All the Lovely Ladies

Saturday, September 28, 2019
older women sitting on a bench

This past week I went to meetings of all three groups I belong to. They each have their own purpose, but one thing they have in common is that each is a group of lovely ladies.
On Monday, my newly-formed critique group met at my apartment. I’ll only briefly mention the amount of preparation that took on my part. My cats and I have a tendency to ignore dust and fur balls, but when you have company coming, you suddenly notice that you haven’t cleaned in over a month.
Unfortunately, only Pat made it. One member, Kelli, was away at a writers conference, and poor Anita found a flat tire when she went to leave her house. But Pat and I made the best of it, going over my critique of her chapter, and chatting about various writerly things over coffee.
The last time the group met, I didn’t make it. For some reason, I had gotten it stuck in my head that the meeting was at a member’s home north of me, when it was really at a home south of me. By the time I’d figured out my mistake, it was too late to go. But what impressed me was that Kelli called me when I was twenty minutes late to find out if I was okay. They were concerned that something had happened to me.
We’ve only been meeting for a short time, so I never expected them to care whether I made it or not.
After a week’s hiatus while I worked feverishly to finish the first draft of my latest WIP, I went to the morning exercise group at my apartment complex. Now, this is old lady exercise. A lot of it is chair exercise, and we do modified squats and “push-ups” from a standing position. But I”m not in the greatest of shape, so it suits me at this stage of my life. Plus I don’t have to get in my car to go to it.
Most of the members are at least a decade older than I am. There are also two men, but they don’t say much. For the second month in a row, the women urged me to attend the monthly wine and cheese party at the clubhouse. I never have, partly because I am younger than they are, and partly because wine and cheese and crackers have a lot of WW points. They’ve also asked if I’m going to the bingo games.
So far, I’ve resisted bingo, but it’s nice to be asked.
Last, but certainly not least, is my Thursday morning Bible study group. I joined this group early this year because I missed the organized study of the Bible during the week. I also thought it might be a good way to meet people at my new church.
The lessons are challenging, to say the least. At my previous church, Bible study largely consisted of the pastor teaching about the scripture lessons for the following Sunday. We got to ask questions, but it was more like a class than a group. In this group, we have homework to prepare for our discussions. The booklets we use are on one book of the Bible or a specific topic, and there are weekly assignments. On Thursday mornings, we get together to discuss our answers.
I like the fact that all of us are traveling together on this journey. The leader has a leader’s guide, but we usually only refer to it when we’re stuck on a question or the woman who is the leader has read something in it she thought particularly interesting.
We’ve not only learned a lot about the Bible in these studies, but a lot about one another. In a way, the Bible is a handbook for living, and we often discuss the verses we’re studying in light of our own personal problems and journeys.
As a result, there are a number of women who know my name, who greet me with joy on Sunday mornings. I’m always glad to see them. It’s certainly made attending church more enjoyable.
While the three groups have totally different interests—exercise, writing, and Bible study—I realized this week that they’re all composed of lovely ladies.
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Books Purged, Books Kept

Friday, September 06, 2019
I recently purchased a copy of Lawrence Block’s book The Liar’s Bible. This is a collection of some of his essays that appeared in Writers Digest for years. One resonated strongly with me, specifically the one on purging and keeping books.

I think all writers were readers first, and they have an inordinate love for books. I vividly remember the day I asked my mother to teach me to read (before I’d even started kindergarten) because I didn’t want to wait for her to read from the book of fairytales that was my favorite.

We didn’t own a lot of books because we didn’t have a lot of money. I do remember the set of Encyclopedia Americana, because I used it frequently when researching homework assignments. Owning a set of encyclopedia seemed to be required in the fifties for those who had children who aspired to going to college. And I do remember that when my father converted half of the attic of our cape cod to a bedroom for me, he included a built-in bookcase. I eventually almost filled the two shelves with books I received as presents or managed to buy for myself. The only books I clearly remember owning were a few Nancy Drew mysteries.

It was when I went to college that I began collecting books in earnest. Once I bought a textbook, it was mine, and it took me until late in my junior year to convince myself that it was okay to buy used books for required courses that I knew I would have no use for later on, and then to sell them back to the bookstore at the end of the term. I also discovered that there were bookstores with separate sections for science fiction novels. This was a wonder to me, since genre fiction, pulp fiction, was something I’d only read from magazines, and gotten a carefully curated collection from the library.
Later on, when I had a full-time job and some discretionary income, I made regular trips to Borders and Barnes and Noble to buy new books. I generally left the store with a shopping bag and many hours of reading.

By the time I sold my house, I had seven bookshelves, most of them floor-to-ceiling, overfilled with books. Paperbacks were two-deep on many shelves. But I was moving from a house with three bedrooms and an enormous living/dining room, not to mention a garage, to a small two-bedroom apartment, and I knew some of those books had to go.

How to decide which ones?

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