Updated: Oct 11
Welcome to our virtual café, where we'll chat about what I've been reading, writing, and doing over the past month. I invite you to have a seat, grab your inspirational beverage of choice, and join me in sharing a leisurely cup of caffeine for the soul.
What I'm Reading
This book has been on my radar for longer than I can remember. I’ve walked past it so many times in the bookstore. The cover kept beckoning me to pick it up and carry it home for one of those coveted and diminishing spots on our bookshelf.
While I enjoyed moments of prose and the manner in which the author artfully crafted analogies to real life, there was a disconnect for me in the flow of the overall story. In the author’s defense, I began reading this book without any understanding of what it was about or how it was structured. And it’s that last part that threw me for a loop while reading it.
While it won’t go on my list of all-time favorites, I’m still glad to have met Olive Kitteridge and spent a little bit of my time with her character and the small community in Crosby, Maine.
Read my complete review for Olive Kitteridge on Goodreads.
What I'm Writing
The past month has found me mired in a single chapter of Splendid Chaos, struggling to find the right tone and emotion for a critical point in Drew & Maria’s story. The entire chapter takes place in Caldwell’s Coffee, Maria’s shop tucked into the heart of Pigeon Grove. With lingering tendrils of perfectionist tendencies, it’s difficult for me to let go of this chapter until I’ve found that complicated blend of realization, angst, anger, and compassion.
I suppose it’s a lot like real life, as we try to make sense of all those confusing sentiments that push their way to the front of our minds. And I think that’s one of the hidden blessings in writing for me: helping make sense of the real word through my characters’ eyes.
I do have some good news to report, though. The difficult chapter that’s part of Drew’s perspective is now complete and tucked neatly into the first draft. All 4000+ words of it. And while Drew might have some tenuous moments during that span of time as a part of his character’s evolution, he’s perfectly imperfect. And that’s perfect.
What I'm Doing
My wife and I have been attending the Epcot Food & Wine Festival for as long as I can remember. Each year, we’d set aside some money and come home with several bottles of wine to enjoy together over the following year. And while I still enjoy a glass (or three) of wine over shared conversation or a writing session, I have proof that change can indeed be good.
A few years ago, Disney began a new festival during the months of January and February: Epcot International Festival of the Arts. There are still kiosks that sell food and wine around the World Showcase, but there’s something else that caught my eye, quite literally: art.
We decided last month that we’d still set aside some money to make an annual purchase over at Disney. But, this new investment would be different. It could be consumed over and over again, a new sip offered to us each time we walked into the room where it’s displayed.
We circled the World Showcase twice, searching for those pieces that spoke to both of us. And there were a few that rose to the top, begging for a closer and deeper look. Uncertain how we could possibly make a decision, the universe nudged us in the direction we were meant to go.
After leaving Epcot and casually strolling through the Polynesian Resort, it stood there before us, urging us to take a closer look. We didn’t know it would be there, but that seems to be the way a lot of important things enter our life. It was bigger than the same gallery wrapped print we saw at Epcot and framed, with a light shining upon the painted sun over the ocean. In that moment, I think we both realized that this was the one.
And as I looked more closely, its message to me filtered through each dab of paint: no matter how wide open and expansive the space out ahead of you might be, it’s having the courage to dip your toes in the water that’s an all-important first step.
The name of the piece: Waiting for Waves. Every time I see it, I’ll remember to seek out those curls in the surf and ride them. Now, does anyone have a glass of wine to enjoy while pondering some of the deeper messages held inside this work of art?
In this age of digital communication, we are bombarded with sources of inspiration and messages in a form that are immediately consumed by our senses: advertisements, social media posts, YouTube videos, musical lyrics.
But sometimes it’s taking the time to digest something slowly and with patience that we see the more powerful message hidden beneath the surface. Under all those layers of paint or behind that look in someone’s eye, there’s an intangible whisper of inspiration that’s waiting for us to soak it up, if only we pay attention.
Until next month, stay inspired! And, as always, I welcome a short (or long) email to say hi or share your thoughts on this month's final sip...
For many years, I thought a poem was a whisper overheard, not an aria heard.
~ Rita Dove ~