“It’s the way you play that makes it . . . Play like you play. Play like you think, and then you got it, if you’re going to get it. And whatever you get, that’s you, so that’s your story.” ~ Count Basie
I want to awaken listeners around the world to the powers of jazz and literary arts that will heal and transform individuals and communities. When I started the last leg of I write about all things I am passionate about in the present tense. I am living the dream in the Pacific Northwest, so I write a lot about that, too. I have always wanted the kind of blog that appeals to folks from all walks of life that will swing by my blog and will be entertained, enriched and most of all enjoy themselves. It is my belief that listeners who embrace jazz have curiosities of other aspects of life that are diversified and go above and beyond jazz, respectively. Music is an essential part of this blog. It is filled with literary arts, entertainment, knowledge, spirituality, memories, cuisine, philosophy, social commentary, music, wellness and various other thought-evoking topics. I am living with Breast Cancer and write about mindfulness meditation, Jazz lessons on life and memories that have healed and transformed my life. It’s all about Jazz, Life, Cancer and Love from the Pacific Northwest….
A well told story—is that it has the appearance of being easy, effortless. A great story feels as if the writer has crawled inside of your head, pulled up an easy chair, and whispered the written words into your ear. That magic seduces all of us. And like the precocious child at a birthday party, we want the magicians to tell us their tricks.
This brings me back to the art of the narrative nonfiction proposal…
The advice I offer is not in the realm of trickery. There really are no tricks to fine writing. I credit Navigator 1965 that shed light on the narrative non- fiction proposal. I have discovered it’s trial and error. Lots of error, just like playing the piano, cooking, or throwing a slider. But there are pieces of sheet music, books of recipes, and diagrammed finger positions to ground and guide the dedicated. I’ll try and present the equivalent to the aspiring nonfiction storyteller.
A great proposal is about structure and voice. How can a writer structure a proposal so that they can dynamically “show” what he or she wants to create as well as entertainingly “tell” his target reader how he plans to do it?
The real skill is in being able to non-judgmentally notice when your brain is wandering and refocus yourself back on the present moment.
One Seattle writer solved and gave me inspiration for my memoir this way:
One of the few advantages of dying from Grade 3, Stage IIIC endometrial cancer, recurrent and metastasized to the liver and abdomen, is that you have time to write your own obituary. (The other advantages are no longer bothering with sunscreen and no longer worrying about your cholesterol.) To wit:
I was born in Seattle on August 10, 1952, at Northgate Hospital (since torn down) at Northgate Mall. Grew up in Shoreline, attended Shorecrest High, graduated from the University of Washington in 1975 with a Bachelor of Arts in History. Aside from eight memorable months lived in New York City when I was nineteen (and where I worked happily and insouciantly on the telephone order board for B. Altman & Co.), I was a lifelong Seattle resident.
In my professional life, I was a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader. Among career honors, I received a First Place Society of Professional Journalists award for Humorous Writing for my column Jane Explains, which ran from 1999-2005 in the Jet City Maven, later called The Seattle Sun. Also won First Place in the Mainstream Novel category of the 2009 Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest for my comic novel, The Bette Davis Club (available at Amazon.com). I would demonstrate my keen sense of humor by telling a few jokes here, but the Times charges for these listings by the column inch and we must move on.
Many thanks to Sylvia Farias, MSW, at Swedish Cancer Institute for encouraging me to be part of an incredibly wise gynecological cancer support group. Thanks as well to the kind-hearted nurses and doctors at Group Health Capitol Hill oncology. And thanks to my sister Barbara who left no stone unturned in helping me get life-extending treatment in my final months.
I also want to thank Mrs. Senour, my first grade teacher, for teaching me to read. I loved witty conversation, long walks, and good books. Among my favorite authors were Iris Murdoch (particularly The Sea, The Sea) and Charles Dickens.
I was preceded in death by my generous and loving parents, Michael Gallagher Lotter and Margaret Anne Lotter (nee Robertson), and by my dear younger sister, Julie Marie Lotter. I am survived by my beloved husband, Robert (“Bob”) Lee Marts, and our two adult children: daughter, Tessa Jane Marts, and son, Riley William Marts. Also my dear sisters Barbara Lotter Azzato, Kathleen Nora Lahti, and Patricia Anne Crisp (husband Adrian). And many much-loved nieces and nephews, in-laws, and friends.
I met Bob Marts at the Central Tavern in Pioneer Square on November 22, 1975, which was the luckiest night of my life. We were married on April 7, 1984. Bobby M, I love you up to the sky. Thank you for all the laughter and the love, and for standing by me at the end. Tessa and Riley, I love you so much, and I’m so proud of you. I wish you such good things. May you, every day, connect with the brilliancy of your own spirit. And may you always remember that obstacles in the path are not obstacles, they ARE the path.
I believe we are each of us connected to every person and everything on this Earth, that we are in fact one divine organism having an infinite spiritual existence. Of course, we may not always comprehend that. And really, that’s a discussion for another time. So let’s cut to the chase:
I was given the gift of life, and now I have to give it back. This is hard. But I was a lucky woman, who led a lucky existence, and for this I am grateful. I first got sick in January 2010. When the cancer recurred last year and was terminal, I decided to be joyful about having had a full life, rather than sad about having to die. Amazingly, this outlook worked for me. (Well, you know, most of the time.) Meditation and the study of Buddhist philosophy also helped me accept what I could not change. At any rate, I am at peace. And on that upbeat note, I take my mortal leave of this rollicking, revolving world-this sun, that moon, that walk around Green Lake, that stroll through the Pike Place Market, the memory of a child’s hand in mine.
My beloved Bob, Tessa, and Riley. My beloved friends and family. How precious you all have been to me. Knowing and loving each one of you was the success story of my life. Metaphorically speaking, we will meet again, joyfully, on the other side.
Beautiful day, happy to have been here.
Lotter’s husband Bob Marts created pins to share at her memorial service on Sunday inspired by her final words, reading “Beautiful day, happy to be here,” according to the New York Times.
Lotter inspired not only her family and friends, but an audience of millions over the Internet with what Marts describes as her love of life.
As one commenter wrote in Lotter’s online Guest Book, “If more of us had your outlook on life, this world would be a much better place.”
The goal is to work your way up. Admittedly, it is extremely difficult to just “be mindful” for every sing waking moment. When I learned mindfulness, dad and the musicians taught to do it in increments baby steps for just a few seconds of mindfulness at a time, working my way up to five, then 10 minutes. It is really tough to do and is almost like a mental muscle that needs to get strengthened over time. When it comes to sleep, being mindful can help us from getting stuck on rumination in bed, quiet our minds and bring about relaxation… and eventually sleep. The real skill is in being able to non-judgmentally notice when your brain is wandering and refocus yourself back on the present moment. Love to hear from you. Take Care, Peace Out! JBC 😎
TO BE CONTINUED … to the Prologue…
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