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Entries in teens (2)

Thursday
Jan012015

1 January 2015 -- unfinished business

basement stairs, work in progress

A little less than a year ago, I started a beat-the-winter-blues project of painting our plain wooden basement stairs. I picked tangerine, colbalt, turquoise and cream, colors you might find on Scandinavian folk art ponies. Cheerful colors. I did a combination of freehand and stencil, with my phone on speaker, passing the time chatting with my dad as I went. Somewhere between the third and fourth step was March 28, the day my dad did not call for the Morning Report.

 

After that, I stopped painting the stairs.

Every time I go down to shake my sleepy new teenager awake, fetch a roll of paper towel or some spare hockey equipment, I see this half-finished project, and it drives me bonkers. So I doggedly move -finish basement stairs- from 'To Do' list to 'To Do' list each week, but the prospect of sitting there painting without my dad's virtual company is too much.

 

When I look around, I see dozens of half-completed projects from this year. Most recently, the Christmas eve pajamas I was sewing for the guys in my life sit in a flannel jumble, waiting for hems and elastic, right next to the school pants that need a button and the jeans that need hemming. There are my dad's old clothes that I mean to sew into something memorable for my siblings and half-siblings. Come to think of it, I meant to do the same with textiles of my grandmother's, and Cherry's too.

My studio looks like the fallout from a paper airplane dogfight. My laptop and phone both teeter on the precipice of electronic disaster, waiting for me to back things up. And don't get me started on what's going on in my iPhoto, my dropbox, and the junk drawers in my kitchen.

 

On this blog alone, I have seventeen unfinished posts from the last year. There are those celebrating my boys' transitions to teendom and double digits. Ones about my full-circle return to horses (after a fifteen-year-hiatus, they are back in my daily life), and literature, (via my teaching position at Bryn Athyn College). I wrote one celebrating Piper overcoming her accident last summer and continuing to ride horses, compete, and win. I have several love song posts--poetic tributes to my husband, our beloved Hoffmans Happy Hens, and El Presidente, the feral fat cat we acquired from my dad in April. And of course, I have my attempts at probing into the pain of losing my father--a blog post called Mixed Nuts, with his famous holiday nut recipe, and photos of me unintentionally doing my best grumpy cat, sulking in the back of family gatherings, aching with the gaping lack of his presence.

And then there's one addressing the mentally-unstable woman who mined my old blog posts, and used information gathered there to attack the foundation of our family. (For the record, she didn't even chink our outer walls.) But the experience definitely made me pause before hitting Submit, time and time again, questioning how much of myself I was willing to put out there.

On my laptop's writing files, I have the unfinished manuscript of Wellspring, which went out as a partial this past summer to a very short list of editors. Most of them asked to see it finished, and instead I walked away from it.

And I have the outline of the new story I dreamed that is so close to my heart, so tender and important I'm not even going to share the gist of it or working title. It feels so critical and lovely I remain a little paralyzed at the start gate, hoping my skill is up to the task of its telling.

But 2015 is a blank page, waiting for that story to be written, for my loose ends to find their loopy mates and be coaxed into sloppy, finished bows.

So this year, I resolve to finish the things I have started. No more excuses--oh my Dad died, my husband travels more than he is home, I started a teaching job, I'm riding/working at the barn, my kids play on all these hockey teams and we have practice in New Jersey three nights a week and league games in Long Island, and I have to be home in time to let the chickens in,  and, and, and --BASTA. No more. If I truly want to honor the memory of the man we all miss so keenly, then I resolve to live his motto, and carp them diems.

 * *** *

 How about you? What are your resolutions for the new year?

Christmas Eve, wearing the bracelet, holding on to my figurative daggerboard, and looking ahead to smoother sailing.

 

Wednesday
Apr202011

Writers on Wednesday -- Therese Fowler

Prepare for Therese Fowler's EXPOSURE to take center stage when this provocative, ripped-from-the-headlines novel debuts May 3, 2011. It is the heart-stopping story of what it is like to grow up in love and make mistakes in these tricky electronic times. I am fascinated by the premise and can't wait to get my hands on it. 

Therese gave CHOSEN a stunning review when it first came out and has generously donated a copy of her brand new novel for my 50th Book Club Giveaway. Even her bio and the richness of her life experience is fascinating. Please welcome her...

 

It’s a pleasure to be starting my Exposure tour here at Chandra’s place. If you’ve read Chosen (and I hope you have!) and you read this blog, you know what an insightful and generous person Chandra is. My gratitude to her.

 

***

 

In an early review of Exposure, the reviewer said I’d done a brave thing in writing a story that was inspired by my own son’s arrest for what the media have dubbed a sexting crime. That word, brave, took me by surprise. Writing the novel had been necessary. It had been frightening. I didn’t—and still don’t—feel I’d done anything brave. 

 

I’d been working on a different book when my son, who had just turned nineteen, told me a warrant for his arrest was being issued. That book was under contract, so although life became very complicated very quickly, I felt bound to keep working and meet my deadline—but I struggled with it; the story just wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do. 

 

A few months after my son’s arrest, months in which his lawyer had urged us to stay silent about what was going on, the idea for Exposure came to me. I’m certain it grew from my horror and frustration with what was going on, and the effects events had on my son and on our family. I asked my son what he thought about my writing a novel inspired by the situation, and he was fully supportive. I wouldn’t have done it otherwise.

 

In some ways, the writing came easily because the scenario was so familiar and so close. In other ways it was hard, because even though Exposure is entirely fictional—the story inside the book is not my son’s, nor mine—I knew I was putting my son and myself in a position where we would be judged. All the while, though, I was telling myself, Think of what books can do

 

I grew up being influenced by novels, and I fully believe in the power of story. Whether invented or true, stories have been the vehicles of lessons and warnings and inspiration for as long as humans have had the means to tell them.

 

So to craft a novel that might prevent even one person, one family, from having to face a similar or worse crisis was not, to me, a brave act. It was an opportunity to tell a story that reminds us all, “To err is human”--which is especially true when deep emotions are involved. I felt obligated to set aside the other book and write this one, to give you Anthony and Amelia and Harlan and Kim, all well-meaning people whose actions and choices add up to a cautionary tale that I hope will give you, at the very least, many hours of good reading.

 

Everyone in Exposure makes mistakes—as we all have done at times, and no doubt will do again. It’s what happens afterwards that makes all the difference.

 

 

 

BIO: Therese Fowler is the author of Souvenir, Reunion and Exposure. She has worked in the U.S. Civil Service, managed a clothing store, lived in the Philippines, had children, sold real estate, earned a B.A. in sociology, sold used cars, returned to school for her MFA in creative writing, and taught college undergrads about literature and fiction-writing -- roughly in that order.  With books published in nine languages and sold world-wide, Therese writes full-time from her home in Wake Forest, NC, which she shares with her husband, four amiable cats, and four nearly grown-up sons.

 www.theresefowler.com

author of SOUVENIR, REUNION, and EXPOSURE (coming May 3, 2011)

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