Posted in books

Creatively Restored! + CRM Review of Hannah Pittard’s “Listen to Me”

For about the last year I’ve had a huge creative block. I can’t say ‘writer’s block’ because I’ve still written. I’ve written this little something here. And thank goodness, because it’s pretty much gotten me through this block.

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I feel like I’ve had some good essays on here, but there are days I write just to write. Because I feel like I need to write to keep those muscles strong. I could just do book reviews (I’ve considered this), but I kind of like to write to get my thoughts and ideas to gel into coherency.

But, like I said, this last year I’ve sometimes written just to write.

I write for work, too, but that’s not really writing. Unless I get to write an article: it’s a sort of writing, although it’s not creative. Getting creative with the news is frowned upon (well, at least where I work . . . ).

But all of the sudden my creative juices have been flowing, and I feel like I’ve had some great ideas. Blog ideas, story ideas, even maybe a novel?  We’ll see. That last one is daunting for a few reasons:

  • First is the actual ideas. I’ve got them flowing, and right now I’m doing a great job of writing them down–for now. But it’s hard to write them down when I’m just falling asleep, or when I first get up in the morning. I’ve been keeping a notebook by my bed for that very reason, but it’s hard to climb out of the twilight of near-sleep. But it has to be done, or all day long I feel that “it’s right there on the tip of my tongue” thing all day long.
  • Second is the time. Finding the time. There’s the family: they feel like they need me. Especially the kids. Yes, they’re 13 and (almost) 12, but they (especially my younger daughter, with Down syndrome) still need stuff. Like food. And rides to practices and activities. And then there’s work. I’ve got to get that in. I don’t get paid a lot, but it’s a pretty good gig. And it keeps me working from home, so that’s nice. Especially with those pesky kids
  • And then there’s the fact that I feel like I’m getting a little long in the tooth for the first novel thing. I write because I feel like I need to write. But I would love to write something worth reading. And those somedays are getting away from me. Someday needs to be today.

Now that the creative juices are flowing again, I feel like the other problems are surmountable. I need to get up a little earlier and write–this I can do (I actually LOVE mornings, once I get out of bed . . .). I need to get over the age thing and just do it. Because it’s not going to start going backwards.

So this is a celebration. Creativity is back!!!! Life is overwhelming, and it will continue to be so. I still have to work, and I like that, too. I’m not getting any younger-no one is. So get those creative juices flowing and get ready for the ride. The hardest part is still to come. It’s the actual writing. The ideas are there. Getting them to the page in sentences that want to be read is the hardest part of all.

wrih

 

Wish me luck!

Okay, onto my review of Hannah Pittard’s  Listen to Me.


 

“It seems you’ve found the one. It’s in the cards. Your future; your doom.”

Hannah Pittard, Listen to Me

The Premise

Maggie’s a little paranoid lately. Mugged nine months ago at gunpoint, she can’t seem to get back to her center. Her PTSD has her feeling paranoid and a little obsessive, spending a large part of her day trolling  for stories of disaster and random crimes. Just as she was starting to join the world, a woman down the street was mugged in a similar way. But this woman was killed, making Maggie relive the event over and over again.

We meet Maggie and her husband Mark as they are getting ready to make their annual trip from Chicago to Virginia, to visit his parents. Maggie and Mark are a financially successful couple without children: Maggie is a veterinarian, Mark is a college professor.  They’ve been pretty comfortable in their life. Until Maggie was mugged.

On this road trip Mark is forced to confront his feeling about his wife. He’s not sure if he can still love her if she’s turning into this scared shell of a woman. Maggie’s not sure if she can turn back.

Outside the car a huge storm is brewing. As Mark and Maggie (and their neurotic dog Geronimo) navigate the roads and the storm, they must also traverse the rocky roads of trauma and marriage.

My Thoughts

Listen to Me was not what I thought it would be. Going by the blurb, I thought this would be more of a thriller. Rather, it’s an intimate look at a marriage when one partner has changed and the other partner feels helpless.

I liked Maggie as a character. She’s vulnerable and broken, but she’s smart enough to know it. And she’s stronger than she thinks. While the couple traverses the storms outside the car, she retreats into herself in an attempt to figure out a way to heal.

Mark was ‘That Guy,’ and I didn’t like him very much. In his mind he’s way smarter than EVERYONE: He has all the answers to fix the world, or at least he does when he’s on campus. But after Maggie is mugged, Mark starts to realize that his intelligence couldn’t, and can’t, help her. The more she’s unable to heal, the more he realizes how inadequate he is to help her.

In my opinion, Listen to Me is pure Hitchcock in someways. At the core, Hitchcock looked at the dark side of people and their relationships, putting them in situations that force them to confront their fears and foibles. The blurb for Listen to Me promises “A modern gothic about a marriage and road trip gone hauntingly awry,” and I would say that is spot on. It’s an interesting look at a marriage on the brink, and the characters have the choice to change or to let their marriage die. It’s also an intimate look at what PTSD can do to a person as well as their friends and family.

If you would have asked me right after I finished to book, I would have given it 3 stars, because it was not what I expected, but the writing was so good.  But a couple of weeks after finishing Listen to Me, I have to give it 4.5 stars. It’s a book I come back to again and again (especially as we drove back from Colorado as a family). It’s made me think about how hard marriage is, the micro and macro of relationships and the stressors that make them even harder.

So, 4.5 stars. Interesting and compelling!

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Author:

I love to read; writing is my outlet. My blog is my way to combine the two, with a some life stories thrown in for good measure.

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