The Art of Living and Writing (Volume III, Issue 7)

Published: Sun, 11/19/17

Dear Readers,

I never tire of walking through the Public Garden in Boston (see picture above), and last week I got to do that on my way from my hotel to meet with the Grub Street Writing Center, where, I'm happy to report, I'll be teaching two one-day classes in the spring. Stay tuned on that; we're working out dates! That also means I will be able to experience the Public Garden in the spring, which I haven't had the chance to yet.

My love for the Public Garden in Boston is testament to the power of fiction--it's all based on reading Make Way for Ducklings with my kids, many, many times. I always felt I knew that park and the Beacon Hill neighborhood before ever visiting it. On this visit, the swan boats had retired for the winter but the rest of the garden was there exactly as described in this classic children's book. We all have these public places that we love, don't we? Places that provide an anchor in our lives; places that have always been there, and hopefully always will be.

Swan boats in the Public Garden in Boston

You might recall from my post The Ups and Downs of the Author's Life that my recent trip to Boston was possible because a JBC author event in L.A. fell through., and that meant I could go visit my daughter who's a student at Boston University, and attend her a capella concert last weekend. What a fortuitous course of events this was!

Once in a while, you have to do something to fill up your soul, and we did exactly that by making a day trip to Concord, MA, and visiting Walden Pond.
Walden Pond, Massachusetts

It was just one of those perfect autumn days! Not a cloud in the sky, enough foliage left on the trees to let us bathe in the glory of the season, and piles to leaves to rustle through in the forest. Walden Pond is by no means off the beaten path, but as usual, most people were hiking along the perimeter of the pond, while we made for Emerson's Cliff in the woods.

Wandering through the fall forest at Walden Pond

Of course, visiting the site of Walden Pond where Henry Thoreau wrote his famous and highly influential book Walden was particularly meaningful to me as a writer. This being a classic of American literature, I was amazed how many tourists from foreign countries were there as well. More so than seeing the actual site of his cabin, I found it so uplifting to experience what influence a writer can have, so many, many years after writing that one book, after putting his own ideas out there. 

Site of Thoreau's cabin at Walden Pond - I think the markers resemble tombstones a bit too much.
When I told my memoir writing workshop about my visit there, my Korean student mentioned that whenever she looks for inspirational quotes, Thoreau's are the ones that resonate the most with her. Isn't that amazing? My three kids read Walden in high school but I, having grown up in Germany, have actually never read it. So, inspired by my visit, I am reading it now, and I'm finding myself challenged by Thoreau's 19th century prose. Alas, it's always good to read voices from different centuries! It keeps our own voice from becoming too attuned with the contemporary way of writing (see Read the Old Masters to Steer Clear of Period Style), and it stretches our reading muscles for sure.
Jumping Over Shadows at the Frankfurt Book Fair

There isn't much to report in terms of book news, except that this past Thursday I was thrilled to find Jumping Over Shadows sitting on the shelf at the University of Chicago bookstore; goes to show that the book now has a life of its own and appears in stores without my doing anything. As a good writing friend of mine said, you'll never tire of that! Indeed, I won't!

One bit of news is that Jumping Over Shadows also traveled to the Frankfurt Book Fair (I did have something to do with that...), held in October, and I just heard from the organizer that a publisher in Germany is interested in my book. Keep your fingers crossed! I'd love for there to be a German translation!

November has been a quieter month for me, which has been quite welcome, as I could finally sink back into some writing projects. I am, among other things, updating the Artist & Writer's Workbook that I release every December. More on that in the next newsletter!

Wishing you good luck in all your projects,​​​​​​​