Monday, November 23, 2020

Write Yourself into Existence

JANICE:   I wish those were my words but they belong to Dave Eggers. He also said, "You should write your story because you will someday die, and without your story on paper, most of it will be forgotten." Three times I have taken his advice - to save my legacy and write myself into existence. The first book is Becoming Alive, which takes me from birth to Tom, my true love.

I tell of my journey to become alive. I was not the smartest or prettiest girl around, but I yearned to do something extraordinary, which I later understood to mean finding where my life is. Fortunately my professor father read to me from an early age and exposed me to classical music. We had discussions about God and the universe, books and music. 



The second book is Honeymoon Hobos, which tells of the yearlong journey that Tom and I took after our marriage. We sold our possessions and set  out from Long Beach, California, on a sleek Japanese freighter bound for Yokohama. Our goal was to live inside other cultures, and that is exactly what we did. In Tokyo we lived in the homes of a Japanese war widow, then a Japanese architect, and in Kyoto a Zen Buddhist temple. It changed our lives forever.



Most recently I published a third memoir, Bringing Up Boys with Tom. When Tom asked me to marry him, I smiled and said, "Yes, if I don't have to cook or have children." I am still lukewarm about cooking but bringing up our boys was one of the greatest joys of my life. 

Tom and I created a home that sheltered daydreaming. There Tom taught Karl and Daniel to draw and make things with their hands. I opened up the world to them by reading books aloud and planning family trips. Together we strove to encourage creativity, an adventurous spirit, knowledge of our cultural heritage, and empathy for other cultures.


Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Antonio and Liam

JANICE: When I received this photo of little Liam absorbed in Tom's and my picture book biography, I, Vivaldi, I was shocked. I never imagined that our book and Vivaldi's music would be loved by such a young child.

 Here his grandmother is reading it to him as they listen to a CD of "The Four Seasons." Every day he requests Vivaldi, both the book and the music. I love his intent expression and his little fingers sticking out from under the book. This child could grow up to be a musician, a composer, the president, or anything else he wants to be! So much depends on what he is exposed to.

His grandmother said, "Liam truly loves I, Vivaldi and learns something new every time he hears the wonderful story and explores the bountiful illustrations. Now when he wakes up, he asks his Mom to turn on Vivaldi so he can listen to the music while she reads. He is transformed!"

Below is one of those "bountiful illustrations" of Venice, Vivaldi's home town.

Fellow children's authors and illustrators, this is why we give our best to what we do. Yes, we can change the world, child by child.