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Tuesday, December 20, 2022

It's Where I Go by Liz Flaherty

One night this past week, we were listening to music at an open mic evening at Gallery 15, a local art gallery. The venue's owners, Sarah and Ron Luginbill, support the arts in every way possible. Sometimes...a few times...I've read essays at the open mic. I'm in no way a performance artist--writing is more a craft to me than an art, something that's been discussed as long as I remember--but I've enjoyed reading. 

I've enjoyed the applause. I've enjoyed a teenager telling me that my soliloquy on stopping smoking made him all the more determined he would never start. I've enjoyed talking to people about writing. I've enjoyed them thanking me for sharing.

Art by Sarah Luginbill
The other night, I asked Sarah, an accomplished artist, when she knew she was an artist. Was she small? Did she always see it and feel it? And she had. Just as I was a writer before I could even read, much less put words to paper. The stories were there, teeming through my mind like skaters in a Will Moses painting

"I think," I told Sarah, "that before it was anything else, writing was a place to go. When I didn't like where I was, I could go there and find happy." Those were not my exact words, but ones like them. 

"Right," she said. "It's therapy."

We could have laughed about what we were saying, because no one knows better than we do that writers and artists probably can't afford therapy, so we bring our own to the party.

Ron makes ukuleles. Perhaps builds is the right term--I should ask him. I've seen short videos of parts of the process, and I wonder what he thinks about when he's doing the work. He uses gourds sometimes in the making, and I wonder if he looks at a gourd and sees a ukulele. And hears it. And feels it. 

My husband is a musician. His hearing--or listening--has been a subject of discussion in our house for over 51 years. It still is. But Duane hears things in music that I will never hear. He feels things that are different from what I feel. 

He goes places I can't follow. And isn't that the funniest thing? Not he, nor Sarah, nor Ron, nor I--nor virtually anyone I know--want to keep our art to ourselves. Sarah has a gallery and has shown in many prestigious places; she and Ron perform music; Duane has played and sung virtually every day of his life since he was seven--often on stage; I write books I want people to buy and enjoy. We all warm to applause and to audience interest, and yet we are all grateful to have that place to go. 

The arts are a gift to everyone. They give pleasure and succor and sometimes lend excitement to lives. But at the very beginning, before the canvas or the page or the findings of the ukulele, the arts are a place to go. 

As I have said before, aren't we the lucky ones?

The Summer of Sorrow and Dance is the third and final book in the Second Chances Series from Magnolia Blossom Publishing. Dinah and Zach are both searching for places to go as their lives change faster than they can keep up. 

In the midst of a summer of change, they’re both searching for an anchor.

Dinah is a mom, a giver, and a doer, so she’s used to change, but this summer is kind of overdoing that. The diner where she’s worked for half her life is closing, her college-age kids aren’t coming home for the summer, and a property on nearby Cooper Lake is calling her name, bringing long-held dreams of owning a B & B to the fore. Newcomer Zach Applegate is entering into her dreams, too.

Divorced dad, contractor, and recovering alcoholic Zach is in Fallen Soldier, Pennsylvania, to visit his brother and to decide what’s coming next in his life. He doesn’t like change much, yet it seems to be everywhere. But he finds an affinity for remodeling and restoration, is overjoyed when his teenage sons join him for the summer, and he likes Dinah Tyler, too. A lot.

Dinah and Zach each experience sorrow and tumult, but go on to dance in the kitchen. Together, they have something, but is it enough?

Merry Christmas. Here's hoping for a splendid segue into 2023!


  1. Love the art as therapy idea. Great blog! Best of luck with your books!

  2. Yes, art (writing) can be very theraputic. Great post!
    Good luck, God's blessings & Merry Christmas.

  3. I knew I wanted to write before I started school. I didn't take it seriously until I was diagnosed with MS and forced to leave my job and stay at home. It WAS my therapy...writing books saved me from tears, anger, loneliness. I'm not sure others quite understand those of us who love the arts as part of us. But we do! Thanks Liz for sharing this.

    1. Thanks, Deb. I'm glad writing was there when you needed it. Even when the word comes hard, it never really leaves, does it--it's always a place to go.

  4. I knew I wanted to write before I even started elementary school. It wasn't until six years ago when I was diagnosed with MS that I really began. Writing was my therapy. It kept me from sadness, anger, and loneliness after I was forced to leave my job and stay home. I'm not sure others understand those of us who love the arts as part of our soul. Thanks Liz -

  5. This really spoke to me, and, as usual, is beautifully written! Thank you, Liz, for sharing your talents with us. I feel like part of the magic of creating things--stories, ukuleles, paintings, music--is making something that is an extension of ourselves. It gives us the godlike ability to give life to things, bring them into creation, and express our inner-selves which is a release, a's air and light and warmth for us.

    1. Oh, I love this, Mary. You've said it so well. How right you are.

  6. Thank you for the interesting tip of the hat to artists, and for your new book.

  7. I wanted to be a writer since I knew what a writer was, but it is my sewing and embroidery that is my go-to therapy, I think because it is easier. I tell people that I used to say I sewed for therapy but now with as much as I have invested, I could be seeing Dr. Phil.

    1. Sewing is a lot of fun for me, but I sew what's easy. I don't necessarily do that with writing. Thanks, Sherri.


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