Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Outlines and Time . . .

After a long day of coordinating an off-site school program, covering classes for absent teachers, performing lunch duty and completing all the administrative paperwork that goes with such school site; I sat down at the computer to create an outline of my book. I figured a chronological timeline of events would work best.

However, there was a dilemma. I was physically, emotionally and mentally tired. Dinner had to be made, husband needed attention, kids wanted to spend time with me, friendly phone calls needed to be returned and even the cat was whined at me. I was so exhausted that I meant to take a thirty minute nap and ended up sleeping for two hours, leaving my husband in charge of the household.

I often wonder how do you make time for your writing? Where in the day can you fit a good block of time to spend on your writing without having to sacrifice family and friends? Although summer school ends in approximately two days, the fall semester will begin on September 8th. I will have to learn to manage my
time and incorporate writing, for a decent block of time, into my already hectic schedule. It sounds so easy and yet it is one of the biggest obstacles that I have to hurdle every day. If anyone has suggestions, please feel free to help me out.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Death and Stunted Writing

Lately, I have felt like my writing has been a long lost friend. Except for the occassional drabbles, I had stopped writing approximately two years ago. The death of my brother was an obstacle that I just couldn't seem to get hurdle over. I am not sure if the cause of writer's block was a combination of guilt or merely that I did not have time to grieve and heal. Family, teaching and school had consumed all my time and energy. The loss of my brother was put on the backburner until there was time to go through the process of grief.

However, lately I feel a renewed sense of urgency to write. I was on the bus this morning thinking of all my old friends from high school, college and those I have acquired throughout my many jobs. My writing fell right into that category. Right around 23rd Street and 5th Avenue, I began to reminisce how often I would write and how I truly missed it. Writing has become my new best friend. So no more procrastination and contemplation. . .

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Book Review: Thirteenth Tale by Diana Setterfield (Contains Spoilers)

This is a book selected by my Book Club: The Thirteenth Tale by Diana Setterfield.

Here is my book review:

I found this novel to be quite enjoyable. It is a great mystery novel. I especially enjoy the "who is who?" as far as the twin's identity, Adeline and Emmeline. It was fun trying to find out whether Vida Winters was Emmeline or Adeline Angelfield. I found Vida Winters, the main character, to be a wonderfully mean and ornery old woman. She was plagued with disease, old age and sorrow; but as evident in her vibrant green eyes, she was full of life. I liked her character the most.

Second place goes to Hester. She was a scientific genius who unfortunately was way ahead of her time. She was governess, mistress of the house, care-taker, psychologist and so much more. She provided the discipline the twins needed that was sorely missing in their chaotic, care-free lives. Together with the town's Doctor, Hester produced an experiment determining the effects of separation between twins. This experiment did not go well. I knew that a loving relationship between Hester and the Doctor was blossoming way before they did. It was obvious that two people with so much in common would come together in matrimony. Too bad that they had to wait for the Doctor's wife to pass away. I suppose divorce was taboo during this time and not an option for the Doctor.

I absolutely abhorred Isabelle, the twins mother, and Charles, the twins uncle. Their relationship was truly disturbing and detrimental to all those around them. Just like the association and companionship between the Doctor and Hester, the amorous relationship of these siblings, Isabelle and Charles, was apparent in the harmful interactions between the two. They led violent, psychotic lives. It was expected that their end would be just as brutal.

I enjoyed the ever present themes of death, loss, family, sisterhood and love. The use of the "wolf" as the metaphorical representation of death was a very clever. Vida made a deal with the wolf, her disease that was slowly eating her body and soul. The agreement was that the wolf would let her tell the twin's story and at its end, the wolf could claim and consume Vida. It was brilliantly written.

Similarly, the agreement between Vida and Margaret was interesting. I am one of those individuals who interrupts and asks questions instead of just listening to the entire story first. It was interesting how Vida was adamant about telling the story from beginning to middle to end, in that order.

I almost forgot Aurelius. I loved him and found him to be absolutely delightful. He was one of the second biggest mystery and secret of all, compared to Vida. I was constantly trying to figure out what was his role in the story. How does his piece of the puzzle fit into the entire scheme of the story? It was a wonderful subplot and woven very well into the entire novel.

The twist at the end was truly unexpected. I thought that Vida was Adeline. Then I thought, well maybe she is Emmeline. The result was a big surprise. I will not post it as it is a spoiler and am not sure if all have finished the book.

The only portion of the book that I did not find enjoyable was the trials and tribulations of Margaret's character. I found her to be very weak. I just didn't really feel her pain compared to the agony that Vida had endured during her lifetime. Margaret's loss seemed to pale in comparison. I think that maybe since I am not a twin, I cannot empathize with the loss of a twin sibling. Or perhaps it is really that I cannot understand how you can feel the loss of your sibling if you never knew that individual. Margaret's twin died at birth and she never grew up with her. So I cannot understand how she feels this vacuum in her life where her twin should be.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


When getting together with my girlfriends, I was asked "What makes a successful marriage?" These are my thoughts on that topic.

Marriage is nothing but work. Please do not be fooled. If anyone tells you that marriage is all roses, sunshine and happiness - walk away. Many people wonder what is that magic ingredient that makes a marriage "work." It's not a secret at all. Most people know the answer but prefer to remain in denial. To obtain a successful marriage, one needs an equal portion of love, understanding, compromise and time. The word compromise should not be taboo. It does not mean that you give up your identity. It does not mean to be subservient. It definitely does not mean that you always must put the needs of your spouse first. Compromise means that each party negotiates for the benefit of the whole. Give a little and take a little. It is a precarious balance that requires much attention, time and energy.

Please understand that this is not easy, especially for individuals who are "independent," selfish, little experience with successful marriages or have lived alone so long they do not know how to live with someone else. I see it time and again. Two people with completely different goals in life, marrying one another for the sake of not having to be alone anymore. These are people who are in love with the idea of being in love.

My first marriage was based on a non-existent foundation. We had married too early, too young and too quickly. We were in such a rush that we forgot the most basic principles of marriage: get to know your significant other's wants, needs, financial goals and dreams. We had a very different philosophy on life and a very different ideal of family. A short four and a half years later, our marriage was over and beyond repair.

However, with that lesson learned, my second marriage has been very successful and fulfilling. We have known one another for approximately 12 years. We were dating for 2 years and have been married for the past seven years. It is funny how the lessons from my first marriage became an invaluable resource to draw upon for my second. My husband and I communicate with one another about everything: sex, love, family, dreams, goals, kids, work, etc. It is not very often that you find that one person in the world who completes you.