March 30, 2006

Seize The Day


*a collection of art from readers...

My brain's been like a Goodnight Moon-bowl-full-of-mush the past week or so. I've been settling down from the tour, breathing in Spring every chance I get, and smiling at the memories that seep in to fill all the spaces between.

Like remembering the concierge at the Delta Chelsea Toronto who greeted me at 5am in the hotel lobby the morning I was to fly back to Halifax. He handed me a cup of coffee, called me a cab and then asked, "Do you know this word, Kowtow?" I sleepily nodded and said, "I've heard it before." He replied with excitement, "I just learned it this morning already. I heard it on the radio...one guy was saying he thought a certain Canadian politician would be kow-tow-ing to American corporations before long. I never heard it, so I looked it up. What do you think it means?" I sipped my coffee and replied, I guess some might say it means to kiss ass." He grinned as if he couldn't wait to tell me something he knew that I didn't. "It comes from the Chinese, meaning to knock your head on the ground in a form of worship. I guess that means American businessmen have hard asses?"

Or thinking of the Ethiopian taxi driver who drove me from the Sylvia Hotel in Vancouver back to the airport. He came to Canada during the famine. He was chosen in a lottery and left everything he knew to start a new life in Vancouver at the age of 16. We talked about Addis Ababa and what he misses most about the city with the name that means new flower. Ethiopian New Year was his favourite time of year. "The women all wear white. They look like many many moons dancing through the streets." (You know me and the moon...he had my heart strings after saying that!)He also told me, "You know the one thing that many people need there? Shoes. They can't afford them, but yet they need them. They have to walk everywhere and it is so dusty and dry and hard on the feet. If they lose the use of their feet, they lose their lives. So I collect shoes for them. Used shoes can still last at least six months for most."
At that moment I wished to god I had stuck my running shoes in my bag for that trip. Instead, I poured out all the cash I had into his hands and told him to use it for postage to send more shoes.

Where do those two exchanges fit in the scheme of things? I guess they have been floating up to the surface of my book-tour memories because they taught me something very rich and true about who we are as human beings. English was not the first language for either one of those men and yet they were bringing new light to words for me. With humour, with wit, with beauty, and compassion.
Both times I walked away realizing how fortunate I am to make my life as someone who makes sense out of her world through words.

So, Thank-You...to everyone who has had a part in crafting my dreams as of late. Many have emailed, written, sent word through friends and friends of friends, to share thoughts about The Birth House. As a writer, I am grateful to have had your attention and your time. Knowing that you are spending well-earned dollars to purchase my words, knowing that you are setting aside hours to read the book cover to cover, knowing that friends, mothers, grandmothers, daughters are sharing it with one another...has made me feel joyful and humble all at once.

The other day an email popped into my in-box from a woman asking,
"How do you even get started with the writing life? How do you keep your nerve and determination?"


Seize the Day.
Writing is something that I never get tired of. I need it like I need to breathe. For me, the most challenging aspect of embracing the writing life was getting up the courage to take my writing seriously, to treat it like an art form and a life path, rather than just a hobby. To call myself a writer and not feel a moment's worth of guilt.

As far as staying determined...
You have to treat your time/space/creativity as a writer with respect. You may find you have to start slowly, setting aside a few hours a week devoted to writing. For many years I managed to come up with all sorts of excuses as to why 'it wasn't the right time.' There will never be a perfect time. Write.

I know a girl who was schooled in Manhattan
She reads dusty books and learns phrases in Latin
She is an author, or maybe a poet
A genius but it's just this world doesn't know it
She works on her novel most every day
If you laugh she will say


Seize the day, seize whatever you can
'Cause life slips away just like hourglass sand
Seize the day, pray for grace from God's hand
Then nothing will stand in your way
Seize the day
from Carolyn Arend's Seize the Day

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great blog and of course, an amazing book! I look forward to reading more of you in the years to come!
JM
Ottawa

Mark Pettus said...

Great Post. I love your recollections from the road. I don't mean to kow-tow, but congratulations on the success of your book. (I love the cover)

Continued Success!

patricia said...

What a beautiful post! Truly inspiring, just like you!

Thank you for creating such an amazing novel Ami. I cannot wait for the treasures you will create in the future.

Nienke said...

Great post and a lovely poem. I will put it up over my desk.