having begun…

Today I want to finish my thoughts on Patricia O’Donnell’s Waiting to Begin: A Memoir. She is director of creative writing at UMF.

Next week I hope to blog about a book on the Maine hermit. And I’ve blogged about Patricia’s novel, Necessary Places, elsewhere:

another of Patricia’s books

Anna will meet the necessary place in all its refreshed physicality, its familiar and friendly relations. But she is caring for her father—seven years stricken with Parkinson’s disease—as they travel. Yet there’s much more than a caregiving journey in this book. Here are relations with disconcerting surprises, and surprising resolutions to apparent betrayals. I find in this novel the ways we are all taken off guard, amazed, and caught red-handed—the clichés coming alive as we live them. . .   and vicariously experience them here anew as our own. Necessary Places is the book for it. And it is an extended often funny showing of what suffering, pain, and other unpleasant trials are for.

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Maundy Thursday

For our contemplation.

Praying in Gethsemane

 

In this image the Lord Jesus is being ministered to by an angel as He prays in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before He is to be crucified.

The image of HIS contemplation is backgrounded in a remoter fore-glimpse of what is to come.

But let us contemplate the will of God with Him in this image. For He prays to be relieved of the necessity to endure the crucifixion. And, next, prays God’s will be done.

Shortly they will come for Him.

__________________

This image was made by Maine artist Nancy Jacob in Guatemala and is used here with permission. If you like, you can befriend Nancy on Facebook. I think an image of The Last Supper is planned for today. For deep views, double-click on images in all these posts.

is creativity to happen?

on meeting Pat and beginning maine metaphor, I happened to hang out with the birches

Continuing from last week’s post, here’s more on my nontraditional undergrad experience with the author of Waiting to Begin, who now holds the BFA chair at UMF.  Unbeknownst to either of us at that time, she was helping me begin the MAINE METAPHOR series.

I was not meeting with other creative writers. I was designing my own major around Maine studies, topics of which abounded among course offerings, but formalizing such a degree was not an option at that time. So I asked my mentor to work with me, saying I wanted to study and write mythic literature in an independent study. Neither O’Donnell nor the chair of the English department would sign onto the project. If I had waited perhaps a semester they might have been more receptive because by that time Joseph Campbell’s groundbreaking studies in the power of myth were popularized. Public television had begun doing this series with Bill Moyers and Campbell. (Recently Pat told me she would not have felt qualified to work on this type of writing.)

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Waiting to Begin: A Memoir

a photo of Pat taken by her daughter Emma

Patricia O’Donnell, author of Waiting to Begin, is five years younger than I am. We met at the University of Maine at Farmington where I was a nontraditional student. When it was learned that I was a prose writer I was granted the opportunity to have her as my mentor. I did not want to enter the creative writing program, however. At that time it offered no degree, and I had been writing professionally for a decade since my first fiction story was published in a national magazine, Horse Illustrated.*

So I wanted to learn about other things, particularly about Maine. I thought it wise to study with knowledgeable professors in order to have something to write about. I had been living in Maine for a few years, living an interesting life, but writing from life did not interest my pen. I needed knowledge, details, history, understanding. Supporting and integrating insight into the work—this is what makes a journal interesting to work with. Research comes after the living is written down.

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