Monday, July 4, 2011

why argue with success?

Happy 4th of July!
Today is Independence Day—the day we celebrate, among our many liberties, the freedom to read and to write whatever we want. The freedom to worship however we like…or not. And the freedom to travel wherever we wish to go…all of which I will be celebrating in a BIG way this month.
For the next three weeks I’ll be coming and going…packing, unpacking and packing up again, catching naps and meals wherever and whenever I can. It will all start with a women’s spiritual retreat where I’ll be delivering a pep talk about keeping the faith…the Catholic faith  ( ). This may sound boring to DIY Christians who spurn organized religion (I get that way sometimes, too) but this retreat is a lot of fun. We put spirit back in the word spiritual.
After a couple of days at home, I’ll drive to Pittsburgh with Famke where she’ll spend the week with my daughter while I race back home in time to catch a flight to Jamaica. There I’ll spend a glorious week—no, not at an all-inclusive resort—but at Our Lady of Hope Children’s Home ( ) where I’ll help with cleaning, repairs, and with meals and laundry for twenty-eight children ranging in age from three to sixteen. Oh, did I forget to mention that I get to play with them, too?? This will be my twelfth trip and this is why I keep going back:
One thing I will not be doing, I’m sorry to say, is writing very much during this period of time. And I won’t have my laptop with me so, to you, it may seem as though I’ve fallen off the face of the Earth. However…I will be doing research for my next novel…something about an environmental disaster, corporate greed, and an orphanage much like the one I’m visiting. And, like many of you, I’ll be reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett in my spare moments.

If you haven’t already read The Help, you should download it, or order it, or go out and buy it right this minute. Go. Do it now! I can wait.

I say this not because this is a book I would ordinarily run right out and buy (even though it is a New York Times #1 bestseller)…but because Larry Brooks is doing a deconstruction of the book on his web site So if you’re like me when I started to write—clueless about story and character arc—or if you’re a pantser and resist the idea of planning ahead at all when you write—you should check this out.  Larry Brooks uses this book as an example of the key to an effective and, oh-by-the-way, best-selling story arc. I mean, why argue with SUCH success?

So...this month I’ll be celebrating the freedom to read, write, worship, and reach out to others…all the time giving thanks to our forefathers and to the people who surround me and support me and make all of this possible.

What are you doing to celebrate your independence?
“Life is denied by lack of attention,
whether it be to cleaning windows or trying
to write a masterpiece.”
--Nadia Boulanger--
I’ll be between trips when I post next week—looking forward and looking back.


  1. Beautiful Jan! Safe travels and enjoy the moments serving humanity... Look forward to reading you when you get back!

  2. Safe journies, indeed. Sounds like you have a whirlwind month. Can't wait to hear about it when you get back.

    The Help is a wonderful book. I read it last summer.

  3. Thanks, Lisa and M Pax! I hate to admit it...but I'm going to miss being "connected" with everyone. I'll have alot of catching up to do when I get home.