Making it Real: Belletrista

Say you have a vision. Something original, exciting, and scary.

Perhaps you want to do something new. I’m not talking about having toast instead of yogurt for breakfast; I’m talking about one of those ideas that tends to sit in the mind for a while, that thrills and terrifies, and then more often than not fades away when you realize that you don’t have what it takes to do it. I remember planning to travel the US on a Vespa (they were hot then), deciding to build a boat and sail to Tahiti, and that idea to rent a house in Greece for a summer and invite my friends. None of that’s happened. Yet.

But did you ever get one of those blockbuster ideas — then follow through and actually do it? Did you ever make a personal vision real?

I have been privileged recently to stand by while a friend does just that. Lois Ava-Matthew had the idea to start a magazine online, something that would let people know about women who are writing terrific books all over the globe. So she gathered together a group of wise and clever international friends and supporters, writers and reviewers, translators and webgeeks, book lovers and book sellers, all of whom loved the idea and wanted to play, too. They set out to create a ‘zine filled with book reviews and other articles on women writers from all over the world who are published in English.

Many long days and short nights later, Lois has followed through on her vision, and Belletrista lives. Its attractive format features articles that are entertaining, easy to read and ad-free. It opens windows within windows, revealing the marvelous diversity of our world through women who write about it, and again through the filter of readers and writers who admire and appreciate their work.

I am in awe of Lois: her creativity, her cleverness, her perseverance. Her guts.

Check it out. Belletrista: Celebrating Women Writers from Around the World

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  • Tui says:

    Kathi, you’ve summed it up perfectly, that Icarus moment where you stand on the cliff tentatively flapping those wings up and down and then unstrapping them because, naw, they’ll probably melt. But those who do make the leap and miraculously soar, those are the people who end up with things like wonderful webzines celebrating the power and beauty of writing by women of the world. OF THE WORLD! The whole spectacular world!

    It’s really a beautiful thing, isn’t it. Well said, Kathi. Awe indeed; pride too.

  • kambrogi says:

    Well said you, too. The fact that all our wings are made of wax makes that flight all the more admirable, and exhilarating, don’t you think?

  • Paola says:

    You really got the essence of it, Kathi!
    Thank you.

  • kambrogi says:

    Thanks, Paola. Sorry your comment was slow to appear. I have to approve it the first time, but now you are a “regular,” so your comments will appear instantly.

  • polutropos says:

    Lovely appreciation. Thank you from one of the participants in Lois’s most exciting venture.

  • Akeela says:

    Wonderful tribute to an amazing woman, who so naturally inspires. Belletrista is better than I ever envisioned.

    Well done, Lois! And thank you, Kathi, for a fitting tribute.

  • Tui says:

    Love the sketch of you! One of your lads do it?

  • Linda says:

    You inspire a little awe yourself, lady. And if you ever do rent that house in Greece…

  • kambrogi says:

    It was a pleasure to write, Polutropos. Btw, what is your role on the zine? Did you write something? I’d like to check it out …

  • kambrogi says:

    I agree, Akeela. The product is very polished, for a brand-new online presence.

  • kambrogi says:

    No, Tui, I drew it, about 15 years ago. I like me better then. Isn’t that always the way? Actually, I got a lot of grief for the other one, since the dog is not actually mine, so I tried this one. Still searching for the perfect image.

  • kambrogi says:

    Oh, yeah, Linda, you’re on the guest list. It will have to be very large, given the growing interest. As soon as my ship comes in.

  • polutropos says:

    I am the author of the profile of Jaroslava Blazkova and the translator of her short story.

    I also reviewed Miriam Toews’s book.

  • Akeela says:

    Andrew, I loved the profile, and your translated story is fabulous! So glad you chose to share Jaroslava Blazkova with us.

    Well done! Still have to make it to the reviews – so much to read still…

  • kambrogi says:

    Indeed, I agree wholeheartedly with Akeela, Andrew. I enjoyed the profile and story very much, and was pleased to discover a new writer from outside my usual arena. I also had to add The Flying Troutmans to my bursting-at-the-seams wish list after I read your review.

  • avaland says:

    Thank you for the lovely tribute, Kathi. As I read your piece, I kept thinking, “who is she talking about?” Your words make the process seem so simple, almost elegant – when it really more or less resembled a ride on a very bumpy back road in jeep full of giddy friends. Still, if this little story inspires one person to go ahead and ‘just do it’ — that big or small thing that is just nagging at them; well, we both have done a great thing.

  • kambrogi says:

    It’s easy to see why you inspire me and others, Lois. Even your comment on inspiration is inspirational!
    And as to that ride on a bumpy road with giddy friends — that is probably what many important journeys boil down to. We all need to know that, so we will have the courage to climb aboard.

  • Tui says:

    Kathi, I’ll mail you “The Flying Troutmans” when I’ve finished reading it. It’s one of the ones I started this summer and set aside because life got a bit mad.

    Re the sketch: Hah! I have one I did of myself in high school that I like better too because I only had one chin and actually had a neck at the time. I hope you do find a current image you like because I think the you of now is quite lovely.

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