May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

I started to do the usual and post pics of my father and my husband over on Facebook for this Memorial Day but, in keeping with my year of exploring the mother with whom I had only the barest of relationships, I thought I would talk about her role in the war.

Ruth Walborg Johnson Kirchner was born of Swedish/ Finish immigrant parents in 1911.  She was the first in her family to go to college and graduated from Montclair College in 1933 with a degree in teaching and a major in math, right at the height of the depression.  Both of her parents were hard working.  Her father was a shipbuilder and her mother a domestic and seamstress.  She had a role model, for good or ill, in her mother.

After graduation Ruth worked several jobs at once because full-time employment was almost impossible to find.  She worked simultaneously as a high school math teacher, a math tutor, a violin teacher and taught engineering drafting in night school while she learned the subject on alternate evenings through a college course in Newark.

When the war came she was prime fodder for the military industrial complex.  She was hired on by Calco, a branch of American Cyanamid, as an engineer draftsman and later promoted to engineering supervisor.  She received a Navy commendation for her work on the Navy Flame Thrower...a story worthy of it's own post some day.  She also received a commendation for working on a project on which she had no idea she was involved, The Manhattan Project.

In 1945, as the men came home from the war, she was laid off and made redundant as her job world now be filled by a man.  In 1946 she birthed me and promptly returned to work. As a secretary.  She spent the balance of her life as a working mother, shamed by the women on her block because she left her daughter home to go to work.  She was never again recognized for her work during the war nor did she ever again work as an engineer.
While the soldiers returning from the war deserved to come home to jobs, the woman who held those jobs down on the home front did not deserve the summary dismissal they were given.  She was embittered by this experience.
I wish the America I love so much would see that war, and the disruption of lives that it causes, is unacceptable in a country that espouses prosperity and well-being.  Oh, I know, we are the keeper of peace in the world but the loss of lives of the young men and women who go out to fight and the destruction of lives on the home front makes war an unsupportable situation.
I support the troops and their support systems and I want those troops home where they belong!

May 22, 2014

Sunny Day.

Well, really it isn't a sunny day.  We have muggy heat and sudden thunderboomers.

But it IS a sunny day when I get a complement about my writing.  Perhaps I am revealing my vulnerabilities here, but a lot of writers are not good judges of their own writing.  Personally I am never satisfied with what I doodle down on paper.

This morning I put out a question on a church site on Facebook and, low an behold the first comment was "I love your books."  This from a person who wasn't my first cousin twice removed or from a subordinate on my day job!

It has definitely made my day.

So the next time you read a good book take the time to post on the author's Facebook page or write a review on Amazon.  Believe me, you will make their day.

May 20, 2014

Errant Characters

The biggest obstacle to my writing is the errant characters and stories floating around in my head.

Since I was a small child my stories have played themselves out in my head before I write them down.  While that helps me immensely because I have a good idea of where I am going before I start to write, it sometimes give me head congestion if I don't start writing right away.

Case in point:  I have three novels and one novella in various states of disrepair on my computer right now.  All the stories are flitting around in my head at once.  Then, two nights ago a fifth started to "talk" to me.  It's jus a "snippit"  it has no usable plot, just characters walking around the English countryside circa 1920.  Perhaps I'm watching too much Downton Abbey or Mr. Selfridge.

A little ibuprofen would be welcome right now.

May 12, 2014


Religion and writing always intersect for me so I am always happy to find a writer who waits at the same intersection.  Anne Lamott is one of those writers and her post on Facebook  today simply took my breath away. 

I hate to be one of those copy/paste bloggers but I had to repeat here what she says.  This is part of a bigger post and I urge you, if you are an artist or just someone trying to express themselves, to go over to the link above and read the whole post.  I promise you a sigh of relief.  

"It's time to get serious about joy and fulfillment, work on our books, songs, dances, gardens. But perfectionism is always lurking nearby, like the demonic prowling lion in the Old Testament, waiting to pounce. It will convince you that your work-in-progress is not great, and that you may never get published. (Wait, forget the prowling satanic lion--your parents, living or dead, almost just as loudly either way, and your aunt Beth, and your passive-aggressive friends, whom we all think you should ditch, are going to ask, "Oh, you're writing again? That's nice. Do you have an agent?")

"Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you're 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn't go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It's going to break your heart. Don't let this happen. Repent just means to change direction--and NOT to be said by someone who is waggling their forefinger at you. Repentance is a blessing. Pick a new direction, one you wouldn't mind ending up at, and aim for that. Shoot the moon."

May 9, 2014

Ummm. What is writing?

This afternoon I spent a lovely hour with my Surface in the library.  I can't exactly say I was writing because all I netted out was 159 words.  I wrote, perhaps 1000.  I deleted about 841.

Writing is all about getting ideas on paper.  It is also about editing.  If I sit down with a blank Word document, I am able to spew 1000 words in less than an hour.  BUT.  If I look at those 1000 words tomorrow I am liable to delete 841.

Some writers measure their productivity by how many words they get on paper in a day.  I measure mine on how many I net out.  Today was definitely abysmal.  Perhaps tomorrow will be better.

May 1, 2014

Reality and Fiction

In my last post I mentioned that I was following Donna's journey in Poland.  I stopped to listen to her journey and in the process of doing that I found that the end of my novel, Remarkable Likeness changed.  Can anyone say "rewrite?"