MasterClass with David Baldacci

I have only read one book by David Baldacci. It was outside of his normal genre and he was roasted in the  reviews because of it. That book (Wish You Well) was enough to make me a fan of his writing. He normally writes political thrillers and suspense novels neither of which is a genre I read often. It frustrates me, though, when fans put such constraints on writers, but I digress.

I am taking his MasterClass — David Baldacci Teaches Mystery and Thriller Writing. I have also taken the classes by Judy Blume and Margaret Atwood that MasterClass offers. Those classes represent quite a mix of writing styles, don’t you agree? Each one has their own style and take on the writing process. It is the aspect I enjoy most. His approach is very different than others even though his genre is far removed from anything I would ever read or write. Or is it? I keep remembering that book about rural Virginia. We share some common threads.

I was delighted to learn he and his wife created a literary foundation supporting literacy in America. This message is taken from his foundation’s website – Wish You Well Foundation. What a great response to those who would criticize choice of subject matter and genre.

Imagine your daily life, the information you process, the decisions you make based on that process, and the actions you take based upon your decisions. Now imagine doing all these things while either being unable to read or reading at a below-average level. Well, you’ve successfully imagined the daily lives of 130 million people, just over half the adult population of the United States. A country that was founded on the principles of free speech, free press, and the freedom of religion — all rights tied inexorably to words — is fast becoming an illiterate nation. The ability to read is the foundation for everyday life. Indeed, virtually none of the major issues we face as a nation today can be successfully overcome until we eradicate illiteracy. That’s why we created the Wish You Well Foundation®. Please join us in this effort.

Reading this makes me like him even more.

In his class he suggests a couple of writing exercises which I found interesting. I may post my take on them here at a later date. If you would like to join in when I do post, I welcome the company.

This leaves me with a question. How much do you care about the authors and writers whose work you enjoy? Do you connect with them based on any of their personal views? Is there anything about a writer that would dissuade you from reading what they write?

Blog, Writing

The Handmaid’s Tale — Inspiration

MGM Television, The Handmaid’s Tale intertitle, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

Day 360

While I have been in Florida, I have re-watched a few episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu. There is so much I could say about this story — religion, politics, dystopia Vs. utopia, equal rights, fear, will to live, self preservation…the list goes on and on. Instead I want to talk about the power of the writing.

First of all, I know the book or the series is not everyone’s cup of tea. It is hard to watch. For me, watching it generates an emotional and almost primal response, fight or flight. I find myself wondering what kind of inner strength I have and wondering if I could survive. After watching, it takes a few minutes to leave that world and step back into reality.

“Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some.” 
 Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

I enrolled in Margaret Atwood’s MasterClass months ago and completed the entire class. Today I decided to go back and revisit the classroom and remind myself of the advice and cautions she gave. The imagery spun by her words is unsettling. Her characters are fully fleshed out and the circumstances and unpredictability make this story a feast for a reader.

Her characters are not entirely good or evil. They walk that line which makes us trust no one. We find ourselves liking aspects of the characters while also fearing them. It takes a commitment from the reader to take sides and decide who to root for.

The sad part of all this is that I have never read the entire book. Having only seen the series on Hulu, I want to see all the seasons through before I read it. I checked my library today and while there are 44 digital copies available, 53 people are in the queue to read it, so the wait time is well over a month.

I might just break down and order it on Kindle. Then I want to revisit the MasterClass again. What an inspiration.


Lazy Sunday

Day 179

The Morning View Down My Driveway – Azaleas and Dogwoods in Bloom

The rain woke me at 3:00 a.m. and again at 5:15 a.m. I could not go back to sleep so I was in a quandary about how to spend my unexpected early morning hours. I decided to meditate. Unlike prior mornings there was a lot going on in my head. It was all quite clear to me this morning, but now I cannot recall much except I think it was an exercise in learning to forgive myself.

I am always so calm when I meditate. I am finally reaching that sleep-like but not sleeping state. It is peaceful there even if the things my mind presents to me are sometimes chaotic. There was a time in my life when these thoughts might have been painful, but now they are just thoughts. Byron Katie would say perhaps I am learning to love what is.

It was a windy, rainy, and rather cool morning. I decided to forgo my walk and instead spent the day catching up on MasterClass. I finished Judy Blume’s class and started Neil Gaiman’s class.

Judy Blume strikes me as a very compassionate and feeling person. It was nice to learn she and her husband run a bookstore in Key West. It would be fun to visit — sure wish I had known that when I lived in Florida.

Her discussion on censorship was interesting. A few of her books were banned from public schools through the years. I appreciated how much time she spent on what happens after you decide the book is finished. It was very enlightening.

Her demeanor was quite a contrast to Margaret Atwood. I got the sense Margaret Atwood was a determined feminist. This is what I love about the MasterClass series – such diverse writers.

I decided to take an afternoon nap which is rare for me. It always leaves me a little disoriented when I only sleep for an hour or so. I like long naps, but that was not meant to be — not today anyway.

I had a quick video chat with my granddaughter which consisted of me watching her walk around the patio eating frozen yogurt. You never know what you will get with little ones.

Now, a quick reheat of some leftovers and then it will be time to bring some plants inside — we have a freeze warning tonight.


Friday on My Mind

Day 134

This morning, Friday on My Mind was spinning in the jukebox that plays in my head.

The year was 1966. Why is it I do not remember much from that time but I have every word of this song and every inflection of their voices firmly committed to memory? I do miss the era of amazing radio stations — are there any still in existence outside of Pandora, satellite radio, or Spotify? I guess it (and my transistor radio) is another time gone by.

I listened to several versions of this song on YouTube and it brought up so many memories, but I am not going down that rabbit hole today! (I am currently arguing with myself concerning the merits of researching whatever happened to Wolfman Jack.)

I feel inspired today and for some reason, I had Friday on my mind all week. Not sure why, but here we are just the same.

Today, I am keeping it light-hearted. Enough heavy stuff in the world today without polluting my blog with it all.

We have several bushes sporting blooms this week. Late winter / early spring can be quite a dichotomy here in the foothills. Allergies are kicking in because of early blooms and my property still shows the look of winter for the most part. The photos are a bit blurry due to the wind that’s stirring and bringing the camellia blossoms to the ground. I also noticed signs of a woodpecker on the tree closeup that I did not see until I looked at the images on my phone. Such is life in nature.

I am still loving my MasterClass subscription. Last night I took a break from my Judy Blume class and tuned into a little Gordon Ramsey cooking. Today I intend to sharpen all my kitchen knives the correct way. Then I want to try my hand at fine dicing some veggies like a real chef. I am absolutely loving MasterClass and I highly recommend the annual subscription if you, like me, have a lot of varied interests. and have the budget for it. (No, I in no way get anything from MasterClass from talking about their programs. I just really like them!)

That’s about it for all the things on my mind, other than a constant carousel of changing 60s tunes.

Have a super weekend.


Deep in Thought

Day 131

My MasterClass course with Judy Blume has my head spinning today. My thoughts have turned inward and memories are flooding back.

I realized today how my upbringing was such fertile ground for writing and character building.

I also read a blog today that brought back a lot of hard memories. More thinking.

So, this is short and sweet tonight. I am deep in thought and it is good for me.

Tomorrow is another day and I am looking forward to less thinking and more action.