Apr 8, 2011

Knocked down seven times, get up eight.

Reading: Just Breathe – Susan Wiggs

Watching: Guinea Pigs jump

Making me smile: Rellies visiting from Sydney

You’ve read books where every word is pitch perfect. Where the characters are so real you feel as if they are speaking directly and only to you. When you reluctantly read the last page – that final sentence – the ending stays with you, a warm knowing feeling. There’s a lesson to take away and it found its way to your heart big time. Last night I began reading Susan Wiggs’ Just Breathe. In the first chapter we learn that the heroine has already been through the wringer: needing to leave her family and hometown, discovering problems with infertility, suffering knockbacks with her job, helping her partner triumph over cancer. This woman is strong, courageous, intelligent, caring, loyal. She faces her challenges head on and conquers them. Nothing can keep her down.

Then her world falls apart.

Writers know we shouldn’t be kind to our characters. What’s a good story, after all, without problems to solve? Without people we aspire to emulate when times get tough? And those kinds of heroes aren’t limited to fiction. When I’m navigating a particularly rough patch, I have looked to persons – real or not – from whom I can draw strength. I have asked myself: What would he/she do? How would they find the grit?

Do you draw from people you admire for guidance, attitude, tenacity when the road ahead looks bleak? Are they real life persons, like role model celebrities, your parents, even children? Have you ever faced a personal trial and wondered how Such-and-Such from That Fabulous Book would handle it?

Two things are for sure. The human spirit is an amazing source of inspiration.

And I can’t wait to see how this Wiggs book ends!


  1. Great post Robbie!
    And it sounds like you're reading a brilliant book.
    I've drawn a lot of inspiration from my eldest daughter, her joy for life and inner strength amazes me every single day.
    Fiction might not be 'real' but the emotions are, our characters grow and have a life of their own, their traits are more than likely snatches of people we've known and loved (or hated).

  2. Hey Mel! You must be so proud of your daughter. Her mum has a lot do with her great attitude, btw =)
    My middle daughter can be an inspiration in the tenacity department. Once she sets her mind to something, there is no dragging her away. Just wish she'd apply her mind to keeping her room tidy!

  3. Robbie, I've thoroughly enjoyed the Susan Wiggs books that I've read and it sounds like Just Breathe is another excellent story.

    Your question at the end of your post reminded me of a movie I watched about a week ago - The Jane Austen Book Club. I don't want to drop any spoilers here... so I'll just say that at a crucial, turning-point moment, one of the main characters was about to make a certain decision. She stopped and asked "what would Jane Austen do?" And she made her decision accordingly.

    Lovely movie!

    And I adore that picture of the boy reading to the elephant. A very thoughtful looking pachyderm!

  4. Ooh, I just bought Susan Wigg's Summer At Willow Lake today and I can't wait to dive into it.

    Loved your post Robbie. When I was a little girl I tried to model myself on my favourite heroines (Anne with an E, Katy from What Katy Did, and Jo from Little Women) -- they were all such big-hearted, fair-minded and strong women. Guess a girl could so worse than to continue to learn from them :-) .

  5. Sharon, I haven't seen that movie yet! Might get it out this weekend. It's raining again in Qld =/
    I thought that last shot with the elephant was cute too. A picture says a thousand words =)

  6. Michelle, isn't Jo fabulous! I remember watching the 50s movie and thinking how pretty but selfish Liz Taylor was. Meg was sooo sweet. Beth was an angel, but I wanted to be just like June Allyson!

    I'm sure you'll enjoy Summer At Willow Lake. She's a fabulous writer/storyteller.

  7. I recently read my first Susan Wiggs book (always like to be up to date about authors coming to our conferences!) - was an historical called The Drifter. Loved it. Will be ordering more. :)

  8. An historical! Bet she did gorgeous things with the imagery. We'll have to do a swap =)

  9. I love the elephant picture. I don't think I have ever related to a fictional character in the way you described but I do ask myself once in a while what my grandma would have done.
    I love that Michelle related to Anne with an E and that you all understand our Canadian heroine. I really do need to read Little Woman. I know how and why I missed the book when I was young but I must find it and read it now.

  10. I don't know why this didn't connect with me before now but it's 9:34 PM where your blog comes from and 5:34 AM where I am. So what part of Downunder does your blog come from?

    I'm still waking up so I'm not up to figuring out the time difference but I think I am 16 hours behind you.

  11. Kaelee, my mother will wonder what granma would have done. She'd look up at the sky and the brightest star and say she'd look over us if something important was happening. It's actually her birthday on the 8th. What's the bet she's smiling down now =)

    Re the time here...daylight savings stopped the other day. So the eastern coast of Australia is all on the same time - Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne. NZ lovecats are three hours behind...I think.