Friday, February 26, 2010

It's Raining

It's raining outside.

I live in the San Joaquin Valley, where we get very little rainfall. Only 11 inches a year, to be exact. If we're lucky. It is no coincidence that I have always fantasized about living someplace where there is more...rain. Greenery. Trees. My favorite books growing up: The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, The Chronicles of Narnia, the Jane Austen books--all set in the very drenched and emerald England.

But as fate would have it, I found myself setting my first book in a landscape much like the one I was raised in--a farming community. And as I immersed myself in my book, I found myself falling in love with my dry, hot climate and came to see the beauty in it with fresh eyes. The more I read my manuscript (finished but still revising), the more I came to see the merits of where I live.

It's funny because as intrigued I am with all things England (and Ireland), I have a cousin who's English who visited us a few years back. He stayed with my sister on her husband's family's sprawling ranch and, having been raised in London, had always wanted to visit a real American farm. Really? We were amazed. You think Los Banos is beautiful? But he did, and when we looked at it through his eyes, as a tourist, we could also agree. And reading my own book, as I revise (and revise), I have come to see my own backyard as a tourist, and have rediscovered its beauty in a new way.

In case anyone wants to see pictures of my family's ranch, here's a link to their website:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Playing Beethoven

First of all, let's get out of the way that I'm not really an accomplished pianist or anything. True, I did take five years of piano (thanks Mom), and when I'm feeling frustrated, I am known to pull out my old yellowed sheet music and hammer out the theme from Terms of Endearment or (a very wobbly) Canon in D. But no, don't expect much from me if you ask me to play for you.

I titled this blog Playing Beethoven in reference to a quote from the movie A Room with a View. In the movie, the very proper (yet secretly passionate) heroine, Lucy Honeychurch sits down at the piano and begins to play a stirring Beethoven piece. When she's done, she turns to the Reverend Beebe and says, "Mother doesn't like me playing Beethoven. She says I'm always peevish afterwards." Later on, the Reverend remarks, "If Miss Honeychurch ever takes to live as she plays, it will be very exciting both for us and for her."

For years I loved these quotes. And for a long time, I never really processed what they really meant to me. But as I got older (I saw the movie for the first time when I was still in high school), and saw more of the world, I began to understand. The quotes were saying: Live life boldly. Follow your dreams. Bring what is living on the inside, to the outside. You can respond to beauty (that you see in the world, that you see in others) with beauty.

So that is why I am here. And that is why I have been writing seriously for the past two years. It has become my "Playing Beethoven." Instead of feeling peevish when I read something great, or am moved by a great story, I turn around and write my own.

Currently I am on the final polish of my first finished MS and have two others in the formation stages. I look forward to sharing them with you all as I brave the world of publishing.