Month: March 2013

Are you looking for something in our Fiction store? (YES! YES I AM!)

Are you looking for something in our Fiction store? the email asks. Actually I’m doing everything I can to stop looking in your fiction store because there are so many books I want to read that I’ll soon own enough books to build a house of books and the walls will hold me up and sustain me for many lives to come.

I want to read everything my favorite authors ever wrote and then, accidentally I hear about another author who sounds just my thing and then I’m standing in the bookshop and there the book is right in front of me on a special table and even though I spent far too much on books last week I can’t help picking it up. And if you want to know why I’m in the bookshop at all then it’s because I’m helping out with my daughter’s class while they’re attending a reading from a ‘real author’.

And the feeling I get when I pick up a book is all ‘ooh’ and ‘what is it going to be like’ and ‘this could be amazing’ and ‘I think this just might tally with how I see the world’ and then I’m going to have to read all this guy’s books too and ‘look, oh no, there’s another one he’s written that looks brilliant and the cover is lovely’,

In the postbox, packages from a literary journal I’ve re-subscribed to and another book I ordered from the online fiction store, Beside my bed the two books I had to buy from the real bookshop when I brought my 5 year old to use his voucher for which he paid for a book from one of his favourite author/illustrator team who brought him the Gruffalo and now he wants to read everything they’ve done.

On the way home from the book shop my daughter’s friend said ‘and they didn’t know you were a real author too’ (I gave a talk in her class) and my own book was in the bookshop from which I can’t help picking up books and either buying them or putting them down again and feeling like I’ve abandoned something very important and precious, left a piece of myself behind.

Beside my bed is one of the books I couldn’t help picking up and it IS amazing and it DOES speak in a way that makes sense to me, reflects how I see the world not just on the surface but underneath in a very heartfelt almost ‘in love’ way. And I’m only a little way through and I’ll be sad when this brand new experience, this new lovely connection with the first reading of this book ends.

‘Oh I never knew you felt this way too’.

‘Why would someone read a book?’ I was once asked at a wedding years ago.  The seismic shock of this question on my psyche is still reverberating today…

Possible answers: Entertainment, Fun, To pass the time.

Other possible answers: There are other worlds in there, weird, lovely and true.

YES! The answer is YES! It’s the same reason that I must now dash off and write. I want to live in many possible worlds, to be moved, entertained, to love (and wring my hands at) the world and the way people are in it.

YES! I am ALWAYS looking for something in your fiction store!

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Diana Bletter: The fascinating story of The Mom Who Took Off on Her Motorcycle

I like to share on this blog stories of how people strive and find ways of achieving their writing goals over time. During January when I posted on creative and mental resilience I came in contact with many likeminded people who are oriented towards findiing energy and creative resourcefullness in their lives. One of these people is Diana Bletter whose blog called ‘The Best Chapter‘ is all about accessing that creative and personal energy.

Diana’s writing has achieved acclaim, she was the First Prize winner of Family Circle Magazine’s 2011 Fiction Contest, and her novel, The Witches’ Secret, was a semi-finalist in Amazon’s 2009 Breakout Novel Award. She has also been published extensively including in the New York Times and her first book was nominated for a National Jewish Book Award. She and her husband raised six children and an unofficially adopted daughter from Ethiopia and in 2009 when the nest finally became empty she and her husband took off on an amazing rmotorcycle roadtrip to Alaska. Let’s hear more!

Diana Bletter

Diana, you had a successful career as a journalist and writer. Tell us how it was for you going on to raise 4 kids, two stepkids and your ‘unofficially adopted’ Ethiopian daughter and putting your writing aside?

I always made a commitment to myself to write even when I had a house full of kids. I’ve also been a member of the 5 A.M. Writers’ Club and prayed that the kids wouldn’t hear me sneaking around the kitchen and making my first cup of coffee. But I’d always wanted a large family and when things got tough, I told myself, you will only get one shot at raising these kids. You’ll always have your writing. I felt it would wait for me like a patient, loyal lover…

What gave me encouragement was reading about other women who started writing later. Anne Proulx was 53 when her first short story collection was published. She said, “I think that’s important, to know how the water’s gone over the dam before you start to describe it. It helps to have been over the dam yourself.”

Still, it’s absolutely vital for mothers who are writers to write. Because raising kids is very draining. You can get depleted and you need to fill your own well.

Even when I didn’t have whole chunks of time, I made sure to squeeze in some time for myself, even five minutes, because if I didn’t write, I’d feel so deprived. Writing for me is replenishing: I plug into the creative buzz of the universe. I knew that the best way to take care of myself was honoring my need to write. And once you take care of yourself, you take better care of everyone else. You know that on an airplane, they tell you to put on your oxygen mask before you put on the oxygen mask on your kids.

I didn’t get to write as much as I would have liked to, however. It is hard to do it all. I would have loved a housewife with a half-hour to help me!

At what point in your family life did you decide that you wanted to shake things up and do something to bring you back to yourself?

As my kids inched their way out of the house, one by one, I realized I had to do something grand for myself. I was facing an empty nest and I didn’t want to feel empty inside myself.db-mom-cover-front-mid

Tell us about the trip you decided to go on.

I was in New York and happened to meet a woman who was riding on her motorcycle to Alaska. She was leaving that very day. I admired her but then forgot about her…until three months later, when I met the same woman the very same day she was returning from Alaska. I believe that a coincidence is when the universe wants to remain anonymous. But two coincidences? I knew I just had to ride a motorcycle up to Alaska and back to jump-start the next chapter of my life.

Had you ever been on a motorcycle before?

Yes, well, that was the problem. I’d never ridden a motorcycle before!

I took six lessons. One of my husband Jonny’s friends, whom I call Mr. X in my book, kept telling me I was never going to be able to do this 16,000-kilometer ride. But once I set my mind on it, I knew I couldn’t not do it.

What did you hope to experience on your trip and was it anything like you imagined?

I knew I’d stumbled upon a good story before the trip. It was almost as if I wanted to live this experience because I wanted to write about it.

Motorcycling for a long distance is like meditating with your eyes wide open. You have to be very still inside, very centered, very concentrated, and willing to accept the discomfort that can just about knock you over. You have to sit with the pain. We spend our lives fleeing from pain so that was a valuable lesson for me.

Without giving too much away, what is the key thing you gained from the trip in your relationship with yourself and also your husband.

We are very different, Jonny and I. He was a combat soldier who has remained hyper-vigilant. I’m a writer who likes to go off into my own imaginary world. We had to find a way to meet in the middle. Something terrible happened on our trip (I won’t say what) and we had to learn how to count on each other in a startling and unpredictable way.

Did you take notes as you went along or was there time for any of that?

I kept a journal and wrote a blog which formed the basis of my book. I was also on assignment for The New York Times to write a story about the Matanuska Glacier near Anchorage so once we got there, I had time to write the article and add to my notes.

What do you hope readers will take away from the book?

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” I hope that my journey inspires readers to try to do the thing they think they cannot do. You write the story of your life every day, as you go along. You can make a commitment each day to try to write your best chapter, and it’s just as important that you live your best chapter. You have a choice. You can be the hero of your own life.

Thank you to Diana for her enthralling story. To read more about Diana and her book or to follow her on Twitter see below.

Diana’s blog www.thebestchapter.com T: @dianabletter

The Mom Who Took Off On Her Motorcycle is available at:

https://authorcentral.amazon.co.uk/gp/books/book-detail-page?ie=UTF8&bookASIN=0985343206&index=default

Check out Diana’s funny video on child-raising: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJRgPAw7jA8