Saturday Edition – What We’re Writing and Reading

Welcome to this Saturday Edition of What We’re Writing and Reading.

We’re taking a little detour on the weekends now to share some of what we’re up to with our writing (when we’re not here) and what we’re into with our reading (around the web). We’ll also pull back the curtain a little to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what went into a piece.

We hope you enjoy this little diversion and encourage you to share your own posts and picks in the comments.

Happy writing! Happy reading! 

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headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace

Another week come and gone. Where is the summer going to? My plans for a few lazy days by the shore with some beach reads, a notebook, and two pens (just in case one has the bad manners to run out of ink) seem to be drifting farther and farther out to sea. I’m not giving up, though. This week has been another CR-azy week work-wise (I had what was supposed to be a 4000-word ebook assignment mutate into a 9000+-word beast), but (knock on wood) there’s a bit of a respite just around the corner and I’ve got plans to enjoy a little staycation R&R with my daughter and my beau. Hooray!

Meanwhile …

What I’ve been writing:

Not much except that ebook. This week was a slew of early mornings and late nights and nuthin’ but hustle in between. That isn’t to say, however, that I haven’t been creating. I did manage to fit in a few walks. Walks are my best time for thinking. This week, I got to enjoy the extra special treat of taking my morning walks at the beach and something about the ocean air and negative ions got my synapses firing. I’ve got the kernel of an idea for a writing-related project that I hope to put in motion before the end of the year. So … exciting!

What I’ve been reading:

Despite being crazy busy with client projects, I somehow managed to find some time to read actual books this week. This is mostly due to my stubborn nature. You see, when I’ve got all kinds of deadlines forcing me to work-work-work and stay up late, I get pretty cantankerous about the fact that I’m not “having any fun.” SO … when it comes time to crawl into bed at the end of the day, I say to myself, “Self, you deserve a little fun before you fall asleep.” And then I pick up my book and indulge.

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The first book I finished this week is a novel by feature writer and author Amy Shearn called The Mermaid of Brooklyn (affiliate link). I’ve been wracking my brain trying to remember why I picked this book up in the first place. I’m pretty sure I came across a post about it on Facebook and ended up downloading the ebook to my Kindle.

Like so many of the books I’ve been reading lately, this wasn’t the type of thing I typically read. Though there is a sort of mermaid (a “rusulka,” actually)  most of the novel is about a young mother’s struggle to deal with the challenges of her marriage, her in-laws, and the insanity that is known as parenting. Shearn writes regularly for Oprah.com and RedbookMag.com and The Mermaid of Brooklyn felt to me like a story that I might watch on Oprah’s network or perhaps a good night on Lifetime. Not my usual cup of tea.

Still, the story was engaging enough to keep me up at night and contained brilliant nuggets of prose that leapt off the page. Things like:

“… this whole having-children situation was essentially a process of unspooling. Once Betty had been so close to me that her feet had gotten stuck in my ribs. We lived literally tethered. And then she was born and screamed if she wasn’t being nursed or held. but with each day, she unspooled a little farther away … the crimson thread connecting us unraveling more and more as she wandered out into the woods of the world.”

And this to describe the protagonist’s Park Slope neighborhood, “… ladies with big hair and bigger nails leaned out windows and screamed unbeautiful arias to one another…”

Or, this bit of reality, “… that super-nice mom voice that’s thinly veiled hysteria…”

Loved those.

story happy marriageI also re-listened to a lovely “extended essay” by Ann Patchett called This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. This recording was originally a member freebie for Audible subscribers, but it’s also available from Amazon. I listened to this for a second time while I vacuumed my house and drove back and forth to my daughter’s day camp.

Again, this is not the type of thing I’d usually pick up, but Patchett’s voice (both as a writer and, in this case, as an audio narrator) is quite engaging.

The audio is only about seventy-five minutes long, but Patchett packs a lot into that brief time as she tells her own story of love found and lost and then held at arms length for quite a while before she finds he truly happy ending.

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And, finally, I read Neil Gaiman’s latest novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane (affiliate link). I pre-ordered this ages ago, and it has been sitting on my desk for a month or so now. It’s a slim volume. Gaiman has shared in interviews how it started out as a short story and then grew into a novella and finally emerged a fully-fledged novel.

Now, I am an unabashed Gaiman groupie. I’ve seen him speak twice and have read many (though not all) of his works. I have several autographs and read his blog. That said, I don’t love everything he writes. I have never read his graphic novels (the Sandman novels) and shy away from many of his short stories because they fall more into the horror category and I’m a serious scaredy-cat.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a bit of a ghost story and definitely conjures some seriously creepy images, but it still manages to be charming and somehow comforting. I definitely have more to say about this one, but since I only just finished it, I’ll hold my tongue for a bit. Just know that it’s a delightful story – the kind that made me wonder which would be better – rationing the story out page by page, or devouring it all in one sitting. Mostly, I just didn’t want it to end.

And then – as always – there were the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writing-related posts from the week:

And my favorite quote for the week (Hat tip to “dapplegrey” of the Invisible Horse blog).:

Magic is where you find it, the only thing that matters is that you take the time to look for it.

– Tom Ryan

5 thoughts on “Saturday Edition – What We’re Writing and Reading

  1. Thanks for the hat tip Jamie! It is one of my top favourite quotations (and if you’re interested, it’s from Ryan’s book Following Atticus which I discovered a couple of years ago and now return to read again every once in a while.) Thanks for another great post. I truly hope you get some well deserved downtime soon!

    • Thanks so much. 🙂
      Working this weekend, but I did get to ride this morning, so all is well with the world.

      I’ve seen “Following Atticus” dozens of times, but never read it. I’ll have to check it out!

      TKS!

    • That’s marvelous, Jennifer! Just swung by your place to check it out & I loved it. 🙂

      Please do come by and post links to your What I’m Writing/Reading posts when you publish them. Love it!

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