"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

You are most cordially invited!

This Friday (April 23rd), I'll be the guest speaker at the Placentia Library Friends Foundation's Annual Meeting. It will be held at the Placentia Library from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. If you're in the neighborhood, please come to the meeting.

If you live in Placentia, I'd order you to come to the meeting if I could.

Why would I be so ruthless? So exacting? Such a demanding diva?

Because libraries need all the love we can give them, in all the ways we can give it. We take our libraries for granted, but we shouldn't. In the past year, library branches in cities as large as Boston have been closed, hours and staff have been reduced for libraries all across the country, and some smaller cities have watched their libraries disappear. Budget cuts, friends, budget cuts. The economy has been bad, our government has been running out of money, so where do they cut? Public education and libraries - the very things our youth could use to learn how to get us out of this mess. Hmm.

We are blessed to have a library in our community, and we need to attend to it, as if it were a rare flower in our garden.

I know what you're thinking: a meeting? You mean, I have to listen to by-laws and elections and boring stuff? Waaaahhh!

Quit being a baby. Yes, elections can be painful, but they're not the entire meeting. By-law changes can be interesting, but you don't have to get uber-involved. A discussion of volunteer activities and plans for next year, though… that's the interesting part.

Do you know what the volunteers do for the library now? What they might do next year? What you might do next year?

Wait - what? Me? No, I don't have time to volunteer.

How do you know if you don't try? Volunteering doesn't take wild amounts of time, especially for the Placentia Library. Do you have an hour or so to give on Sunday every few months? Consider helping at the monthly book sale. Do you have more free time in the evenings? Help with one of their special events. Do you have ten minutes? Stop by their book store and spend a dollar on a used hardcover.

For those of you who think, oh, no, if I say I can help, they'll bug me constantly - I can tell you for a fact it's not true. I get called every three months or so to see if I can help at the Sunday book sale. Sometimes I can make it, sometimes I can't. Trust me, they know how to take no for an answer.

For those of you who don't live in Placentia, maybe you'd like to stop by and see what our library is doing that you could adopt for your own hometown library. I think each library has its own volunteer organization, and we could all do with some idea cross-pollination from time to time.

If nothing I've said convinces you to come to the meeting, come because I want to see you, to meet you if we're strangers. I'll be talking about being a writer, so if you write and you're like me, you want to hear about other writers' methods. Hopefully, I'll have something of value to pass on to you.

My last, desperate plea to get you to the library is this: they'll have refreshments. Yum!

Mark it on your calendars, set your iPhone alarm, to be at the
Placentia Library this Friday at 7:00 p.m.

As a bonus, here's a link to the early edition of my column this week. It's all about libraries!

WHAT A DAY by Gayle Carline

Monday, April 12, 2010

Write, darn you!

One of the things that surprised me when I became a published writer is that everyone I meet is going to write a book. They're going to write it when:

* They retire.
* Their kids are older.
* Their life gets easier/less stressful/less busy.

Here's my response to those who are "going to write" - if you wait until your life is at the perfect place for you to write, you will never write. If you are going to be a writer, then write now. Your life will always be filled with one thing or another. We live our lives like goldfish, growing to the size of our container. If you can find 15 minutes a day where no one is pulling at your sleeve and you're conscious, you can write.

Now, you may not write your Great American Novel. Fifteen minutes a day is probably not enough. But you NEED to write SOMETHING. Look out your window and describe a bird in a tree or your kids playing in the yard. Think about a memory and jot it down. Take your 15 minutes to go back and edit the snippet you wrote yesterday. Start an outline or cast of characters for that novel you plan to write.

Writing involves the act of getting words and images out of your head and onto the paper. They need to be honed, so that the words you spilled out become the best words for what you're trying to say. If you don't practice this every day, you will never build your writing muscles. If you don't build those chops, then even if the perfect timing DOES exist and you end up on an island retreat with a laptop and all the time in the world, it won't matter because you won't know how to get stories out of your head and out where the world can appreciate them.

I write every day, although I don't always work on the book. Once a week, I write and deliver my column (What a Day) of about 600 words. Sometimes I'm asked to put together something for the choir, or for Tina's ranch. I also need to keep this blog up-to-date enough to keep people's interest. And then there's Snoopy.

Snoopy is one of my two horses (I also own his mother, Frostie), and I started a blog about him because two years ago, he broke a bone in his leg, and documenting his surgery and progress helped me deal with the enormous frustration I felt from being medically ignorant and having to pull information out of veterinarians. He's got a few followers, one of which is the last doctor I took him to - he's a lameness specialist and actually read all of the blog posts before talking to me. Can I just say I love that man?

Anyway, today I decided to update his blog, even though there's nothing spectacular going on in his life. I'll do some writing on the next book, sure, but I felt the need to flex my muscles in that direction.

Because I write every day.

Proud Member of ALA!

I support fair and equitable library access to ebooks and so should you.