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 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
After work last Wednesday, I dropped the kayak in and paddled up river to the beaver lodge, taking in the only news I can stomach these days.
A pair of trumpeter swans (black billed) have found a congenial welcome by Keats, the omnipresent mute swan (orange billed). Keats is a curmudgeon with uncompromising rules about his territory. Yet there he was being nice. This is above-the-fold news, people.
As the sun set, I paddled back towards my house on the peninsula. There’s plenty of yard work to do and writing deadlines weighing me down, yet the water gives me a sense of calm. It’s hard to feel pressure or anxiety here. I am happy with the idea of growing old in this littoral place that is now serendipitously mine . . . the hard work of getting here rewarded by a contentment both unfamiliar and constant.
I may just mark my height on a doorsill and measure how much shorter I get every year I grow older and new in this place.
I no longer want to write the Great American Novel,
or the pretty good Canadian essay,
or the tolerable Norwegian short short story,
or the shitty haiku of unknown nationality.
from Troy Jollimere’s Upgrades
Winter Light at Wild Turkey Road near Sebewaing, MI
Along about Exit 88 on I-94 Westbound, there is a plastic Santa Claus sitting on top of a steel fence post, part of an old woven-wire fence that separates the highway easement from a swampy horse pasture. He’s back in there a little ways, hidden in the brush and hard to see. It looks like someone was picking up cans, or generally policing the road bank, and found him there. What do you do with a good Santa Claus that you may have found while picking up cans on a summer day? Put him up on a post for others to enjoy, of course. My wife, Jamie, and I rarely pass that way without trying to spot Santa. He always makes our day. We wave and say “Hi Santa!” Be it midnight on a Tuesday in June, or four pm on a random February day.
We don’t decorate for holidays much at our house. We have dogs and a cat. They wreck stuff. We kind of feel that a lot of seasonal decorating is for retired people who have time and money. Our money is tight and if we are not working we need to sleep. Life has tired us out. We used to paint the town red every weekend, Hell, we’d give it two coats and stay up for 3 days to watch it dry.
Now we are exhausted, and things that mean more work just don’t make sense to us. We’ve seen lights, we know a lot about conifers, and wreaths of arborvitae. Holly grows in the swamp down past the old farm. Seen it all. Did it. Know where it is if we need it, don’t feel the need to drag it into the house so we can clean it all up again in three weeks.
But if you want to see a couple in their 50’s get excited, just watch along I-94 at Exit 88 when we come by. We’ll be craning our necks to see if we can spy Santa sitting on his perch, bringing joy to people like us, too tired to decorate at home, but not too jaded to appreciate the random gift of a stranger who thought Santa would look good on the fence. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if we start collecting Santas to stick on fence posts wherever we go. Decorating the house for Christmas is an overwhelming task. For some reason scattering Santas around the countryside doesn’t seem like too much work. Merry Christmas!
(Guest Blogged by Chris A. Ross, Attorney, and a BFF since 6th grade. Thanks, Tallz!)
Somewhere up near West Branch, Michigan, where the hills in the distance are sand dunes.
I am swaying back and forth over the steam . . . praying to the God of salt in boiling water who keeps the eggshell from cracking.
Today I awakened in a country of unconscionable choice. Deep in the dirt of my DNA there is some Pompeii of knowing what life will be like now. I know what we must do, if we can.
My friends and I text a roll call to see who is standing and how. Nessie wants walking but I’m not sure anything’s got legs anymore, certainly not the popular vote.
Andrew called from Ireland to remind me of my daughter’s heart. I make of list of happinesses: Elise got engaged. Brianna’s little Oliver is a week old now. Cybelle got that job at Western. Mail just dropped through the slot in the box just like any old day. The feeling of my son’s earlobes and the center of his forehead. Gregorian Chants. Bagpipes. To be on the last part of the last chapter and know I’ll make my deadline. The expensive lotion from Taylor. The mermaid stone from Jane. The bird candle from Suzanne, and the birds in Jill’s office. The birds in the airport. Yesterday’s lunch to celebrate my daughter’s first vote in a presidential election that included a woman’s name on the ticket. Here’s to those eggs, and here’s to celebrating before they were broken. And if I bake bread or write thank you notes or make soup, then oxygen will start to flow through this bag of bones again.
Outside my kitchen window, there is a geesyness of sky and November’s leaf music. The sun still rose over a world that has seen far worse, I tell myself.
I place the three eggs in the pan. I add more salt to the water, less to the wound.
© L. Seaver 11/9/16
Finally, we reach the part of the lake where sandy shallows wrap around a small peninsula. We tie the canoes to branches hanging low over the water. The big boys launch noisily in the direction a Frisbee is thrown. The other mothers call for life preservers. But the boys are already gone . . . drenched in a watersong. And I am drowning in it.
My son is not yet a very big boy. He’s a little blonde glint of a different world. He flips out of the boat like a sunfish off a line. He doesn’t hear his cousins calling him to join in because he can’t. He’s deaf . . . a Seer. Off he goes, enthralled in the company of many things only he is noticing.
I, too, am in a place apart. The lake is quicksilvering in syllables of light . . . the minnows tasting my toes. I write more than words across the water with a fingertip. Things I don’t say to the others.
All the girlfriends I had before are the other mothers. Even my sisters are the other mothers; my mother is one of the others, too. The world is now divided into the others and us . . . hearing and Deaf. And I don’t belong in either place but to the space between them. A bridger. It will be years before I can accept this as the Divine gift that it is.
The breeze writes back unintelligibly in light ripples over the surface. Whatever it means gives me comfort.
Looking up, I see my little boy bending as far as possible until his ear touches the surface of the water . . . as though listening intently to it. His eyes closed in concentration. He reaches deeply for something. Half of his face submerges, the other half glows with feeling. He brings a clamshell like sunken treasure to the surface . . . checks it for a pearl.
~ Leeanne Seaver © 2014
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.
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.
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.
of what I can’t say
that would sound soft
soft soft soft
soft mountain or
one toe in sand that I
also can’t move . . .
the wordless words
of my heart holding
so brittle still
(~ Marc died last night . . . too young)