Archive for books
Every year, the changing island weather prompts me to write, like a patient writing instructor prodding its lazy student. To get my attention, the island lobs cranberry-orange sunsets at me and tempts me with the sound of clattering trees or rolling beach cobbles. And then I ache to write, usually. This fall, I dared to remain sullen and shunned my keyboard.
One morning, the island retaliated by tossing a surf-worn, sandy book at my feet as I walked along the beach below my home. I was as surprised to see a book floating in the surf as I would have been to stumble across a baby seal sitting on the sand. Picking the book up, I recognized the black moleskin cover that protects beloved journals. Sea-soaked, the cover had warped wildly, but the pages clung stubbornly to the binding.
I felt guilty at the prospect of touching a writer’s private possession and yet shouldn’t I rescue it from the waves and try to identify its owner? Prying the journal open carefully, I peered at blurred handwriting. The disintegrating pages spoke of an old man wearing snakeskin boots, walking alongside the author as osprey soared overhead. But the “In case of loss return to:” line remained empty. There was no way to know how far it had floated before it washed up at my feet like a literary message in the bottle. Unsure of what to do, I carried it home to dry it out.
The salty pages are wavy and brittle now. The well-traveled moleskin journal could be considered flotsam worthy of the trash. Yet, saving it reminds me to keep writing.
Of course, if the journal belongs to you, please let me know.
“Maine has an unusually strong, tightly-woven writing community, and when tragedy happens to one of us, it impacts us all.”
(writer Shonna Milliken Humphrey in Portland Press Herald)
When novelist Cynthia Thayer lost nearly one hundred farm animals (among them draft horses, calves, pigs, and sheep) to a devastating barn fire on the early morning of May 7th, injuring herself in an attempt to save them, Maine’s literary community collectively gasped. Cynthia is not only a beloved member of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance community, but her Darthia Farm operates organically and participates in the Community Supported Agriculture program. Peaks Island author James Hayman joins dozens of other authors who will band together for what they’re calling a literary barn raising this Friday, June 1st from 5-8 pm at Longfellow Books in Portland.
In a Maine Crime Writers essay, Jim shared how he befriended Cynthia:I initially met Cynthia when she came down to Peaks Island to conduct a writing workshop at the island branch of Portland Public Library. When I was introduced to her, I told her that I was hard at work on my first fiction.
“How much have you written?” she asked.
“One hundred and fifty pages,” I replied. “Would you like me to read it and give you my opinion?” “I’d be thrilled,” I said, surprised by her generosity.
“I have to warn you,” she said, “I’m not your mother. If I think it’s dreadful, I won’t spare your feelings.”
I told her I wouldn’t want it any other way. I emailed her the manuscript that night and she called me back less than twenty-four hours later.
“I have to tell you,” she said, “You kept me up all night. I think the book’s terrific.” Once again, I was thrilled. These were the first words from anyone whose literary judgment I respected that made me think that maybe, just maybe I might really become a novelist. She then offered a number of suggestions on how to improve the manuscript. In each case, she was right. Her suggestions did improve it.
From there, Jim explains, Cynthia became a good friend and mentor. He’s pleased to join the legion of friends and colleagues who are raising funds to help rebuild the barn and acquire new livestock. You can learn more about Cynthia’s writing here and either attend the book-signing event at Longfellow Books or donate to the Darthia Farm Fund.