Guilty or Grateful?

From East of Eden by John Steinbeck:

The dry earth was ticking under the sun and the crickets rasped. “It’s real godforsaken country,” said Louis.

“Makes me feel mean,” said Adam.

“How’s that?”

“Well, I’m fixed so I don’t have to live on a place like this.”

“Me too, and I don’t feel mean. I’m just goddamn glad.”

 

Sometimes I feel guilty because I don’t have to live in the parts of the world where daily survival is a struggle. Guilt turns a person mean.

The accident of my birth in a prosperous, Western country can’t be changed. Instead I try to feel glad or grateful. Here are some of the things that made me grateful in 2015:

  • The Greater Victoria Public Library. Its seemingly inexhaustible resources of books, periodicals, movies, and music enrich my life.

  • HarperCollins Australia who contracted my novel Outback Promise and continue to help spread the word about it.

  • Great Plains Teen Fiction who continue to distribute my novel Lockdown.

  • All the wonderful people who read and / or bought my books.

  • The writing community at large who nudged me forward to helped me improve my writing.

  • The writers and readers whose well-timed encouragement kept me going. You know who you are.

  • My family and friends who continue to support of my writing caper and so much more.

  • My amazing husband whose capacity for joy and optimism encourages me every day.

I try to remember these simpler gifts also:

  • Life in a polite, orderly society where acts of terrorism or gun violence are minimal.

  • The miracles of computers and word processing that allow me to write with relative ease.

  • Having good quality food available within an easy walk of my front door.

  • The gift of electricity that fills my house with light and warmth.

  • Fresh water, hot or cold, that is delivered when I want it, with the twist of a tap.

Amy Morin tells us that gratitude has health benefits too. It seems intuitive. I know I feel better when guilt in my life is minimized.

How do you keep gratitude alive and guilt at bay? Are you feeling glad today or just a little bit mean?

 Photo from Wikimedia Commons: Rose in Winter in Tuscany by Waugsberg

More Buzz about the Book

Bree Testa gives Outback Promise 9/10 on her 1 girl…2 many books blog:

https://1girl2manybooks.wordpress.com/2015/12/11/review-outback-promise-by-maggie-bolitho/

The thing that struck me most about this book was the reality of it. I had absolutely no trouble placing myself in Ros’s shoes and I could understand how such a devastating, senseless loss could cause a rift in the strongest of relationships.

[…]

I thought this book was fantastic. Amazingly well written and a deep and sensitive exploration of what must be a parent’s greatest tragedy.

 

From the Unshelfish book blog:

http://unshelfish.org/2015/12/07/review-giveaway-outback-promise-by-maggie-bolitho/

Bolitho masterfully penned an emotional read, you are invested from the start, you feel the pain, the depth of sorrow. Have your tissue box handy and prepare yourself for an emotional rollercoaster ride, quite a compelling journey.

 

Suze Lavender said:

http://www.librarianlavender.com/2015/11/australia-days-book-review-giveaway.html

[…] a unique story with a difficult topic which is captivating, gripping, emotional, honest and absolutely brilliant.

 

By Carol Cram on November 28, 2015 five out of five stars on Amazon

Outback Promise is one of those novels that stays with you long after you've read it. A heartbreaking story is woven into a story of redemption and hope.

 

From the Coffeeholic Bookworm:

https://coffeebookmom.wordpress.com/2015/11/25/review-outback-promise-by-maggie-bolitho/

It is a story about family, love, death, betrayal, financial crisis, acceptance and forgiveness. [...] the way the story was written was so beautiful and lyrical, I couldn't help but admire Maggie Bolitho

Does absence make the writing stronger?

A couple of weekends ago, we returned to our tiny place on Salt Spring Island (SSI). We hadn’t visited for eight months, because of the extended trip to Australia. What happened in our absence?

  • Spiders moved in, about 4,126 of them. They festooned the rooms with sticky webs and left their pencil-dot droppings under their favourite spots.

  • Weeds choked the front walk.

  • I forgot how the oven worked.

  • When the internet service restarted, the server no longer recognized our modem and vice versa.

  • Our neighbour’s dog forgot who we were and approached us warily.

Neglect was a show stopper as I found when I went to work:

  • My writing had become became slow and ponderous, as though trapped by spider silk.

  • Adverbs threatened to choke the narrative.

  • The discipline of daily writing had weakened.

  • I’d lost touch with some of my characters. Worse still I wasn’t using Scrivener or even a basic spreadsheet to track them. What colour were the protagonist’s eyes?

On the other side of that coin, taking a break delivered these parallel benefits:

  • We discovered we were hanging on to a lot of things we didn’t use. A big clean up ensued and a carload of gently used household items went to the local thrift shop.

  • My prose was thick with extraneous scenes and description. I was able to edit ruthlessly.

  • Coming back to a favourite place after a long absence, refreshed my love of SSI.

  • When I looked at work I hadn’t seen for months, I found quality writing that can be improved and sharpened for publication.

Have you ever stepped away from a place or project for an extended length of time? Was it a happy reunion when you came back?