Alright, I may have admitted this before, but it is important we own our addictions. And I have found a new website which happily feeds my addiction. It is Thrift Books. I’ve been using the library for ebooks but sometimes I am impatient and don’t want to be 11th in line for a book, so I feel compelled by my addiction to buy the book. Thrift Books helps me afford to do that but, I am a book addict. I will say it again. I am a book addict. Since January 1st, I have read 38 books. Which means I am averaging one book approximately every 3.8 days. And since last fall I have specifically become addicted to detective mystery series set either in another time or another place. These include:
- The Armand Gamache Books by Louise Penny – set in Quebec, present day
- The Maisie Dobbs Books by Jacqueline Winspear- set in England pre and post WWI
- The Ian Rutledge Books by Charles Todd- set in England post WWI
- Bruno, Chief of Police Books by Martin Walker- set in St. Denis area, France, present Day
I am not certain why I have suddenly become addicted to this type of book but I do know why a series captures me. A good writer makes a character real in my mind. These characters become my friends. I think about them. I wonder what they are doing when I am finished with a series. What do I share with each of them. Each character faces their own demons and identifying with this is easy. I question my choices like Armand. I have been hurt and right now I keep s wall around my emotions like Maisie. Ian struggles with a voice in his head of a lost soldier. I struggle with my own voice chastising me for making so many wrong choices. I long for love like Bruno.
I admire them and their unique qualities. What can I learn from their lives and then incorporate into my own life so I will be happier, more content person. I want to be a better listener like Armand. I want to be patient like Maisie and not miss the details. I want to push past my fears like Ian. And I want to live a life rich with friends and the love of the simple things like Bruno. I know they are fictional characters but I still learn something about myself through each book, each story, each struggle and each triumph.
So again, I admit I am an addict, a book addict and I hope I never am cured.
Today I received encouragement from a group of strangers. At a coffee shop in Austin a group of would be writers were encouraged by already published writers. Competition is at the forefront of everything so many of us do. And here I had the kindness of others bestowed upon me for nothing. It was free. And it was refreshing.
Now the challenge is to silence the inner critic and write. No need to ask would someone actually read a story I wrote. Just write the story. Get it down on paper. Fine tune it when I’m finished but as Nike says, Just do it.
How I wish I could be one of the many characters I find in books. I’d love to be Demelza Poldark from the Winston Graham Poldark series. I’d like to be a female version of Inspector Armand Gamache by Louise Penny. It would be fabulous to be any of the female characters in Dorothea Benton Frank’s books chronicling the lives of the women of Charleston, South Carolina. And now I’d love to be Maisie Dobbs, investigator and psychologist.
Maisie has a rags to riches story. Having to enter a life of service after her mother dies because her devoted father struggles to support them as a costermonger. Now I had to look that word up. It is someone who sells fruits and vegetables from a cart. Living in Pre-WWI London, life isn’t easy but Maisie has an insatiable curiosity. Her deepest love is to learn and in order to do so, she rises at 3 am to spend two hours in the great house’s library. Secretly of course because as a servant she wouldn’t be allowed to use the books.
Through a course of events Maisie is swept into a life as the protégé of the mysterious Dr. Maurice Blanche and Lady Rowan Compton becomes her sponsor. She goes from servant girl to student at Girton College part of Cambridge. But her plans are interrupted with the start of WW I. Maisie feels called to serve as a nurse even though she has no training. Lying about her age so she can serve, Maisie begins the first of a long line of life changing experiences.
Why do I wish I could be Maisie? Because Maisie has been taught to sit, legs folded and find her center. Using this technique she calms her inner self and can see more clearly. She has the ability to listen and listen well, respecting the speaker. She understands the body says as much or more than simple words. And she knows her body language and expressions speaks volumes. Never seeing herself as having the incredible and outstanding qualities others see in her, Maisie struggles to find her place. She is no longer a member of the service class but neither is she a member of the upper social class. I feel like Maisie. I don’t know where I belong. I was a wife and mother and now I am no longer a wife and my children have grown so being a mother isn’t the same. My economic status has changed from one of comfort to one of struggle. Is there a place in this world for me, like there is a place in the world for Maisie?
What’s next for me? I have just five weeks to find a job. If I don’t I will have to give notice and not renew my lease. My things will go into storage and I will move in with my mother. As much as I love my mother, I want to be self sufficient. If anyone had told me three years post divorce I would still be unemployed, I never would have believed them.
My therapist says to write. He says to write the book that’s been hidden away inside of me. He’s encouraged me to try and grow my blog following. I like to write but how do we know if we have something to say? How do we know if we have a story to tell? I’ve voiced the speculation that maybe God wants me to write and that’s why I haven’t found a job. Sadly I don’t really believe that. It’s just a way I’ve tried to make myself feel better.
Who knows what tomorrow brings, certainly not I. All I can do is weather the storm and pray that eventually I see sunshine and a rainbow.
Why do I always feel a little sad when I finish a good book? I should be happy to be finished and ready to move on to the next good read but unless it’s a sequel I never feel that way.
A good author can make the characters seem real. I become involved in their lives, sorrows and joys. Time, life situation and age are immaterial. I connect as much with a thirty year old single female trying to make it in New York City as much as I do with an angry Englishman in 1779. Then there is the love longing Mexican girl and the post World War II single, female author seeking the place she belongs, so different but I identify with both.
I wonder what happened to the newly divorced woman who gave herself and her soon to be ex husband a divorce party in a failed effort to save her marriage. Did she find love again? Or what about Demelza? Does she become a grandmother and Ross a grandfather? Did the abused wife heal her heart and soul once she was free?
I can go places I will never see and meet people from the beginning of time to present day and even people from the future. I wonder could I possibly write about and share a story, a world and people? I just know my life would be one dimensional and gray without books.
Listed in no particular order as all of them have touched me in someway equally.
- Anne Shirley created by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Demelza Carne Poldark created by Winston Graham
- Melanie Hamilton and Scarlett O’Hara created by Margaret Mitchell
- Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser created by Diana Gabaldon
- Elizabeth Bennet Darcy and Emma Woodhouse Knightley created by Jane Austen
- Jo March created by Louisa May Alcott
- Madeline created by Ludwig Bemelmans
Any of the strong southern women created by Mary Kay Andrews
- Heidi created by Johanna Spyri
- Margaret Simon by Judy Blume
While researching one of my favorite characters, Miss Phyrne Fisher, I came across the website for the company that publishes the books. Allen and Unwin which is located in Australia. They have all sort of posts about how to write, improve your writing, getting ideas etc. I thought I would share the link to the Getting Started page. I hope you find some helpful information there.