Category Archives: Family

First the Path, Then the Companion

      In our dialog with other writers, we met D. Jean Quarles and traded some observations about the writing lifestyle.  Jean’s networking with additional writers generated a collection of observations, lessons, and confessions that she thought appropriate to share.  And thus, through Jean’s vision and effort, evolved an anthology that became the book, The Write Balance: Journaling The Writer’s Life now available as an Amazon download.

My short contribution is titled First the Path, Then the Companion.  The piece contains the kind of advice that an older writer might give to a younger one.  The first college professor who told me that I had the potential to be a literary artist tried to warn me about the detours to art that romance constructs.

Here then is my contribution to The Write Balance.  You might want to download the entire book to see what other writers advise.

Monty at the proverbial writing table

“After you have made the life-altering decision to travel in the direction of the literary arts, the next crucial decision is who will go with you as spouse or companion.  Do not put the second before the first, or you will create constant conflict instead of literature.

My second wife understood my passion to write, and she thus became
the great facilitator for a very productive writing period that did not depend on commercial success.  As my partner, copy editor, researcher, and manuscript preparer, we were able to produce novels, non-fiction books including a long two-subject biography, and libretti for an oratorio and two grand operas over a period now spanning 29 years.

First book in the Booker Series

Meanwhile, we operated a seasonal manufacturing and retail business to support ourselves and our three, now college graduated, daughters.

During those years, I wrote full-time six months and then worked seven days a week for six months in the business.  With the girls married, we sold the business in 1992 and have devoted ourselves full-time to the literature ever since.

Second book in the Booker Series

We count our satisfaction with lives lived in the dedicated pursuit of art not on published success, but rather by the manner in which we have remained faithful to whatever literary work was inspired for us to do.  We honored whatever talent we had in the completion of more than 50 major literary works. We fulfilled and continue to fulfill the will-to-art that provides meaning and purpose to our life together.

Monty with his wife Pat

As a genetically mandated writer, first commit to that path, and then find the very special someone who agrees to go that way with you.”

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Your Spouse as a Collaborator

Monty and his wife Pat

If you are a creative artist producing and publishing in the public arena, the focus of attention as a married couple will generally spotlight you.  Your wife or husband can thus become a background character in the wings of your stage-like life.  And although your spouse suffers the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that are part of your creative career, the credit for endurance and any success is usually accredited to you alone. Your spouse is too often unfairly treated as second fiddle in a one-man band.  Worse yet, they become subconsciously considered a live-in groupie.

Monty speaking in Chicago bookstore. Photo by Pat Joynes

Some spouses of creative artists survive the attention focused on their mates by generating very successful careers in their own right.  They become doctors, lawyers, or Indian chiefs and thus can attain status by being introduced as such.  But if spouses are creative artists, too, the competition for success usually overwhelms the marriage.

How can the career artist solve the perceived-worth dilemma of the partner when all the daily evidence points to the slavish demands of the art?  Is devoted service to the artist’s production the purpose and destiny of the spouse’s life?

Pat at a Chicago bookstore signing

In our long marriage of nearly thirty years, my wife Pat and I have had to confront these questions.  People in the literary and publishing trades who know us assure me that Pat makes me as an artist possible.  Otherwise, by inference, I am impossible.  I have to admit that their observations are valid.  I am dyslexic; and if Pat were not a great copy editor, every one of my manuscripts would doubtlessly fall at least a letter grade.  Pat also has infinite patience where I have only a fingernail hold on it.

I married Pat, however, for the presence of her inner light, her beautiful, unselfish, compassionate soul.  All our friends and associates recognize her in this way; and when we are in the same room, I am second-banana to my beloved wife.

When American Indian elders read the Booker Series novels and wanted to

Photo by Pat Joynes

challenge me as the Anglo author, it was Pat whom they trusted first.  It was Pat who was invited into the Cherokee Nation as the Chosen Daughter of a Greatly Beloved Cherokee Grandmother and was named Morning Song in a tribal ceremony.

Pat has been included in all our book research trips.  She did a lot of the trip planning and backed up my location observations with photographs.  As a former magazine editor of photography, I soon realized that Pat had a photographer’s eye for content and composition, and I began to rely on her pictures in the writing of visual descriptions in my books.  Our trips together for her were sometimes respites from the household responsibilities that included three teenaged daughters.

Here are a few of Pat’s photographs that she had contributed to our book projects as well as some of her personal favorites.

On set of CELESTINE PROPHECY movie. Photo by Pat Joynes

Monty on the movie set of THE CELESTINE PROPHECY

On movie set of THE CELESTINE PROPHECY.

Movie location of CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD, Ashland, OR.

New Mexico roadside, location of novel DEAD WATER RITES. Photo by Pat Joynes

Alaska, location of novel JAMES MASON LIVES! Photo by Pat Joynes

Our street. Photo by Pat Joynes

Our dog Heidi on a local mountaintop.

A snowy day at home

Bass Lake, Blowing Rock, NC

Bryce National Park

Evening at Bass Lake

For any married artist, your spouse is both your companion and your career partner.  When you realize that you can have no success, no happiness, and no satisfaction from your art if your marriage doesn’t work, you will begin to celebrate your spouse as he or she deserves.

Photo by Jim Dillinger

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Poetry for a Very Special Occasion

Danielle and Perry

Our family has an annual summer reunion that in recent years has been hosted by Annalisa, the daughter with the biggest house.  My sister Rita and my first cousin Ruth, as activity and entertainment directors of the three-day event, plan complex games for the children and inspiring rituals for the adults.

This year the family reunion was also billed as an engagement party for our third daughter Danielle and her fiancé Perry.  Among the written instructions issued by Rita were that we send photographs of Danielle for a display table and that we prepare to stand and deliver a congratulatory and inspiring message to the betrothed couple.  The extroverts among us relished the idea of expounding within that formal circle while the introverts struggled for what they might say.

My wife Pat, as usual, had the solution for our contribution to the program.  I would write a meaningful poem that she could illustrate and put into a fine-arts frame for perpetual display.  A poem on demand?  I hoped for inspiration.  I also knew that I could not perform whatever I wrote due to my reputation for emotionality, so Pat agreed to read the yet unwritten poem.

I could not bring myself to the poetic task for weeks, and Pat despaired of my writing the poem with time enough for her to frame it prior to the June 24 scheduled event.  Then unexpectedly, in the last week prior to the trip, I found the words.

Here then for Danielle and Perry, to be married on November 11, and for you readers in the category of “where do poems come from?” is The Blessing Tree.

Rhododendron in bloom

 The Blessing Tree 

 This spring the large rhododendron

Beside our driveway bloomed                          

Like it never had before

In hundreds of pink flowers

That clustered in magnificent bouquets.

The tree seemed to reach out

To everyone who passed

With a blessed reminder

Of how life can be                                               

Walked in beauty.

The season of magnificence

In the rhododendron passes,

But its blessing continues

In the promise of another year.

Human beings also flower                         

In their evolving

Toward a greater capacity

For blessing each passerby.

They grow into unions

That bless their families

Through marriage, and what love

They express is returned

To them like the bounty

Of our rhododendron tree

In blossoms too numerous to count.

We now look upon Danielle and Perry

As both the givers and

The receivers of many blessings,

And we celebrate the blooming

Of their love and ours

With them in the perfect experience

Of a wondrous season

Where the blessing tree

Is our family tree.

 

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