Tag Archives: wisdom

Coming Out: Exultation and Sorrow

Yesterday I Came Out. Five of my very knowledgeable and astute friends accepted copies of the First Draft of The Death of the Gecko to read and critique. After writing “in the closet” for two and a half years, it was a very exhilarating and scary feeling to expose my work to other people.

Being a retired writing teacher, I provided my dear readers with a Rubric. Several readers were willing to work with a PDF version of the manuscript, and two of my readers requested hard copies. Emailing proved to be iffy for such a large file size, so I ended up putting the entire first draft of my novel up on the web as a downloadable PDF. Talk about feeling exposed! But now that it’s up there, I’m starting to think about just being open to letting anyone read the manuscript who wants to. For now, I’m not really advertising that it’s there. But it is out there! If you feel like taking a look, I’d love it! If you do download and read the manuscript, I would very much appreciate your comments!

What I am still really hoping for is that someone might visit my BLOG and make a comment. So far, no visitors… Hello? Anyone there?

Why Sorrow? A very shocking and tragic event occurred yesterday, the day of my “coming out”. One of the people who had agreed to review/critique my manuscript is my dear friend and writing mentor, Don Rothman.

Don was a Bay Area Writing Project teacher and mentor. He taught many teachers, including myself, how to teach writing. And Don is actually one of the spiritual Fathers of my novel. Here’s why: Right after I retired from teaching, I was harvesting grapes in the Santa Barbara hills at Condor’s Hope Ranch with Don, Sarah Rabkin, and other friends. While we picked grapes, we talked about Sarah’s outstanding online oral history project for UCSC on the organic farming movement. I mentioned that Farm Without Harm hadn’t been included in the stories. So, Don and Sarah encouraged me to write the story myself – the story of Farm without Harm and the parents and teachers in Watsonville who challenged conventional strawberry growers’ permits to fumigate near schools with methyl bromide. That conversation among the grape vines catalyzed the creation of my novel, The Death of the Gecko.

Don stayed in touch, with periodic encouragement, while I wrote. Yesterday, he was planning to come to my house to pick up a hard copy of the manuscript. He seemed genuinely excited about reading the novel. I was thrilled that he was willing to do a whole manuscript critique. The evening before last, he emailed me to make final arrangements for coming over the next day. Then, about an hour before he was due to arrive, I got a phone call from a tearful Robbie Gliessman of Condor’s Hope. She was calling from Don’s house, at the request of his wife, to tell me that Don had passed away in his sleep that night.

Shock. Sorrow. Don was in his 60’s. That seems too young. It’s always so hard to loose the good people. Don was an outstanding human being. So interested in Life, and in others, generous with his time and his wisdom. Brimming over with knowledge, insight, and good humor. Thank you, Don, for your friendship and mentorship. You are missed.

Such a loss takes the breath away. So hard to adjust to the fact that one so vital and present has suddenly vanished. Life is so precious and ephemeral. Every breath is sweet. What a gift to be a human being on Planet Earth, to be, as Kurt Vonnegut says, “standing up mud”, able to look around, see the sparkling water, smell the redwoods, hear the rain, touch someone you love … if only for a brief time. Such a gift. Thank you.

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it’s my birthday. (archived)

Posted on October 19, 2011 by msflo

Finished the scene where Ms. B attends her first meeting of the Watsonville Wetlands Watch and learns about the struggle to save the Tai Property on the ocean side of Highway 1. Doing background research for this scene, I learned more about the courage, perseverance, wisdom and genius of the people who built the organic movement in this region and have saved wetlands and farmlands in our area. I am in awe of these brave and brilliant people. I hope my story can convey the importance of the work they have accomplished.

My story is a “roman a clef”, a true story thinly veiled in the guise of fiction. I need to figure out fictional names for the Wetlands Watch people and update my “character bible”. Since I’m going after Monsanto in a big way in this story, I have been told to get an attorney before I ever put the story into the public sphere. Monsanto is a very scary entity, to be sure. They are why my story is a murder mystery, if you get my drift.

Went to an excellent mystery writers workshop at Univ of SF downtown classroom last Saturday, put on by the Mystery Writers of America. Good information and advice. Nice to get out and network with other authors and wanna be’s. Among other things, we worked on our “elevator messages”:

“A teacher in an agricultural community on the California Coast discovers that the pesticides being used on the fields surrounding her school are deadly, in more ways than one.”

I stepped out of the classroom in the evening, right into the Occupy San Francisco/Occupy WallStreet march going by in the middle of Market St. So I joined in for about an hour. It was Invigorating! The cops and the spectators on the street were so so positive. Cops even smiled and flashed us peace signs. Very different from the civil rights and anti-war demonstrations of the 60′s. A hopeful experience.

Recently, I’ve had some excellent time with the Watsonville Brown Berets, who are working very hard on the ban Methyl Iodide issue (the chemical proposed as an “alternative” to methyl bromide). Last night, at the Resource Center for Non-Violence, I attended a sub-committee meeting on the juvenile justice system. The people who put their time and energy into these projects for the good of the community are so admirable. My respect and love for them just grows and grows.

I’ve taken about a week “away from the canvas”, to work on a permaculture rainwater harvesting project at my casita. Joe and I went to several of the excellent, free films shown around town this week at the Pacific Rim Film Festival. Another group of astounding people giving of their time, passion and intelligence to the community. Last night, we watched a Japanese sci fi animee called Summer Wars. The other night we saw an eco surf film from New Zealand called Last Paradise. I highly recommend both films, which you can probably find by googling.

Went to a meeting yesterday to try to try to help save the Salmon and Trout Education Project. The native Steelhead have now become such a threatened species in California that Cal Fish and Game will no longer grant permits for teachers and students to incubate eggs in the classroom for release in the local creeks. The meeting was tragic, heartbreaking. It underscored the urgency I feel to tell Ms. B’s story. I feel so strongly that people need to know what’s at stake, and what is being lost, from a personal, “being-there” perspective.

Ms B and my other characters are calling me back to finish the story. I’m looking forward to introducing Ms. B and her friends to you. I think you may have a lot in common. Let me know if you’re interested in reading the story when the first draft is ready to critique.

May the Clear Light Surround You. Peace and Love.
maryflo

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