I took my mother on a "blossom drive" on Thursday. I was going to have lunch with her but found her in the alcove across from the dining room eating 3 cookies, which she told me was her "lunch." This is not the first time she's done that. I suspect this may be her new normal. Sitting with her back to the dining room, having cookies and no real lunch.
Anyway, I told her that since she wasn't going to eat, I'd like to take her for drive around Davis to see all the spring growth, since she loves nature so much. I promised her she wouldn't have to get out of the car and I'd bring her back home again. I was going to have her sit on the bench right outside the building so she wouldn't have to walk to the car and I'd drive up and pick her up, but I think the idea of sitting alone for 5 minutes was too scary and overcame her back pain, so she walked with me.
We drove all over Davis and she did like the blossoms, though I think she liked the green leaves more. And what seemed to impress her most were cars. I can't tell you how many times she said "you never see old cars here." or "cars, cars, cars...so many cars. You never see old cars here. They all look new."
I tried to pass by places I knew had beautiful gardens, but flowers didn't seem to interest her at all. I just never know what is going to interest her any more, but whether she enjoyed the copious blossoms or the cars the best, I do think she enjoyed herself. For once, she was not nervous, worried that she couldn't find her apartment when we got returned to Atria and I let her out at the door.
But she was sad to discover I would be out of town overnight and said that she'd try to find some reason to keep me in town. I'm going to be gone less than 12 hours. I guess I'm now expected to come EVERY day. Ain't gonna happen!!!
Well, I turned out not to stay the night with Char after all, since the talk we were going to was over before 8:30. I got the prize (not really) for coming the farthest to listen to and talk with author Tracy Guzeman, the author of "The Gravity of Birds."'
This was a first time book for this young author and she was one of those people who had a lucky star, when everything went well for her. A writing teacher put her in touch with an agent, who was able to sell her book when she finished it...which she did in about four months.
It included amazing research on her part. The story concerns a young girl with rheumatoid arthritis, who loves birds. It also is about her sister and the reclusive artist who changes their lives. It takes place in Upstate new York, Tennessee and New Mexico and deals with art authentication, all subjects she knew nothing about. She painted such amazing pictures of New York, Tennessee and New Mexico and has never been to any of those places. She did great research on birds, their lives, their nesting pattern, their migration. She read all she could about rheumatoid arthritis on the internet and in medical journals and joined discussion groups., She said Google was her best friend. You'd never know she was not an expert in any of these subjects. Or that she did all this and produced a 300+ page book in 4 months.
It started as two short stories that she blended into a full length novel that she told her agent she would have finished "by April," in 4 months. She wasn't even sure how she was going to join the two stories until she found an old portrait in her attic of a relative and her two daughters and that brought the story together for her.
While I was fascinated to hear the background of the development of the story, I loved even more her discussion of her writing process. I always love to hear about how writers write. Do they hand write or use computers? (she uses a computer) How does she keep track of the character and plot lines. I remember my friend who was writing a Japanese themed novel for years and she had 3x5 cards with important things for her to remember pinned up all over the wall above her desk. Tracy set up 2 spread sheets.
I particularly like hearing how writers write. Over the years, I have accepted that my method of writing is that I have to get a couple of paragraphs down and then I have to get up and eat something. Or watch something on TV. Or go to sleep for the night. I do this automatically and have for years. I have been pleased to read about other writers who follow the same sort of routine.
Tracy talked about a writer she knew who had to have absolute quiet in order to write anything and rented a cabin in the woods, where he was even bothered by bird sounds.
She says she aims to write 2 pages a day and writes early in the morning and late at night when it's most quiet. I remember author David Gerrold telling me once that he aimed for 2-4 pages a day, though considering the cacophony in his house, I don't think peace and quiet is a part of his own routine.
The time just flew by and at the end I was so glad I had made the drive down to hear her, and talk with her...and we were out of the library in plenty of time for me to drive home so I could be here to brew a fresh pot of coffee for Walt on his 76th birthday.