Hello everyone in the blogosphere,
I have a very special treat for you. Todayâ€™s special guest is my good friend and fellow writer, Lynda McKinney Lambert. She was unable to be a guest on Inspirational Journeys, due to technical difficulties, so I invited her to be a guest on my blog instead. I hope you enjoy my chat with Lynda, and I pray that you find some valuable takeaways for your own writing life.
Ann: Please tell us a little about yourself.
Lynda: I will be 76 years old on August 27. I am a wife to Bob whom I married when I was 17 and he was 20. We still love each other. In fact, we now know what love really is as we age together.
We have 5 children who are all grown. And we have grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Bob and I live in the rural Village of Wurtemburg, in western PA. Our ancestors settled here in the mid-1700s and this is where we choose to spend our lives. This is always the place that is â€œhome.â€ No matter where else we ever went. I feel like I walk on the same paths as my ancestors walked â€“ and it seems like we are an overlay of those courageous people who left everything that they had, to come live in America. I carry their dreams inside of me and I am grateful to them for what they gave to be here.
Bob and I like to work in our yard and in our flower gardens. Bob is a retired welder and auto body man â€“ he was a blue-collar worker and I come from a steel workers family â€“ so I hold those values for my own life.
We feed feral cats when they come visiting; we have adopted our 2 dogs and 2 cats from shelters or picked the up when they were abandoned in the woods near our home. We love creatures of all sorts.
These are the things from which my writing evolves. It is the ordinary, mundane events in our common life that I celebrate in my writing. I think of Flannery Oâ€™Connor and William Carlos Williams, and Walt Whitman â€“ American writers who taught us to look to America for our source and our themes in writing. That is what I do â€“ I write about a walk in the woods; an object that belonged to my grandmother; a wish for a new-born baby great-granddaughter; swimming in the creek; birthday event. It is the common threads that we all share that interests me.
Ann: When did you decide that you wanted to become a writer, and what was your source of inspiration?
Lynda: I cannot remember a time when I chose to be a writer. I know that in high school I was in love with Shakespeare and the Beats. I was crazy about the new wave of BEAT POETRY and was very aware of happenings in New York City in the poetry world as a high school student.
Iâ€™ve always been a watcher. I am really a rather quiet person because I am listening and watching the world around me. I am a keeper of memories for my time on this earth. I hold on to those memories, and I bring them out in my writings. I help other people by reminding them of who they are, where they have come from, and why they are here. Most people have forgotten their past.
I also give something else to everyone through my art and writing â€“ and that is beauty. I bring the things that are beautiful to their attention, for sometimes they have forgotten them. There is a spiritual source of beauty that I see all around me and I share that with my readers and those who see my art works. I am here as a reminder of what is beautiful and I am restorer of memories that were forgotten. That is what I bring to this world through my creative work.
During my academic pursuit of 3 degrees in Fine Arts (Painting) and English, I wrote all the time and always took courses that were labeled as â€œIntensive Writing Courses.â€ Art History gave me a ton of experience in writing â€“ enough to qualify me to be accepted into the MA in English program after I got my BFA degree. And, of course while working on my MFA in Painting, I was writing intensively for those 2 years â€“ working my Art History papers, and my 2-year Thesis document. So writing is as natural to me as breathing. Along with my twelve years of academic writing, I was passionate about doing research for so many papers. I used to take my books back to the library in a laundry basket â€“ that is how many books I had at home, from which I did research at any given time.
Ann: What tips and tricks did you learn throughout your writing journey? How have these little gems of advice helped you improve your writing or enhance your writing career?
Lynda: My experience is that nothing can take the place of long hours of research and reading in the discipline you are working in. For me, it has always been in fine art, philosophy, history, and English literature.
My best advice to anyone is to discover who you are, and then follow your passion. Donâ€™t imitate any other writer â€“ look at many of them and enjoy them but never imitate them.
Iâ€™ve never learned to do anything in a flash. After all these years â€“ well, over fifty years of writing- it still takes me a long time to get projects done. I always say I am slow when it comes to writing projects. It feels like it is slow to me, but to others it seems that I do things quickly. My brain just never stops thinking about what I am doing and the layers of other things I plan to be doing.
I think the most important thing for me was education. It grounded me and centered me and helped me to know exactly who I am and what I want in life. Iâ€™ve never been floundering and undecided. The many educational projects I did kept me focused in that direction.
I am inspired by several notable writers from across a long period of time.
Iâ€™d begin with the Greeks â€“ Iâ€™ve always loved the Greek Mythology stories. They are memorable and they are relevant today, when you really understand them. I carry them with me.
Iâ€™ve already mentioned the remarkable work of Flannery Oâ€™Conner â€“ she sets the standard high for us all â€“ those of us who want to share a world view and the zeitgeist of our time.
I loved the Beats, as I said; I loved Whitman â€“ and I am still in love with him just as much today as when I first encountered his work as an undergraduate student in the mid-80s. Walt Whitman teaches us to have joy in our life experiences and to be honest about our challenges. He was an overcomer and he showed us a path to walk on as an American writer. He gave us pride in who we are – Americans.
Other influences on me are William Carlos Williams, John Donne, Robert Bly, and Yusef Komunyakaa.
My most meaning full inspiration is the Bible. I am a born-again Christian and the Bible is my Userâ€™s Guide for my life. That ancient text is my Road Map. I am on a pilgrimage from one place to another. Passages that I read become so alive to me that they often inspire my poems and essays.
Ann: Tell us a little about your most recently published book(s).
Lynda: Iâ€™ve been busy keeping my feet on the path that runs through the woods, along the creek.
Being in nature gives me the energy to keep on writing my poetry, books, and non-fiction essays.
My newest book just came out on July 15.
Star Signs: New and Selected Poems, DLD Books, 2019. This book was inspired when I read Genesis 1:14.
I began to think about the imagery in this verse and began to imagine what it might look like as a work of art, or in writing. From those musings, I began to develop the 4 parts of the book.
The book has 145 pages, divided into 4 distinct parts and 54 poems.
It is a collection that spans my career from an early poem (1988) to the present.
I am proud to say that my second book, Walking by Inner Vision: Stores & Poems is now available as an AUDIBLE choice. You can buy it in print, e-book, Kindle, or Audible. This is very exciting to me and the narrator for my book is Lily Rowe. She brings my word to life in such a way that people tell me they forgot it was not me telling my own stories. I am getting calls and messages to let me know how people love this narrated version of my book.
Ann: Which is harder, writing or editing? Why?
Lynda: I think they are so distinctly different from each other that I cannot say I think one is harder than the other. Both are essential. Itâ€™s kind of like asking what is more important to a healthy lifestyle, exercise or nutrition. Both are 50/50 on the importance scale. You cannot be fit without either of them.
Ann: Do you have any current or upcoming projects youâ€™d like to share with us?
Lynda: Yes, on the heels of my announcement that my latest book was published on July 15, I can now say that my first chapbook is in the process of being published, too. I call it, first snow, and Finishing Line Press has a contract with me for the production of this little chapbook of 30 wintry-themed poems. I am excited because Winter is my favorite season. But you know, I am also planning on writing 3 companion chapbooks â€“ one for Spring, Summer, and Autumn.
I am pleased to say that first snow will be published in January.
Beyond that, I have 2 other books in the pipeline.
One will be a revised edition of my first book Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage.
I wrote this book from my journal entries during the years I taught a course in Austria each summer.
I wrote some of the poems when I was in graduate school, some when I lived in California for 2 years, and others from my travels. Itâ€™s a nice collection and I am proud of it â€“ and with the revised edition, it will be even better.
In addition, Iâ€™ve outlined a new book with the working title, Under the Blueberry Moon, which will be a memoir. Iâ€™ve outlined it and will begin to seriously work on developing the pieces for it in 2020.
I am often told, that Iâ€™ve lived such an adventurous life that I should write a book about it. Well, I am!
This is part 1 of my interview with Lynda, Stay tuned for part two.
Ann: What are your reading habits and how have they influenced your writing career today?
Lynda: I read what I am deeply interested in â€“ poetry and non-fiction.
Eventually you need to figure out who you are and what you need to be reading. Otherwise, you can be all over the place, and lost at sea. No one else can know what you need to read. Look inside yourself and figure it out. You will know what is best for you.
Ann: If you could have a conversation with, or be educated by anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?
Lynda: I would want to spend time with the most highly educated man who was born around 4 BCE, St. Paul the Apostle, once known as Saul of Tarsus in Cilicia. His birth city was located in present day Turkey. He died of decapitation in Rome, Italy around 64 BCE. Saul had the most violent and dramatic conversion to Jesus Christ.
The most memorable painting from my art history classes is â€œThe Conversion of St. Paul,â€ by Caravaggio, painted around 1601. It was one of hundreds of paintings and art works I had to memorize while at the university. Fine Arts majors are required to study Art History and, in those courses, they must memorize all of the facts about hundreds of art works from many different time periods and cultures. This way of looking at things and memorizing them is what I carry to this day â€“ I carry images into my writing â€“ because I intentionally memorize them for that purpose.
It has been said of my writing that a reader feels like she is in a dream. That dream is a real world that I have memorized for many years.
Link to see this painting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Conversion_of_Saint_Paul_(Caravaggio)#/media/File:The_Conversion_of_Saint_Paul-Caravaggio_(c._1600-1).jpg
Examples of this way of close inspection of things is how I write my poems and essays. As I walk through a wood, I am surveying every detail of the plants and trees. I try to memorize the time of day, the lighting, the atmospheric effects on the plants, and the feeling and smells of this experience. I think this is one of the things that sets my writing apart â€“ I literally am a keeper of memories for everything I can take into my mind at any given time. Art History taught me to view and explore everything this way. I concentrate on memorizing each of my senses as I view a thing.
Ann: If my readers are meeting you for the first time and want to follow you and learn about your work, where can they find you online?
Lynda: My official authorsâ€™ website:
My Authorâ€™s website for book information:
My Authorâ€™s Page on Amazon:
Ann: Do you have a favorite Bible verse youâ€™d like to leave us with?
Lynda: you saved the best question until last.
I am delighted to tell you what my favorite Bible verse is and why it is my new favorite verse.
Just this week I received a short teaching on a Bible verse which really made me consider what it means to be saved and who we really are after we have that encounter with Jesus. We are not the same, we are changed. Bob and I were transformed one night in October 1973 when we asked Jesus to come into our life. He did! Christianity is all about the indwelling of the Lord God Almighty. He is not â€œout there somewhere,â€ and we donâ€™t have to go through any sort of ritual to locate him â€“ he is inside of us and that is for all time. Our God lives inside of us in the form of the Holy Spirit.
At some point, I must ask, who am I, in Christ?
And here is my favorite verse to answer your question:
Ephesians 2:6 gives me a perspective and a world view from which everything I write is channeled.
I began to understand that we are already in heavenly places – it is not a dream for the future or a wish. We are IN Christ Jesus – already.
We ARE seated IN Jesus Christ at this very moment – …according to Paul, who wrote in Ephesians:
Ephesians 2:6 New International Version (NIV)
6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.