters we all know and love.

The absence of Jem (rest in peace) is made more tolerable with the new character of Henry, a youth who grew up across the street from Scout and her family from soon after the TKAM story came to an end. He is a friend of the Finch children as teenagers, a possible love interest for Jean Louise, and someone Atticus can take under his wing to possibly take over the law practise one day.

“She was easy to look at and easy to be with most of the time, but she was in no sense of the word an easy person. she was afflicted with a restlessness of spirit he could not guess at, but he knew she was the one for him. He would protect her; he would marry her.”

Will Henry and Jean Louise live happily ever after?

“Love whom you will but marry your own kind was a dictum amounting to instinct within her.”

She is stubborn and undecided

“She was almost in love with him. No, that’s impossible: either you are or you aren’t. Love’s the only thing in this world that is unequivocal. There are different kinds of love, certainly, but it’s a you-do or you-don’t proposition with them all.”

On the other hand, when it comes to returning characters, Go Set a Watchman does not bring back someone such as Cal (the wise old African-American housekeeper from To Kill a Mockingbird) without this story taking on a whole new level of seriousness.

“Calpurnia, the Finches’ old cook, had run off the place and not come back when she learned of Jem’s death.”

Things have changed in Alabama, in the south, and in the country in twenty years and not all relationships have necessarily survived the evolution in the intervening years in tact.

“She loved us, I swear she loved us. She sat there in front of me and she didn’t see me, she saw white folks. She raised me and she doesn’t care.
It was not always like this, I swear it wasn’t. People used to trust each other for some reason, I’ve forgotten why they didn’t watch each other like hawks then.”
–Jean Louise Finch

Jean Louise is grown now, a lady, but she is unable to be the good southern lady that she could so easily have become.

It was during a scene where Alexandra has organized a gathering of Jean Louise’s “friends” and acquaintances, a group of good Christian ladies for Jean Louise to socialize with while she is visiting, where I first was given the idea for the title of this review. This scene very closely mirrors one from To Kill a Mockingbird and Jean Louise feels just as awkward and out-of-place now as young Scout did back then, expected to grow up into the perfect MAGPIE.

Jean Louise sees these women as MAGPIES and finds nothing whatsoever in common with them and their inane chatter. She becomes shy and withdrawn, distracted and unable to relate to any of her contemporaries, her equals as they might be known by some.

She sits silently, in a corner of this circle of ladies, but she can not just sit silently by, while the men of Maycomb go to their meetings and have their say on the way the world has worked or will work. Things were all cordial for everyone, just as long as the races knew their places. This begins to change, but there is a fight to come as it does.

She must make a choice: soon, sooner than she thought, now.

“I thought I was a Christian but I’m not. I’m something else and I don’t know what. Everything I have ever taken for right and wrong these people have taught me-these same, these very people. So it’s me , it’s not them. Something has happened to me.
They are all trying to tell me in some weird, echoing way that it’s all on account of the Negroes…but it’s no more the Negroes than I can fly and God knows, I might fly out the window any time now.”

***

“Had she been able to think, Jean Louise might have prevented events to come by considering the day’s occurrences in terms of a recurring story as old as time: the chapter which concerned her began two hundred years ago and was played out in a proud society the bloodiest war and harshest peace in modern history could not destroy, returning to be played out again on private ground in the twilight of a civilization no wars and no peace could save.
Had she insight, could she have pierced the barriers of her highly selective, insular world, she may have discovered that all her life she had been with a visual defect which had gone unnoticed and neglected by herself and by those closest to her: she was born color blind.”

All character discussion thus far leads up to the bigger question – the big question really, for so many readers who’ve claimed To Kill a Mockingbird as their own moral compass over the last fifty-five years.

“She crossed the room again to straighten the stack of books on his lamp table, and was doing so when a pamphlet the size of a business envelope caught her eye.
On its cover was a drawing of an anthropophagous Negro; above the drawing was printed The Black Plague.”

There is one main reason so many people did not want to read Go Set a Watchman or regretted it when they did.

Both Atticus and Henry are members of The Maycomb Citizens Counsel. Jean Louise discovers this and she takes her place, that familiar place, up in the balcony of the courthouse where, as kids, her and Jem watched from above, as her father defended Tom Robinson.

“He walked out of the courtroom in the middle of the day, walked home, and took a steaming bath. He never counted what it cost him; he never looked back. He never knew two pairs of eyes like his own were watching him from the balcony.”

Now she is here again, looking down on white trash and respectable Maycomb men gathered together, discussing the preservation of segregation and of southern values.

“The one human being she had ever fully and wholeheartedly trusted had failed her; the only man she had ever known to whom she could point and say with expert knowledge, he is a gentleman, in his heart he is a gentleman, had betrayed her, publicly, grossly, and shamelessly.”

Would this newly revealed piece of the puzzle taint the beloved hero status Atticus Finch has held for so many, for so long, like it did poor Jean Louise?

Do these things change the man Atticus was, as a father and a man, in Jean Louise’s eyes.

“She knew little of the affairs of men, but she knew that her father’s presence at the table with a man who spewed such filth from his mouth-did that make it less filthy? No. It condoned. She felt sick.”

Whether Harper Lee completely meant to show Watchman off to readers or keep it hidden and buried – would this bring an end to the love and admiration?

I saw, just the other day, a Hollywood actress named her son Atticus. Others who had done the same seemed to regret choosing the name in the first place, as rumours of Watchman’s Atticus began to surface. Was he the same Atticus they knew and loved? Was he the complete opposite, a cold, bigoted, racist old man?

“Her nausea returned with redoubled violence when she remembered the scene in the courthouse, but she had nothing left to part with. If you had only spat in my face…It could be, might be, still was a horrible mistake. Her mind refused to register what her eyes and ears told it.”

Like the drunken and abusive liar of a man who spat in Atticus’s face all those years earlier.

***

I admit this was my main curiosity for going ahead and reading Watchman. I guess these rumours did help spread word and drum up publicity for the July 15th release.

After all, it’s all about sales and hype and even controversy.

Not for me.

For me, it’s all about the writing. It’s about relatable characters and the way in which they interact with one another.

It’s about the story.

“The novel must tell a story,” as Uncle Jack says vaguely to Jean Louise. That’s all Watchman must needs do, no matter what some readers may think or feel, which ever story came before, after, or during.

To be clear, I do not think of GSAW as a sequel, in any of the ways we all know a sequel to be. True, it takes place twenty years after Mockingbird and yes, it is being released more than fifty years after Mockingbird, but it was written a few years before. The timeline may feel dizzying as it is laid out, but it makes for an interesting study of Lee’s writing.

Lee’s publisher wanted more of the flashbacks, with the children, and less of what Watchman would have been back then. But it feels meant to be seen, if not then, then now, and here we are.

I would imagine English literature classes will be discussing and debating the merits and the classification for this book, as compared to Mockingbird, for years to come.

Literary scholars will do the same.

As someone who loves literature, I wanted to read Watchman because it is Harper Lee’s contribution, no matter how we ended up with it or what it might say about the American south in the 1950s.

I don’t know the ins and outs of the publishing world. I don’t know what it takes to bring a novel to fruition. I am not aware what the process entails. I would have liked to witness this particular process though, over those five or so years where Go Set a Watchman evolved into the bestseller that To Kill a Mockingbird became.

People like to label things and put them in their proper places. They like things to follow an order and they like to be able to map things out.

You can’t do that here. However the publishers may have marketed GSAW, read it for yourself before making up your own mind.

I am glad this story got to see the light of literary day. My enjoyment of each and every chapter was immense and a little unexpected, after my less than expected love of the classic elements of Mockingbird. As someone who prides herself on loving literature, I was pleasantly surprised that I took to Watchman as entirely as I did throughout.

Harper Lee dedicates Go Set a Watchman to her father (Mr. Lee) and sister )Alice.

Is her beloved character of Atticus (whom she said was based on her father) tarnished in the reader’s eyes forever? What might this mean about the kind of man Mr. Lee was?

What would Alice have to say about this book’s release, if she were still alive?

These questions aren’t ones I can answer here, in my little old Watchman review, but I am sure they will both be debated in the future, as a little time and distance offers perspective.

“Even his enemies loved him, because Atticus never acknowledged that they were his enemies.”

For my part, this line perfectly sums up what’s truly in his heart and intentions all along. Not sure others will see it that way or be able to let it go at that because he was a man of his time, whether I myself can accept that or not.

As much attention as is put on Atticus’s shoulders, Scout steals the show here. This does not mean the actions of America’s heroic father figure are of no importance. History and humans are rarely ever that simple, even though I wish they were, that I could snap my fingers and make them that way.

Henry tells her, “You’re gonna see change, you’re gonna see Maycomb change its face completely in our lifetime. Your trouble, now, you want to have your cake and eat it: you want to stop the clock, but you can’t. Sooner or later you’ll have to decide whether it’s Maycomb or New York.”
–Henry Clinton

She is stuck between two worlds and the past and future going forward.

“She looked at Maycomb, and her throat tightened. Maycomb was looking back at her.
Go away, the old buildings said. There is no place for you here. You are not wanted. We have secrets.”

Jean Louise can never remain silent, but this also means she can not remain in Maycomb either, or that is what she will end up being, unless she can find some way to make peace with things as they are, even work to make a better, more equal future for everyone. Her and her brother were raised by a white man and a black woman and yet, sadly, life’s rarely so black and white itself.

She has received the most important quality from her father, for good or bad, and that is conviction.

“She did not stand alone, but what stood behind her, the most potent moral force in her life was the love of her father. She never questioned it, never thought about it, never even realized that before she made any decision of importance the reflex, “what would Atticus do? passed through her unconscious; she never realized what made her dig in her feet and stand firm whenever she did was her father; that whatever was decent and of good report in her character was put there by her father.”

She can not remain in Alabama and silent to an ever changing world. This makes her the heroine of this story in my estimation, of her story, which she is finally getting to tell.

For thus hath the Lord said unto me: Go, set a watchman; let him declare what he seeth!
–Isaiah 21:6

***

Wow. I must end my review here, for now, but there is still so much I could say, so many lines from the book that spoke to me and of which I wish I could include here, to prove my points.

But I realize that then this darn thing would end up being several thousand words long. And who knows if anyone’s even made it this far, managed to stick around to the end anyway.

One last piece of Go Set a Watchman wisdom if you’ve read to the end:

“I’m only trying to make you see beyond men’s acts to their motives. A man can appear to be a part of something not-so-good on its face, but don’t take it upon yourself to judge him unless you know his motives as well. A man can be boiling inside, but he knows a mild answer works better than showing his rage. A man can condemn his enemies, but it’s wiser to know them.”

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