Committing to Your Ideas

I love the mad rush to write on a new idea: it’s like making love to someone for the first time — there goes a shoe, there a shirt…well, you get the picture.  But after you’ve had your way with the idea, it’s splayed on the bed, and you have to decide if it’s relationship worthy, if you are going to commit.  Are you going to spend any more time with it, or is it out the door?  Can you see yourself lovingly, endlessly tweaking its commas, smoothing its verbs, plucking its adjectives?  If not, maybe you’ve got the wrong subject.  (Lest you think I am a commitment-phobe, I have been married to the same man for 21 years now, or so he informs me.  He’s our family’s historian. I’m just tracking the fun miles.)

I have been known to hunker down with an idea and spend literally years with it.  I will let it have its way with me, and then I will pursue it.  Then I get bored with it, but it starts talking to me and I come around again — it’s very much like a marriage.

I love the writing process so much that I’m often reluctant to write “the end.”  (Wait, does anyone actually write “the end” anymore?)  But part of committing to your ideas is also knowing when it’s time to say goodbye.  Or, maybe a better way to say it is knowing when to allow others into the conversation: i.e. readers.  Because then the characters cease to even seem to be your own (you know they never were, right?) and they belong to everyone.  But that’s what it’s all about.

So commit to your ideas, but in order to be successful you need to be a serial committer: once you’ve finished your part in that story’s life, trust that the next idea will be waiting.  And it will be.  If it’s not, drop me a line.  I’m full of ideas.

Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” Coming to the US!

If you haven’t read Tracy Chevalier’s novel “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” perhaps you have seen the eponymous film.  Or perhaps you have been residing under a large rock.  Well, here is our (because I want to see it too!) opportunity to see the painting that inspired them both.

Not much is known about the painting, other than that it was painted by Johannes Vermeer.  We don’t even know the year he painted it (circa 1665) and whether or not it was commissioned, though recent evidence seems to suggest it is meant to be a “tronie,” which is a Dutch term for a painting of a head not meant to be a portrait.  Intriguing.

The painting now gleams after the 1994 restoration work:

Photo source:

The restoration work indicated that the background was meant to be a deep green, but that the background darkened significantly over time.

The exhibit, “Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis,” features 35 important paintings by Dutch Golden Age masters including Vermeer, Rembrandt, Fans Hals and Jan Steen and will be stopping in the United States first at the de Young Museum in San Francisco from January 26 to June 2, 2013.  Then the paintings will next go to Atlanta’s High Museum of Art from June 22, 2013 through September 29, 2013.  From there it will make its last stop at The Frick Collection in New York City from October 13, 2013 to January 12, 2014.  After that they will make their way back to the newly renovated Mauritshuis in the Netherlands.

Other paintings in the collection include: Johannes Vermeer, “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” ca. 1665, Carel Fabritius, “Goldfinch,” 1654, Rembrandt van Rijn, “‘Tronie’ of a Man with a Feathered Beret,” ca. 1635, Jan Steen, “The Way You Hear It, Is The Way You Sing It,” ca. 1665, Jacob van Ruisdael, “View of Haarlem with Bleaching Grounds,” 1670–1675.

I don’t know about you, but I intend to move heaven and earth (or maybe it will just take moving my car) in order to see this exhibition!

A Recently (Re)Aquired Treasure

A few years after I began writing I was given two of my Grandpa Tommy’s treasure: his air organ and his typewriter.  I quickly decided the organ wasn’t for me — or maybe it was my parents who decided that after one too many of my horrible concerts.  But I did covet learning how to type, and so the journey began.

Grandpa wrote poetry and called himself “The Coal Miner Poet” because he was a coal miner as well as a poet.  Maybe because I barely remembered him I decided to start writing — I wanted to feel connected to him.

Just after I got the typewriter I remember hitting the space bar numerous times until a cousin looked at me blankly.  “You know you only have to tap it once, right?” I didn’t know.  I had no clue how to use it.

My memory is vague as to why the typewriter moved on — I believe a closer relative asked for it, but I do know that soon I was left without a typewriter.  After having mostly mastered the technique (You should see how quickly I can type now!  It’s effortless on a computer by comparison) and having written an unfathomable 13 pages of a “novel” (when I was in 7th grade), I felt bereft without it.

Recently my husband and I were on our way to the dunes.  I have been redecorating my writing room (I have insisted on a writing space in every home we have lived in, even when it has had to be a writing nook), and I mentioned that I really wanted a typewriter.  “Not to use, of course,” I said.  I had been trolling for them the night before on ebay.

“I want an inexpensive one, just a starter one, if you will,” I said.

We made our usual stop at the St. Stan’s Thrift Shop in Michigan City when we arrived in town.  There we generally stock up on inexpensive beach books, quaint jewelry, and LP’s.  They know our faces, and it’s nice to chat about the weather and load our arms with magazines and such.

Right after we walked into the shop I happened to look beneath one of the tables.  In front of me was a Sears typewriter.  I wanted to cry.   And it was less than $10!  I felt guilty buying it for so little.

Barry and I joked that I could bring it onto the beach and use it as what it was: the original lap top computer.  Of course in reality I brought pen and paper to the beach instead, but it was the first time I was eager to leave the water: I couldn’t wait to get home and put the typewriter in my writing room.

And here it is:

A nod to my grandfather, the poet.

Found! Renoir’s Paysage Bords De Seine

Why couldn’t it have happened to me?  Well, at least it happened to someone so that ALL of us could benefit: a woman bought a box of stuff at a flea market, rooted around in it and noticed a framed painting that caught her eye.

Upon closer examination she realized it was signed “Renoir.”  Experts have said that yes, indeed, this woman who chooses to remain anonymous has found a painting believed to be lost: Renoir’s Paysage Bords De Seine, a scene painting along the Seine River — a river my husband and I walked along several Paris days and nights in July of this year.


The painting, sold in France in 1925, was later sold to a Maryland collector, Herbert May.  But just how the painting got from Mr. May to a box of junk sold for under $50 in Virginia is unclear.

The painting will be auctioned September 29.

This is a case where a painted that wasn’t even known to be missing turned up, so maybe there is still hope for those paintings we are still looking for!

In any case, I think all of us will be taking a closer look at boxes of bargains at flea markets and garage sales near us.

Soon let’s do a blog soon where we “read,” a painting, shall we?  Perhaps we can revisit this one and as mentor of mine says, “See what there is to see.”

UPDATE: The auction did not happen.  Why not?  Because it was discovered that this painting was stolen from the Baltimore Museum of Art in 1951.  Well, even though the painting will likely not net a financial boost for the “lucky” finder, it does return a piece of art to the world.  She can be proud to have been a part of the process.

S.O.S. Post: A Worthy Fundraiser AND a Chance to Win!

Dear Readers,

I was contacted to give books for a very worthy cause.  Please see the link below and consider giving if you are able.  This is a cause near and dear my heart.  You will have the chance to win (among many other cool items!) a signed copy of my Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters.

A family is trying desperately to get enough money to adopt  two special needs children from Eastern Europe,but so far they lack the funds.  These children are in danger, both physically and mentally and need to be moved ASAP!

Read the stories of these precious children and how to help them here:


Drema Drudge