the write stuff

I write every day for a living, and as a hobby, I also write (and take photos).

IMG_3482

If I could do this any other way, I’m sure I would. But perhaps you can relate–knowing what you are here to do brings a kind of peace along with torment . . . the poison and the antidote . . . the creative imperative . . . the sleeping and waking. Elaine Pagels quoted it best here:

“If you bring forth that which is in you, what you bring forth will save you.
If you do not bring forth what is in you, what is in you will destroy you.”
– Elaine Pagels quoting from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas

Becoming

Before it titled Michelle Obama’s book, it was the title that perfectly described the subject of BECOMING MARJORIE, the story of one of America’s unsung heroines of the feminist movement, so that’s what I used! I wrote that biography and launched it in 2017. And today (for the first time), I saw one of the TV interviews done at that time:

character study

IMG_1599

The grove of pecan trees had been planted generations earlier, long before Hodge was born in the shelling shed to Esperanza, who left him there when it was time to move on with the crew to pick the next farm. His mother gave him his first name, although he never used it. Also, the umber cast to his skin that set him apart in Missouri in 1927.

IMG_1608

From Grigg Hamblin, Hodge would inherit the land where the trees had been set out in orderly rows along the floodplain.

IMG_1611

From the trees, he got both a living and an identity. As if he’d been bred for it, and perhaps he was, Hodge was the special kind of being that is a pecan farmer. Atop sturdy, straight legs, he was mostly trunk supporting a thick V of shoulders, muscles knotting his arms down to long fingers. A head of nut-brown curls went uncut during the harvest season when he didn’t even bother to return to the house at night.

IMG_1607

Arizona Hodges Hamblin belonged only to the trees, and that’s how it went until he was almost 30.

© 10/18

selfy-promotion

IMG_7712
I’m storytelling in Cromarty Courthouse Garden, June 23, 2018.

Last month I was invited to read from my own work at the Cromarty Courthouse Museum Garden during Garden Opening Weekend (see photo) in this beautiful village on the Black Isle of Scotland. I’ve written a lot about Cromarty–a search of this blog will reveal that. But I am rarely paid to write in my own voice for my own reasons. Instead, my clients commission me to write, ghostwrite, edit, develop and doctor their books. It’s incredibly satisfying work, especially when my clients are as amenable as David Bland whose book (working titled provided below) is going to change the world. What a privilege to participate in his story.

I felt the same with about ghosting Dr. William Reed’s memoirs, The Pulse of Hope, and every other client I’ve had (see http://www.seavercreative.com).

Vivien, Leeanne and WAR at launchVivien Jennings of Rainy Day Books with William Reed and me, November 2014.

Promoting myself professionally is always awkward for me, so I just avoid it. Every client I’ve had has come to me word of mouth, which is good because I wouldn’t have the first inclination to get out there and find them. But if I did, it would probably be wise to post something like a client testimonial, so here goes:

Leeanne is, to me, much like a sculptor. Underneath the rough layers of my long-winded prose was a much better writer. Leeanne carefully and gently chipped away at that outer layer to reveal the story-teller below. My writing became crisper, clearer, and more purposeful. And I never felt berated, belittled or embarrassed. Try as I might, I could never find fault with her criticism and her suggestions were always on the mark, which is maddening, of course. Every time I sat upon my high horse Leeanne exposed the puny pony I was atop. In a very nice way. It is a rarity to find someone who can both find fault and suggest remedies. We all know the critic who offers nothing better. Leeanne supplies thoughtful criticism and insightful suggestions.

She took care with my work. She honored the time and energy I had spent, and she never diminished the pride I had in my writing. But she showed me where it could be better. That is a powerful talent.

~ David Bland, Author
Smudge: The Narrative Economics of Indian Country
Washington DC, 10 July 2018

BECOMING MARJORIE launched!

_DSC9692
Sharing the stage with (left to right) Rainy Day Books founder and owner, Vivien Jennings, Marjorie’s daughters Barbara and Debbie, the author (me!), and Marjorie’s friend and colleague, Janice Kreamer, Chair of the Kauffman Foundation.

More than two years ago, I began a book commission to capture the story of one of our nation’s unsung feminists–the sort of woman who wouldn’t have even called herself a feminist. It all culminated with an incredible launch week for me full of media interviews and promo stuff from September 19 to 24, 2017.  All those spoon-bending, how-in-the-heck-am-I-gonna-do-this hours spent (and will experience again–I’m already into the next commission) do somehow grow from an idea into the words and they find their pages and get beautifully bound and into the hands of readers.

me.theNPRinterview9.22.17
The NPR gig: now to remember everything I wrote!

I’m going to give enormous credit to the most amazing artists who comprise 94 Design–Paul and Laura Adams. Their exquisitely art-directed style turned boxes of artifacts into thoughtful visual assets. This is our second book together and I really don’t want to ever try this without them. They make my concept real, and then they make even better than I hoped it could look.

Paul and Laura Adams of 94 Design are the consummate professionals behind the art-directed look.

If you’d like to learn more about the woman who prompted a book to be written about her amazing life and legacy 25 years after she died, she’s here:

BECOMING MARJORIE

http://www.rainydaybooks.com/search/site/Becoming%20Marjorie

 

omission statement

im-in-there

I want to be a farmer of words…strictly organic…knowing each word I’ve planted will produce something sustainable.  I want to master the husbandry of words…know what it takes for them to grow strong and viable, to see words sprouting in a field that I have made ready…to know which to cull and which to feed.  I would rain on them from porch swings or Paris, fertilize them with prayer and presence.

I want to be a mad scientist of words…an anthropologist of words…and spend some time as alphabet-sous chef to William Least Heat Moon.

I want to put on a little lace camisole, a short ruffly skirt and some well-worn cowboy boots and go out dancing with words…in the French Quarter to a Doobie’s cover band…I want to taste Jack & Coke on the mouth of words…words against my neck…words that have a houseboat right on the river, not far from here…words in rivulets…

I want to be a field surgeon of words…the triage of words…able to keep somebody alive with words alone.

I want to debate words at Oxford and win.

But I will remain a recluse in a cabin on the Lesser Slave Lake of words…to be found a few months after I’ve died…to be posthumously unpublished, famously unknown.

$26 for the happiest day of his life

IMG_9075-001

He knocked on my front door, needing money . . . the exact amount to the penny for a bus ticket to Chicago: $25.65

Did I have any odd jobs he could do?            (this got my respect)

Overcoming my default NO, I said I figured I had $5 for pulling weeds out of the cracks in my driveway.

It’ll help, he said. And he started yanking at the crabgrass.

After about five minutes, I couldn’t stand the white privilege roiling off me; I approached him with a better idea.

OK, I’ll cover the full price of your ticket if you write about the best day of your life.

He just stared at me, confused.

How do I do that, he asked.

So I handed him a can of Cherry Pepsi, something to sit on, a notepad and paper.

Just tell me what happened that made it happy, I said. Write what you remember.

I went back into my house. Every time I peeked through the curtain or around the door frame, the boy was writing intently.

After 20 minutes, I went to see how he was doing. I asked if he would read it to me and said he would, but it made him shy. Shyly, he read. Sensei-ish, I listened.

IMG_9077

I liked his theme and told him so. He said he wasn’t done yet, so I went back to my work. Maybe 15 minutes later, he was ready. Did I want him to read it out loud again? I said no, you don’t have to.

He returned the notepad and pen. I shook his hand and gave him an envelope with $26 cash in it.

Congratulations, I said, this is your first paid writing project. You are now a writer. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Go to Chicago and keep writing even if no one is paying you. One day they will. You’ll be amazed by your life one day.

I’ve no idea why I felt authorized to say that, but that’s what I said. I think I just always wanted someone to say that to me when I didn’t know who I was.

Then he smiled awkwardly, trying to hide his broken front teeth. He thanked me and walked off.

IMG_9078

Later in the early evening, I was walking Nessy and saw a nearly full can of Cherry Pepsi sitting on the curb just up the next block from my place. It wasn’t thrown down, not even dented; somehow politely, it was just sitting there, punctuating the end of our exchange.

It charmed me.  It embarrassed me.  It was something I would have done at his age when I wasn’t brave enough to say no thank you . . . decades before I learned how to be the person  I myself needed when I was 17.

the writer’s prayer

In the morning when the light falls like water

Over the words

Bless me and hear my calling

Over the words

Open my throat and untie the hard not

Over the words

Save me when I am deep in the well enough

When I am drowning in the desert

When I am diving in the dumpster

When I am mothing too close to the fire

When I falter when I fall into the water

over the words

~ Liana © 8/15

sun-setting

Photo: K.Strejc Ginn

the Muse

climb

somedays She grips you like a lover, other

times She just grabs you like a scrap

of paper . . . writes something down

on your heart… this thought

is yours, it is for YOU…please

SEE IT… cuz if you are busy

not feeling your life, She uses

whatever . . . a fence . . . a flower

a friend . . . the fall

of a load-bearing wall
© Seaver, 2015