Christin's Words from Sunshine Hill

If it is to be music
you must be present to it, must offer to it
a profound self-remembering.
-from Altar Music

Monday, March 11, 2013

Beryl's Next Big Thing

Do visit Beryl Bissell's blog, and her Next Big Thing interview. I tagged her for this blog-hopping. She's a fabulous writer and her books are well worth the time you spend in your favorite reading corner -- curled on the couch, perhaps? I like lying in the hammock under the big oak. Oh, Summer!!

You won't want to miss hearing about Beryl's Next Big Thing -- the story of her daughter, Francesca, will expand your heart. Just look at her!

I've read Beryl's manuscript, and I promise you, once this story is out in the world, you will have many quiet moments of reflection over the  courage of the woman who was willing and skilled enough to write it.

Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen. --Robert Bresson
Beryl is the author of the nationally acclaimed memoir The Scent of God (Counterpoint 2006 hardcover, 2007 soft cover) and A View of the Lake (Lake Superior Port Cities Inc., June 2011). She was named a Best of Minnesota 2006 Authors by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and The Scent of God was a Book Sense notable in April 2006. A View of the Lake was selected as one of the best regional books of 2011 by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Next Big Thing

Thoughts just coming through -- see Alison's art

For the first time I’ve been tagged in a blogging project. Writers are lifting up their Next Big Thing for all the world to see. . . most often right in the midst of writing it! Thanks to my dear friend and stunning poet, Kathleen Jesme, for tagging me. Please do yourself a big favor and visit Kath’s blog

I’ll be inviting a few other writers to participate and you will be able to find links to their blogs right here in the next couple of days.

Here’s the interview:

What is your working title of your book?
Right now I’m calling it The Yearning. That could change before I’m through. Not only do I tend to change titles as the writing becomes more focused, but publishers also change titles for marketing purposes.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Everywhere? I’m being only slightly facetious. My consciousness of the world and my part in it has fascinated and terrified me. Never have I been able to get my mind around it—not even the most imaginative part of my mind. I never could settle on one life, on my life. Having a more interior than exterior sort of personality, I explored the inner regions. I dreamed, contemplated, prayed, and studied the mystical, poetic, musical, artistic traditions. I’ve tried to capture the energy of the inner regions in novels and books of spirituality. But friends urged me: “Write your story.

What genre does your book fall under?
One author called a similar book his spiritual autobiography. As a genre, it probably comes closest. Memoir is too compact for what I have in mind. Mystic Journey is tempting, but probably is not a genre. Maybe I ought to turn it into another novel where I might be able to get closer to the truth.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I wouldn’t choose to have a movie rendition. But that isn’t really the question, is it? Unfortunately I pay little attention to actors so if I did need to choose I’d get people off the street of a small Midwestern town.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
This question reminds me of a soap opera that was on the radio when I was a child back in the 1940s. “Can a girl from a little mining town in the West find happiness as the wife of a wealthy, entitled Englishman?” It stayed with me over sixty years, so I guess one-sentence synopses do stand the test of time.  I suppose mine might be “Can a dreamy little girl from the Minnesota lakes and boggy wilds overcome her fear and find ground steady enough on which to build her one wild and unrepeatable life?”

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 
Most likely I’ll send it to my agent first, just to test the waters. But to be bluntly truthful, turning a manuscript over to a publisher seems rarely a good idea anymore, especially if they have the electronic rights. That way the writer can never get the publishing rights back because the book is legally never out of publication. During the past few years I’ve been experimenting with e-publishing on Kindle, and print on demand with Amazon’s CreateSpace. Most writers have weighed the pros and cons. Sometimes it is the nature of the book itself that determines the form of publication. Sometimes it is the reader for whom the book searches.
There still exists, however, that glow, that rush, that pride of being published by a house that only takes the best authors, the finest works.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I’ve been writing bits and pieces of it for thirty years – but the real work started in June, 2012. The first draft is about one-third complete.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Karen Armstrong’s The Spiral Staircase
Annie Dillard’s Holy the Firm
Justin O’Brien’s Walking with a Himalayan Master
Irina Tweedie’s Daughter of Fire
Petru Dumitriu, To The Unknown God
John of the Cross, Fire of Divine Love

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My husband, author John R. Sack was already in the process of researching his own book on the mystic way of the second half of life. We sat together reading the works of St. John of the Cross. It came to John to use the saint’s thoughts. It came to me to employ the saint’s structure…that of poetry giving way to the mystical experience of  oneness in love.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Work in Progress

Again I haven't written here for a while. John and I have been posting to the Casa Chiara site more often. Over the last two months I've been trying to bring more focus to each of these blogs and have realized that the blog from Sunshine Hill has more to do with the writing life, while Casa Chiara has more to do with our contemplation, reading, spiritual practices, and insights concerning the Sacred.They will overlap, I expect, but hopefully also move towards more refinement.

Since last summer I've been writing a memoir. It might be the most difficult project I've undertaken because of life's many sounds or calls here or there, to this or that, and finally into the non-dualistic All Present Now. I seem to myself to have lived at least five lives: Child, Nun, Spouse to Three Very Different Men. The writing, by its nature, separates out what really is only one sound connecting them all--that of a divine pulse pervading everything. The task is paradoxical. Life finally is recognized as a mystic journey. It is a dance to an eternal song. So the sound connecting everything must be the tonic note in the song of our lives.

This morning I revised the beginning of the memoir a bit to place it firmly in key:

The journey began on a chill night in November, under the sign of Scorpio just as Venus crested the  horizon. Snow, soon to develop into the great Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940, already was beginning to fall, covering the streets and sidewalks around St. Joseph's Hospital in Souix City, Iowa. This was not home.
               Home would be a lake spanning the border between Minnesota and Ontario, and before November passed I would have been taken there to be baptized in the small Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart in Baudette, Minnesota. It was summer before I awakened to Lake of the Woods. Years later I would write about this lake, calling it by a different name.
               Sound moved over the water of Black Sturgeon Lake. Gulls heard. Sound lifted under their wings as air, passed through their hearts and lungs, issued in a cry. Sound moaned in the rocks. Fallen needles of tamarack and fir blanketed the ground, and sound filled them, too. Wind, bees, and the delicate feet of mice scattered the needles. A spider’s web became a harp and it sang.
               Wild, sound luged through a granite pass the Eagle River carved a thousand thousand years ago and surrounded the bones of deer licked clean by wolves.
               Earth opened to sound like a love. Sound entered every cell, vibrating, setting in motion the circle of the world.[1]
               The sound, I now know, was “Ahhhh,” the beginning of all sound, the first sound in the Aramaic name Abwoon, now translated as “Father” in the prayer of Jesus. “A”=The Absolute, Only Being, pure Oneness and Unity.[2] It is the first movement of creation, the pre-existing, the no-time-or-space emanation before the Big Bang, the moment before moments before time, that deep vibration that continues to keep in being all that is.
               In my novel, this sound became the “perfect A,” that Elise recognized as the core of her own life, the origin of all her music, and the connection between her and the animating power of the universe: God.

               Within and around the lake I found wilderness. And these two images—water and wilderness—became the first lenses through which I saw the world and my own individual life.

copyright, 2013, Christin Lore Weber

[1] Weber, Christin Lore, ALTAR MUSIC. Scribner, 2000. New York. p. 10
[2] Klotz, Neil Douglas. PRAYERS OF THE COSMOS. Harper/Collins, 1994. p. 13