Reviewed – A Writer’s Space: Make Room to Dream, to Work, to Write

I frequently meet people who want to write a book, but don’t know how to begin. I love this book because it starts with the obvious (physical space) and moves on to creating the space in your head that’s required to create a book. Topics range from how to center yourself, how to create writing rituals and how to use your environment for inspiration. Although A Writer’s Space is primarily aimed at writing fiction, much of it also applies to writers of non-fiction.

The book contains 26 lessons. On the surface, some sound deceptively easy. However anyone whose written fiction will recognize that the author has perfectly captured the struggles (and mind games) that keep writers from writing. This is an excellent book for anyone who is considering writing fiction or wants to improve their writing practice.

What is “Gerrymandering”?

I’ve heard this expression a lot during recent political discussions, but wasn’t sure of its origins. “Gerrymandering” refers to the process of manipulating the boundaries of electoral districts to benefit a specific political party or group.

“Gerrymander” is the combination of the words “Gerry” and “Salamander.” The expression was created in 1812 when Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts remapped districts to benefit his party. When viewed on a map of Boston, these new districts appeared to represent the shape of a salamander. Gerrymandering continues today and still has a very negative connotation. (Source)

 

When you want to interfere, but don’t …

This week has been a little crazy. My son moved into his own apartment in upstate New York. He’s living alone off-campus and starting graduate school. Since he spent his undergraduate years in a dorm, he wasn’t fully aware of the nuances of having his own apartment.

He arrived on Friday to discover that he needed to contact the power company to get electricity. Oops.

For the last five days he’s been living in a very tiny, hot apartment (and not the unit he’d originally looked at) for the last few days while he awaits a call to schedule his electrical connection. In addition, the apartment is filthy and it has taken at least five passes over the floor to make it somewhat hygienic. Orientation activities have started and he’s nowhere near finished cleaning. Nor is he any closer to having electricity.

As a mom, I want to fix this. I want to chastise him for not being more proactive about what he needed to do before moving in. I want to rescue him and force the landlady to make things right. But he’s now an adult and he’s responsible for his decisions. He’s going to have to figure this out on his own.

Today, write about a time when you wanted to interfere but didn’t. What did you want to do? How did the situation work out in the end?

Reviewed – Coming Clean: A Memoir

This summer I’ve taken a break from my weekly business books and spent more time reading memoirs and fiction. Coming Clean: A Memoir captured my interest for two reasons. First of all, I’m a fan of TV shows such as Hoarding: Buried Alive because they always motivate me to clean. Secondly, with an estimated 5 to 14 million hoarders in the United States, I know people who struggle with hoarding.

As the only child with two hoarding parents, Coming Clean tells the story of Ms. Miller’s very difficult life. This includes living in terror of visits from CPS, having her house burn down, being forced to shower at a gym due to non-function plumbing, and not being able to have friends over.

Kimberly Rae Miller does a great job of sharing how a family can exist in two different worlds – as an apparently normal family eating at a restaurant and then coming home to filthy conditions. I have a great deal of respect for the author and her ability to describe her parents as complex people who are more than just hoarders.

Sadly, as the author knows, the challenge of hoarding parents does not end when you leave home. This was an excellent memoir and a great look into a difficult life.