Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Spring’s in the Air

Finally, in all its fragrant force and dewy sparkle, spring is singing the song of rebirth. If this sounds like a bombastic and overwritten first sentence, so it is. This is how it looks from my window. Nature in overdrive.

Two species of birds have built nests outside, and the parent-birds are busy bringing wiggling worms to their babies. The maple tree in the backyard burst with green, where only weeks ago its branches looked like skeletal fingers. An eruption of weeds looks so gorgeous and flowery that I have no thought of pulling them out just yet.

But something in me is uneasy.

I had wrestled with spring-uneasiness for years, not knowing its source. Yesterday I ran into this quotation from Chaim Weizmann, Israel’s first President and a renowned scientist: “Miracles sometime occour, but one has to work terribly hard for them.” By definition, Miracles are supernatural. But to me life in all its forms is the greatest miracle. Here is a miracle I didn’t work for. I didn’t earn it.

I go through this every time there’s good news. I ask what I’ve done to deserve it. In this case what I’ve ‘done’ is live through a winter. Not enough, by any measure.

I think it’s more than my Jewish DNA to be suspicious of the glorious and the good. The echo of my grandmother saying, “why should it be easy when it can be hard?” is a small part of my discomfort at unearned gifts. {I can see you slapping your forehead in disbelief; thinking- is she complaining about spring now? But you didn’t have my grandmother.}

The bigger part is the voice that wishes to make sense of experience. The writerly need to find moral patterns in everything. Miracles earned, and misfortunes deserved. This is at the heart of this wrong turn.

And spring, with its bounty of gifts, is an affirmation of my error. Spring just is.
©Elina Lorenz

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


A dear friend pointed out the joys of the new age and its evolving technologies. She was reacting to my last blog post, lamenting a disappearing world, and she made good points.

So what’s with my angst about E-readers? She loves her E-reader, because aside from the obvious ease of lugging around a hundred books in one light electronic package, an E-reader contains a dictionary, (just click on any word) a magnifier, (just click on the size you want your font) and serves as an instant bookstore. (Just click to Amazon or B & N, and voilĂ !)

Of course she’s right. I’m not a complete Luddite. I use Email, and my reference encyclopedia is collecting dusk, because I navigate the Internet. I’m sure I’ll be getting an E-reader any day now. I got advance review copies (=ARC) in E-files of my novel, sent by the publisher, and I can’t read my own E-book except in pdf. That won’t last long. I’ll catch up. I haven’t quit the forward-running human race.

I’m also sure E-books will soon come with an option to lend, (why buy a good book if I can’t lend it?) and some way to gift these files that retain the ‘thingness’ of a present, (an Email with an attached file won’t do it) and so on. We are a race of problem-solvers.

When we solve these problems, and E-reader devices come complimentary with X-number of books purchased, paper books will become relics. Not for a while yet, but sooner than my slow-to-adjust self is ready.

Because the race is on.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Remember Book Stores?

To quote the wise man Jerry Seinfeld, “A book store is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.” Not a good thought when bookstores are closing at an alarming rate.
©photo by Leslie Johnson
I do realize we are witnessing a cosmic shift. Stores of knowledge and evidence of thought will come from other sources. I may be the last one to buy an E-reader, and last customer in the last physical bookstore when they close the door for the last time. I’d consider it an honor.
Maybe you can join me and, as we grow ancient together, we can tell of rainy afternoons when we discovered treasures that changes our lives. We can shuffle together past where it all happened, and marvel at a world that moved more slowly, because it took itself, and the turns it made, more seriously.
Bookstores and paper books will be props for period movies and plays. Like vinyl records and turntables.
No doubt many E-books will be cheaper and easier to make. Everyone will custom -make their own, which is what rainy afternoons will be for. They will laugh at how cumbersome it once was, before it’s all gone and a bit of nostalgia will be allowed in.
I’m nostalgic already. In this one and only way I am ahead of the curve.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Seeking Approval

I was thinking about the need to have others call my work ‘good,’ when I remembered the story of the mother who gave her son two sweaters. He let her know how much he liked them. The next day he wore one of them, and she said, “What’s the matter? You didn’t like the other one?”

The need for approval cannot be satiated. It needs to be tamped down, because there is no ultimate resolution or release from it. I have a friend who has garnered many accolades, but always says the approval has not come “from the right people.” In her case it is a spouse who cannot bring himself to say, “You’ve done good.” For many, it is the voice of a parent, even if no longer here, who is forever unsatisfied.

In her book on writing, Crafting Stories for Children, Nancy Lamb calls this voice ‘the spoiler,’ and suggests talking back to it, even getting sassy. I think this applies to all we do.

Because the never-satisfied, never all right, who-do-you-think-you-are strains have overwhelmed too many good efforts. I write this on a day when I’m resolved to punch ‘em back. Go ahead; try telling me my post is worthless, I’m wasting my time, or worse- that it’s nice, but so what?

Today it will not matter. I got my punching gloves on. Tomorrow is another day.