An Architect Named Angelo

Another coffee shop adventure…

Recently my husband and I visited a coffee shop in a little town I love. We sat in the corner in the small seating area. Another customer came and set his book on the table (so close that we could have touched it- the cafe really is small!) and went to get his coffee. We both read the title Frank Lloyd Wright, and instantly looked at each other and smiled.

Frank Lloyd Wright was a creative and prolific architect in the late 1800s and early 1900s  who liked to design one-of-a-kind buildings that used natural materials, and blended into the landscape. He developed the Prairie style of architecture and is most well known for a residence called Fallingwater, a home which is built over a waterfall.

My husband and I had visited the Wright-designed Meyer May House in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and had delighted in the out-of-the-box ingenuity that Wright displayed. We have been fascinated with the work of this man to this day, and that’s why our eyes lit up when we saw this book on the neighbouring table.

When the owner of the book sat down with his coffee, we engaged in a conversation about Wright, and the book-owner’s passion for Wright architecture. Lingering in the midst of the tutorial on Wright was conversation on work and doing what one loves, and about faith and religion. We learned that this man’s name is Angelo, and that he is an architect, and that he is designing a bed and breakfast home for relatives in Japan.

Wright himself lived in Japan for part of his life, in the early 1900s, designing many buildings in and around the Tokyo area. He thought Japan was one of the most beautiful places on earth, and when you look at some of his designs in North America, you can see Japanese influences.

Which leads me to be  thinking about Angelo and his family in this week of disaster in Japan. I wonder if Angelo’s family members are okay. I wonder if Angelo will be able to build this house that he was so happy to be working on. I wonder if he can be an influence for change and growth, much like his admired architect. I wish him all the best.

To check out the Meyer May house, go here:

http://meyermayhouse.steelcase.com/

To learn more about Frank Lloyd Wright in Japan, go here:

http://www.wrightinjapan.org/index.html

Meyer May House Grand Rapids, Michigan

Writing Limbo

I’m at that weird and awkward place in my writing career that reminds me of getting a new job when you’re fresh out of school.

I have made a lot of growth and progress as a writer, met fantastic people and written about interesting things. But everything I have done is mostly short. Magazine articles, newsletters, book reviews, profiles, and more. At least, that’s all I have had published.

I would like to have something longer-like a book- published, but this is where it gets awkward. Even if I have a complete manuscript ready, most publishers prefer that you have already written and published a book. The same goes for various organizations who provide grants for writers. You need a book credit to your name to prove that you are worthy of their money. I can understand where they coming from, that they don’t want their money wasted on someone who ultimately is not committed to meeting the goal of publication, but it is like trying to get your first job. You need to have experience in order to get the job but you can’t get experience without the job. Frustrating.

So here I am, with teens in the house, trying to get my “first job”. And about the only way to have that happen without some Divine Intervention is to plug away down at the bottom and work your way up. So that is why I am considering having a book published for free…

I have found a local organization that is soliciting local writers to submit children stories for kids under age 5, and they will print them at no cost to the author, and then distribute all 2000 of them. Sounds like a good idea to me. I will learn a lot more about collaborating with an illustrator, and putting together dummies (a set of model book pages). I will indeed learn from the bottom up what goes into making a book. I will meet many like-minded people along the way and build mutually beneficial relationships.

That’s not to say I don’t believe in Divine Intervention- I do! Heartily! Because sometimes Divine Intervention is low-key, and I need to have eyes to recognize it- like seeing an opportunity with a small local publisher…

Christmas Writing

My husband collects books about Christmas. They range from I Spy Christmas to Christmas in Plains by Jimmy Carter to A Newbery Christmas, a collection of short stories by Newbery award winning authors. Christmas has a way of capturing the imagination and creating rich feelings in us. My favourite in the collection is  Angels and Other Strangers by Katherine Paterson.

Paterson is a pastor’s wife, and she has written these stories for their congregation. The stories are poignant and moving- so much so, that when I read them aloud to my family at home I sometimes cannot speak for the emotion in my throat. What she gives us is Christmas stories that are not tidy and perfect, but ones that show the messiness of life and how even dark places can have hope because of the birth of our Saviour Jesus. I highly recommend her book, if you can find it . Our copy was published in 1979.

And now to Christmas story writing of my own. In the news business, it is very busy right now covering Christmas events. Most events are well attended, and people are enthusiastic, and I consider it a joy to highlight these good things of my community.

I encourage you to read a good Christmas book this season!