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!
Jamie 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:
I 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.
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.
The 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.
And 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:
- Book Discovery on Goodreads and How Adding Books Works by @MartinaABoone
- Lessons Learned in Ann Patchett’s This Is The Story of a Happy Marriage by @NancyDPalmer (Can’t wait to read this collection!)
- The best podcasts on the – airwaves? by @andreabadgley (Podcasts for writers & readers – So far, I am loving Narrative Breakdown and The Moth.)
- The Difference Between A Good Idea And A Great Idea Is Just One Thing by @bernadettejiwa
- Exploring The World’s Greatest Libraries (PHOTOS) (As Tina Fey’s 30 Rock character would say, “I want to go to there.”)
- Learn the One Rule of Writing (from your friends at NaNoWriMo)
- Frog Marching the Muse: Eighteen Tips to Get Words on the Page by @RLLaFevers
Finally, a quote for the week:
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.