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: Hello! Hello!
Though I only skipped a week (in honor of my unplugged holiday), I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve been here. What a difference a year makes, right?
Speaking of, I hope everyone had a lovely holiday and a splendiforous New Year. Ours was quiet (just the way I like it) and cozy. I did manage to stay up until midnight, but only because my daughter wanted to (it was her first time). Watching the ball drop on Times Square never really did it for me, but I do love those moments of anticipation leading up to that finale. You can’t help but hold your breath a little as the old year slips away and the New Year takes it’s first, tentative breaths in the cold, cold air of January first.
Today – this first Saturday of the New Year – finds us New Englanders buried in snow and a deep freeze. My phone told me it was -3 degrees fahrenheit this morning (with a windchill of -17!). Good day to stay in and WRITE!
What I’m Writing:
I had a few days off around the holidays, but I didn’t do much writing. There was so much going on with family and friends, and – to be honest – I just needed a few days of having absolutely no obligations, even to myself. So, I took lots of long walks (including several through the dunes where we saw beautiful snowy owls), slept in, and read (we’ll come to that in a moment).
One thing I did do was read through and summarize my 2013 morning pages. This collection of early am ramblings (three pages each day) fills up a half dozen spiral-bound notebooks. As I write these journal entries, I make marks in the margin (usually a star, sometimes an initial) when I’ve captured something that I may want to remember it later. On New Year’s Eve, I sat down with these notebooks and created a summary of all the things that I’d highlighted. I copied over certain passages and just noted topics for other entries. In the end, I had a list of dated, mini entries that encompassed my “important” thoughts for entire year.
As I read this list over, I saw themes emerge and the evolution of ideas that started as small sparks at the beginning of the year and became crackling fires by the end of it. I wasn’t surprised to find that my starred passages vacillated between business ideas and creative ideas. As in life, my written world is a bit cut in half – leaping back and forth between the writing that pays my bills and the writing (and other creative projects) I long to do.
I would like to make 2014 the year I finally bring some of my creative projects off the page and into reality. I made baby steps at the end of 2013, and I believe that I can keep on making those baby steps until one day I look back and am awed by how far I’ve come.
What I’m Reading:
I did take some time to read. I had so many choices and have several books (fiction and nonfiction) in progress, but the only one I finished was Ann Patchett’s collection of essays, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage (affiliate link). I had listened to the title story via Audible (twice, actually – I liked it that much), and was delighted to find that it was only one piece in a larger collection. These stories were the perfect companion for a quiet winter’s day. Two of them moved me to tears and one made me want to stand up and cheer (I won’t tell you which). Each and every essay made me think and see a bit of the world in a different way. From dogs to floods to writing and independent bookstores, from military training to family to aging … Patchett covers the vast territory of human experience with grace, humor, and more than a little wisdom. Often, the stories she tells are small, in that they are personal and intimate; but that somehow makes them all the more universal.
I borrowed this book from my local library, but I may have to buy my own copy because I have a feeling it’s a book I’ll want to return to again and again.
And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:
- 6 Ways Micro-Publishing Strengthens Your Author Career by @thewritermama via @janefriedman
- How to avoid the self-help blahs and blast off in 2014 by @MarsDorian via @markwschaefer
- Goal Setting and Momentum by @CorinneOFlynn
- Arthur C. Clarke, Annie Dillard, John Cage & Others on the Meaning of Life via @brainpicker (Updike’s is my favorite.)
- The Geek’s Guide to the Writing Life: A Challenge for 2014 by @wordamour
- How Do You Measure a Successful Year? by @JenGresham
- Create Experiences For Your Readers by @DanBlank
- How Successful Authors Use Social Media to Sell More Books by @chucksambuchino via @thewritelife
Finally, a quote for the week:
In honor of all our intentions for the New Year:
As always, thanks for being here and sharing part of your weekend.
So glad to be back.
Happy New Year to all & happy writing & reading!!