Views, Reviews and News
...and other markers along the way.
Last week, my husband and I vacationed along the Oregon Coast. We had been determined, at some point, to hike God’s Thumb, or The Thumb. It’s a rather difficult trek, especially when wet, and also, when reading online comments before attempting the feat.
We accomplished our goal, but not without a little help from the scenery—and reviews.
There’s an adage that writers (and other artists) should never read reviews. Some people will pick up a book with the sole intent to torpedo its success. Others will read a novel without understanding the context, having bought it based more so based on someone else’s recommendation.
When my first memoir was released, a former pastor sent me a review that appeared to me as more of a sermon on why my journey hadn’t ventured far enough into the religious realm. I learned from that how we judge based on our own experiences, through our own lenses, and how often (maybe all the time?) we project our fears and desired outcomes onto someone else. This is not a condemnation of religion, but a simple contrast to the premise of my memoir—where I found the inspiration to wake each morning after my young husband died.
As we planned for our hike to The Thumb, we were confounded by multiple, conflicting reviews containing information on where the trail started, what parking lot was open or had closed due to covid, the level of difficulty, where to look out for lack of signage. These were all important considerations when setting forth.
Many reviewers wrote about steep climbs, trails where land dropped off on both sides, and the lack of trail markers. Sounds daunting? It was. I was projecting my own fears onto those comments. How would we know where to go? Would we get lost, or fall?
Once on the trail, and adequately prepared, we scrambled up and down several steep inclines. We slowed our pacing and breath. The drop-offs were real, but if one stayed in the goat path carved out by humans, there was plenty of real estate for one to land their feet.
The view was stunning and could never be captured by camera. As an avid traveler and hiker, I never need a photo enough to risk my life. However, we did need one review we carried along. One that reported when we came upon a trail sign with an arrow pointing to the right, we were to go left.
There’s a road less traveled metaphor in that. But it’s also an apt description for any kind of life experience. Someone left a marker for us. And in turn, we should leave a marker for the next person. That is the function of a review.
What markers am I setting forth for readers and writers, and myself, these upcoming months?
I’m in revision mode for my novel and baffled by ordering the compilation of essays written about my mother’s kitchen. Chronological—or logical to me? I hope to find a marker that instructs me which way to go. I’ll have a few essays forthcoming in Rust Belt Magazine and The Art Academy of Cincinnati Journal. I’m always writing about aging and memory for Promedica and other publications, and you can read more about upcoming events where I’ll be in attendance, making appearances, and hosting workshops:
April 7 - Roebling Point Books Poetry night. While I won’t be in attendance, my dear friend and writing partner, Tina Neyer, will be reading her work.
April 30 - Mimosas for Memories - Giving Voice Foundation, supporting Cincinnati’s voice for older adults.
April 30 - Cincinnati Art Museum. Reflecting Together writing workshop. With Women Writing for (a) Change.
May 12 - Caring for the Caregiver writing experience - Giving Voice Foundation. (virtual).
May 14 - Grief Expressions writing experience - Hospice of Cincinnati.
Aug 10 - Caring for the Caregiver writing experience - Giving Voice Foundation. (virtual).
Oct 4 - Keynote speaker: Dementia Conference for Caregivers. Pittsburgh.
Oct 22 - Fotofocus in partnership with Lloyd Library - Record: Defining our record through the written word. More details coming soon.
Next week, I’ll return to my regularly scheduled blog programming with a mix of life and art, and how we walk through them together.
You are a brave, aware and blessed lady Annette, all, wrapped up in a delightful package!!!
I am always befuddled by directions. Some of my best encounters happened by being “lost.” I love how you express it Annette. Serendipity!