My new book “Midlife Solo” will be published by Mosaic Press later this year. Stay tuned!

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Bright Star

Well, if you want affirmation of the difficulties of the artist’s life, see Bright Star, which shows us a divinely beautiful and inspired John Keats slowly freezing to death, unacknowledged as one of the greatest poets in the English language except for the love and admiration of a few friends. The film is beautifully acted, gorgeous to look at and way too long – but a treat nonetheless. It’s about the sexiness of poetry. How many films can make that claim?

Beforehand, a Japanese lunch with my fierce mentor. He spoke again about how artists waste their time looking for approval instead of listening to their souls. He advised me to get rid of all my old drafts, not to let them weigh me down, just to start fresh. I thought, the support of this man is one of the greatest gifts of my life.
He told an amazing story – that friends visited him with their son when the boy was just eleven. The youth never forgot that encounter, and now, a university student, is writing a great deal as W’son does. He showed me the boy’s piece in a university literary magazine; it was stunning. Another writer inspired and launched, thanks to this generous man.
At home, I found an email from a dear friend, who wrote to ask if perhaps I should just write the way I want to write, rather than to please Mr. Ch*y. Maybe, he suggested, he wants you to sound like him instead of yourself; maybe he wants something from you that you are not able to give, and why should you? What I read, though it’s not what he meant, was: you can’t do what he is asking. Give up. I wrote back:

W’yson’s nagging insistence that I can produce something of depth and lasting value is keeping me alive. He’s not an idiot; if he has faith, it’s because he knows I can do it. I know with absolute surety that I can do it too. I have blocked myself in every conceivable way for as long as possible, but that will end and good writing will pour it. I am sure of that, and so, lucky for me, is he. He is expecting nothing less than the very best I can produce. A terrifyingly daunting thought.
I can do a certain kind of writing easily. This is a hard kind of writing, which is why I have avoided it for so long. I cannot write like my friend and wouldn’t want to. But, once I kick my demons out the door, I can write from the depths of my soul. It’s tough right now, with hundreds of wasted pages. But they’re not useless, they were what I had to write then. Now I need to get on with now.
There is no guarantee that anyone will want to read what I write or publish it or buy it. But if I have written honestly and with passion and from my heart, if I have shaped what I produce with all the craft I can muster, then I have done my job.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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I came to Paris in the 1990s. Decades later I’m still here. Come with me while I roam the city, the country, and beyond.

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I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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Coming soon

A new book by Beth Kaplan, published by Mosaic Press – “Midlife Solo”

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