On Monday I returned from last week’s trip to celebrate my father’s 80th birthday. It was, in the words of one of my aunts, “a wonderful, wonderful weekend…too short, but wonderful!” The day before the outdoor party for over 100 guests was hot and humid and capped by thunderstorms and tornado warnings. The day after the party was very windy and hot. Saturday, however, was, quite literally, just right. Low 80s. Dry. Still. Sunny.
So, given my idyllic time away, I’ve been slow (as usual) to get back into my usual routine and the pace of everyday life. Only today was I able to catch up on some reading of favorite blogs, and I want to share a couple this evening that I will continue to ponder and learn from this weekend.
First, Cyndi Briggs, in her post “It’s 2:21 am: Do you know where your mind is?” allows her middle-of-the-night-brain (what she refers to as MOTNB) to have its way and finally write a blog post:
“Dinking around on Facebook wasn’t enough to mollify MOTNB. No. It wanted to the good stuff. Self-expression. Photo tagging and pithy comments don’t feed the dark soul of MOTNB. Only relentless angsty rambling will do. So hold onto your hats. I have no idea what’s going to happen from here on out.
“For those of you who don’t suffer extreme bouts of MOTNB, a brief orientation is in order. See, during the day, I combat my fears and worries with my highly skilled logical mind, honed and perfected by 1) a family of origin that values responsibility and order over chaos and 2) a little too much time working in the thinky world of academia.
“But reason and logic take energy. So at some point, daytime brain goes to sleep. That’s when MOTNB gets to wake up and have a little fun at my expense, running through all my fears and worries like a hamster on a wheel.”
As someone also prone to living in the “thinky world of academia,” I am inspired by Cyndi’s insight into her MOTNB and her delightful candor, especially regarding her fears for the future. You see, she is doing what so many of us talk about doing but never get around to: she is changing her life, moving across the country, finding a different and new balance (or integration) of work and, well, not work. For some reason, I think she will make it happen.
The other blog post that struck me today was Christi Craig’s “Repeat Customers: It’s More Than Just Branding.” She begins by relating a conversation she had recently with her hair stylist about how we choose what books to read, especially how to choose books that don’t waste our time:
“I have two small children at home. Reading time is hard to come by, and it’s often interrupted. I have to like the story right away, or those interruptions will supersede my commitment to finish the book.
“But, then my stylist went on to say she’ll read every book one author writes, even if the stories aren’t that great. Even if the story she’s reading today isn’t her favorite, she’ll still go out and buy the author’s next release.”
After reading Christi’s post, I thought about how today, in the library, I did look for favorite authors on the new fiction shelves. Most books I evaluate by reading the blurbs on the back cover, the author bio, maybe the first page. But I’ll grab any book by Louise Erdrich or Larry Watson or Anna Quindlen without even reading the title.
How is such reader loyalty born? That’s what Christi also asks, and her thoughts are refreshing in that they speak to a real human connection between author and reader, rather than a hyper focus on branding or platforms or online presence. She also gave me some good ideas for my own approach to my writing.
Going back to Cyndi’s post, I’ll leave you with a very funny and fast-paced performance by poet Rives (below) on the significance of 4 a.m. Enjoy! Now I am off to see a teenage production of Neil Simon’s Star-Spangled Girl.