Dec 2009

Dear Friend

Our vacation visit to our favorite island was magical. Bermuda is beautiful wherever the eye feasts its glance. Spending hours at a time gazing at the turquoise water, the pink coral sand and the purple-blue sky brought great delight and opened oceans of good memories. Peter has a longer history of falling in love with this enchanted island; he first went with his family in 1937. I became instantly charmed when I visited initially in the early seventies.

Before we left for our escape trip, I called my literary agent, Carl, and told him Peter and I were going away for four days and any news could wait until we returned – good or bad. Carl was waiting to hear from the publisher about Balance. If the news was good, I wouldn’t need to know it while I was in paradise; it could be saved for a rainy day to boost the spirit. If the news was bad, it could have made our vacation less than ideal.

Sure enough, there was a message waiting for me that the publisher cannot accept another book about balance. The market research is that there are 77,000 books in total on Amazon alone, in the Health, Mind and Body category. It was rather frightening, and in these brutal economic times, this recession has made the book publishing world a dire, bleak place.

I quickly came up with another idea, only to be told the same news, that there are too many other books out there in direct competition. Since writing the book on Aristotle, and then putting in such steady creative work on Balance, all the thought, time effort and money – all my resources, and the reality is these books will not be published, at least, not in the near future. Because Aristotle is so different from any of my other books, my agent recommends I don’t even try to have it published until the economy turns around, and this will take five years or more according to economists.

There are many ways of losing a job. If my publisher is afraid to accept a book of mine, I, in effect, am out of work. Rejection I can take, but not writing is unacceptable. As disappointed as I am, I am not discouraged. These are challenging times for all of us, and we have to find imaginative ways to do what water does: we have to go around the boulders. I’m grateful I was rested and had celebrated my 68th birthday so joyfully when I received this news.

Upon our return, daughter Brooke came for a week with baby Cooper. The glee in her face, the new words she was learning, “flower,” now “leaves,” “five,” “ten,” and the noises she makes when she sees a flash card of a horse, duck, doggie or baby is pricelessly fun. Our time with Cooper was healing and thoroughly engaging. After the cottage returned to silence except the tic of the grandfather clock and the fast tic tic tic of the kitchen timer I have on my desk to mark the hours I work, I was able to gain some perspective and accept the situation as a universal truth and not take it as a personal failure.

Carl and I talk regularly and through these times of re-thinking everything, have come up with some new ideas we will present to the publisher. We plan to meet with the publisher and talk about the future and what looks like the best possible strategy to proceed. I know there is no joy in ease; the meaning in life comes from the effort. I am not afraid of hard work. Carl suggests I give more careful thinking to what I write next, and he also believes I should work harder than ever. I’m back on the drawing board, revisiting universal principles and major themes. I ponder what Aristotle would think or do. Obviously, he’s a great believer in Balance because of his deep belief in the “Golden Mean,” the moderate, the middle path. The harder I work, the more I believe we will succeed. I’ll keep you posted.

I’m looking forward to an annual Christmas luncheon celebration with Carl, an unbroken tradition that has been a ritual for as long as I can remember. Peter and I are looking forward to going to Cooper’s music class, and also going with her to the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition of Claude Monet’s water lilies. This child saw some of his water lilies in Paris when she was four months old!

We’re all going to be together for Christmas in Chevy Chase. Nicholas, Anna and Lily are thrilled to have Cooper stay with them – a live doll to play with and teach. We’re all quite excited about being there with Cooper for the first time.

Peter’s book, Figure It Out: A Guide to Wisdom is proceeding nicely. He received the page proofs recently and they look inspiring. You can only imagine how excited he and our whole family are to have this book published early in 2010.

Before closing, I want to thank you for your birthday wishes. I’m always touched to hear from friends all over the country and the world.

I hope you have a beautiful holiday season, enjoying spending relaxing time with loved ones. This is a time for us to re-think our priorities and to savor every moment given us. Celebrate the entire month of December! Great love to you.

Love & Live Happy

Have you taken photos at one of Alexandra's events that you'd like to share? If so, you can email them to AStoddardInc@aol.com. Please be sure to include the names of those in the photo and where and when it was taken! We will try to include them on the website in the future.

Peter Megargee Brown

This is a favorite photo Alexandra took of Peter at Claude Monet's beloved house and garden in Giverny. This is the photograph selected for Peter's new book Figure It Out.

Alexandra and her favorite artist Roger Muhl share a love of tulips. This is one of her favorite Muhl paintings.

Alexandra adding a personal note to her book for a friend.

If you would like to get an autographed copy of Alexandra's newest book, please send your order (including inscription information) to:
Jane Hannon
Bank Square Books
53 West Main Street
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 536-3795

Grace Note

"The road up and the road down are one and the same."