Let's Talk with Maggie Toussaint
Planting a Flag and Love
By Maggie Toussaint
In this most romantic month of the year some of us face a quandary. The person or pet we love with all our heart isn’t the typical greeting card kind of love or is no longer around. My feeling is that love is love. It’s putting yourself out there, risking the most personal vulnerability. But, oh, to have loved and be loved! That is pure joy.
Recently, I watched a video on a friend’s social media feed about her son and his partner. I was so moved by their story and the imagery that I told my friend that I could write an essay about it. My friend encouraged me to do that, so I did (the essay is after this post).
The journey of two people learning to share their life and creativity is a poignant thematic look at self and couple, at striving and self-expression. The artistry they create is beautiful. It took my breath away.
Their expression of planting a flag resonated with me on a gut level. One of the first thing explorers do is plant a flag. We planted an American flag on the moon. Who among us did not get misty-eyed looking at that fabled sight? The planted flag indicates our presence, it is a tangible reminder that we are here.
As an author, my books are my flags. I plant each one out there in the foreign soil of publishing, take a chance, and risk vulnerability to make that statement. Will a book be well-received? Will it garner rave reviews or soul-crushing criticism?
If you ask an author which book they love the most, the answer most often is “all of them.” We become entwined with the characters and setting, and that story world is real to us. Some write truly fast, others take their time. For me, it’s a 9-month period from inception to birth, a gestational period the same as for a human baby. No wonder we love our books!
Change happens, and it often pries us out of our comfort zone. I’m creating a new series with a sassy new protagonist and a brave new story world. I’m also using a new pen name, Valona Jones. The Book and Candle Shop Mysteries won’t physically appear until early 2023, but for now it still feels private and my own. Soon it will be planted for all to see.
For a chance to win a copy of Shrimply Dead, book 3 in my Seafood Capers Mysteries, post a sentence that uses PLANT and LOVE in the comments. Shrimply Dead is in print and ebook format, though the print book is only available to a winner with a US mailing address. This winner will be announced on February 10.
While you’re here, check out our Extravaganza WINNER TAKE ALL contest this month! The winner will receive ALL THE BOOKS IN THE VAULT. The contest runs from Feb 1-18. CLICK HERE to enter!
BONUS CONTENT: We are here, An essay by Maggie Toussaint
Where air battles earth, where wind churns the sea, the ocean crests, foams, and crashes on grains of sand. Each wave scours the beach, rewriting the tidal zone, even as seawater percolates through the sand.
The conditions are harsh. Glaring sun. Maximum salinity. Predators and prey circle on sea and shore, and yet the stunning setting has drawn humanity from its beginning. There’s true power here.
Dreams begin as a wisp of the wind and swell as large as imagination and determination permit. Hearts are won here too, as many choose sun and surf to surge and splash…and imagine.
Even the smallest child stomps at the water’s edge, grabs handfuls of sand, and laughs with sheer delight. As children grow, the pleasure of sea and sky is ever close, inscribed in hearts.
And yet, like life, the incoming surf can be harsh, ripping feet from under us without warning, crashing over our heads, or upending us until we don’t know which end is up. That precious and changeable margin of sand and wave challenges us to stand tall before the mighty ocean. We dig our toes into the sand, daring the water to move us. We can stand strong, but the sea and sand erode our strong stances.
It’s a truth that two are stronger than one. Magic happens when a pair creates synergy, so that one plus one is more than two. This is creation at its finest, the ethereal convergence where two become more. Two can stand taller, reach farther, laugh deeper, love more.
Bringing together the action of planting a flag, the changeable dynamic of the seashore, and the power of love is breathtaking and yet timeless in its simplicity. In this case, the multicolored flying flag-ribbons by two talented artists are positively inspired, juxtaposing the fragility of human emotions, the crisp snap of life, and the peace that comes through harmony.
It says “we are here” in all our humanity, standing tall against the elements, and at heart we are ourselves, beautiful and free. A flag furling in the sky, a dream dancing upon the wind, a crystalline moment of joyous expression.
We. Are. Here.
If you’re interested in the video which inspired the essay, the link is given. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WG7eCb6Zv9w Fair warning: one scene in the short movie has skinny dipping, albeit tastefully done. You will miss the flags if you bail there, so if that is an issue for you, please skip ahead in the timeline or take a pass.
Posted in 6-Maggie Toussaint, Let's Talk, with Maggie Toussaint • Tags: giveaway, Let's Talk, Maggie Toussaint, Planting a Flag and Love, Shrimply Dead | 23 Comments
23 thoughts on “Planting a Flag and Love”
I would love it if I could get a pineapple plant to grow!
I’ve never tried to grow one, Alicia. Perhaps there are tips online? I saw pineapple fields in Hawaii. From that I surmise you can’t go wrong with sunshine and rain, though I’m not sure of their soil requirements. Best of luck with your quest!
I’ve followed directions on various sites, I just don’t have a green thumb. The last one was looking good the first year, then it just stopped growing and dried up. Maybe my black thumb will get it right next time!
What a beautiful essay, Maggie. It also takes me about nine months to birth a book. It is indeed a labor of love.
Thanks for your comment, Cheryl. How cool that we have the same book gestation period!
The images of the flags unfurled and flying are poignant and meaningful. Beautifully written essay and I love how you planted seeds about your new book and identity.
Hi Debra! Thanks for the compliment and for participating in the challenge. I was planting seeds about my “new growth”. Guilty! But as I am also the sower and the gardener, I am hopeful for seasonable weather and protection from birds and harmful insects…
What a lovely post and essay, Maggie!
Thanks, Lois. I am not often inspired to think of the “larger picture,” so this was a divergent path for me.
Hi, Maggie! I first read romance books in high school and one mentioned planting a flag. I was confused, thinking something like the US or Texas flag, Looking back, I think she planted a pennant. Thank you for the essay. vb
Hey Vicki, Thanks for clicking over to read all that. As far as I can tell, anything that is flag-shaped is considered a flag, even those little ones that the electric utilities put out to mark the underground lines. This particular flag installation is definitely a different kind of flag with long streaming ribbons.
I love when writers develop characters and storylines, planted in their hearts and minds, that develop into books for readers.
Great sentence, Maryann! I love the way you firmly planted those concepts!
Maggie, great post and essay. I love the concept of “flag planting”. The video is beautiful — I gasped at that first image of all those flags taking wing in the wind. A flag can say so many things — “mine”, “look at this”, or simply symbolize whatever cause you currently are espousing. But at their hearts, flags say, “I was here”. And as humans, knowing that others know we were there–that we had an impact, whether with a book or a video or a cause–gives us that bit of immortality that justifies our existence.
I am not surprised the video made an impact on you as well, Diane. We are creativity sisters, it seems. Perhaps all of us are wandering around looking for places to plant our flags, in whatever shape or form. We’re all like that Killroy cartoon of long ago: “I was here.”
Hi Maggie, in reply to Alicia trying to grow pineapple plant, I was successful here in Florida. I just cut off spiky top with a part of pineapple part on it and directly planted in hole in ground. Our ground has red and white clay in it so I in mixed top soil. They grew. A friend also had pineapple plants and gave me some tops. I just shoved in ground and they grew also. I’m not sure why her’s not growing. Maybe just relax and not make a big deal out of it. A plant just needs love and water!!
This was wonderful! I love how you incorporated the analogy of creating a written work with the act of planting something as well as the comparison to giving birth. Your post was definitely food for thought.
Thank you, Cherie! I was inspired–isn’t it great when art resonates with us, when we can’t stop thinking about it? We should all be so lucky. You’ve made my day.
A plant loves water and sunshine
Thank you, T. Miles. I hope you enjoyed the blog, essay, and video. You are entered in the giveaway for Shrimply Dead! Good luck.
I am not in love with plants. I enjoy parks and botanical gardens but have a black thumb myself.
I understand, Nancy. I have something of a black thumb myself, but I love to look at plants even if I am allergic to most of them!
MY WINNER IS CHERIE J. CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve won a copy of Shrimply Dead.