Musings & Meanderings
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Musings & Meanderings: taking Rilke’s advice to ‘ruthlessly compress,’ what to do when Mercury is in retrograde; plus how visual art isn’t all that different from written art, motherhood, acceptance, and what books I recently read and loved

By Leslie Lindsay

A curated newsletter on the literary life, featuring ‘4 questions,’ reading & listening recommendations, where to submit, more

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Leslie Lindsay|Always with a Book


Hello, Friends!

Here’s the thing: Mercury is in stupid retrograde again. I know how it sounds: hoodoo voodoo and and magical weirdness. But there’s something to it! As a writer, who is no doubt a ‘communicator’ in every sense (I am the family connector/communicator/organizer), I try to get everyone on ‘the same page,’ I like coordinating and organizing things…to say this can be a trying time is an understatement.

What does it mean when…

‘Mercury is in retrograde?’

It started September 9 and will go through October 2. Mercury is the planet of communication. When it’s in retrograde (appearing to go backward), appliances tend to run haywire, scheduled things run late, miscommunications run rampant.

You might have ‘good’ problems, but mistakes will happen. Things might be more exaggerated than ever, but there might also be goodwill.

Learn more about Mercury retrograde in this Bustle article.

For me…it’s been forgetfulness/scatteredness, lost items, appointments not working out right, computer glitches/freezing, and ‘pending’ arrangements (like the dog sitter will have to get back with me, the travel company needs to ‘approve my request.’ Maybe I’m just more in-tune with these things…or maybe Mercury is to blame?

Yikes! Any break?

Yep. There will be a moment of clarity amid the chaos. That will happen on September 22nd near midnight. It’s also the fall equinox. There will be a slight shift in perspective.

And then…

The air will clear around October 10th. But there might be a little fogginess or unsettledness until October 16th.

Mercury Retrograde DOs:

  • Be extra thoughtful when friction occurs.
  • Do you really need to say it out loud?
  • Be mindful.
  • Focus on long-term solutions.
  • The heat-of-the-moment rarely has your future well-being in mind.
  • Take deep breaths. Pause. Reflect.
  • Expect delays and schedule extra time for everything.
  • Laugh at yourself when you make faux pas.
  • You aren’t above learning lessons.
  • Streamline your life, reassess your ‘systems’ and update if necessary. Organize, review, rethink.

What NOT to do during Mercury Retrograde:

  • Don’t purchase tickets or plan big events during this time.
  • If you can’t avoid that, keep in mind that some tweaks may need to be made.
  • Don’t sign big contracts or make a major purchase.
  • Don’t make major life changes.
  • Don’t worry about, or fear, this phase, just be aware of it.

What do you think? Is this Mercury Retrograde a ‘thing?’ Is it a bunch of superstitions?

Respond here in a comment, or find me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.


~Leslie : )

There’s more to this newsletter…keep scrolling!

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Are you following me on IG? That’s where you’ll catch #bookreels of these ‘Book Bundles’

I highlight current, forthcoming, and backlist books. Maybe you’ll (re-) discover a new favorite?

What’s obsessing me:

  • This course offered by Janice Lee via Corporeal Writing about listening to form, to ourselves, the stories already within. It’s online October 15. Check out the sliding-scale fee and consider investing.
  • More great ‘haunted’ offerings from Corporeal Writing: blending memoir and fiction writing with philosophy, magic, ritual, and other otherworldly practices[…]exploring ancient or historic lines that haunt your story[…]ghosts, ancestors, grief, loss, burials, ceremonies, and an inquiry into the nature of identity and death. Haunted 1 Starts 11/8 and meets on Tuesdays. Haunted 2 starts 11/10 and meets on Thursdays.
  • This helpful interview/video from the editor-n-chief of Bellevue Literary Review on how to submit to them, what they’re seeking, what to avoid, more.

New! 4 Questions mini-interview

Insights|Donna Gordon

What Ben Franklin Would Have Told Me: A Novel

Photo credit: L.Lindsay @leslielindsay1

Leslie Lindsay:

Without responding in complete sentences, what would you say WHAT BEN FRANKLIN WOULD HAVE TOLD ME is about?

Donna Gordon:

Finding common ground where it’s least expected.  Understanding differences, as in Progeria, Lee’s disease.  Caring about human rights, as in the case of my character Tomás, who survived the Dirty War in Argentina. Motherhood.  Acceptance.

Leslie Lindsay:

Where did you write WHAT BEN FRANKLIN WOULD HAVE TOLD ME ? Do you have any special writing routines or rituals? Do they change with each project, or remain constant over time?

Donna Gordon:

I worked first from written notes, then transcribed to my laptop.  I  learned  to  write completely using the keyboard for the  bulk of the novel, which at first felt really foreign, as I’m used to feeling  my way with words more slowly, and taking pen to paper.  There were many times when the whole day went by and I was still writing when it got dark outside.  I tried to not stop until I had completed an entire emotional episode, which didn’t always work, but it felt better to see a complete scene and not just a piece of it.  I often start a piece with a line or  image that defies sense, but carries some emotional power.  Then I go back and try to understand where it fits and why it felt so necessary. I started writing poetry before writing fiction, and I’m always scrupulously aware of Rilke’s advice to”

“ruthlessly compress.”   

I’m completing a collection of stories, LESSER SAINTS, and am working out the order.

Leslie Lindsay:

If you weren’t writing, you would be…

Donna Gordon:

A painter/printmaker/photographer/tennis pro!  I’m actually already something of a visual artist and have been making things for a few years.  Making things with paint and ink and pencil is not that different than making things with words.  It’s  another way of constructing things with emotion and color and language, albeit visual language.  Your hands get dirty!  My visual  art is represented  by Galatea  Fine  Art  SoWa,  Boston.

Leslie Lindsay:

What book did you recently read that you can’t stop thinking about?

Donna Gordon:

Klara and the Sun by Ishiguro.  I felt real loss when I finished reading.  Klara is an artificial friend, but she’s more human to me than any of the other characters.  She plays a critical role in a family’s fate, and in the end is abandoned.  But her spirit lives on.  I found myself making a painting a few days  after I closed the book, and my impression of Klara plays center stage.

Get your copy of WHAT BEN FRANKLIN WOULD HAVE TOLD ME HERE or where books are sold. Check out Donna Gordon’s website for more information, including talks and signings.

Take a peek at all of my 2022 recommendations at|Always with a Book

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Recently-published Stuff You Might Have Missed:

  • A piece in the nostalgia dossier of Levitate Magazine, about my childhood interest in a (vintage) kid’s rooms and spaces book.
  • A conversation with Carla Zaccagnini about her book, Cuentos de Cuentas (Amant/Verlag, spring 2000) in The Millions.
  • A Conversation with Marie Myung-Ok Lee in The Millions, about her new novel, The Evening Hero, featuring aspects of immigration, Minnesota, color, and medicine.
Photo by Engin Akyurt on

Coming soon:

A conversation with Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder about her book, Existential Physics (Viking, August 9, 2022) in Hippocampus Magazine.

A photoessay of a family’s devolve, created in miniature, to appear in On the Seawall.

A conversation with Lauren Acampora about her novel, THE HUNDRED WATERS (Grove/Atlantic, August 23, 2022) in The Millions.

A piece about being a book ambassador, reading about family, inheritance, postmemory, and landscape in Moms Don’t Have Time to Write.

Nature photography in Invisible City.

A a hybrid flash non-fiction piece about the mysteries of ancestry in ELJ Editions Scissors & Spackle.

A conversation with Kristine Langley Mahler about her new hybrid memoir, CURING SEASON: Artifacts (WVP, October 1) in Brevity.

A hybrid art review of YOUR HEARTS, YOUR SCARS (Bellevue Literary Press, January 2023) by Adina Talve-Goodman, published posthumously, in DIAGRAM.

I’ll be sharing my published interviews here, after they’ve ‘gone live’ with their various publications.

There’s more to this newsletter. Keep scrolling.

What I’m reading:

I am smack in the middle of Jill Bialosky’s new release, THE DECEPTIONS (September 6, Counterpoint), which is a heady flow-of-consciousness with an artistically savvy slant featuring Greco-Roman art/sculpture. I also just finished ANYTHING BUT MY PHONE, MOM, by clinical psychologist Roni Cohen-Sandler.

What I’m listening to:

In yoga, we’ve been listening to our own heart beat. I know how it sounds…almost impossible. When one is very still and quiet, it can be heard. Our studio shares the same space with a traditional gym and the other day, someone outside of yoga was jumping rope. The thump-thump on the floor made us think of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Telltale Heart beating under the floorboards. [Can you tell I’m in a haunting, mystical mood? ‘Tis the season].

By the way, did you realize the ears are the first to form in utero and the last to go during the death process? When our ears hurt, it often signifies that we are ‘tired of all the noise.’

L.Lindsay archives.

You are reading Musings & Meanderings, a consistently inconsistent weekly newsletter about the literary life from Leslie Lindsay, and home of an archive of bestselling and debut author interviews. I’m also on twitter and instagram. I try to answer comments as best I canFeel free to find my book suggestions on, and also check out the authors I’ve hosted in in-depth interviews HERE.

In the meantime, catch me on:

Reviewing books and talking about them with others on-line and in-person is one small way to engage with & support the literary community.

Thank you for letting me guide you on your bookish journey.

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Let’s walk this bookish path together.


Some of you have been reading my reviews, interviews, and meanderings for more than a decade now. That’s huge and I am so humbled. Thanks for being here.

More than 2,800 folks read Musings & Meanderings.

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Created by Leslie Lindsay. I’m a proud book nerd. Connect with me on Instagram, and Twitter. See what I’m reading on Find my reviews on GoodReads. I’m also a Zibby Books Ambassador.

Learn more HERE.

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