You won't find a lot of book reviews on Today's Little Ditty. While I love to read, reviewing books usually feels like homework, and this Ditty Girl doesn't do book reports. However, every once in a while a book comes along that feels like an old friend-- one that sits so comfortably in my heart, by sharing it I feel as if I am sharing a piece of myself.
Views from a Window Seat: Thoughts On Writing And Life, by Jeannine Atkins, is one of those.
A few of you may remember a certain giveaway on Irene Latham's blog, Live Your Poem, last month. It was marked by waving hands, flailing elbows, pushing and shoving... okay, there were no flailing elbows to speak of, but the rest is all true. Somehow, I managed to win that giveaway, and have been savoring Jeannine's book in bits and pieces ever since.
On the surface, this is a book of essays that focuses on the writing process. It is organized into four sections, or seasons, as viewed from Jeannine's window seat: Spring: Beginning, Summer: Moving Through the Middle, Fall: Revising, and Winter: Finding an End. But really, this book is so much more than a how-to guide. It's an honest look at what it means to be a writer, a beautiful personal account of one writer's journey, and a source of meditation and motivation-- an inspirational companion.
I have chosen to share with you a piece from one of Jeannine's winter essays, titled "Words and Wreaths." The reason I chose it is because my parents arrived this week from out of town. Up until now, we've scarcely paid any mind to holiday preparations at the Barnes house-- no tree, no lights, no cookies. Why? Because we've been too distracted by "everything else." Family time has taken a back seat to homework, outside social engagements, work responsibilities, and a whole lot of same old same old. But now that school is out and the grandparents are here, the full orchestration of togetherness and family holiday traditions can begin!
In the following passage, Jeannine describes her annual tradition of hosting a gathering where family and friends make holiday wreaths together:
A friend admired the bushiness of the one I made this year, the way branches jutted every which way. I told her that this was how I write, first going for broke, leaving the clipping for later. I let the colors of the spruce and hemlock suggest whether they want red ribbon, holly berries, pale dried grasses, or a glittery band of stars.
My friend worried that the stuff on her leaner wreath would blow away.
Peter, whose wreath was enormous, said, "That's what's supposed to happen."
The world is windy. Dried grasses or blooms fall off, like memories or extraneous facts. But the green circle holds for a while.
For me, it's now time to focus less on the accessories, and more on nurturing that inner green circle.
And speaking of inner circles, Buffy Silverman is waiting to welcome you to the Poetry Friday roundup. Frankly, I don't know of a more supportive or welcoming bunch of people, so please do join us at Buffy's Blog.