Author Anne Schroeder’s World of Connections, and the story of “Ordinary Aphrodite” on its journey from pen to page to paen
Anne Schroeder is a fifth generation Californian, whose love of writing was fueled by stories of immigrant ancestors. Anne evokes the drama of growing up in a close-knit Southern California farm community in her first memoir, "Branches on the Conejo: Leaving the Soil after Five Generations." Anne and I are linked by our love of land and our experience of generational connections on the land.
At age ten Anne discovered Laura Ingalls Wilder, and fell in love with Zane Grey in high school. A college cultural anthropology class introduced Anne to "World as Story" and inspired her to write her own.
Over forty of Anne's short stories and essays have appeared in national magazines. She's taught writing and won fiction awards. Anne writes women's novels set in the West and speaks on women’s issues and California history. Life has brought her great stories and great blessings.
Anne lives on the Central Coast of California. It's a pleasure to chat with her today about writing and connections.---JGR
Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love, beauty and sexual rapture
Riehlife's Amazon Review of "Ordinary Aphrodite"
Coming of Age Through All the Age
Anne Schroeder's personal essays in "Ordinary Aphrodite" tell a woman's story of coming of age during the Baby Boomer generation and growing into greater wholeness. All the ages of womanhood are covered: girlhood, young adulthood, middleage up into the author's fifties as she shifts focus to caring for the two older matriarchs in her life. Schroeder uses the Greek goddess of love, beauty, and sexual rapture as a metaphor for loving life in all its forms.
If anyone wants an autographed copy, go to Anne's website and drop her a line.
Riehlife: Anne, I know that your latest book, "Ordinary Aprhodite" has created many connections. Tell us more about that.
Anne Schroeder: When a reader tells me, “I cried when I read your book,” I'm thrilled. That tells me I'm writing about the universal “me” that is really me and you and us. The Universal Us-ness, if you will. I hope the “me” disappears in my memoir like the attributions “he said, she said,” disappear in a novel.
My memoir, Ordinary Aphrodite, is a collection of stories about Living in the Moment. This spiritual consciousness is too often practiced only by the very young, lovers in the throes, the very old (if they are also very wise,) and those who live with impending death.
Playfulness can color our path—the million small steps we take while we’re waiting to become rich, or thin, or famous. I want readers to take a breath and reconsider their options. And I love it when they do.
Riehlife:What kind of connections?
Anne: One day I had an epiphany when my manuscript, Ordinary Aphrodite, was with an agent who was doing an excellent job of getting it into publishing houses for a read. But one night I understood that, for me, less is more.
My mother-in-law was living in our house, her healing hip compounded by her advancing dementia. Where was my authenticity as a human being? A daughter? A wife?
Seeking an answer, I reread my book, and the first reader I connected with was myself. The beliefs I had laid out for others became my touchstone. I re-evaluated my needs, emailed my agent and pulled the plug on my New York Plan.
A few mornings later, I picked up the phone to hear a micro-publisher to whom I had sent the manuscript tell me, “I’ve been waiting for the time change so I could call. I’ve just finished reading your manuscript. This is the book you were born to write. I’ll publish it for you.”
Suddenly I was upside-down in my confidence. Early readers helped me through the haze. I sent out advance copies to writers I admired, in hopes of a cover blurb. They responded with encouragement saying they felt my book wise and clear.
My husband got phone calls from his friends whose wives had read the book! One week I caught three women in my beauty shop discussing my book when I walked in. Readers bought copies for their daughters and daughters-in-laws. But something had changed for me. I realized it wasn’t about making the sale. It was about making the connection.
Riehlife: Connection with whom?
Anne: A woman wrote that after reading my book, she returned to her husband who was living in a different state. A single male friend wrote that looking through the window of a long-term marriage brought him to an awareness of what he had missed.
One woman wrote, "You want to know this woman for her differences, and yet you feel sure she is the true you" I love her words. People say that I’m bold and playful, honest and hilarious, but they are only identifying with the playfulness in themselves that gets buried under the serious business of living.
I’m speaking to a wide cross-section of people and concerns: a health fair about nurturing the ADD child; an AVID group at the high school about juggling poverty, marriage, a baby and college; and battered women who want to believe that cowboys still exist. It was a thrill to be featured on Elfreda Pretorius' WebTalkRadio podcast, “Game Changer”, a syndicated show that reaches 18 million listeners, including 11 thousand libraries.
The connection feels like a baton passed from reader to reader. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I can make my contribution and make my listeners’ eyes sparkle with connection. Especially people who spent the last decade trading connection for material excess—and want to change to something more real.
Riehlife: How do you see a writer's role in creating community?
Anne: Writing clean makes me feel clean. Writing clears the cobwebs and allows me to live in the moment. Reading clean helps readers do the same. Times are uncertain. People are scared. I wish for my writing to shine a light in the darkness. The gift of writing connotes an ability to translate words into emotions and fears and solutions. That’s why writing is so powerful—laying ideas onto a page can transform the world!
Each of us is given a tiny piece of talent. Mine is that I translate the mundane into images that resonate—a flow of new energy through blocked emotions. By putting my self out there, readers are able to shine their own light. Readers tell me, “I didn’t know we could think (or talk, or write) about that!” But suddenly we are!
Riehlife: And community within yourself?
Anne: Feeling connection is even sweeter than signing books. I wrote a motto to express my purpose. I refined my statement of affirmation through a dozen variations, until it spoke of my soul:
"I write so that my handful of pebbles, tossed each day into still waters, can create a ripple."
Long walks and discourse with other writers help me unveil my hidden truths. My first language is the language of my fingers. I prefer to write my thoughts rather than speak them—at least when I’m distilling.
The day I finished writing Ordinary Aphrodite, something fundamental inside me felt satisfied. That feeling persists. When I finished, I was afraid I’d written everything in me. Instead, I have to dig deeper.
Readers tell me they laughed uproariously at some essays and carried others inside them for days. That’s higher praise than I deserve. I won’t get to Heaven with my bank book, but I'm hoping to hand-carry a copy of Ordinary Aphrodite to St. Peter for review.
Riehlife: Thanks, Anne. It's a joy to share in this invocation of thanksgiving to Aphrodite for the safe delivery of your book into the hands of grateful readers.
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