Saturday Edition: What we’re writing and reading

Welcome to this Saturday Edition of What We’re Writing and Reading in which we 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: This has been an odd week for me. Maybe it has to do with the beginning of the new month, or the sudden drop in the temperature, or daylight savings. Or, maybe it has to do with the astrological mayhem of Mercury Retrograde (which, happily, will be behind us by this coming Monday). Whatever the cause, this has been one of those weeks where things feel a little “off.”

But, that’s ok.

I’m no wise woman, but one thing I have learned is that when this kind of ungrounded, unmoored feeling comes on, the smartest thing I can do is just roll with it. Fighting it only leads to frustration. Better to just surrender to the fact that I’m not actually in control of everything, and just … take a nap (if that’s what feels right).

How has your week been? Am I the only one feeling out of sorts?

What I’m Writing:

november crowsI meant to write a post for my marketing blog, but given the unpredictable nature of the week, I wasn’t all that surprised when unexpected events ate up all my best intentions and left me with no time to write.

I did, however, republish my Halloween column from last week’s paper. I’d written about ghosts I’ve known. Though I have already confessed here that scary stories are not my thing, I’ve often wondered if I shouldn’t try my hand at writing them. I’ve wondered if maybe my own fears would give me the tools to create something really spooky. But – alas – I can never work up the nerve to try.

What I’m Reading:

Perhaps because I was feeling a little wonky all week, I made more time to read. I find nothing more comforting than curling up with a book (and maybe a cat or two), so that’s just what I did. Though I didn’t plan it (at least consciously) both of the books I read were by British authors and both had to do with animals.

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The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise (affiliate link) by Julia Stuart is a quirky novel about a collection of characters, most of whom live and work at the Tower of London. There are, among others, a Beefeater and his wife, a chaplain, a barmaid, a one-hundred-eighty-one-year-old tortoise, and the ghost of Sir Water Raleigh. I won’t go into too much detail about the plot (you can read that on Amazon or the bookseller site of your choice), but I found the story to be a beautiful and sweet study on the nature of loneliness.

I also found, though this was generally a light read, several passages and turns of phrase that made my writer’s heart sigh with delight. Stuart’s writing is not showy, but it does have a poetic feel that I really liked. For instance, the closing to the scene where we see Valerie Jennings (an eccentric employee of London’s Underground Lost Property Office) has been waiting to meet a blind date at a bar:

“They held each other’s gaze long enough for her to realise that it was him. She offered a timorous smile, but he turned on his heels and left as much determination as he had shown on entering. It was a considerable time before Valerie Jennings was able to stand. She then pulled down her dress over her splendid thighs and walked out, leaving the embers of her dreams scattered behind her.”

I enjoyed this book very much, despite the fact that it made me tear up in the dentist’s waiting room while my daughter was having her teeth checked.

where my wellies take meThe second book I read is one that I bought at my favorite indie bookstore, Jabberwocky in Newburyport. Where my Wellies Take Me by Clare and Michael Morpurgo (designed and illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill) is the kind of book that will never be as good in a digital medium. It’s the kind of book that you need to hold in your hands while you savor the words, the art, and the heft of the thick pages and vellums.

The book is a collection of pastoral poetry strung together along with the narrative of a young girl’s wanderings through the countryside, visiting farmers, rescuing caterpillars, and observing all kinds of natural flora and fauna. Though the book is officially for ages six to nine, I find that sort of limitation ridiculous. Anyone with a love of nature and a heart for poetry will love this book.

FGP so happy togetherAnd if you’re looking for a quick, but wonderful read, I recommend the essay So Happy Together by Jennifer Niesslein, founder and editor of the wonderful blog/digital magazine, Full Grown People. I have been enjoying the essays on this site from day one, and was so pleased to see Jennifer’s byline on this story which is full of love and grace and reality. It’s a fairytale meets real life story that actually has a happy ending. Love it.

And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

pin the book you want

And that’s all I’ve got for now. Go write. Go read. Go live like a writer. Have fun & we’ll see you on the other side! 

Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

18 thoughts on “Saturday Edition: What we’re writing and reading

  1. Jamie – I always love your blogs. And the articles were inspiring. I looked immediately at the Frog Marching because I desperately need steps to follow. But the encouragement to leave my heart in my writing helped the most. Thank you so much – Silent

    • Thanks so much. I love putting these posts together because they give me a chance to share some of the things that bring my joy and insight. I’m so glad you found a bit of inspiration as well. Thanks for taking the time to say so. 🙂

  2. I love the quote of the day! I got a little distraught when I started to improve my writing fulfill the ambition to get published.I thought I would have to take some of the elements out of my novel to mash it into a fixed genre. The quote gives me courage to keep writing what I love.

    • I’m so glad, Nina!
      One piece of advice that I’ve read often (and cling to!) is to ignore the “story du jour.” In other words, don’t get caught up in feeling like you have to write YA novels about sparkly vampires or chick lit memoirs about traveling to Bali just because that’s what’s hot NOW. The reality is that what’s hot today will be old news tomorrow. By the time you’ve finished your novel (and found an agent and landed a publisher and gotten all their launch calendar), the trends will likely have changed six or seven times!

      Just trust that you have a story to write – a story only you can write – and that its time will be right when you’re ready.
      🙂

      Happy writing!

  3. Thank you so much for the inspiration once again. What would I do without this every Saturday??? I’m writing an essay on surprise. A poem on laughter and I’m planning on publishing a book by January even though I’m only 11 years old. Also, on my list is that I’m reading a book called Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli which is a really good book, no lie. All about everyone is unique. Be sure to comment.

    • Surprise & laughter – sounds like two great topics. The world could use more of both. 🙂
      I love meeting young writers – the world needs more of those as well!

      And … I LOVE the book “Star Girl.” I haven’t read the sequel yet (though I plan to). My daughter is nine, but I’m hoping she might read “Star Girl” this year. It’s such a wonderful story and a great character – down-to-earth magic is how I describe it. Excellent pick!

      • You are so right!!! The world could use more of surprise and laughter. The world also does need more young writers. I haven’t read the sequel either….I want to read it though. I’m also reading a book called Jake and Lily which you might want to recommend to your daughter. The story is about the bond of siblings and friends. A story full of magic too.

  4. I loved “The Difference Between A Good Idea And A Great Idea Is Just One Thing” by @bernadettejiwa !! Thank you for sharing. And I love that I know what your voice sounds like now after listening to the Inside Creative Writing podcast 🙂

  5. 🙂
    I can’t believe you picked THAT episode of Inside Creative Writing. Kind of funny. I’m enjoying The Narrative Breakdown and also just listened to a great piece on This American Voice. There are SO many wonderful, interesting, and inspiring stories out there. I only wish I had more time to enjoy them!

    Thanks for your great posts and recommendations, AND for being here again. Always so nice to see you!

    PS – You can hear my voice on many of my posts here and at Suddenly Marketing. I often include audio versions … but lately I’ve been short on time. #copout 😉

  6. Pingback: Write the Book You Want to Read | Fresh Air Musings

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