LarkinLand: The Newsletter
This has been a jam-packed summer! A move, a new mini-book, commencement of a “listening tour,” updating and donating more Chizigula language books… Many exciting projects have kept this writer busy.
Best of Both Worlds
In June I moved my “base camp” (i.e., minimalist abode) to southwest Washington, which enables me to be closer to family and provides opportunities to attend writing conferences and join writing groups in Portland. Thanks to a generous Seattle area friend with extra room in her home, I’ll still be making frequent trips up north, so I can maintain my writing connections around the Emerald City. I’m grateful to be able to have “the best of both worlds” as I begin another new adventure.
I recently published Ten Affirmations of An Empowered Widow, a mini-book of “action affirmations” that I wrote during my grief journey. I invite readers to take to heart the affirmations that resonate with them, while encouraging them to create their own affirmations if they so choose. Tips for writing affirmations and inspiring quotations are also included in the booklet.
In July I was invited to speak to a group of widows at the Village Green retirement community in Federal Way. I carefully composed an agenda for the “Meet the Author” event, but soon discovered that what the widows really wanted to do was talk about their own grief journeys and the challenges they encountered. Older widows (those over 65) are largely invisible when it comes to the current grief landscape, which caters to those who are internet-savvy, comfortable with videoconference platforms such as Zoom, and can afford to buy books, attend grief retreats, and drive themselves to grief support meetings.
I anticipate participating in more of these “listening” events as I continue to focus on the needs of older widows. I consider it a privilege when widows share their personal stories with me, as I know it is “sacred ground” (as writer Oscar Wilde said so eloquently).
More Books Taken to Africa
In July several hundred copies of Introduction to Chizigula and Chizigula-English Book 1 were hand-delivered by my co-author, Dadiri Nuro, to students in Chogo, Tanzania. Tanzania is one of the countries to which Dadiri’s Bantu community fled when civil war erupted in Somalia (where they had already suffered intense persecution as a minority).
Chogo is a rural village; the cost of riding the bus and the distance to government schools has made it hard for the children to receive schooling. However, through donations, we have been able to build a small school in Chogo, which now serves about a hundred students (children and adults).
Chizigula is an endangered Bantu language and was never codified as a phrasebook until Dadiri and I published one in 2019. We are continually updating the books, which are also helping the elders living in the US learn English. I’m beyond grateful for the friends who generously contributed toward the cost of printing these books.
Dadiri reported that the children are reading much better than during his visit last year, which was a wonderful thing to hear. He was invited, along with other Bantu leaders, to meet with the mayor of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania’s capital) to discuss efforts to improve education, promote community organization, and improve farming techniques among the Bantu living in Chogo and nearby villages.
In spite of my longstanding fear of flying, I am actually considering traveling to Tanzania with Dadiri and his family next year!
I have scaled back my editing business this year, so during my move I donated some of my books about writing. One book I will never get rid of, though, is On Writing Well by William Zinsser. His advice includes an emphasis on fighting word “clutter,” which I regularly encounter as an editor (and in my own writing, still). Although the subtitle of the book is “The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction,” many of the principles contained therein can be applied to fiction writing. Or even newsletters—I cut about a hundred words from this newsletter after writing this paragraph and applying Mr. Zinsser’s advice!
I hope everyone has had an enjoyable and productive summer. I’m looking forward to fall in my new digs and working on few new projects.
Keep writing well!